Thursday, September 29, 2011

Jefferson, the Anti-Christ and Supporter of the Separation of Church & State

It is almost absurd for the modern American to think of Thomas Jefferson with contempt or scorn, but in the early days of the Republic, Jefferson was not liked very well by the religious establishment. The reason, simply put, is that Jefferson had adopted that crazy, radical, out-there notion that America needed the complete separation of church & state. He came to this conclusion from both a secular point of view as an Enlightenment thinker, but also was greatly influenced by the Virginia Baptists who adopted the separation of church and state as a theological construct.

Naturally, this position ran afoul of the established churches since they would be losing their semi-official power structures (and in some case, the official position of power). Thus began the labeling of Jefferson as the Anti-Christ by most religious leaders of that day, who made the claim that America would collapse because it didn't recognize God in its founding document or make Christianity its official religion.

But the Baptists found Jefferson to be a friend in their call for the separation of church and state (Link). Now granted, Jefferson wouldn't have made a good Baptist in this theology but the Baptists did support Jefferson and even delivered a Big Cheese to him to show their appreciation.

All of this reminds me of today where it seems that the very people who are trying to protect the religious liberty of everyone often becomes the target of those wanting the majority faith to get a favored status. No different today than it was in Jefferson's world. Same players. Same issues. Different dates on the calendar.

As the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty puts it (Link):  The same Constitution that refuses to privilege any religion, protects all religions. As a result, we are a nation of Christians sociologically because we are not a Christian nation constitutionally.

Keep that wall.

Monday, September 26, 2011

ALA Criminals Say Amen or Serve Time

Bay Minette, AL, has instituted a new policy for criminals with misdomeanor convictions to serve their time either in jail or in church. News Link

What were they thinking?

Silly me. Obviously they thought a Little Bit 'O Jesus would do these people some good. So instead of relying on the private religious groups their opportunity to minister, the city has decided to help the Holy Spirit out by using the tax payer's Sword of Justice, and require prisoners to choose their sentence.

So church is now a punishment?

Wonder how these people would feel if a mosque chose to be one of the preferred organizations on the list?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Taking a Trip

I've always enjoyed going places. Why, I even get excited driving 10 miles down the road to Hiram, GA, a town that now has my favorite Mexican restaurant in all the world, Jalapeno Joe's. (Their Chicken Soup must be one of the dishes served in heaven. I'm certain of it.) There isn't much else in Hiram and the traffic is something Stephen King would like but that is not the point of this post.

I'm going on a vacation tomorrow. So I thought I would suggest a blog I found for some of you that enjoy some really good writting that makes you think. Now I mean really think. And have your ideas challenged.

Experimental Theology by Richard Beck.

Check it out.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Christian Nationalists and David Barton

I am puzzled, frustrated, amused, bumfuzzled and very confused right now. Someone please help me here.

I've a few friends who are educated, articulate and by all accounts are not the kind of people to need Tin Foil Hats, but something is just not working. They don't believe in UFOs or Big Foot or Swamp Creatures, though they will readily admit there are things for which we still don't have all the answers. However, when it comes to history, I don't know what is going on with them. These people have the idea that the United States was founded as a Christian Nation, with Christian Values and the Founders were all Christian-Right Republicans just like exists today.

And don't EVER cross them. It is like stepping on a yellow jackets nest.

One my friends recently posted on a social network the spurious quote by Patrick Henry as follows: (Wiki Link)

There is an insidious campaign of false propaganda being waged today, to the effect that our country is not a Christian country but a religious one—that it was not founded on Christianity but on freedom of religion. It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by "religionists", but by Christians—not on religion, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here. 

The quote is not true as Henry never said it. The quote comes from pseudo-historian David Barton who took the quote from a 1956 piece about Henry, placed quotation marks around it, and proclaimed it was from the lips of Henry in a 1765 speech. Then Barton gets caught and instead of admitting he made a mistake, he starts the "academic verses legal" citation nonsense and simply says the quote is unconfirmed. Barton doesn't say it was an error he made, nor does he make a retraction. Instead, he labels the untrue statement as unconfirmed. Frankly, Barton is playing fast and loose with the truth and he knows it.

Such reckless words then get into the hands of people who don't know any better, and suddenly they think Barton is giving them an accurate history lesson. In turn, there are many well-meaning people who believe some very wrong things about our nation and its beginnings.

So when I pointed out that Patrick Henry never said such a statement, my faith and character were questioned. Go figure.

Truth. It should be what we strive for. When history is twisted to fit a political objective, we all lose.

By the way, David Barton should be ashamed.

Monday, September 12, 2011

2 KY Counties Have to Borrow Money After Losing 10 Commandments Fight

There are some things that are a No Brainer and yet when it happens, I'm still in awe of the crazy things people do. Take for example the leaders of McCreary and Pulaski Counties in Kentucky. Please. Take them.

For eleven years the leaders of those two counties have been waging an obviously ill-advised campaign to display the Ten Commandments in their respective court houses. Eleven years. All the way to the US Supreme Court. They lost. (See link.)

Now they had to pay the legal fees of the plaintiff. Problem is they don't have the money to do so and they are going to have to borrow that money. Both counties are planning on asking national Christian religious organizations to chip in to help pay their legal bills.

A few observations. First, this really is a No Brainer. How these leaders thought they could get one religion's Scripture posted in what is supposed to be a hall of justice based on our national laws it beyond me. This has been tried many times before and it just won't fly.

Second, fair is fair. How would the good people of those counties feel if the leaders were to erect a Muslim monument with quotations from the Koran? If Christians can do this, other groups only need to win at the ballot box and they can do it too. Thus the reason the First Amendment prohibits such things. Again, No Brainer.

Thirdly, these leaders were elected to represent all the people of their counties, not just one religious group, a group that --- remarkably --- is the religious majority. Doesn't anyone find it even the least suspect that they would go to the mat fighting for the religion of the majority? I certainly don't. Let's call it what it is: vote pandering. These politicians did it because it gets them votes. If the majority were another religious group, we would having this same problem with their Scriptures, though the Christian minority would then be pitching a fit over their Christian tax dollars going to support such heresy. 

Lastly, I do believe the attorneys that urged these counties on in their fight need to be fired. Seriously. These attorneys knew it was a losing case --- or they should have known. They were either incompetent or negligent in their duties.

The icing on the cake is that despite the loss, Pulaski County just can't stand it and had to get one more jab at minorities and their dislike of the Constitution. In the place where the 10 Commandments were formerly displayed, there is a frame announcing the display had been removed by court order. Tacky. Very tacky.

Most of all, very rude.

And un-American.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sriracha: The Ultimate Sauce

I am not a food expert, though I know what I like and what I don't like. And I will at least try new foods. That only started about 10 years ago I began trying new foods on a lark. Amazingly, I realized I like many foods I had originally discounted, like Mexican style chicken soup. Other foods, I was forced to admit, were better when prepared differently, e.g, a steak is better medium rare than medium. Much better. To die for better.

And one day earlier this year I was listening to the radio and there was a radio report on Sriracha. Until then I had never heard of it, much less tasted it. Being that I do enjoy hot and spicy foods, I pulled into my local Kroger and immediately bought a bottle.

One bottle. With that crazy rooster emblazoned on it. Rooster Sauce is the appropriate name based on the bottle.

Based on the taste? Heavenly.

Now, I'm not going to admit that I am a Sriracha junkie and attend Rooster Sauce Anonymous Meetings, but the lunch group with whom I dine three days a week all have to get their weekly fix too.

It's good.

Very good.

I'll leave it to everyone to do their own web search about it, but here is just one article I found today that addresses much of my sentiments.

Did I mention that I do dearly love Sriracha?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Vacation is Over

I took some much needed, though unannounced, time off from blogging. My reasons were both personal and professional, but mainly I just needed to step back and read what others were saying for a while. Now, I do believe it is time to begin blogging again.

I've noticed there is far too much negativity out there and our political climate is not helping.

I've also noticed there is a dearth of real education about the history of our nation, particularly when it involves the founding of the nation. There is such danger in the pop-history that says we were founded as a "Christian Nation" (so totally not true) or that there was an intentional effort to insert "Judeo-Christian Values" into our system of government (again, a total and complete falsehood).

The normal today is a dangerous repeat of history, e.g., when in difficult economic times there will be the scapegoating of a class or race of people; the tendency to make laws that are reactionary to those outside influences that are different than the cultural majority; the tendency to make government stronger and more intrusive under the guise of supporting individual liberty; a stronger sense of self-righteousness that always blames others for the system that keeps the others marginalized; and a proliferation of media that seeks to enrage instead of inform.

There is a danger we face today. We've seen it before. Do we have the will to face it again?