Faith-Based Wars: The First in a Series of Very Complicated Conversations

Any topic that qualifies as a complicated conversation generally contains a lot of heated passion from every side, regardless of the topic being explored. I will of course be talking from my own point of view, so go with the assumption that it’s my opinion. When I give facts, I will also provide the appropriate links so that you know it’s NOT my opinion.
So before I wade into the fray, I remind my gentle readers that regardless of how much of a twist your knickers get into, this is still a POLITE conversation. Anything less than polite (flaming, obscenity directed at the author or the other comments, hate speech, derogatory remarks without real substance for an alternate view, or sheer stupidity) will be deleted and the user will be blocked.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…” (Shakespeare, Henry V, Act iii, scene i)

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(NOTE: The strike through font option indicates use of “sarcasm font”. So sarcasm will look like this, see?)

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Faith:

—–Having faith that something is true does not make it true.

———Having faith does not make it probably true.

—————Having faith has no bearing on truth whatsoever.

——————–Having faith simply means you will believe it whether it is true or not.

So the ultra-conservative, God-fearing Republicans in our nation are fighting multiple battles on a variety of fronts. They use the Bible and their own prejudices (which are carefully and particularly exploited by the media, owned by the extremely wealthy, in order to increase those prejudices) as the way to justify denying basic human rights, which they enjoy and would be incensed to have taken away. I’m sorry, but “God says” has *nothing* to do with our government from town to county to state levels, and especially nothing to do with the Federal “laws of the land”.

It’s becoming more and more prevalent for specific religious views to guide or mandate specific legal policies (aka, laws) for every other person in the population. It’s disgusting how one portion of our nation’s citizens feel it is their “religious right”, ordered from “on high”, from the Big Daddy Himself, to disenfranchise, discriminate and disregard any other portion of the citizenry.

This nation was based on freedom from governmental interference in a person’s religious views; we were created to be welcoming to those who would seek the promise of being in America. We established the concepts of the American Dream and that this nation was the Land of Opportunity for all, for anyone who was willing to come here and seek the life they hoped for.

Apparently, somewhere along the line this got completely destroyed, forgotten or ignored. And now we are faced with a bunch of rabid, zealous, misguided and uneducated conservative citizens who are trying to bring about their God Revolution. Rand Paul has just announced his run for the Presidency, using the catch phrase, “We’re here to take the country back!” Back from who, Senator? Ted Cruz has also thrown his hat into the ring, using similar verbiage to rally the voters. This is a common theme in elections from the town’s dogcatcher up to the US President’s job.

There’s something in the news every day that connects someone’s religious beliefs to enacting new legislation, which is always something to limit someone *else’s* freedoms and rights. Or there’s articles about how the rest of us are “denying” this group their religious rights–which, by the way, they have absolutely no hesitation (nor compunction) to deny those same rights to their fellow citizens. All across the nation, we’re seeing all kinds of religious fury, from people who call themselves “Christian” but whom others call “neo-Christians”, or the term I’d like to see go into use, small “c” “christians”. These are people who use a book to feed their paranoid delusions and propagate their racism and other prejudices, believing that they have a “god-given” right to do so. Whereas Christians, capital “c”, are the followers of Jesus Christ of Nazareth and try to live by his words of love and compassion. Two COMPLETELY different groups.

Let me step back to my first sentence:” …”God-fearing Republicans”. Why is it necessary to fear, to be afraid of, the deity who is referred to as “all-loving”? Why is it, that a great deal of the conversations this particular group initiates are related to going to Hell, suffering eternal damnation and other violent acts? Here’s a term I used in my last blog, and the corresponding thoughts, for you: “Sacred Violence”–“My god is a violent god, and I am made in his image, therefore I am violent as well.” This gives the holder of such a belief the right to use violent means to convert (coerce) others to the religion. There is no real difference between Islam (conversion at sword point) and Christianity for this thought pattern. Both use violence and both believe that they are right, and justly right, by virtue of their god’s actions and commandments.

No wonder that they feel completely comfortable damning their perceived enemies, or saying that “fags should die”, or maintaining a threatening posture, usually complete with a weapon of some sort. And just so you know: waving a Bible in someone’s face can be just as threatening as holding a gun to their head if they don’t hold exactly the same beliefs as you do.

Let’s be honest, the “Christians”, neo- or otherwise, can’t even hold a cohesive front in their own ranks. The Baptists think that the Catholics are going to Hell (idol worshiping, bead fumbling Papists!). They also think that other Protestant denominations are not “as holy” because they obviously don’t follow the “true word”…the Baptist’s Bible’s word. Please, please let me know if you’ve ever witnessed this very vocal and rapidly increasing hateful, prejudiced and violent zealotry from any other denomination besides Baptist! I would suggest that these crazy people are also predominately Southern Baptist. This particular denomination has had the prime goal of fulfilling missionary duties, bringing the Word of God to everyone in the world. And the reason is not as altruistic as you might think; once everyone on Earth has the chance to hear the message of salvation, the world will end…and the believers will be taken up into Heaven.

It would be another blog to talk about the repercussions of the Southern Baptists traveling all over the world, destroying native culture while completely and utterly eviscerating the natives religions because they are pagan savages with no idea of the right way to do things and will go to Hell if they are not preached at to. It’s called “Manifest Destiny” and it is, beyond a doubt, responsible for more pain and suffering, more racism, both blatant and subtle, and the wholesale annihilation of established and functioning cultures just because they were “savages” and “primitives” to the eye of the Western zealot.

It’s important to understand the background for the Southern Baptists in order to even formulate some ideas about them. I will go on the record as stating that I was a Southern Baptist, baptized into the fold at the tender young age of 7. Did I know what I had asked for, when I indicated that I had accepted Jesus as my Savior and wanted to be dunked? I don’t know. I suspect, from this point in time, probably not. I was mimicking my mother and the people I saw religiously (haha) every Sunday. So I grew up with the mindset of “WE are right, God said so, everyone else is going to Hell”. As I got older, I began to step away from this deeply rutted road. I began attending church with my grandparents–they were Presbyterian, having made that compromise when my Episcopalian grandfather married my Baptist grandmother. (And honey, she was from Portsmouth VA, so she knew about Southern Baptist, too!) I married a man who was Catholic…and eventually, I went through the classes and became Catholic as well. When I divorced him, let’s just say that the Rock that Jesus built his Church on…didn’t exactly rush to support me in a time that was painful, filled with depression and financial anxiety. Since then I have found a path that I can walk, that addresses my thoughts and feelings about religion (although I prefer the term “spiritual beliefs”), that encourages and guides me to be a moral, loving and open person. And it’s not Christian. It works for me. Big difference between *most* religions and the Southern Baptists? No insistence on doing it “my way”–aka, “God’s way”. So I’m not going to ask you to repent of your sins and get dunked in the river. I don’t even care if you *are* a Southern Baptist. Each person must find their own path to sacredness, whatever form it takes. And part of my unhappiness with this particular group of citizens is that they do not feel “freedom of religion” applies to anyone else, that they are holding the tickets to the only ride to Paradise.

So from now on, to avoid causing any strokes from enraged Christians who see this blog as an attack on them just because they belong to a specific denomination, I will use the term “Fundamentalist” or “Fundamentalism”. Anyone, in any religion, can be a fundamentalist. Another term you might hear (or have heard of) is “Reconstructionist” which has NOTHING to do with the Civil War or the period immediately following it.

It’s really vital to understand this current rise in the insistent drive to have a theocracy-based government, especially the very frightening rise in the religious takeover of our Federal government, as something that its adherents, or “Fundamentalists” or “Reconstructionists” feel is an immutable and sovereign right to rule this land under the Mosaic law. (No, not putting little pieces of tile together to make a picture, but being based on the Biblical laws, handed down to Moses.) Let me put that in a bit plainer phrasing: These zealots want the entire nation to live under the same kinds of law that the Muslims do. They want stoning to death to be an accepted — and carried out — punishment for various crimes; they want women to get back into the kitchen and make them a sandwich. They want anyone who is not like “them” — at this point, meaning not white, not male, not out there witnessing and leading all those sinners to God — to be placed into a second class (or lower, if it’s possible) legal status, stripped of any right that “God” has told them only they deserve.

You do realize that if this occurs, America will look *just* like the Middle Eastern countries who follow the Islamic laws, right? The Fundamentalists would froth at the mouth and probably curse you to eternal suffering if they heard it put this way, but (and I’m not the first person to say it)…What the religiously radical, radically religious want is Sharia Law. They want the ultimate power in our nation to be in the hands of people who don’t make a logical, thought out and carefully considered decision on any topic, including things like foreign policy and human rights. No, they want their leaders to pray for guidance and then do what “God has told (them) to do”. This is the same group that has let it be known that their presidential candidates need to show that they are willing “to nuke other countries” to prove their worth for President. Frankly, I’d prefer my presidential choice to be willing to do *everything* else first, keeping the “nuclear solution” as the very final, all other methods exhausted for me to want to vote for them. I don’t want some trigger happy religious nut having “The Button”–who knows when he will tell us that he’s decided to bomb Europe because “I prayed and God told me to do it.”?

I really like this quote, “The main business of religions is to purify, control, and restrain that excessive and exclusive taste for well-being which men acquire in times of equality.” ~~Alexis de Tocqueville I’ll be honest, I have no idea who this person is, or why they would be famous enough to be quoted, but I like the quote. It would seem that the same religion that is encouraging sedition and revolution in God’s name (something that was not done in the War for Independence, no matter how much they try to tell you that the Forefathers were all “God-fearing, decent Christians” because they weren’t) has also failed its poorer followers, who now feel obliged to create secondary classes in order to have someone (anyone!) lower in status than they are. After all, if more people had money, we wouldn’t have our “god-given”  One Percent of the obviously Godly people who hold most of this nation’s wealth.
(From Forbes Magazine and the Wikipedia)

The sad part is, if you are not a part of that infamous One Percent and are still willing to ensure that *their* religion of Greed is fully fed (given tax breaks and such)…you’re a moron. (In the purest, clinical sense of the word. It refers to a specific level of intelligence.) Let’s face it: if you are willing to live precariously balanced on the edge of financial disaster and imminent poverty, but are still willing, nay, even eager, to ensure that the rich get richer (and as the old song goes, “and the poor get poorer”), there is something seriously wrong with your brain. You cannot say that God grants wealth, which they loudly bleat…and not be a part of that granting. Or does God not love you as much as he loves the Waltons or the Kochs?

Regardless of the specific affiliation, these poor misguided zealots are worse than the “blind leading the blind”. They are willfully closing their eyes and insisting on walking without a guide. The Bible they use as a weapon? They don’t really read it. Trust me, I have. It’s one of the most common things that people who are not able to continue with the Christian path do, reading that book, trying to understand the meaning behind the words and looking for answers that we discover simply are not there. What kind of questions are these seekers asking? How about any (or all) of these:

“Does God really hate those who identify as LGBTQ?” (And where does that put someone who identifies as any of those, in a religious sense? Why are they placed in a position of either admitting their natural sexual orientation (When you decide to be heterosexual?) or having a spiritual life according to the precepts of the religion?

“I’ve followed this book for a long time; I feel empty and alone and the services I attend to do not address my needs nor offer comfort and a way to get past these feelings.”

“Does God truly want women to take the subservient position to the males, to be nothing more than a little pet or puppet and not think or act on their own? And if so, WHY?”
(Keeping in mind that the news of Jesus Christ’s resurrection was shown first to the WOMEN, not his disciples.)

“Why do people who identify as followers of Christ (“Christians”) insist upon following the Old Testament laws? Jesus Himself said (Matthew 5:17): “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Later on, He said to the Pharisees (who were trying to get Him to admit he wanted to overthrow the Laws that they enforced) in Mark 12:30-31 : “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” He also explained that these two ideas were the basis for all the other commandments. (And there’s a LOT more than 10, check out your Leviticus and read it thoroughly!)”

(Side note: Think about it. If you love God (or whatever name you use for the Sacred Being you follow) and you love your neighbor (meaning anyone else, everyone else), you will not break the other commandments because you will have no envy or hatred, no desire to stand above your fellow beings. Pretty awesome way to live, if you ask me.)

“Why is a God described as omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent also historically (through His “own” book, the Bible) and currently described as: “a jealous God”, a God that sends his people into war repeatedly (see the Old Testament and pretty much any war in the Middle East this century and last), a God to be feared, who will, even though He is the”Father” to his children (us), place us into eternal suffering in Hell? What kind of a god is that?”

“I cannot maintain my current religious affiliation because of the rampant corruption and evil within the clergy who serve this congregation; they have no authority to teach others about following God’s word when it is very obvious that they do not.”
(See CNN’s report on this very subject, specifically addressing the issue of the US archbishops really not living their vows of poverty.)

There is a growing trend of people deserting the churches, not only Southern Baptist but from all of the denominations. With an increased awareness of things like Joel Osteen’s mansion and his very expensive suits, we can see that some preachers who call themselves “a man of God” are actually using religion to make themselves extremely well-to-do, with a lifestyle far beyond what most of their congregations can even imagine. That level of hypocrisy is enough to drive anyone out of the pews and back onto the streets. The Catholic sex scandals didn’t help.

The ones “left behind” (thanks, Kirk Cameron, for that phrase) are those who are happily and blindly following someone who is manipulating them into doing *his* will, not (finger pointed to the sky) “His Will”. They cheerfully take in the sketchy truths, the half truths and the outright lies, designed to keep them in their pews and handing over money, and then make it their own unshakable “foundation of faith”. You cannot reason with someone whose whole argument is “God says so!”. There is no way to come to a compromise of any sort because, well, “God says so!” means that there’s only the one way to do anything. Interesting that we just have to take someone else’s word for what God says, because He apparently has never heard of Facebook or Twitter.

Let me offer you this quote, from Frank Schaeffer (and if you don’t want to follow the link to his Wiki, let me tell you one pertinent fact about him: he was born into an evangelical family and with them and some other like-minded folks, they created this Religious Rabidness we are dealing with. He has since denounced those evangelical roots and shows great and obviously deeply felt remorse for his part in the establishment of the zealots who are seeking to overthrow “secular” government for a theocracy); this is from a documentary about faith, religion and how a person chooses to have either (or both)):

“There’s no way to jump that (Author’s note:the concept of faith versus truth) because if you accept a tradition and say, “I’m going there for authority”, it’s still you, a fallible human being, making a decision to accept this as true.  So you never get away from the subjective elements, so why not just be honest about it? And say “Of course this is a subjective reading of the Scripture of tradition?” Yes, I pick and choose. We all do.

We pick and choose through everything we do in life, don’t pretend that you’ve received truth in whole cloth from the sky somewhere. And I think that’s what Fundamentalism can’t face because it wants something more than subjective, individual human decisions. And yet you can’t get away from it because even if you decide some theology is true and now you’ll follow it, that is a subjective decision. In addition to which, the writing was by other subjective people, and it’s only in the Scripture because a subjective group of people decided, in some council, that they’d put it in there. And you can say that the Holy Spirit led them, or leads you or whatever, and that just puts it down another step because you’ve chosen to believe that.

That’s the true divide between Modernity and Fundamentalists’ literalism is a skepticism about our ability to decide what is true.”

~~Frank Schaeffer, Author, (“Crazy for God”)

This brings us full circle to my opening words:

—–Having faith that something is true does not make it true.

———Having faith does not make it probably true.

—————Having faith has no bearing on truth whatsoever.

——————–Having faith simply means you will believe it whether it is true or not.

Think about it. And be welcome to join this conversation.

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