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”)
“My GOD is bigger than your government.” I wouldn’t argue with that viewpoint. Christians believe that God created everything, so of course he would be “bigger” than anything else.
HOWEVER. Your God has nothing, zero, zip, nada, to do with the government at any level. Not a damned thing. (So to speak.) America was NOT founded to be a Christian country. The forefathers made it abundantly clear that the land’s government was to be separate from any specified religious association. From the US Constitution, Amendment 1: “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.”. Important enough to be the first amendment made. “Shall make NO law respecting an establishment of religion…” seems easily understood as “the government is not a religious entity”, period.
Enter the fanatical Religious Right. Right as in “right wing”. From the Wikipedia: “Right-wing politics hold that some forms of social stratification or social inequality are inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, typically defending this position on the basis of natural law, economics or tradition. Hierarchy and inequality may be viewed as natural results of traditional social differences or from competition in market economies.” And this from the Urban Dictionary: “Right Wing refers to conservatives who, by their nature, favor a small limited government with little power and little control over the people, with most of the power residing within the local state governments. Basically anti-federalist. In other words, the politicians who DON’T want more government involved with your everyday life. They don’t want the government to get too big and have a lot of control over the people.” Notably, from the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics, “in liberal democracies, the political Right opposes socialism and social democracy. Right-wing parties include conservatives, Christian democrats, classical liberals, nationalists and, on the far Right, racists and fascists.”
It’s the definition for the “far Right” (Fascists and racists) that best describes the Religious Right we are seeing these days. From dictionary.com, Fascism is defined as “a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.” I believe that if the Religious Right has its way, we will end up with a religious Fascism as our national government.
We are already seeing individual states enacting laws that completely ignore Federal law concerning equality and individual rights. Most of those laws are based on the religious beliefs of what I refer to as “neo-christians”, lower case “c” intended. These are people who believe that their book overturns or surpasses the law at every level of our governmental system. Their God “tells” them what to do and they do it. Odd, isn’t it, how their God mimics their own racist, sexist and hateful views? And when someone KNOWS they are right, there is no argument or knowledge that will remove that bullheaded belief in being right.
This group professes to believe in Jesus Christ, yet they prefer to cite (and use) the Old Testament (Mosaic) law systems and examples of “what God wants”. And if you point out to these wankers that what they are advocating is Sharia law, they will spit and sputter and burst into (righteous) flames. Not just bad enough to force your religion on others, but to not even realize that the people you hate, you hate for the reason that they are forcing their religion on others. (Not really, but that’s the view of those who think all terrorists are Muslim.)
These people are not Jesus-followers…they prefer the violent and angry God Jahovah/Yahweh who ordered entire villages destroyed–men, women, children, animals and all plunder. This type of warfare is referred to as “the ban” or the Israeli word, “herem” From Wikipedia, “Herem or cherem (Hebrew: חרם, ḥērem), as used in the Tanakh, means ‘devote’ or ‘destroy’. It is also referred to as the ban. The term has been explained in different ways by scholars. It has been defined as “a mode of secluding, and rendering harmless, anything imperiling the religious life of the nation,” or “the total destruction of the enemy and his goods at the conclusion of a campaign,” or “uncompromising consecration of property and dedication of the property to God without possibility of recall or redemption. J. A. Thompson suggests that herem meant that in the hour of victory all that would normally be regarded as booty, including the inhabitants of the land, was to be devoted to God. Thus would every harmful thing be burned out and the land purified.” The Arabic word for this is “haram”, which we have heard about with all the problems in the Middle East. (Incidentally, this concept can also be applied today by the Israelis in reference to the Palestinians.)
THIS is what the religious fanatical freaks in the US would do: “secluding and rendering harmless, anything imperiling the religious life (of their nation)”. ANYTHING imperiling the religious life…would include legislation at every level of government, as they are already doing. But I believe it would also include things like, oh…burning witches, throwing Pagans to the lions (or some modern version thereof), deporting or killing Sikh, Hindu, LGBTQ people, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist and etc. It could mean just stripping those who were not “believers” of property and assets and using them as slaves, unpaid labor with no political, social or legal rights of their own. They have already established a second class of citizens with their illogical and dangerous laws about women’s right to their own bodies.
Because they cherry-pick their Biblical references, they completely miss the part about “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”…which really sounds to me like, “obey the government wherever you are living”. But that could just be me. The full context of rendering unto Caesar, from the New American Standard Bible, Mark 12:16-17: “16They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” 17And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.” What does that mean, “render to Caesar”? Render is to give or return; Jesus and the people had been discussing taxes by the Romans on the Jews. So pay your taxes. That seems pretty straight forward. But I think it can be broadened to mean “follow the laws of the government” while “following the law of God”. If you have conflicts within the two, that’s something for you to take up with your spiritual adviser and a lawyer. It’s not a war cry to take over the government.
I would also be more willing to listen to these people if they weren’t continually proving that they are not Christians in any sense of the word. Jesus gave his followers two commandments, upon which all of the Mosaic laws were based and could therefore be followed by remembering just these two things: “Love your God” and “Love your neighbor”. They do not even follow just these two simple commands, let alone the hundreds of Mosaic commandments. They eat unclean food, they wear multiple types of cloth; they cloak their hate of anyone different under the guise of “persecuting my religious beliefs” even as they “become drunk with wine” (a no-no) and commit adultery, false witness, even murder. Too many of the (male) legislators who espouse this view of Religious Right-ness, who vilify the homosexual population, are caught with their sexual organs near another man. And if not that, then they are cheating on their wives or sexually abusing children.
You do know that Jesus also said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” That means if you are sin-free (impossible), then and only then can you condemn anyone else. Matthew 7:2-4: “…2″For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3″Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?4″Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?…” This was Jesus’ strong admonition against his followers holding others in judgment. It’s not part of the Christian list of responsibilities to worry about what anyone else is doing/saying–or not doing/saying. The only person anyone is responsible for is themselves.
That injunction is not met, many and many times per day. And not just by those who follow the carpenter and his dad. I speak for myself as someone who consistently fails to NOT judge others. It’s a “normal” reaction, to make assumptions about others as you pass them. But even though it happens a lot does NOT make it right–not even for those of us who are not Christian. I would just suggest that it’s more a sin for those who say they are God’s children because they’re supposed to know better, to be more familiar with Jesus’ words to them.
Based on what I see online and hear or read about in the news, it’s rather apparent that many folks claim the Christ, but are not living according to his words. Jesus never said a word about homosexuals, people of color, or abortions. The first person who saw the risen Christ was a woman; that was a great honor! He wanted all people to come to him; he often ate meals with the outcasts of Jewish society: tax collectors, harlots and lepers. He often flaunted the failure to follow Jewish protocols (like washing the hands before a meal). He frequently chastised the Pharisees (the Joel Osteens of their time). He reached out in love, without condemnation, to anyone who was trying to reach him.
How did his words and examples get lost over the past 2000+ years? Why do people scream their devotion and yet spew hatred and venom at others? Why, oh why on this green Earth, are people using the Bible as a battering ram and the words from that book as spears and swords? Is it because they think doing so validates their own vile and unloving behavior? We come back around to this: if you think you are right, if you think that your god has given you some sort of credentials to run this world, there is no compromise possible. Using “faith” as your winning card only means that you are stupid (ignorance can be educated; stupid goes all the way through) and have no right to tell anyone else what to do.
Persecution? Go to Iran and be Ba’hai. Go to Tibet and be Buddhist. Go to Africa and be a woman. Go to America and be black or brown or anything than white. Christians? Are not persecuted in this country. They are allowed to speak out, even in protest of the government (a rather uncommon thing in this world). The only “persecution” that’s present in our nation is the misguided concept that knowing your God is bigger than the government gives you the right to control that government, according to your Bible, carefully picked and chosen verses that will allow you to persecute all others to a lesser status than your own.
I believe, completely, in the freedom of speech and religion. I will defend, to the death, your right to say and believe what you will. I will fight, to the fullest extent, any attempt you make to enforce your words and religion on me–and my nation. And it all boils down to this reason: Religious rights do not mean you have the right to hate. I will do everything that I can to keep your hate from spreading and do it in the name of love.