Thursday, February 7, 2008

Christian Bullies

The following article was published in the Washington Post (author: Sally Quinn).

As a child, I went to a small school in rural Alabama near an Army post where my father was stationed. It was a very Christian town, and our teacher was "born again."

This was decades ago, but I remember clearly how she used to tell us that we must accept Jesus Christ as our personal savior. Then she would ask for hands to see who had. By age 11 I had become a nonbeliever. My father was in the Army and had fought in World War II and Korea; I concluded quickly that no loving God could have allowed those atrocities to be committed.

But we had all seen our teacher, when crossed, call an unlucky member of our class up to the front of the room, make the student lie down on her desk and be paddled. The humiliation was worse than the pain. So, when she called on us to admit that we had accepted Jesus as our savior, I dutifully raised my hand.

Thank goodness, those days are over, you might be thinking. Nothing like that could happen in this country today.

Well, think again. It happened this month, right here in Washington.

On Dec. 11, H.R. 847 was passed in the House of Representatives. Just listen to what our lawmakers have resolved:

"Whereas Christmas, a holiday of great significance to Americans," it begins, "is celebrated annually by Christians throughout the United States. . . ." It goes on to state, among other things, that "Christianity [is] the religion of over three-fourths of the American population," that "American Christians observe Christmas, the holiday celebrating the birth of their savior, Jesus Christ," and that "Christmas is celebrated as a recognition of God's redemption, mercy, and Grace."

"Now, therefore be it Resolved, that the House of Representatives . . . expresses continued support for Christians in the United States . . . acknowledges and supports the role played by Christians and Christianity in the founding of the United States . . . rejects bigotry and persecution directed against Christians, both in the United States and worldwide; and expresses its deepest respect to American Christians."

For brevity, I have omitted the resolution's references to Christianity around the world.

This resolution passed with 195 Democratic yea votes, 177 Republican yeas and nine Democratic nays. No Republicans voted against it. Ten House members voted "present." Forty were not there, including the bill's sponsor, Rep. Steve King of Iowa.

Among those voting for the resolution was a Jewish member of Congress who has asked me not to print his name. He was outraged and appalled by the bill, he told me. But he was also afraid. He thought it would hurt him with his mostly Christian constituency if he voted against it. He told some of his colleagues about his anguish. They advised him not to be stupid. It would be better for him politically if he voted for it.

It's possible that the 10 who voted "present" also had problems with the bill but decided it was safer not to vote against it. One could also assume that some of those who were absent were not there so as not to have to deal with the problem.

Earlier this year the House also passed resolutions honoring Islamic and Indian holidays but nothing that so equated a single faith with America and Americans.

How could this happen, in what will soon be 2008, in a pluralistic, multicultural, multireligious society, a society based on the concepts of religious freedom and separation of church and state? What were they thinking?

This resolution was as anti-American as anything Congress has ever passed. It disenfranchised and marginalized millions and millions of men and women, reducing them to second-class citizens.

How about this next time around: "Whereas all holidays have great significance to some Americans, be it resolved that the House of Representatives expresses its deepest respect to Americans of all faiths and non-faith alike."

And Christians wonder why atheists have a problem with them and their agenda?


Ceroill said...

When the majority claims to feel besieged and attacked unjustly by the minority, I always put on my hip waders. When they then pass governmental resolutions to enshrine this position, I begin to worry.


It may be a little early yet, this has only just been voted on, but where the fuck is the Supreme Court in all of this? Oh yeah, they have their respective heads in the sand when it comes to the Constitution too!

The Constitution does not mention God, or Jesus or any fucking religion(right, they use the word "Lord" when dating the damn thing which just happened to be standard practice with any such document at the time)and they did that for a reason...BECAUSE ALL MEN WERE TO BE FREE!!!! They were to enjoy the same freedoms as there neighbors. There was to be NO favored class, not even Christians. But again, with our super strong centralized federal government where power comes to roost with a few hundred fuckheads who cannot decipher what the hell the Constitution is about, what the fuck are we to expect. LONG LIVE FEDERALISM, where maybe some of the states get it right. The ones that don't were to be dealt with by the Supreme Court.

I was talking with a friend of mine about the current 2nd Amendment case before the Supreme Court, D.C.'s anti-gun case, and I was telling him this might be the line drawn in the sand. You would think these "conservative" judges would be a shoo-in to reassert a citizen's right to own a handgun to protect themselves and their property. But, if this is a real power play by the centralized federal government they sure as hell won't want the citizenry to be armed and they will gut the 2nd Amendment. Thomas Jefferson(paraphrasing)said if a government was not doing it's mandated job then the citizens have a right to overthrow said government. Well, folks, that cannot be done if we have no guns. That, my friends, IS the line in the sand.

Anonymous said...

In October 2007 congress voted for a house resolution recognizing the commencement of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, which passed unanimously. Later in October 2007 they not only voted in favor of House Resolution 747 recognizing the religious and historical significance of Diwali, the holiday of the Hindu, Sikh, and Jain religions, which also passed unanimously. Where were you?

Christians finally received the recognition and honor they deserve for the tremendous contribution they have in the founding and greatness of this country. Atheist have no fear, Congress is not passing a law requiring you to become a Christian. Recognition is a good thing.


It is not this country's government's business to recognize ANY religion. It is there business to make sure that we have the freedom of religious association and the freedom of private(as in not public, i.e. officially sanctioned) religious interaction between consenting citizens. If this government would spend more time devolving into it's original mandate which was only to protect the union and most importantly to protect our individual civil rights this country would have half the problems it faces now. I am not against religion per se, most of the people I associate with are religious; I am against our federal government concerning itself with any particular religion whether that religion happens to be Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism or any other. We have religious institutions and they are private institutions as they should be. This is an area the federal government does not belong and this is backed up by our Founding Documents. Let the press recognize separate religions. Hell, they can recognize themselves. Let them recognize away. This is not the domain for the federal government and only works into our current "divide and conquer" political atmosphere with it's "us against them" attitude which accomplishes nothing but keeping the current political machinery in power.

csm said...

Where was I? Who gives a flying fuck where I was. Where were the elected officials with any brain cells is the better question. HR 747 is repugnant, too. But I don't hear Muslims talking about a "war on Ramadan" or Hindis talking about a "war on Diwali." So I didn't find any humor in it. Bawdy is right, though - all of this shit is ridiculoud and the government has much better things to do than pass stupid legislation like this that does NOTHING!

By the way, anonymous, part of the "fun" of this blog is taking the piss out of hypocrites and finding humor in the stupidity of government and organized religion. Maybe you missed that aspect of it?

coreydbarbarian said...

anon, did ya read the part of the article that said "Earlier this year the House also passed resolutions honoring Islamic and Indian holidays but nothing that so equated a single faith with America and Americans."?

compare the text of h.b. 747 and h.b. 847. big difference in content. big. difference.

csm, bawdy, governments recognize religious holidays all the time. that is how a hindu gets the day off with no hassle from the boss -
"the holiday is recognized by the federal government, man, so back off!!"

(the preceding was a dramatization. no bosses were harangued in real life.)

re-read the 2 paragraphs from 847 that were quoted in this article. much worse than 747. imo.

Ceroill said...

Once more I'd like to remark on how nice it is to have a place where such discussions take place without resorting to name calling and vituperation. At this point I don't have anything to add to the debate, but I am greatly enjoying the exchange.

derF said...

Recently, I saw a lecture by John Dean. It was in reference to a book he had written with Barry Goldwater. The title was 'Broken Government' or 'Conservatives Without Conscience' or some such thing; I'm sure you can google a list of his writings if you interested.

During his lecture Dean kept referring to 50 yrs of research that had been done on 'authoritarian followers'. At any rate, I found this online copy of The Authoritarians by PhD Bob Altemeyer. True they aren't my own words but, then again, I don't live in a vacuum. My opinions are so wed to my experience that I can't separate them; I can only attempt to share them.

Ceroill said...

thanks for the link, derf. Only in chapter 1 so far, but very interesting.

derF said...

Yes, you're welcome. I enjoyed chapter 3. Of course, it is stuff that many of us have long suspected though, as a testable hypothesis, it is no longer opinion but, rather, science.

I almost welled-up in chapter 3, when Altemeyer described the lives authoritarian followers must confine themselves to. In a way, it reminds me of passive/aggressive behavior, no?

Ceroill said...

I'm now reading that chapter. Some of the specific experiments, such as the pain inducing ones, are fairly widely known of. I haven't read far enough to see if the author refers to the Third Wave experiment of the late sixties. If you're not aware of it, here's a link to the article written by the high school teacher to did the experiment:

Had to chop it up a bit, I'm afraid, but I'm sure you'll find the article interesting.

There is also the Stanford Prison Experiment, which you can read about at Wikipedia among other places.

Ceroill said...

Ok, finished the book. Excellent. Thanks again for the link.


Thanks for the link, derF, I have started the book(believe it or not)and have found it to be very interesting. I can already see most of our population in it's mirror.

derF said...

I'm glad you read or are reading it but my Hidden Observer was hoping for a response from G, Al and, most especially, Dave.