Showing posts with label Religious Tests. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Religious Tests. Show all posts

Monday, August 23, 2010

U.S. Soldiers Punished for Not Attending Christian Rock Concert

     How's this for separation of church and state?  The Associated Press reports:
     The Army said Friday it was investigating a claim that dozens of soldiers who refused to attend a Christian band's concert at a Virginia military base were banished to their barracks and told to clean them up.
     Fort Eustis spokesman Rick Haverinen told The Associated Press he couldn't comment on the specifics of the investigation. At the Pentagon, Army spokesman Col. Thomas Collins said the military shouldn't impose religious views on soldiers.  "If something like that were to have happened, it would be contrary to Army policy," Collins said.
     Pvt. Anthony Smith said he and other soldiers felt pressured to attend the May concert while stationed at the Newport News base, home of the Army's Transportation Corps.  "My whole issue was I don't need to be preached at," Smith said in a phone interview from Phoenix, where he is stationed with the National Guard. "That's not what I signed up for."
     Smith, 21, was stationed in Virginia for nearly seven months for helicopter electrician training when the Christian rock group BarlowGirl played as part of the "Commanding General's Spiritual Fitness Concerts."
     Smith said a staff sergeant told 200 men in their barracks they could either attend or remain in their barracks. Eighty to 100 decided not to attend, he said.  "Instead of being released to our personal time, we were locked down," Smith said. "It seemed very much like a punishment."
Photo via SayNow BLOG 
     According to BarlowGirl's website:
     BarlowGirl has always represented an interesting dichotomy; tender-hearted, beautiful young women who aren’t afraid to take an aggressive, almost warrior-like stance when it comes to spreading the gospel and serving God. That fiery obedience reverberates throughout their latest release, Love & War.  “There’s just an urgency to this album,” says Alyssa Barlow. “We’ve always wanted to raise the banner and to really let people know who God is, what He’s doing and how He’s moving.
     In spite of their "warrior-like stance when it comes to spreading the gospel," BarlowGirl disagreed with the army commander's freedom of religion violation.  Here's the holy hair band's response, as reported by Truth-Out:
     Barlow Girl band member Lauren Barlow said if she and the other members of the group knew soldiers were being forced to attend the concert and were then punished for refusing to attend "we would have said something."
     "That's horrible," Barlow tweeted in response to the revelations first published Thursday by MRFF's head researcher, Chris Rodda. "We never knew that. We thought they had a choice. If we would have known we would have said something."
     A number of the soldiers, who refused to follow orders and attend the Christian rock concert, were Muslims.  There is no word on whether they were required to attend a protest at the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" with their militant Christian superiors the next day.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Catholic Lesbian Mothers of Preschooler Expelled by Archdiocese of Denver Respond

     After a child was kicked out of preschool at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School in Boulder, Colorado, because her parents are lesbians in a committed relationship, everyone from a woman raised by same sex parents whose children attend Sacred Heart to Bill O'Reilly condemned the Archdiocese of Denver's ousting of the student.  Now the parents of the exspelled preschooler are speacking out and they're defending their faith in spite of their church's discrimination.
Archbishop Chaput via Catholic Fire
     CNN reports:
     In a written statement, the women, who chose not to reveal their identities, described themselves as normal, hard-working people with a nice house and a dog - and as Catholics.
     "When we were allowed to have our children baptized ... we made a promise  to raise our children in the Catholic faith," they said. "We now feel like our attempts at fulfilling this promise are being undermined by the Church itself.  Perhaps our biggest objection to the school's decision is that we think that it is wrong to punish a child for who the child's parents are. We do not think that this reflects what Jesus would have done."
     The church has undermined many a promise, when it comes to the betterment of its children.  I think it's great that the student's mothers are putting up a fight , but how sad it is that they are fighting for a church that doesn't want them, or their child, as they are.

Archy Chaput via TLDM
     Here's the Archbishop of Denver's response to the situation:
     "The Church does not claim that people with a homosexual orientation are 'bad,' or that their children are less loved by God," Archbishop Charles J. Chaput wrote in an article published in the Denver Catholic Register.  "Quite the opposite. But what the Church does teach is that sexual intimacy by anyone outside marriage is wrong; that marriage is a sacramental covenant; and that marriage can only occur between a man and a woman."
     Again, I have to ask, does this mean that the children of divorced parents, parents married outside the Catholic Church, parents that cheat, parents that swing, parents that masturbate, parents that use artificial contraception, and parents that had sex before they were married will also be expelled from the Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Denver?  Archbishop Chaput you are a bigot and a hypocrite.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Atheists Should Leave America, Our Currency Says So

     Here's is a letter to the editor submitted by an American citizen that claims atheists are the root of all evil.

     I'm left wondering why logic is not taught in our school systems.
It Makes Sense If Leave Out Logic
see more Friends of Irony

     "Atheists hate me this I know, for the dollar tells me so."

     If violence and evil come from atheists, then I guess atheists must have written the bible.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Judge Barbara Crabb's Angry Christian Emails, the Underbelly of the National Day of Prayer Ruling

     After upholding the constitutional separation between church and state in a U.S. district court decision that declared the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional, Judge Barbara Crabb incurred the wrath of prayerful Christians across the nation.

     The Supreme Court has noted often that the establishment clause is the result of the lesson learned from history that, when the government takes sides on questions of religious belief, a dangerous situation may be created, both for the favored and the disfavored groups.
     “Judge Crabb needs to be removed from her position,” wrote Bob Ferguson by e-mail. “She is a stupid bitch.”
     Al Kafer of Cleveland, who described himself as a “70-year-old Vietnam vet,” addressed her as “Babs” and wrote: “We could give a damn what some INTELLECTUAL PYGMY in a skirt in cheeseland says.” And he added a P.S.: “We are no longer taking your shit anymore.”
     “You mam [sic] are a disgrace to America,” wrote Michael Yeager. “Only an Anti-Christ individual would deny a national day of prayer. . . . Basically, you have committed treason against God who established our nation.”
     John in Texas (jkcope5427@sbcglobal.net) wrote: “I will be praying God removes her from office.”
     Many others said they were praying for her, as well.  Some told her she was going to hell.
     “Can you imagine what it will be like to live forever in Hell?” wrote David Lee (dflee10@inbox.com). “We have had enough of the Obamas of this world, and we plan on stopping them as we will also you.”
     One anonymous letter, addressed “To the Dishonorable Barbara Crabb,” said: “You Barbie are a disgrace to this country just as Obama is. . . . Enjoy Hell, you will be there soon. I pray for your kids.”
     These are the voices of Christians who on May 6, 2010, joined in prayer with President Obama, who defied the judicial branch of the government and,  in an unconstitutional act, proclaimed the National Day of Prayer.  (Oh, the ignorance of the email morons that condemned Obama along with Crabb, when Obama is on their side.)  Obama has already filed for appeal.  

     NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 6, 2010, as a National Day of Prayer. I call upon the citizens of our Nation to pray, or otherwise give thanks, in accordance with their own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings, and I invite all people of faith to join me in asking for God’s continued guidance, grace, and protection as we meet the challenges before us.
     The National Day of Prayer Task Force’s mission is to communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, mobilizing the Christian community to intercede for America and its leadership in the seven centers of power: Government, Military, Media, Business, Education, Church and Family.
     It is a Christian organization with a Christian agenda, and our President has sided with them against the separation of church and state.  A professor of constitutional law, President Obama is quite the hypocrite and an enabler of certain Christians, who want to force their faith on the entire nation's "seven centers of power," infringing on people's private lives.

     Please email Judge Crabb and tell her you support her decision, especially if you are Christian, who should know from the lessons of history that separation between church and state is a healthy thing.  (Or do you support the Christian states where Muslims are being slaughtered?).  Let her know that we do not want the government taking sides on matters religious.  You may email her at wiwd_ecfhelp@wiwd.uscourts.gov or send a letter to the address at U.S. District Court Western District of Wisconsin.

     Also, please consider giving to the Freedom from Religion Foundation, plaintiff in the case, who will need every dollar they can gather in the coming years as FFRF vs. Obama hits the appeals courts.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

National Day of (Christian Fundamentalist) Prayer Finally Ruled Unconstitutional

     A giant win for the separation of church and state in our nation occurred last week in a Wisconsin U.S. District Court!


     U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb decided in favor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation in a ruling that the federal law designating a National Day of Prayer and requiring a National Day of Prayer proclamation by the president violates the establishment clause of the Constitution's First Amendment.  In her ruling, Judge Crabb wrote: "The same law that prohibits the government from declaring a National Day of Prayer also prohibits it from declaring a National Day of Blasphemy."
     The Foundation filed its groundbreaking suit in October 2008. Plaintiffs besides the Foundation are Anne Nicol Gaylor, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Dan Barker, Paul Gaylor, Phyllis Rose and Jill Dean, who are all Foundation officers or board members. Defendants are President Barack Obama and Robert Gibbs, his press secretary. Original defendants were President George Bush and Dana Perino, his press secretary at the time.
     All presidents since 1952 have issued proclamations designating the National Day of Prayer each year. Since 1988, the National Day of Prayer has been held on the first Thursday in May. The president’s proclamations are released by the Office of the Press Secretary.
     Judge Crabb enjoined Obama from enforcing the National Day of Prayer law, but stayed the injunction until the appeals process is completed. The law setting the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer passed Congress in 1952 after an intensive campaign led by Rev. Billy Graham.
     Click here for the full and in depth article.  There is an entire history to anti-semite, homophobic Billy Graham, racist Pat Robertson, and the entire Christian right forcing this day of prayer/religion test upon political officials and citizens of the United States. 

    President Obama responded to the ruling, by playing the hypocrite and ignoring his constitutional law education, by vowing on Twitter to go ahead with the presidential prayer proclamation in May.  The Christian right immediately started spreading rumors and lies online that Obama had canceled the National Day of Prayer, that he was making it a day of prayer to Allah instead, etc.  They even have a Facebook page.  How's that for spreading the Gospel According to Hate?

     Here are a few excerpts of the historic ruling:

     "It goes beyond mere 'acknowledgment' of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context. In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience. When the government associates one set of religious beliefs with the state and identifies nonadherents as outsiders, it encroaches upon the individual's decision about whether and how to worship.”
     "If the government were interested only in acknowledging the role of religion in America, it could have designated a 'National Day of Religious Freedom' rather than promote a particular religious practice."
     "With or without a statute, private citizens are free to pray at any time. Private citizens are also free to join together to hold celebrations of their faith, including by proclaiming their own day of prayer."
     "That is not an accommodation under Supreme Court precedent; it is taking sides on a matter of religious belief. Because supporters of the National Day of Prayer have no need for the machinery of the State to affirm their beliefs, the government's sponsorship of that day in § 119 is most reasonably understood as an official endorsement of religion and, in this instance, of theistic religion."    
Bumper sticker available at zazzle.com

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Pledge of Allegiance, a Patriotic, Religious Test

     On a soupy August morning in 1980, I received my first lesson concerning the separation of church and state.

     After ringing the morning school bell, Sr. Mary Buttcrack wobbled into the classroom and peered down at us, her new first grade class, with dark, squinty eyes and barked for us to stand up. Frightened of the cello-shaped nun, whose Michelin-man-like rolls did not benefit from the post-Vatican II nuns' emancipation from the religious habit, we rose from our faux wooden desks and obeyed her orders. We turned our sweaty, sticky bodies toward the metal statue of a tortured, bleeding, dead body hanging on a cross, made the Sign of the Cross over our hearts, prayed the Our Father, and again made the Sign of the Cross.

     Without a pause, we were instructed to put our "crossing" hand over our hearts, to turn ten degrees to face the crucifix-adjacent U.S. flag, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Upon finishing, most of our pink hands made the Sign of the Cross again, thinking it necessary in order to end the prayer. Sister chastised us for this apparent mistake and threatened us with something like an eternity in hell or taking away our recesses, where we’d have to sit in the un-air-conditioned room with her ring-around-the-armpits and gelatinous, spoiled-cottage-cheese biceps.  I wasn’t sure which was worse.

     In middle school, my depreciation for the Pledge increased. Years of Catholic school had increased my religious "maturity," and now, the Pledge seemed a violation of the First Commandment: "I am the Lord your God [sic], you shall not place strange gods before me." Devout Catholic altar boy that I was, swearing allegiance to a mass of red, white, and blue fabric seemed idolatrous, if not at the level of worshiping Baal, then at least at the level of the golden calf.  Was Moses to return, I imagined him decapitating our principal, the mushroom-shaped-and-smelling Sr. Mary Mushroom, with one swing of a stone tablet and then making us heathen flag-worshipers chew off and swallow bites of Old Glory until our gums bled and our bowels exploded.

     My allegiance was to God [sic] alone, not to some nation or its flag, but Christians everywhere at sporting events, student council meetings, Boy Scouts, and governmental gatherings said the Pledge. They swore allegiance to a false god and then proclaimed their uncompromising devotion to Jesus Christ in the next breath. I continued to say the Pledge, but refused to put my hand on my heart, which belonged to Christ alone. During the Pledge, my hand was over my xiphoid process. This served the double purpose of protecting me both from God’s [sic] wrath and also the random fist of a passerby delivering a xiphoid-process-shattering blow to my lower sternum thus sending the xiphoid-shard into one of my essential organs and killing me on the spot. I thought of such things in those days, thanks to learning about the dangers of CPR in science class, but there was really nothing to worry about. If I died, God [sic] would forgive me for worshipping the flag, because I didn’t swear on my heart.

     After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the George H.W. Bush led invasion of Iraq, I quit saying the Pledge. I was in high school, and after a handful of years spent in the public schools where Catholics weren't the majority, my religious beliefs were emboldened. By the time I turned eighteen and registered with the Selective Service, I was prepared for the possible reinstitution of the draft, for in the wake of the Soviet's demise, America had a new enemies and a new cause: Islamic Iran and Iraq and the securing of fossil fuels. As a conscientious objector, I offered no allegiance to a country that would declare wars and kill innocent women and children so that we could drive cars that raped our planet's atmosphere. My New Testament God [sic], my peace-loving Jesus, would not approve of such reprehensible actions, and so I stood during the Pledge with my hand on my xiphoid process and mouthed the words. No one took notice of my silent dissent.

     As a priest in post-9/11 America, I found the Pledge even more infuriating. Catholic adults were still being lead in successive recitations of the OurFatherPledgeofAllegiance at Knights of Columbus meetings. The crucifix and the flag were still side by side, both demanding the faithfulness of our grade-school hearts. Gone were the days of blending, I was the priest, the educated Master of Divinity, and the one with the power of the Office of the Priesthood on my side.

     A man, I stood silently, hands in the pockets of my black clerics, and refused to say the Pledge. I received my parishioners' suspicious glares, which were followed by judgmental comments masked with humor. "You some kind of liberal, Father?" "Don't you support the troops in Iraq? Heh. Heh. Heh." "Do ya love yer country, or are ya a some kindda Bin Laden, Dixie Chicks lover?"

     Yes, that was it. I was a terrorist masking as an Iowa-corn-fed Catholic priest, and an atheist, Commie homo, too.
     Now that I am an atheist homo (The Commie distinction is FOX News-relative.), the Pledge continues to assault and insult my sensibilities. In a nation where we have freedom of speech, I don't observe a need for the Pledge's patriotic test before basketball games and beauty pageants. There's no need for a test to gauge who does and doesn't proclaim the McCarthy-era's paranoid addendum to the Pledge, "under God [sic], ." This “pledge” is a religious test that violates my freedom to choose between the extinct gods of the ancients or the various gods of the present. I also have the freedom to use my rational mind, to follow lead and history of scientific progress, and to choose not to believe in any god. This is my choice. I have blossomed into an atheist.
     In early March, the Religious Right won a huge battle in federal court.  A divided federal appeals court, reversed an earlier ruling in a 2-1 decision.

     The Los Angeles Times reports:
     A divided federal appeals court Thursday reversed itself, ruling that the Pledge of Allegiance doesn’t violate the constitutional prohibition against state-mandated religious exercise even though it contains the phrase “one nation under God [sic].”
     The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in 2002, which deemed that requiring students to recite the pledge violated their rights to be free of religious indoctrination by the government, was one of the most controversial to come out of the court that is second only to the U.S. Supreme Court in its power to determine law for nine Western states and two Pacific territories.
     The appeals court’s earlier decision had been reviewed by the Supreme Court in 2004, but the justices dodged the constitutional question on procedural grounds, throwing out the lawsuit brought by a Sacramento atheist and leaving intact the wording of the patriotic declaration.
     In "the land of the free," one is no longer free of the religious test that was added to the Pledge just fifty-six years ago.  The Pledge, like the scriptures, has been redacted over the years since it was first written in 1892, each generation's political/religious turmoil leaving a mark.  Bruce Ramsey of The Seattle Times provides a brief history of the Pledge:
    Several years ago an Oregon academic, Richard Ellis, wrote a history of the Pledge, which I reviewed in the Times. In the book he says each big boost for the Pledge, or change in it, came at a time when Americans were in fear of foreign influence. The Pledge was written in 1892, when Americans worried about the tide of immigrants diluting American culture and ideals, and the fading of patriotism from the Civil War. The Pledge was institutionalized in World War I, when patriotism was enforced. The first state to require the Pledge was Washington, which passed the law in January 1919, the month of the Communist-influenced Seattle General Strike. The first change in the Pledge's wording--from "my flag" to "the flag of the United States of America"--came in the early 1920s, around the time that immigration was stopped. And the phrase "under God [sic]" was added in 1954, at the end of the trials of Communist spies.
      In 2010, the era of the Tea Party, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and calls from southern states for secession because a crazed minority of of U.S. citizens believes that our nation's first black president is a socialist, commie-loving, Islamic terrorist, we have a conservative court ruling that the McCarthy era addendum "under God [sic]" is not a religious prayer or test.  Sister Mary Buttcrack, Stalin of North Catholic School, would be proud.
     I, for one, will not remain on the grade-school playground. I will cross neither my heart nor my xiphoid process. I will utilize my constitutional rights of freedom of speech and freedom of/from religion. When the Pledge of Allegiance is forced upon me in secular situations, instead of "under God [sic]," I will proclaim as loudly as I can: "I don't believe in god." This is one religious test that I am proud to fail.

     After thirty years, I've finally passed the first grade.

Postscripts:

     To hear an interview of  Michael Newdow, who filed the lawsuit challenging the religious redaction of the Pledge, click here. (It's the March 20th podcast.)

     Here are a few quotes from the Associated Press via WTOP, article by Terence Chea.
     Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who was part of the three-judge panel that ruled in Newdow's favor eight years ago, wrote a 123-page dissent to the 60-page majority opinion. "Under no sound legal analysis adhering to binding Supreme Court precedent could this court uphold state-directed, teacher-led, daily recitation of the 'under God [sic]' version of the Pledge of Allegiance by children in public schools," wrote Reinhardt, who was appointed by President Jimmy Carter in 1980.
     "The whole argument that 'under God [sic]' wasn't placed into the pledge for religious purposes is bogus," Newdow [who brought the case] said. "I hope people recognize this is not against God [sic] or people who believe in God [sic]. It's about the government not treating people equally on the basis of their lawful religious views."
     Go to Newdow's website http://www.restorethepledge.com/ for more information.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Catholic Preschool Outs Student of Gay Parents

     Children of the Archdiocese of Denver, beware!
     If your parents are known homosexuals in a lifelong, committed, and loving relationship, prepare to be expelled.  It's the Catholic way, the way of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: love, kindness, and bullying gays.

     One would think that after a week of high profile Catholic sex scandals that the church might give it a rest, but that trick's not in holy dysfunctional mother church's closet.  Sex scandals under her own roof, be damned! 

     Attack, attack, attack!  Blame the Gay.  Punish the children.

     Denver's 9NEWS reports:
    A preschool student at a Catholic school in Boulder will not be allowed to return next school year because of what is going on at home.  The student's parents are two women and the Denver Archdiocese says their homosexual relationship violates the school's beliefs and policy.

    According to teachers at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School, a meeting was held Tuesday to discuss the issue. The staff was told a student would not be allowed to re-enroll because of his or her parents' sexual orientation. The staff members were also told not to talk to the media.

    In a statement sent to 9NEWS, the Archdiocese said, "Homosexual couples living together as a couple are in disaccord with Catholic teaching."

    According to the Archdiocese, parents who enroll their kids at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School are expected to follow the Catholic Church's beliefs.
    "No person shall be admitted as a student in any Catholic school unless that person and his/her parent(s) subscribe to the school's philosophy and agree to abide by the educational policies and regulations of the school and Archdiocese," the statement said.
    Because this student's parents are homosexual, the Archdiocese says they were in clear violation of the school's policy.
     And what of the parents who've been divorced, who are on their second or third marriages, who have extra-marital affairs, who don't tithe 10% of their gross income to the church, who enjoy oral sex, who masturbate, who swing, who doubt that Mary's hymen remained intact after childbirth, who support the death penalty, who support the war in Iraq, who vote Democrat, who rip people off financially, who gossip, who physically and/or sexually abuse their kids, who don't go to confession regularly, and who skip Sunday Mass?  

     Are not their children to be expelled from the Archdiocese of Denver's schools?

     I guess the only consistent thing in the Catholic church is the €2000 price of a Vatican whore.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Why The Founding Fathers Would Never Get Elected Today

     To succeed in U.S. national politics today, one must publicly claim they believe in a god of some sort, preferable the Christian god.  The Christian Right says that our nation was founded a Christian nation, blah, blah, blah, and many claim that free thinkers, atheists, agnostic, secular humanists, brights, post-theists, etc.  They don't know their Framers very well.  In fact, there's no way many of our nation's Founders would be able to get elected today, because of their free thinking, secular humanist thought.

   Here a few quotes from Thomas Jefferson:
     To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings.  To say that the human soul, angels, god, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no god, no angels, no soul.  I cannot reason otherwise...without plunging into the fathomless abyss of dreams and phantasms.  I am satisfied, and sufficiently occupied with the things which are, without tormenting or troubling myself about those which may indeed be, but of which I have no evidence.
    Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched.  Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion.  Question with boldness even the existence of a God [sic]; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.
    Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions.  Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity.  It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.
    This quote is from the United States 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, drafted under George Washington and signed by John Adams:
    As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan Nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

     Here are a few Benjamin Franklin quotes:
    I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life, I absented myself from Christian assemblies.
    Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I'm Glad I'm Not in Dixie. Hooray! Hooray!


     Yesterday's L.A. Times had an update on the situation in Asheville, North Carolina, that I blogged about a few days ago.  It appears that a lawsuit may be coming against Councilman Cecil Bothwell, because he's an atheist and the North Carolina state constitution won't allow for that.  The Times reports:
     A conservative group has distributed pamphlets warning locals that Bothwell is "Satan's helper" and a "radical extremist" who is "bashing religion."
     Isn't it just wonderful when religious people revert to calling any person with different beliefs Satan?  It really helps the dialogue, now, doesn't it?  What are they going to call Esther Manheimer, who was sworn in with Bothwell, with her hand not on the Christian bible, but on two Jewish texts?  Where does it stop?

     I like that Bothwell refers to himself as a "post-theist." I find that a very good description of what I've been through in my life, as well.  I did not "lose" my faith, as religious friends imply when they patronize me by saying "I know you're not Catholic, but I hope you didn't lose your faith."  I know this is very harsh, but to me that's like saying, "I know you're not a child any more, but I hope you didn't lose your belief in Santa."

     I didn't lose my faith.  I evolved beyond it and left it behind.  In fact, I've found that my life is fuller, more loving, and more peaceful since doing so.  But that doesn't matter to so many people in our Christian nation.  To them, I'm just someone who doesn't fit into their "religious" worldview.  I'm a threat that must be destroyed and/or disenfranchised; a devil to be exorcised and not engaged; not human.

     H.K. Edgerton, a former local NAACP president who has paraded in public wearing a Confederate Army uniform and waving a Confederate flag, said his lawyer was preparing a lawsuit against Asheville.
     "If you're an atheist and don't believe in God and still want to hold office, I have a problem with that," Edgerton said. "And the constitution of North Carolina has a problem with that."
     Yes, Mr. Edgerton, and the Constitution of the United States of America has a problem with that!  But that's right, you don't live in the U.S.A.  You live a fantasy life in the revisionist version of the Confederate States of America, or at least you wish you did.  How can anyone take the threat of a lawsuit from this man seriously?

Seriously?  You wish you were in Dixie?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Other (Christian) White Meat


     Do you remember the big hoopla over which bible President-Elect Obama was going use to be sworn into office?  And who could forget the pastor and self-proclaimed homo "lover" Rick Warren's leading the nation in the Christian "Our Father" (I'm sorry, Warren's not Catholic, so I should have said "Lord's Prayer") at the inauguration?

     Our nation was founded as a place for people to escape the religious homogeneity of European states and religious persecution.  Article VI of the U.S. Constitution states:
     The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
      Then why the big hootenanny over Obama's choice to use Lincoln's bible?  Why subject all Americans to an invocation and an invitation to pray the "Our Father" when not all Americans believe in the god of the "Lord's Prayer"?

     Throughout history, religious majorities (and minorities) have come up with different ways of sniffing out the heretics, gentiles,and non-believers.  For example, in Spain's restaurants there is a gesture of hospitality where guests are offered a plate of charcuterie, which is  dozens of pieces of sliced and cured pork.  Sounds delicious, yes, but the origin of this hospitable act was to sniff out Muslim and Jewish heretics during the inquisition, as for them, eating pork was a grave religious prohibition.  Christian pork-eaters would watch closely for any expression of distaste in their guests, and upon seeing it would turn them over to the Catholic powers that be for "questioning." (Christopher Hitchens, God is not Great, pp.40-41.)

     Of course, in the United States of the 21st Century, we've evolved.  We're more tolerant of people's differences when it comes to matters of faith, or lack thereof.  We don't have charcuterie!

     What we do have is a national Pledge of Allegiance with the words "under god" written into it, that causes atheists to squirm like they're choking down forbidden pork.  Imagine the explosive outrage of Christians, if their children were required to say "one nation under Allah" or "Shiva" in our nation's public schools.  But atheist, agnostic, and free thinking children are required to say the pledge every day in our nations' public schools.  By the way, the pledge of allegiance was written by a socialist and did not include the words "under god" until 1954, which were added with the intention of rooting out those atheist red commies (and we know how that turned out). 

     We still have oaths in the courts that end with the words "so help me god," which, to me, might as well be "so help me Santa Claus."  What if I refuse to take an oath to the Christian god in court?  Will that cause Christian jurors to view me differently?  What if a president refuses to be sworn in over a Christian bible?  Legally a president could do this, but would the Christian majority allow it?  Would they not call for this president's head on a platter?  Are not these "simple" acts, gestures, and procedures religious tests in violation of Article VI?

     Recently, a story broke in Asheville, North Carolina, where Christians are calling for atheist Cecil Bothwell to be barred from taking his elected position on the city council because he did not take the religious oath "so help me god" when he was sworn into office.  In North Carolina (and six other states) it is still illegal to hold public office if you are an atheist.


     So much for freedom of religious belief in the United States of America.  So much for our Constitution and Article VI and the Supremacy Clause.

     H.K. Edgerton, former Asheville NAACP president (who wouldn't have been able to hold office mere decades ago because of his race) and current Dixie enthusiast, told the Asheville Citizen-Times:
     I'm not saying that Cecil Bothwell is not a good man, but if he's an atheist, he's not eligible to serve in public office, according to the state constitution.
    In 1961, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Maryland's requirement to have public officials declare belief in god was an unconstitutional violation of the religious freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but there are still seven states (AR, MD, MA, NC, PA, SC, TN & TX) that have constitutions barring atheists from public office.

     Is it just me, or are we not living in the 21st century and in a nation where there is supposed to be freedom of religion, which includes freedom from religion?

     I guess when we grow up being force-fed charcuterie dressed with a side of patriotism, we forget that it's truly patriotic to stand up for our freedom to refuse to consume it.