September 15, 2006

A Republican Who Gets It

John Danforth, a former U. S. Senator who is also an ordained Episcopal minister, has a new book coming out next week, and the web site Raw Story posted a piece excerpting quotes from an advance copy they received.

The book is titled Faith and Politics, and Danforth has some unkind words directed toward the Bush administration (he reportedly was second choice for Vice-President behind Cheney) and the religious right.

Regarding the concept of American being a "Christian nation":

"Some people have asked me whether America is a Christian country. The answer must be no, for to call this a Christian country is to say that non-Christians are of some lesser order, not full fledged citizens of one nation."

Regarding the Republican war (they do love that word, after all) against the GLBT community:

"I believe that homosexuality is a matter of sexual orientation rather than preference," he writes. "Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is, in my view, comparable to discrimination on other civil rights grounds. It is wrong, and it should be prohibited by law.
I think that the only purpose served by the campaign for the amendment (banning same-sex marriage) is the humiliation of gay Americans, advocated by the Christian right and eagerly supported by its suitors in the Republican Party," he adds. "In reality, it is gay bashing."

This sounds like a book worth reading. You can buy it on

Senator Danforth continues to be a man worth listening to. I pray that some of his fellow republicans are doing just that.

Thanks to PageOneQ for the link.

September 14, 2006

Fear Is Not a Christian Value

One of the primary tactics the Bush administration and his republican allies use to try and bolster their diminishing support is fear. They want us to believe that any policy that disagrees with what they want to do will open the door for another major terrorist attack.

The religious right is taking that cue in their latest campaign to portray their ilk as victims whose right to preach the gospel is being threatened. Tony Perkins, head of the right-wing Family Research Council, used Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich's removal of a member of the Washington area transit board for calling homosexuals "persons of sexual deviancy" as a prime example of this.

As usual, one can not objectively connect the dots in these folks' logic. The board member was a public servant, not a preacher standing at a pulpit. Any rational person knows a public official should not discriminate against any group of people he serves.

I will admit that I have seen some isolated cases where the interpretation of "hate speech" in a worship environment has been stretched further than I would take it, but this is still a very lame basis to strike fear into the hearts of right-wing voters. Anyone who claims that individuals' right to preach the gospel is only manipulating people by twisting and distorting facts.

Those are Christian values either.

September 13, 2006

"View of God can predict values, politics"

This story in the USA Today analyzes the early findings in one of the more thorough surveys about religious attitudes and values in the United States in recent memory.

I strongly recommend reading the entire article, but there are some points I want to highlight:

"Sociologist Paul Froese says the survey finds the stereotype that conservatives are religious and liberals are secular is "simply not true. Political liberals and conservative are both religious. They just have different religious views."

"Evangelical" may be losing favor as a way Americans describe themselves. About one in three Americans say they belong to denominations that theologians consider evangelical, but only 14% of all respondents in the survey say this is one way they would describe themselves. Only 2.2% called it the single best term. Top choices overall: "Bible-believing" (20.5%) or "born-again" (18.6%)."

The data shook out most view of God into one of four categories; The Authoritarian God, The Benevolent God, The Critical God, and The Distant God. The articles explains these groupings in some detail. Interestingly, "Those who picture a critical God are significantly less likely to draw absolute moral lines on hot-button issues such as abortion, gay marriage or embryonic stem cell research. For example, 57% overall say gay marriage is always wrong compared with 80.6% for those who see an authoritarian God, and 65.8% for those who see God as benevolent. For those who believe in a critical God, it was 54.7%."

More than one way to view a God--what an interesting concept. That would make it hard to legislate more than the most basic Christian values, wouldn't it, since there is so much disagreement about the very nature of God?

Reasonable minds would think so.

September 12, 2006

Majority Rule is not Always Right

I saw the latest poll on the constitutional amendment on the ballot in Virginia that would ban same-sex marriage (54% for, 40% against, no surprise there) and started thinking.

One of the main selling points those who seek to eliminate any chance of legally recoginzed marriage between people of the same gender is that the majority of the population does not want it. Unlike much of the propaganda put out by the religious right, this statement appears to be true. Voters in 20 states have already ratified similar amendments and several more likely will in November.

That doesn't mean they're right. The right wing uses the "voice of the people" when it supports their policies, but ignores the majority when they are looking the other way, such as the war in Iraq. A popularity contest is not by itself a legitimate value judgement. That's why it is important for those who believe in equality not to give up the fight.

After all, the final call on Jesus' crucifixion was the crowd who called for Pontius Pilate to release Barabbas, in jail for murder, rather than Jesus.

The majority, or sometimes the mob, may rule, but it often misses the mark, seeking its own will rather than that of Jesus.

September 11, 2006

WHOSOEVER: No more enemies

Anyone can return hate for hate, sarcasm for sarcasm, bitterness for bitterness, and ignorance for ignorance. But, if we are in Christ we have been called to a higher walk. We are beloved children of the Almighty God and Christ's Ambassadors. We are held to a higher accountability.

'And Jesus said, "You have heard it said to love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I tell you to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may indeed be the true sons and daughters of your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:43-45 NKJV.

We have been called to be light in a dark world, the reflection of God's love. We are commanded to love the unlovable, forgive, and pray for those that hurt and persecute us; doing good to those who hate us. This is the higher calling. This is real love. This is how we prove that we are true sons and daughters of God.

The by product of living life this way is that, eventually, we live free of all enemies.

September 10, 2006

What We Lost on 9/11

The five-year anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks is upon us, and I spent some time this weekend not only reflecting on the fear I had that day but how our lives and our nation has changed since then.

We now live in a nation that is governed by fear. I drive to work every day and see a sign over the interstate telling me to "report any suspicious activity."

We now live in a nation where we are constantly reminded that we are at war. Of course, the nation our troops invaded didn't have anything to do with the attacks that formalized this war and the resources spread paper-thin to fight that conflict are not available to deal with Iran, North Korea, or any other nation that is a geunine threat to our security.

We now live in a nation where dissent or debate that takes a side not in agreement with the current administration is labeled unpatriotic at best, treasonous at worst.

We now live in a nation where God's name is invoked as justification for features of Republican party policies that include bigotry and the consolidation of wealth among rich Republicans.

We now live in a nation where the leaders, both in the political and religious areneas, don't have answers for most of the serious issues facing it's people, like poverty, social security, the price and availability of energy, and global warming. As a result, efforts that should be spent there are diverted to things like preventing same-sex marriage, pushing for prayer in schools, and banning flag burning.

We now live in a nation where torture, indefinite detention of suspects, wiretapping without a warrant, and examination of telephone records are justifited and rationalized, not condemned as something out of a George Orwell novel.

Aren't the major goals of terrorist groups to promote fear and disrupt our society?

Sadly, their efforts are not needed. We've allowed our "leaders" to do that on their own initiative.