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The following is an email I sent to Don Imus and a few others at MSNBC in response to a comment Imus made.

Whether we are Christian, Jew, Muslim, Agnostic,
Atheist, whatever, we have got to take this "values" debate back.  

Anyone, regardless of religious affiliation, can have respect for inaliable rights, concern for the poor, etc., and we have go to claim this debate, because "values" have been reduced to hate and intolerance.

This is in response to something discussed on the Imus program this morning, comments by Mr. Imus that all the "christians" in the red states that supposedly put Bush back in the White House see Jesus as a role model, not Michael Moore.  Much has been said about how these people have been ridiculed and otherwise not afforded the proper respect.

Let me tell you something about these people, as a person who was born in Tulsa Oklahoma 43 years ago and raised in the Presbyterian (non evangelical, non-fundamentalist)church.  

Christian fundamentalists/evangelicals are succeeding in reducing Christianity to hating gays and abortion.  These people seldom reflect the teachings of Christ in their rhetoric. They are also succeeding in eroding the separation of
church and state in this country, something I have often worried about, but never really thought I'd see happen.

For many christian fundamentalists, it is all about hating or condemming people who do not believe just as they do (and that includes other Christians), hating gays, and focusing on perceived sins such as abortion, drinking alcohol, various sexual "sins", etc.  It is about their own status of being "forgiven"
and "saved".

These people think that they are "right" and everyone else is "wrong".  Southern Baptists do not accept baptism from any other denomination, and they do not allow women to be pastors.  Catholics and Mormons are regarded as "cults".

They used to hate Jewish people, in fact, one arrogant baptist preacher from my state once made the infamous statement that "God does not hear the prayers of Jews".
Well, apparantly they are improving their relations with jews because they see jews and their control of Israel as being crucial to "the rapture" occuring.  As usual, they use people when it serves their interest.

While growing up in Tulsa, I often had well meaning friends suggest that I would be "going to hell" because I hadn't been "saved" or "born
again".  I had a friend (a non-fundamentalist Christian) who lost two full term babies, from two separate pregnancies, who was told by a "fundamentalist" Christian that she had  better re-examine her life, because she must have done something wrong in the eyes of God. This friend is one of the kindest people I know.

I can't think of a better example regarding the hatred and intolerance of fundamentalist Christians, especially regarding discourse between public figures, than the statement by James Dobson about Sen. Patrick Leahy, in
which he said "Patrick Leahy is a 'God's people' hater". He said this while visiting my state, supporting yet another radical, Senator
elect Tom Coburn.  How anyone can view this statement as anything but ridiculous is beyond me.  This is the kind of rhetoric they use,
and we should give this point of view credence?

Coburn is another fundamentalist who represents anything but the teachings of Christ.  He has said that abortion providers should be executed, that Oklahoma schools are hotbeds of lesbian activity, "Schindler's List" is pornography and
that black men are genetically predisposed to dying young.  Could that have anything to do with exposure to violence and lack of healthcare?
God help us when people like this are being sent to the United States Senate.

How many times have we heard Christian fundamentalists accuse OTHERS of being
"haters" in the past year. They demonize those who are anti-war, democrats, those who don't support Bush, and any public figure who dares to
express an opposing point of view.  They seem to forget that those public figures are also Americans.

So is it any wonder that the rest of us, even those stuck in "red states", don't bend over backwards to offer them them an olive branch? I don't think they'd take it.

I am a "live and let live" kind of person, I don't care what they believe as long as they don't attempt to legislate their beliefs, as long as they don't use those beliefs to oppress or otherwise infringe on the rights of others.  
Unfortunately, they are doing just that.

I don't know that there is anything democrats can do to win these people over, because most of these people are not thinking rationally.  And I don't want to abandon logic and reason in an attempt to win them over. I am surrounded by
people who have just voted against their economic interest because they think George Bush has some sort of connection to God and/or Christ.

On the other hand, I also see people who are moderate in their religious beliefs, who voted for Bush because they had been brainwashed by Rush Limbaugh and/or the RNC talking points/television ads, etc., into believing that John Kerry and the democrats could not protect them from terrorism.

They do not distinguish the people of Iraq from the islamic fundamentalists who hate us.  They often do not distinguish between islamic fundamentalist and moderates. They still believe that Iraq had WMD and/or that there was a
connection between Iraq and 9/11.  

Why aren't we talking about this?  This is a phenomenon that is a direct result of the failure of the news media to do their job, and a failure of the democrats to adequately educate the people on this issue.  Only 30% of voters
identified themselves as voting on "values". Didn't just as many vote on "national security/terrorism" and "economic" issues?

Maybe the media ought to give equal time to the fact that many in this country went to the polls misinformed or uninformed about the role
of islamic fundamentalism in 9/11, Iraq, and terrorism.  Why don't more people understand that our actions in Iraq are only going to increase the risk of terrorism?  Why wasn't Bush's "they hate us for our freedoms" statement
countered by REAL information by the news media?  I don't think most Americans understand WHY they hate us and attacked us.
Why don't more people understand that regarding terrorism, it was in OUR interest to keep Saddam in power, perhaps with more oversight, perhaps with inspectors back in the country, but the fact is that Saddam, a secularist, suppressed the islamic fundamentalists that want to do
us harm.  They now have a new country to play in. In all of the terrorist attacks around the world that have been attributed to islamic fundamentalists, NOT ONE involved an iraqi national or the country of Iraq.

The news media HAS GOT to start doing their job, which is INFORMING the public.  YOU are our last defense against a corrupt government.  Now, I see much of the news media (except for Keith Olbermann) ignoring the increasing reports of voting irregularities and possible voter fraud.
EVEN IF it is unlikely that the end result would change the outcome, we need to know what happened.  There was much handwringing over "e-voting" and those concerns are proving to be valid.  IF this isn't confronted and investigated, whether it was machine malfunction or overt fraud, it will happen again, perhaps on a larger scale.  Those machines should be confiscated and examined.

Perhaps other journalists should follow the lead of Keith Olbermann, and that "fake journalist" Jon Stewart and start doing their job, informing the public on the activities of their government.

Why don't you all do some real investigative reporting and come down to the red states and see how Christian fundamentalists really think and believe.  Come see how "tolerant" they are of the rest of us, what they want to impose on the rest of us through legislation, etc.  Maybe do some investigation into how their beliefs
connect to their support of the Iraq war.

The emphasis the news media is putting on the "values vote" seems to be empowering them.  I have heard of two news stories in the past two days reporting on different school districts that are forcing "creationism" into their science curriculum.  I'm sorry, but  "creationism" IS NOT science.  Creationism is theology.  No one is saying it is an invalid belief, but it is not science and does
not belong in science classes.

So please, lets focus on some other factors that affected the outcome of this election.  Now, more than ever, we need the news media to do their job.

Thanks to Keith Olbermann for such a great report on thevoting problems, please keep it up.

lrhoke
Edmond, OK

PS-Say what you will about Michael Moore, he may be unkempt and overweight, or "strident and bombastic' as Patti Davis (Reagan) said, but considering his concern over an unjust war and soldiers forced to fight and die in that war, his concerns for impoverished people, people facing the loss of their jobs, as far as I'm concerned, Michael Moore expresses what I consider important "Christian Values" much more than the fundamentalists, or the "values voters" do.  And for all I know, he may be an atheist.  If he is, I don't care, good moral values CAN BE exclusive of a religious belief. And those who wear their religion on their sleeve can easily be immoral and corrupt.

Originally posted to lrhoke on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 09:59 AM PST.

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