Posts Tagged With: Christian Nation

Where’s the Love

Growing up, I was always told I would be a preacher or politician. I am a gay Agnostic, so that pretty much eliminates both of those possibilities. But I have realized that I do have my little blog here to preach MY message. The LoveFew read, but I can feel I am trying to be a part of the civil discourse. Now, The Black Eyed Peas have a position of influence… and they are using that by releasing an updated 2016 version of their 2003 hit “Where’s the Love?” Celebrities appearances mixed with heart wrenching images makes me ask where is empathy, sympathy, and concern for others and our society. In 2003, I am ashamed to admit I remember more dancing to the song than listening to it.

Part of being Agnostic for me is I am ok with saying I don’t know. People confuse being Agnostic with being Atheist, but I feel Atheist have the same certainty there is NO God as Religious people do that there IS a God. Being Agnostic, I can say not only I don’t know, I can say – I don’t care. I don’t have to BE right… even though I do think I am right! (lol) Why do we have to have an absolute RIGHT side of EVERY issue? Living in the middle I get FRUSTRATED when Christians try to legislate how I as a gay man can live, and justify their “right” to not make gay wedding cakes because of THEIR beliefs. I am ANGERED by Islamic extremist that use terror as a means to associate that message with ALL Muslims to attempt to control lives of others. I am AGGRAVATED that we as a society look at issues only from our point of view and how it impacts us.

OmranThe photo of 5 year-old Omran Daqneesh sitting in the back of an ambulance in shock, wounded by a bomb that struck the building where his family lived is HAUNTING! I actually heard someone on tv say why had his family not fled, why did they stay in a war torn town. If I had been able to talk through the tv, I would have suggested the father may have seen the 2015 image of the lifeless toddler Aylan Kurdi on the beach of the Turkish resort of Bodrum, whose family had attempted to flee the Syrian war.

These images are events that happened about a year apart and in Mockthat year, US Presidential candidate Donald Trump was ranting about the threat of accepting Syrian refugees (and I like to remind people that this is also an asshole that feels it is acceptable to mock disabled people). He worries about the possibility of “terrorist” being able to use this as a way into the United States. I say the terrorists are here… they are the people cheering Trump’s hateful rhetoric. Britain is so frightened that they voted to leave the European Union based MOSTLY on fear of immigrants. How can ANY American look and these images and not be more terrified of the idea of doing NOTHING, not HELPING? When our society has become so cold, callused, and afraid of doing what is right, what is the danger of a Trump Presidency? We are accepting our fates to be isolationist that care ONLY about ourselves! I will FIGHT for what’s right and that, for me, means fighting Donald Trump’s candidacy. Even as much as I may not like Hillary Clinton… she does understand the basics of what’s right.

It’s not even like we have to look internationally to see issues that are no brainer issues that have become divisive. black-lives-matterWhy are so many white people so offended by the “Black Lives Matter” movement? It is as if they are so afraid of black people that they have to embolden the idea that there are NO bad cops and that “Black Lives Matter” hates cops. When the African-American population is disproportionately impacted by violence, poverty and incarceration, it is a sad refection on all people to act as if that issue does not exist. Americans HAVE such a need to react to “Black Lives Matter” with “Blue Lives Matter” or “All Lives Matter” because it is easier to be divisive and not listen, ignore or even blame the messenger. Or are they so color blinded that they think the idea of “BLACK Lives Matter” is to the exclusion of other races? Why are we as a society so afraid to agree that “Black Lives Matter” without having to dilute the message before listening or attempting to look or work on the issue?

B E AwareI am a white guy and what makes me a little different is that I can acknowledge I have benefits because of white privilege. I know when I am pulled over by a cop, I am privilegeuncomfortable, but not afraid. I KNOW there are great cops! But that does not blind me to the evidence that there are some BAD cops and that some of those “bad cops” have gotten away with murder or at least manslaughter. A crooked justice system that gives bad cops a pass only endangers the good, honorable, and admirable cops. I wonder if Americans were to answer honestly if they would admit that cops over use their authority to a point of intimidation? Innocent black men have died just in the process of being arrested for minor violations. But a lot of white America cannot even acknowledge this injustice or acts as if it doesn’t exist.

Etan

Ethan Couch

Two BIG white boy cases that OFFEND me to my core are Ethan Couch and Brock Turner. Ethan Couch killed 4 people driving drunk. He was drinking under age, had stolen the beer from WalMart, his blood alcohol was over 3 times the legal limit for adult drivers, speeding with 7 passengers in his father’s pickup (one of the passengers was paralyzed in the accident also), and tested positive for marijuana and Valium. Ethan’s lawyer argued that poor Ethan suffered from “Affluenza”. Affluenza has nothing to do with the flu… but basically is a condition brought on by

Brock Turner

Brock Turner

too much affluence, he grew up rich and did not understand his actions had consequences. He ended up sentenced to probation and therapy. Look Ethan Couch up on Wikipedia for even more details of his white privilege granted via the US justice system. While the 2nd guy Brock Turner needs less discussion, he was convicted of raping an unconscious girl and was only sentenced to 6 months in jail and only had to serve 3 of those months.

These 2 assholes were convicted and paid no real penalty. In 2015 alone, over 100 unarmed African-Americans were killed by cops… key word “UNARMED”. Only 10 of these incidents resulted in charges and only 2 led to convictions.* In the same year (2015) there were 36 non-accidental firearm fatalities for US law enforcement.** We all know ALL lives matter, but we should see that this issue unjustifiably impacts one community more than the other! But for some reason, people do not listen and find ways to justify status quo.

Status quo is not acceptable anymore! We have to find the love! I wanted a Hollywood ending for this post… I tried. I The futuresearched for more recent photos of Omran. I wanted to see a photo of him well, happy, running and playing. But there is no “updated” happy ending for these issues I am struggling to understand. But to keep me motivated to find the love… I need the haunting image of Omran. At times, that photo comes to mind and I think… Omran is someone’s child, brother, nephew, cousin, buddy… he is more than that photo. I keep thinking of that photo and as I play with my blonde-haired, blue eyed, great-nephews that also have Arab last names. I have to do something so that their world is better! I hope to influence them with good, principled ideas, and there are NO more cases of “Affluenza” (or asshole lawyers that even consider ignorance a defense)! I hope that they will know a better, welcoming, loving America and be a part of a society that WANTS to help and protect ALL lives – especially the ones that don’t have the same privileges as others regardless of color, nationality or socioeconomic status. I hope they will not understand why TWICE The Black Eyed Peas felt the need to sing, “Where’s the Love?”

Where

*http://mappingpoliceviolence.org/unarmed/

**https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/sep/04/police-deaths-2015-law-enforcement-safety

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It’s Too Many Guns & Not Enough Intelligence – Not a Lack of God!

hist_2007_2_us_gun_car_whyI am writing this as news of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newton, Connecticut  is still developing and sadly, I am already seeing misdirection courtesy of many conservatives that are already stepping up to defend their guns and the American gun culture!  

God Skips SchoolI saw this post on facebook:

Dear GOD: Why didn’t You intervene and protect these teachers and children in CT ? Singed: America

Dear America: You don’t allow me in your schools…Singed, GOD

This tragedy did not happen because God was not in the school! It happened because GUNS were in the school mikeand an obviously mentally deranged individual had the guns!  Former Republican governor Mike Huckabee (someone as relevant as Ann Coulter or Sarah Palin)  joined with his rhetoric about God and I am sure if I read far enough he probably also blamed gays, Obama, and Democrats. He said, “We ask why there’s violence in our schools, but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?” What kind of carnage would Christians have with each other trying to agree what version of God is given a “hall pass” at school? Huckabee most likely is organizing a Guns r US appreciations day so God-fearing Christians can prove their faith in God by buying more guns to be Onward Christian Soldiers and take the war to schools because damn-it, God belongs in school more than in his and other Christian’s hearts! (I still think Jesus would have peacekeepers not soldiers.)

bulletsPeople are saying now is not the time to discuss gun control in the US… I agree – IT WAS YESTERDAY, weeks ago or even YEARS ago that we should have been DOING something about it! It is time to stop TALKING about it and start DOING SOMETHING – NOW!! If 20 dead children and 7 dead adults at an elementary school is not a wake up call for people to demand improving gun control laws… I question whether those people are capable of rational thought! People just LOVE their guns too much and it is IRRATIONAL and borders on CRAZY!  

If we do not talk about it now and/or do something now… what will be the price tomorrow? Someone you know and love dying in a gun related tragedy?

gun cultureI do not have ANYTHING I would kill to protect and that includes my life! If I had children I would do all I could to protect them using MY life to protect them – not a gun! I feel kids today need more protection from conservative’s contradictory, self-serving, hate filled, misinformation than thieves or murderers. As far as self-defense – I would rather die unarmed than to kill to protect “things” – yes even if that “thing” is my life! 

Guns for hunting is not the issue, so do not even mention hunting! If you need an assault rifle or semi-automatic weapons to hunt… you need to stay out of the woods anyway! I grew up hunting and I see nothing wrong with it as long a the meat used for food. Not only have I killed Bambi’s Dad and Thumper, I ate Bambi’s dad and Thumper. But my father and I never needed an assault rifle, semi-automatic weapon or grenade launcher for hunting.

love of weaponsIt is often misquoted that money is the root of all evil, but it actually is the LOVE of money is the root of all evil and I feel the same is true of guns – it is not guns that are dangerous, but this LOVE of guns that is the DANGER! It is often said (even the Pope has said it) that gay marriage will destroy civilization. I beg to differ – I know of no one that has died of gay marriage, but I do know people whose life was damaged or tragically ended because of guns.  Like alcoholics; gun and weapon lovers first need to admit – they have a problem! God is not the blame –  GUNS are and an absence of reasonable laws for a reasonable society! 

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The North Pike Pharisees

Why do so many Christians feel they are entitled to have prayer at public school functions? Don’t they have church and even Christian schools for those that find that important? Why do so many Christians STAND UP with outrage on an issue like being told to stop praying at ballgames, but so few Christians stand up for the poor, the hungry, the ones needing health care or for the civil liberties of others? Why can’t Christians understand that freedom of religion in the United States also means freedom FROM religion?  Most churches offer Sunday School, youth programs, worship, and some even offer mission opportunities for school aged children, teenagers and young adults.  Church provides a place to learn and exercise one’s religious beliefs and practices – not public schools – well not public school football games (or any school functions for that matter)!

North Pike Schools is one of the latest schools to be told by threat of lawsuits to stop praying at school functions. I graduated from North Pike Schools where I attended all 12 years of my compulsory education. On September 23, 2011, the North Pike School Board received a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation reminding them of current laws regarding prayer at school functions. This of course has enraged the local Christian community. So many Christians forget all opportunities where they can exercise their religion, but tell them there is something they can’t do…. then they become livid!

Superintendent of North Pike Schools, Dr. Ben Cox handled the situation administratively saying, “North Pike will suspend prayer at sporting events and other functions. The school board doesn’t agree. Students, patrons and parents will still have the individual right to prayer.” (1) This would have been the best place to stop, but he went on to say, “It’s not a violation of federal law to have prayer at an event as long as the school does not initiate it. We encourage our patrons to express that right of religious freedom.” (1) This is how I translate the last part: it is not a violation of federal law to push the issue by trying to find a little loophole to bypass the law and have students and parents pray anyway. So I hope students at North Pike read this as I remind them it is not a violation of federal law to try to find loopholes in the school’s handbook, guidelines, or rules.  I encourage the students to exercise their rights to dress and behave how they want at school, and I challenge them to express this right.  When your parents say be home at 11:00pm for curfew, come home, then go right back out because they only said be home at 11:00pm; they did not say you cannot go back out. This is what Dr. Cox is suggesting; just find a way to justify doing what you want regardless of the law or rules.  Let us teach our students instead of following the rules and/or laws, let us just find a way around it.(2)

Christians’ arrogance is one of the main reasons I no longer self-identify as a “Christian”.  I do not see many that act Christ-like, but this fact does not make me less a follower of Christ to say – this is not what Jesus would do.  The Bible has often been used as a weapon against me because I understand its purpose differently, so let me turn the tables and use their “source” of how to behave against them.  Matthew 6: 5-6 says, ““And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”  Now, I also know the Bible also has passages that support praying out loud.  So, like with most issues, we can all misuse and interpret the Bible to support just about any of our opinions.  But I also know the Pharisees (Luke 18:9-14) were not looked upon fondly by Christ as they patted themselves on the back for how holy they were.  I am sad to say, I see Pharisees in this issue and some will say they see the Devil in me. I feel God inspires me to stand up when I see injustice done in the name of religion or even freedom of religion; but other than God on my side, I also have the law on my side!

If more Christians stood up for “causes” other than those that only affect them, I would have more respect for their outrage.  Where is their outrage for how the poor are treated in the U.S., where is their outrage for how healthcare coverage is not available for all, where is their outrage for how Wall Street wrecked our economy with no executives being arrested – only given bonuses, where is their outrage for working Americans losing their homes in foreclosure?

Pastors and Christian leaders may ask themselves, why is the number of Americans identifying as “non-religious” growing? (3)   May I suggest behavior like this affects their Christian witness!  Maybe fighting to keep prayer in schools, this behavior makes fewer people see Christ and only see people that are unjustly angry?  Many Christians have forgotten to minister to people and only unite for self-serving purposes!  And before arguing that people identifying as non religious is growing because prayer is being taken from school, look at it as people have seen these same Christians fighting to keep prayer in schools while NOT seeing them stand up for the poor, hungry, sick or lonely.  They have seen them persecute, name call, and justify hatred while bullying groups of people in the name of God!  But I can speak for myself: I identify as non-religious, but I do still believe in a God, the principles of Christ’s teaching; however religion has done more harm to my faith than help it grow!

Christians can always pray to themselves, and I am lost to understand why they feel everyone should be exposed to the practices of their faith.  They are free to say a prayer to themselves any where, any time; no one wants to stop that, but praying to an audience gathered for a school function is not appropriate.  This arrogance of feeling persecuted because they are told to follow the law reminds me of how spoiled some act…. I can do what I want… this is a Christian Nation!  I fell to remember learning at North Pike that this is a Christian nation, I remember learning that the United States is a Nation founded on FREEDOM!  As they have freedom OF religion, the rest of us have freedom FROM religion!

The founding fathers came to America to escape forced religion.  King Henry VIII established The Church of England (the Anglican Church) as THE religion for England.  So escaping from being forced to practice a certain religion is what inspired the founding fathers to start a new nation….. not establishing another Christian nation or they would not have felt religious persecution in England.  Their intent was that religion would not be part of government.  In the United States, public schools are funded by government funds and Christian practices should not be endorsed by the school, nor should Atheism, Muslim, Hinduism, Buddhism or ANY faith. 

Schools and teachers have enough responsibility to teach, inspire and keep students safe in an academic environment; so, let’s not add religious education to the public schools responsibilities.  Could schools even compete with all the various Christian faiths as to what is appropriate to teach about religion.  I do not think many practitioners of the Pentecostal faith would want a Methodist or Baptist to teach Christian values to their children or vice versa… not to mention Catholics!  The only thing I have found they all can agree on is hating gays!  I have been told if someone does not like prayer at school functions, they can stay home – oh that is a great argument, the praying Christians get to decide who comes to PUBLIC school functions!  My response is, if someone objects to following the law… they can send their kid to private school where Christianity is part of their curriculum.  Christians could simply decide to meet before school functions in the parking lot, say a prayer, then go in to watch the game or better yet – just pray before they leave home for the game or function.  A moment of silence – that is a joke!  Spontaneously reciting something like the Lord’s Prayer out loud, in unison – WOW… group defiance and disrespect for the law 101!!!  But heaven forbid they try finding a simple, legal solution that even satisfies the people that see things differently instead of trying to find ways to just circumvent the law.

I love the teachers, coaches and leaders at North Pike, I received a great education there, and know the dedication it takes to be a teacher, but let’s teach the students right – they are are school to learn, to be educated in academics.  Children learn from the example set before them and North Pike’s leadership is encouraging anarchy, encouraging finding ways around the rules – so do not be surprised when this example is followed by the students in areas other than expressing their religious rights!  I am a former youth minister and I dare say that less than 50% of these students are even actively involved in church.  Many feel they are standing up for their Christian beliefs but how dare people that don’t agree with them stand up – even fellow Christians that see football games as a place to watch football… not a place to pray?  What is your goal North Pike?  Education or religion?  Embrace the lifestyle of the Pharisee or hypocrite and enjoy its consequences!!

*(1) –http://www.enterprise-journal.com/news/article_4215d664-f103-11e0-bb58-001cc4c002e0.html

*(2)http://www.enterprise-journal.com/news/article_4f643ef2-f282-11e0-82f2-001cc4c03286.html

*(3) – http://www.christianpost.com/news/survey-non-religious-americans-on-the-rise-in-every-state-37380/

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