Saturday, November 29, 2008

Annual Christmas Decoration Rant

Don't get me started on Christmas! Bring the boxes up. Unpack the boxes. Untangle the lights (that takes a couple of hours). Plug 'em up. They don't work. Spend another hour trying the find the screwed up bulb. Give up trying to find it. Go to the store & start cussing because they don't have the same type of lights this year. Of course my wife wants the lights on the tree to all be the same so I spend $25 on new lights. Go home & one of the kids will step on the string, breaking some of the bulbs. Not enough replacements. Go back to the store & they don't have any replacement bulbs. Buy another string plus one string for spare. Go home & get the ladder out. Cuss again because my hands are turning blue in the cold. Plug 'em up. Blow a fuse. Can't find the flash light because the kids/wife have used it & didn't put it back. Get the power back on. Start putting up the millions of things wife has collected over the last 20 years. Watch her cry when she breaks a couple of 'em. Fusses at me 'cause she is in a bad mood over taking so long & broken ornaments. Kids are starving. Run & get some fast food & spend another $20. Get home & finish the decorating. Put on the Christmas music & wife wants to take pictures for "memories." No film or batteries. Go back to the store for both. Store doesn't have either. End up buying 2 disposable cameras. Fume some more. Get home & everyone has eaten everything, including my dinner. Take enough pictures to compile a National Geographic pictorial for a year. Wife fusses at me for being grumpy --- spent the entire Christmas budget in one day, starving, & smoke coming out my ears. Dog & cats get in the tree. Tree falls over. More broken ornaments. Use bungee cords attached to the stair railing to secure the tree. Wife cries some more over more broken ornaments. I retreat to my desk to get away from the very tired but wound up kids. Wifey yells because I have to put up the now-empty boxes. I put up the boxes. Family sits around & admire the decorations. I'm still fuming. Take Pepto. Sleep on the couch.

Don't get me started on Christmas!!!!!!!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Kentucky has God in Charge of Homeland Security

This is about the strangest thing I've seen in a while. For some reason & in some way, the legislation that Kentucky passed to establish their Homeland Security department had a strange requirement: the state had to acknowledge God & place a plaque on the wall at the department's headquarters.

Today's Lexington Herald-Leader reports that law requires the state to depend on God as vital in the protection of the people, & in the Homeland Security agency's training and educational materials. It goes further to mandate a plaque be prominently displayed at the entrance to the state's Emergency Operations Center & have the inscription of the 88-word statement that begins: "The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God.’”

The language was inserted into the homeland security bill by a Southern Baptist minister who is also a state legislator.

Current Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear's office was not aware of the provision until reporters asked about it. The required plaque is still up, but the statutory language is not in the Homeland Security office's current mission statement, nor is it on its website.

First, how in the world did this sort of language get into a bill that actually passed? If it said that the citizens of Kentucky were relying on the power of Allah or Buddha or the Great Spirit in the Sky or the Big Oak Tree Out Back, there would have been an outcry to impeach every legislator that voted for the bill.

Second, I'm quite embarrassed that a Baptist would insert such language. Has the gentlemen not ever read the Baptist Faith & Message that specifically says it is not Biblical to use the state's money to advocate faith causes? Has he ever taken a Baptist history class, or any American history class, for that matter?

Third, I do hope Kentucky corrects such an egregious breach of the Wall of Separation between church & state.

Lastly, this shows the reason why we have free press. Without a free press that asks the hard questions & digs up the information, we would never have known about this.

Let's remember the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sensitive Eyes & Devo Shades

I bet some of you remember the 70s/early 80s band "Devo" (click here for the Wiki link). They are best known for their song Whip It (click here to watch the You Tube video).

Well, that's not all that important except .. well, just keep reading.

About 5 years ago I realized that my eyes hurt. I mean really hurt. And they tired easily with a lot of twitching around the eye & such. But the worst part was the light sensitivity that made it well nigh impossible to enjoy the outdoors. Since I wear prescription glasses & am terrified to have the Lasik surgery done, I have a hard time finding sunglasses that will keep out enough sunlight. Even with a good pair of clip on shades, the light coming in from the top & sides made it very difficult to see outside. Mrs. TBAR finally told me that if I was planning on driving, I needed to do something or she was no longer going to let me have the keys. Ok, Ok. She didn't really say it like that. But she did say a few things over a few years that made me realize I needed to see a doc about it.

So after the eye exam, I get the news: I'm getting older.

Well, duh!

And that means my eyes aren't like they used to be.

Oh, great. What is the kicker line?

So the doc says I need the progressive lenses & I need to get some sunshades that cover my entire pair of glasses ... you know, like those ginormous shades old men wear after cataract surgery.

Great doc. Why not just tell me I need to start taking Metimucial, too?

To make sure I understand what he is talking about, he shows me a pic. What do they remind me of? Devo. The kind of glasses Devo wore. Those goofy, really goofy, humongous, old man-looking glasses that I swore I wouldn't be caught dead looking =at= much less looking =through.=

After a few days of piecing my pride back together, I decided that it was a good thing to be able to drive & as long as I just wore them while driving, it couldn't be that bad. So I bought a pair of BluBlockers that fit over my glasses (the Starshield BluBlocker).

Man, I can see.

It is amazing. I can see. I mean really see. No glare. No pain. It's like ... wow.

Now I get a few laughs out of 'em. My teen daughter begs me to not go out in public with her. By youngest prays every night that God will fix my eyes so I won't look like the Parent Dork on the sideline at the soccer games.

But I can see.

After several months I finally had a realization: who cares. It is my eyesight, not theirs. I am not so vain as to worry about it. It is more important to be able to see well & not have eye pain than to worry about how I may fair in the latest issue of GQ.

I highly recommend these shades. Yes, everything looks amber in color but I love 'em. You can order the regular sunglasses if you don't need 'em to fit over a prescription pair. (Click here for the link to BluBlocker, non paid endosement.) If I ever have the Lasik, I'll get one of those styles.

Here's a pic of 'em. Dorky, yes, but I really don't care what anyone thinks of 'em.

I can see!


Cardboard Testimonies

I'm just gonna post this video of what we did at West Ridge Church last Sunday. Wow. It's about 10 minutes but worth every second of it. You can't hear it on the video so much, but the applause after each sign was turned was incredible. Not a lot of dry eyes in the house.

God bless & Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Godslingers & School Prayer

Last Sunday, Dr Bruce Prescott interviewed Joann Bell as she spoke of her experience with the Little Axe School District. Joann summarizes her experiences as a complainant against practices and policies associated with before school prayer meetings at the Little Axe school in 1981.

Kids were not allowed into the school while the religious instruction was going on. If the students wanted to get warm, they had to participate in the prayer meeting. And it wasn't just a prayer meeting: it was a very conservative prayer meeting, where kids were told rock & roll was the Devil's music & anyone who disagreed with the sponsoring church's theology was going to hell.

So, she tried talking to the school board where she was met with hostility. Bell recalled that board members told her “they did things the way they wanted to. If I didn’t like it, that was my problem.” Those at the meeting chanted “atheists, go home!” and one school board member handed out homemade placards to the crowd that said “Commies Go Home.” She was called those names despite the fact that she is a Christian & attended church in the community.

Here's a quote from Dr. Prescott's blog:

I got my own obituary in the mail. My kids were threatened constantly -- their lives. I was told my kids were not going to survive. They said my house would be burned. The threats to burn my home was the one that I probably should have taken the most seriously. I just couldn't see in an civilized area -- I considered that these people would not ever do that. But my home was firebombed. Unless you've ever had a fire -- the devastation is something you cannot even begin to describe. To lose everything you've ever had. And with four children you really accumulate a lot of things -- the trophies. Everything that you saved, your baby pictures, the little things -- your marriage license. You lose everything. There's nothing hardly that can be saved. One of the things, the very few things that survived the fire was the christening dress of my daughter. We have three sons and we have a daughter that we're very proud of and this was her christening dress and that little hat was melted. It's one, it's one of the things that you'd like to pass on and let them use it for their children. This is just an example of things that were ruined and what our family lost in the fire. Because we essentially lost everything we had.
While all this was going on, then-Superintendent Paul Pettigrew told the National Catholic Reporter (click here for article), “The only people who have been hurt by this thing are the Bells and McCords. The school goes on. They chose to create their own hell on earth.”

Hmmm. "Atheist." "Commie." "Go away if you don't like it." "We'll run you out of town." "It hurts your family & reputation." "This is the way we do it around here." "Don't be surprised if you suffer consequences."

Houses burned down. Physically & verbally assaulted.

That sort of stuff doesn't bode well for our witness, does it church?

Though Ms Bell eventually won in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals years later, the battle just shifted to other school systems, other city councils, other areas of Godslinger control. Fundamentalism doesn't care about the
witness but about the notches on the Spiritual Evangelism Belt. And the more notches the Godslingers can make, the more control & power they will have.

Godslingers are modern day Pharisees --- & they still complain about taking Jesus to the "sinners & tax collectors." Some things never change.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Troy Davis Deserves Some Justice

There is something very, very wrong here.

I noticed today that President Bush granted 14 pardons & commuted 2 sentences. (See MSNBC news link.) That's fine. He has the
prerogative. And he doesn't have to answer to anyone for it, either.

Here is the list:

_Leslie Owen Collier of Charleston, Mo. She was convicted for unauthorized use of a pesticide and violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

_Milton Kirk
Cordes of Rapid City, S.D. Cordes was convicted of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, which prohibits importation into the country of wildlife taken in violation of conservation laws.

_Richard Micheal
Culpepper of Mahomet, Ill., who was convicted of making false statements to the federal government.

_Brenda Jean
Dolenz-Helmer of Fort Worth, Texas, for reporting or helping cover up a crime.

_Andrew Foster Harley of Falls Church, Va. Harley was convicted of wrongful use and distribution of marijuana and cocaine.

_Obie Gene
Helton of Rossville, Ga., whose offense was unauthorized acquisition of food stamps.

_Carey C.
Hice Sr. of Travelers Rest, S.C., who was convicted of income tax evasion.

_Geneva Yvonne
Hogg of Jacksonville, Fla., convicted of bank embezzlement.

_William Hoyle
McCright Jr. of Midland, Texas, who was sentenced for making false entries, books, reports or statements to a bank.

_Paul Julian
McCurdy of Sulphur, Okla., who was sentenced for misapplication of bank funds.

_Robert Earl
Mohon Jr. of Grant, Ala., who was convicted of conspiracy to distribute marijuana.

_Ronald Alan
Mohrhoff of Los Angeles, who was convicted for unlawful use of a telephone in a narcotics felony.

Figh Pue III of Conroe, Texas, convicted of illegal treatment, storage and disposal of a hazardous waste without a permit.

_Orion Lynn Vick of White Hall, Ark., who was convicted of aiding and abetting the theft of government property.

Bush also commuted the prison sentences of John Edward Forte of North Brunswick, N.J., and James Russell Harris of Detroit, Mich. Both were convicted of cocaine offenses.


But then there is the case of Troy Davis.

The guy was convicted of killing a policeman in 1989 but there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime & no murder weapon was found. There were 9 witnesses who said Davis did it, but 7 of them have since recanted claiming police intimidation. They also contend that another man did it, who is, ironically, one of the other 2 witnesses against Davis.

Davis admits he was there & was basically a thug. But he denies killing the cop.

If the guy were put on trial today with the current slate of witnesses, he would be acquitted. Yet, he is still on death row now?

This is why we don't execute people immediately: we need to give time to exhaust every possible chance to save a life. We value liberty that much.

But in Davis' case, the system seems to be out for revenge instead of justice.

Presidential pardons are usually done out of connections or politics or both. I really don't care how they are done or why. I do care about justice. If anyone deserves to at least have the death sentence commuted, it is Troy Davis.

Wonder if Troy Davis had any heavy duty election campaign donors in his family? I'm just sayin'.

Here's a NY Times article on Davis.

Here's the Wiki link.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Honesty of Golfer J.P. Hayes

"Honesty is not something you flirt with — you should be married to it."
--- Table Top at Joe's Crab House, Aurora, CO.

Actually, it should be on a t-shirt that golfer J.P Hayes wears.

Hayes was playing in the Q School. Big deal. More than a day =after= he finishes playing the round, he realizes he made a mistake. What does he do? He calls his own foul & disqualifies himself. No one would have ever known. Yet, he does the honorable thing. And then he says that it is no big deal & that any other golfer would have done the same thing.

I would hope there are still some honest folks left in the world who would do that. I know there are many who wouldn't.

The guy deserves the accolades for being not only honest, buy having honor.

Here's the Yahoo news link, if you wanna read it for yourself.

While that is certainly a story in & of itself, the reader comments brought me back from the lofty ideals I had so hoped humanity could still display. One reader actually made the claim that Hayes only called the foul on himself to bring attention to his act & thereby get better endorsement deals next year. After all, Hayes is not a top tier player & this is a way for him to make some cash.

Here's the quote from chase07470, whomever that is:

With $7 million in career prize money, probably more in endorsements, what would the fall out be of getting caught cheating? Not worth considering for a professional golfer. Look at all of the positive media he's getting now. I bet the sponsor exemptions will be easier next year with this story all over the media. Not to be critical of J.P. Hayes but just not sure the writer considered how easy a choice this was compared to say a Tillman who leaves the NFL to fight the war. This isn't an act of heroism. It's a smart move by someone with a lot to lose.

Two things wrong with that. First, that sort of thinking shows a cynical attitude. Second, that sort of charge can really harm a person's character should it become a common belief. Without such evidence to make the suggestion, it should never be said. It is assigning motive, something that we have no way of knowing. And if we assign the wrong motive, it is called character assassination. That's why we don't do it. That's why we are commanded to not "judge others" by assigning motive, especially when we may guilty of the same thing.

Kudos to J.P. Hayes. May his tribe increase.

But to the cynics who somehow find glory in tearing down the good deeds of others, chill out while the rest of us make life worth living.

Note: The Yahoo! News link will be gone after a few weeks so I'm including another link. Won't have the snide comment, but folks can still read the story about an honest man.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Political Hacks

I'm getting quite perturbed. Both sides have shown they are more concerned about power than principles, politics than purpose, financial gain than future generations.

Quite disgusting.

I remember it was only a few years ago that many were extolling the glorious virtues of George W & his superb handling of the economy. Inflation was nearly zero. Interest rates at historic lows. Unemployment near 4%. Everything was booming. He & the GOP got all the glory. Now, those people are no longer heard from when things go south. If you give him praise in the good times, you've gotta give him the boos in the bad times.

Then there was Clinton & all the "great" economic times during the 90s. Never mind he inherited the office as the recession was ending & there was no place to go but up. Never mind the President has zero control of the economy. It was good good & everything was boom booming. Then, those people were no longer heard from when things went south the year before he left office. If you give him praise in the good times, you've gotta give him the credit for the busts as well.

So many folks were complaining to high heaven about the gas prices in the summer. They were making cuts in driving. Gotta conserve energy. Need smaller cars. Cut out unnecessary expenses. Be resourceful. And now? Back to driving in the old ways. Conservation was a fad. Buy those gas guzzlers again when petrol is only $2. Not doing much to help conserve anymore, are we?

Don't forget Ol' Sonny Perdue, Governor of GA! Yes sir. He decided that 3 cents per gallon tax that was to pay for DOT projects across the state didn't need to be implemented on July 1, 2008. The people of GA just couldn't handle it. Everyone just lauded him as a hero. Never mind some of us said it was short sighted; that gas would go back down to $2 a gallon again; that those DOT projects can't be funded without that money; that this was a bad, bad move. So what do we say about Sonny's move now? There are all those DOT projects that have no funding --- & people are driving =more= now than when gas was at $4 a gallon. Short sighted. Playing politics.

Ever noticed those bills that get passed just in time for an election to pander to as many voters as possible? There is that infamous mandatory-elective Bible class in GA high schools. (Never have figured out what it means to mandate an elective class, but only offer the class if the Board of Education approves it. Goofy all by itself.) All those politicians came back & got to say how they put God back in schools --- but very few schools in GA even made the attempt to offer the class, knowing the legal wranglings it would cause. Even the Paulding County, GA Board of Education refused to even consider the class or even have public discussions on it --- & it is the Speaker of the GA House own district. But it played well with the voters, didn't it?

Let's go back to Gov. Sonny Perdue. GA has been in a two year drought & Sonny decided to hold a prayer meeting on the steps of the GA Capital. A prayer meeting. That's what I said: a prayer meeting. Of course, he announces the prayer meeting the day =after= the weather forecast called for major storms. And it just so happened that Sonny decided to have the prayer meeting the day =before= the storms were due. Imagine how the glory did roll when the prayers were answered. Oh, & let's make sure we mention that only one faith participated in the prayer meeting on the steps of GA's Gold Dome. The majority faith of GA, naturally, got center stage --- & all the political grandstanding too.

Ever noticed those "hot button" issues that the politicians take a stand on --- but never do anything to institute that stance? Hmmm. Who got played?

Really, I'm just getting sick of it. Been sick of it.

I resent my faith being used as a ploy for votes. I resent my non-negotiables being a tool to garner a political base. I resent the politicians using special interest money to get issues passed that only polarize the electorate. Instead of doing the things to consolidate power, how about those politicians just do what we elected them to do --- lead like statesmen?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Church Jesus Creates

What kind of church should we be? I think Tony Campolo has it right. Too often our view is a glorified civic club. God help us.

Muhammad Never Existed?

(By Howard M. Friedman at Religion Clause.)

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal reports on Prof. Muhammad Sven Kalisch, head of the Center for Religious Studies at Germany's Munster University. A convert to Islam, Kalisch is Germany's first professor of Islamic theology. Hired to apply Western scholarship to Islamic studies, he has now concluded that the Prophet Muhammad probably never existed. He says this does not mean he is no longer a Muslim. Officials, alarmed at the implications of his scholarship, have removed him as head of a program to train teachers to teach religion to their Muslim students in public schools. Police have told Kalisch to move his Center to a more secure area. The Center has removed a sign identifying its location and has eliminated its address from its website.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Georgia Baptists Get Rid of Women Pastors

There is only 1 church in GA that is both associated with the Southern Baptist Convention & has a female pastor. The church has been in the SBC since 1862 & has given literally millions to the Cooperative Program.

Now the Georgia Baptist Convention has decided that churches with female pastors are no longer in good standing.

So the
GBC has decided to no longer accept money from the First Baptist Church of Decatur where Julie Pennington-Russell is senior pastor. There were no conversations with her or the church from anyone in the GBC. Just a shut down.

Of course, the
GBC says its new "policy" would allow refusal of money from other "questionable" sources, like alcohol distributors. Guess Jesus would have been kicked out of the GBC with his turning water into wine miracle, but what's the Bible got to do with a good, righteous cause, eh? Female pastors & that Devil's Brew are all lumped in the same Basket of Evil. Gimme a break.

It is obvious the
GBC adopted this policy to attack one church & one pastor. Shame on the GBC.

Here's the Atlanta Journal Constitution news article.

Roger Williams

There is a great article at this link about Roger Williams, one of our nation's forgotten founding fathers. Dr. Davis has done us all a great service by reminding us how important Williams was & the impact he had on our understanding of religious liberty.

Few Baptists even understand their own history. Let's hope articles like this remind the current SBC leaders what our spiritual & political heritage is all about.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Madison's Remonstrance, Remix Version

That Jimmy Madison. What a guy. He really knew how to tell it like it needs to be said. Guess that's why he was the guy who had the most influence on the Bill of Rights, especially in regard to our religious liberties. Those Enlightenment ideas of Jimmy's that the church shouldn't influence the state came face to face with that Baptist name John Leland, who approached it from another angle: the state shouldn't have any control over the conscience either.

So when the VA General Assembly was to consider a bill that would allow tax payer funding of religious instruction, Jimmy took that Baptistic doctrine & the secular Enlightenment ideals, forged them into a defense, & the result was what Jimmy Madison termed his Remonstrance.

The remix is how I think a 2008 version would be played. So below is the remix. I've included the original cut as well.


Remonstrance Remix 2008

We have to be ready to fight against those theocrats as soon as they raise their ugly head. We did that with the Revolution, didn't we? The patriots didn't wait until some things were already set in place to raise a stink. No way. We didn't want those sort of things to get any foothold. We saw what it would do if we let it grow & so we nipped it in the bud. We fought too hard to forget that lesson. Anyone should be able to see that if we let Christianity get special treatment, the next step would be to let one denomination become the leader of all of it. Before long, it is a certain group in that denomination who calls the shots & their interpretation gets to be the Rule; everyone else gets left out in the cold & has to conform. If gov't can let 3 pennies of tax payer money --- just 3 cents --- go to give special treatment to one religion, tomorrow it may be a different religion. Allowing one means allowing others to do the same to us & we won't like it when the tables are turned. Isn't that just obvious?

Remonstrance 1785 Original Version

Because it is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of Citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The free men of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle. We revere this lesson too much soon to forget it. Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects? that the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute three pence only of his property for the support of any one establishment, may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Cross in the Dirt

John McCain has told the story of how, when he was a POW in Vietnam, one of the guards loosed the bounds a little after one of the torture sessions. Then the guard drew a cross in dirt to represent he was a Christian. Many reports of this sort of identifying of faith have been recorded in history, though Andrew Sullivan doubts McCain's story, since it is very similar to Solzhenitsyn's story while in a Communist prison. Still, both accounts could just as easily be real. And let's add that one of McCain's fellow prisoners remembers McCain mentioning it while still over there. OK.

But let's back up a minute. Let's supposed McCain's story =is= real (or Solzhenitsyn's story, for that matter). Does no one see the bigger question behind that
guard's act? The question would be this: can a genuine Christian torture an American prisoner like that? Could a real Christian torture Solzhenitsyn simply because of political views that Solzhenitsyn had =against= the totalitarian regime of the Soviet Union? Could a real Christian torture anyone at all for political beliefs?

It does raise quite an ethical question, doesn't it? Is the act of torture even an option for a Xian?

How about this question ... many of the Religious Right make the claim that our nation was founded on "
Judeo-Christian" values. OK. So does that mean that those British soldiers that fought for the Crown were not Christian? Or just not Christian enough?

Then we can move into a very thorny question ... what of the German troops that followed Hitler to battle? Could a true Christian follow after the ideals of Fascism? Could a Christian be a Communist as well?

Hmmmm. This could be a thorny topic.

Granted I do see how someone can be so committed to the politics that the ethics of their faith get left out in the cold --- just look around for plenty of evidence on that one. However, on a smaller scale, how does one reconcile things like acts of torture & Christian practice? Killing for a political ideal? War for a mad man? Following orders that intentionally harm people?

I'm gonna have to think on this one some more.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Politics of the Religious Divide

There is an interesting article by Eric Gorski (click here) that says religion & politics come to a head in 2008 --- & religion lost. Big time lost.

Here are some highlights from his article:

Analysis: Religion used divide, mock in ‘08

With a few exceptions, whatever seemed odd or fringe trumped serious discussion about how candidates’ religious beliefs shape their approach to governance.
. . .
As the race nears its end, scholars and religious leaders are using terms like “new low” and “embarrassing” to describe how religious beliefs were distorted and picked over, while candidates were asked to mount theological defenses for their respective faiths or be held accountable for the views of others. . . . “This year we invaded churches with cell phones and started putting sermons up on YouTube,” said Clyde Wilcox, a Georgetown political science professor. “That’s been troubling, because you would like to think a candidate would have a little privacy in church.” David Gushee
, a professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University in Georgia, said that more so than in past elections, religion became “a marker of identity” for candidates this year.
. . .
But Martin Marty, one of the nation’s
pre-eminent religion scholars, already has reached one conclusion: the rancorous campaign has been bad for religion. The retired University of Chicago professor wrote in a commentary this week that the exploitation and exhibition of religion in the race is “bad for the name of religion itself, for religious institutions, for a fair reading of sacred texts, for sundered religious communities, for swaggering religious communities which are too sure of themselves, for the pursuit of virtue, for extending the reach of religion too far.”

When religion --- any religion --- allows itself to be a political tool, it is nothing more than prostitution. Religious leaders have allowed their followers to become a voting bloc instead of focusing on the sacred mission to change lives. We don't change lives by compelling people via laws & the ballot, but by the Power of the Spirit to voluntarily worship. In exchange for political prestige, religious leaders have sold their prophetic voice & led the sheep to the cliff of despair. The Hope of Christians is replaced with the
earthly promise of political power, but the end thereof has always been corruption, persecution & cold, dead orthodoxy.

The GOP is driving away people by claiming themselves to be "God's Party" of "family values." They have effectively said that non-Christians (& even Christians who aren't of a particular theological bent) are not welcomed in the GOP. The Religious Right wants the GOP to be their PAC: but Caesar is much better at the political game than religious leaders. The result is the Religious Right gets played.

The DEMs are driving away people by effectively saying they don't want to hear the "values" of Right-leaning-to-moderate Christians. That forces many Christians into a political vacuum where they feel they have no voice at all on moral issues.

We've been down this road many times in history. Each time religion & politics meld, the result is that both become unbearable. It is time we kept that road walled up, lest we miss the sign that says the bridge is out.