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I've been posting in first amendment and religious forums for as long as I've owned a computer. Most of the time, people will politely disagree, and discuss their differences  and their similarities seeking common ground. There will be the occasional right-wing fundy (not just any fundamentalist, but a special kind of fundamentalist who wants to make HIS religion the law of whatever land he is a citizen of , and to kick out anyone, including co-religionists, who don't agree with his interpretation of the his holy book 120%---and EVERY religion has them) who will tell everyone they are going to hell , but for the most part, people will be fairly civil to each other.

The most recent example of this occurred not on a religious list, but one which dealt with sexual freedom and bdsm.  I write erotica so this issue is important to me.  A gentleman posted that there was going to be a demo at a sex shop in the Atlanta area--a shop which was in full compliance with the law but whose very existence in their county had some fundies hot and bothered in a BAD way.  The gentleman mentioned that the protest was led by the local Christian Coalition group and a   minister who planned to use tactics the pro-life movement has used in the past--taking photos of anyone on the opposite side of the issue or entering the story as well as writing down license plates with an eye to identifying people and outing them as perverts (or something). He was letting people know so that if they were in the closet, they wouldn't find themselves outed. He didn't disparage Christians or Christianity in any way at all, merely wanted to provide pertinent information

The immediate responses were three emails in which the writers accused him of hating Christians, and went on to decry the loss of morality since liberals began persecuting Christians.  Mind you these were KINKY people, which means msot of them are pretty left of center. I posted to politely point out that no one had made any disparaging remarks  about Christians, but that knowing who was running the demo gave us a better idea of how arage it would (big) and how well-organized  (very) it would be--and that, like it or not, it wasn't Wiccans, Buddhists, Jews or Hindus trying to shut the palce down, but CHRISTIANS.  The list owner stepped in and banned the topic before it disintegrated into an all-out brawl, but I continued the exchange off-list with the most rabid of the three.  It was an eye-opening discussion for both of us.

The first thing I asked her was what she meant by persecution of Christians and people hating Christians. Could she give me examples. I simply couldn't understand how members of various sects a religion which counts 80% of Americans as members and who elected this president and Congress were being persecuted.

She sure could. Christians, she said, no longer had any rights, while other religions were demanding special rights Christians had lost.  I asked her to be more explicit.  She was.  Christians couldn't pray or read the Bible in school.  Teachers weren't allowed to witness in public school classrooms.  Christians had to tolerate every other crazy nut group cult with respect even though they were all going to hell, but couldn't practice their religion on the job or in school. Christian values--opposition to homosexuality and premarital sex --were mocked, while sex ed pushed that being gay was fine and encouraged kids to have sex by shoving birth control at them. And it was all the fault of liberal activist judges who hated Christianity and didn't care that the Founding Fathers intended this to be a Christian Nation Under a Christian God..

The light dawned. She was mad as hell about some Supreme Court decisions which had declared prayer and Bible reading in schools, teachers using their classrooms to spread their beliefs,  and not permitting religious harassment int the workplace. From her point of view, Christians had had these rights since the earliest days of this country--and those damned liberal activist  judges had taken them away. She was partly right.  What she didn't see was that the Supremes had decided correctly , and that their decisions were firmly based in history and the original intent of the Founding Fathers.

I set out to explain how the courts worked and began with a hsitory lesson.

First  I looked at her sincere belief that the Founding Fathers intended to create a Christian Nation.  While the Declaration does refer to a Creator, the writers of the constitution deliberately chose not to. There is no mention of Christ, Christianity, a Christian Nation, a Creator or God in  this document. None. Nada. Zilch.

Moreover, this belief  that Christianity should hold a special place in our nation should have been laid to rest when the constitution was ratified, because one of the clauses clearly states that there is no religious test for public office--in other words, whatever  you believe or don't believe is irrelevant when you run for office. There were lots of objections to this, because, as was pointed out, that meant  CATHOLICS or even ATHEISTS could be elected.  Despite the objections of a few, the constitution was ratified and, Falwell and Robertson to the contrary, and anyone of any faith or none at all, is entitled to hold public office.

Just in case that wasn't clear enough, the Bill of Rights stated that " Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"  thus guaranteeing that there would be no established church to which all must belong  and that all religions--ALL, not just all CHRISTIAN religions--must be treated equally. Of course, the devil is in the details, and people have been arguing about just what those two clauses mean  for two centuries.

There is one other document that is pertinent to the "Christian Nation" debate, and that is the Treaty of Tripoli, whose negotiations were begun  by George Washington, and the final wording signed by John Adams, and ratified by Congress which states: " As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

There it is in black and white: America is not, nor was it  ever intended to be, founded upon the Christian religion.  It is a nation where the majority of its citizens are Christians, but it is NOT a Christian Nation.  That Alexis, the woman with whom  I was discussing this issue . had never heard of the Treaty of Tripoli nor understood the implications in either the first amendment  or ban on religious tests wasn't her fault, but  that of our educational system which fails miserably when it comes to teaching Americans about our history and them meaning of our laws.

I went on to explain WHY the Founding Fathers were so adamant about freedom of religion extending to ALL faiths--the nasty religious wars that had been occurred from t he Crusades to the Catholic Church's Inquisition to the English battles between Protestants and Catholics to the Puritans versus Everybody Else to the laws which gave English Catholics far fewer rights than Protestants had (especially in Ireland).  Unlike Alexis, the Founding Fathers knew all about these wars, and wanted to avoid them in the new nation they had created.

Unfortunately, these principles were often not followed in reality.  The white males who could vote were by and large Protestant.  

What she didn't understand, was that those practices had ALWAYS been unconstitutional.  It's just that until the 1960s, non-Protestants in this country kept a low profile and didn't sue for their rights. Instead they formed their own educational system which they paid for to avoid their children being indoctrinated into lukewarm non-denominational Protestantism. Catholics turned to parochial school, Orthodox and Hasidic Jews founded yeshivas, and evangelicals created their own Christian academies.  It was easier t keep their heads down.

She asked me if prayer in the schools was so wrong, why they hadn't challenged it earlier.  I pointed out that African Americans should always have had the same rights as white people, but it wasn't until the 1950s that they had organized en masse and taken on the system, even though there had always been some who had fought for their rights.  Catholics in America were relative newcomers--except in the state of Maryland which had been founded by Lord Baltimore to be a refuge for English Catholics.  They were immigrants and poor and on the bottom of the social ladder: Irish, Italians, Poles, French, Spanish.  In order to keep your job and not be labeled a trouble-maker, you keep your head down, and you don't make waves. You stick with your own.  And you find ways around the laws.  The Jews did the same thing. Eventually you assimilated and won grudging acceptance--but you still didn't make waves.

Unfortunately, in order for the Supremes to conclude that a law or practice is unconstitutional, someone has to sue, and then the case must make its way through the judicial system.  Nobody was willing to do so until the 1950s.

It wasn't until the African American civil rights movement  paved the way, that religious minorities were emboldened to fight the system that oppressed them by forcing their children to sit through what amounted to religious indoctrination.  While Madelyn Murray O'Hare was among the first to take on school prayer, many of the other cases were brought by deeply religious people whose beliefs system was being.  The co-plaintiffs with Murray when the two cases attacking school prayer and Bible  reading  finally reached the Supreme Court were a family of Unitarians.  The two families who brought suit in Santa Fe v. Doe, the decision which banned student-led public prayers were , respectively, Catholic and Mormon. In fact, they had attempted to settle privately by requesting that the prayers be rotated  so that all religions might have a chance--but that was rejected. Only then did they file suit.

Alexis began to get a glimmer of understanding.  Christians had been permitted to do things that were unconstitutional.  All the courts were doing was leveling the playing field, and treating ALL religions precisely the same.  The rights she saw  as being taken away from Christians were rights they never really had. Non-Christians weren't trying to persecute Christians or demanding "special rights" (whatever that means' but merely asking that they be treated the same as Christians.  Since the justices intelligently realized that there is no such thing as a non-denominational prayer that will not offend anyone's religious beliefs (including atheists who have the same rights as believers to their lack of belief), schools cannot require mandatory unison prayers.  Another solid reason for not permitting them is that while students whose religious beliefs differ substantially from the majority  could simply ask to be excused, this marks them as

different' and sets them up to be bullied, something that has happened to Wiccan kids several times ( google Tempest Smith for a particularly sad example).

I went on to explain that the reason teachers cannot use the classroom as a forum for expounding their religious beliefs--thus infringing to some degree on their freedom of speech--is that when they  teach in a public school, they stand as representatives of the government--and the government MUST remain neutral.  A second reason is no teacher is forced to take a job in a public school; instead they choose to do so, knowingly accepting that infringement on their rights.  Students, on the other hand, are required to attend school, so they have greater rights to discuss religion and practice it. They may gather in groups before and after school and during free periods to pray, and int he classroom they may pray in a non-disruptive manner. They are free to carry Bibles or other religious books and read them outside of class.  They may interject their religious beliefs into class discussion in a non-disruptive manner. When she asked for an example, I suggested that " I believe homosexuality is a sin and that practicing homosexuals must become straight or say celibate to get to Heaven" would be acceptable "God hates fags and all you perverts are going to help" definitely isn't.   The same applies to  T shirts --" Homosexuality is a sin" is probably OK but "God hates fags likely isn't."  Students may share their faith with others in free time at school--but they aren't permitted to harass them.

I went on to explain that the same rules apply to the workplace, though management does have the right to regulate limit behavior during working hours. For instance, they could have strict rules about what may be displayed on your desk, banning all religious paraphernalia. That is probably legal if it extends to all religions equally. If they single out one faith--Christianity, say,--it isn't.  If they permit use f company facilities to one religion, they must do so for all. And they cannot ban religious behavior during breaks or lunch.  There are however limits to how far one can go with religious speech in he workplace--it can become harassment.

We both benefited from this exchange.  She learned some history and law, and I learned that a lot of Christians aren't paranoid but simply have never had the facts explained to them.  I made sure she had links to the court decisions so she could read them herself, and to some websites explaining the ratification of the constitution.  While she still felt that Christians had lost something very valuable and that the schools and morality had suffered  from it, she now understood that ALL religions were being treated the same, that the rights Wiccans, Muslims, Jews, Hindus were demanding were simply the same rights Christians had had--that they weren't "special rights" at all..

So next time, when you are tempted to lambaste some fundamentalist who complains about Christians being persecuted, understand that from their point of view, they HAVE lost something important--and that they probably don't know that they were the ones with special rights.  Explain the truth to them politely.  One thing I have found helpful is to ask them how they would feel if Christianity was a minority faith, and Muslims predominated. Would they want their child to be forced to pray toward Mecca during school hours? Would they want their child to have to listen to readings from the Q'oran and to be taught the Muslim faith?  That puts it in perspective--and if that doesn't work I ask if they beleive that parents and only parents have the right to decide what religion their children will be raised in.  The answer is  always "YES!"  I then point out that prayers and Bible reading and religious instruction in the public school  interferes with parental rights.

Once in a while someone will retort that those decisions were wrongly decided. At that point I explain stare decisis, and that they have been the law for over 40 years, and are unlikely to be overturned.

When Christians talk about hatred for Christians and being persecuted, it is a sincere position and must be respected.  They see a world changing fast, moving away from the traditional values they grew up with and which they cherish.  This is a very difficult time in history, and many people don't cope well with diversity.  The anger we hear on these issues often stems from fear that they will be overwhelmed by these changes. With rare exceptions (the Christian Reconstructionists, who want a Biblical theocracy to replace the constitution) most just don't know the facts of history and have never had the legalities explained clearly.  Our schools do a miserable job when it comes to teaching history and the constitution.  

I hope I'm not sounding condescending here.  I'm trying not to. I am not singling out Christians or trying to paint them as dumb or uninformed. It's just that in all the years I have posted on the Net in forums, it is almost always conservative Christians who  see themselves as persecuted or hated, and who really don't know why things have changed so much in a few decades.  From their point of view they have lost something very precious, and their resentment and anger is perfectly understandable--and until we acknowledge that, dialogue isn't possible, and the culture wars will continue to rage. And that hurts all of us in the long run.

We face global problems. Poverty. The abuse of women and children. AIDS. bird flu and other illnesses that may become pandemics.  Pollution. Global warming. Overpopulation. These are not issues one nation or one religion can fight alone. We need to work together.  We must not allow religion to divide us.  We must seek common ground, the areas where we can agree, where our interests and our religious beliefs are similar. And that cooperation must begin at home. How can we tell Sunnis and Shiites to get along--if Catholics and Southern Baptists don't set an example?

NOTE: crossposted from Streeet Prophets

Originally posted to irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 12:11 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Brilliant and worth diary..... (3.75)
    Certain Christians don't realize they are being used to advance the very unchristian and secular agenda of large corporate interests. There is a rise in hate speech, in demonizing gays and people who seek abortions, to the point of actually stalking and picketing such people. In the meantime the very effective right wing propoganda machine spins Christians as the victims by announcing that there is "an attack on Christmas" and other such nonsense.

    As progressives, we need to declare war on religious fundamentalism (Christian, Muslim, Jewish ----I haven't seen any Buddhist fundamentalists, but if there are any, lets declare war on them, too).

    We need to support the separation of church and state and diligently educate people on why this separation is important. I will give you an example: I have seen a LOT of criticism of France's decision to secularize the public schools by outlawing ostentatious religious displays (crosses, scarves, Stars of David). France has balanced the fundamental right to a public education with the importance of freedom of religious expression and found, correctly, I think, that at some point, this religious expression comes to dominate the school --they need look no further than America for examples of our confused and hair-splitting treatment of religious expression in public schools. It's a slippery slope, and pretty soon you are not educating people anymore, you are praying in school, having after school prayer clubs, and teaching creationism. France said, you know what, you can't do that here. We are here to learn and these things distract. Vive La France!

    Thank you for taking the time to educate someone on these issues (not the scarf issue --that's my hobby horse and most people disagree with me on this!).

    "What luck for rulers that men do not think." - Adolf Hitler

    by Bensdad on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 12:21:16 PM PST

    •  Declaring war on them (3.98)
      exacerbates the problem, and alienated people we might be able to work with to some extent.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 12:25:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think (4.00)
        I'm in love with a witch.

        its a non-stop disco betcha its nabisco betcha didn't know

        by kharma on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 01:23:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Nice diay, IW (4.00)
        Of course, it's not all Christians who feel this way by any means. A minority believe they're persecuted.

        And many, many Christians do agree with a strict interpretation of the separation of church and state, for the sake of keeping government way from their own religion as well as for the sake of fairness and human decency.

        •  While it's certainly true that not (4.00)
          all Christians feel this way, it seems pretty clear that there's a significant number that do.  I think this becomes evident in reading the responses to Darksyde's diaries on why he's an atheist.  It surprised me that so many believers responded to Darksyd with such great offense and a sense that they were somehow being persecuted.  There were numerous remarks about atheists shouting and yelling and trying to take away the beliefs of believers.  It seems to me that atheists just want to be left alone, are just fine with others believing what they believe, and only speak up when they feel the beliefs of others are being forced down their throats and when their rights are being infringed upon.  When the atheist does speak up, many Christians (note I didn't say all) respond by screaming holy hell and that their beliefs are being trampled upon.  At the risk of getting in a fruitless battle, I think a number of Christians (again not all) have a real difficult time tolerating the beliefs of others or listening to criticism.  This is especially evident in the frequent attempts to redefine atheism as a sort of faith, to tell atheists what they really believe, to suggest that atheists can't be moral, or to claim that atheists are somehow just bitter.  I suspect that this is an issue of cognitive dissonance (people become very defensive and combattive when forced to sustain a belief that's very difficult to sustain on the basis of rational evidence), but it would really be nice for some to walk a bit in the shoes of others and reflect a bit one why non-Christians and atheists get so worked up about this issue.  It's not about whether or not God exists imo, but about beliefs being imposed on others.
          •  The only thing (none)
            that bothered me about Darksyde's diaries were his depictions of those who do believe in religion as being whacky, crazy, and delusional because their beliefs were not rational. That was just plain wrong.  If everybody wants to get involved in a subject that we all know causes dissension and flame wars, go ahead.  I would happily read a diary about atheists if it did not contain attacks against people who do practice (or who simply believe in God.)

            When I read a diary that contains insulting language about a group of people, I get angry.  There's no reason for it.

            Someday maybe there will be a courteous and civil discourse on religion, but at this rate I'll have been dead for quite awhile before that happens.

            We do not rent rooms to Republicans.

            by Mary Julia on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 08:08:57 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah. I understand where he's coming (none)
              from as there are a number of religious people that do have this appearance.  However, there is a long tradition of theology out of which a great deal of contemporary logic is drawn.  I think atheists reveal their ignorance when they appeal to empiricism.  Most contemporary science emerged not out of the tradition of empiricism, but out of the rationalists such as Descartes, Leibniz, and Kant.  All of these figures saw belief in God and the practice of science as interrelated and indispensable.  On the one hand, I don't think it's a mistake that the major empiricists did not themselves make significant contributions to science.  On the other, I don't think it's a mistake that the rationalists, including Newton, made significant contributions to the sciences.  While I am an atheist myself, I hardly think there's anything irrational or crazy about the reasons that theologians and philosophers such as Descartes or Newton had for believing in God.  Indeed, for them it was a matter of logic.
              •  Well, yes and no (4.00)
                There is no reason to believe that the Rationalists were capable of separating their prejudices from their attempts at rational thought.

                They certainly claimed that their faith or religious belief was a matter of logic. They didn't, however, do a very good job (IIRC) of backing up their logical assertions.

                The empiricists may not have done a good job adding to scientific theory. That does not necessarily mean that they were essentially wrong.

                I'm reminded of being an undergrad of philosophy and going to a discussion of a paper written by a grad student who had claimed he had come up with a "logical existence of a personal deity". Of course his argument fell apart very quickly under serious questioning.

                Logic, whatever its roots, does not do well in trying to prove an existence of a God. Some would say that it's a distinct lack of faith that inspires the attempt.


                •  Sure, my point was only that the most (none)
                  rigorous reasoners were led in this direction and that they did not see a conflict between logic and God.  I think part of the issue here has to do with the assumption that scientific knowledge is the most rigorous knowledge.  In fact, mathematics holds this place of esteem.  This is significant as mathematical reasoning leads us to certainties about mathematical entities that we've never experienced or observed.  I suspect this is why the rationalists were comfortable in their reasoning about God.  For them it wasn't a matter of observational reasoning that was important, but about a reasoning akin to mathematics.  Whether these arguments hold up under scrutiny is another matter.
            •  Darksyde gave plenty of warning (4.00)
              about the potentially offensive content of his diary.

              And furthermore, you can not sum up what it feels like to be an atheist in a world of believers without making it clear that to most atheists the beliefs of the believers sound completely insane.  That was the point of his diary (what it feels liek to be an atheist in the US), and he would have been doing his topic a disservice to not make this clear.

              I caught about 20 minutes of southpark last night, it was making fun of scientology, they did an episode a while on mormons.  All they do is display what it is that these people believe, and most people think it is very funny because it sounds crazy.  Every religion I have ever learned of sounds equally crazy to me, Scientology, LDS, Xian, Islam...  None seems more feasable than any other from the outside.

              Imagine, having your current beliefs, and living in a world full of scientologists.

              I also want to say that I agree with Philoguy.  I try not to be "a loud atheist" unless I feel my rights are under attack.  But, I can't help but think that all of this complaining about "angry atheists" sounds a bit like the complaining about "uppity niggers" from a few decades ago.

              "That blood was already on the flag; we just made it visible." - Clare Grady

              by tamman2000 on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 05:44:55 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Gotta love it when (none)
            the religious folk attempt to attack atheism by calling it a religion.  

            They certainly know an insult when they see one....

          •  I agree (none)
            It is not a handful of the religious right that feel they are persecuted, it is a large percent.
            Notice I said religious right..rather than just religious moderates, religious conservatives or religious liberals. It is that far right base of Bush's...about the only ones sticking with him who are unlikely to vote for Democrats.
            Some of them will even say they do not like the Republicans' economic policies or cutting programs for the Poor but they say their Religious beliefs trump everything so they feel they have no alternative but to vote Republican. They are being used by the GOP but they will never believe that because the the GOP is just that good at making them feel they understand their persecution and they will fight for Christian conservatives.

            America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand-Harry S. Truman

            by wishingwell on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 07:42:32 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Declaring war on IGNORANCE (4.00)
      works. Declaring war on religion or religious peopel doesn't.

      I disagree with the way the Frenc have handled this.  I would prefer to see diversity welcomed rather than he condemned.  Banning symbols doesn't make the beliefs go away.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 12:28:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  symbols and beliefs (4.00)
        Banning symbols doesn't make the beliefs go away.

        The point was NEVER to make the beliefs go away - just the persecution and harassment they engender.

        •  Band aids (4.00)
          I think banning the symbols as a method of ending pesecution and harrassment is just a band aid solution to the problem.

          The ignorance and hate is still there, we've just put a more pleasing cover on it. It's kind of saying it's OK to be a Mulsim, or Jew, Catholic, whatever, as long as no one knows.

          We need acceptance, not avoidance.

      •  French church and state issues are weird (4.00)
        Having spent some time in France, and having discussed religion and politics with several French citizens, I've decided that France has an unusual perspective on the separation of church and state.

        For example, many French citizens are shocked that Americans can be married by a priest, minister or rabbi.  Every religious couple in France is literally married twice: Once by the government, and once by their religion. You actually have to hold two different ceremonies in two different buildings, and everybody piles into cars in between.

        The American government is supposed to be religously neutral.  The French government, on the other hand, is supposed to remain completely isolated from religion in all ways.  This apparently dates from bloody days of the Revolution, when people, um, lost their heads. (Sorry.)

        I don't like the head scarf ban, either, but I understand it: The French schools are run by the government, and all traces of religion must therefore be absent. In the United States, of course, it would be an insane and unconstitutional decision, but by French standards, it has a certain logic.

        •  It's not as alien as you think (4.00)
          In Massachusetts - the Bay Colony, that is - marriage was a civil institution, not a religious one.  Since 1635 or thereabouts.  That is why our Supreme Court was able to argue that provisions in the Mass Constitution forbidding the creation of second class citizens applied to the institution of marriage.  Because it was always recognized here as a CIVIL institution.

          As it should be.

          •  I agree (4.00)
            Our elected officials should not be blathering about the "sanctity" of marriage. Only one's religious institution can sanctify marriage. Otherwise it is a civil contract. One more area where the religious want to use the legal system to enforce their beliefs.

            "Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar." Edward R. Murrow

            by justrock on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 06:50:29 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Can we PLEASE stop... (4.00)
        "declaring war" all the damn time? It's a negative frame that implies that the only approach to solving problems is to demonize and perpetrate violence upon them.

        You declare war on an actual physical enemy, not some construct. Declaring "war" on a concept (ignorance), a tactic (terrorism), inanimate objects (drugs) and a socioeconomic status (poverty) is bound to fail.

        Josef Stalin famously remarked, when told that the Pope opposed him, "The Pope! How many divisions has he got?" The same principle applies here. Who is the enemy? How many troops does he have? What are his defensive and offensive capabilities? What kind of weapons does he use? What is his command and control structure?

        It's ridiculous, and it needs to stop.

        •  I was using the term (none)
          the person I was replying to used--I didn't choose it.

          The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

          by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:31:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  agreed (4.00)
          the overuse of war metaphors makes war seem more appropriate.

          Momma, who are we voting for? Big momma gon' vote for Rod Blagojevich.

          by your friend steve on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:47:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I agree but... (none)
          obviously the problem with the political system in this country is the fact that many are ignorant, and some don't even care that they're ignorant.  The problem arises when people hold strong opinions on things they don't really know much about.

          I'm sure we can all agree that the rampant ignorance in this country is a problem that needs to be treated before we can realize our true potential as a nation, right?  I mean, there's not much of a point for democracy when ignorance is celebrated.

          We need not declare war on things, of course.  Metaphorically speaking, though, we do need a "war" on ignorance.  And by that, I mean we all need to go out of our way, as progressives, to correct any instances of ignorance (if possible) we encounter throughout our daily lives.  Of course, educated people can respectfully disagree, on things that are a matter of opinion.  But, there can be no disagreement when it comes to FACT.  Each side can NOT have it's own set of facts, that contradict each other.

          In this case, if not a "war on ignorance", we definitely, at least, need an "agressive campaign to stop ignorance in it's tracks."  Of course, no one will ever wipe out all ignorance in the world.  It's not possible.  Looking at it that way, yes, you will ALWAYS lose.  But I consider every instance of ignorance that is corrected a victory.  In this case, the metaphor of a "war on ignorance" is not so bad.  I mean, what does "war" mean in this instance but to educate the masses?  A worthy goal if there ever was one.  And I hope you'll all agree with me on that.  

          •  I don't think that (4.00)
            correcting "ignorance" is going to make friends and influence people.  As to FACTS, facts can be manipulated.

             What do you mean we are going to have a war against ignorance? And we are going to fight it by correcting someone when they say something we think is ignorant?  Boy, will that make us popular! I don't talk to anyone that way. I think I would sound rather pompous and arrogant. When you insist on showing how intelligent you are, all you do is make the other person stop listening.

            And, hey, you know,on correcting someone's "ignorance" I might just be WRONG. Yikes!  If we are trying to elect candidates, showing your arrogance ain't going to earn anybody any votes.

            We do not rent rooms to Republicans.

            by Mary Julia on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 08:23:10 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Buddhist Fundamentalists (4.00)
      They have them in Japan.  They're called the New Komeito (a legitimate political party), and are out-and-out open theocrats.  So it could be worse here.
      •  How could they be theocrats? (4.00)
        Buddhists don't believe in god. They have a theology, I guess, but they do not worship god.

        "What luck for rulers that men do not think." - Adolf Hitler

        by Bensdad on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 12:52:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  If you think about it though.... (4.00)
          Soviet style imposed atheism and theocracies really are the same:  Imposing one school of thought for the benefit of top-down leadership.
          •  Both authoritarian, but... (4.00)
            ...the Stalin-style model proclaims that power flows from the leaders themselves, and theocracies proclaim that the power flows from (insert deity here) to the leaders. At least Stalin admitted that he was taking power for himself.

            But militant Buddhists does seem like a strange concept.

            (I'd challenge your equating of atheism and religion, but I think we've had enough of that around here lately.)

            "What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out, which is the exact opposite." - Bertrand Russell

            by Mad Dog Rackham on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 04:33:00 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Actually quite possible (4.00)
          When you look at the strict definition of theocracy, it's the entwining of religion/belief system with government. So the fundamental Buddhist group, while not believing in god(s) could be called theocrats if they are entwining their religion in governmental policy, at least that's the way I read it.

          We already have it here, IMO anyway.

          •  the common element is authoritarianism (4.00)
            Vested authority (that is, authority with power)--whether religious or ideological--leads to trouble when it becomes unchallengeable. If by questioning the prevailing orthodoxy, whatever it may be, one is jailed, ostracized, or run out of town on a rail, authority has turned authoritarian (a.k.a. totalitarian).

            In my view it's authoritarianism (in its many, many guises) that we have to guard against.

            Is nothing secular?

            by aitchdee on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 04:12:18 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  they're a cult (4.00)
          that call themselves Buddhist...

          like La Rouche calls himself a Democrat.

          (-6.88, -8.31)-- "fuck your war... and your president."--Snake Plissken

          by binFranklin on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 05:23:39 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  And Sri Lanka. (4.00)
        The term theocrat does muddy the water. Mixing politics with protected, in some sense state-supported belief is the point.
        •  Jaffna today (4.00)
          of 700,000 people in Jaffna, perhaps only 100 people voted (Jaffna is Tamil and the Tamils were boycotting the presidential election today).
          •  Sri Lanka's problems (3.75)
            ...started in 1956, when S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike began recruiting fundamentalist Buddhist monks into politics and braying about the "Sinhala Buddhist nation" - never mind that 30 percent of the population was not Sinhalese, and 40 percent wasn't Buddhist.

            Bandaranaike was assassinated by a monk for not going far enough, and Sri Lanka gradually descended into a nightmare of ethnic hatred and eventually civil war from which it has yet to emerge and may never emerge.

            •  A good book I read this summer (none)
              "Funny Boy" by Shyam Selvadurai.  It was a novelization about growing up during the late 70s/early 80s in Colombo.  He is Tamil as well as being gay, and gave an interesting insight in both aspects of his being during that critical period of his life.
      •  They may also be linked (4.00)
        to the extreme nationalists witheir balck armbands abnd trucks that paly happy amrchign music.   USed to run into them when I lvied in Japan.

        For themsot part the Japanese aren't particularly religious--they msotly do thigns because it's tradition.

        Thjere was a pol where Japanese were asked  "Are you Shinto?"  


        "Are you Buddhist?"


        "Are you religious?"


        A lot of the equivalent of Ewster and Christmas Christians.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:30:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Pagan Fundamentalists (4.00)
        I used to know a Neo-Pagan fundamentalist.  He liked to bitch about Samhain-and-Beltaine Pagans (like people who are Christians, but only on Christmas and Easter).  Seriously.  He used to be a born-again Christian until his youth minister tried to molest him or something, and apparently that only turned him away from Christianity, not from fundamentalism.  And although as a Pagan fundamentalist, he may have been somewhat cooler than a Christian fundamentalist, he was still a fundamentalist, and that's a pretty warped thing to be.  Very driven and judgemental.
    •  A long history of fundamentalism (4.00)
      This is a superb post and thank you very much for writing it. I am particularly grateful for the information on the Treaty of Tripoli which is new to me. I do love learning something new every day.

      I have a slightly different perspective to the history of religion in the US  which I hope is not too jarring.

      In summary:
      The 16th and 17th century religious revolutions in the various Kingdoms of the British Isles led to the development of highly fundamentalist sects.

      One strand in this was a literalist interpretation of the Bible. Another was the belief that Government should be in the hands of those Born Again into the spirit.

      The idea of `Government By The Saints' was tried out disastrously in the early years of the English Republic (The Commonwealth).

      Starting with the later years of the Commonwealth and greatly accelerated after the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660 members of these sects moved to the American Colonies. They did so in many cases order to create communities where they could persecute people who did not worship as they did. For example Massachussets routinely hanged Quakers found within its borders).

      In the early 17th Century the Great Revival raised grassroots religious awareness.

      A strong element in the evolution against the English Crown was the influence of these religious enthusiasts and it was usually only where they had wide grassroots support that the revolution had overwhelming support. In those areas (Massachussets again is the prime example) the men in the ranks  were fighting for a theocracy.

      (Fear of this theocracy is one reason why so many Americans supported the Crown - more Americans enlisted in royal forces over the war period than in the Continental Army).

      The main exception was Virginia where a political class steeped in Enlightenment values more or less kept control of the `official revolution' structure.

      During the `Articles of Confederation' period the religious hardliners got associated with the failures of the diffuse government. The Constitutional Convention (called to head off a military Coup d'Etat by disgruntled Continental Army veterans) was deliberately slanted to Enlightenment representation. The secular Federal state was devised to quarantine the local Religious enthusiasts.  (Massachussets did not disestablish its State Church until the 1820's for example).

      The Fundamentalists experienced the application of the Secular provisions of the Constitution as a godless coup and a betrayal, were not happy about this  and complained bitterly at the time and thereafter.

      The really unhappy moved on westwards, leaving the East more conventionalised.  Later as the New States developed, the religious enthusiasts came under pressure to become `respectable' like the east. So hard-liners moved on again.

      The hard-line protestant fundamentalists became influential in the states that became the Confederacy. Being the religion of the defeated rank and file after the Third Civil War of 1861-65  (In terms of religious development in the English speaking territories, the First Civil War was the British war of the 1640's and the Second Civil War the one usually called the American Revolution)  hard-line protestantism became a cultural defence and comfort, and one by definition specifically resistant to theological watering down by Northern Liberal Preachers and Episcopalian social climbers .

      This theological worldview is now for the first time in the history of the USA staging an effective counter-bid for power, stripping off the Enlightenment veneer built up by the political manoeuvring of the 18th century constitutional elite from Virginia.

      Bottom line of this analysis: This theological movement is not new, dates right back to before the foundation of the USA, has always commanded considerable grassroots support outside the ruling social groups of previous years, has never accepted the assumptions of the Enlightenment Constitution, and is now in its own assessment finally coming into its own  to establish Gods Kingdom on earth.

      And I don't think this is a very hopeful outlook. Sorry.

    •  selective use of history (none)
      Isn't informative.  Trying to use the Treaty of Tripoli as some sort of "proof" that we are not a Christian nation would be as silly as using the Treaty of Tunis or Monoco as proof of the opposite.  

      The treaty of Tunis especially:

      God is infinite.

      Under the auspices of the greatest, the most powerful of all the princes of the Ottoman nation who reign upon the earth, our most glorious and most august Emperor, who commands the two lands and the two seas, Selim Khan I the victorious, son of the Sultan Moustafa, whose realm may God prosper until the end of ages, the support of kings, the seal of justice, the Emperor of emperors.

      The most illustrious and most magnificent Prince Hamuda Pasha, Bey, who commands the Odgiak of Tunis, the abode of happiness; and the most honored Ibrahim Dey; and Suleiman, Agha of the Janizaries and chief of the Divan; and all the elders of the Odgiak; and the most distinguished and honored President of the Congress of the United States of America, the most distinguished among those who profess the religion of the Messiah, of whom may the end be happy.

      The treaty of Monoco was written before Tripoli, and it mentions God. "In the name of Almighty God", Tunis was written a year after Tripoli so we went from "not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion" to "those who profess the religion of the Messiah" in one year?

      None of the treaties prove anything from that time period except whatever was necessary to be put into them as language to get the other side to sign?  Was put in.  

      If you really want to decide if the US is or is not a "Christian Nation" read the early state constitutions.

      We don't remember days only moments

      by psyche777 on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 06:50:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It matters how it all is handled too (none)
      While we have to keep stressing the importance of the separation of church and state and that is not constitutionally sound to have prayer in public schools and other governmentally funded programs....we also will insist on freedom of religion or freedom from religion for all.

      I think also some kids do not understand the separation of church and state and public school officials as well as community leaders have to be careful to not criticize those kids and teens who post religious events or symbols on public property who otherwise, the parents will shout out..that Christians are persecuted. I think it all involves a delicate, sensitive approach rather than a War mentality. As it only adds fuel to the fire to go after every little things with a vengeance.

      I can remember 30 years that the Art Students in my high school spent days and days on a Massive Window Nativity Scene Mural. The Art teacher was wrong to allow them to do this ..all that time..and painstaking work ..all to have to be to
      washed off the windows ..the whole length of the front of the building. Kids were literally in tears and parents were yelling...
      " Christian Persecution". I felt badly for this kids and pissed at the teacher who knew better.

      Remember kids do not always know better and that needs to be handled delicately. As going after kids who do not understand these things only lends fuel to the fire.

      America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand-Harry S. Truman

      by wishingwell on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 08:31:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Backlash and Thomas Frank (4.00)
    Hi irishwitch,

    Thanks for the post.  It is an amazing condition, the notion of the persecuted Christian.  It's tough to argue such a thing when Christianity plays such a prominent role in our society.  This is one aspect of the conservative backlash, a movement of sorts, through the eyes and words of Thomas Frank.  I highly suggest you add What's the Matter with Kansas? if you haven't done so already.  Frank is articulate on the backlash movement, notably on the plight of The "Persecuted" Christian and other sociopolitical oddities in the deepest of red states.

    •  I find it hard not to laugh (4.00)
      when I hear someone complain that Christians are now persecuted. I usually shame them a bit with examples of Christians who truly were persecuted.

      Christians are no longer ravaged by lions. They are free to worship openly and do not have to fear being matyred.

      •  Yeah (3.92)
        I appreciate that.  When you think of the saints and martyrs who were genuinely persecuted for their beliefs these people that complain about being persecuted because store clerks are saying "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas" just have no clue what real persecution is.
      •  not only that but (3.80)
        they control nearly every part of the country.  Christians aren't persecuted in any way shape or form anywhere in the US.  its just nonsense.  

        they claim to be persecuted because they can't force Christianity on everyone at every single momet.  that's being oppressed to Christians afflicted by the modern day persecution complex.

        and of course that doens't mean all Christians, just those who make such outlandish claims.  but on the other hand, personally speaking, I haven't met many who didn't claim this to be true either so...

        just be thankful for what you've got

        by itsbenj on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:23:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Clearly, there's something.. (none) the religious fundamentalist mindset that is so fixated on persecution that it will even fabricate it where it does not exist.  

        Witness the evidence.  Persecution and martyrdom is buried deep in the DNA of monotheism.  After-life brownie points for being persecuted or dying for the god. A pornographic fascination with the ravaged flesh of martyred saints (would you like a St. Sebastian pin-cushion for Christmas?). Special treats in heaven for those who die as martyrs.  The notion that if you're hated, you must be doing something right for Jesus.  

        My theory is it all feeds into the fundamental hallmark of religion -- the Us-vs-Them tribalism that demands that they separate themselves from the rest of humanity.  Since they have no evidence that they behave more ethically than anyone else, they have to find some distinction.  Voila -- persecution fits the bill perfectly.  They need to believe they're singled out, that they're hated, and since it's too painful to be merely ignored as irrelevant -- they eagerly embrace the notion that they're being persecuted by 'God's' enemies.  It feeds a fundamental need of the fundamentalist.  

      •  Yes! (none)
        Christians in this country feel they are persecuted because: ( as some people send these emails and in talking to people who feel Christianity is at risk..)

        • Prayer in Public Schools is not Mandatory
        • Christmas Displays and Religious Programs in Public Schools are not done.
        • Because they think In God We Trust or One Nation Under God will be taken out and that constitutes persecution.
        • They are afraid Prayers will taken out of the Senate, House and other Government functions.
        • The average basic cable has at least 2 Christian TV channels if not more and if digital or satellite, as many as 15 yet they feel TV programs are not Christian oriented enough..they want all TV programming to be religiously oriented.
        • There is no public prayer at sporting events.
        • Stores are open on Sundays.
        • They pick out Doctors, Lawyers, Realtors,
        Plumbers, Electricians, Mechanics who are Christians and even if that Pro is a Quack, they will trust them only because they spout their Religion. They feel seculars are taking over the world and they need to infiltrate. I was referred to a specialist by the a Right Winger. I asked why and for their credentials and was told,
        " Well he is a Christian". It turns out this doctor was one of the meanest, nastiest doctors I ever encountered.

        America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand-Harry S. Truman

        by wishingwell on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 07:55:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Those Christians who feel persecuted (none)
          In the USA would not know Real Persecution if they tripped over it. They have no idea what real religious persecution is and they need to travel more to other countries.

          America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand-Harry S. Truman

          by wishingwell on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 07:57:20 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thank God (3.94)
    for intelligent, articulate, and PATIENT people like you, Irishwitch!

    Call me an elitist, if you will, but I simply don't have the patience to deal with ignorant hypochristians like your friend. My feeling is that its their responsibility as good citizens to know our history and to understand and respect freedom of religion and seperation of church and state. I wish I could be more like you, and I wish there were more like you on our side.

    Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

    by drewfromct on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 12:37:50 PM PST

    •  Agreed. It's especially rich to hear (2.40)
      sanctimonious moralisms from somebody in a leather bustier and a whip.
      •  A woman (4.00)
        in a leather bustier with a whip can tell me whatever she likes!

        Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

        by drewfromct on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:06:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Excuse me (4.00)
        but you jsut insulted me indirectly. I am also kinky.  Thsi woman was a submisdive and wasn't wielding a whip. Not that that mattes

        Kinky peopel coem in all flavors of religion but tend to be tolerant. They also tend to accpet other people's sexual fetishes.

        And bdsm is STRICTLY consensual with the aprtners negotiating limtis and strictly respecting htem.  Nothign happens to a bototmt hey don't want to happen. Trust me a top who doesn't stop when a safeword (pre-determined word that calls an immediate halt) is used, gets a bad rep real fast.  Kinda like a SOuthern Baptist showing up[a t church roaring drunk and doing a striptease.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:39:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Excuse ME (none)
          please. If you're referring to my second comment, I meant no insult, direct or otherwise. I am well aware of the social dynamic of bdsm--and anything else on that subject I would prefer to dicuss privately, if you don't mind. Would that be ok with you?

          Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

          by drewfromct on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:56:31 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually (none)
            drew, wasn't responding to you but to smallbottle--

            "Agreed. It's especially rich to hear

            sanctimonious moralisms from somebody in a leather bustier and a whip"

            It was the judgmentalism in reacting to soemone else's sexaulity that got me. ANd the stereotypiing of alexis as a Domme.  

            I OWN a leather bustier--actually I own half a dozen corsets, some five inch heels, and a really terrific pair of patent leather boots  with platform soles. I wear them to Goth Nights at clubs when we go out, as well to dungeons.

            I am out as kinkly becasue I have stories in printt hat deal with it.  I use my own name when I publish them.  WHat I DON'T normally do is tell people out of the lifestyle--jsut as I dont normally discuss whcih oral sex techniques I prefer---not their busienss. Imentioend thsi here because I felt safe knowign that whiel theis woman was a fundamentalsit, she was also likely NOT to be utterly closed minded becasue she had accepted her own sexuality whcih was nto mainstream (and she wasn'toen of the CHristian BDSMers who us ethe Bible to jsutify their fetishes and bleive ONLY women can be subs).

            The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

            by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 04:40:27 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Hardly (none)
          You can do whatever the hell you want, as long as you give the same allowance to others. Which is exactly what the right-wing pseudochristians don't do.
    •  It is hard (none)
      to have friends and family who are religious right wingers. But I also refuse to throw away a friendship or ditch a family member whom I love because of this. They just know unless they want a heated debate with me, to shut up about these things around me. As otherwise, those few friends and family who are religious wingnuts do have other redeeming qualities and have been lifelong friends who sadly have been led astray. But otherwise, they are so good to me, I cannot ditch them over this. Now if they disrespected me or trashed me, that would be far different. But they so respect my views and are good eggs other than their beliefs. As there are people who are wonderful to us and have proven themselves to be loyal, faithful, loving and nurturing friends and family who are sadly and unfortunately, wingnuts!

      America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand-Harry S. Truman

      by wishingwell on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 08:02:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yeah (4.00)
    I mean it's really simple.  Equality always feels like oppression to people who had benefitted from the old system.

    "The youth smoke grass in grassless jungles"-- Kanye West

    by ChicagoDem on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 12:41:41 PM PST

    •  Or, as I like to put it ... (4.00)
      I mean it's really simple.  Equality always feels like oppression to people who had benefitted from the old system.

      Or, as I like to put it: they're not being discriminated against, they're just not being discriminated for as much as they're used to.

      Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

      by Bearpaw on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 01:20:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Also the reason that Sunnis (4.00)
      are going to have a hard time getting used to a non-Sunni dominated Iraq.  Even if the Shia and Kurds treat them absolutely fairly (big assumption given the past), they're going to feel persecuted.  

      "Help us to save free conscience from the paw -- Of hireling wolves whose gospel is their maw." --John Milton

      by ohiolibrarian on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 01:55:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Persecuted Christian Meme (3.96)
    is broadcast and reinforced 24/7 by Religious Broadcasters and other conservative media.  It is effective in building funding for conservative ministries and loyalty to conservative causes; nothing motivates people to reach for their wallets or contact their legislators as quickly as fear.  Your conservative Christian friend has been influenced by this incredibly disciplined message whether she is a direct consumer of Religious Broadcasting or not.  I admire your patience in educating her about the real history of religious freedom in our country.

    On Bush's Brain: "What a terrible thing to have lost one's mind. Or not to have a mind at all. How true that is."

    by Rusty Pipes on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 12:42:01 PM PST

    •  The exchange of eamils took about 10 days (4.00)
      I was trying to avoid dumping too much information on her at one time. I started with the Christian NAtion  idea and worked from there. Basically I pretended I was teaching 8th grade AMerican history

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:09:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Did you have to mono syllabular words (3.00)
        And write 1 sentence a week? Most of the home-schooled fundies I know can't speak English, only in "Tongues" <SNARK>

        "I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies." Green Day

        by UndercoverRxer on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:17:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Funny thing about that (4.00)
          In one of my theology courses at college, we learned (and unfortunately I can't cite the source here) that the whole notion of "speaking in tongues" was meant to be that the speaker could be understood in any language.  Essentially, the Holy Spirit would give a good evangelist the ability to overcome the ancient curse of Babel, and spread the Word to people all over the world (transcending the traditional Jewish milieu).

          So "speaking in tongues" meant speaking in a universally-understood language.  Which is why I always laugh when I see these holy-rollers gibbering and blabbering nonsensically, claiming that they're speaking in tongues.

          Though, in a sense, it's a sad symbol of modern-day fundamentalism: what was meant to be a spirit of inclusiveness and harmony is reinterpreted as a way of separating the "true believers" and their culture, making them incomprehensible (and, they suppose, superior) to everyone else.

          Packer, you Republican cannibal, I would sintince ya ta hell but the statutes forbid it.

          by BrooklynRaider on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:34:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  tongues (4.00)
            The description of the story of tongues from the Book of Acts makes it pretty clear that the Holy Spirit was doing a Charles Berlitz on the apostles, not making them babble in glossolalia.  The modern use of "tongues" in many Pentecostal settings does seem to be as a way to mark the "in-crowd" -- glorifying the speaker rather than God.
            •  Xenoglossia (4.00)
              Just did some more research - you're right, Acts describes the apostles speaking in a way that everyone, no matter his/her native tongue, could understand.  And, really, isn't that supposed to be what evangelicism is all about?

              I note that, in Corinthians, Paul describes glossolalia, saying that the speaker would be talking to God and not to his co-religionists (and no mention at all of speaking to non-Christians).  But Paul also says it's not something to get too excited about:  "But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue." (Cor. 14:19)  And anyway, Paul said a lot of weird shit.

              Packer, you Republican cannibal, I would sintince ya ta hell but the statutes forbid it.

              by BrooklynRaider on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:22:29 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  She was in her 40s and not (4.00)
          home schooled.

          And no, I didn't insult her intelligence, but pretended I was teachign an 8th grade hsitory class.  I was a junior hoigh librarian once upon a tiem so I have lots of prctice breakign things down into manageable bits.

          The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

          by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:02:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  So true (none)
      The media and talk radio reinforces that Christianity is under attack. Then Sundays, their preachers reinforce it. Then their neighbors, coworkers, friends reinforce it.

      That is why it is a losing battle to get some of these  hard core religious right people to see the light and be rational. As for some, they might as well be brainwashed cult members who need deprogrammed. But unless we are able to be around them 24/7 with the TV and radio off and to change churches, most will not change.

      America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand-Harry S. Truman

      by wishingwell on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 08:05:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks! (4.00)
    For taking the time to articulate the situation.

    I just hope that nobody skims it, and then goes on a rant about how you're being anti-christian...

    I'm NOT in Detroit. Unless you count mentally, in which case I'm also 1000 years in the future.

    by detroitmechworks on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 12:42:47 PM PST

  •  The Treaty of Tripoli (4.00)
    As Joel Barlow (read below) is a great-great-great-great-great uncle of mine, I have a special place in my heart for the Treaty of Tripoli.

    Here's a little of what Robert Boston writes about it and about Joel Barlow:

    The treaty has figured prominently in the ongoing debate over whether the United States was intended to be an officially "Christian nation." Advocates of church-state separation point to Article 11 as evidence that public officials in the fledgling United States were well aware of the government's non-religious character and weren't afraid to state it publicly. Religious Right advocates have worked to undercut the treaty's significance and imply that Article 11 represented the views of only one man.

    The man in question is Joel Barlow of Connecticut. A reluctant diplomat who had aspirations of being an epic poet, Barlow served as the United States' diplomatic agent to the Barbary States, charged with concluding treaties with three countries--Algiers, Tripoli and Tunis. Barlow spent two years in North Africa, hammering out agreements and working to the keep the United States from going to war with the Barbary States. Among his duties was overseeing the negotiations of the Treaty of Tripoli.

    The conflict between the United States and the Barbary States is today largely forgotten, but in the 19th century it was the stuff of legend. Today considered an obscure figure, Barlow was a central figure in the drama. In his time, he was a leading political thinker, writer, diplomat and poet.
    In addition to writing epic verse--he worked for 30 years on his epic poem The Columbiad--Barlow wrote treatises on political philosophy. In the fall of 1791, while living abroad in Britain, Barlow penned a book with the unwieldy title Advice to the Privileged Orders in the Several States of Europe Resulting from the Necessity and Propriety of a General Revolution in the Principle of Government. The work's second chapter attacks established churches.

    Barlow biographer James Woodress notes in his book A Yankee's Odyssey: The Life of Joel Barlow that in Advice to the Privileged Orders, "Barlow makes a clear distinction between the state church as an ally of authoritarian government and plain religion. He argues that the wedding of church and state is a great evil and points to the blessings enjoyed by the United States without a state church. As a result, he asserts, 'in no country are the people more religious.'"

    In a later work, A Letter to the National Convention, written during the French Revolution, Barlow urged France to adopt the church-state separation and ridiculed the idea that people should consult government for advice on how to worship. It would be just as absurd, Barlow asserted, "to appeal to such a council to learn how to breathe."

    Obviously, I'm proud that the brother of the Aaron Barlow I am descended from and named for understood so well the necessity for a separation of church and state.  I am also proud that the treaty he penned was ratified by the Senate unanimously.

    Such a separation certainly is not persecution of Christians.  Just as certainly, it has an old and patriotic pedigree.

    By the way: Joel Barlow later became only the second American diplomat to die in service to his country.  He was trying to deliver a treaty to Napoleon in 1812, during the retreat from Moscow.  He took sick near Krakow in Poland, dying there shortly before Christmas.

  •  I wonder how the lady would have felt (4.00)
    if a Muslim teacher were allowed to get in front of the class and preach to her children about the Koran. But if it's a fundamentalist Christian teacher doing the preaching she would have no problem. The hypocrisy of these people knows no bounds.
    •  Well... (4.00)
      but it is important to explain that example politely...

      I like to use the example of Satanism. I ask people to imagine for a minute that their religion (usually Christianity) is in the minority and that Satanism is the majority. Then I ask..would you be okay with getting religious holidays off then? Would you be okay with posting the Commandments of Satanism in the classroom and the courthouse? Would you be okay with statues of Satan in the public square? All the while your religious symbols are frowned upon and you're punished for missing school on Good Friday, Christmas, etc. etc....

      Then I typically remind them that THIS is why the Constitution makes freedom to believe or not SO important...because the founders didn't want ANY group to feel this way...they wanted all the groups to feel that their religious beliefs were equal and that they were free to practice them...or not.

      I also remind them that this is the reason we shouldn't have any religious documents posted in public. I always ask...are you willing to have the 10 Commandments posted and have the Commandments of Satanism next to them? Given equal treatment and respect? Of course they don't want that....once they realize that's what the constitution calls for...then they start to appreciate the court rulings that actually protect their freedom as much as everyone else's.

      Given the example of Satanism...most of them get pretty nervous...

      •  I agree (3.91)
        I posted this comment on the same thread over on Street Prophets:

        When you recounted her complaints that "teachers couldn't witness" to students in the classroom, I couldn't help but think about how pissed off she'd be if a Hindu teacher "witnessed" to her child in the classroom.

        Herein lies the fault of the religious right and their demands, which are, as you say, pretty much to make their religion the law of the land, their interpretation of the Bible yours, etc. It's one-sided. We're right, they think, and you're wrong.

        That's why it's hard to argue with them. See, if the Supreme Court rules to do away with prayer in schools, it's persecution to them, but to them, it's not persecution to Hindus or Muslims or Wiccans or whoever. Because Hindus and Muslims and Wiccans shouldn't have those rights because they aren't the correct religion. Their Gods are false. They're little-g gods.

        My interpretation of the Establishment Clause is that it's a bad idea to favor one religion -- or even more than one -- because you're bound to leave someone out. Better to make government wholly secular and leave religion to the churches, because you can't please all the people all the time.

        The fundies don't give a whit about that, because to them, offending other religions is their prerogative -- they feel mandated by God to, in effect, persecute other religious beliefs because, well, those are stupid heathen beliefs.

        Blog this! Visit me at K Street Blues. It will change your life. (Actual life-changing not a guarantee.)

        by AggieDemocrat on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:44:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  and this is my biggest problem (none)
          with Fundamentalists and Fundamentalism. If everyone could just respect one another's rights to believe what they want the world could be SUCH a better place!
        •  Yeah (none)
          As if we use the Moslem, Hindu examples, many will say..Well If I lived In Iran, I would expect Moslem prayers to be said in school and Moslem culture to be the norm. If I lived in India, I would expect Hindu prayers to be said everywhere.

          I like the argument of saying..what if Satan worship was the Norm in our culture, what then?
          What if Jim Jones as God and David Koresh as Jesus was the norm in America? What then ..would you go along with Jim Jones being worshipped in public schools ?

          America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand-Harry S. Truman

          by wishingwell on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 08:10:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I like this metaphor... (4.00)
        ...and I used it all the time when the whole "prayer in schools" thing was being bandied about during the Reagan administration.

        OK, you're a Southern Baptist. You live in South Carolina. You are "born-again" and have been since your teens. You confessed your faith in church and were baptized by full-immersion on your 16th birthday. You married in the Church and you and your very Christian wife have very Christian kids. They go to prayer circles on October 31st instead of trick-or-treating.

        You work at an auto parts manufacturing plant. Their headquarters is in Detroit, but they have a manufacturing plant in South Carolina because it's a Right To Work state. No worries about dealing with pesky unions. You don't like unions, they're Communist.

        The company decides to give you a promotion, so you have to move near Detroit. You find a house in Hamtramck, a very white suburb you figure your family will be happy in. It's going for a good price, you get your loan, you move in. Things are swell.

        You read the morning paper: by executive order, President Reagan has gotten prayer back in public schools. Halleluyah! you shout, and you get the family together in a huddle to offer prayers of thanksgiving.

        Your son is starting at public school today, and praise God, the local school district has very quickly implemented the executive order. You look forward to hearing how your son's day has gone.

        Your son comes home with a dismayed expression on his face, and a rosary dangling from his back pocket. "Dad, they had me praying funny. They gave me this little plastic thing with Jesus on the cross and lots of beads, like a girly necklace. When it came time for prayer, they had us praying to Mary instead of Jesus."

        You see, Hamtramck is traditionally Polish. Very Polish-American. Very Catholic, too. Your son was just forced to pray the rosary at school prayer time. As a Southern Baptist, you are now a minority in your new town. Welcome to the Christian nation you wanted.

        2005 was only the beginning.
        Enough Is Enough 2006! Take back the USA!
        Econ: -4.63 Soc: -6.92

        by MamasGun on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 04:24:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  very well written! (4.00)
    Firstly, I found this diary very enlightening and well-expressed. It puts many things together very well, which should serve anyone entering this kind of debate.

    One thing that always gets me about opponents of state-church seperation is that they miss one very important point: the purpose of state-church seperation is as much to protect freedom of religious expression as it is to protect non-religious people. The point is that the government does not take sides in religious matters, so that no single expression of faith becomes officially dominant to the detriment of all others. This is as true within the various versions of christianity as it is between the major religions.

  •  Excellent points and an excellent diary! (4.00)
    Highly recommended! I have had similar conversations with some folks here and there. Some have been open to the ideas you mention above...and some haven't.

    When I told one person that Thomas Jefferson wasn't a Christian, she said..."well, I won't be reading anything he wrote again!" I was luck with that! Then I asked her if that meant she was going to automatically disagree with the Declaration of Independence...she seemed to have forgotten that he wrote that:)

    •  TJEFF (none)
      "When I told one person that Thomas Jefferson wasn't a Christian..."

      Thomas Jefferson considered himself a Christian, and often described himself as such.  He did not believe in the divinity of Christ, but he did believe in God, creation, and God's special relationship with America.  He carefully studied the Bible throughout his life, and considered Jesus' system of ethics to be near-perfect.

      Most of the Christians refered to here as "fundamentalists" wouldnt consider themselves that.  They would call themselves evangelicals.  Fundamentalism (the term and the movement) was born in the early part of the twentieth century in response to scientific and religious modernism.  To call current evangelicals fundamentalists is arguably to engage in anachronism.  To apply that label to Muslims, Jews, and even Buddhists is perhaps a stretch.

      •  is everyone who thinks they are a christian (none)
        truely one?

        rev sung yung moon considers himself one, is he?
        jim jones did too, was he a christian?

        jefferson may have thought he was christian but he was a deist. i don't think his version of christianity would be understood by most christians today. except for the more liberal denominations.

        Violence is the first resort of the unitelligent

        by brenda on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 08:41:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  not a deist (none)
          It depends on your definition of Christian, I wouldnt want to mandate that for people here.  He thought he was a Christian because he aspired to follow the teachings of Christ.  That's what many liberal Christians today base their claim to Christianity on, rather than believing in Christ's divinity.
          As for Jefferson being a Deist, he wasnt, at least in the traditional sense of that term.  He believed in an active God who intervened in history.  Classical Deism is about a Creator God who created the world and then backed away, much like a clock maker with a watch.  Jefferson believed God had a special relationship with America, and would intervene in its history.  In particular, he feared that if America did not abolish slavery, God would punish the nation severely.  This belief system of Jefferson's may not be traditional Christianity, but it is a long way from Deism, too.  In this, as in so many other things, he was a unique individual.
          •  interesting (none)
            you won't mandate who is a christian but you will for deism?

            seems a little inconsistant to me. also seems like you're say that, yes, moon and jones are christians too. that's too lose a definition for me.

            i'm not absolute about definitions, but if anyone can be "christian" or "deist" simply by proclaiming to be one then the words have no meaning. that's why virutally all belief systems have creeds. if you don't agree to a certain creed you don't belong. on the other hand, if anyone can belong then one's faith is empty.

            and by all accounts, jefferson would not fit into any christian creed i am aware of. could be wrong of course.

            Violence is the first resort of the unitelligent

            by brenda on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 12:03:57 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  But (none)
        I remember when the Evangelicals in the 60s and 70s were the Liberals or Moderates like Jimmy Carter and even more liberal. Some of we  hippies got involved for a while with Evangelicals because of their opposition to the Vietnam and helping the poor, being less materalistic than the Establishment.  You could wear Jeans and Tshirts to church and have folk singing with guitars and christian rock. We were considered radically liberal then.!!!The churches I know favor over Evangelical.... then seemed too traditional, too Establishment. But Falwell said he was a Fundamental and his values far differed from the Evangelicals of the 60s!

        The Fundamentalists hijacked the Evangelical churches. As I left, never to return, to the Evangelical Churches in the early 80s. That is when the church began to go further and further to the right. It flipped to Fundamentalist.

        America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand-Harry S. Truman

        by wishingwell on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 08:17:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  He may have done those things... (none)
        but I'm fairly positive that I read somewhere that he was a Deist.
  •  Great, well written diary! (none)
    Thanks for the explanations and history.

    Can I get a mint? I have Scalitosis

    by Gleeb on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 12:55:02 PM PST

  •  Superb diary, irishwitch (4.00)
    and a model of exposition. Highest recommend from one who seeks refuge in the dharma.
  •  "Dirty religion" (4.00)
    H.H. The Dalai Lama was interviewed by Charlie Rose on TV, aired last night.

    He said there is "dirty religion" just like "dirty politics" when people are more interested in promoting their own interests rather than working for the greater good. I paraphrase badly, but you get the idea.

    It would make a good meme:  "dirty politics" "dirty religion" "dirty business"

  •  well written diary (4.00)
    one can only hope the erotica follows form ;)

    (must one exist purely on hope?)

    -7.75,-7.54; The road to hell is paved with Republicans!

    by erik in grayslake on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 01:18:22 PM PST

    •  I hope it does (none)
      myself. I write storeis about sexuality, and real people, not blow-up dolls with huge genitalia  or mammary glands.  That doesn't turn ME on.  I also write for a female audience, and most of the female erotica readers prefer the sex to ahppen in context.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:06:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  sex can be out of context? (none)
        oops, gotta run the pizza is here!

        {wahwah guitar}

         but really bless you for your patience, i think you did a great thing!!

        (-6.88, -8.31)-- "fuck your war... and your president."--Snake Plissken

        by binFranklin on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 05:29:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Awell, alot of stuff written to arouse (none)
          doesn't HAVE any plot or characterization. By context I mean plot and emotioanl context.  I've read a lot of female-oriented erotica/erotic romance--it's vastly different from what passes for erotica writen for men, where the only way to tell the women aprt is hair color and boob size.    Famel-oriented erotica is jsut as explicit, often uses the same frank terminlogy--the way peopel REALLY talk, not the overdoeneuphemism--but it's withint the context of  (usually) two people in a relationship.  There's roamnce as well as sex.

          The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

          by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 06:08:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Not to nitpick... (4.00)
    but I guess that's what comments are for.

    It's not entirely true that the Constitution makes NO references to god:

    Article VII:

    "...States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the..." yada yada yada.

    I know, it's not much of a ringing endorsement of religion, but my experience has been that when I make a claim similar to yours, I get the "Year of our Lord" thing thrown back at me.

    And then I'm like, "What?" because it's so ridiculous, but it's thrown me off track and made the rest of my argument harder to prove.

    Just a warning: there are actually people in the world who actually use the way they expressed the date in 1787 as a justification for prayer in schools, etc.

    •  Many Months and Days of the Week and Planets (4.00)
      Reflect the names of Norse and Roman gods.

      Just because I write "Thursday" on something doesn't mean I worship Thor (Thursday = Thor's Day from Norse mythology).

      "George W. Bush has helped those who have most, hurt those who have least and ignored everyone in between."
      Wesley Clark

      by karateexplosions on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 01:39:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Year of our Lord" response (4.00)
      Heh. I hear this argument quite often: "The Constitution does so mention God! Look right here, it says in the year of our Lord, so that means America really is a Christian nation!!", it doesn't.

      When you are confronted by this argument, ask the person if they worship Thor, or Woden, or Mars. They will generally get all huffy and say that of course they don't.

      Then point out that, in that case, they need to stop using the names of days of the week, since they refer to pagan deities; Thor is honored with Thursday, woden with Wednesday, Tiw with Tuesday, Freyr with Friday, and Saturn with Saturday. The sun and moon are honored with Sunday and Monday, respectively.

      Then, of course, there are the months of the year: Mars is honored with March, Janus with January, and so on.

      Conventional forms of dating have nothing to do with religious commitment or belief, and everything formal in 1787 was dated in the "Year of our Lord." The absence of religious reference in the body of the document is far more significant.

      This link has other useful bits of information to use in a debate with "America-is-a-Christian-nation" enthusiasts.

      Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Those who study history are doomed to know it's repeating. - JWhitlock

      by Alice Venturi on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:01:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  "In the Year of Our Lord".... (none)
        Also known as "Anno Domini" or A.D.
        This is to say they wrote:  A.D. 1787- fairly standard notation for years in the now so-called "Common Era", at least for most of American history (I still use A.D. over C.E. unless specifically instructed otherwise).
        Had they used "Anno Domini Nostri Iesu Christi" (in the year of Our Lord Jesus Christ), which is the technical Church termanology for the post year 0 dates, then the Evangelicals might have a case, but in the use in question is still more or less deity neutral, at least as much as "our Creator" is.
  •  thank you (4.00)
    I am bookmarking this diary and keeping it on hand for when the next 'persecuted Christians!' howl goes up on one of my email lists. There are several people there who get severely ticked off if someone says 'Happy Holidays' to them!

    It means a lot to see it spelled out so clearly, after good friends have unthinkingly told me, "Well, the Christians are the majority, and doing xyz gives the minorities special rights," even after I've told them that I'm pagan.

    It's not special rights. It's the same rights for everyone.

    Superbly well written.

  •  Couldn't have said it better myself (3.90)
    And I grew up Southern Baptist, constantly being told by my church that we were being persecuted for our faith.

    It took a few years at a very religiously diverse college to understand that, no, evangelical Christians in America are not exactly a persecuted minority with little political influence.

    Having made the moves myself, I want you all to know that it is very hard to go from believing that acknowledging evolution as the most likely mechanism for species development was tantamount to denying the very existence of God to being able to hold both evolution and God in one's mind and to go from believing that homosexual behavior is a choice borne of Satan's temptation to understanding that some people just really are primarily attracted to members of their own sex, whether they want to be or not.

    irishwitch has done a very good thing in being so patient towards Alexis, and Alexis has impressed me that she was willing to open her mind to see from another perspective.

  •  school (none)
    Students may share their faith with others in free time at school--but they aren't permitted to harass them.

    Teachers at my elementary school (suburbs of Boston, MA) apparently didn't understand this - one of my friends was once reprimanded for trying to hand out religious pamphlets during recess. She was not punished but she was told that she was not allowed to bring such things to school. I was a little annoyed by that, even as a mainly non-religious person myself (I don't think I had developed into a full-blown apatheist by age 12 but I was definitely starting to question things).

    Later, in high school, I think the separation of church and state issue was made a little more clear.

    •  Unfortunately, educators are just as (4.00)
      ignorant of our rights as everyone else--they have no clue what the Courts decisions mean--and there isn't a good way to communicate that to them, unless someone sues!  The Courts do not directly communicate with us--and even if you read court decisions, they can be hard to understand.

      All that we love, deeply becomes a part of us. Walter Rinder

      by PoliSigh on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:00:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Many problems (4.00)
        are casued by ignorance of the law--rather than malice.

        Of course,t here's malice too--PAt Robertson, my evil ex brother-in-law who thinks I should be burnt at the stake.  Ignroance can be cured. Maliciosuness --well THAT is what we fight.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:04:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  whoa... (none)
          Pat Robertson used to be your in-law?!? The Pat Robertson?

          Now that's scary...

 ain't "schadenfreude" if the bastards deserve it. this is infidelica...

          by snookybeh on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:13:46 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No. But teh evil ex bil (none)
            was amde in hsi iamge andlikeness. I think theya re twins seaprated at birth. They sure sound alike.and are equally abrasive.  SOemoen soiemwhere probablt DOES have PR as a bother-in-law,a nd they have my symaptheis. MINE onlys ings inthe chruch choir, doesnt'ahve his own show, thank heaven,

            The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

            by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 04:09:25 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Sometimes, not ignorant (none)
        But not willing to get sued, or even complained to, even if they suspect they are in the right.

        A flame rescued from dry wood has no weight in it's luminous flight yet lifts the heavy lid of night.

        by JakeC on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:21:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I don't think that's "sharing"... (none)
      Handing out religious pamphlets seems more like proselytizing, rather than "sharing."

      It would be one thing if kids were talking about religion, and a child said something like, "Well here, this pamphlet explains my religion very well." But if a kid is going up to other kids, asking them to take the pamphlet, that's awfully close to coercion. ain't "schadenfreude" if the bastards deserve it. this is infidelica...

      by snookybeh on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:12:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Whoa, hold on a minute... (none)
        "Read this, you might find it interesting" is coercion? Do YOU believe everything you read?
        •  the coercion lies in (none)
          brainwashing kids to go around handing out freaky religious pamphlets when obviously that is the last thing any kid wants to spend their time doing.

          unless they've been made to feel so scared that they end up doing so...

          just be thankful for what you've got

          by itsbenj on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:35:17 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually I think this is permitted. (none)
            Ikwno there was one court case wherea kid handed out pencils with Bible evrses, and the principal told ehr not to. The case was decided int he favor of the student. Kids can do it becasue they are students--adn the kids are equally free to trar it up in front of them and topss it in the nearest wastebasket.

            PARENTS and TEACHERS cannot hand out pamphlets hwoever.  

            The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

            by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 04:08:04 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  That brainwashing, however, (none)
            happened OUTSIDE of school. It is illegal for the government (and by extension the school) to promote religion but it is not illegal for parents or other relatives to promote their religion to their children.
    •  and (none)
      It only adds fuel to the fire and makes Fundie Christians feel more persecuted when a well meaning child hands out pamphlets to their friends in school, posts a church event on the bulletin board of the school, or does other well meaning things with no malice or agenda.....
      only to have school administrators nail their ass and embarrass them. I think gently telling their parents that while they know the child means well, it is not permitted in public schools and let the Parents handle it.!!

      It makes things worse when innocent kids try to talk about their religion or do not understand the separation of church and state..and then
      Administrators, Teachers, and others trounce on them. I was a teacher who was extra sensitive not to ridicule any kid or come down too hard on them when they honestly had no idea it was not allowed.!!! We would instead speak to the parents gently and nicely

      America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand-Harry S. Truman

      by wishingwell on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 08:23:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent and appreciated diary! (4.00)
    The Dob$ons make their living from Christians by creating conflict and inciting discontent - whereas Jesus didn't make a dime off sowing love, tolerance and peace.

    Support the Troops - demand the Truth!

    by annefrank on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 01:35:54 PM PST

  •  Thank you (4.00)
    You handled that exchange very well. So, for that matter, did your correspondent. I wish everyone were as open to being educated.

    With every passing year, and every time George W. Bush and his cronies scribble on the Constitution, my appreciation for the Founders increases. Last Independence Day I sat down to write some of my thoughts about this radical step they took in creating a secular United States. I posted the result to BooMan Tribune.

    (I'm not looking for mojo for this; it's a little too late for that. But this was one of a small number of writings I've produced in my lifetime that have forced their way out of me, and it's not letting me forget about it very easily either.)

    "Stay the course" isn't an idea. It isn't a principle. It's a tantrum.

    by Nowhere Man on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 01:38:21 PM PST

    •  Won't work with everyone (4.00)
      but it will with some--which is one more to stand against those who tryly don't want separation of church and state.

      What I finaly got across to Alexis was that separation protects us ALL from religious tyranny. In soem ways I appeled to enlightened self interst.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:03:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Many folks younger than 50 (4.00)
    also do not realize that the notion that the Bible "should" be taken literally is only about as old as they are.

    When I was a child, no one thought anybody but folks in rural places, like the snake handlers, believed the Bible was actually literally true. (I'm from Kentucky.)

    Now I have discussions with my own much younger sister about the bible being metaphorical, allegorical, poetic, full of songs and prayers, all the many things it is, but not literal, as she has grown up being taught in the fundamentalist evangellical church she attends.
    I think this is the one major stumbling block (there are others) to sane discussions and a souorce of much misunderstanding about faith.  Literalists are troublemakers in any system.

  •  YO! Where's your tip jar??? (4.00)
    This diary definitely needs one.  I'd give you mucho 4's if I could.  Thanks for your insight.

    The Republican Party - Getting government out of the boardroom, and into the bedroom since 1980! (-8.75,-8.72)

    by adhoc on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 01:42:54 PM PST

  •  Excellent (none)
    Excellent, excellent post.

    Political Compass: E -5.50, S -4.77

    by cephyn on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 01:44:51 PM PST

  •  The Pledge of Allegiance (4.00)
    I agree with this diary, and in reference to this:
    "...ask them how they would feel if Christianity was a minority faith, and Muslims predominated. Would they want their child to be forced to pray toward Mecca during school hours? Would they want their child to have to listen to readings from the Q'oran and to be taught the Muslim faith?"

    Personally I believe 'under God' should be removed from the pledge or else recitation of the pledge should not be required in public schools.  The argument that it doesn't endorse any particular religion is silly, which can be simply illustrated by reciting it thusly: nation, under Allah, with liberty....

    People generally don't like that.

    If it said 'under Christ' that would obviously endorse christianity, but at the very least, it endorses religion as it is. The word 'God' violates the religious freedom of athiests, who should have a reasonable expectation that their kids will not be subjected to any religious indoctrination in school.

    The revolution will not be televised

    by Uranus Hz on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 01:50:58 PM PST

    •  historical note... (4.00)
      the Pledge originally did NOT contain the words "under God." It was written in 1892 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus Day (another argument for another time), and ironically enough was written by a one-time Baptist minister, Francis Bellamy.

      "Under God" was added in 1954 during the McCarthy/Red Scare era. ain't "schadenfreude" if the bastards deserve it. this is infidelica...

      by snookybeh on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:20:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good point (4.00)
        The original Pledge: I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
        •  The West-Side Connection Pledge (none)
          Even Ice-Cube includes the "under God" in his pledge.

          I pledge allegiance to the rag, of the United West-Side Connection. And to the W for which it stands, one neighborhood, under god, invincible, with luxuries and riches for all....
      •  I've pointed this out myself on occasion (none)
        Becasue it is a holdover forma n era that tarnished our honor, though not as much as slavery and segregation or the corrutopn of the current adminstration--well, maybe they're tied with Bush--it needs to go, jksut liek Jim Crow laws.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:00:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'll second your historical note (none)
        and add a bit
        "Under God" was added in 1954 during the McCarthy/Red Scare era.

        It was added, if I remember correctly, specifically to set us apart from "godless" communism. It was intended to declare that this was a country that DID believe in God.

        When you stop being paranoid, that's when they get you.

        by astraea on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 04:36:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And if I remember correctly (none)
          it was the Knights of Columbus who pushed the addition of 'under God'.  As a small child I learned the pledge in the original, and then the next school year, we had to put the under God in.  We all messed it up for a couple of weeks.
          •  The Knights of Columbus (none)
            destroyed my belief in Santa Claus.  I was about 5 years old when my Dad took me to the Christmas party the Knights held each year.  Santa was there, handing out presents.  I was going to show my Dad my present, but he was in the kitchen.  As I made my way to the kitchen, I saw Santa going into the kitchen.  Lo and behold, Santa took his beard off and started drinking a beer. Santa was a friend of my Dad's!

            On the way home, I peppered Dad with questions about "Santa Claus", and announced I had been had.  When Dad got home, he picked up the phone, called the Hall, got "Santa" on the phone and called him every name in the book.

            We do not rent rooms to Republicans.

            by Mary Julia on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 08:47:04 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Actually under Allah would be the (4.00)
      same exact thing as saying under God.  Allah is just the arabic word for God.  As would Under Dios (Spanish), Under Gott (German), Under Dio (Italian), Under Dieu (French).

      Can I get a mint? I have Scalitosis

      by Gleeb on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:24:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You and I knwo this-- (4.00)
        that Arab Christians use Allah when they pray--but it coems as news to many CHristians.  The point was in getting them see that withotu separaation of hcurch and state THEY could find htemseves a truly persecuted minority.  I used Islam as an example because most don't recognize it as Judeo-Christian, and assume all Muslims are radical jihadists. I coul as easily have used Wicca or Catholicism--to many fundamentalsit Protestants, the Hail Mary is worshipping flase gods...yes I've heard that said.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:59:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I know that, and you know that (none)
        But it doesn't lessen the impact of saying it that way in front of someone who makes the claim that it's not a religious endorsement.

        Trust me, I've seen people go pale when I've said it to their face.

        The revolution will not be televised

        by Uranus Hz on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:50:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  yes and no (none)
        Sushi is the english word for Sushi.  And it's the Japanese word for Sushi.  It's the identitical word.

        This is different. Allah may be the same thing as God, but that's not common useage.  When native english speakers want to say "God" that's the word they use.  They use the word "Allah" to refer to Arabic speakers' word for God, or Muslim's word for God.  

        That's why no Christian would ever stand for "One Nation Under Allah"--and why the early comment makes the point very well.  

        Perhaps Americans who are also Muslims should propose a tongue-in-cheek constitutional amendment to change the word in the pledge to "Allah" -- although they probably have enough on their plate as it is...

        I had my own blog for a while, but I decided to go back to just pointless, incessant barking. --Cartoon Dog, The New Yorker

        by markymarx on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 05:46:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  correction (none)
          I said "NO CHRISTIAN" in the above comment, I mean "NO RIGHT WING CHRISTIAN"

          That too may be an exagerration, but that's what I meant to say....

          I had my own blog for a while, but I decided to go back to just pointless, incessant barking. --Cartoon Dog, The New Yorker

          by markymarx on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 05:48:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Jesus is a Muslim prophet (none)
        What's interesting about Islam -- which incidentally means, literally, "submission" for all you kinky types -- is how it speaks about The People of the Book. Meaning, Jews Christians and Muslims. Islam sees itself as just a new-and-improved continuation of what got started with Judaism, and continued with Christianity.

        It's worth noting that many of the key figures of the Old Testament (or the Torah) are also major important prophets of the Qu'ran, like Abraham and Moses. Indeed, Jesus is considered a prophet in the Qu'ran. Muslims, though, like Jews, think the Christians were/are a bit mistaken that Jesus is God. And Muslims don't go for that Trinity "you'll get three-three-three-Gods-in-one!" wackiness, either. There's just one and only one. And Muhammed is the last (read: post-Jesus) prophet. Is their take.

        Still. When you boil down the three religions, you really end up with, basically, the same monotheistic deal.

        If any of you have some time to kill, pick up a copy of the Qu'ran and check it out, if you haven't. I'm not Muslim in the slightest, but it is a pretty amazing work. Spooky and beautiful and powerful stuff. [As is the Bible, actually, when you stop for a moment and admire the writing and story-telling and the actual good stuff in there and forget how it is mis-used as a bludgeon by narrow-minded types, and has been for millennia]

        that's my two drachmas. good night.

  •  Not as useful as your diary (4.00)
    for responding to people who think Christians are persecuted, but funnier:

    "Yes, the long war on Christianity. I pray that one day we may live in an America where Christians can worship freely, in broad daylight.... And maybe -- dare I dream it -- maybe one day there could even be an openly Christian president, or perhaps 43 of them consecutively."

    -Jon Stewart

    •  Actually--- (4.00)
      Up through and including Lincoln, our first Presidents were usually Deist, closet atheists (some not so closet), or fiercely private about the whole thing.  Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln used to drive their contemporary fundies batshit.
    •  have to disagree with Jon on this one (4.00)
      Have run across references to this sermon several places.  From "The Christian Nation Myth" ..

      "The Reverend Bird Wilson, who was just a few years removed from being a contemporary of the so-called founding fathers, said further in the above-mentioned sermon that "the founders of our nation were nearly all Infidels, and that of the presidents who had thus far been elected [George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, and Andrew Jackson] not a one had professed a belief in Christianity""

      •  Don't forget who came here (none)
        Many of the fine folks who first came to "America" were, by their contemporary standard, batshit fundies.

        Pilgrims?  Batshit fundies who ran a theocracy in Massachusetts. Men with names like Cotton Mather. Who names their kid Cotton?

        In fact, Rhode Island was created as an escape from the batshit fundies in Massachusetts.

        Pennsylvania ("Penn's woods") was more or less created for William Penn and his merry band of batshit Quakers. [Although I will take batship Quakers over batship Pilgrims any Sunday]

        Maryland. Already noted as a haven for Catholics. Who [with other batshit Protestants] think that when they drink the Eucharist/Communion wine it's really Christ's blood. Which is inherently batshit crazy, but I digress. But less batshit than Baptists who drink grapejuice and believe the same transubstantiation deal.

        I'll try not to go on about how Christianity is, when you stop to think about it, basically an elaborate Death Cult celebrating the gruesome torture and execution of its radical anti-wealth founder by ritually drinking his blood and eating his flesh. A religion that has, basically, a gallows or guillotine as its symbol of hope. Because when you put it that way, Christians just don't come off as balanced folks. This coming from a confirmed Lutheran.

        There are many days when I feel like the real batshit fundies should just band together and find a nice desolate piece of desert to call their own, like the Mormons did, and stop trying to run all the rest of our lives.

        And now I'm done repeating "batshit fundie" ad nauseum. But it was fun.

  •  All well and true... (3.66)
    But remember, early Christians were tortured, crucified, shunned.

    Forget the history of America, think of the history of Christianity. It flourished under oppressive conditions. These people get faith based initiatives, tax free status for their churches, you can't run for office even for dog catcher in this country without even faking that you believe in God, and they feel persecuted?

    How can this be? How many muslim or atheist representatives do we have again? They get Christmas off, the kids get two weeks off for that, a week off for Easter. I mean what really gives? There are televangelists on tv 24 hours a day, congress is opened with a prayer, there are people publically professing their faith continuously. What in the hell do they actually want? Compelled belief?

    We are getting into a situation where alot of people's faith in this country is as genuine as many Russian's allegiance to communism, purely expedient. Is that what they really want? To make it so hard to be a non christian, that everybody mouths platitudes to them?

    •  compelled belief (4.00)
      Yes, some of these individuals do want compelled belief -- either that, or to banish those who don't think as they do.
      •  Thsoe are the oens you simplyt have to give up on. (none)
        I have run into many/. But there are some you CAN get to understand that separation pof church and stte is good for all, beelivers and unbelievers.  

        I NEEVR try toa ruge with soemone who sounds liek a Christian Recosntructionist.  Theya re hopeless. I jsut smile and nod and walk away and make a ntoe that these are the oens who will happily pile up thw wood and tie me to a stake.  

        But thsoe aren't the majority.  You will ahev soem who WON'T lsiten to reason, and thers who can se ethe enlightened self interest.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 04:05:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Antonin Scalia (4.00)
    Is on the record many times as saying the US was founded as a Christian nation.  It's such a stupid thing to say I wonder why anyone ever took him seriously--the evidence has been overwhelming for 225 years we were not founded that way.

    It's obvious, yet denied right in our faces.  We can't go to war with them, as you so wisely said, but we simply can no longer remain mute in the face of these lies.

    I don't hang out with fundies, so I don't confront them.  I guess I'll speak up politely if the occasion ever arises.

    Thanks for the great diary.  I wouldn't mind seeing some of that other work, too, an area I cannot touch in my own fiction.  It just doesn't work; even the words themselves seem horribly crude.  Oh well.  Thanks again.

    •  I live in the South (4.00)
      so I cannot avoid them.  Most of the tiem I steer clear of anythign involving religion or politics to avoid being told by someoent hat I am going tohell, whcihnever makes for a pelasant conversation. But this was on a lsit where msot of the people are very tol;erant and open  (though the community down here is stand-ofish,  cliquish and unwelcomign to newbies in person) when it coems to politics.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:55:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Scalia has an amazing fat nerve` (4.00)
      He's catholic, for crying out loud. How much respect did Catholics get for the first 150 years or so of U.S. history? We never had a Catholic president until 1960, and even then he had to promise not to let the pope tell him what to do (interestingly, the pope at the time was the most enlightened ever, John XXIII). He's not what a lot of evangelicals would call "Christian" even--except when they're campaigning against abortion or gay marriage.

      Scalia is not an idiot--he has to know he is being dishonest about the "Christian nation" thing.

  •  OK, her's a tip jar (4.00)
    Never think to post one.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:00:49 PM PST

  •  an interesting parallel (4.00)
    many slaveowners in the south were terrified that their slaves would revolt against them.  white communities would crackle with fear when any slave got uppity and challenged his or her masters.  stories of rape and murder of masters by ferocious slaves travelled like wildfire among the landed gentry.

    when christian oppressors complain about the hostility of those they oppress, it reminds me of the nervous slaveholders.  maybe it's guilt....

    Talk doesn't cook rice.

    by sophiebrown on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:01:07 PM PST

  •  it's a sad state of affairs (3.85)
    had never heard of the Treaty of Tripoli nor understood the implications in either the first amendment  or ban on religious tests wasn't her fault, but  that of our educational system which fails miserably when it comes to teaching Americans about our history and them meaning of our laws.

    NO! It's not our educational system!

    Don't get me wrong, our educational system ain't perfect, but it's not OUR educational system that's to blame for people like this woman.
    It's the fundamentalist home-schooling movement!

    There are virtually no limits on what kind of rubbish fundamentalist home-schoolers are exposed to, including the mythology of an America which has always been evangelical and was founded as such until the evil liberals, with their communist brethren, came along and mucked the whole thing up.

    Home-schooled kids are often exposed to all kinds of whacky revisionist history, and this woman's total unfamiliarity with the basic history of the US is a prime example of its effects. They gloss over everything that ever went wrong, they exaggerate the good stuff and attribute it to evangelicals, and anything that's left over is distorted and twisted to fit the "Christian Nation" myth that fundamentalists cling so hard to.

    This is why we have so many people who simply REFUSE to acknowledge American history. They learned a version of history that was completely different - and they were told from day one that anybody who ever told them that what they learned wasn't true was a liberally indoctrinated revisionist.

    Couple their warped schooling with their fundamentalist religious beliefs and the cult-like communities that go with it, and it's no wonder you have people in America who think the way that this woman does. The scary thing is that there are MILLIONS of them!

    What are we to do?

    •  THIS WOMAN (4.00)
      was the product of the public school system, not home schooling. You cannot balme her lack of knowledge on the home schooling movement.

      A lot of palces have lousy curriuclum. My hisband attended a GA public school, where they spent an inordiante amount of time on GA history (required to graduate) withotue ver discussing hte "peculair institution" that made the SOuth run--and when he pointed this out, he got sent to thepricipla for discipline. In American hsitory they did very little on the cponstitution and our legal system other than vaguely mentioning checks and balances.  

      This isn't uncommon.

      Having seena t elast one incredibly bigoted home schoolign curriculum writtenby soemoen who thought slavery was a good deal for the slaves--yes, it's gonna be a big problem int he future. But this woman who was well over 40 was the chhild of public education.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:53:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  MAybe she just didn't pay attention. (none)
        Ever thought of that?

        Information not used often in every day life tends to get lost.

        Sure, we all remember tidbits, but what I remember might not be what you do.

        by coigue on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 05:21:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  You are kidding me, right? (none)
      Go outside on the street.  Stop the first 20 people you see, and ask them what the Treaty of Tripoli is and what it's signifigance is in terms of the 1st Amendment.  Count how many come even close.

      Then ask how many are homeschooled.

      Not convinced?- then stop the next thousand.

      A flame rescued from dry wood has no weight in it's luminous flight yet lifts the heavy lid of night.

      by JakeC on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:20:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That was over the top- and not true. (none)
      The basic ignorance about our founders, the Constitution, and the basic building blocks of this nation has everything to do with the educational system in this country and very little to do with home schooling. The way you make it out, home schooling has taken over the land and is spreading ignorance everywhere. Ha. As if. I home schooled my kids in early elementary and then continued to supplement their public school curricula at home. I can tell you this right now- they, and their peers, did not get ANY Constitutional history or basic civics in their public (and fairly highly rated) high school. None. nada. Zip. I taught them- at home. All three are now registered voters, they know how to read the voter's pamphlet, how to follow political news, how to be responsible voters and citizens.

      You'd be better off addressing the failings of our public school systems than spewing vitriol about the slim minority of people who are operating outside the system.

      "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce." -Karl Marx

      by Lainie on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 04:20:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  homeschooling didnt create this problem (none)
        but it sure exascerbates it

        homeschooling should be abolished

        I believe in saving money. I believe in having a house. I believe in keeping things clean. I believe in exercising.

        by The Exalted on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 05:07:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Actually, there IS some persecution... (none)
    though it is not nearly as wide-spread as the fundies would have you believe. And it usually happens to fringe groups, under the cover of other concerns, so for the most part it gets overlooked.

    For example, churches that practice snake-dancing are outlawed in the US (yes, dancing with poisonous snakes).

    A more important example is that many families that wish to pursue home schooling due to religious beliefs have been discouraged and occasionally litigated against under the umbrella of "preventing potential child abuse before it happens."

    Mind you, this is not nearly on the scale of the litany the lady ran down, all of which is, as the author points out, a rather marked misunderstanding of the law.  But there is some truth in the root of the complaint.  It's just been inflamed far beyond the actual extent of the situation.

    The Baptist Death Ray (bdr[at]baptistdeathray[dot]com)
    "We are all born originals -- why is it so many of us die copies?"
    - Edward Young

    by The Baptist Death Ray on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:07:19 PM PST

    •  In my nice state of TN it's the opposite (4.00)
      you cannot home school here UNLESS it's through a religous organization.  At least that's how it was when I first moved here from Seattle over five years ago.

      Can I get a mint? I have Scalitosis

      by Gleeb on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:29:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  hmmm... (none)
      there sure are an awful lotta kids being homeschooled these days. And as someone says upthread, their parents are free to fill their heads with whatever stupid crap they want to. Like the "fact" that they're persecuted.

      I'd like to hear of cases where parents are being prevented from homeschooling due to their Christian beliefs. If anyone is being discouraged, maybe it's because the state has a legitimate concern over whether a parent is qualified to homeschool their kids.

      I'd just as soon see homeschooling abolished completely, religion having nothing to do with it. In days of yore, anyone could call themselves a physician or surgeon. These days, we require that they have a medical degree from a legitimate institution, and a state-issued license to practice medicine.

      Oh, BTW - here in KY, we have a number of snake-handlers practicing freely without any interference from the government. At least, I've never heard of anyone being legally prevented.

      I don't think the fact that people like me call snake-handlers "batshit crazy" in forums like this would count as descrimination. ;-) ain't "schadenfreude" if the bastards deserve it. this is infidelica...

      by snookybeh on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:32:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well... (3.50)
        Most home schooling persecution took place in the early 80s. Also, home schooling regulations are a state matter, so you're  going to find some states that are far more home-school friendly than others.  You can find some useful information about home schooling persecution at the Home School Legal Defense Association.

        The 80s were when the conservative christian right started their noise machine... that persecution was grist for the mill and is an example of what I'm talking about.

        However, presenting that information as if they were being persecuted now is probably generally inaccurate -- I fell into pretty much the same trap I was talking about.

        (For the record, I am product of the public school system and it was a damned good education.)

        The thing is, you can find examples of discrimination in any group that is composed of smaller groups, which is what happens to be the case for "Christians." There is no monolithic group that can be called "Christian" -- the UCC and the SBC both fall under that category, and they are markedly different politically and in some areas even theologically.

        So it's relatively easy for someone in the Religious Right to find an example of persecution and hold it up, minus a few pertinent details, as an example of how ALL Christians in the US are being persecuted, and then segue into his or her pet peeve, be it abortion, school prayer, the ten commandments in a courthouse,  nativity displays, etc.

        Snake-dancing churches are Christian churches. People who worship there do so illegally, and can be jailed. Contrast this with people being legally protected by the government if they want to smoke peyote in a religious ceremony and yes, you have a case for persecution.

        The Baptist Death Ray (bdr[at]baptistdeathray[dot]com)
        "We are all born originals -- why is it so many of us die copies?"
        - Edward Young

        by The Baptist Death Ray on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:48:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The snake-handling churches I'm thinking of... (none)
          are in North and South Carolina.

          The Baptist Death Ray (bdr[at]baptistdeathray[dot]com)
          "We are all born originals -- why is it so many of us die copies?"
          - Edward Young

          by The Baptist Death Ray on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:49:06 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I think they msotly target allowingchildren (none)
          to handle snakes. I beelive adutls are allowed to take stupid risks if they want to--but doing it with kids (like the couple who malnourished their baby for religiosu beliefs0 is a form of child abuse. THAT I can back--but adutls cana nd should be permitted to take that risk.

          The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

          by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 04:29:47 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I seem to remember (none)
          a case that found peyote (or some drug like that) was NOT protected under the First Amendment even if it was for religious purposes. Also, I believe that the principle of protecting freedom of religion does not extend to practices which may cause people to die, even if those people engage in those practices voluntarily. There are some restrictions on religion which may be reasonable, and the snake thing is probably one.
    •  Your example is not correct (none)
      Snake-handlers, as nuts as they are, are not prohibited unless minors are involved.  Where did you get this information?  It is simply not correct.
      •  It's my understanding (none)
        that Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina still have laws against Snake Handling. They are misdemeanor charges, though.

        The Baptist Death Ray (bdr[at]baptistdeathray[dot]com)
        "We are all born originals -- why is it so many of us die copies?"
        - Edward Young

        by The Baptist Death Ray on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 03:57:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ok, didn't mean to jump on you (none)
          Yes I would guess such laws may be on the books in  those states, I think in Tennessee it is illegal if any minors are present (I may be wrong about that, as it is only my recollection).  However those laws are likely not enforced and would not stand up to court scrutiny IMO, except perhaps the prohibitions concerning exposing minors to the danger (then again they might, sometimes the courts are pretty restrictive regarding minority religioius views).
  •  from a half-Irish witch (none)
    Great diary! Thanks.

    New Orleans will never die

    by hrh on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:08:20 PM PST

    •  3/4 Irish (none)
      1/4 Russain Jew. Red hair and TArtar cheekbones and eeys.

      All Wiccan.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 04:42:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your name wouldn't be Sarah (none)
        by any chance?

        I had a friend in college who was part Irish and part Russian Jew.  She had very fair skin and a HUGE head of spectacularly wavy, frizzy red hair.  One night as a gag she put Christmas lights in her hair.  It was one of the most amazing sights I've ever seen.

        My red hair is mostly straight.  My father, the Scottish/English/Native American side, had curly red hair, but my mom was Black Irish with dark eyes and straight brown hair.

        New Orleans will never die

        by hrh on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 07:44:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Mine is wavy, rather than curly (none)
          Stick straight for the firs 5 inches, so cutting it short doesn't work. And thename isn't Sarah. My legal name is close and fromt he smae roots--Sharon.  But I have't used it since I bg=egan writing seriously--everyone calls me by the name I write under.

          Not from N'Orleans,w ither. A Conn, Yankee by birht, New Englander by chocie.

          The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

          by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 09:53:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  New England (none)
            Yeah, me too, my father was born in Connecticut and most of his side of the family were New Englanders. A few of his/my ancestors came over on the Mayflower.  I still own a small piece of land in Ledyard which is a magical place for me.

            Now I'm in New Hampshire, which I'm discovering is another magical place.  We just moved from Minnesota and I'm so glad to be back in New England again.

            New Orleans is in my sig because I have a spiritual connection to the city.  I'm a New Yorker by birth.

            Where can we read your other writing?  If you want to remain incognito you can email me the info at hrh (at)

            New Orleans will never die

            by hrh on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 10:12:00 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Only one available currently is (none)
              in Ripe Fruit edited by MArcy SHienr. The tehr stuff is out of print.  I write as Gillian Fitzgerald

              At used bookstores you might run into fantasy stuff in Amazons II, Heroic Visions II, Friends of the Horseclans, Elsewhere Vol 1 (that volume won the WOlrd fantasy Award for best antho, and mys tory in it, mu first, was chsoen for that year's Year's Best Fantasy by DAW and reprinted in a GErman YA anthology). The fantasy, except for Friends, is all Irish fairy tales.

              The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

              by irishwitch on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 04:32:19 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  well done (4.00)
    nice post--the "christian as a victim" thing always drives me crazy and is a lie--the majority of the country identify as Christians. They like to act so persecuted--they are the frikin majority!!  They are the oppressors to others such as gays--if anyone is victimized it's GLBT people--by the christians.

    "So this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause..."

    by CrazyDem on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:09:50 PM PST

  •  People don't believe because of reason (none)
    nor will they disbelieve because of reason.

    If reason was involved there would be zero, that's right zero Christians in this world.

  •  Better than Jesus? (4.00)
    Didn't anyone bother to read Jesus's job description for his followers?

    He said that the world would hate his followers, much as it had hated Him, since the servants were not greater than the Master.  

    He also said in the sermon on the plain:  Woe to you of whom the world thinks well.

    Since there are so many people who don't seem to agree with these things in the American Christian community, I can only assume that just like with adultery and the basis of just sex for morality that Jesus didn't really seem to know what He was talking about.  Surely here is a clear case where the servant is definitely greater than the Master. Where so many American Christians are greater than the God they worships.  Wonder why we're in such a mess?

    Am I the only one hearing Satan laughing his head off?

    I'm watching "The Robe" right now.  A little bit ago a crippled Christian woman said that the Christians had something stronger than power, they had hope.  In face of persecution, the early Christians could sing, joke and praise God to such an extent that the Romans were impressed with their courage.

    Nowadays, O'Rielly, Catholic League bozos, etc. whine when someone doesn't say Merry Christmas.  We have no fear of ever being a Christian nation.  The Republicans and the Religious Reich can only further make it a Roman and Sodomitic one.  And Satan will continue to laugh.

    •  Lord (no pun intended), yes (4.00)
      Perhaps this would be a good verse to quote to those who feel persecuted?

      Romans 12:14  
      Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  

      The Lord is a shoving leopard. - William A. Spooner

      by lirtydies on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:33:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Re: (none)
        Certainly couldn't hurt, although I generally prefer the Gospels' version myself.

        If we constantly focus on Paul's writings, then we acting like he's the power behind the throne, so to speak, and we're treating Jesus like a figurehead.  Just doesn't work too well for me.

  •  Great diary. (none)
    We need to be reminded that the "persecution" of Christians with regard to removing mandatory prayer and creationism from the classrooms is in order to protect the minority (non-christians) from the majority.

    That is one of the most important jobs of the government.

  •  As I said on Street Prophets... (3.83)
    Outstanding job.

    One of the things that I found most interesting about the recent "war" is how much people were talking past one another - arguing with ideas from elsewhere more than the people "in the room"

    One thing I hope this community is finding is that the the division on issues like this is not between atheist and religious - but between those who would impose theocracy and all of us who will resist it.  And when we draw the line there - agreeing to disagree one whatever path of belief (or not) that we are home on - and unite to protect the separation of religion and state - suddenly we are a part of a great majority of this nation.  It is only when we let those who would impose one version on us divide us that they have any significant power.

    So let us unite - let us work arm in arm - atheist, humanist, buddhist, jew, muslim, taoist, pagan, wiccan, and yes, christian - for the common good. Let us each draw strength from our own path.

    Up top there is talk of war on __   I love irishwitch's response.  "exacerbates the problem, and alienated people we might be able to work with to some extent"
    Declaring war on fundamentalism does us no good.  See that's what the extremist want - war... fighting.  Us/them divisions.

    My tradition has a phrase - be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.    

    Let us overcome those who would divide and impose - from "either" "side" - by coming together for the common good - liberty, equality - a true freedom to worship (or not) as we will.

    Those interested in cooperative, respectful discussion of matters of faith are cordially invited over to StreetProphets - where I was planning to front page this brilliant piece once it fell down the much calmer diary list there....   probably still will - it's worth revisiting.

    And to my follow "people of faith" - when the "God wars" start up here (and they will...) what would happen if instead of being willing to fight - we instead walked a mile in their shoes - and responded not with indignation but by finding common ground - "tell me about this God you don't believe in - I probably don't believe in him either.... yeah  Pat Robertson is a scary dude.... That's part of why I talk about my faith - to try and dilute his power.....   I see we have some deep disagreements. My faith is important to me - but I'm not going to impose it on you.   What do we have in common?  How can we ____  (feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty..... stop the war, improve the care of our troops,  change the budgeting priorities of our nation....)

    It takes two to fight.  Given how much we and the person who just "dissed" "our" religion probably agree on - why engage?   Let us have a thick skin, lets us demonstrate - rather than say - we're not all like that.

    Let us be willing to take a blow without responding in kind - and be the change we'd like to see in the world.


  •  Many Christians don't realize (3.81)
    that the right to free speech doesn't imply the right to a captive audience.

    Example:  prayers at public school graduations.  Someone who is graduating has a reasonable expectation of attending their graduation, and any religious group doesn't have the right to hold such a person as a captive audience to their prayers.

    On the other hand, if a Christian school group reserves a room for an extracurricular Bible study and they are treated the same as any other student group, that is fine.

    When liberals saw 9-11, we wondered how we could make the country safe. When conservatives saw 9-11, they saw an investment opportunity.

    by onanyes on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:26:18 PM PST

    •  excellent... (4.00)
      "...the right to free speech doesn't imply the right to a captive audience."

      Bingo. ain't "schadenfreude" if the bastards deserve it. this is infidelica...

      by snookybeh on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:34:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nor does it contain a clause (4.00)
        that guarantees freedom from being offended. In fact, it practically guarantees that you will be offended bu ideas or language.  

        ANd it emphatically does NOT promsie that the listener willagree or even lsitn--you have the right to stand on a street corner and preach, and I have the right to wlak on by or evenheckle you if I wish (assumign we aren't stoppign traffice, need a parade permit or are violating treespass or nosie ordinances with a bullhorn).

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:39:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Captive audience (none)
      happens a lot in the military.  I remember - there must have been hundreds of times that I had to "bow my head and pray" for one person or another. Or pray for God to keep us safe, to keep our nation strong, to guide our commander-in-chief, etc, etc.  It's "assumed" that everyone is a Christian.

      They also like to use the quote "there are no atheists in foxholes", which is just a lie.

      •  True. (none)
        But it isn't actually permitted by the UCMJ--and if the CO is behind it, you're screwed. We ahd one in Japan liek that. HE was also a bigot in toher ways.  Hemade themsitake of taking on two Es with pull--one had a grandfather who was an admiral and a Dad whoe as a Captian.  He got transfered.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:27:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm constantly amazed (none)
    by the number of people who emphatically profess faith in the bible... but have never read it.  Same goes for people who espouse any number of bizarre and illogical views on the Constitution... and have never read it.

    Christian leaders in this country rely on this to steer their followers towards lunacy.

    Baldric, you wouldn't know a cunning plan if it painted itself blue and danced naked on top of a harpsichord singing "cunning plans are here again!"

    by Magnus Greel on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:29:35 PM PST

    •  Reading the Constitution isn't so bad... (4.00)
      ...until you get to Article V and all that begatting starts. It always loses me there.

      "What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out, which is the exact opposite." - Bertrand Russell

      by Mad Dog Rackham on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 04:42:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There are also many who have read it (none)
      who odn't relaize there are other interpretations becasue they don't know the historical context. They also don't realize that Jews see the OY as incomplete unless you incldue the roal tradtiont hat goes along with it.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 06:04:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Outstanding (4.00)
    And the religious movements that pushed for separation of church and state were the very ones that the current theocrats claim as tradition.  The Baptists, evangelicals, all sought independence from the state church, which at that time was the Anglican Church, now called Episcopalians.

    Talk about role reversal.

    -6.00/-7.18 The revolution starts now--in your own back yard, in your own home town

    by TarheelDem on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:33:53 PM PST

  •  Someone should tell Cavuto. (none)
    He was making it pretty clear last night as I was channel flipping that Christians are persecuted...Christmas is endangered even.

    Of course, I wager, this is typical FOX News spew. Tell the viewers that everyone else is against them and their paranoid hatred of everything will continue to grow. He was talking about the greeters at WalMart not saying Merry Christmas or some such tripe.

    Blah blah blah.

    I stopped on the channel because there was this ridiculous graphic over his shoulder of him in a Santa's hat.

  •  A persecution complex (3.75)
    is certainly one of the most powerful and galvanizing political phenomena.

    in the rove playbook, there's a whole chapter on convincing people they're being picked on.  if a piano was a persectution complex then limbaugh is glenn gould.

    cause... everyone knows... if you can convince a person that they're being picked on and that you'll fight for them, you've got a voter for life.

    wonderful diary.

    "my belief is that everyone but me is stupid. and one more thing. i am getting sick and tired of people persecuting me for my beliefs." -- anonymous.

    by BiminiCat on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:00:04 PM PST

    •  I agree (none)
      I have tried to explain this over and over to some relatives who are wonderful, loving people... that they are being used by people who have no interest in religion, but know to push the buttons and "use" the theme words to get them to act as they wish.

      I have big scary thoughts about the brainwashing that goes on and on at Fox and thousands of Christian radio shows.

      I also have nightmares about children who are supposedly being home schooled with no one ever checking to see if that is true and if they are OK.  I am not trying to stereotype all home schooled children, but it worries me greatly.

      "The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries." Kurt Vonnegut

      by cfk on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 08:51:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  the thing is (none)
        people LIKE to feel they're persecuted.

        it gives them a wide range of excuses for their own personal failures.

        "my belief is that everyone but me is stupid. and one more thing. i am getting sick and tired of people persecuting me for my beliefs." -- anonymous.

        by BiminiCat on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 09:35:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  to clarify... in case it's not clear. (none)
          no one likes to actually be persecuted.

          everyone likes to FEEL persecuted.

          just to clarify.

          "my belief is that everyone but me is stupid. and one more thing. i am getting sick and tired of people persecuting me for my beliefs." -- anonymous.

          by BiminiCat on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 09:53:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Tackling the Myth of Christian Persecution (3.75)
    I spent three years in a Christian community (my choice) and there was a lot of talk about Christian persecution.  Bonhoeffer was sited many times as a Christian "martyr".  Corrie Ten Boom's name was legend.  And who can forget the Von Trapp family?  

    I've been thinking about this subject lately. Without having researched it, I'm pretty sure the reasons these people were persecuted were not due to their Christianity per se, but had much to do with their political beliefs and actions.  And that is very much two different things.

    If you look at these people's (Bonhoeffer, Ten Boom, and the Von Trapp family) political stances and actions, they are much closer to progressive, liberal ideals.  These "martyrs" were much more likely to have been jailed for their belief in freedom of political speech and their belief in human rights than for their religious beliefs.  I think there were many Christians in Germany who were in no danger of persecution.  It was when they challenged Hitler and his tactics that they were in danger.  They may have challenged Hiler because of their religious convictions, but it was their political actions that were the problem to Hitler.

    Today, my guess is that there are far more political prisoners than religious prisoners in the world today.  The middle east may be an exception, though I doubt it. And I don't think you can find a case of a Christian in the United States having been arrested and prosecuted because of their religious beliefs--only that their religious convictions may have caused them to act in a way that resulted in their arrest.

    I'm curious what comments my post might generate.  Any responses?

    •  In other countries (none)
      In other countries you hear of christians being persecuted for handing out bibles, etc. I don't know of the reliability of these reports, I hasten to add, because most of the reports I've read about while reading Focus on the Family's website, or other such sites (I like keeping track of what the sneaky little bastards are up to).

      I've often wondered why there is so much talk about such persecution in other countries. How much of it is the persecution complex, the joy (if you want to call it that) of being able to report a christian jailed/killed for his or her beliefs? How much of it is genuine concern for human rights violations (though they don't talk quite so much about other groups being persecuted)? How much is about money (if they perpetuate the persecution stuff among their readers, might their readers give more money to support Christian outreach adn missionaries)?

      I have no answers. I've always wondered, though.

      When you stop being paranoid, that's when they get you.

      by astraea on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 05:06:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  In soem coutnries, like Saudi (none)
        Christians CANNOY prctice their religion.  ANericans statioend on bases had to hodl services surreptitiously. Chaplians  had to remvoe their religious insignia. It DOES HAPPEN.

        But it isn'thappenign in AMerica. M<OST of the examples that are given are really thigns like no longert being allowed to have mandated  Christian prayer int he schools, bringin in minsiters to hold religiosu services at  requried assemblies, etc.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 06:10:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think my comment was poorly worded (none)
          It's what I get for posting a comment while sleepy.

          I know Christians are persecuted elsewhere, both officially (by governments) and unofficially.

          I'm just curious about the response to this kind of persecution by groups like Focus on the Family: to what extent is it genuine concern (I don't doubt they are genuinely and rightly horrified), and to what extent (if at all) they know they are benefiting from stories about real persecution of Christians. (If they even ARE benefiting--I don't know.)

          Because this kind of persecution DOESN'T happen here, are politicized and forceful groups like FoF using the real persecution elsewhere to stoke the fire of fear here? This is all strange, idle speculation on my part, I hasten to add. (PWS--Posting While Sleepy, you know.) I think these groups sometimes do press the stories of "persecution" here (the prayer in schools issues and others you mentioned), and I wonder about their motives when they do so. I'm just wondering if they have ulterior motives (alongside genuine concern) when they talk about the real persecution elsewhere. I hate to be so suspicious, but groups like FoF spew such lies and hatred it's hard to trust them to any extent.

          When you stop being paranoid, that's when they get you.

          by astraea on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 09:12:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  They Do lobby about (none)
            persecution in China.

            I suspect that many of the groups jsut use the school prayer thing to whip up their base and get them upset.  I tend to be fairly cynical about "non-profit" groups whose top people are more political than religious and who live high  on the hog.  There's soemthgin that feels wrong about millionaire "evangelsits"--soemhwo I dont think that's very much in the exampel of Jesus Christ.

            The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

            by irishwitch on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 04:36:05 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Couple of points (none)
    If, as you say that it would be wrong for a teacher to say "I believe homosexuality is a sin and that practicing homosexuals must become straight or say celibate to get to Heaven", though okay for a student, shouldn't the reverse be true as well- that while it should be okay for a student to state that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality, that a teacher should remain "neutral" and not comment either way?

    As for Christian "persecution"- I would certainly not argue that there is any level of attack going on worthy of the name.  However, it certainly does seem that polite company seems to allow certain attacks on Christians and Catholics that would be deemed offensive anywhere else.

    Don't believe me- go into the archives here and read some of the stuff being posted as the Pope was dying (or immediately after he died).  Cringe inducing stuff.

    A flame rescued from dry wood has no weight in it's luminous flight yet lifts the heavy lid of night.

    by JakeC on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:16:19 PM PST

    •  Of course. (none)
      But I was giving examples that would resonate with her.  

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:25:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh (none)
        I didn't think you would agree with me- that teachers shouldn't teach either way as to whether homosexuality is right or wrong.  I sort of assume that everyone is only against things on principle when it happens to be something they are actually disagree with in fact.  I am impressed by your consistency.

        A flame rescued from dry wood has no weight in it's luminous flight yet lifts the heavy lid of night.

        by JakeC on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:28:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Basically teachers aren't (4.00)
          allowed to spread their own religious views.  Period.  They are suppsoed to check their beelifs at the door and remain neutral. I am pro-gay rights but if I were teachign today, I oculd NOT pushmy gaenda.  I used the anti-gay rights because that iw what you woudl likely hear from a fudnamentalist.

          But most sex ed books attempt to encourage respect and toelrance--in others, you can beleive homosexuality is a sin, but that doesn't give you the right to harass or bully someone.  And if you ahppen to be a gay guy who is 6'5" in his socks and weights 210 and can bench press 150--that doesn't give youi the right to beat up a Christian kid who tells you that the Bible says you're going to hell.

          98% of thsi is jsut common courtesy and obeying school ruls about class discussions.  

          The playing field is level for ALL.  If a teacher can't live witht hat, she or he needs to teach in a religiosu school.

          The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

          by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:50:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I completely agree (none)
            Teach that tolerance is required, since it is the law.  Don't teach acceptance, since that is a moral/religious position.

            I just guess that most people would disagree with both of us.

            A flame rescued from dry wood has no weight in it's luminous flight yet lifts the heavy lid of night.

            by JakeC on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:53:53 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Probably. (none)
              But quite a few will surprise you.

              I ma dealing with my own mopther-in-law's ban on practicing my fiath while we live under her roof.  Veyr painful situation.  What I won't do is any ritual.  But Ihave set up my altar in a way she'll never recognize and I simply am looking for a coven--soemone here was kind enough to put out word that a WIccan is in need of a palce to pray. Problkem is I think her ban goes beyond jsut nopt practicing under her roof but incldues practicing it ANYEHERE while we lvie her....

              The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

              by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 04:02:56 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  BAsically, teachers msut remian neutral. (none)
            When it coems to sex ed, they have to follow the book whcih usually simply gives the facts about homosexuality--that, for instance, it occurs in msot species as well as humans, and thus isn't "unnaturaL'--adn that gays have the sme rights as everyone else in AMerica, whatever you may feel about it froma religious PoV.  DOes that make sense?  Respect the PERSON becasue he is a humanbeing, even if you disagree with hsi lifestyle.  TOlerance doesn't mean compelte acceptance, jsut respectinghsi rights as a humanbeing. Teacher CAN pointt hat out because it's a legal issue rather than a religious one.

            Let me put it anotehr way.   I can easily see soem fuandmentalsit tellign a WIccan they wil burn in hell becasue the Bible says so.  As a teacher, my duty would be to point out that he isntitled to belive that but that the LAW forbids following that Biblical command, and that he is required to respect me and not harass me becasue I am a humanbeing and school ruels and the constitution require it. As a teacher and a WIccan, I ma not permitted to tell the Christian that ther are scholars who disagree stronglyw ith hsi interpretation of the Bible--that woudl be overstepping boudnaries.

            The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

            by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:59:06 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Well, I've been on the receiving end (4.00)
      of some pretty rude commetns from fundamentalsit Christians at times.  I consdier telling me I'm gping to hell to be fairly rude, even if the itnention is to awake me to my danger.  

      I've noticed that things get pretty heated here when atheism v religion is discussed. Msotly I stay off thsoe diaries because it's not a position either party is likley to cahnge.

      My personal feeling is that religious people need to realize they cannotprove their bleeifs are true in a manner that will satisfy an atheist--taht it is indeed a BELEIF, not a fact. ANd atheists ahev to understand that msot religiosu peopel aen'tmorons and DO actually respect their rights to be left alone. Tolerance means respect and wllowing soemoent ohodl their opinion, rather than compelte agreemnt.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:53:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  What is your definition (none)
      of "polite company"? It seems that you are citing some dKos flamewars that were anything but polite.  
      •  By "polite company" (none)
        I was referring to people who wouldn't normally be casually dismissed as racist or in some other way discriminatory- not just here on DKos (although that was an example), but elsewhere in society as well.  You can get away with an anti-Christian joke a lot easier than you can an anti-Semitic, or anti- black, or anti-homosexual joke (at least in public forums- obviously, very different in people's own person life).

        A flame rescued from dry wood has no weight in it's luminous flight yet lifts the heavy lid of night.

        by JakeC on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 05:02:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What about prejudice (none)
          against Republicans? I think a lot of the "anti-Christian" talk is less like prejudice and more like a backlash against fundamentalism.
          •  Prejudice against Republicans? (none)
            There is a difference from opposing or disagreeing and prejudice.  I guess sometimes you see some types of "prejudice" against Republicans on this site (you know, the diaries or posts that refer to anyone who is a Republican or voted for Bush as being evil, ignorant, racist, xenophobic, etc.), but there is no real world effect.

            And, yeah, maybe the cause of some anti-Christianity is back lash against fundamentalism- but that doesn't make it right.  If Americans had all gone to the local mosques and burned them to the ground on 9/11, it clearly would have been a backlash against Muslim fundamentalism and terrorism, but that's a reason, not an excuse.

            A flame rescued from dry wood has no weight in it's luminous flight yet lifts the heavy lid of night.

            by JakeC on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 06:36:45 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Actually, the real problem is defining (none)
              "Christian." There are all kinds of different churches that claim to follow Jesus, but it is the right-wing fundamentalists that refer to themselves simply as "Christian" and unfortunately they have succeeded in getting people like us to call them that, too. Most Christians are Catholic, or Lutheran, or Orthodox or Congregationalist or any of various demoninations, but batshit-crazy-fundamentalists are just "Christian." I think it's perfectly reasonable to oppose batshit-crazy-fundamentalists, and I think we should stop flattering them by calling them "Christian."
  •  Excellent (none)
    Great post...excellent writing. :)
  •  This needed to be said. (none)
    highly recommended

    Blessed Be,

  •  Bookmarked! (none)
    What a wonderful and clear refutation of that claim.  I love the clean progression of your reasoning.

    I've bookmarked it so that I can refer back to it the next time that particular talking point comes up.


    What's the difference between W and his father? Bush Sr. understood that the simpleton was supposed to be the Vice-President.

    by mlharges on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:40:39 PM PST

  •  The thing that drives me craziest (4.00)
    which I hear not only from righties but from lefties like Jim Wallis ("God's Politics") and plenty on this board, is that "some people on the left have to get over their reflexive hatred of religion and religious folk."

    Oh, come on. Do they really think we spend all of our time worrying about them? I could give two shits whether or not anyone worships and whom they worship, as long as they don't bother me and mine. I've got worries of my own. Why would I go nosing around in my neighbor's beliefs? The few people I know who really are reflexively, aggressively anti-religious are secular Jews of a socialist bent -- and they've got good historical cause to feel antagonistic about religion.

    Wallis has a book to sell. Fine. But the rest entertain these persecution fantasies, I suppose, because of a psychological need to and because it's central to their faith, a faith that should be primarily about Jesus' actions and not his death on the cross.

    "Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -Benjamin Franklin

    by Septic Tank on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:57:45 PM PST

    •  But if you want respect (4.00)
      you have to be willign to give it.  I agree that fanatics on BOTH sides can be annoying.  

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 04:00:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But where are the atheist fanatics? (none)
        And where's the disrespect from the non-religious? I just don't see it. I hear plenty about how all lefties hate the Baby Jesus or something, but I seldom hear anything of the sort in the real world, and when I do, it's from people who live in predominately unreligious enclaves whose experience of religion is pretty much that their ancestors suffered horribly because of it.

        I mean, really, for all the noise coming out of Bill O'Reilly's gob about Baby-Jesus-eating lefties, there's, like, one atheist guy in Washington State who doesn't want a creche in the town square, and maybe a couple minor cultural figures who enjoy working through a sort of Catholic regression therapy in public. Far as I can tell, that's about it. It's a ruse, much like the Liberal Media, and too many of us have fallen for it.

        "Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -Benjamin Franklin

        by Septic Tank on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 08:55:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  bless your heart! (none)
    sure, you were exchanging thoughts with "only one person" but make no mistake - you've already made a profound impact!

    thank you for engaging alexis and sharing that here.  i believe there may be hope for us yet.

  •  Dammit, you beat me to it! (none)
    I was going to diary this in my next entry.  Ah well, do you mind if I link to you in my next diary anyhow?

    All your vote are belong to us

    by Harkov311 on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 04:05:41 PM PST

  •  I agree with the thesis that Christians, (none)
    particularly fundy Christians, view current trends in modern cultures with apprehension. I try to respect their fear and anxiety because, for so many of them, its real.

    But their fear doesn't give them carte blanche to bitterly bad mouth everything secular nor does it permit them to go to violent extremes to effect change. None of us should tolerate that, particularly from a group that supposedly values peace and love.

    DARE to think for yourself.

    by Agent of Fortune on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 04:23:07 PM PST

  •  I am a progressive Baptist (none)
    and I agree with your argument here wholeheartedly.  I am not so optomistic, though, because I have been using these same arguments for years with conservative religious people, and have never moved one of them a single inch from their positions.

    So I see only tatters of clearness through a pervading obscurity - Annie Dillard

    by illinifan17 on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 04:23:10 PM PST

  •  I for one... (4.00)
    am sick of Christians constantly whining about being persecuted. You want to see religious persecution? Take a trip to Auschwitz and shut the hell up.

    "Lies, lies, lies, ye-ah... they're going to get you." --The Thompson Twins

    by modchick65 on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 04:23:31 PM PST

  •  who's more kinky - leftys or rightys? (none)
    Mind you these were KINKY people, which means msot of them are pretty left of center.

    really?   is this a fact?

    •  I know twoRepublican kinky people (none)
      and one is a libertarian type, the other a moderate. Most people don't vote agaisnt their own itnersts,after all.

      There are also a lot of Goth fetish types--and they tend to be libertal too.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 06:02:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  My experience coems from 10 yearsof involvement (none)
      ont he Net and IRL with fetish folk.  Not many are conservative politically

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 04:28:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  knock me down with a loofah - who'd thunkit? n/t (none)
        •  O'Reilly isn't into fetish (none)
          or consensual power exchange. He's into harassment of owmen who work for him and control.

          I know a lot of real Dominants.  They are exactly the opposite of O'Reilly.  They are soft-spoken, low-key men with a good deal of quiet self confidence (based on knowing their own strengths, not on pulling down others) and a dry sense ofhumor.  They are the kind of man  or woman who, in an emergency, takes charge instinctually and organizes everyone else.  And a real Dom/me will NEVER stand for a submissive (or anyone else for that matter) being abused or hurt. Protectiveness is as much a aprt of their makeup as taking control is. So is politness.  

          O'Reilly would last about one meeting of a kinky group because he'd coem in, n=bluster about  beign a Real DOm and implyign everyone else wasn't, hit on  every submissive int he room who was female, including ones who were obviosuly attached, and generally alienate the entire group.  

          There's a great cartoon in the best intro book on bdsm ever written: Screw the Roses, Give Me the THorns.  It's of a pudgy middle-aged guy with a smirk . The caption reads soemthing like "The True AMster--msotly found online, he has read every Gor book seventeen times and he knwos he is a True MAster  and the rest are jsutpretenders.  Online he is an asshole. If he ver gets his hand on a whip and real woman, he is a dangerous asshole."  You alsmot gotta wodner if the authros  knew Bill O'R,.

          The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

          by irishwitch on Sat Nov 19, 2005 at 01:44:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  A message to Christians... (none)
    I don't mean to be rude here but if you Christians want to understand why you are sometimes persecuted all you have to do is read your Bible.

    Do you know what God does to non-Christians? He sends us to hell. We supposedly are then subject to an enternity of punishment and torture. Try to look at it from the non-Christian perspective. Why the hell should we happily support your Christian agenda?

    I know it's easy to just ignore the ugly parts of the Bible but they exist. If you believe in the good you should believe in the bad too. Don't tell me I am going to have my flesh burned off my body in hell and expect me to support prayer in school.

    "Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere"

    by Morbo on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 05:40:02 PM PST

  •  Nice Job, (none)
    You make a concise argument in a non threatening way, we could all learn a lot from your comunication tecniques.

    One down...

  •  White Republican Christians, you mean.... (none)
    The ENTIRE Right Wing in this country--including Christians--claims victimization.

    *The rhetoric of the "Death Tax" always focuses on how latte-liberals are supposedly hurting small family farmers and small businesses. In fact, it hurts mainly American Republican Billionaires.

    • In 2004, Cheney and Bush ran ads calling John Kerry a "another rich liberal elitist from Massachusetts who claims he's a man of the people..... the ad lists the Massachusetts senator's expenses -- including a "42-foot luxury yacht" and beachfront estates worth "over $30 million" -- before calling his alleged claim that he is one of the people "priceless."  This charge came from two rich white men who work to advance the interests of US industry at the expense of the American Public?  

    • And, of course, Christians too. But for the most part white, rich republicans like Robertson, Reed, etc.

    I had my own blog for a while, but I decided to go back to just pointless, incessant barking. --Cartoon Dog, The New Yorker

    by markymarx on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 06:03:33 PM PST

    •  I ifnd it hialriosu that the term (none)
      "intellectual elite" has becoem an insult.  WHen you get right down to it, it actually menas the smartest and best-educated whcih has nothign to do with money and every thign to do with ABILITY.

      But AMerica has never actually been fond of smarts.

      My sis-inplaw explained that she voted for Bush becasue "Gore thought he was so smart."  The irony is she has all but dissertation in Gifted Education.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 04:26:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Persecution (4.00)
    This is a phenomenal diary. One of the best I've seen here, which is saying something.

      I feebly diaried on a related matter a couple of days ago, and I thought I'd pinch the following from it. It's aimed at those fundies who bleat and moan about how awful they have it in America:

     * Have you ever been denied a job, housing, a scholarship, a promotion, service at a restaurant, or any other public social benefit because of your religion?

      * Are there federal agents furtively scribbling the license plates of churchgoers in the parking lot while the faithful worship inside the building?

      * Do motorists with fish decals get disproportionately pulled over on the road?

      * Would celebrating a religious holiday get you arrested or fired from your job?

      * Is the government preventing you from attending the church service of your choice?

      * Do you sneak in and out of your church service for fear of being seen and turned in to government authorities?

      * Is the government preventing you from marrying the person of your choice? Is the government preventing you from having children if you so desire them?

      * Is the government forcing your church to internally adopt measures contrary to its teachings?

      * Why do you need the government to validate your faith for you?  

       Ther are probably a few Americans who might be able to answer "yes" to one or more of the above -- Muslims and perhaps some Jews, among others. But I submit that none of them are fundamentalist Christians.

       When fundies proclaim how "persecuted" they are in America, they spit upon the graves of Christianity's many true martyrs and trivialize the very real suffering of those who suffer religious persecution worldwide.

    Republicans oppose abortion -- it happens eighteen years too early.

    by Buzzer on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 06:17:45 PM PST

    •  if you belong to a liberal church (none)
      then the answer to this is yes:

       Are there federal agents furtively scribbling the license plates of churchgoers in the parking lot while the faithful worship inside the building?

      if you are gay, the answer to this is yes:

      Is the government preventing you from marrying the person of your choice? Is the government preventing you from having children if you so desire them?

      Violence is the first resort of the unitelligent

      by brenda on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 08:47:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  thanks for this! (4.00)
    The only other thing I'd be interested to see is Alexis' recounting of the same story.

    As an Atheist who grew up Jewish these issues are very close to my heart.  Why is it that we sing Christmas songs in the school concert every year?  Usually with one token Hanukkah song.  Even as a first grader, I thought that was wrong - my best friend was Hindu.  We had one song for me, but what about her?  It made no sense to me that the word god was in the pledge too.  Why was it a 3rd grader can see that is unconstitutional but a whole country of grown ups can't?

  •  Kudos to you (none)
    for being so respectful in your argument, irishwitch. I don't know if I could maintain that level and endurance of calm.

    But you know, when you said there was going to be a "demo" at the sex shop, I was thinking "how-to". Disappointed!!!

    Nobody likes big government until they need something. -5.88, -6.82

    by Debby on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 06:26:05 PM PST

    •  Well, I jsut lsot it bgitime (none)
      over on Street Prophets with JCH.  He fels that my mil has every right to ban us form practicing our religion while under her roof and told me to live rightoeusly--either negotiate the right to pray off her proeprty (not possible; she refuses to even discuss the situationa nd he KNOWS that) or do as she says becasue "beggars can't be shoosers." In tehr words, realsitically, I either sdont'; even rpay for the duration--or I lie or vecoem homeless.  

      You win some and you  lose some.  He is one whose eyes can't be opened. I don't thinkw e can even discuss this civilly so I am ersinghim from my iniverse and jsut skipping any psots he addresses to me.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 06:35:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  that's sad (none)
        I loved the idea of Street Prophets when it first got started and I've been contemplating posting over there to bolster the pagan presence.

        Maybe it's not such a good idea?

        Do you think anyone over there would care?  

        New Orleans will never die

        by hrh on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 12:10:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  There's a fair pagan presence (none)
          The person I lsot it with agrees totally with my mother-in-law,a nd basically  orered me to respect her and give in.

          I cannot help ownderign how he'd have felt if she had been Wiccan and I'd been Christian.

          The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

          by irishwitch on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 04:24:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  the Declaration and "their Creator" (none)
    As you point out, this usage in the Declaration gets a lot of attention from people wanting support for the idea that the founders were basically theocrats, but it's not the only mention of God in the Declaration.  In fact, it's not even the first!  

    The opening paragraph of the Declaration reads:

    When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation

    The usage "Nature's God" is entirely non-Christian, much more consistent with the Deists and doubters among the founders, and much more ecumenical than Pat Robertson would ever allow.

    "I believe in vengeance" -- Harry Reid

    by fightcentristbias on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 07:00:28 PM PST

  •  I applaud you (none)
    THank you for demonstrating how to engage some of these folks on the religious right.  They are good people, but they never hear the voice of reason and accurate history. Bravo for taking the time and care to bring at least one out of the darkness of religious pranoia.  You should write a training manual so others may do the same with others.  It sounds like it was a long and laborious process.
  •  They are not credible. (none)
    They are the ones doing the persecuting. For example, they are looking the other way while reports surface that prison guards in Iraq used lions for torture purposes.
  •  I know Catholics who tend to complain (none)
    about persecution as if it was a consciously directed issue.  While there is certainly anti-Catholic sentiment out there for both historical and rather private reasons, I believe that what we see in public display (such as, here at Kos) is often reactionary: the nature of having a visible papal hierarchy ensures that its politics becomes an easy target for consideration and criticism by non-believers and believers, alike.

    I tend to view all religions as meaningful to at least their followers.  This implies that our honoring of private (and, otherwise legal) practices for anyone's religion is a proper and healthy thing.

    However, I also view all religions from the perspective of their objective meanings, implied politics, rituals/totems, effects on cultures, etc. - all of which are perfectly valid to consider in a much less hands-off and seriously critical manner.  I may diss the Pope for what he says and does that effect political and societal issues, but I will always try to respect the underlying faiths of those who are Catholic.  Sure, you are Catholic, but the politics of your faith is an open game.  Isn't that fair?

    The Pope doesn't grant Catholics their faith - that's entirely a private matter, to be respected as a private right in the USA.  Still, if one claims that their faith is bound to a religion which dictates various political movements in law that I find unfair to others, then it should be absolutely fair for me to claim that their religion has no place in unilaterally dictating the practices and rights of others through law.  I'm not persecuting Catholics, just the actions of some people who happen to be Catholics . . . and, happen to let their religion influence their social and political values.

    Sure, there's some fine lines to be considered.  Back to the diary's example, even if a Christian may rightfully own a context which feels as if they have been losing "rights", could I not claim that anyone brought up with proper respect and humility should at least understand that they will have neighbors who don't go to the same church, if any at all?  Education is always our best lead into conservative viewpoints, but when ignorance is maintained for reasons beyond rationality and respect, then we've seen constant fighting towards simply trying to maintain fair laws.  It just happens: someone feels personally besmirched on behalf of their religion, which is associated with their faith, which looks like their personal rights being compromised in some manner.

    Unfortunately, when religion and/or faith is involved in such disagreements, I'm afraid that it a form of war is tough to avoid.  Some people are just too defensive, per the above cascade that I mentioned.  We should accept that not everyone will respect the public - or, even private - rights of others, regardless of facts presented to them.  All because of their complex association with a religion.  Sometimes - and, I hate this - a political war must be waged.  IMHO.

    •  If you diss the {Pope (none)
      you will be inm good company withmsot Catholcis--I think only the Opus Dei types don't get annoyed with  his attempt to tell people how to vote. I was raised Catholic and have many Catholic friends.  The loudest disrespect will cem from them. My best friend,w hom I've known for 25 years, dropped the phonme when I told her my nick for this current Pope (whoms he loathes)--Torky Two,short for Torquemada the Second.

      We both think he's goinna wake up and relaize tha the colelction paltes are empty which will be a disaster sicne much of the funds come form AMerica.  Ithappeend inBoston, my pal reminded me, after the chruch faield to put a stop to the pedophilic bause and dint' even apologize for it (and this Pope had a BIG hand in that; his letter told the bishops to lie and hide it). Peopel voted with their pocketbooks.  I wonder if he can excommunicate them all...

      What seems to bother msot people most is beign called stupid by atheists.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 09:49:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  one annoying thing (none)
      about conservative Catholics is the insistance that they are being persecuted by people simply disagreeing with them.  I am not a Christian, but when Catholics accuse even Protestants of bigotry for disagree with RCC dogma, I have to find this incredulous.  Granted, in many Protestant dominated areas in the South especially, Catholics are treated as non-Christians and in other cases there is discrimination, but the idea that someone else believing your personal religious beliefs are incorrect is, in fact,  persecution is utterly ridiculous.
  •  Fallwell, Dobson and Perpetua (4.00)
    The early history of the Christian church is full of incidents of persecution, which makes sense since the Romans banned Christianity for two hundred years before it became the religion of the Empire.

    Christians were executed through an array of brutal and sadistic methods.  To be exposed as a Christian often meant a bloody and painful death, in public -- as entertainment.

    Yet one fact remains - the martyrs never complained.  They placed their faith in God and let the Romans do what they wanted.  And eventually, thier religion, thier single God, won out over the Roman gods.

    Tertullian wrote that the "blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church".

    The story of Vibia Perpetua is a case in point.  Persecuted, thrown in prison, she and others were placed in nets to be trampled to death by a wild cow.  Those who did not die were brought to the center of the arena, where they were to be put to the sword.  When it was her turn, she "took the trembling hand of the young gladiator and guided it to her throat".  

    Word spread of her actions - it became one of the turning points in the attitude of the citizens of the Empire toward Christianity.  These were people of true Faith, who were willing to accept death because they knew it was the right thing -- that ultimately, they would prevail, even over death, as they believed their Savior had.

    Flash forward to today.  

    As we listen to Pat Robertson, James Dobson, and the like on their television shows and on CNN as they complain about how they are being persectued because they are not allowed to dictate to others how to live their lives, think of Vibia Perpetua.

    I really find it hard to see the similarities between them and her.  

    And, disturbingly enough, I don't find it that hard to see the similarities between them and the Empire that put her to death.

    •  Re: Falwell, Dobson and Perpetua (none)
      It's easy to forget that the Romans considered early Christians as:

      1. Anti-Family.  The Roman father had the right of life and death over his family.  When a child, especially a daughter, disobeyed by declaring they wanted to stay a virgin, it was an attack on the family.  The daughters might remain virgins by intent, but were almost assuredly raped; it was considered bad luck to execute a virgin.

      2. Incestuous.  That annoying habit of calling each other Brother and Sister.  Well, when a Brother marries aSister, you know what you get.

      3. Cannibals.  From eating the body and drinking the blodd of some guy named Jesus.

      4. Atheists/Traitors.  Since they didn't worship an accepted god/goddess.  Of course this meant they couldn't acknowledge the patron goddess of Rome. (One empire under the goddess?) There are groups that today will not do the Pledge for that very reason.

      5. Cults/Agitators.  From The repeated idea of the mysteries.  In Rome, mysteries were associated with some rather unpleasant cults.  Since the Christians were popular among slaves, there was fear of a slave uprising, even worse than in the South, pre-Civil War.

      If some or all of these criticisms sound familar, it's because the "us's" tend to recycle them over and over to use against the "thems".  It's anti-Christian to think in terms of us and them.  Jesus said All men were brothers.

      We don't live in a Chritian nation; we live in the new Roman Empire.

  •  I've run into simular people (none)
    on Craig's list.

    in the arts forum there is or was a lady who proclaimed Thomas Kinkade "The painter of light".

    after we all gaged on that and told her she was nuts, she loudly proclaimed we were persecuting her because she is christian, and that christians were generally persecuted in the us.

    this is something new and frightening, i hadn't run into this before and i've debated creationist for years but this "help, help, i'm being oppressed" meme is scary. not for what it is but for where is comes from and where it is likely going.

    we nenver did convince her and we did try.

    Violence is the first resort of the unitelligent

    by brenda on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 08:21:54 PM PST

  •  An interesting perspective, but.... (4.00)
    Thank you for the illuminating post.  It's a point of view that I hadn't considered.  Most of the time, I have nothing but utter contempt for fundamentalists of any stripe (see below), but at least now I have a different perspective on their "thought" processes.

    This is my first-ever post on this site, though I've been lurking here for roughly a year.  As the same kind of "militant agnostic" (rather than atheist) as DarkSyde, I've been following the various religion-related diaries lately.  And since I've spent a lot of my adult life overseas (15 years in Asia and the Middle East), I could definitely appreciate the perspective of Jerome a Paris on the American obsession with religion/faith--or whatever you want to call it.

    Where I part ways with him, though, is in his opinion that it's a waste of time to discuss it.  Like him, I'd just as soon see a sudden pandemic of rationality descending upon the country, the resulting clarity of mind wiping out each and every religion or faith.  Marx was right (and Sam Harris's "The End of Faith" is a great read).  But since it doesn't look like a collective satori is fixin' to happen anytime soon, and since "faith-based thinking" is having such a huge sociopolitical impact here, it is definitely a relevant issue.

    Particularly in places like my hometown in Kentucky, where the local newspaper lists more than forty churches but no bars or pubs 'cause there ain't none.  The bible-thumpers scream aplenty about Christian persecution even in this thumper-friendly environment, but in the end, I'm the one who can't go out and have a sociable beer because my having a good time might offend them.  Who's persecuted?  

    On a more serious note, this same newspaper recently ran an editorial called "Is God Mad at Us?"  The conclusion was that possibly he/she/it is, and has sent the recent flurry of hurricanes and tornadoes our way to punish us for being a country that allows abortion.  Assuming there's a god, and he had something to do with those ten commandments everybody likes to post in these parts (but few like to follow), I find it interesting to see the cherry-picking involved in this reaction to the commandment against killing.  Nary a mention of the deity being pissed about our murder of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians in our little resource war (which, in the process, also breaks the ones about stealing, lying, and coveting).  Not a word about our medieval use of torture and the death penalty.  These folks' "culture of life" seems to apply only to the unborn and the vegetative.  The poor and the oppressed can go fuck themselves.  Who's persecuted?

    And then there's the faith-based vs. reality-based issue involved in this editorial.  The empirically-supported notion that the hurricanes and tornadoes might possibly have had something to do with the global warming our gluttonous lifestyles are helping to cause was apparently not considered, but we're supposed to believe that some big old dude in the sky is pissed and throwing thunderbolts our way for not being sufficiently obedient.  This kind of thinking would be ludicrous if it weren't so dangerous.  The bible-thumpers bitch and whine about persecution, but if they have their way, they'll impose this kind of nonsense--in the form of "intelligent design"--on schools across the country, turning our entire populace into a pack of ignorant, knuckle-dragging morons.  Who's persecuted?

    My wife and I returned to this country five years ago from Asia, but we're still not adjusted.  With bible-thumpers all around us, it's not really a society I want to become adjusted to, so we continue to travel overseas two months every year just to keep our sanity.  Coming back is a bitch, though.  I'd go out and have a drink right now--if there were a watering hole instead of a church nearby, that is.

    Faith: Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel. --Ambrose Bierce

    by cuz50 on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 08:31:07 PM PST

    •  We mvoed here from ME (2 y after 7 y ears in Japan (none)
      I fidn the religiosity excessive.  Tome religion is a private and personal thing.  I dont' sharemy sexual tastes with folks whao ren't itnerested,and the smae is true of my faith.

      Mostly I want to leave otehrs aloen to practice theirs, and merely request the same from them.  Apparentely that IS too mcuh to expect.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 09:43:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Religious Bullies (none)
    Today at work I was witness to the worst kind of religious bullying.  I spoke up but was not aggressive about it.  Mrs. Deadhead thinks I should report it to HR, but I am reluctant.

    I work for a large company, we have a team of about 15, I am a supervisor.  For the Holiday season, the company is sponsoring local families, our group agreed to take one.  While discussing the logistics, several people chimed in with comments that offended me deeply and showed me their true colors.

    If they are Asian refugees, do they even care about Christmas?  Why should we get them anything if they have never celebrated Christmas before?  I think giving them presents makes it so they won't understand the True Meaning of Christmas.  Maybe we should just give a few things because they won't know any better.

    My answer was:  Many Asians celebrate Christmas or Tet or something else.  And it's a holiday to me.  besides, we are talking about somebody who just moved to Wisconsin from Vietnam, I bet they need gloves and coats.  Keeping them warm isn't just about Christmas.

    The worst part, was the woman from India who helped line up the family.  She is definitely not a Christian and was obviously, to me, surprised by the conversation.  I had to talk to somebody, I was so riled up, so I went to her later.  I told her that what she saw was to mostly expect from Christians.  The insensitivity and arrogance surprised her.

    What's really funny, is I am an atheist.  I sing in the curch choir and go every week, but I just happen to like singing.  Not everyone was sniping today, but I was the only one who defended the idea of helping someone much less fortunate.  I am doing it just for compassion and not as a way to Score Points with the Invisible Man in the Sky.

    So... should I make waves with HR?  It was offensive conduct.. to me and almost certainly to one other, and perhaps to even more.  It has the chance to put a crimp in my standing at work, but I hate to be one of the silent onlookers to hatred and bigotry.

    •  No one has responded yet, so (none)
      let me try.

      Don't go to HR. Put a note to yourself in the file and document all you can remember, names of people there, what was said, be a reporter on the meeting to yourself - straight facts, no subjectivity.

      Build a file on the person, and, as supervisor (of the specific person?) if the behavior happens again, tell the person (careful if you're not the supervisor), mention it privately and show your documentation.

      The person's behavior is "unprofessional" at least, and "inappropriate" in an office setting. Use these two words to good effect.

      Then go ask for a raise!

      Do you have a child? Will you send her to the war?... anon

      by andreww on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 08:23:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank You (none)
        I have such a file for others, I will start one for the bullies.  Some of them do report to me, some do not.  But I intend to be around for a while, they may wind up reporting to me eventually.  Even if I never show it to anyone, the documentation will help me move on.  When it is written down, I can give myself permission to let it go.

        I KNOW the company would not tolerate it if they knew, but my HR contact is a very overtly religious man.  He says the right things, but I am almost certain he would then hinder my progress in the future.

  •  When people believe that it is part of their (none)
    religious duty to "witness", that's when the problems start.
    Most religious people I know feel that their beliefs are personal, but the rise of evil-angelicals and fundies means there are soooo many more people out there who think that being a good christian means recruiting people into the faith like an Amway salesman looking for more "independent distributors."
  •  Very good (none)
    Thank you for this diary.

    It's incredibly well written, too the point and I learned a few things. Not that I hadn't actually hear this sutff before, but were able to make it very clear.

    I didn't learn any of this stuff in school, at least not in such a well thought-out context.

    You should probably make this an essay in some manner and have someone edit it.

    It's very good.


  •  A.D. (none)
    There is no mention of Christ, Christianity, a Christian Nation, a Creator or God in  this document. None. Nada. Zilch.

    I don't mean to be nit-picky, but this is not exactly correct. Check out Article VII, ratification:

    done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,
  •  Allow me to repeat... (none)
    a comment I made on another thread...

    My opinion is that the fundamentalist right has managed to gain for itself the status of being allowed to discriminate against people when faith-based organizations were awarded exemption from the national anti-discrimination laws.  Nobody, in the land of the free and home of the brave with liberty and justice for all, should be allowed to discriminate against any citizen.

    Thanks for your exegesis, witchie.

    Blatant plug:

    by stumpy on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 01:38:01 AM PST

  •  Good to see more and more people hitting the nail (none)
    on the head.  DarkSyde made a bunch of posts that may have just been venting, but were counterproductive.

    Dividing us on the issue of religion here is stupid.  Attacking someone for their faith by calling them stupid or deluded will not do anything to help you, and it drives away otherwise good people who we would like to have on the progressive side of the spectrum.

    There isn't a single Christian on here (that I know of) who has posted about how dumb they think Atheists are.  Maybe on the right winged blogs, but not here.  So it hurts us liberal Christians when we have people insulting us at a place we love to be at (dailykos, or anywhere where liberal ideas are shared).

  •  An apropos statement from ADL (none)
    Here are some excerpts from an address by Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League.

    We are privileged to live in a country, in a democracy where the Jewish community stands as a co-equal partner in our civil society. We live not on the sufferance of the majority, or as a protected minority, but as full participants in every aspect of American life. That participation has been the cornerstone of the unique achievements of our community in this country. And the ideas that underlie it are the basis for building an ever more tolerant and successful society for all.

    The subject is referred to as state-church balance or the separation of church and state. But at its core, the issue is the role of religion in our society. The issue is not new. Since before the country's founding, the appropriate role of religion in public life and the protections provided in the constitution have been central to our public discussion...

    In 1994, we sounded an alarm. In our book, The Religious Right: The Assault on Tolerance and Pluralism in America, we said that "an exclusionist religious movement in this country has attempted to restore what it perceives as the ruins of a Christian nation by more closely seeking to unite its version of Christianity with state power."

    Alas, our call was not well heeded and we are beginning to see some of the consequences of what we identified.

    As a result, today we face a better financed, more sophisticated, coordinated, unified, energized, and organized coalition of groups in opposition to our policy positions on church-state separation than ever before. Their goal is to implement their Christian worldview. To Christianize America. To save us!

    Who are the major players? They include Focus on the Family, Alliance Defense Fund, The American Family Association and the Family Research Council. They and other groups have established new organizations and church-based networks, and built infrastructures throughout the country designed not just to promote traditional "Christian values," but to actively pursue that restoration of a Christian nation...

    If their agenda was hidden 15 years ago, today it is in full public view. Just take a look at their Web sites, where they document in considerable detail an agenda on a wide range of issues: judicial nominations, same-sex marriage, and faith-based issues and an agenda that, let us be clear, goes well beyond legitimate engagement in controversial social and political issues to a fundamental usurpation of all that America represents:

        * "Most importantly, the court victories are vital steps to keep doors open for the spread of the gospel and reclaim the legal system for Jesus Christ." -- The Alliance Defense Fund
        * The American Family Association, �believes that God has communicated absolute truth to man through the Bible, and that all men everywhere at all times are subject to the authority of God�s word. Therefore, culture based on biblical truth best serves the well-being of our country."
        * "Christians can be loyal to liberal democracy as long as rights are carefully controlled by a dominant culture that directs them to the true hierarchy of ends." -- Family Research Council.
        * "The enemies of morality will not stop and will not back off. The Left cannot and will not change� no matter how many God-fearing and God-honoring women and men are elected and appointed to public office, until the hearts of the people change, we will not turn around this culture and restore our Biblical foundations." -- James Dobson's Focus on the Family.

    There is an open arrogance. The arrogance comes when you believe you have the exclusive truth. And it comes if you believe God has commissioned you to change this country...

    There is a lot more, but that gives you the gist of it. In general, Jews are VERY supportive of the separation of church and state because we know that when a government becomes Christianized, non-Christians are harmed.

  •  this article (none)
    is probably the best I've read on "Christian persecution". I'm continually pulling it up when I hear those claims:

    if the secularized greeting of the perfume spritzer in the department store affects your celebration of the birth in Bethlehem, you've really lost your way. Luckily, for most truly religious people, observing the feast is not about shouting "Merry Christmas" at passersby to show that you believe even if they do not, an exercise in smug superiority disguised as faith. It is an interior process of considering the lessons the child in the manger would teach once grown.

    So if people are really worried about keeping Christ in Christmas, they might personally exhibit tolerance and charity, kindness and generosity. It is the ultimate exercise of style over substance to whine about the absence of "O Holy Night" at public events. The real point is in taking the lyrics to heart: "Truly he taught us to love one another/His law is love and his gospel is peace." And if saying "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas" offers someone who is not of your faith more comfort and joy--well, 'tis the season for both.

    come to think of it, someone should send that to O'Reilley.

    this is an excellent diary - but I am still inclined to say: come on. Even without the history and the context and the putting it into constitutional perspective and everything else, all one needs to do is to look around.

    I guess there is a question, for me, of the point at which explanations become indulgence of ignorance -- or, perhaps, if it even is true ignorance. Because those who complain the loudest about "Christian persecution" (Dobson, O'Reilley, etc) are those who have more influence than anyone could reasonably imagine in this country. Yet they cling to the cloak of victimhood. Perhaps for the rank and file these conversations are helpful. But in terms of what they accomplish - well, if you consider that the 'persecution complex' is one cultivated by their leaders - perhaps not so much.

    •  Inthe case of ALexis (none)
      it WAS true ignorance.  She might have had soem vague idea of separation of powers and checks and balances,but that was it.  She grew up with school prayer.  To her it seemed part of public school, and she assumed that since it had always been allowed, that something had been taken from christians.  SHe saw other religiosn being given respect that had beforehand only been reserved for Christians. <ore importanly, like many peopel in theSOuth, she had been taught (at school and in church) that this was a nation founded by Christians, had been given a VERY ove-simplified version of the pilgrims (wonderful simple people seeking religiosu freedom denied them by the mean old Catholcis and ANglicans--harmless souls)  which left out all the nasty places where they kicked out Baptists, Quakers, slightly more liberal Prots, etc., that the FF were all fundamentalist Christians (she'd never heard the word Deist before), and they MEANT this to be a Christian NAtion becasue,a fter all, we wwere all Christians.  SHe was utterly ignorant. And the schools down here SUCK.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 04:21:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Brilliant diary. Adding to my hotlist. Thanks. n/t (none)
  •  As a former Fundamentalist... (4.00)
    I can tell you that having most read the relevant case law and legal history of their "persecution" isn't going to do any good. First, most would flat out refuse to read Roe v. Wade even if the decision was printed before their eyes. Secondly, so many have been force-fed the persecution complex that even if they DID read the applicable decisions, they would still demand dominance and decry persecution. Fundamentalist Christianity is a cult; I speak from personal experience. This intimidation and near apostasy should not be tolerated by anyone... Christian or otherwise. If you haven't noticed, mainstream Protestant denominations (or as I say "orthodox Protestants") are banding together through ecumenism in an effort to combat the Fundmentalist defilement of the Christian Church. Fundamentalists have hijacked the public face of Christianity, have misrepresented the Gospel, and have rejected the Humility of Christ in the name of political gain. I no longer accept such blasphemy from Fundamentalists who exploit the Name of God for political gain.
  •  Excellent diary (none)
    As a Christian, I have to comment that some of their beliefs is because they are not educated on the matter.  This is very true, but whose fault is that?  It's their fault, that's whose.  

    They believe this because someone stood on a pulpit and told them it was true, but never bothered to check it out for themselves.  Sheep.  

    It is this same lack of their personal responsibility that has put corrupt morons in power.  They were told Bush was a good Christian, so they voted for him, but never bothered to investigate themselves  -- to find out if his behavior backed up the claim.

    This is not all Christians, but unfortunately, it is typical behavior of a growing group of fundies -- they might be able to quote (and mis-interpret) the Bible in a flash, but they know next to nothing about the document that secures their American freedoms, but will keep telling you that the founding fathers were Christians who wanted a Christian nation.  It is so untrue -- they may have been Christian, and many of them were not practicing, but what they wanted was a free nation where people were free to choose.

    Your diary is well written and gives great insight as to the mentality of the "Christian persecution complex," but, I don't feel sorry for them at all.  They have neglected their responsibility to be educated, and not just blindly believe what is told to them from the pulpit.  That goes for the prayer in school issue, as well as issues pertaining to politics.  Had they done their part, honored their responsiblity as an American, they would have seen that Bush's fruits were poison, and we wouldn't be in this mess.  I believe that the simple truth is that they just want their own way, and damn everyone else.

    Your statement that our education system fails at educating people on the Constitution is right on.  Nice job.  Nice analysis.

    Ignorance is no excuse.

  •  Outstanding (none)
    While that's certainly true of this diary, it's even more so when applied to your respectful and well-prepared approach to discussing a thorny topic with someone who disagrees/is uninformed.

    I haven't had the patience, but your example will certainly help me to develop some.

    I've been researching this topic, specifically as it applies to the christian advocacy law center founded and funded by Tom Monaghan, who made his billion dollar fortune burying us in shitty pizza.

    The center's front and center mission is "Defending the Religious Freedom of Christians."

    Thanks for providing me with some essential information and perspective.

    "...psychopaths have little difficulty infiltrating the domains of...politics, law enforcement, (and) government." Dr. Robert Hare

    by RubDMC on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 08:30:03 AM PST

  •  Excellent diary (none)
    I can see you have experience in this currently very important cultural dialogue. It's not one of those "ignore them and they'll go away" type issues. I agree with your points in how to "walk in their shoes."  We need to communicate somehow.

    You say:
    They see a world changing fast, moving away from the traditional values they grew up with and which they cherish.

    This statement I believe gets to the heart of the matter. We are currently in the middle of a "moral" backlash with a pretty large segment of our population.

    The common ground is where bridges of understanding can be built across this cultural divide. You have outlined this in a very pragmatic fashion.

    •  You also have to recognize when to walk away. (none)
      There are some people you cannot hope to reach.,  They are locked into their mindset. You try your best,and when you see there's no chance, you leave them alone.  But FIRST you try.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 04:14:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent diary irishwitch, but.... (none)
    while I totally agree with you and most of the thoughtful posters, I began to skip over all of your (irishwitch) comments because of the HUGE NUMBER OF MISSPELLINGS AND GRAMMATICAL ERRORS!!!! Please consider a spellcheck before posting.  Your friend,
    •  The gramamtical errors are likley (none)
      intentional;  The typos--I don't have time to cust and paste from WOrd

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 04:13:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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