Monday, December 18

First Freedom First: No Religious Discrimination

It's bound to be a slow news week, slow blogging week, etc. so I'm going to take this opportunity to blog all week on First Freedom First, a group that advocates for support of Americans' Constitutional right to religious liberty as guaranteed by the First Amendment. On my sidebar there's a link to the FFF website, which indicates eight battlegrounds, yes, battlegrounds, in the struggle for First Amendment freedoms.

Today: No Religious Discrimination. It amazes and saddens me, as one who is inspired and indeed devoted to Jesus, that we have to fight fellow "Christians" (and I use the quotes for myself as well as others) to stop religious discrimination in America. Christians who blandly deny equal rights and opportunities for non-Christians, and today that means Muslims above all, have no sense of the history of their own religion, either in this country alone, or perhaps more importantly in the time of Jesus himself.

The Puritans and many who came to the United States afterwards came in search of the freedom to practice their religion freely. That is an incontrovertible fact.

And Jesus. Jesus. No, not using his name in vain, just with a sigh. Nailed to the cross, executed in cold blood, because he spoke the truth to the secular AND religious majority of his day. Aggressive attempts to make the human power structure conform to the Jesus/Christian worldview? How did that work out for you, Judas Iscariot?

It is throughly tragic that most "Christians" have succumbed to the comforts of cultural majority, and erased all memory of the radical, radical savior whose birthday we celebrate next week. Neither right-wing nor left-wing politics, the tinny whine of human advocacy, can contain the power of the unconditional sacrifical love of Christ. Excellent book on this subject is Gary Will's What Jesus Meant:

Not only is he born into an oppressed people, and forced out of his parent's city, and excluded from the common shelter—now the oppressed person, the homeless person, the excluded person must become a fugitive, driven farther away from the familiar, the comfortable, into an exile that recalls the wandering of the whole Jewish people. Herod the persecutor takes up the role formerly played by Pharaoh, the men of power trying to stamp out God's chosen instrument—first his People, then his Son. The relationship of Jesus to worldly power is revealed from the very outset of his life. He is the rulers' prey, on the run from them down through the ages.


"Love thy neighbor" is the most radical statement ever spoken. If you don't believe me, walk around an outdoor mall, oh, I'm sorry, "lifestyle center," and watch the shoppers avoid each other, battle for PS3's, and go into deep debt in the name of a holy holiday. As Jesus himself might say today, "Oy." (By the way, Wills also points out that if you persecute gays, you're persecuting Jesus. Just saying.)

The Religious Discrimination prize of the year has to go to the so-called faith-based initiatives of the Bush Administration, who clearly were pandering to a specific narrow-minded group of political supporters. Recommended: Ellen Goodman's editorial from October. As she sums it up, it's "We the People, not we the parishioners."

Next up: End of Life care and an appreciation of hospice care workers. (Have a nice day!)

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Oh. So I win a little Weblog Award and then YOU go ahead and get named Time Magazine's person of the year. You always have to go the extra mile, doncha, punk? Well congratu-toody-lations to you.

11 comments:

  1. Hey BG! Congratulations on your award -- I just found you in the clickable winners list and wish I'd been voting in your category. Alas, I was all wrapped up in mine and campaigning for LesbianDad in the fisticuffs that erupted in Best New Blog.

    Anyway, nice to find another dot of bright blue in the red-tinted southern region of the blogosphere. I'll be back.

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  2. Congrats on your win Blue Gal!

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  3. Anonymous2:27 PM

    Yes, kudos on the well-deserved award.

    And thanks for this post. Hope folks take what you say here to heart.

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  4. Anonymous3:27 PM

    Congratulations, Blue Gal!

    You deserve it!

    As I mentioned earlier--the UU church here in Atlanta lost some membership because there were *gasp* Christian references in the service! Oh no!

    Christian bashing is a PHASE you go through. Hate the sin, love the sinner. Love the leader, hate some of the followers.

    Still, you can't save everyone, pardon the pun.

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  5. Anonymous3:55 PM

    The irony of the sacrificial love of Christ is that it is merely theological. Likely the historical Christ would not have thought that while agonizing on the cross since he was, at best Messianic Apocalyptic... when he thought the Kingdom of God was at hand, he really meant it.

    Of course, from a spiritual perspective, the Christ of history (such as he is considering the information we have) and the Christ of faith can be taken separately and equal. His philosophy can still be applied to this day even though it was certainly meant in the context of the ancient Near East, but one can argue context with all religions and the time and era of their founding.

    The problem is when faith and history collide and you have literalism which leads most of the time to fundamentalism and well, most of the problems we have when it comes to religion.

    I would also agree with your assessment on the faith-based initiatives. But then for all our guarantees of separation of church and state, it has nominally been more than lip service historically.

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  6. Congratulations, Blue Gal! You are the greatest!

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  7. Blue Gal,

    I have an activity that you and your readers might enjoy. Since "you" are the Time person of the year, I encourage "you" to make your own Time person of the year cover.

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  8. Wow! A whole week of conversation on our First Freedom. Yay and thanks. I'm a First Freedom First supporter, and as of today a first time Blue Gal commenter!

    First Freedom First is important to me because it is an umbrella for so many issues I care about: reproductive freedom, marriage equality, real science, good public schools. I have four kids, and I want them to have as many or more freedoms as I have today. If we lose our religious freedom, we will lose them all.

    “Arthur” says it so well in this 1 ½ minute video at the FFF website. If I knew how to do it, I’d make a nice link for you, but I don’t so go to www.firstfreedomfirst.org/videoplayer/dnt, to watch “Democracy Not Theocracy” by Arthur.

    Thanks so much for blogging about this and for focusing on the individual subjects in the coming days.

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  9. Anonymous10:59 AM

    Blue Gal--

    Your point about Christians being unaware of their history is right on. In some sects of the religion, and with respect to certain facts, this ignorance takes on an almost willful bent. How can an fundamentalist believe in the literal truth of the Bible if she or he knows the processes by which the book was written and cobbled together? Other aspects of Christian history are simply inconvenient to the "dominionist" strains in theocratic Christianity - if I think about the fact that Christians were are are a minority in certain places and times, how does a dominionist justify imposing his religion (or version of the religion) on everyone through government coercion? The faith of thoughtful Christians becomes all the more fascinating (and I'd argue, deeper) when placed in historical context - with full knowledge of Christianity's warts, lumps and imperfections, people still believe. That indicates to me that they've found something in the religion that transcends the ephemeral advantage Christianity currently enjoys in American culture.

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  10. Blue Gal, congratulations on your award ... and you are MY Time magazine person of the year for focusing on the important subject of religious liberty and separation of church and state.

    Separation of church and state is the thread that connects many of the issues I care about -- reproductive rights, LGBT civil rights and so many more.

    Thanks for starting this important discussion. I encourage everyone to visit the First Freedom First website, www.firstfreedomfirst.org, and sign the petition. It's important that we let our elected officials know how important the separation of church and state, and religious liberty, are to us!

    BAC

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  11. By the way, Wills also points out that if you persecute gays, you're persecuting Jesus. Just saying.)

    By the way, if you embrace and celebrate sin, you're 'persecuting' Jesus' teachings. Or more likely, you make a mockery of His work on the Cross. Not a good place to be Blue Gal.

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I really look forward to hearing what you have to say. I do moderate comments, but non-spam comments will take less than 24 hours to appear... Thanks!