Monday, May 16, 2011

Message to those offended by Christianity (Sept. 12, 2007)

Current mood: hopeful

It started with an email, sent by one of the women in my church. It was one of those "if you agree with this, forward it to everyone you know, but if you don't agree, delete it" type of messages. Purportedly written by radio commentator Paul Harvey, it took maybe 20 seconds to establish that that was not the case.

I chewed on it for a bit, ate lunch, washed some dishes, then started on a reply. Below are both the initial message and my reply. Both of them are long; the initial part is 651 words; my part is 813 words. Yeah, that's a lot.

Initial message:
Subject: Message to those offended by Christianity....

Paul Harvey!

Folks this is the Month that we RE-TAKE AMERICA

********* Get Ready *********

Keep this going around the globe ... read it and forward every time you receive it. We can't give up on this issue.

Paul Harvey and Prayer

Paul Harvey says:

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 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.

Life, liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered because someone says a 30-second prayer before a football game.

So what' s the big deal? It's not like somebody is up there reading the entire book of Acts. 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.

But it's a Christian prayer, some will argue.

Yes, and this is the United States of America, a country 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?

If I went to a football game in Jerusalem, I would expect to hear a Jewish prayer.

If I went to a soccer game in Baghdad, I would expect to hear a Muslim prayer.

If I went to a ping pong match in China, I would expect to hear someone pray to Buddha.

And I wouldn't be offended. It wouldn't bother me one bit. When in Rome ...

But what about the atheists? Is another argument.

What about them?
Nobody is asking them to be baptized. We're not going to pass the collection plate. Just humor us for 30 seconds. 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!

Unfortunately, one or two will make that call. 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.

Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek while our courts strip us of all our rights. Our parents and grandparents taught us to pray before eating; to pray before we go to sleep.

Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. Now a handful of people and their lawyers are telling us to cease praying.

God, help us.
And if that last sentence offends you, well ... just sue me.

The silent majority has been silent too long. It's time we let that one or two who scream loud enough to be heard that the vast majority doesn't care what they want. It is time the majority rules! 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. That is your right, and we will honor your right . But by golly, you are no longer going to take our rights away. We are fighting back.
and we WILL WIN!

God bless us one and all ... especially those who denounce Him, God bless America, despite all her faults. She is still the greatest nation of all.

God bless our service men who are fighting to protect our right to pray and worship God.

2007 will be the year the silent majority is heard and we put God back as the foundation of our families and institutions ... and our Military come home from all the wars.

Keep looking up.

If you agree with this, please pass it on.

If not delete it.


My reply:
I'm not offended by Christianity, but I *am* offended by the implications of this message. First of all, Paul Harvey didn't write it, Wichita Falls TX sports columnist Nick Gholson did, in September 1999.

The implications of the message are that you have to be Christian to be American. Not so. We have freedom of religion here.

The implications of the message are that the United States of America is a Christian nation. Not so. We are a nation primarily of Christians. We are not a Christian nation. We are not an Islamic nation. We are not an atheist nation. We are not a Hare Krishna nation. We are a nation FREE to practice whatever form of belief we like WITHOUT any government interference, WITHOUT any government-sponsored "do-it-this-way"-ness. When gov't does get involved, it is almost always to stop a religious majority from imposing its views on everyone, and then only when the ACLU or someone's lawyer makes the call. Then, in our system, we have a series of courts where the matter can be heard. The ACLU does lose cases; it is sometimes wrong. But neither the ACLU nor the gov't nor someone's lawyer can just arbitrarily prevent practice of religion, any more than some religious group can arbitrarily decide that everyone present at a ball game must now pray. The point is, keep religion out of public domination (this includes public schools), and everyone will be happy.

It is this exact tussle that defines the mess in Iraq right now. For decades, the 90% Shi'ite majority was brutally suppressed by Saddam Hussein's 10% Sunni minority. The Sunnis don't want to relinquish the political power they enjoyed, and don't want to be dominated by the grudge-holding, dominant Shi'ite population. The Kurds in the north are afraid of either one of them making the rules that will overrule them, and if that isn't bad enough, the true religious minority group in Iraq -- the Yazidis -- take it from all sides. THAT's what happens when you have NO freedom of religion, no freedom FROM religion.

Contrast that with Turkey, also a nation whose dominant religion is some flavor of Islam, and like Iraq, was set up arbitrarily by treaties following World War I. There, like everywhere, there are political differences of opinion, but because the government enforces secular policies, just like us, people can practice their religion as they please. Because the political focus is on things other than religion, it is the only nation in that part of the world that gets along with nearly everyone -- Israel, former Soviet-bloc nations, western Europe, us, and most of its neighbors who don't already have a seed under their dentures about something. State mandated secularism is NOT the same as state mandated atheism, like China or the former Soviet Union. Understand the difference! It's important!

Contrast both with Northern Ireland. There, the dominant religion is Christian, but the Protestants and Roman Catholics have been killing each other for centuries. At the moment, they've called a truce, but they've been there before, too. The point is, religion matters there at the political level. It doesn't in Turkey. It does in Iraq. It doesn't, or shouldn't -- it BETTER NOT -- here. The sentiments in this missive would have it that we should, and if you can't see that, you need to associate with some people who don't think like you so that you can.

So, don't knock this freedom-of-religion thing, and please stop passing around this "oh-isn't-it-awful-that-Christians-are-so-hated" piffle. Nobody is after Christians, nobody is after Christianity, not even the ACLU. All they -- we -- everyone -- wants is for the majority to leave the minority alone.

Tolerance. Understanding. Plurality of opinion. These are Christian values, they are American values, they are OUR values.

I welcome educated discussion on this topic. Not flame wars. Thank you.

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