Sunday, February 12, 2006

Ain't Religion Grand

Ain’t religion grand!

I haven’t really written any essays about religion, although in the About Michael page of my web site, I do explain that I’m a non believer and I briefly explain why.

However, to me, religion is politics and is also political.

I have to speak to the “sin” recently committed by the Danish media.

I know that there are much less violent ways in which to try to convert someone to your religious beliefs. In fact, I've affixed this plaque:

on my front door to try to discourage those who would wake me up on a Saturday or Sunday morning to talk “Bible”.

I have to talk about the “sin” for two reasons.

One reason is that it merely proves that religion is political.

Secondly, I was sitting in the barber’s chair shortly after the story broke and overheard the following conversation:

“It doesn’t take much to piss off those towel heads.”

“Yeah. First the soldiers who are over there to help ‘em get democracy flush that stupid book down the toilet where it belongs and get in trouble and that just gives ‘em a reason to start ruining shit and killing people again. Now, a newspaper in a country that believes in free speech publishes a goddamned cartoon and there they go again”

“I know one way that we can make them and the fucking tree huggers happy. We should nuke the mother fuckers and while we’re at it nuke Iran, Syria and North Korea. They won’t be hijackin’ no planes no more, will they?”

I had lots of thoughts cross my mind simultaneously, but one that sticks out is “support the troops”. People who put little “support the troops” magnets on their SUVs are many times the same people whose answer to everything is to “nuke ‘em” and are the same people that say we can’t “cut and run” because it would be disrespectful to the soldiers who’ve already died fighting to bring democracy to Iraq.

I find it difficult to figure out how Iraqis are going to enjoy their democracy in an almost infinitely radioactive atmosphere.

I also wonder how “cutting and running” disrespects those who have died in Iraq if “nuking and running” doesn’t disrespect them. Isn’t the point of not “cutting and running” showing ourselves, because, frankly, no one else cares, that we can have more Americans killed in order to “win”, whatever that means, so those who’ve already died won’t have died in vain?

But I digress. It’s unconscionable to try to force one’s religious beliefs on those who want no part of it, as it seems some Muslims are doing in response to the Danish cartoon.

In my signature, I use quotes. One quote I use is from George Washington. Washington said, “The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”
Historical experts will say that was taken out of context. Washington made that statement so that the young US could trade with “Muselmen”, which Muslims were called in that day. His assurance that the US was not a Christian theocrcacy was stated with ulterior motives. Whether Washington really believed that or not is debatable. Nonetheless, he did say those words, didn't he?

On the other hand, Thomas Jefferson, who actually penned The Declaration of Independence, said, “Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilily (sic) couched. Fix reason firmly in her seat and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, (emphasis mine) he must more approve of the homage of reason that that of blindfolded fear.”

“Blindfolded fear”, the main food group of The Regime, hey? But, again, I digress.
Now, some would say Jefferson had a lot of nerve talking about “servile prejudices” since he owned slaves.

How many of us know that, in 1783, Jefferson penned a version of The Constitution of the state of Virginia which differed somewhat from the federal constitution. In the Virginia Constitution, he wrote, “No person coming into this county shall be held within the same in slavery under any pretext whatsoever.”

He went on, “The General assembly shall not have the power to…permit the introduction of any more slaves to reside in this state or the continuance of slavery beyond the generation which shall be living on the 31st day of December 1800; all persons born after that day being hereby declared free.”

First, Jefferson talks about the “servile prejudices” of slavery and then tries to make Virginia a non slave state. Was he a hypocrite of the worse kind or did he understand what would happen to his slaves if he set them free in the 18th or 19th century? Did he realize that they didn’t have much of a chance of survival if he did that?

Am I digressing again? No. The point I’m making is that the author of the Declaration of Independence, a major contributor to The Constitution of the United States and the author of Virginia’s Constitution, was not a religious man. He’s described as a deist, the least passionate of all believers.

In fact, in 1782, Jefferson wrote in a letter, “Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.”

Why do I bring this up in connection with the horrible performance exhibited by those of the faith of Islam merely because the Danish media refused to practice the Islamic religion?
I repeat, I do not support their actions. I support their actions no more than I would have supported the actions of those who escaped tyrannical “royal” theocracy and who wound up in a land inhabited by savages, savages that those who sought religious freedom were convinced should be Christian.

The Native Americans' resistance to convert to Christianity was met with harsh punishment. Ultimately, the European Christians, feeling that they did all that they could to convert the “savages”, declared a war of annihilation. That’s right, a war of annihilation! And isn’t that what happened? Did we not annihilate what some people refer to as The First Nations of this land?
Who owns Saudi Arabia? Who owns Kuwait? Who owns a very large chunk of The Middle East?
Were there not resources in North America the likes of which the invading and occupying Europeans had never previously seen, just as the crude oil in The Middle East was like nothing akin to what any powerful European government had previously seen?

Weren’t those who had a rightful claim to North America merely attempting to keep their land when they “savagely” killed, in defense, the invading Europeans?

Unlike today’s Muslims, they didn’t fight the Europeans because the Europeans didn’t respect their religious beliefs. The Europeans indeed didn’t respect what Native Americans considered holy burial grounds. They trampled over these holy places and trampled over The First Nations, every man, woman and child. Why? Because they were Christian and they were white and that was enough for them.

Who owns those places in the Middle East? The Europeans who now inhabit the lands of The First Nations are doing it all over again and the rightful inhabitants of The Middle East don’t much like it.

Yes, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt all have sovereign governments, but just as some Native American leaders gave into baubles offered by the white invaders and occupiers from the 15th century until the late 19th century, Middle Eastern governments have played nicely with Western governments and they have been rewarded handsomely for their “cooperation”.
If someone doesn’t adhere to your religious beliefs like, for instance, there shall be no depiction of the Prophet Mohammed, it doesn’t give you the right to murder and pillage.

I didn’t go back to The Inquisition or The Crusades because I feel that the example of what Christians did to the people whose right it was to inhabit this land speaks volumes to the ignorance expressed in the Barbour Shop. I’m thinking that, if nukes were around in the late 18th, early 19th centuries, they’d be no United States of America that could be created on the backs of the torture of this land's original inhabitants.

Do I forget that that was then and this is now, not then? Why do I bring up “old news”? We conquered the savages and now the land is ours. How do I propose undoing that?
Was this then and this is now not then? Let’s examine.

Lieutenant General Jerry Boykin, said that we are fighting in Iraq "because we're a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian . . . and the enemy is a guy called Satan." He must have forgotten Washington’s words.

Another one of Christ’s handmaidens, Pat Robertson, in responding to Fidel Castro’s claim that the US is planning to assassinate Venezuela’s democratically elected President Hugo Chavez, said, "If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it.” That’s right, the commandment in the Bible, translated literally, means “Thou shalt not murder”, not “Thou shalt not kill”. So maybe Pat has a point.

And, of course, how could a real debate about how this “Christian Nation”, so pure, so perfect, so beloved by the “one true god”, to go along with the world’s several hundred other “one true gods”, be complete without the April 17, 2000 proclamation by Governor George W. Bush that, “…I, George W. Bush, Governor of Texas, do hereby proclaim June 10, 2000, Jesus Day in Texas…”

If I was at all religious, or even spiritual, if I believed in ghosts, faeries, angels, miracles, bright lights in near death experiences, bleeding statues, grown males wearing Halloween costumes with flowing robes and very strange hats, choking from the smoke emanating from golden items tossed around in church, plastic wafers no doubt made from chemicals that shouldn’t be consumed, beanies worn by bearded men dressed in black who eat any animal butchered by man except pork, people who kneel daily, clothed in robes or Salvation Army hand me downs, and mumble meaningless words learned by rote, as all meaningless religious words are learned, I might be able to contort my philosophy into believing that it’s OK to kill people into believing as I do. After all, from the Bible to the Torah to the Koran, the god affiliated to the particular religion in question offers his followers one leeway or another to kill in his name (it’s always “his”, isn’t it?).

You want an argument against the death penalty, look in the Bible.

You want an argument for the death penalty, look in the Bible.

You want a commandment that tells you to love your neighbor, look in the Koran.

You want a commandment that tells you to kill your neighbor, look in the Koran.

Back to the Muslims and the Danes.

Have Synagogues been burned by racists in the good ole USofA? You bet your ass.

Have Mosques and homes of Muslims been destroyed in the good ole USofA? You bet your ass.

Have Catholic Churches been destroyed in the good ole USofA? There goes another ass, wagered by people who call themselves Aryans.

Have Christian Churches been destroyed in the good old USofA because the congregations were either mostly or all Black? You know that answer.

There’s a question that can be asked of all people who think that their god is infallible.

Can god create a boulder so heavy that he himself can not lift it?

Sure he can. He can create anything.

Of course he can’t. God can lift anything.

Well, which is it? Either way god is less than infallible, isn’t he?

Here’s the proof, my friends.

I once asked a Catholic friend, “Who wrote the Bible?”

Of course, being a former practicing Catholic, I knew his answer would be “God wrote the Bible.”
I continued, “You mean God took pen in hand and started scribbling down some ideas?”

He said, “No silly. God inspired men to write the Bible. Men held the pens, men wrote the words, but the words were not theirs. The words were God’s. So, in essence, God wrote the Bible.”
I then asked, “How do you know that God wrote the Bible through the hands of these men?”
He said, “It says so in the Bible.”

I rest my case.

You will now proceed to tell everyone that you read that Michael approves of what the Muslims are doing in response to a cartoon in a Danish newspaper. You will do that, not because that’s what you really think. You’re not even so stupid as to forget that I said I disapprove of it. You’ll say that because, as you have no mature, logical arguments for just about anything you believe, you must lie, embellish or just participate in character assassination to get people riled up enough to share your hate and your misery with you.
Yet, as with all of my essays, I end this with:

To friendship,

Who knows why the hell we do it,
but we always get right to it.
No one knows or even wants to see.


marathonman said...

michael, good piece. you’ve shown a difference between religion and faith or spirituality. what’s happening in response to the news piece is what happens when people join a RELIGION I respect your non belief but I don’t share it. I’m as sure as I can be that there’s a higher power than human beings. how do we really know though?

that’s where faith comes in.

what you’ve shown is what religion does to spiritual people and you’re absolutely right about the self righteous Christians who think that their religion is the only religion. I’m glad you pointed the atrocities Christians have done in the name of Christ but I’m disappointed that you didn’t bring up The Crusades or The Inquisition and I’m really disappointed that you didn’t mention the relationship the pope had with Nazi Germany.

with all due respect, I belive is god real. I believe he’s looking at the what religions do in his name and shaking his head.

I don’t agree with you on spirituality but we need voices like yours to point out the insanity that’s carried out in the name of some religion or another.

keep on keepin’ on

stilltrucking said...

“He’s described as a deist, the least passionate of all believers.”

“On Jefferson's tombstone, which he had designed, he asked to be recognized for three achievements: "Author of the Declaration of Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and the Father of the University of Virginia."

Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1786)Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do. . . . Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities. . . . We are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present, or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.

Although today we give much of the credit for religious freedom to the First Amendment to the Constitution, in its own time the adoption of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom marked a greater step away from state support and enforcement of one particular religious belief and toward an open, tolerant society. The significance of the statute lay in its assumption that religious matters were of a totally personal nature, beyond the legitimate scope of the state. Thomas Jefferson personified this view when he wrote to a friend: "I never told my own religion, nor scrutinized that of another. I never attempted to make a convert, nor wished to change another's creed. I never judged the religion of others . . . for it is in our own lives and not our words that our religion must be read."

I feel blessed that I was never given any religious indoctrination when I was a kid. I was never told about a heaven or hell. My father wanted me to figure it out for myself.
"Because if there is such a thing as truth it is as intricate and hidden as a crown of feathers." I. B. Singer

Michael said...

Thomas Jefferson was more concerned that religion or spirituality would creep into the making of law in the US, as it seems to be doing today.

As I understand it, a deist believes in a higher power that may have begun the creation/evolution process and then let it go where it would go how it would go there.

To friendship,

“Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.” – Anonymous

storm said...

You talk about all of the atrocities that Christians did but when you see Jesus mocked on South Park you don’t see Christians burning buildings and threatening to kill people do you?

Do Christians still act like these animals? There isn’t any freedom of speech in their countries so they should consider themselves lucky that President Bush is leading the rest of the pussies in Europe in bringing democracy to them. Maybe then they’ll be able to print freedom of speech in their newspapers and make fun of mohamad like we make fun of Jesus! That doesn’t seem to bother you does it.

Michael said...

storm, good to see you here.

Unfortunately, I’m wondering how closely you read the essay.

You’re absolutely correct. The fact that people mock Christianity doesn’t bother me in the least. I’m proud that I live in a country where a religion can be mocked with impunity.

The atrocities to which Jefferson referred in 1782 really happened. Just Google “The Crusades”, “The Inquisitions”, they really happened.

Christians burned women because, for whatever reason, they believed them to be witches.

I defy you to tell me that these things didn’t happen.

The Christians at that time were no more “animals”, in the sense that they weren’t human, than are the rioting Muslims today. They were insecure human beings who needed to control in order to feel safe.

The Muslims who are damaging property and injuring people also feel the need to control. It’s obvious that at least those who are rioting think that, since they feel it’s a sin to depict the prophet Mohammed in any fashion, that the rest of us should feel it’s a sin and refrain from doing it.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s not a sin.

But, then, as far as I’m concerned, homosexuality isn’t a sin. However, there are people who expect me to obey what is basically a religious belief, that is to oppose gay marriage, because it is their religious belief.

I belong to neither the Muslim nor the Christian faith. There certainly is right and wrong in the world, but I don’t base my opinion of it on anyone’s religion.

I think it’s wrong to picket the funerals of those killed in Iraq, even if it was wrong for them to be sent to Iraq. However, members of The Westboro Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio, a Christian church, do just that. And they’re not the only ones.

Do you know why they picket the funerals of soldiers who’ve died in Iraq? Go ahead, read the story. It’s because the soldiers died for a country that harbors, not terrorists, but homosexuals. These good Christians disrespect the troops because they’re fighting for America, the land of the homosexual.

If you dare go to the story, you’ll find quite a cute little girl holding a red, white and blue placard that states “Don’t Pray For The U.S.A”. Are these people animals as well?

As I said in the original essay, it’s religion that has been and still is at the heart of human suffering. Every religion has a god that should never be insulted or disrespected and everyone in the world is supposed to abide buy those guidelines. Every religion seems to think that it’s the one true religion and follows the one true god.

So, I don’t care if South Park mocks Jesus and I don’t care if the Danes depict Mohammed.

I do care that human beings have been tortured and killed on behalf of Allah, God, Yawey, Genesh or any other ficticious being that humankind has created in its image because it refuses to believe that we are the highest level of animal on this planet and nothing else.

I sure do wish people would actually read what’s written before they just decide to attack me or anyone else who agrees with me.

To friendship,

sharata said...

So what you’re saying is that it’a greater blasphemy to show pictures of Mohammad than to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children to make a political point?

storm said...

If you were really educated you’d see how many scientists believe that there’s a God. Do you think that you are smarter than they are? I think that you’re arrogant and selfcentered.