Friday, September 10, 2010

It has to be said....

I was going to write an outdoorsy post, but this post from I'M NOT HANNAH really intrigued me.  Rather than having you all go to that link- because you might not, and I really want you to read it- I'm going to cut and past the whole darn thing here.  I did not write this....NOT HANNAH did.  but she's saying what I have tried to say before- she just says it a whole heck of a lot better.

"Friday, September 10, 2010We're Gonna Need a Bigger Trowel

Have you heard about the nutjob in Florida who wants to burn the Qu'ran tomorrow? (I'm kidding. Because ein the entire world knows about his freakish dumbassery by now.) I've avoided writing about it here because I think pretty much we are frickin' saturated in religious fear and hatred right now, and I'm ready to NOT be saturated by it. I'd like to take a break from the saturation, please. One non-saturated country, with fireworks on the side, thanks.

Yeah, I know. It's just...

Here's the thing, y'all: it's tough not being a Christian in America.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I feel persecuted, because I don't. It's not like people are banging on my door and dragging me out in the street and branding me or something. And even if I did start marching around proclaiming my Paganicity, I don't think the dragging and branding would happen. And although it occurs to me that maybe that's because I'm "safe" so far--I'm not easily labeled based solely on appearance and I've studied the Bible and have a healthy respect for Jesus and so can pass in situations in which Christianity is discussed--I still am not necessarily worried about the bad stuff right now. (Right NOW. I'll get to that later.)

But it's wearing to be bombarded with it all the time: the sniveling, lying Glenn Beck talking about restoring America's honor by getting on our knees and praying. The ugly governor's primary race in our state, during which two people tried to out-Christian each other by being the most hateful to gays. The idiotic comments about how Muslims can't tell us what to do in "our country"--including, presumably, Muslim Americans. The eightybluedamnmillion "If you love Jesus, click like" incarnations on Facebook. (Seriously, dude? Jesus is fine. It's YOU that gets on my every last nerve.)

Oh, oh, OH--and THEN I have to hear about how persecuted Christians are because people want to change America. Seriously? Christians in America have no CONCEPT of persecution unless they are A: Quakers (who got kicked out of the Massachusetts colony by the crazyass Puritans) or B: Mormons (who were driven across the country by pissed off Missourians) or C: converted Native Americans who got the shaft in seventy different ways. Today's Christians? Not so much, y'all, not so much.

I mean...we are talking about a single religion driving the legislation and policy of a country, which sounds a lot less like "persecution" and a lot more like "theocracy." In fact, it sounds a great deal like the antithesis of what Thomas Jefferson et al were doing when they were laying down the foundation for our country. A few days ago, I came across a story about the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut. Nutshell: In 1801, this group of men wrote a letter to Thomas Jefferson that basically asked for his endorsement of the idea that a state can't legislate religion, which Connecticut's state Constitution did. The Baptists in Connecticut were putting forth a campaign to oppose this and needed Jefferson's "stamp of approval." In the letter, the BADC wrote: "...religion is at all times and places a matter between God and Individuals - That no man ought to suffer in Name, person or effects on account of his religious Opinions - That the legitimate Power of Civil Government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor." They went on to explain how their state sort of jumped all over this idea, and then elaborated on their fears of what those who meld religion and government would do: ...those, who seek after power and gain under the pretence of government and Religion should reproach their fellow man - should Reproach their Chief Magistrate, as an enemy of Religion, Law and good order because he will not, dare not assume the prerogative of Jehovah and make Laws to govern the kingdom of Christ." Thomas Jefferson replied, in his eloquent awesomeness: "I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."
That might be a lot of stuff to throw at you, but the basic gist is this:

BACD: It sucks that we can't have religious freedom in our state. We think that the government ought to let people practice religion the way they want to unless it hurts other people, because this is the definition of religious freedom. We think that people who use religion to legislate run the risk of being so power hungry that they'll try to tell people how to worship.

TJ: Word. I'm down with this and can I get a "what what!" for the wall that separates Church and State in our Constitution?

If you research this further, you'll find that David "I make stuff up" Barton leads a charge against this whole premise by saying that A: the BACD were actually trying to get TJ to convince them that the First Amendment (that had been around for ten years or so) was really real or that B: the wall of separation was only meant to protect churches from government, and not the other way around. Which is, in my educated opinion, a steaming pile of horse crap.

What all this boils down to is that from the beginning, our country was founded on the idea that a person shouldn't be pushed around because of his or her religion. Wanna know one reason why? Massachusetts Colony, baby. In addition to banishing, branding, and hanging folks that didn't worship like them...well, no. That's pretty much it. The founders looked at the giant mess of theocracy that Massachusetts was, mixed it up with the whole Catholic/Protestant awfulness of the country they were leaving behind and said, "Um, thanks, but no. We're gonna go with the William Penn model." In fact, both the Declaration AND the Constitution were driven by ideals Penn shared and worked for. Go here to read about the utopia William Penn envisioned. It failed, but it was a great idea and...dare I say...quite progressive for the times.

I do NOT want our nation to fail the way the Pennsylvania colony did. Wanna know what happened when Penn removed himself from it to deal with family issues and ill health? The charter document was changed so that Jews and non-Christians could not hold public office. This, my friends, is the biggest reason it sucks to not be a Christian in America right now. Annoying FB status updates aside, watching Conservative, Bible-thumping legislators talk about changing the 14th and 10th Amendments, or watching them talk about how Muslims aren't WORTHY of 1st Amendment protections scares the shit out of me. Whether or not the president is a Christian is now, apparently, a voting issue for many people. The media fans the flames (literally, in the case of the douchebag in Florida) and people become so hateful in their religious zealotry that not only do they turn their backs on the Founding Fathers and our Constitution, they turn their backs on their deity. Worse than that, more FEARSOME than that is that when one religion assumes so much political power, the needs and freedoms of those of us who do not practice that religion are threatened. I feel threatened right now. Not persecuted, but wondering if the persecution will come if Beck and Deal and Ramsey and their friends get the power they want.

The wall of separation between Church and State is important. It's important not because I am a Pagan or because you are a Christian or my friend is an atheist. It's important because religious passion is a powerful thing, and it blinds people to all else BUT it. You pair that with a charismatic speaker or a majority in Congress or a few thousand people attending a book-burning and you are looking at a democracy breaker. And even if you are a Christian and you feel comfortable that you will be okay in a theocracy, you better consider what happened to Britain when the monarchy and the Church duked it out for centuries--and what is STILL happening in parts of Britain today.

That wall has been crumbling for years, y'all. And we need to fix it. We need to shore it up and seal it up. And--given Beck's starry-eyed followers and the xenophobic rage I've been hearing about for a month--I think we're gonna need a bigger trowel to do it. "
Thanks, NotHannah, for saying it.


K(Banterings of a Basketcase) said...

But if you do wanna go to the link- Not hannah is a good read, and her other blog, divining women.

Her Mom said...

We seem to have not much tolerance for opposing viewpoints anymore, and even less patience for checking out the facts. I believe church and state need to be separate; I believe it was not any religion that committed the atrocity of 9/11, but a group of America haters who happened to be radical Islanists. We would not want our Bible burned, and we should not burn their Quran.

Andy said...

Most of our modern day problems and troubles can be traced back to the lax immigration polices of the North American Indians:)

Kathy said...

Hi, K! This was interesting to read. I didn't know you were a pagan. I was deeply deeply into native american culture for many, many years and now feel a much closer connection to...well, there's really not words to describe it. Maybe Buddhism. But it's not any Buddhism that many Buddhists would recognize.

I do have some intolerance towards fundamentalists...some of them even in the extended family. When I recognized how one such family member is really deathly, deathly afraid I told him I would pray for his well-being, etc. It was strange but for the next two weeks after sharing this with him he ceased his usual hate email and started sending out emails with puppies and kittens.

That didn't last though!

Mara said...

Sometimes people ask me why I want to move to Canada and not to the USofA. Well, this is one of the reasons. And why I want to move out of the Netherlands: well, it's getting to be quite similar here I sometimes feel...

Judy said...

Very good Andy...

This post illustrates why Mrs. Palin is so extremely dangerous...some people feel she is just laughable, but so many people are beginning to follow her and she is such a zealot...Texas Christians are already changing history to fit their ideas...if she gains too much power, lots of things will change and not for the good...