Tag Archives: first amendment

Yet More Repression of Christians

The Christian News Wire (tag lined “The most used, recognized, respected religion newswire,” which made me smirk a bit) did a top ten list entitled “Top Ten Instances of Christian Bashing in America, 2008.”  Aside from the eye-rolling banality of yet another top-ten list (is there a single place in the blogosphere that DIDN’T put one out?), the list itself comes off as whiny, petulant and paranoid, filled with appeals to emotion, distortions and logical fallacies. Not to mention a distinct lack of citations for the assertions it makes.  A couple examples? I thought you’d never ask.

INSTANCE #5: Chaplains Fired for Praying in Jesus’ Name

Chaplains for the State of Virginia are being denied their right to pray in Jesus’ name. Six chaplains were fired for continuing to pray in Jesus’ name. Earlier this year in Virginia, Rev. Hashmel Turner, a city councilman in Fredericksburg, was told by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that his prayers during city council meetings that ended in Jesus’ name will continue to be banned.

Sounds sinister, doesn’t it? If only it were true. In fact, the chaplains resigned in a snit because they were asked by the state to NOT reference Jesus Christ in prayers at public events and to keep the prayers non-denominational after a ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Yes, I have a citation. The new policy does not apply to private functions like funerals, just public state functions. Naturally, the reaction has been…well…over-reactionary:

In a statement Wednesday, Grayson County Delegate Bill Carrico called on the Superintendent to abandon, “this attack on Christianity.”

Delegate Morgan Griffith says, to “require those troopers to disregard their own faith while serving violates their First Amendment rights and prevents them from serving effectively as chaplains. These men had little choice but to resign.”

Aren’t we being just a little over the top? Nobody’s being asked to “disregard their own faith.” They’re being asked to actually obey the constitution and NOT attempt to force the state to recognize one religion over others. Y’know, if you’re going to invoke the first amendment, you’d better read the whole damn thing.

Next:

INSTANCE #10: Jack Black Musical Video

In a short video posted on FunnyorDie.com entitled, “Prop 8 The Musical,” an all star cast of Hollywood celebrities perform a low budget musical farce that defames Christ, mocks Christians and distorts the teaching of the Bible. Jack Black played the lead role of Jesus.

Um…Okay. First, Jack Black didn’t “defame” Christ, he portrayed Christ. Nor did he “distort” the teachings of the bible at all. Every single thing he said was true and a tenet of scripture. That Christians are not able to defend those tenets does not make it “defamation.” It just points out certain hypocrisy.

It’s difficult to take these people seriously. Really, I laughed when I read this list. Christians get everything they want by stamping their feet; they even manage to get programs removed from broadcast television and politicians discredited just by saying that person isn’t a Christian. But they’re being repressed? Yuh, right. No group in the history of our country has enjoyed such a protected position as Christians. The difference is that now, that position is being challenged because they’re not the only game in town, and they’re losing their power base. They now have to respect “freedom of religion” in practice as well as in theory. Which is something they’re just going to have to get over, because it isn’t going back to the old way any time soon.

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5th Grader Suspended for Political TShirt

Don’t you just love irony? Is it not delicious and tingly and affirming? Let me tell you a rather ironic little story.

Some time back, during Alberto Gonzales’ speech addressing several hundred people at Georgetown University, several students stood and raised a sign bearing the slogan “Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither,” a classic quote of Benjamin Franklin. Conservatives, right wing bloggers and pundits at Faux News were outraged (you can read Bill O’really’s righteously indignant comments here.)

Fast forward three years to a Colorado grade school. A fifth grade student, Dax Dalton (where DO conservatives get these interesting names for their children?) wore a Tshirt he had hand-decorated. The slogan? “Obama: A terrorist’s best friend.” At least it was spelled and punctuated correctly. Interestingly (at least to me), the same Faux news crew that was so horrified and outraged by the group of students who DARED speak out against a member of our government are now (okay, predictably) horrified and outraged that the grade school the 5th grader attends had the gall to ask the boy to either turn his shirt inside out or be suspended.

Ah, sweet irony…. D’you think if we keep pointing out the hypocrisy of these self-appointed protectors of all things American, they’ll eventually just shut up? We can but hope they’ll keep going…. how else would we know what NOT to do?

The persecution of Christianity.

So, I recently responded to a post in my blog (here) in which a Christian stated that they are being stripped of their rights because of a vocal minority, and that Christians have been a “silent” majority. I answered rather quickly and not especially thoughtfully. I think I’d like to take the time to respond a bit more in depth, because while I’m sure many atheists and people of other religions have heard more than enough on the subject, it seems most Christians don’t think we’ve gotten the message. We’ve gotten it. Really. But I’ll go ahead and address the concerns, since so many of you seem to feel an infringement upon your rights.

  But what about the atheists?…..is another argument.

What about them? Nobody is asking them to be baptized. We’re not going to pass the collection plate. Just humor us for 30 seconds. If that’s asking too much, bring a Walkman or a pair of ear plugs. Go to the bathroom. Visit the concession stand. Call your lawyer!

Ah, well, it isn’t just atheists. And, sorry, but yes. It is asking too much. My favorite quote regarding rights is “yours end where mine begin.” The federal government shall not endorse one religion over another. Period. Even if the branch of the federal government we’re talking about is a high school. You’re welcome to your right to pray in public. Is there a reason you MUST have that prayer on the loudspeaker of a federal building during a sporting event? Are you afraid your god won’t hear you? Can’t you do it without someone else leading you? Pray! Go ahead! No one is stopping you. But don’t expect to be led by federal employees. That’s the law, and that’s MY right, too.

Saying you should have the right to have a federal employee say a prayer on government property is essentially saying “this is our religion and you HAVE to accept it and the government endorses it.” Well, we don’t, and it doesn’t. That’s why that amendment is there. Your right does not supersede the law, and it does not trump mine.  

Unfortunately, one or two will make that call. One or two will tell thousands what they can and cannot do. I don’t think a short prayer at a football game is going to shake the world’s foundations.

No. One or two will remind the federal government that they cannot endorse a religion. NO ONE is telling you not to pray! Is the distinction really that difficult to understand? Why?

Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek, while our courts strip us of all our rights. Our parents and grandparents taught us to pray before eating, and to pray before we go to sleep. Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. Now, a handful of people and their lawyers are telling us to cease praying.

God, help us. And if that last sentence offends you, well, just sue me.

Actually? Christians have just as much right as any other adherent of any other religion. And while I’m sure you deride them non stop every chance you get, the ACLU fights just as hard for Christians as for any other group. As it should be. What you apparently want is more rights than adherents of any other religion. Tough. You can’t have it.  

The silent majority has been silent too long. It’s time we tell that one or two individuals who scream loud enough to be heard that the vast majority doesn’t care what they want. It is time that the majority rules! It’s time we tell them: ‘You don’t have to pray; you don’t have to say the Pledge of Allegiance; you don’t have to believe in God or attend services that honor Him. That is your right, and we will honor your right; but by golly, you are no longer going to take our rights away. We are fighting back, and we WILL WIN!’

I’m going to ask for a citation, here. What rights are being taken, exactly? You have the right to pray, you have the right to attend whatever house of worship tickles your little pink fancy, you have the right to even keep “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. And while you’re at it….gimme a citation for Christians being a silent majority; seems to me all we hear about every year is how Christians have rights and we’re going to recognize them. 

While you’re at it, look up “tyranny of the majority.” The majority wanted to keep women from voting. The majority wanted to keep black children from attending white schools. The majority wanted to refuse interracial marriage. The majority wanted to refuse to allow immigrants to serve in the military. Our civil rights are in place to protect the individual from the tyranny of the majority.  Since when did we become a nation of sheep, that we HAVE to go along with the majority? Our country was founded on individualism.

In closing; Let me just say that none of what I’ve heard is about Christians keeping the rights they have nearly as much as it’s about forcing everyone else to live by their rules.  

The Dangers of Making America a “Christian Nation.”

As our president makes his way to the far east to attend the Olympic games, concerns about religious freedoms and human rights continue to overshadow the games themselves. Here at home, those same concerns are echoed in the ongoing Presidential race.

65% of all Americans believe that the nation’s founders intended the United States to be a Christian nation and 55% believe that the Constitution establishes a Christian nation. This is according to a national survey released Sept. 11, 2007 by the First Amendment Center. Quite incorrect*, and it highlights an increasing disconnect between perception and reality, and forewarns of a dangerous trend toward the establishment of a state religion.

Among other things, one of the underlying reasons behind the United States becoming the United States was escape from persecution of state religion. Both Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary before her perpetrated a war on their religious opponents. Lands were seized, titles were stripped, and many were imprisoned and (in the severe case of Queen Mary) put to death.

But, you say, that couldn’t happen today. We live in a democracy. Yes, yes we do. A big reason we live in a democracy is that there is no state religion. Any time religion is involved in matters of state, a government “of the people, for the people, and by the people” is no longer possible. Because the church is part of the government and the government part of the church, the people’s wil and the rights of the individual become secondary.

One of the most dangerous things this administration has done is to forward the purpose of a “unitary executive,” with the concept that the President is a power unto himself, and answerable to no one. Previously, it was recognized by most politicians (if not most citizens) that endowing an executive with that much power could be disastrous, as eventually, the pendulum would swing, and the opposing party would gain the executive branch. This was always enough of a threat to keep checks and balances in place. Most Christians shrug at this argument, pointing out that we only elect Christian presidents. Very well, then.

What would happen if we elected another Catholic president? One who wished to make Catholicism the state religion? It’s a Christian religion, right? What’s the big deal? And being the unitary executive, (s)he has the power to make that a reality. What? Why are you getting angry?

That’s not even an extreme example. I’m sure there would be much more outrage if I substituted Catholic with Muslim. And that outrage is precisely the reason we CANNOT have a state religion. It is wrong, regardless of which religion is chosen, to impose that religion on others. Were anyone to attempt to do so to Christians, I’m sure a first amendment suit would be brought so fast, the irony meters wouldn’t be able to keep up.

We are now a nation of many cultures. There is no one that we can point to and call it exclusively “American.” Those cultures include religions. And all of those citizens have the right to practice the religion of their choice or no religion at all, regardless of whether we embrace it or not. As Americans, we MUST preserve that right.  

 

*True. It was never about God. Our government is secular, our society is predominantly Christian. Those who founded our country did so not on “Christian principles,” but on a rule of law and justice derived from Greek, Roman and English systems. Not the bible.