Saturday, April 29, 2006

Religion and Politics, some final thoughts


Okay, after 2 podcasts on this subject, emails and rants, my thoughts on this subject have gone from clear to crystal clear. Religion is a personal freedom we all have and that's the way it should be. Everyone should be allowed to express their religious beliefs in any way they choose, with one important exception. Religion is a private affair and should be in the realm of the private individual, or the private organization.
When it comes to public institutions, religion needs to be left at the door. The public institutions of city, state, and nation are the institutions representing everyone. The Supreme Court in the not too distant past affirmed this when they ruled not to allow the display of the Ten Commandments in a public courthouse. Why did they do this? Because the court is for all the people. And believe it or not, not all of us look to the Bible for our source of spiritual inspiration. Courthouses represent the laws. And as much as every Christian or Jew or Muslim, just to name the western religions, might look to their religious doctrine as their personal law book, the U. S. Constitution is the law of the land, not the New Testament, the Old Testament, or the Koran.
The Constitution is the only document that represents all the people. That's the beauty of it. We all go through the door with one thing in common, the U. S. Constitution. The one document that is all of ours AND it protects our personal freedoms at the same time. We all agree to follow it in our public life knowing that it protects our personal individual rights and beliefs as well.
But why can't some respect the rights of all the people and understand that their personal religious preferences have no place in the Public domain? Would you have your religion imposed on people who don't believe in it? When did our concept of personal religious freedom get distorted? When did some start believing they had the right to advocate their personal religious beliefs in the realm of our public institutions. Can't they see that they are denying others their rights by doing so?
God belongs in our various places of worship and our infinitely various hearts.
But our government can only protect our individual beliefs by requiring government be free of embracing any particular religion.
In my opinion religion already has too much influence in government and should be addressed. What do some of our citizens feel when people swear in court on the Bible if they don't believe in the Bible? Is that not imposing religious doctrine on them?
When our President is sworn in he, and maybe someday she, places their hand on the Bible. What does that say to those U. S. citizens who don't believe in the Bible?
It says that the majority of us believe in "this" type of religion and the rest of you just need to deal with it. Is this religious freedom for all? Some people came to this country to escape the Church of England seeking religious freedom to worship as they pleased. If the English government had stayed out of religion there would have been no need to escape. Have we learned nothing?
WARNING: FROM HERE ON I WILL GO ON A LONG OVERDUE TIRADE ABOUT MY HONEST FEELINGS TOWARD RELIGION ON A VERY PERSONAL LEVEL. THE NEED TO DO THIS I ATTRIBUTE TO MANY YEARS OF BEING FORCE FED RELIGIOUS DOCTRINE IN OUR GOVERNMENT, IN OUR MEDIA, IN CONVERSATIONS WITH PEOPLE WHO ASSUME I AGREE WITH THEIR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS BUT HAVE HAD THE COMMON COURTESY TO SPARE THEM THE AGONY THAT THEY UNKNOWINGLY PUT ME THROUGH.
THIS A ONE TIME ONLY NEED TO BLOW OFF STEAM AND I HOPE WHEN I'M DONE I CAN RETURN TO THE PRACTICE OF LEAVING MY PERSONAL RELIGIOUS BELIEFS TO MYSELF, WHERE THEY BELONG. TO READ ON IS TO RISK BEING OFFENDED THE WAY I AM OFFENDED ON A DAILY BASIS WHEN I HAVE TO ENDURE HEARING THE RELIGIOUS DOGMA OF OTHERS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Personally, I think organized religions are far to limiting in their doctrine to suit my spiritual tastes. And yet I am forced to endure it more and more in the public shpere. Most of all it needs to stay out of the public schools where education free of doctrine needs to allow our children to make up their own minds about life and the big spiritual questions life asks of them. If parents want to indoctrinate their children and close their minds to the infinite possiblities they might have had to interpret the world the way they uniquely see it, then, go ahead. No one will stop you. But watch out, if they attend a public school they may have the opportunity to see many more points of view and decide in the end that their parents were giving them a narrow view on the world. This is why many in this country have rebelled against religious doctrine. And in particular, because it is by far the most dominant, Christian doctrine.
Some feel that liberals unfairly single out Christians, as their primary target when speaking out on religion. That is because a lot of liberals were indoctrinated in Christianty as children. It is only natural for most of the focus to be on Christianity because the dominant faith is Christianity in this country. I would assume that free thinking people in, say a Muslim country, might express their rebellious feelings in Islamic terms. The point is FOR ME (and I'm empahsizing the FOR ME because I'm not advocating this for anyone but me) to believe in religious doctrine of any kind is to close your mind to an infinte number of other possibilities in favor of one.
In my real, non-podcast life, Nancy and I produce videos. Once, and once only, we made a promotional video for a Christian Academy. I will never forget entering a kindergarten classroom just in time to focus my camera on a group of five year olds, beautiful, innocent children reciting the pledge of allegiance not only to the flag but to the United States of Jesus! Polical and religious indoctrination all at once. These beautiful kids, not even underdstanding the meaning of their words, were entering a narrow minded society and leaving the natural world of reality behind, and I was their to capture the moment.
Once, there were many gods. Gods to explain all the unexplainable events surrounding us in the natural world. As we began to understand more about our world, the number of gods decreased. Today for the most part all religions emphasize one unifying god.
There are many descriptions of this god depending on your personal beliefs or that of the religious group you associate with. I too believe that there is an underlying spiritual unity to the world and I believe that science and free spiritual thinkers will continue discover and gain more insight into the nature of this world we find ourselves in. FOR ME the path to enlightenment, if you want to call it that is to believe in nothing. I prefer to keep an open mind to the possibilities yet to be discovered. The universe is amazing, but how are we possibly able to fully appreciated it when our heads are full of preconceived notions of what is behind it all.
Are we so righteous to think that we have it all figured out? Are we so righteous to think that if there is a god that HE would create us in his image? Because that is what the Bible says. But men, not god wrote the Bible, therefore men not god had the self centered ego to think that their god created them in his image.
We are beings on a small planet on the outer edge of a mediocre galaxy in a universe with an infinite number of more galaxies. Do we really think that we have the capacity to understand it all. No. So until we do, we continue to make up stories that explain it for us in terms we can understand. FOR ME, that is religion. FOR ME, as long as you BELIEVE the world is a certain way, you stop perceiving the world as it is. If there is anything I do believe in, it is this. That those who follow the teachings of others to the point of worshipping the teachers instead of listening to what they had to say, are failing to perceive that we are all like Christ, Mohhamed, Bhudda, and an infinite number of prophets and teachers with the same message. You can look within yourself and others for god. Or you can follow the institutions who pervert these teachings for their own purposes.
END OF TIRADE. I WILL NOW RETURN TO THE WORLD OF PODCASTING AND POLITICS WHERE I WILL KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT ABOUT RELIGION AND FOCUS ON GETTING EVERYONE I POSSIBLY CAN TO THE POLLS TO GET THESE BASTARDS OUT OF OUR WHITE HOUSE AND CONGRESS, STOP THE KILLING, AND ATTEMPT TO CREATE HEAVEN ON EARTH.
ONWARD.
Brian

8 Comments:

Blogger Shreveport Dude said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:10 AM  
Blogger Shreveport Dude said...

While I respect your right to say whatever you want about religion, I must say that while speaking about the politics of religion, I don't feel it's kosher (pardon the pun) to stress actual beliefs. Actual beliefs are unimportant and even impertinent, especially when we're talking about checking beliefs at the door and policy. I was getting the impression that the post was about policy and the constitution, that is, unless the mention of personal beliefs was a side bar to show diversity. If it was a lecture, it was off base.

As for swearing on the Bible, this is not a forced thing. No one would ever force a Muslim or an Atheist to swear on a Bible, just as I am free not to swear at all. I choose to affirm instead of swear. I have reservations about the "so help me God" part of it too as I believe it's discouraged in the Bible. I think the option to swear on the Bible or not, is a perfect example of FREEDOM and not oppression. This is a trite argument.

In my opinion, the following sentence, extracted from the original post, is an example of oppression "Everyone should be allowed to express their religious beliefs in any way they choose, with one important exception. Religion is a private affair and should be in the realm of the private individual, or the private organization." Question: Can a church have a volleyball game in the public park? A prison ministry? Go as a large group to an amusement park or museum?

My problem with this whole subject and liberals is that liberals seem to feel that they are on the right side of the argument with no room for compromise or error.

I feel that my religious beliefs are perfectly fine in the "public domain." I am part of the freaking public. I will not check my religion at the door as stated in the rant, and I can't think of a situation where I would need to. For situations such as DMV workers or or people who do not have uniform codes that prohibit wearing crosses, I see no reason why they can't wear a cross or decorate their work area with any religious symbol they want. yet one of my closest friends, I'll even call him a mentor, tells me that a DMV worker wearing a cross is an assault against him.

I will say this without reservation: I wouldn't vote for any politician who would post something like this. I'd be afraid he'd want to control me and people like me, but I would have dinner with him.

3:13 AM  
Blogger Wake Up America Podcast said...

I guess w've come as far as we can go on this subject.
I think your DMV example is wrong. When a person is at work there, they represent a state organization that represents all the people. Otherwise we could find ourselves at the Christian window there, or the jewish window, the muslim, the anti-christ window. It's ridiculous.
I guess as I go through this American life, I find myself believing in freedom of religion, but also craving freedom FROM religion. Christianity dominates our daily lives wether we are Christian or not.
Why do you feel you need to proclaim your religion to the world?
My rant was out of frustration and an attempt to show that those of us who aren't Christian are forced to endure it on a daily basis.
I won't talk about my religious beliefs to tohers because I respect their right to their own not mine. This whole dialogue suspended that for a while, but it is time to return to individual Personal beliefs and use our public discourse to address our serious political problems.
Thanks for the discussion Jeff now,Onward.
Brian

6:26 AM  
Blogger Shreveport Dude said...

Let's not be so quick to end this civil discussion. Unfortunately (arrgh!) I must be logged in at work in 20 minutes! I want to address that DMV thing and expressing religion in public. I guess it must be another late night post.

12:45 PM  
Blogger Shreveport Dude said...

Ah! Home for lunch now. For the DMV argument, which I've heard before, I only ask, "on what legal or constitutional basis would the cross be banned?" I've already conceded that Christians should follow uniform codes, but if you can dress casually, including unecessary jewelry items such as watches, rings, dolphins and butterflies, why prohibit crosses, stars of david and the like?

I would have no problem receiving a sticker for my car from a Jew or a Bhuddist. Their religion has nothing to do with my transaction.

Again, liberals need to understand that or is Congress which is prohibited in the first ammendment, and not the church. The church is protected from the state in the first Ammendment, and not the other way around. No matter how you read it, it says that congress shall make no law... The church is not restrained in any way.

That does not extend to a person wearing a cross in a DMV unless Congress writes a law that says you can wear anything but a cross. That would be unconstitutional.

I don't feel a need to proclaim my religion everywhere I go. Jesus said to do that in your closet. But I will proclaim my religion in public any time I'm told not to.

I might feel a need to wear a cross that my mother, father, sister, girlfriend, brother, wife, etc gave to me and I simply wear it every day. Some catholics are very keen on wearing certain pendants.

Would you prohibit turbans also? Yamikas? Third eye dots on foreheads? Why be so tyrannical? That's you forcing your lack of religious beliefs on them. Not the other way around. They just put on their clothes. You want to judge their attire and limit their choices because you have an internal reaction to the image of a lump of metal.

What if you're into the Yankees and they are into the Mets? Would you have them take off that pin? Tastes great? Less Filling? Why make this into an issue? It's a loser.

I have freedom of religion. I would absolutely fight for the right to wear my cross anywhere I want to, even to work if they choose to prohibit it there.

Anyway, since you seen to want to end the discussion, I'll understand if you don't discuss it any further.

6:47 PM  
Blogger citizen shelly said...

From www.whitehouse.gov today -
- you have to see the picture of Bush looking "pious" while he's "praying".

"President Bush Commemorates National Day of Prayer

THE PRESIDENT: Welcome to the White House. I am really glad you're here. Thanks for coming. And I'm honored to join you for the National Day of Prayer. On this special day, we give thanks for the many ways that America has been blessed, and we acknowledge the Almighty, who is the source of these blessings.

President George W. Bush addresses guests in the East Room of the White House Thursday, May 4, 2006, during a celebration of the National Day of Prayer. . . . . Thank you for organizing this event here at the White House and around the nation.
. . . Dr. Blackaby, thank you very much, sir, for being the Honorary Chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force."

There's a task force.

Where is the mention of the diversity of religion/lack of it in this country during this ceremony? = How did this "holiday" start? I think some of this country's founders are spinning furiously in their graves.

Seriously, why does Bush insist on being photographed praying so much? I worry that our president feels the need to show off his private religious practices. I don't want to see him having sex, either.

7:12 PM  
Blogger Wake Up America Podcast said...

The difference between a state or federal employee, like our DMV employee, is that all of the citizens pay their salaries via taxes. I'm simply saying that government employees have a higher calling on their jobs. It's working for all of the people. If they want a job where they can represent their religious preference then don't work for the government. With your logic, what is to stop the President from wearing a crucifix on the job? He has a right I guess.

But wait, Shelly has brought up something that indicates just that!

If you go to the National Day of Prayer website, there you will find their mission staement:

Mission
The National Day of Prayer Task Force's mission is to communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, mobilizing the ,CHRISTIAN community to intercede for America and its leadership in the five centers of power: Church, Education, Family, Government and Media.

Apparentlty the President not only supports but advocates that the CHRISTIAN community INTERCEDE in not only the church but, MEDIA, EDUCATION AND GOVERNMENT,.

If you cannot agree that this is inappropriate, then we definitely have no common ground whatsoever to continue a dialog on religion and government.
But Jeff if you agree or not I really think for my part that I am done with this conversation.
I guess we just disagree. Let's move on.
Brian

8:19 PM  
Blogger Shreveport Dude said...

What the heck is this?

f you cannot agree that this is inappropriate, then we definitely have no common ground whatsoever to continue a dialog on religion and government.

Since when, on a liberal message board was there ever a prerequisite for agreement on certain points before discussion? Does this mean that republicans can't post? Or does it mean that liberals must be lockstep and thus have less lattitude than conservatives?

Yes, it makes me uncomfortable to continue this discussion, not because I have any real feelings about it. It's like any other issue that liberals don't agree on, like supporting Hillary. But I'm seriously getting the impression that this runs a lot deeper with you than with me. You close every post with a strong hint that you don't want to discuss it further. Why stifle conversation?

Moreover, how do you think this discussion looks to people sitting on the fence on this issue? Remember, when you invited me to read the rant, your last line was

Most of all though, I hope we will rerturn to our common purpose of getting these bastards out of our White House.

I agree there, but my long running point here is that issues like these are absolute LOOSERS for Democrats. Arguing these points in an election or even where it can be overseen, hardens the religious vote against us.

So again, I ask, which is more important? electing another republican President who will start a needless war and kill 100,000 more people, or simply tolerating people wearing trinkets in the DMV?

I'm done with this issue, but let me make this clear: It's not because my ire has been raised one iota. It's because I can take two hints, and a declaratrion, and an admonition.

For the record, I have less of a problem with the national day of Prayer and Bush and the way he passively mentioned it the way he would black history month, than I do with Harry S. Truman initiating the national day of prayer. I don't believe that it should be initiated by a President.

Also, a President should be free to wear a crucifix, star of david, etc. It's unamerican to prohibit it, even if he worships Odin or Zeus or Voodoo or lettuce.

I guess I'll "move on." To not move on after being told that is to be in a tiff. Touche` on the conversation ender.

2:37 AM  

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