Demon Candy and Ignorance


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)


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



—–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.

Sacred Violence

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 is 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 commentors, 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”)

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gen 1:26-27)

The Old Testament is the Holy Book of the Jews, with the first five books making up their Torah. So the Jews would tell you that they are created in the image of Yahweh. Christians also believe that they are made in the image of the Creator. The next logical step is that if you are a reflection (in the image) of the one who created you, you should exhibit traits and characteristics of that creator. We come into a major controversy at this point because based on the Old Testament, Yahweh (Jehovah, God) is jealous, brutally violent, vengeful and generally Not A Nice Person. His behavior and words in the Old Testament would not commend him as a god to follow and emulate. But don’t take my word for it. I found a graduate student who has done the work for us. There are over 80 battles listed, against all kinds of enemies. Here is the link which leads to this list of all the battles in the Old Testament and God’s part in them:

For those of you who don’t want to go look, let me just hit some of the “God” highlights:
Num 31: 1-2 “The LORD spoke to Moses, “Execute vengeance for the Israelites against the Midianites. After that, you will be gathered to your people.”
Josh 10:8 “God says that he will defeat them, throws them into confusion, then sends hail storms.”
Josh 11:8 “For it was the LORD’s intention to harden their hearts, so that they would engage Israel in battle, be completely destroyed without mercy, and be annihilated, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.”
Judg 9:23-24 “God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the lords of Shechem. They treated Abimelech deceitfully, so that the crime against the 70 sons of Jerubbaal might come to justice and their blood would be avenged on their brother Abimelech, who killed them, and on the lords of Shechem, who had helped him kill his brothers.”

There was also a great period of civil war, which spawned two separate Isreali kingdoms: the kingdom of Judah and the kingdom of Israel. During this time, Zechariah was assassinated and Shallum ben Jabesh took the throne and was king of Israel. That didn’t last very long because Menahem came along in his turn and killed Shallum. His 10 year reign was distinguished for its cruelty–especially when the city of Tappuah would not recognize him as their king–he had every resident killed, including the pregnant women.

So now that we’ve waded through all of these examples of God and his ideas of war–and his followers’ ideas of war, let’s talk about today’s modern Christians. They will say, “God made us in His own image” and that’s fine. What isn’t fine is that they seem to cling to the Old Testament for the laws and religious rules for their behavior. If they are going to follow the Old Testament, they should convert to Judaism. If they are going to be Christians, perhaps they need to re-read the New Testament. No, just the gospels. Pick one. I have chosen the first book of the New Testament, Matthew (New International Version), for the purposes of our discussion.

John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Jesus spent a lot of time preaching about love and trying to convince those listening to him that he was not out to replace the Pharisees. Matt 5:17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.”  Jesus gave us the Golden Rule: Matt 7:12 “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (From Gal 3:24, Christians are told: “So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.”.) He was very clear about his mission: Matt 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

He made a point of reaching out to those who needed Him, whether they were “clean” or “unclean” by the standards of the Law: Matt 9:10-13 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” And He chided those who questioned Him about this practice: Matt 7:1-2 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

He also preached about the need for us to reach out and connect with those around us: Matt 5:43-48 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Jesus Christ also spent a lot of time on hypocrisy and righteousness: Matt 5:20 “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”. And Matt 6:1-8 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.5“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” He again reinforces that later on: Matt 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

He very clearly differentiates between good and evil, in actions and words: Matt 12:34-37 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” He even takes on the laws about the Sabbath and food practices when He says: Matt 15:18-20 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

Jesus also dealt with the  topic of preachers, teachers and church leaders who love their positions more than they love their fellow man. In Matt 23: 1-12 “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. 5“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others. 8“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11The greatest among you will be your servant. 12For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Incidentally, He is very specific about people who think they can maintain a certain lifestyle and still get into Heaven: Matt 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Then He hammers his point home with this passage: Matt 25:31-46 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ 41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

All of that seems dire, but that’s not why Jesus was sent to this Earth. Indeed, He told us the NEW commandments (only two of them) that his followers were to use for their lives: Matt 22:34-40 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Jesus was “gentle and humble of heart”; he healed the sick and fed the hungry; he preached about Love and praying for those who persecute you. He made the point about doing things for people you don’t know because it’s easy “to love those who love you”. Being a Christian is a life of giving up the material things that the world says you should want and living a simple, loving life, living like Christ. Two rules: love God, love your neighbor. Should be real easy to be a Christian then, right?


Can anyone tell me why so many Christians think that God made just them “special”, to be apart from the rest of us, to feel superior to those who are not Christian–and worse, to feel superior to those whose color is not theirs? Who believe that it’s perfectly all right, in fact God-ordained to refuse to follow the laws of the land whenever it refuses to let the Christians’ religious rights supersede any other religion? Please tell me where Christ ever said no birth control or no abortions; where He mentioned homosexuals as being “bad”, and why he would approve of violent threats against others just because they do not follow His Word? And why there is such a number of loudly “Christian” people who are fomenting religious overthrow of our Federal government, who believe that the Law of the Land should be the Law of Jehovah?

I have a meme that I trot out occasionally:


“I do not respect  your religious beliefs. I respect  your right to have them.” Where did this vocal group of zealots lose this concept, so that they feel free to ram their religion down other people’s throats? (Yes I said it. Ram.) If Jesus of Nazareth called for any revolution, it was of the soul and heart, certainly not a political revolution. The Pharisees feared him because he had popular support and he represented a threat to their power base–because they were political creatures disguised as Godly, Law-abiding priests.

And somehow, the lessons that the Pharisees imparted seem to have made it through the centuries better than Christ’s own message of love and acceptance. They taught fear and conniving; they showed us what hypocrisy could look like and it looked good. They taught violent methods to remove those who stand in your way–and in doing so, they returned us to the Old Testament, with its “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” mentality. They “re-infected” us, if you will, with the concepts of Sacred Violence that Jesus was trying to remove.

Sacred Violence. The idea that your religion is so right, that you are so justified in anything you do because, hey, you’re fighting for God! It means looking at war and battle as the first move, not the last or not at all. It means getting “them” before “they” get you–even if “they” aren’t even after you. Pre-emptive strikes. Necessary police action. Maximum force, first time out. Take no hostages. Scorched Earth.

We are accruing too many examples of Sacred Violence in our world today. We have religion being brought into the most innocuous places as a valid reason for invalid and illogical actions. We have the mention of God invoked when someone crosses them and they justify their retaliation with the words “Will of God” instead of acknowledging their completely irrational behavior. We see severe splintering in our country’s population as people choose between “doing God’s will” and following the secular law of our country. Those who choose God then make it their mission to take over the country. They long for a theocracy, where everyone is living by the laws contained in Exodus and Leviticus.

Hey fellas! That’s Old Testament. It’s so 2000 years ago. We have two laws: love God, love your neighbor. Be like Jesus Christ: humble and gentle, accepting and always doing the good work–feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, comforting the sick, visiting those in prison. But these poor, deluded bastards, goaded on by ministers and pastors who dress in Armani suits and live in a freaking mansion (serving money), think that this image of a Christian is wrong, it’s “weak”…it’s not “sacred” enough to actually be the thing to do. Many of the “foot soldiers” live under the poverty level; they’re not always well educated, and they long for something more. And the false prophets promise them all that they want and more, if they will just follow God’s will, as told to this false prophet just last night after the 11 o’clock news.

It’s our “sacred” duty to go into the Middle East and fight the local populations because…wait for it….they are not Christians, they are those damned Muslim terrorists. Well, I won’t argue about the terrorist part for some of them–but you don’t have to be Muslim to be a terrorist. Look at Timothy McVeigh. (Google it if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) Incidentally, that “sacred duty” is a lie. It’s all a big sell by the Big Oil companies to ensure that their money will make more money, no matter how many of our young men and women have to die to keep that money flowing.

Conversion by the sword (or by torture) is also NOT a uniquely Muslim practice, see the Crusades and the Inquisition. “Gay Therapy” (aka “Pray the Gay Away”) denies the very sacredness of the human being who is not heterosexual and Christ’s admonishment to “love one another as I have loved you” is completely ignored. He never asked the tax collectors to be other than tax collectors, or the non-Jews who chose to follow him to suddenly become Jewish before He’d accept them. He accepted every person just as they were, without trying to change fundamental parts of who they were–He only asked that each person make the choice to follow His teachings, living the things He taught and loving others without hesitation, like Him.

Threatening another person with “You’re going to Hell” is exactly that–a threat. Not only is that NOT what Jesus taught, He also admonishes us to “judge not, lest ye be judged”–and the kicker to His words about that is this: however we judge, whatever method and measures we use to determine our judgment…is how we ourselves will be judged. No thanks. Saying someone else is “evil” falls under this same umbrella, with the same consequences.

Threatening people to make them do what you want, what YOU think they should be doing, is not a good way to get anyone to do anything. If you want to see a truly spiritual change in the people around you, you must be a truly spiritual person yourself. First off, so that you’ll recognize it in others. Secondly, so that your actions and your words match and you are an example of the love of Jesus Christ, open and accepting to all without judgment. Not many of today’s visible “Christians” can claim this with any truth.

Not ALL Christians are like this. Let me reiterate: the portion of Christians I am speaking about do not fully represent all Christians within our nation or within our world. The ones I am talking about are probably a minority–but they are vocal, they are visible and their actions prove what they are and what they want to do: sacred violence. They are jealous, brutally violent, vengeful and generally Not Nice People. And there are modern Pharisees, political figures who make use of them by pandering to their desires and showering them with false praise of their resolution and determination to “do God’s will”. The media, controlled by politics and foreign interests, also controls them, either by tacitly agreeing with their world view, or through the fear of “God-less heathens” and “those who will not listen to the Lord, or his servants”.

They do not respond to logic or facts; they are emotionally centered on their views and deem any disagreement or disbelief as coming from “Satan, to test me”. And they perpetuate the Sacred Violence here in America. Others have that duty elsewhere in the world, based on their own beliefs of their religions but the end result is the same: hate, fear, and war. Sacred Violence has no limitation, no act too heinous to be done in the “name of the Lord”.

These zealots have no idea that the people who control them couldn’t give a rat’s ass about their lives or the quality of those lives. They are simply there to be used until no longer needed. Believe me when I tell you that the leaders don’t care if we get a theocracy or not–mostly because they’ve already established an oligarchy. If religion is needed to keep the masses in control, well it’s just one more tool at hand to be used. They are so sure of their control over the zealots that they aren’t even subtle about doing things that will directly affect their support base. Things like reducing funding for all sorts of social services; perpetuating propaganda about not needing public schools; vilifying unions and other labor measures that would provide a living wage without have to work to death. They want to completely gut things like OSHA, the EPA, the IRS and almost more importantly, the SEC.

These false prophets are political creatures who are psychopathic. They have no concern for anyone or anything besides themselves. They do not care about the environment, the sufferings of their fellow man, nor the future generations who will inherit the Earth that is left to them, in whatever condition it is. These creatures view war as a long term, money-making scheme and consider it an excellent way to line their pockets with even more money. They will do what it takes to get support from their blind followers for war, up to and absolutely including a religious association.

But Sacred Violence is more than war or killing people for their lack of (your) faith. While doing battle is a large part of it, let’s talk about other forms of Sacred Violence. The current disturbing trend of our police becoming more militarized as well as the “shoot first” mentality is obviously violent. But I would suggest that it is also Sacred Violence from the aspect that many of the police espouse the same zealousness as the portion of our Christian population that is so vocal these days. So the police feel that they are doing God’s will by killing those they deem for whatever reason, inferior.

I also think that Sacred Violence occurs whenever the commandments of “love God, love your neighbor” are not followed and are actually, actively, broken into pieces. For example, the rising amount of legislation designed to essentially make it a crime to be poor; the laws against sleeping in public or feeding the homeless. Or from another point of law, allowing rich and or white people to commit crimes but not face the same kind of treatment and punishment given to those who are poor and or of color. Failing to provide adequate wages, failing to have sufficient and strong social safety nets for those who need help, these are also forms of Sacred Violence.

And it’s not just done on a governmental level. Sacred Violence can be done by just one person who declares belief in God against just one other person who disagrees. The name-calling and threats on the Internet are a prime example of this behavior. Most people do not follow the first rule of interaction in the cyberworld: If you wouldn’t say it out loud to a person, don’t type and send it online. When my children were young, I explained the Internet to them in this way: the Internet is like a huge city. It has areas that are not so good to go into, that you should probably avoid. It has lots of places to meet other people. But you don’t just walk up to someone on the street and start cursing and screaming at them. And if you hear someone say something that you don’t agree with, you don’t make death threats. In real life (IRL), that can get you seriously hurt…or killed. Likewise, you shouldn’t these things on the Internet.

Most people lack the technological savvy to know that even though you may have chosen a pseudonym and hide behind it to perpetuate your version of Sacred Violence, there are people who ARE savvy and can find your real identity and personal information if you give them a good enough reason to do it. Even without that ability, it’s also possible to completely shame you on the Internet in return for vicious words. Bad enough to do this kind of thing (or as it’s called online, “trolling”) for personal or political reasons. But to feel that God has given you the mandate to be violent in your words against the “unbelievers” is the worst sort of delusion.

Violence has never been the best answer for any of the world’s problems. Heck, it hasn’t even really been an answer. Violence that is considered sacred because it was ordered by your God is still violence and it’s still not the solution. Jesus Himself suffered violence against him; the scourging, the crown of thorns, and of course, the crucifixion, but He never fought back. He prayed for his enemies, for those who committed this violence against Him. He chose love instead of violence–which was His whole mission.

Love God, love your neighbor. Because God, the Father, loves His children. And that means everybody, no exceptions. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Something the zealots need to learn and follow. Maybe then we could end at least Christian-driven Sacred Violence.

The Politics of Religion (Alternately, The Religion of Politics)

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”)

“Truth is hate to those that hate the truth, and this is the truth. They don’t like it and they label me a hater, and it isn’t that at all. I love them enough to tell them they are on the wrong path.” ~~Christine Weick, author, avowed Christian and anti-gay demonstrator. (Christine’s bio from the “Explain This!” site)

Wow. Isn’t that nice of her, to go around telling other people that they are wrong? I don’t really remember Jesus Christ ever mentioning anything along those lines. “Go now and point out to the other people around you what they are doing wrong.” Seems to me his message was more along the lines of “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” and “do not speak of the mote in your brother’s eye when you cannot even see the plank in your own.” But hey, she feels strong enough about it that she’s out there, demonstrating against the gay pride parade, got a slushie thrown on her and then threatened the thrower with pepper spray. How’s that for living your beliefs?

Let’s stop for a moment here and take a look at a couple of the words we’re going to use a lot in this blog: religion, spiritual path, beliefs, faith, and Truth.

I reject “religion” as a hierarchical, bureaucratic and manmade system, designed to program its followers into “sheeple” who cannot think for themselves. So when I say religion, believe me, it’s said with disdain. I think organized religion (as opposed to unorganized or disorganized religions?) is a corruption of what might ever have been originally intended, depending on which Holy Book you follow. So the Christians have no monopoly on it–the Muslims are also very adept as using sacred texts to further their own agendas. The Holy Book is cherry-picked to support and validate individuals’ personal concepts of faith, right and wrong, and belonging to the “right” group to gain salvation and/or eternal life. With or without virgins.

To be “saved” seems to be the culmination of interaction between a person and their chosen god/God. There’s nothing left to do but live your life out, waiting for either the Rapture or your own death to be with God. You went to the special building, you listened to The Man in the pulpit tell you how to “save” your soul, to be washed in the Blood of the Lamb, to be contrite and repent your sins, so that you can accept Jesus as your personal savior and live in the glory of His Kingdom forever. Well, what comes between “washed in the Blood/saved” and “His Kingdom forever”? There are OF COURSE, lots and lots of truly devout, truly loving and generous Christians. We’re not talking about those. We’re talking about the ones who seem to think that all they have to do is say, “I’m a Christian” and they will be accepted into their college of choice, they will get the plum job that they wanted, they will meet and marry their perfect partner–which I could live with. What gets me is that there is a vocal contingent of Christianity that seems to think that they can say “I’m a Christian” as if it were a badge of superiority, giving them all kinds of precedence over everyone else.

And it’s being used within the context of our political scene–prayers leading council meetings, Nativity scenes in front of the county courthouse, and so on, all the way up to the national level, with legislation against women’s health choices based on the “Christian” ideas of virginity and conception. And if you mention that they can’t have religion in their government (and other civic, public venues), they whine that they’re being prosecuted. But every religious belief outside of theirs, every other spiritual path, is denied the same rights as Christians on a regular basis. (The Hobby Lobby decision by the SCOTUS as the prime example)

So what is a spiritual path? How is that different from a religion? First off, it’s not a congregational thing. Oh you probably will find that there is more than one person on any particular spiritual path, but there’s no hierarchy. There’s no organized meetings for the purpose of proselytizing and saving more souls for your Big Man (or Woman) in the Sky. There is much personal introspection, reading a variety of things that help you understand what you believe and how to explain it. Most spiritual paths are ongoing, lifelong process of searching and recognizing the sacred, the Truth, within ourselves and within our world. We are ultimately responsible for our behavior and cannot explain it away by blaming bad behavior on exterior factors (like good ol’ Beelzebub). Most spiritual paths include a deep love of Nature and the planet we live on, which in turn helps us cultivate a sense of connection with other people. Connection–not division from others just because of what color our underwear is, so to speak. The term “spiritual path” covers pretty much every known belief system, but particularly when it refers to the concepts of living a sacred life.

Okay, take a breather. That’s a lot to absorb in one go. Have a sip of your coffee, or whatever is at your elbow. As they say in the military, “smoke’em if you got’em!”

Feeling better? Then let’s go on.

So a religion is a manmade hierarchy of fear and division, with certain individuals holding the power of disseminating the Truth for that belief system. A spiritual path is a Natural progression of seeking the Truth as you understand it (not as you’re told it is) while acting with loving kindness towards all beings.
A belief system is just that, an organized and structured set of beliefs that correspond to your life, your ideas about life after death and if it exists, what is it like, and the requirements for interactions with your fellow humans, as well as with the other animals and life forms that occupy this planet.

What is faith? Faith is believing in that which you cannot see, in the hope of “something better”, either in this life or the next. I have no faith. Everything I believe in, I can see and experience in the world around me. That does not make me a bad person, or someone who, no matter how well my life was lived, is going to Hell because I do not regurgitate the rules and regulations passed down to me (the “thou shalt nots) by another fallible human being.

And that last word we’re gonna use: Truth. “What is truth? Is truth unchanging law? We both have truths, are mine the same as yours?’ Pontius Pilate asked Jesus before sentencing him to death. I challenge you with my understanding of the word “truth” and the difference between “truth” and “Truth”: truth is a dynamic, ever-changing thing. I was a wife, that was true. Then I was not a wife, and that was also true. Now, I am a wife again, so it is true once more. There are many, many aspects of everyone’s life that exist for some amount of time and are, absolutely, true AT THAT TIME. But it can change, and it’s not the truth any more.

Truth, with that all important capital T, is about the Universal Truths of love, life, pain and suffering, how we treat those who can do nothing for us, what we do with our lives to be productive, caring and a beneficial part of the complex web of life. We are all connected, whether we acknowledge that connection or not. What we do affects those around us–sometimes in a profound way, other times it’s just a ripple. But even a ripple can cross the ocean.

I would never suggest that I know the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth, so help me, whichever god that’s listening. Or maybe there is no god at all. Why should your behavior here depend on whether someone “up there” is keeping track or not? I do not live a moral life because I fear hellfire and eternal damnation. I live a moral life, I do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do, a natural response to the acknowledged sacredness of another being. Or as the meme goes, “You don’t need religion to have morals. If you can’t determine right from wrong then you lack empathy, not religion.”

I believe in the opportunity for each person to have a private, holy, even mystical, spiritual path which leads to introspection and contemplation to find the sacred in all things, ourselves included.

AINO – pronounced “ay-no”. Use: AINO way I’ma gonna toe da line of someone else’s reelij-gee-ous ideas. I ain’t got none of dat reelij-gee-on no ways. What I got is a SPIRITUAL path, a set of beliefs and the strong conviction that I do NOT know the only way to the top of the mountain. I will respect any other path, I will defend their right to walk that path…but to use a manmade, hierarchical, bureaucratic and corrupted system to force others to your way of thinking…doesn’t matter if that system is awash in religious symbols and rituals, if it’s got one god’s name or a thousand gods’ names all over it. It’s not a sacred path.

And let me go on record as saying that my previous statement relates only to those Christians who would be the first thrown out of the temple, would be considered “goats”* at the Judgement Day…These people are NOT followers of Christ, they don’t believe nor obey His words. It’s just a convenient shell to hold their bigotry, ignorance and blind obedience to those who feed their bigotry and ignorance by appealing to their overweening sense of superiority to everyone else.

*Refer to Matthew 25:31-46:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (My own emphasis, because it seems that this is particularly ignored by the people who insist on their religious expression within non-religious areas like laws and corporate policy.)
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ (Again,  my emphasis. If you read your Bible and call yourself a Christian, you are expected to live by the words of the Carpenter from Nazareth. These, my friends, are His words.)
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

I used to be Christian; I know a great many Christians who are trying to do what their own book and belief system tell them will lead to a sacred life and the eventual admittance into the presence of their God. I know a great many Christians who are everything the minority is not: caring, nonjudgmental, inclusive, helping–doing the work of the sacred. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the ill and visiting those in prison.

The major difference between these two groups is not so much in their different application of the same system–it’s in their focus. Those who use Christianity to further their own ends, who use it as an excuse to divide the country into “us” and them” are FOCUSED on themselves and what they want. It’s all about them. Remember what Jesus said about the Pharisees and the other Church leaders during his lifetime? Matthew 23: 1-3 “Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law are experts in the Law of Moses. So obey everything they teach you, but don’t do as they do. After all, they say one thing and do something else.” (my emphasis and a good way to check which type of Christian we’re looking at–and it goes on, hereThen there are those Christians who follow the carpenter’s words and are focused on others, on doing FOR others, rather than TO others.

Perhaps it’s time for these Christians to stand up, united across the country–and the world–and reclaim the word “Christian” for its right and proper use. It is possible to be a follower of Jesus and be a militant Christian for the good…Onward, Christian Soldiers! Do your good works, live your good life–and use every opportunity given to you to distance yourself from the false Christians who pervert the meaning of the word!

Are Christians the only people who use their religion as a weapon (yes, I said it!) within the public forums of business and government? Of course not. Check the Middle East. You’ve got handfuls of various sects (of the mostly same religion) who are trying their best to kill each other. You see, that’s the main problem with *KNOWING* you are right–there is absolutely NO wiggle room for anyone else’s point of view. And that’s true beyond just religion–once you are sure that you know about something is the exact same moment you lose the ability to change that idea because of your surety in knowing what you know. We’re back to the concept of “truth” and “TRUTH” and a lot of people do not differentiate. They assign the same value to “truth”, even though it’s dynamic and often can be, even should be, changed as they assign to “TRUTH”, which as I understand it, is pretty immutable. There are constants within our Universe, things that maintain their truthfulness each time we check. And we should check on a regular basis.

Let’s take a look at things here in the USofA, which means talking about Christians. I reiterate my caveat: not ALL Christians are the ones of which we speak. I want you to understand beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am talking about those who talk the talk but do NOT walk the walk. We good on this? Hope so, because here we go.

First, Jesus Christ was not only a religious figure, he was a political figure as well. His death was not carried out because he was trying to get people to be good–but he was a threat to the Pharisees and their supreme position as the arbiter of religion to the Jews. They convinced the Romans that he was also a threat to Roman rule–which could not be tolerated or allowed to remain. There is a thought-provoking article here that addresses this topic, so I suggest you read that and then we’ll continue our discussion.

Okay? Good. Two things I thought were particularly interesting from the article that most of the vocal “Christians” who thunk us non-Christians over the head miss completely:

1. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). …the text is “a call to involvement in the social arena — in the struggle of blacks for true equality, the plight of underpaid workers, pollution of our natural resources, education, ethical problems in politics, medicine, and business, and other contemporary problems — just as Christians were formerly active in the war against slavery, child labor, lack of freedom of the press, and immorality. We should mourn for such things. And we should mourn deeply enough to do something about them.”

It’s obvious to anyone who watches the news (or is on the Internet) that this call to “involvement in the social arena” is pretty well ignored by the very folks it was meant for. They are standing with the crowd that wants to dismantle any and all social safety nets; destroy Social Security; maintain and increase protection for the corporations and their greed in the form of GMO foods or fracking rather than protecting the population from the effects of this corporate greed, and so on. They want to deny equality for anyone who is not like them–which pretty much covers the rest of the population except for old white men and the women they have brainwashed, dominated, or in some other manner gotten to go along with their plans–probably in the form of religious law and quoting Scripture. One of their favorites is this passage from Ephesians, chapter 5:
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Seems straight forward, right? Women are supposed to submit to their husbands (or fathers, or whatever male is in charge of her…) because the Bible says so, (pointing finger at text) RIGHT THERE. Hold on to your hat, gentle reader. Let’s look at the next part of that passage:
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Three verses for the woman and NINE for the man. But it all boils down to this: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church…” And no one seems to add that portion nor live it. Imagine a husband who loves his wife as much as he loves himself, cares for her with the same attention he gives himself. The result of a man loving his wife so dearly is that she will love him–it’s almost a biological instinct for the female. And in turn, her love for him will nourish and strengthen his love for her. It’s a happy happy joy joy cycle. And it’s one that is sorely missing in many of the Christian households that were established only on verse 22.

It seems especially lacking in the very public lives of the tele-evangelists and activist religious leaders. We see a lot of headlines about adultery in what should have been a holy marriage, a sacred bond between two people who love each other and share the common religious beliefs of Christianity. We also see a lot of discovered homosexual behavior among people who condemn the LGBT community for being “unnatural”, “a sin against God” and so on. Hypocrite much?

So the very obvious failure to live the words of being socially involved, to seek out and work for social justice begins at the very hearth of those who have been directed to that social justice. Small wonder that being racist comes easily; the idea that women are walking incubators without rights as people because they aren’t really people–only men are–is a religiously mandated concept; and that anyone who is not like you does not deserve the extraordinary and superior position of privilege you hold just because “you’re a God-fearing, flag waving, loves dogs and small children Christian.”

And as a direct corollary to that, point number 2. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6). … “righteousness is more than that …. In the Hebrew culture, people thought far more about the community than they did about the individual. Righteousness was not primarily about one’s personal relationship with God; it was the standard for right relationships between people … this passion for a righteous society was a part of Jesus’ meaning when He pronounced His blessing on those who hunger and thirst to see righteousness dominate the affairs of mankind.

When you know that you are right, that you alone know the Truth as contained within a book that you pick and choose the parts to support this mindset…righteousness goes right out the window. You have absolutely NO motive for social justice and no desire to be a part of the rest of the community. You separate yourself (and the others like you) from the greater population and in doing so, manage to create the exact opposite of what this verse is teaching. Our country is SO divided: men versus women, blacks versus whites, rich versus poor (a topic for another day, trust me!), “straight” versus “gay”, and on and on. We’re so busy making and maintaining these divisions that we miss out on the fact that the corporations are buying our politicians (we’ve been manipulated into not voting by media propaganda); they are destroying the environment at a rate that is mind staggering; they are poisoning our water, our soil and our air–even with the Clean Air act–and they’d like to remove all regulation from their activities so that they can make even more egregious amounts of money, to hell with the rest of us.
We’ve become a Third World country (see here for just 6 reasons why this is so) and a lot of that has to do with the people who use Christianity to dictate public policy and laws. We can’t teach evolution in our science classes because, well….God made the Earth 6 million years ago and Jesus rode on a dinosaur. We don’t need food stamps or welfare because the poor are just too lazy. If they don’t have food, let them get a job and buy it. Oh, but we’ve sent many of the jobs overseas. (here) And so it goes.

It is easier to control someone who is poorly educated, who has very limited career options, who will carry staggering debt just to get the college degree that is a necessity to get any job beyond “would you like fries with that?” and who turns to religion to try and make sense of this dismal and grinding life. It is easier to control someone by telling them that they are the chosen one, part of an elite group, having the deep knowledge that they are right in all that they believe. It is easier to control the population by fomenting division and encouraging splintering into lots of little groups–none of which has any real ability to create change by itself. It takes a village, so the saying goes. But our “villages” (lives, homes, communities) are being destroyed from external forces (here) or (here) as well as the continuing propaganda against “those not like us” — usually described as “sinners” or worse. How about a “Christian” group whose website page is “Godhatesfags. Really? (here) Yes, really. I cannot find Scriptural verification that God (or Jesus) doesn’t like the LGBT community.

They say that there are three topics one does not discuss at a dinner party: religion, politics or sex. The reason for that is pretty clear: they are all very emotionally loaded subjects, people hold very strong opinions about them and as history has proven, people are willing to die (or to kill) to prove their devotion to their opinion. And when you mix any one of them with another, it’s not just a powder keg– you’ve added an already lit fuse to that explosion waiting to happen. Using your religion to control the politics of our society is a very bad idea for so many reasons–but to me, the main reason you shouldn’t put a private (individual) religion into the rules (laws and policies, state and federal levels) of our society is that you are countering the injunctions given to you by the very man whose words you use to prove you’re right.

By the way, you also are totally ignoring the First Amendment to the Constitution. Once again, it seems like these so-called Christians are using the parts that they like and disregarding the rest. The First Amendment provides for the ‘freedom OF religion”, in that each person shall be responsible for their own religious beliefs and they cannot be punished for them–but it also explicitly states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” which means that while you are allowed to practice your religion, you are NOT to make it a state mandated (or Federally mandated) requirement for the citizens. Politics and religion are not a match made in Heaven (excuse the pun) and should not be the guiding force for any public arena.

If you want to know how your religion fits into having a position within the local, state or Federal government, consider Jimmy Carter. A deeply religious man, he did NOT make his beliefs the law of the land. (here) and (here) If you’re interested in the overall religious beliefs of our Presidents, check the Wiki (here). Is it possible to be both a devoutly religious person AND a political figure? Yes. It just requires a good balance between your own opinions/beliefs and the requirements of the job you hold. This is true of any job–not just politics. Your religious beliefs and the required behaviors of those beliefs are intensely personal (even if an entire congregation practices exactly the same beliefs) and have a very specific place in secular life. Your beliefs should be the guide for your life, to uphold the sanctity of each person, acting in a moral and compassionate manner and to consistently behave in a way that exemplifies those beliefs. Whether you’re the head potato fryer at the local hamburger joint, a cashier in retail, an engineer, a CEO, a city council member or the President of the United States, your religion shows in your actions and not in your words–and is never used as a threat against your fellow man. Or woman.

And that, dear reader, is the politics of religion: live your religion, don’t talk it. Or as the kids say, “If you’re going to talk the talk, you’d better walk the walk.” “For I was hungry and you fed me; I was naked and you clothed me; I was ill and you healed me, I was in prison and you visited me…For as you do this unto the least of these brothers (or sisters), you have done it unto me.”
And now we open up for discussion!