Religion, Ignorance the Problem, not Faith!

I was watching CBS Sunday morning last week (one of my favorite TV programs) and this particular segment on organized religion caught my attention.

Sometimes, I’m amazed at how many times we don’t think things through as a nation, as a people.  As advanced and thirsty for knowledge as we can be in other areas such as technology and science, we seem to be willingly prehistoric, simple and horribly less evolved when it comes to the subject of faith and religion than any other.

This all tends to create a major cluster-fu#! of ideologies.

Take this shirt for instance. (pictured below) After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, pictures like these flooded
Facebook and other social media timelines.  Let’s break down the dialogue and see if it jives with anything more than an ideological and political smokescreen:

dear-god-you-are-not-allowed-on-t-shirts

Dear God, Why do you allow so much violence in our schools?

Signed a concerned Student

Dear Concerned Student: I’m not allowed in schools.

God

This sort of message comes from the perspective of some Christians.  It’s directly related to the Supreme Court’s Ruling in 1962 via the Establishment Clause of the Constitution that made it illegal for the government to endorse religious practices in public schools. Since that decision the cries have been frequently ongoing from the conservative right lamenting that this law is somehow an affront to God.

The two scenarios are as follows:

1) That this law literally takes God’s divine presence out of public schools.

2) That tragedies are God’s punishment to the law.

Let’s examine scenario #1: This is the message of the t-shirt.  When I grew up in church I was taught that God was omnipotent.  That God’s presence is everywhere in the earth and the universe for that matter.  I was taught that the presence of God dwells not in buildings, but in the hearts of man. (Acts 7:48, Ephesians 3:17)

When I was in school, I prayed all the time.  I prayed to pass a test that I studied hard for, (or didn’t).  I prayed at lunchtime before consuming some of the worst foods that could be served to children.  My faith in the Divine was always within me.  There was no law that could ever legislate that away.  And so it is today.  If one honestly believes God to be all powerful, then to say God could literally be limited in some way by government is ridiculous.  It’s impossible, illogical and totally antithetical to any form of sound teaching.  I mean either God is or is not who those who follow God say God is.  And if God is, then how in the hell can one keep God out of schools or any other place for that matter.

Banning public school endorsed religious expressions actually does more to protect students of faith.  Seeing that not all Christian sects share the same specifics, how are children who aren’t raised Christian supposed to function healthily in a hostile Christian environment.  Are Muslims or Hindu’s going to get to pray their way too without ridicule?  (Well all know the answer to that!) And what about those whose parents don’t subscribe to prayer at all?

How can one expect to learn math and English if there is constant fighting about Muhammad vs. Jesus?  Since we obviously can’t play fair and respect anyone else’s views, as far as the classroom goes I’d rather keep faith expressions where they belong, in the privacy of hearts, and minds.

dobson

The latest example of the 2nd scenario comes from James Dobson who said that the shooting was a result of God’s judgment or revenge against the nation for allowing gay marriage and abortion.

There are so many things wrong with this kind of rhetoric.  It bastardizes the hurt of the families in Connecticut.  Dobson is doing what others like Pat Robertson have done for decades.  Blaming high profile crimes and natural disasters on God’s so called hate of ‘fags’ and a nation that has turned it’s proverbial back on God.  Its ignorant and blasphemous!  These false “profits” (yes I spelled it correctly) are in effect blaming God for evil; for slaying adults and children as some sort of payback.  Dobson is making himself out as God’s henchman.  Like a gangster movie where the muscle comes to extort the local business owner.  “The boss says if you don’t pay him his cut, well, I hope you have fire insurance.”

This is part of the reason why there are so many of the so called nones in the nation today as illustrated in the CBS piece.  People have grown tired and irritated of religious zealots with these hair brained ideas about who and what God is.  To these idiots, God is a finger waging children slaying gladiator out to uphold all things politically conservative.  These same ‘profits of rage’ never speak of hunger, poverty, racism, classism, racial injustices, cheating and lying preachers as reasons for ‘god’s punishment.’

If their theologies were true of God’s punishment of America, there wouldn’t be a nation on earth that doesn’t proclaim to be a Christian one in existence today.  Their God would have already destroyed them.  That would include Israel in that they don’t believe Jesus is The Messiah.

mafia

Religion: The Enemy of Faith

These religious wars have always been around and will always be.  Unfortunately faith and relationship with The Divine has gotten a bad name.

I have faith in The Divine.  I believe that I am an extension of The Divine.  I believe I have been created, that I have a purpose in this life and what I do, and how I relate to others who were created by The Divine matters.

My mother is a great woman of faith.  She will swear that who and what I am now is a direct result of years of nightly prayers for me.  Who am I to argue with that?

I, and many people like myself are people of faith who don’t subscribe to the character of The Divine being defined for us by people whose ideology are so flawed that only their own arrogance keeps them from recognition.  I support a faith that loves all of man kind.  A faith that comforts the lonely, feeds the hungry and have compassion on the sick.  I support a faith that protects, nurtures and trains children to inherit the next generation and take it as far as they can.  I support a faith that loves justice and compassion equally; that explores the individual and the collective benefactors of the human and humanity.  And I’m good with that.

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Radical Conservatives Throw Rocks, and Hide Hands, But Karma and Chickens Come Home Eventually

In the wake of the tragic and cowardly shooting that took place in Arizona over the weekend, it didn’t take long for many conservatives to begin the quick process of separating themselves from any and all possible contributions of motivating this heinous crime.

One of my conservative Facebook friends posted this hours after the shooting:

Here’s a wild and wacky idea – instead of linking the tragedy in Arizona to the Right or Left and trying to score political points off of it, why don’t we have a little sympathy for the victims and hope they fry the psychopath who did this?

I get what he was trying to say.  Media can be quick to make connections and jump to conclusions when it comes to sensationalizing a story like this one.

In fairness however, there has been some pretty tough talk and violent rhetoric in recent years from certain segments of the population.  I can recall in the last presidential election from many McCain/Palin campaign outings where several supporters would shout rants like, “Off with his head!” when it came to then Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama.  I remember that initially team McCain/Palin and their handlers as well as many right-wing pundits dismissed these types of comments as being harmless.

Personally, I felt that while the Republican candidates didn’t literally desire to see harm come to then Senator Obama (some may find that debatable) at the very least the Republicans understood very well that a large portion of their energized voter base were extreme right wingers who held their guns, confederate flags, and racism as close to their hearts as they did their bibles.  They didn’t want to turn off that block by confronting them.  Eventually McCain had to make some concessions after his poll numbers begin to drop due to these radicals.

Since the new President got into office, the rhetoric has continued, except there has also been some action behind it.  To give a few examples:

In August Gregory Lee Giusti was arrested for threatening the life of Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her support of health-care reform.

Rep. Brad Miller of North Carolina was also threatened. Imagine that, supporting a health-care bill can get one killed!

In addition in months past, Rep. John Lewis and Emmanuel Clever were called niggers and Rep Barney Frank a faggot.

Some white supremacist fool even shot a security guard at the Holocaust Museum.

A questions being asked now, is whether rhetoric via talking heads and even some of the politicians themselves are contributing to the shootings.  Most who believe so don’t mean it in some literal sense as if someone like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin pulled the trigger themselves or hypnotized the murder into committing these heinous acts.  Rather an understanding that with the desperation that comes with hard economic times bring about the tendency of needing someone to blame.

Advertisers know in marketing their products successfully, one common theme is finding the right endorser.  This helps the product to generate a following.  This is why Gatorade and American Express hired Tiger Woods years ago.  The thinking is they can pay him $100 million dollars to represent the merchandise because just by his name being attached to it, Americans and beyond would purchase the product – not because it’s a superior product, but because Tiger at least says he drinks it.  We know this and yet psychologically we fall for it anyway.  Not all the time, but enough to make a killing.  (no pun intended)

In the months leading to the 2008 Presidential elections, I often listened to black radio.  DJs such as Tom Joyner and Michael Baisden used their influence with listeners to promote voter registration.  They went on and on everyday as to why this election was so important after 8 years of George W Bush.  As a result, many who normally would not have bothered to take an intense interest in the election did so with anticipation and excitement.  The minority vote was epic, as was the vote of the youth.  The combination changed the results of the election.

Of course the right has always had their talking heads too.  According to Bernard Goldberg, Rush Limbaugh makes a cool $33 million a year to galvanize his listeners.  So the evidence is there to suggest that there are varying voices regardless of the rhetoric that Americans find influential.  Of course the same could be said about politicians themselves.

With this as a backdrop, I noticed soon after the Tucson shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and 17 others (6 fatally) including a small child and a federal judge, there were many connections being made to the suspect perhaps being influence by the rhetoric via radio, television or political figures like Sarah Palin.  Equally true was that many conservatives made a point to distance themselves as far away from shooter Jared Loughner.  This was the epitaph of my Facebook friend mentioned at the beginning.  My personal feelings on the matter cause me to take a broader approach that I started by mentioning the radio personalities and product sponsors.  I think the best way to view this intelligently is to take a look at ‘like’ circumstances and gauge  reactions to similarities based on deductive reasoning and hard-core facts.  From that I come up with a list of questions to ask so that you can reflect based on your knowledge and experience of being an American.

1) Do we have military men as well as FBI monitoring websites of hate mongers, religious zealots, and most definitely Muslim extremist?  Does the government and it’s citizens believe it’s worth monitoring?

2) Were groups like the Black Panthers targeted by the FBI because of both their rhetoric and arsenal of weapons in times past?

3) If for example, Nation Of Islam Leader Minister Louis Farrakhan used something similar to Sarah Palin’s cross hairs map to target a section of someone’s district politically saying we need to target and ‘get rid’ of that person, and some black guy named Abdullah X shot a public servant in point-blank range along with a group of people similar to what Loughner did, would the Minister be able to separate himself as easily as you see Palin, Beck, and Limbaugh doing now?  Would it sit right with you as the Minister explains that Abdullah committed this dastardly wicked deed of his own volition, and was never involved with The Nation at all?  Or would you be comfortable with the FBI tearing through the offices of Farrakhan ripping every single computer to look for further possible threats, to destroy his organization.

I believe most readers who answer truthfully know the answers to these questions.  With that being said, regardless of what Loughner’s motivation stemmed from in all of it’s destructive glory and varying degrees, the ability for many Caucasians on the right to smoothly separate themselves from these criminals is quite astounding to me;  Impressive really.  From Abraham Lincoln, to the Kennedys, MLK, and so on, the story of the lone and weird spaced out anti-social vagabond gunman is one that never seems to get old does it?  It’s as if saying those very words instantly sanitizes them from the mere thought of consideration.

‘Oh no!  No responsibility on MY part!  I didn’t kill those people! I don’t subscribe to such vicious violence!  Why I never!  This is obviously a sick individual who perhaps needed help but certainly couldn’t possibly be spurned on by anything I said.”

I think our culture, our advertising and marketing departments, the hundred of millions of dollars being spent on campaign adds, say something else.

What it says is at the very least, as a nation we cannot continue to throw rocks, hide our hands, and then act with a pompous holy shame when the results of those words, those signs and pictures,  the seeds that are being planted come back with strange fruit hanging on the vines.  It is simply idiotic to suggest that people want to be leaders, have listeners, gain an audience, carry a local or national message to the hearers, win support, and take credit for such when an election is won but not when a fool goes off and does something reprehensible.

Regardless of the true motivations of one individual, it’s time that we start to re-think and carefully consider what kind of nation we are allowing ourselves to be.  And by all means don’t be surprised if we stay on this course when the future brings more of the same.   This denial and self protective attitude of embraced ignorance is long past its prime.

Is that lesson ready to be learned by those in denial of this?  I doubt it.  I just saw an article that Rep. Joe Wilson’s  words,‘You lie,” that infamous unprecedented disrespect against President Obama statement is now being engraved on….wait for it….. the AR-15 assault rifle. Oh yea they are only printing a certain amount so that they can be a ‘collectors item’.  Folks, that is as subtle as an assault rifles bullet being shot straight at our leader and anyone who supports him.  I mean, really?  “You lie,” engraved on an assault weapon?  And what segment of the population do you think they are targeting for this beast of a weapon? And again I ask what would the nation say if Muslims were engraving AK-47s with the words “Mission Accomplished”, “Jihad!” or “White Devil?”

Take in the brevity of this.  The engravings for the AR-15 is not the target of some guy from around the block.  We are talking about the current President of these United States of America!  Good old fashioned home-grown terrorism right within our midst.  Unfortunately many conservatives thinks that’s OK.  And yet… they stand poised and ready to distance themselves from the next shooter.