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Archive for the ‘Church and State’ Category

In the beginning, humanity hunted, humanity gathered, and they did so in family groups.  These groups were the earliest and most basic human social structure.

As time advanced, these groups grew larger through natural processes at work even today.  This natural increase was furthered and quickened by humanity’s growing knowledge and technology which allowed them to die less often and live longer.  And to support more people.

lepenskivirart2Larger groups had several advantages. With more people, some could be spared to become craftsmen or tradesmen – pottery, weaving, knapping, trade, etc.  This benefited the now enlarged family group.  Another important benefit is that having more people meant that it was harder for other, often competing, family groups to force you to move from favorable locations.  Or take away your resources and access to needed and important minerals and water.  Or, to just wipe you out.

And, being bigger meant that if felt it necessary, you could do that to them!

However, as primarily a hunting and gathering society, there were limits to how large your group could grow.  But, then along came agriculture.  Suddenly, those limits were gone.

But, as with most advances, there were problems too. Now a society could grow larger, but family groups could only grow so far and so fast. However, several family groups working together could grow quite quickly and with fewer limits.

But, you knew there was going to be another but, there was another problem.  How to hold these different family groups together when one family group became upset and mad at another. After all, their primary loyalty had been and was to their family.  Family feuds back then were often deadly.

The answer – Religion.  Well, really, the answer was to create a new identity that E0702 KLENZE 9463transcended  family loyalties so  that even when family groups got pissed at each other the society stayed whole and the conflict was largely worked out within the new, larger society instead of tearing it apart.  But, an essential part of that identity was religion.

This was a religion grown from the beliefs of these family groups but organized and made bigger.  And then used to create a new identity and to not only resolve potentially societal suicidal disputes, but to provide a means and motive to redistribute resources (even though abused, a necessity too – for example, irrigation).

For the most part I do not think this was consciously done, although at times I am sure that aspects of it were. But, rather, this was a natural growth.  Also, I would imagine that the attempt to create this new unity with religion failed often and the nascent society fell apart. But, some succeeded and when they did, well they were bigger with all the benefits mentioned above.  Further, they were more organized and able to have people do things not related to just providing food – arts, trades, trading, soldiers, etc

Religion was a success.  And nothing else worked as well.   It is why you never find an early civilization in which religion was not an essential part of its structure.  It had to be for such structures to exist.

Nothing human is static.  We change and grow and react in response to the non-static world around us. This holds true for religion too.  Religion started to move beyond largely societal commands and strictures and assume a more and more moral aspect to it. Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad and others are aspects of this changing nature.

One other aspect of this use of religion as national identity: those who were not of the same religion were then not a part of us, and thus dangerous and suspicious.  Reading the history of England as it switched from Church of England to Catholic and back again is an interesting read and an illustration of this truth.  It is why I say it is not so much religion that is the cause of so much violence, but its wedding to the state.

Which brings us to the gradual divorce of that married couple, once joined as one.  As Religious-Affiliationhumanity was more able to easily travel to other countries with other beliefs, and as humanity became better able to communicate about those other peoples – the printing press being the biggest boost to that – people within countries started to question their beliefs.  Which was a threat to the state – as mentioned earlier.

This warfare and violence though was abhorred by many good men, including some very religious believers.  And the idea started and grew and was developed that religion and state should be divorced, and then kept separated in order to control and lessen the violence and hatred.  Interestingly enough, the earliest proponent of a complete separation of religion and state was a Puritan theologian and founder of the Baptist Church in America, Roger Williams (he also founded the state of Rhode Island with that principle in mind).

A couple of hundred of years later a country was born in which the state and church were explicitly separate and forbidden to join together.   Note, by state I mean government.  And that is not the same as a society and culture.

Now, this was such a good idea that over the next two hundred years (a bit over actually) this idea spread and became the norm, or at least given lip service.  Secular non-religious institutions also grew that provided the same functions that only religion used to provide – education, healthcare, providing for the poor, etc. Abulcasis-blistering

However, a bit over two hundred years is a very short period of time. I imagine the transition from family groups to cities with religions took considerably longer.  Which is why we still see the remnants of the older attitude of identifying the state with a specific religion rise up.  It is why Buddhists in Myanmar are persecuting and committing genocide upon Muslims there.   Or why Muslims in many Islamic countries do not allow conversions.  Or why religious people in communist and officially atheistic countries were persecuted (what is the issue here is the identification of one religious view with the state, no matter what that view might be).

And why we still see it rear its head here in the United States.

Immediately after 9/11, the city of Fort Worth decided to hold a grand meeting of city employees to allow a sense of grief to be shared and supported by our shared unity. However, this meeting or ceremony was decidedly Christian, complete with the police Chaplain giving a prayer in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

My wife, who is an atheist, and a Buddhist friend of hers  were left with a sense of betrayal, of being left out. Were they not Americans too?  Did they not feel shock and grieve?   Instead of unifying all Americans, it divided.

It was just after this that God Bless America became a traditional 7th inning stretch song at baseball games.   A way to provide unity and show you were a true blue American. My wife and I, as atheist, refused to sing it, and even refused to stand for it because it came to symbolize the United States as a Christian nation.

Last Thursday was the National Day of Prayer, itself a relic of the old religion as national identity. Many presidents in the past have worked to offset that by trying to include other faiths in these prayers.  But, it still is a relic of the old identifying of the state with one religious view. 170x170bb

More recently our government has been more and more influenced and pandering to one specific religious group. Towards that end, they are working to make it easier to use religion as a justification for discrimination and injustice

I mentioned culture and society earlier and how they are different than governments.  But, while they are different, they do influence it.  This is especially true in a democracy and cannot be any other way.  It creates a bit of tension at times a lot of tensions at others, and it provides a challenge in regards to politicians and government workers at times.  For the most part though, the government has managed to stay secular and maintain that wall of separation. However, I believe that we are now undergoing one of those times when that wall will be attacked, and will be cracked.  Not destroyed, but cracked.

What this shows though is that the replacement of religion as a glue holding people together, as a way of providing a national identity and unity still exists and is still a powerful force.  However the difference between today and the past is that the population is diverse whereas in the past is was largely homogeneous.  That means instead providing a national identity and unifying us, it provides an identity for some and serves to divide us.

I do not think that religion will ever disappear (after all, the family has not disappeared, that primal beginning of all human societies) – nor should that be our goal (very far from it). But, I do think that our secular government with its secular institutions needs to be protected.  It is a necessity for the continued growth of a more peaceful and just world.

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I confess. My title is misleading.  The Gospel of Judas (not Iscariot) has not been lost at all, just well concealed and its knowledge revealed to a carefully selected few. For example, Cardinal Richelieu had read the Gospel of Judas (not Iscariot) and successfully absorbed its lessons. However, today, with more and more Christian leaders having read this once secretive gospel and following its teachings, as is evidenced by so many of them endorsing and supporting Donald Trump and his subsequent election, the time for such secrecy is past.

Now, I do not intend to post the whole of this Gospel (it is the longest of all the gospels), only parts. My intention is to make Judas (not Iscariot) well known and force the publication of a new, revised Bible with this Gospel, the most influential of all the Gospels, taking its rightful place before Matthew and Mark as the first of the gospels.  So, without further ado, here are some select passages from the hitherto hidden Gospel of Judas (not Iscariot).

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JnI 1:1 – 21

And certain of the Pharisees and certain of the Herodians were sent to Jesus to lure him and catch him in a trap of his own words.  And when they came they said unto him, Master, we know that you are true, and care for no man over that of God for you teach the way of God in truth.  So teach us Master so that we should know the way of God, is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not? But Jesus, knowing their hypocrisy and deceit said to them, bring me a penny that I may see it. And they brought to Jesus a penny.  And Jesus said, Whose is this image and superscription?  And they said unto him, Caesar’s. And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. And they outwardly marveled while their hearts were filled with anger.

After the questioners of Jesus and the crowds had left, Judas (not Iscariot) approached Jesus and asked him, Lord, is not Caesar God’s too?  And Jesus smiled at Judas (not Iscariot) and said, Truly, God has given you the discernment to see this.  And Jesus took Judas (not Iscariot) aside and said to him, Listen well most favored disciple, and learn these secret teachings of God. And I charge you to listen and learn and only reveal these to those whose discernment is the equal of your own and who can make Godly use of this wisdom.  And Judas (not Iscariot) listened well and followed the words of his Master, the Lord.

JnI 2:1 – 4

Jesus said that mankind is foolish and in their foolishness they follow their own thoughts and desires over that of God’s. For the glory of God and the furtherance of his will use those thoughts and desires against God’s foes. Sow confusion among those who oppose God’s will by using the confused minds of one against the desires of another so that neither can speak the same language, so that neither have the same cause, and so that both will fall when confronted by those following the way of God.

JnI 2:16

The ways of Caesar are not the way of righteousness and justice. Therefor when working with Caesar to bring forth the intent of God, your ways too do not need to be righteous or just.

JnI 2:20 – 22

While the meek shall indeed be one of the inheritors of the kingdom it is the rich and the powerful, the loud and the boastful who control the things of Caesar’s. Such men act upon their own desires, even to choosing to believe lies as truth and ignorance knowledge.  Let such men grab the secret parts of women and cheat the weak and powerless, so long as they listen to your words and so do God’s will.

JnI 4:14

When necessity calls, promises made in the past are of the past.apostle-saint-jude-thaddeus

 

JnI 4:24

When a man is harmed to advance the glory of God, then harm him severely such that his vengeance need never be feared.

 

JnI 6: 20

Faith need only be kept with god. Mankind is too fickle, weak, and greedy to expect or deserve faith. Keep faith with God and break faith with others when it serves your cause or God’s.

JnI 6:31

Do not hesitate to sin if it furthers God’s will. God will forgive such sins.  He will not forgive those who do not so sin and so fail to further God’s will.

JnI 7:3-8

For the things of Caesar, what is right is what those who have power say. Work hard to be the ones with power, for the furtherance of God’s kingdom.

JnI 9:1

Men are deceitful creatures.  Because of that they are easily deceived. Use that to bring about God’s glory.

JnI 9:3-5

Men are nothing compared to God, only fools braying into the night, concerned only with what will get them through from moment to moment. Use that and you will always be able to deceive them for the glory of God.

 

JnI 12: 3

Only God commands both love and fear.  For man, if one cannot be both, then be feared,

 

 

I thought it apt to close with JnI 12:3 above because today we have every cause to be fearful as those of God and the followers of this gospel work through an immoral fool concerned only with his needs and his desires.  When Godly men to the devil turn, tis time for all good souls to be concerned

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I see in the news that the Trump administration’s Health and Human Services is about to promote the pro-life belief that life begins at conception.  However, I cannot help but wonder if they have thought this out all the way.  I mean, if they had, they would realize that “life begins at conception” is way too liberal. Science, after all, tells us that both sperm and eggs are alive too.  And the Bible tells us that God knew us before we had even formed in the womb. In other words, life instead of starting at conception, is started before conception.

I have heard many religious groups, the same ones who Trump wants to allow full reign on imposing their morals on the country, citing Jeremiah 1:5 for their pro-life beliefs.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Now, it seems to me that if you are going to use this verse as a Biblical justification for being against abortion then you are also going to have to go much further than merely picketing abortion clinics and passing laws against abortion.  Much, much further. After all, before being “formed in the womb” you were an egg and a sperm.

If you are for life and take this verse seriously as a justification for being against abortion then you must also start a campaign to save the sperm and eggs that are being murdered in their millions every day.

After all, since God knew Jeremiah before he was formed in the womb then that means he knew and had selected which sperm was going to unite with which egg to form Jeremiah.  If this verse then is the basis for being against abortion it is only logical to then be against losing sperm and eggs.  After all who knows what God has planned for each individual sperm and egg that was lost.  A man irresponsibly spilling his seed or a woman who menstruates recklessly need to be stopped and stopped now.

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Obviously this is going to change things quite a bit.  For one thing the Catholic Church is far too weak and wishy-washy in their stance against birth control.  Not only should embryos and fetuses be saved but sperm and eggs need to be saved too.  It is, after all, Biblical – from God to us.

Now, in order to save the sperm and eggs the following, as I see it, will have to be done:

1)     All males past the age of puberty would have to wear sperm catchers while they sleep lest they have a nocturnal emission.  Should they have one it will have to be immediately put in the refrigerator until it can be safely and quickly transported to an appropriate Sperm Collection Hospital.

2)    Males with hair triggers will be required to always wear a sperm catcher.

3)    Immediately after intercourse the insides of a woman’s vagina and uterus would have to be swabbed and any excess sperm saved.  Again this would have to be put in the refrigerator until transport to the Sperm Collection Hospital.

4)    If the couple engages in either oral or anal sex the man would again have to wear the sperm collector just as he does during sleep.  Those men with hair triggers who would be required to always have wear sperm collectors would have an advantage in that no annoying interruptions would occur during sex play.

5)    Women would have to wear egg catchers during their menstrual period to collect the eggs that would otherwise be lost.  Like the males these would have to be refrigerated and then safely and quickly transported to an Egg Collection Hospital.

6)    Probably both the Sperm Collection Hospital and the Egg Collection Hospital should be physically connected in some manner since eventually both egg and sperm would have to be united to form a new baby.

7)    Women would also have to wear egg catchers when they urinate – especially after having engaged in intercourse.  Scientists have been finding that there are many fertilized eggs that do not implant and are lost when peeing.  After being caught the same procedures are followed in regards to storage and transport.

8)    Of course laws would have to be passed to ensure that men and women followed these common sense Ultra Pro Life practices.

9)    Since we are talking about human lives here and a Biblical directive, a well funded crash research and development program needs to be initiated to resolve some rather pressing problems and issues.

  1. Since there are roughly 6 to 10 million sperm produced during each ejaculation and each woman only produces about 400 eggs during her lifetime it is obvious that there is going to be much more sperm than there are eggs.  Because of this we are going to have to develop an artificial egg in order not to let any sperm go to waste and thus spoil God’s plan.
  2. Since the number of sperm vastly outnumbers the number of eggs it is obvious that sperm will be driving how many babies will be born.  And of course how many women will be needed to incubate the united sperm and egg.
  3. In doing a bit of research I find that men between the ages of 20 to 29 ejaculate on average 15 times a month.  That number (sadly) declines by age 80 to an average of 5 ejaculations a month.
  4. According to the 2007 census there are over 19 million men in the United States falling into the 20 to 29 age range.  At 15 ejaculations per month that means there are 285 billion ejaculations per month.  Over a 10 month period (have to allow a woman at least one month recovery between pregnancies) we will need 2,850,000,000,000 women to host all of that sperm.  And that is just sperm from the 20 to 29 age range.  The number obviously becomes much higher when you factor in all of the post puberty males; both those younger than 20 and older than 29.
  5. There are only 143.5 million women in the United States of all ages from 0 to death.    Obviously we have a problem with not enough women for all of this sperm.
  6. I believe that in order to correct this several actions will have to be taken:
    1. We need to find a way to shorten the gestation period from 9 months to 4 months.  This will allow for a quicker turnaround of pregnancies.
    2. We need to find a way to allow pre-pubescent girls to become pregnant too.  And of course we would need to have all women, regardless of how old they are – including post menopausal women – being sperm hosts.
    3. We will have to freely allow immigration of single or separated women from other countries.
    4. We should immediately start research on how to create an artificial woman who can host sperm and produce babies.  Preferably of the Stepford type – the wives that is.

Now I know that some unthinking person is going to ask why not just make all males past the age of puberty take some sort of medication to prevent erections and in that manner control the killing of sperm.  That way we can limit the living sperm to the numbers of available women.  I am sure that some especially vindictive and short sighted women who hate God might even suggest electro-shock aversion treatment instead of chemicals as a way to prevent erections.

However this would be wrong.

For just as the Bible tells us to save the sperm and eggs so too does it tell us to go forth and multiply.  And since God gave us all it is up to us to give God all we can to fulfill his commandments… no matter how difficult it seems.

So this suggestion is a no go.  And that’s not even considering the other bits in the Bible about woman being the helper of the man and having to bear the pain of childbirth.

Now I know that this may seem radical to some, but is it really?  After all we are talking about human life here.  It doesn’t matter that they, the sperm and the egg, are small and do not look like us.  Life is life and God knows it all.

God said so when he spoke to Jeremiah.

 

 

Note: This is a revision and update of a blog I originally posted on October 4, 2011.

 

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As usual, Trump and his administration are in the news. For many things. The two that caught my eye for this blog are:

  • Trump putting into place a rule allowing more employers to opt out of buying insurance that provides coverage for birth control if they have religious objections to it.
  • The DOJ memorandum excluding transgendered people from legal protections, along with two follow on memos outlining the new view on religious liberty and federal law, views that will likely have a large and negative impact on LGBT rights. .

And let me add one more story relevant to this blog.  This one from Kansas, where the state has taken a child from his mother and grandparents and , over their religious based objections based,  the state is going to vaccinate him.

Now, I am not going to go into who is right and wrong here – although those who know413b4ee6dceb3098d9b515c6f3e6b5f2 me probably can take a good guess at what my views are.  Instead, I am going to briefly discuss why freedom of religion is on a par with the right of free speech, a free press, freedom of assembly and so forth.

First let me provide the list the rights from the Constitution’s Bill of Rights (note – many of our founders would object to my use of the word “list”. For the reason why, consider the 9th Amendment.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Now, almost all of the rights listed here have rather a rather obvious relationship to a working government, especially a democracy.  Free speech, trial by jury, freedom of assembly, and so forth.  But freedom of religion?  How is that related to a functioning government?

To answer this, first, consider the freedom of religion might more properly be called the freedom of conscience, the right for a person to believe as they chose.  In many ways that is a more basic right than freedom of speech and such, since if you are not free to believe as you see fit then what does it matter if your speech is free?  Of course, you could argue then that political thoughts and ideas are free and protected, but not religious ones, not ones dealing with God and the afterlife and the moral teachings of a religion.  The problem with this is that so often, in fact most often, a person’s ideas and thoughts about politics are going to be influenced by his thoughts about morality at the very least. And for most, morality was associated with religion.  In other words, making a clear distinction is much more easily said than done.

Which leads us into the second reason. Religion is important to people. Their views of the universe, of life and what may lie beyond it, about how to live in this world, and all the rest of it are of critical importance to individuals and groups.  In fact, people consider these views so important that religion has had a prominent role to play in most of the violence in the world (note, I did not say cause, there is a difference).   This is something I wrote about in my blog What Most Have Forgotten.

The point here is that our founders, the creators of the Constitution, knew this history just as well as anyone did. Better than most actually. Along with this is the fact that most Religion-2of them believed religion to be of critical importance to a society too.  The best way they saw to avoid the violence was to give everyone the right to believe as they think best, without the government taking a side or promoting one view over another.  In other words, to have a free and functioning democracy, freedom of religion is just as essential as any and all the other rights.

 

As for the proof of it- well, our history has been free of the degree of religious conflict that afflicted both Europe and Colonial America. And that still afflicts much of the world.  It is also an idea that has been taken up by many nations around the world, to their betterment.  The challenge now that we have successfully created the separation of church and state so necessary for a stable democratic government is to maintain that separation in the face of those who  do not realize its importance.  One of the many challenges facing us in our suddenly changed times.

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This blog has been lurking around in the corners of my mind for quite a while now, ever since July 1, 2016 when I passed a church bulletin calling for all to come to its celebration of God and America. This sign bothered me for several reasons.  Of course, me being an atheist will probably cause most to figure out some of the reasons it bothered me. But only some. As for the rest, well, the rest I thought would be surprising and I hope interesting.

It bothered me because not only is such a mingling of church and state bad for the state, but it is just as bad for the church.

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Let me first say that this church, and the many others that I saw with a similar message, have every right to do so.  However, not everything that is legal and that people have a right to do is also wise. And in this blog I plan to discuss why it is not wise for a religion, in this case Christianity, to mix religion and nationalism. To do so, I will speak as if I were a much younger me, young enough to still be a Christian.

Let’s start with a question – what is the purpose of the Church?

Answer, to spread the good news of the Gospels, the news about Jesus and his redemptive death and resurrection.  The church was also meant to provide support and teaching to fellow Christians, and to those who come to its doors seeking. And the church was also meant to serve as a moral guide and conscience of people, of societies, of nations, of the world.

While spreading the news of the Gospels might be easier done when part of a government, as part of the inside group, it does so at the expense of corrupting the church, and of causing great pain and suffering to others outside of that church.

A church is not the state.  Nor is it meant to be.  It is not meant to be a supporter of the state, an auxiliary of the state, a co-ruler with the state.

A church is meant to be an outsider in regards to government.

Christianity was born an outsider.

Jesus was born an outsider with Mary being pregnant before being married

Jesus was born into and preached to a people who were outsiders, the Jews.

Jesus served the outsiders among the Jews; tax collectors, the lepers, the unclean, the sinners.

An outsider preaching to a people of outsiders, that is part of what gave Jesus’ message its power.   His message was not to the rich and powerful, although it was theirs for the taking should they choose to listen.  His message was to the poor and powerless.

His message was not how to create a civil society, how to govern a country or state or city.  His message was about God’s love for humanity and how best to receive and spread that love.  It was a message of hope, not political positions.

Jesus, as the outsider, accepted all, but did not change his message, his standards, nor himself for any.

Jesus changed the world.

From its birth to its early years, Christianity was a religion off outsiders looking in.  Often ridiculed, sometimes persecuted, they nonetheless still for the most part, held firm to their standards and beliefs.  And they grew.

And then came the great split. No, not the Catholic and the Protestant split. Nor the disagreements among Christians, which had been present since the beginning as can be seen in the arguments about the nature of Jesus and his relation to God.

No, the great split I am referring to concerns the split from being outsiders to becoming insiders. The conversion of Emperor Constantine transformed Christianity from being a religion of outsiders to being a religion of the insiders, of those with power and money. Or rather, one particular set of Christians became insiders.  As part of the bargain, with Constantine, they had to have a uniform set of beliefs.  So, one set modified some of their beliefs and won, the others became persecuted and died, along with the pagans.

As Paul Johnson wrote in his A History of Christianity:

How could the Christian Church, apparently quite willingly, accommodate this weird megalomaniac in its theocratic system? Was there a conscious bargain? Which side benefited most from this unseemly marriage between Church and State? Or, to put it another way, did the empire surrender to Christianity, or did Christianity prostitute itself to the empire?”

Now, instead of criticizing the government and society, Christianity and the government tyndale-martyrdom-resized-600were one, and actions against the government were also actions against Christianity, and actions against Christianity were also actions against the government.  Given this, how could most Christians criticize any government action, no matter how bad or how flawed?  How could any government allow any deviation from the established religion, no matter how well argued and supported?

They couldn’t

An attack on the religion supported by the state was an attack on the state, and an attack vc006367on the state was an attack on the religion.  Such was the root cause of most of the religious violence and persecution throughout the years; the Inquisition, the forced conversion and persecution of the Jews, Catholics vs. Protestants, Protestants vs. Puritans, Puritans vs. Quakers, and on and on and on.

In addition to the violence against people, was the violence done to beliefs and morals as Churches assumed stately power. Compromises with principles and beliefs were common, as were the flat out ignoring of such principles and beliefs.

This violence against people and against the teachings of Jesus and of God is probably why the first person to propose an absolute and total separation of church and state was a Puritan theologian and the founder of the Baptist Church in America – Roger Williams. And he lived up to that ideal when he founded the state of Rhode Island.

The United States was the first secular government in the world. Something that the writers of the Constitution did intentionally, and with great forethought.

1st-Amendment_eroded_4

Their foresight and awareness of history is something lacking today by too many Americans, and is evidenced by so much more than just the signs I saw that inspired this blog.  This lack of forethought and awareness is seen whenever anyone:

  • Claims that the United States is a Christian country. And then advocates for laws to make it so – prayer in the schools, recognition of the Bible as the state book, etc.
  • Work to limit or take away the rights of those who are not the right sort of Christian or believer.
  • Tells Muslims to go home, even those who were born in the United States. And then tries to make it so.
  • Whenever permits are denied to religious groups due to their beliefs.
  • When President H. Bush commented that atheist could not be patriots due to not believing in God.
  • When Trump sends out a White House bulletin in which he states “America is a Nation of believers. As long as we have faith in each other, and trust in God, we will succeed!”

We, as a nation, as a people, have never been very good at remembering. But, today, that

two-kingdom-flag-church-cross-copy

lack of memory, of awareness, seems stronger than ever.  The evangelical support forTrump shows how far too many Christians and Christian organizations, are willing to go in dealing with the devil in order to gain political power.  And how many of their values and morals, and how much of the teachings of Jesus they are willing to ignore or give up in their quest for political power.

 

I think that they need to go back and read the history of religion, and of what happens when it becomes part of the state.  Some Madison, or Jefferson, or several others would be good.  But, perhaps, it would be best if they rediscovered the writings and thought of Roger Williams.  Before they manage to harm not just people, but the Constitution that will allow such harm to, eventually, be redressed.

 

 

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Finally, a short blog.  At least, shorter than the other two.

First and foremost:

dont-panic

Next:

2309

 

Now, big broad dramatic actions, while nice, are not necessary and are not what is going to turn things around.  It will be the actions of millions of people working on mundane and often boring tasks that will turn things around.  It will be the actions of millions of people donating time and money to organizations that work to protect our rights, our economy, our schools, our environment, our nation that will turn things around.  It will be us, the majority, who will turn things around.

National groups are nice, but look local too.  The Republican conservatives who support Trump control too many states, and that needs to change.

Write letters to your local paper, to your elected representatives at all levels from city to state to national.  This means be aware of what is happening both nationally and locally.  Join in local organizations that are working to improve the environment, poverty, homelessness, civil rights, and all of those things that are most in danger now.   If you are up to it, get involved in local boards on different subjects and problems.  Volunteer to testify on issues that most concern you – locally in city councils to testifying before state committees.

 

For myself, I have never registered as a Democrat or Republican, preferring to be considered an Independent.  And early one there were Republicans who I could and did vote for.  However, those have vanished over the years as the Republican Party became more radically conservative and radically right religious.

So, for the first time in my life, I will become a registered Democrat and work with the local party here in Beaumont.  There are other things I will be doing, and there are a great many groups and organizations that you could become a part of.  Here is just a short and not even remotely exhaustive list of them linked to their websites, in no particular order.

 

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Common Cause

National Center for Science Education

Texas Freedom Network –  for those living in Texas, this is a group I have worked with before and will become more active in now.

Planned Parenthood

Sierra Club

Friends of the Earth

National Organization for Women

League of Women Voters

American Civil Liberties Union

Southern Poverty Law Center

Center for Responsive Politics

Campaign Zero

Black Lives Matter

 

This is not a complete listing by far.  It barely scratches the surface in fact and doesn’t even cover all the areas of concern.  Look and find something that fits your interests and greatest concerns.

And, perhaps most important of all, remember we are all Americans.  We are all human.  Look at your neighbor, at your town, your city, your county, your parish, your state, and your country, and be aware of whatever threatens your neighbors well being whether it involves civil liberties and equal treatment under the law, the environment in which we all share, education or any of host of other areas that look like they may well be under attack during a Trump Presidency.

Because of this, of our shared humanity and identity as Americans, seriously consider even going beyond if things go badly.  If the Trump administration starts a registry for Muslims, register as Muslims.  If President Trump voids the Dream Act, write and call and protest – demonstrations and marches in solidarity with those who are most affected.  If you are white, go ahead and march in a Black Lives Matter protest.  If you are black, then demonstrate in support of that 18 year old American college student brought here from Mexico when she was 3 but being deported now, if you are an Atheist march with and in support of the American Muslims and the refugees.  Let your voice and presence be heard and seen in as many ways as possible.

Be aware and act.   And vote.  Vote in local elections.  In state elections.  And in National ones.  And, hopefully, we can blunt the damage that I fear is coming.  And in 2016 start to not only blunt but turn it around.

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Republican presidential candidate Gingrich speaks at a meet and greet at the Willow Ridge Golf Course in Fort Dodge,

“We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background and if they believe in sharia they should be deported

…………

“Look, the first step is you have to ask them the questions. The second step is you have to monitor what they’re doing on the internet. The third step is — let me be very clear — you have to monitor the mosques. I mean, if you’re not prepared to monitor the mosques, this whole thing is a joke.” Gingrich on Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

how-much-donald-trump-makes-in-speaking-fees-compared-to-everyone-else

 

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” campaign press release

 

“Do you think we might need to register Muslims in some type of database, or note their religion on their ID?” Yahoo Reporter

“We’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely. We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.” Donald Trump response

……….

“Should there be a database or system that tracks Muslims in this country?”  MSNBC reporter

“There should be a lot of systems. Beyond databases. I mean, we should have a lot of systems.”  Donald Trump response.

 

And with these statements both Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump have stabbed with intent to kill that which both have professed to love and protect – the Constitution

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 “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States..” Article 6  United States Constitution

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”  First Amendment, United States Constitution

 

An integral part of being an American is being able to live your life in accordance with the dictates of your conscience and religion.

For those Jews so inclined there are rabbinical courts.  For those Catholics so inclined there are diocesan tribunals.   For other religious groups both Christian and not, there are organizations that, for  those so inclined, will resolve marital issues, individual disputes, business disputes, rule on inheritances, and more – all based on the precepts of that religion.

All of this is allowed by the free exercise clause as long  as they meet the following standards:

  • Participation is voluntary on the part of everyone.
  • What is decided does not violate US laws.
  • What is decided does not violate the US Constitution.

This is part of what being free to live in accordance with your conscience and religion means.  It applies not to just a few, not just to some, not just to most, but it applies to all Americans.

But Gingrich, Trump, and too many others wish to deny this Constitutional right to our Muslim citizens.  They would say to these Americans,

“No, you cannot follow your religious laws under the same guidelines as others follow theirs.  In fact, you are not allowed to follow them at all.  And yes, we are instituting a religious test on who is considered a full and good citizen of the United States.

And yes, although we may deny it, in doing so we are destroying that  which we profess to love and swore to protect.

And yes, by doing so we show that our true love is to the United States as a nation first and its ideals only a distant second.  And preferably a nation of Christians with a few Jews tossed in.”

 

Oh, what joy this must give our enemies who have charged us with hypocrisy, to have their once lies now made true.

Oh, what pain it gives seeing too many of our leaders recommending suicide as a way to protect our nation.

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