Tuesday, November 16, 2010

In Jesus' Name...

I usually ignore things like this. "Forward this" and "forward that" type emails usually aren't even privy to being opened, let alone perused! And at first, that's what I did. Ignored it. It was one of those religious forwards meant to appeal to your sense of decency, your patriotism, and to your devout faith in god. I know a lot of my friends are very strong god believers, hence I expect to get these every now and again. Such is life, right?

The email in question is in it's entirety below, and ended with the usual:

If you agree with this, please pass it on.
If not delete it.
Of course, most people who know me know that the way to get me to share an opinion is to tell me not to share an opinion... I know, I know... This time I played right into the right-wing's evil plans by doing exactly that--I deleted it. Sigh. But then one of my other friends just had to hit "Reply All" with the following statement:

IN JESUS NAME.... AMEN! Thank you for sending this along. I usually ignore forwards, but I am glad this one washed upon my inbox. I pity the poor SOB that dictates to me to deny CHRIST :-D
Ugh. Okay, that's the part that not only got my goat, but sold it into slavery, beat it with a whip, forced it to eat brambles, and then sent it home with a belly ache on death's door. (My poor goat!) Never mind that the email had nothing to do with denying Christ, but was about praying before football games... Which, while I suppose one could read into no state-sponsored prayer before a game as a "denial" of Christ, the stretch is... Well, beyond reasonable.

First off: Andy Rooney, right-wing blabber mouth that he is, never said the words in this email even though they are ascribed to him. Or, if he did, he completely plagiarized them. (Note that this email makes the rounds also crediting these words to Paul Harvey--which is just as untrue...) Actually, most of these words were written by Nick Gholson... But that's another story...

Onto the meat of the matter, the email itself. You know how these things work: it's filled with pictures of our soldiers, a cross or three, a bible--you know, just in case words are not enough, pics are included to portray another thousand words or so.

Pray if you want to!
Oh, thank you for your permission! Never mind that everyone in this country can pray if they want to...

CBS and Katie Couric et al must be in a panic and rushing to reassure the White House that this is not network policy.
Yes, yes, that's what happens when Andy Rooney says something in his op-ed block on television--people "scramble" to make sure Obama and company "know" that this isn't "network policy". Except that Andy Rooney never said it. And neither did Paul Harvey. So even though there wouldn't have been any scrambling, and no reason to to begin with... Well... Yeah...

Folks, this is the year that we RE-TAKE AMERICA & CANADA.
Who took them? Anybody? Anybody? You mean... No one took them anywhere?! I would think even the U.S. and Canada would like a field trip every now and then... But there they are, still... Well, there... Right where they were, spinning around the sun just like always... Go figure...

********* Get Ready *********
Keep this going around the globe.
So it's not just the U.S. and Canada!? Oh, dear!

Read it and forward every time you receive it... We can't give up on this issue.
Just so we're clear--the issue seems to be relocating the entire Western half of the Northern Hemisphere...

Andy Rooney and Prayer. Andy Rooney says:
As stated above, no, he doesn't.

I don't believe in Santa Claus, but I'm not going to sue somebody for singing a Ho-Ho-Ho song in December.
I couldn't even begin to imagine how one would go about suing for that reason. And thank goodness that we, as adults, are now allowed to stop believing in imaginary beings! Whew!

I don't agree with Darwin , but I didn't go out and hire a lawyer when my high school teacher taught his theory of evolution.
Well, that's good because you would have lost. You see, the teacher was busy teaching you about facts, which, among other things, didn't include Santa Claus. The fact that you think Santa and scientific law are somehow related to one another is not helping your cause in any way.

Life, liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered in any way because someone says a 30-second prayer before a football game.
Actually, it's very possible you did infringe upon some one's liberty. Were the football students coerced into joining in because of fear of retribution from not participating? (Yes, this has happened... Probably more often than we would like to admit...) Having a moment so that people can pray to their deity of choice is not the issue--having the coach lead the students and players as if suddenly everyone there were in fact Christian and praying to the same god, IS an issue, especially if that coach is a state employee. Especially if that "voluntary" prayer is being broadcast tot he entire stadium over the stadium's state-paid-for PA system. Especially if the school policy allowed only for "appropriate" messages and imposed other guidelines that give the student's message "the imprint of the state." Separation of church and state isn't a matter of opinion or belief--it's the law. That being said, I, as most other atheists I know, don't get upset at these little Pray-Alongs. We just hum quietly, count the ceiling tiles, or make faces at you while your heads are bowed... Generally, we find a way of amusing ourselves, sometimes at your expense, while you all pray to some invisible deity who, in all honesty, if he did exist, could probably give two shits about who does or doesn't win your game of choice.

So what's the big deal?
It's not like somebody is up there reading the entire Book of Acts.
They have in the past. And they would if no one ever said anything. And that's a fact.

They're just talking to a God they believe in and asking him to grant safety to the players on the field and the fans going home from the game.
Asking for no injuries and safe play while strapping on padding and a helmet only makes me question your faith more. If you're asking your god to protect you while playing, why the need for the shoulder pads and helmet? Not that I mind if you wear them to bed--Ooh, lala! But something tells me you have less faith than you claim...

But it's a Christian prayer, some will argue. Yes, and this is the United States of America, and Canada, countries founded on Christian principles. According to our very own phone book, Christian churches outnumber all others better than 200-to-1. So what would you expect -- somebody chanting Hare Krishna?
So because there are more of you, screw everyone else's beliefs? Why should the Muslim player on the team have to sit there and listen to the coach's prayer to the Christian god? Why not let the players pray to themselves? Is the coach going to lead as prayer to Allah, then? In fact (and please pay attention to this part, it's vitally important...), we are not Christian nations. We may have been founded on some of the principles in life that Christianity happens to share in common with multiple other religions around the globe, but the Founding Fathers expressly prevented mentioning any type of god in our Constitution (despite many a pastor and preacher's protestations to do just that) simply because they knew it was divisive and did *not* want to go down the path of our mother country, England. They saw what state-sponsored religion could do to a nation, and thus, not only erected a wall in the first amendment, but also included a clause in the Constitution which forbade "any religious test" as a prerequisite to holding public office. I can't speak for the history of the Canadian government's freedom of religion, but I can assure you that the United States is not a Christian nation, just a nation that happens to have a disproportionately high number of Christians...

If I went to a football game in Jerusalem, I would expect to hear a Jewish prayer.
As football isn't nearly so popular in the Middle East, and considering half of Jerusalem is under Israeli control while the other half is under Palestinian control (aka mostly Muslims...)--well, odds are about 50/50 depending on what type of prayer you would hear...

If I went to a soccer game in Baghdad, I would expect to hear a Muslim prayer.
So do they say a prayer to Allah in Baghdad? I'm just curious...

If I went to a ping pong match in China, I would expect to hear someone pray to Buddha.
Only if the Communist authorities allowed it. I expect, given that they have to approve any and all religious practices, the Communist Chinese government would have specific words pre-approved--if approved at all--to pray before a sporting event.

And I wouldn't be offended. It wouldn't bother me one bit.
But you are offended that not everyone here in the U.S. and Canada may *not* be a Christian? Or--wait--are you offended because people may be offended by your practices holding up a sporting event with no religious affiliation whatsoever? I mean, I could understand a bit better perhaps if, say, Jesus had said, "And whosoever toucheth the pigskin, or the orange bouncer, or taketh upon themselves any sporting event not involving lions, should say a prayer, and thank the father for the blessings of sports"--well, then, I might understand your compulsion to pray for safety as you strap on 50 pounds worth of safety equipment. But since he didn't... Well... You see my issue, right?

But what about the atheists? Is another argument. What about them?
Um... We live here, too. And we play sports. And if you want to give people time to pray before a game--fine. We'll be counting the blades of grass, eying up the competition, and running through our last minute game plays while the rest of you pray to sky fairy.

Nobody is asking them to be baptized.
Um, you do live here, right? Happens to me at my house at least once every three months!

We're not going to pass the collection plate.
Oh, but you would if you could. And you know it. Just like that "it's only ten percent" line you try in your actual churches, with your stupid felt-board thermometers keeping track of just how close you are to the new roof, the summer camp trip, the missions project to Appalachia... You would.

Just humour us for 30 seconds.
Because you don't exercise your privileges enough? You need that extra 30 seconds (which is a lie, you pompous windbags! You go on for hours sometimes!) to pray--why? I thought your god was omniscient? That he knew your needs and whims? You need to pray before the game--why, exactly?

If that's asking too much, bring a Walkman or a pair of ear plugs. Go to the bathroom. Visit the concession stand. Call your lawyer!
What do you think we've been doing all these years? You thought we enjoyed staring at you down on your knees, delaying the start of every major event in our lives?

Or, just exercise their right to leave this country!
Ah, the old stand-by. "You don't like it, you can leave!" You'd like that, wouldn't you? Fortunately, I love this country just as much as you, I simply don't have the need to tell others how to live, what to do, and to be quiet while you sacrifice a chicken, or whatever the hell it is you guys do on Wednesday evenings these days. Pray all you want, I'll keep making faces, but I'll be damned if I'll leave simply because you somehow think it's a "persecution" that some people just no longer have the patience to listen to you twaddle off at invisible sky daddies.

Unfortunately, one or two will call their lawyer.
And Christian fundies never sue anyone, right?

One or two will tell thousands what they can and cannot do. I don't think a short prayer at a football game is going to shake the world's foundations.
Maybe not the world, but you Christians love to play the victim when in fact, you were making victims of others. You see, dear reader,this entire email stems from a ruling by the United States Supreme Court in 2000, when it was found that Texan school officials were allowing "student-led" prayer before games, when in reality it was just a ploy to get around the law forbidding coach-led prayers before a game. (Source.) In the Supreme Courts own ruling, it stated: "Nothing in the Constitution as interpreted by this Court prohibits any public school student from voluntarily praying at any time before, during, or after the school day. But the religious liberty protected by the Constitution is abridged when the State affirmatively sponsors the particular religious practice of prayer." Hmm, just as I said above. Imagine that.

Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek while our courts strip us of all our rights.
None of your rights have been stripped! Not to mention Jesus COMMANDS you to turn the other cheek! What has happened, however, is that Christian Privilege is no longer tolerated. We are still in process, but our country is leveling the playing field, so to speak, when it comes to religion in this country. How would you feel if Jews were suddenly demanding that a Jewish prayer be led by teachers every morning? After all, we are just as much a Jewish nation as a Christian one--yet I hear of no Jewish peoples complaining about their god not being present in school as the source of all that is wrong with the United States--why is that?

Our parents and grandparents taught us to pray before eating, to pray before we go to sleep.
Not every one's parents taught their children these things. Hence, religious freedom.

Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing.
Your bible. Not "our" bible. Again, that pesky religious freedom thing.

Now a handful of people and their lawyers are telling us to cease praying.
No--they are telling you to stop elevating Christianity above all other religions in this country. Again, you still have your right to pray--just not to expect the state to lead you in that prayer, promote that prayer, or in any other way make your prayer more special than anyone else's prayer.

God, help us.
Guess that praying isn't doing you too much good after all, then, eh?

And if that last sentence offends you, well, just sue me.
We would, but that would only feed your victim complex, you non-Andy Rooney-esque idiot.

The silent majority has been silent too long.
Could have fooled me. Seems I can't do anything without seeing your churches, hearing you on television, trying to keep you from making your religious beliefs into the law of the land. You are everywhere, yet still carry a persecution complex. Amazing the amount of self-deception that goes into these emails...

It's time we tell that one or two who scream loud enough to be heard that the vast majority doesn't care what they want! It is time that the majority rules!
You may not care, but that's the beauty of this country--majority rule with minority rights. This country wasn't founded by the mob for the mob. Mob rule has no place here for very good reason--reasons like the rhetoric in this email. And claiming that "you don't care what they want" isn't exactly a "love thy neighbor" type of position, is it? I'd like to hear you defend that before your supposed Creator. "Well, you see, God, I didn't mean that I didn't care, so much as I wished they would let me rule the country in your name. So you see, it was all for you, God!" Uh-huh.

It's time we tell them, "You don't have to pray; you don't have to say the Pledge of Allegiance; you don't have to believe in God or attend services that honor Him.
We already knew that, and certainly didn't need to listen to all that rabble-rousing to get there. We don't pray. We do pledge our allegiance to this country (omitting that silly phrase entered by the Christian wing-nuts in the 1900s fearful of the Communists, "under god."); and we don't believe in god or attend your silly worships, but only because we made laws over the years redacting old state laws that made such worship compulsive. (A fact, see here.)

That is your right, and we will honor your rights, but by golly, you are no longer going to take our rights away. We are fighting back, and we WILL WIN!"
Again, your rights have not, nor will they ever be, taken away. Freedom of Religion, dippy! (Jeebus, do these wing nuts have ear muffs on??) Saying you are going to "win" makes it seem as if you've lost something, and you haven't (unless it's your faith in your sky fairy, in which case I applaud you...)

God bless us one and all...Especially those who denounce Him, God bless America and Canada,
Yadda, yadda. Ugh. It's exhausting dealing with such stupidity...

Claims about discrimination and persecution would be justified by the Christian right if we were dealing strictly with Constitutional rights (such as the right to free speech, or the right to bear arms), but we're not talking about these things are we? As much as the Christian right would like to make this about a "violation of rights," it's really just a leveling of the playing field, and a loss of their "specialness." The truth is that Christians are losing privileges, actions, and entitlements they feel strongly about--not rights. They are losing the power to get treated better than everyone else. They are not actually being discriminated against--its just that they can no longer discriminate in their traditional ways and means, and are starting to be treated the same as everyone else. It’s certainly not unlike how the end of “white privilege” was perceived by whites during the Civil Rights era of the fifties and sixties (you know, the good old days when all these right-wingers claimed that "life" was somehow better?)

Christian privilege is one of the few traditional privileges that continues to be openly defended in today's United States. Other forms of privilege (like "white male privilege") may continue to exist, but it’s wrong actually argue in defense of them anymore (to many a discriminatory person's chagrin). Perhaps one day religious privilege will go the way that white male privilege are going, but conservative Christians are already bemoaning their loss and fighting tooth and nail (in the humility and love of Christ, of course).

One wonders what they'll resort to when all privilege is gone?

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