Tuesday, June 26, 2007

More Needed Reading

There is a lot being overstated by those on the right about the separation of church and state. They continuously misrepresent it to mean that the "progressive secualrists" want to eliminate faith in God. Their reason for that is because they know that the progressive secularists have a strong argument in referring to the writings of the founders as clearly indicating the need for a secular government.

What they do is latch onto the writings of Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, and characterize their atheism as representing all secualr progressives. Which is of course a false picture. It's like Bill O'Reilly presenting Mary Katherine Ham, a former sports writer and now right wing blogger, as an internet expert. Because she blogs.

However, a reading of James Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance clears up what the actual progressive secularist position is.

Nowhere in that little essay does Madison deny there is a Creator, nor that folk may believe in him. In point 1 of his essay he clearly states, "Before any man can be considered as a subject of a memeber of civil society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe." He also states in point 4,

"If 'all men are by nature equally free and independent,' all men are to be considered as entering into Society on equal conditions; as relinquishing no more, and therefore retaining no less, one than the other, of their natural rights. Above all are they considered as retaining equal title to the free exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience.' Whilst we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess and to observe the religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny an equal freedom to those whose minds are not yet yeilded to the evidence which has convinced us."

Most progressive secularists have this same attitude. What Madison clearly lays out is the reality that Christianity does not need government, (point 6) and hence should not receive any monies from it. Which of course we know isn't happening now. Madison also lays out that government is not to interfere with any belief. There is to clearly be separation between the two, which he states in point 8,

"What influence in fact have ecclesisatical establishments had on civil society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny, in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people."

Today's religious right couldn't abide if we actually did what Madison stated. If they lost their tax exempt status, they would go broke, or we would all discover whether or not there is an all sustaining and providing God. They also can't adide any reality other than theirs.

Let me close this post with a statement from this Remonstrance that makes the point of the dangers of church/state relations. It is a point which is being shouted loudly across the country by many seclaurists, Christian and non-Christian alike, that being that America was never intended to be anything other than secular, and any attempt to change that makes is inimical to what America is as laid out in the founding documents of this country.

"Because the proposed establishment is a departure from the generous policy, which, offering an asylum to the persecuted and oppressed of every nation and religion, promised a lustre to our country, and an accession to the number of its citizens. What a melancholy mark is the bill of sudden degeneracy? Instead of holding forth an asylum to the persecuted, it is itself a signal of persection. It degrades from the equal rank of citizens all those whose opinions in religion do not bend to those of the legislative authority. Distant as it may be in its present form from the Inquisition, it differs from it only in degree. The one is a first step, the other the last in a career of intolerance. The magnanimous sufferer under the crual scourge of foreign regions, must view the bill as a beacon on our coast, warning him to seek some other haven, where liberty and philanthropy in their due extent, may offer a more certain repose from his troubles."

Monday, June 11, 2007

The End of Faith

That of course is the title of a Sam Harris book, and I borrow it for this post.

I was listening to Adrian Rogers, on channel 20 here in Seattle. This man actually stated that the foundation of faith is fear.

Whoa Nellie! He then went on to cite other scriptures that referred to the fear of God, which is not what he said initially. And as I recall from my days as a believer, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. ONLY. Which happens to be what Hebrews 11:6 says.

So what is Rogers saying? He is saying that fearing a wrathful, punishing God should be the foundation of believing in him. I don't know about you, but I surely don't want that kind of faith, or god.

Relatedly, in the Sunday, May 20 edition of the Seattle Times, is a story about guest ministers in Ohio violating the rules of the Ohio Congress. That sounds pretty inocuous, but when you take this story apart, a pattern emerges.

To violate the rules, one would either need to be ignorant of them, or clearly not care. I have a hard time believing that those who invite ministers to the Ohio Congress aren't giving them the upshot on the rules. Particualrly rules concerning prayers which need to be submitted three days in advance. I do suppose though that even those extending invitations are ignorant of the rules. Either case, ignorance or lack of care, it reveals a lot about the state of Christianity.

You see, the foundation of faith shouldn't be fear. According to the Bible, it isn't. So what's with the fear mongering? Well, fear mongering has become a favorite from the pulpit. Just listen to John Hagee preach about the dangers of Iran getting a nuclear weapon, as I have. Or listen to your basic right wing politician, who will state that war isn't a matter of if, but where, like Fred Thompson did. In other words, learn to LIVE in a state of fear and war.

That way, you have an excuse to violate rules, and laws, because you are constantly "under attack," and there is a great need to enjoin the spiritual warfare and throw down the homosexual agenda (I just got my copy of it. I like the Mimosas at 10 AM.), Bill O'Reilly's favorite progressive secular agenda(wha?), which are probably all summed up under the umbrella of Satan's agenda. Ah, the reason-for-all-the-fear straw boogie man. I'm still waiting to get my copy of that agenda. Requests so far have been ignored. Makes me wonder if anyone is really in that office....

Some day the right wing bloviators of the blogosphere, the hypocritical and self serving politicians, and the religious reich,
and apparently it will be after they are thoroughly crushed in future elections similar to last November's, and after more scandals, they will learn that what they have lived is a lie that is evident to all concerned.

Perhaps then it will mean an end to their so-called "faith." Then maybe they will start living truthfully. Then maybe they will understand what America means. Then maybe they will become a viable political party again. Maybe then they will cease to destroy what freedom and liberty are and understand what it means to live under the Constitution our founders fought and died for. And then they can once again be referred to as faithful.

I wonder what would happen to the church if they started preaching that faith was based on rational thought and love?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Crank it Up!

It's Saturday! Get those brains working! Get 'em ready to tackle the problems of the day. Unless of course you're a Christian. Then it's not the brain, it's your faith. In fact there is a Proverb that says to "lean not on your own understanding..," which is interpreted to mean that you can's trust your own reasoning.

Ignatius Loyola is quoted as saying "We sacrifice the intellect to God."

Martin Luther is attributed the saying "Reason is the Devil's harlot, who can do nought but slander and harm whatever God says and does."

Loyola is also quoted as saying that if the church states that what is white is black, we believe that it's black. Now, the point is this. There is a lot of activity within Christianity to try and present America as a Christian nation. This is referred to by historians as revisionism. So let's review a few facts about America, keeping our abilities to reason intact and open.

After all, the God you believe in allegedly gave you that brain....

The Declaration of Independence recognizes the God of Nature. There is also a reference to a Supreme Judge, which was not in Jefferson's draft of the Declaration. The point is that there was in no way an attempt to say there was no God, rightly or wrongly so.

Yet when it came to the Constitution, eleven years later, there is no recognition of God in establishing the laws of this country, or in the governance of it. It states clearly, "We the people...."

It specifically states in Article 6, Section 3, there shall be no religious test for office. In other words, James Dobson claiming that Fred Thompson isn't Christian enough to be considered as President, is flatly an anti-Constitutional view point.

The Executive oath of office, in Article 2, Section 1, Clause 8, do not include the words, "so help me god." They simply state that the office holder will defend, protect, and preserve the Constitution.

And to reiterate what the Declaration of Independence recognized, in the First Amendment it states that Congress shall not establish an official religion, nor prohibit the exercise of any religion.

A decade later, in the Barbary Treaty, which Congress ratified and the President signed, there is a specific reference to the fact that America was in no way established on the Christian religion. That statement not only reasserts the trust in "We the people," it clearly denies the assertion that our Constitution was based on Judeo Chrisitan or biblical principles.

"In God We Trust" was added to the money of the United States in 1861, based on this letter to the then Secretary of the Treasury:

Dear Sir: You are about to submit your annual report to the Congress respecting the affairs of the national finances.

One fact touching our currency has hitherto been seriously overlooked. I mean the recognition of the Almighty God in some form on our coins.

You are probably a Christian. What if our Republic were not shattered beyond reconstruction? Would not the antiquaries of succeeding centuries rightly reason from our past that we were a heathen nation? What I propose is that instead of the goddess of liberty we shall have next inside the 13 stars a ring inscribed with the words PERPETUAL UNION; within the ring the allseeing eye, crowned with a halo; beneath this eye the American flag, bearing in its field stars equal to the number of the States united; in the folds of the bars the words GOD, LIBERTY, LAW.

This would make a beautiful coin, to which no possible citizen could object. This would relieve us from the ignominy of heathenism. This would place us openly under the Divine protection we have personally claimed. From my hearth I have felt our national shame in disowning God as not the least of our present national disaster.

He sounds a bit like Pat Robertson, and such reasoning is well, hardly reasoning. But this addition to our money was during a time in our country when both halves of the population declared God was on their side.

Two years later, after the Battle of Gettysburg, President Lincoln delivered a speech that went down in history. The two best known original drafts of that speech do not contain the phrase, "under God," and there is speculation that the same "increased religious sentiment" which prompted the redesigning of the currency was what prompted Lincoln to add the phrase to his speech.

Twenty nine years later Baptist minister Francis Bellamy penned the Pledge of Allegiance. It's original wording is this:

"I pledge allegiance to my Flag, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with equality, liberty and justice for all.'

As you can see, some things in the pledge have changed. Despite President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation which freed slaves, Mr. Bellamy was encouraged to drop the word "equality" since African Americans were now segregated, and women were also on society's D-list. There were both free, but had no rights they have today, and rarely saw justice.

The phrase "the flag of the United States of America" was added in 1924 over Bellamy's protests. In 1954, 23 years after Bellamy died, and during another period of "increased religious sentiment," and the time of McCarthyism, the Knights of Columbus campaigned to have the phrase "under God" added to the Pledge.

What we see from our money, our Pledge of Allegiance, and our Constitution is that this country was not established in any way to be Christian. It was meant to be secular to allow every religion the freedom to worship.

It is the revisionists who want to establish Christianity as a state religion that are responsible not only for the changes made to the original nature of our culture, but for gross dereliction in their duty to represent truth. In other words, they are lying.

Which doesn't mean that Christianity should be stamped out. Not that it doesn't deserve that fate. Christopher Hitchen's book god is Not Great states quite emphatically, with mostly good examples, that religion is responsible for much of the suffering and death on this planet. For the most part I agree with him. Yet I have a Constitution that allows for all people to practice their own beliefs.

However, when any religion begins to interfere with government of we the people, and establish themselves by the agency of bureaocracy, they have violated the nature of our rule of law, and the Constitution.

I would advocate that money be redesigned to go back to "e pluribus unum," in place of "In God We Trust." I advocate that we quote the pledge in it's original form, and teaching what it means. And I advocate that our government divest itself on any faith based operations.

Those are the facts, and you can look up the links. Educate yourself. Get your brain, and reasoning ability, in gear. Face our history, face your beliefs, and make sure they agree.

Those who don't are living a lie. And I think we all know where that leads.