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I don’t usually venture into matters metaphysical in this blog, but I couldn’t resist posting this:
Just what are they preaching in evangelical churches these days?
A recent study by the Pew Research Center reveals that evangelical Christians are the most likely to support torture. The more often they go to church, the more likely they are to support such tactics.
Now, I don’t claim to be a biblical scholar. Because, hello? Buddhist. But I’m pretty sure Jesus would not be down with waterboarding.
Wasn’t he all about turning the other cheek? Treating others as you would have them treat you? Compassion? Letting he who is without sin cast the first stone?
And yet, that is the result of the survey. Regular churchgoers at evangelical Christian churches are more likely to support torture than any other group.
…that if certain people on the Christian right are going to claim that natural disasters are their god’s way of punishing certain groups in our society for immorality, they must at least do so consistently?
Say, when not one, but two hurricanes are scheduled to make landfall in predominantly red states during the Republican national convention?
I really ought to check my e-mail more frequently. Blogger Blue Gal has been hosting a blogswarm against theocracy for the past few days, and I almost missed it. If you are a blogger, you can find out how to participate here.
What to say? Recent years have seen a powerful effort by members of the Religious Right to erase the line between church and state at all levels of government. We have also seen certain politicians use religion as a tool to manipulate voters. Both of these movements are very troubling.
While I will defend until death the right of all Americans to hold those religious beliefs that they may choose, I would remind them that the right to hold those religious beliefs is rather related to the right to swing your fist — it ends at my nose. Believe whatever you want, believe in God, or Jesus, or Allah, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster if you prefer (I’m actually rather fond of the Pastafarians), but don’t try to force your beliefs down my throat.
And I know there are those who try to assert that science is a form of religion, and that if you are going to teach scientific theories like evolution in schools, you ought to teach other theories, like creationism — sorry, intelligent design — alongside it. I reject that argument. Scientists talk about theories and the scientific evidence supporting those theories as such because they recognize that further evidence may be discovered at a future date that forces a revision of those theories. What is taught as science is always our current understanding based on the best evidence currently available. Nothing more, and nothing less.
Thus calling evolution a theory is not an admission that there is no evidence to support it (there is, in fact, a wealth of such evidence, and we know for a fact that evolution and natural selection take place in modern times because we have documented evidence of the process occurring — that is what Darwin was writing about, after all, when he was in the Galapagos studying finches), but merely a recognition that at some point there may be a scientific discovery that forces us to reconsider and revise the theory of evolution in some respects. In other words, scientists (unlike many religious leaders) try to remain open to the possibility that they may be wrong about things.
Creationism or intelligent design, in contrast, is merely looking at everything and saying, gee, it’s all really detailed and complicated, therefore there must be some designer or intelligence behind it, which is god — and is thus a way of introducing religion into classrooms.
Now, there may very well be some intelligence at work in the universe, in the way that physics and genetics and evolution and other similar forces work. That intelligence could even be the god that various religions speak of. There is certainly plenty of room at the edges of what we know about science and astrophysics for such a god. Or it could be the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The point is, that whatever it is that is out there beyond the edge of scientific knowledge is, by definition, not science, and it should thus not be taught as science in our public schools. It is something more properly belonging in the realm of faith, until such time as proof becomes available, and thus best left for individuals to seek in houses of worship, not in public schools.
But enough of my intelligent design rant. On this, the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, I would call on all Americans to remember that many of our founding fathers came to this country to escape religious oppression in their countries of origin. In the years since our country’s founding, many others have come here for the same reason — my own family tree is riddled with such individuals. But the only way to ensure that America remains a land where people can escape the horrors of religious intolerance as our forefathers intended is by ensuring that we maintain some separation between church and state.
That is what the framers intended by the First Amendment to our Constitution: that America would remain a place where the government neither interfered with the free practice of religion (including the right to practice no religion), nor became the instrument of any religion or religious organization.
And although it has nothing to do with the rest of this post, and despite the fact that I have already said it twice today in this blog, I really think that Bush and Cheney ought to be impeached.
So apparently Jerry Falwell has shuffled off this mortal coil and gone to join the choir invisible, or whatever. An intolerant, fearful, hate-filled, small-minded man has gone on to his great reward, whatever that might be…
I get this vision of the good Reverend wandering around the afterlife and encountering gays, feminists, people who lost their lives to AIDS, all the people he used to rail against in life, all in heaven. Wouldn’t it be nicely ironic if there was an inclusive, welcoming heaven that accepted all people of good intentions, whatever their beliefs, and that heaven turned out to be Falwell’s personal hell?
Oh, Tom DeLay, you disingenuous man. You are deliberately missing the point in all the outrage over evangelical Christians in the military. No one is outraged about the presence of Christians, even evangelical Christians, in the military. While the old cliche that claims there are no athiests in foxholes is demonstrably untrue, I don’t think anyone would argue against allowing members of the military to practice Christianity. What is troubling is that there is evidence that some in the military hierarchy may be using their positions to proselytize or, even more troubling, to condition advancement upon espoused religious beliefs. More specifically, espoused beliefs in evangelical Christianity.
What you seem determined to ignore is that America was founded in part by people who came here hoping to escape persecution for their religious beliefs. Countless immigrants over the past two centuries have moved here hoping to be able to practice their religious beliefs free of outside interference or coercion.
Thus it understandably is upsetting to many people, including many Christians, to hear that men and women in the military may be experiencing pressure from their superiors in the military hierarchy to adopt or espouse certain religious beliefs that may be in conflict with their own beliefs. It is particularly troubling when one hears that careers may be damaged by failure to adopt those beliefs.
Tom, I know you’ve said your religious beliefs are deeply important to you. I will not question your sincerity. Instead, I ask you to consider an alternate reality, in which your religious beliefs, the beliefs you were raised with and hold dear to your heart, are not substantially the same as the majority of your countrymen — think of a Christian living in a predominantly Jewish, or Muslim, or Hindu country. Now imagine that your superiors at your place of employment (I know you wouldn’t be in the military, since it appears you’re part of the chickenhawk brigade) pressured you to adopt their views, or made it clear that your advancement at work was dependent upon you converting to their beliefs.
How would you feel then, Tommy Boy?