Friday, January 11, 2008

What Would Jesus Legislate?

In December, a group of Congressional representatives from North Carolina, South Carolina, Wisconsin and Florida introduced House Resolution 888, a bill “Affirming the rich spiritual and religious history of our Nation’s founding and subsequent history and expressing support for designation of the first week in May as ‘American Religious History Week’ for the appreciation of and education on America’s history of religious faith.”
The bill essentially makes the case that since America’s founding fathers, presidents and culture are religious in nature, and essentially Christian, that the government should teach “America’s history of religious faith”.
The bill also has Congress rejecting “in the strongest possible terms, any effort to remove, obscure, or purposely omit such history from our Nation’s public buildings and educational resources.”
So apparently if some atheist douchebag from California doesn’t want to say the Pledge of Allegiance and is offended by “In God We Trust” on our currency, he’s shit out of luck. Actually, who really cares about a few disgruntled atheists, an unimaginative lot who are so rational and logical, they’re rarely invited to parties and usually spend their time wearing black and reading Sartre.
House Resolution 888, currently in the hands of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is just another example of legislation that serves no real tangible purpose. It’s like the flag desecration amendment or an amendment defining marriage as a union between a woman and a masochist; feel-good crap designed to woo a certain political segment: evangelicals who want prayer in school and a wider role for religion in the public square.
To illustrate America’s religious history, the resolution lists several instances through history when religion cropped up, including Congress in 1777 importing the Bible to the states, Congress’ plans to print Bibles in 1782, the use of prayer and religious symbolism in swearing-in ceremonies and the inclusion of “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954.
Amusingly, the bill lists one example as the Federal government’s distribution of “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth” beginning in 1904 to members of Congress “because of the important teachings it contained.” The book was originally created by Thomas Jefferson, who literally cut up the Bible and re-arranged the Gospels, omitting any supernatural instances and presenting a straightforward account of Jesus’ life. The rational Jefferson didn’t buy virgin births, miracles and resurrections and instead focused on what Jesus taught.
The bill also quotes several presidents who wax eloquently on the importance of God, religion and Christianity. Sorry, but just because a president says something doesn’t mean it’s absolute or correct.
If history isn’t enough to convince the godless heathens they need to study American religion, the bill wraps up by listing the religious architectural elements in the United States Capitol and religious artwork in other public buildings, including murals, statues and carved Bible verses.
Despite its references to America’s glorious religious past, House Resolution 888, fails to mention that the country God “singularly favored” (thanks, President William McKinley) used their strong western religion to enslave Africans, murder Indian tribes and conquer a continent based on “manifest destiny”.
Now some disclosure: I’m a Christian. I try and live a life worthy of the teachings of Jesus Christ – I try to be forgiving, compassionate and help those in need. I don’t try to convert everyone to my way of thinking or feel uncomfortable around those of different beliefs.
The real problem with Resolution 888, like a lot of legislation emanating from Washington, is it’s total bullshit. It’s created for puzzling reasons and is totally unnecessary.
Jesus warned about using religion in public:
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men.” (Matthew 6:5)
Jesus also had a thing against accumulating material instead of spiritual wealth:
“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24)
The resolution’s backers apparently think America is under assault from political correctness. Ron Paul and Fox News claim secularists want to remove the Ten Commandments from public buildings and Christ from Christmas. How maladjusted are you that it deeply bothers you when a shop clerk wishes you “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas?” How many sleepless nights have you had that your kids are going to school without reading the Bible or receiving beatings from an overzealous, faithful schoolmaster?
The resolution is very insular in it’s religious affirmation. It’s essentially stating “Protestants have ruled and will rule America and no ACLU homos will stop us!”
I don’t think it’s the mention of religion that makes some people uncomfortable; I think it’s government mentioning it that causes discomfort. It’s like a whore lecturing about chastity. It’s hypocritical. Politicians are the biggest sleazeballs on the planet and their self-righteous demagoguery on the issue of religion is laughable. These are people who cajole, threaten and frighten themselves into power, and they’re standing on ivory pillars looking down at the unwashed masses lecturing us on morality.
If the Republicans really examined the life of Jesus, they’d disagree with most everything he stood for. After all, Jesus was a liberal Jew who helped the unfortunate and the poor, the same kind of person the GOP spends millions fighting in elections.
The resolution states the Supreme Court declared throughout the country’s history that the United States is “a Christian country”, “a Christian nation”, “a Christian people” and that “we cannot read into the Bill of Rights a philosophy of hostility to religion”.
Oh really?
Besides being a pep rally for Christianity, the resolution purporting to be about “America’s religious history” omits other religions. I know Protestants make up a bulk of the population and founded the country and basically run the place. It’s like America is an exclusive country club where Jews, Catholics and “others” are not allowed and don’t deserve mention.
But even George Washington knew the importance of religious freedom. Unlike the self-righteous, pious dickheads running America today, the founding fathers were either enlightened deists or educated Freemasons and didn’t want to persecute people of different faiths through legislation. George Washington in 1790 wrote a letter to the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island after Moses Seixas, warden of the Hebrew Congregation of Newport wrote to Washington expressing the congregation’s support of the new president and saying the God of Israel also protected Washington during the Revolutionary War.
Washington’s letter responding to Seixas was addressed to the Jews of Newport and is cited as an example of religious tolerance and freedom: “The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens…May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.”


Wandering Minstrel said...

"didn’t want to persecute people of different faiths"

Well, except for instances of the whole discouraging people from living in Pennsylvania unless you were a Quaker thing, or any other of the religious intolerances that abounded during the pre and post-Revolutionary period.

Carl said...

I agree with your statements...more flotsam please. Can we get a mini-newsletter called the "Jetsam" too? Let's fill that with various senior center stuff and pictures of things that make no sense, like an Easter egg roll in December.

Hail Eris!