Monday, October 6, 2008

Congress shall make NO law . . .

Crushing all deceivers, mashing non-believers
Never-ending potency
Hungry violence-seeker feeding off the weaker
Breeding on insanity

Smashing through the boundaries, lunacy has found me
Cannot stop the battery.

-- Metallica


Believe it or not . . . separation of Church and State is a good idea. This idea IS WRITTEN into the US Constitution as part of the FIRST Amendment. This idea GRANTS freedom of religion -- along with freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

The above mentioned freedoms are among the most important in American society. Suppress those rights and you can kiss the "land of the free" goodbye.

Why?

Because . . . people cannot have true freedom if they cannot express themselves according to their own will or desires.

See . . . the religious environment of our founding fathers etched the importance of this concept into their minds. Back in England, you had better align your religious beliefs with the ruler of the day or -- off with your head! Rulers did what they wanted and ruled because they said that God put them on the throne. Got something negative to say about your king? Well, you've just said it about God's sense of judgment, too! Then the king and clergy introduced you to your divine punishment -- a guillotine, flaming steak, or boiling oil, to name only a few. And those tortures were their way of giving you a "going away" party while on your way to enjoy your eternal punishment in hell.

Ouch!

Our founding fathers clearly recognized this problem and didn't want to recreate the same environment after framing our new government.

After all, why do you think they left England in the first place?

Even the pilgrims left because they wanted freedom of worship . . . not because England didn't have ANY Christians there. They weren't leaving to evangelize a new world. They were leaving to be left alone.

The founding fathers understood that variance in belief had to be tolerated in order for everyone to have freedom. The Catholic needs to tolerate the Protestant. The Protestant needs to tolerate the Quaker. The Deist has to tolerate the Theist. And yes, the Atheist deserve tolerance, too. Each gets to practice his or her faith (or non-faith) . . . but none can force this on the other. This must exist not only among citizens, but with the governmental administration as well.

After all, what is the true purpose of our government? I propose that Government's purpose is first and foremost to facilitate the power of rule that belongs to the citizens. Yes -- the citizen's power. Government doesn't rule us, exactly. We elect representatives that are supposed to make our voice valid. If they do a poor job, we fire them by voting for someone else! Government also enforces the laws made and protect the citizens from outside and inside forces that threaten our private property and our personal rights. But, government cannot make any such law that overturns our power as people who govern ourselves. Government is not permitted to strip away our "inalienable" rights. In exchange for this, we support the government with taxes and obey the laws that are enforce by the government -- as long as they are reasonable and truly protect the people at large. Many citizens volunteer for the army that the Government funds through our tax dollars. We give, the Government gives. We support each other, but the people rule themselves through the Government by electing leaders. Keep in mind, any government can go astray. The founding fathers understood this too, and wrote into the Constitution the right to protest and assembly that we might bring grievances to our leaders. After all, government facilitate our power to rule ourselves -- they don't rule us as their people.

Government, however, is not about the business of regulating the morality of the culture. The government is then encroaching on the privacy of the citizens and has overstepped it's bounds. Our founding fathers confirm this ideal by making our government secular and non-Christian. Doesn't matter what the religious orientation was for any of the founding members of our government. They ultimately agreed to make our government secular when they added this statement to our Constitution:

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.
First Amendment, US Constitution (you know, the Law of our land -- if you're a US Citizen)

Congress is the only branch of government that can make laws. (Though, recently, it seems, some Presidential administrations want to push this envelope. This is very dangerous. Never mind your party affiliation). The First Amendment bans Congress from allowing any faith based organization to have laws made in it's favor -- nor can laws be made to suppress the exercise of any religion. These ideas can clash at times and the lines can get blurry. But, a good way to draw the line is to understand that religion is private. Church is private. Government can't stick it's nose in a religious organization's business (unless they are harming citizens against their will. Then, such a religious group has violated the rights of others and should be stopped). But, Church has no business trying to use Government to create a culture that reflects their beliefs.

Not fair. That violates the free will of everyone else. Change the culture through evangelism!

By the way . . . didn't Jesus say that his kingdom was not of this world?

Look at it this way . . . is our nation a theocracy?

Theocracy -- A government ruled by or subject to religious authority.

In other word's -- God's rule (or his 'clergy').

That won't do. Too many people disagree on who God is (or if he is). Christians can't agree among themselves if God is a trinity or only one person. How can they agree with any particular flavor of religion taking over our government and imposing rule? Instead of having two political parties, we'd have a party for every denomination of religious faith.

Just having two political parties makes my head hurt!

But, never fear. Our government is NOT a theocracy.

Old Testament Israel -- that was a theocracy.

Modern day Arab states ruled by radical Muslims -- those are examples of a theocracy.

But the United States of America . . . now that's a Republic.

A Republic is:
  • A political order whose head of state is not a monarch and in modern times is usually a president.
  • A nation that has such a political order.
  • A political order in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who are entitled to vote for officers and representatives responsible to them.
  • A nation that has such a political order.
  • An autonomous or partially autonomous political and territorial unit belonging to a sovereign federation.
  • A group of people working as equals in the same sphere or field

The supreme power lies in the citizens who are entitled to vote for officers. Not God. Not clergy. Not any religion. The citizens -- they are the ones who are sovereign.

Religion has a tendency to breed intolerance. We've seen it in history time and time again. And Again . . . that's why people came to the 'New World' in the first place. Religion breeds intolerance because faith is subjective, yet the rules of religion are often absolute. So without question, someone will not believe in your faith. Never mind if they don't believe in God. If they don't believe in your faith -- what's the difference if they are atheist or Hindu? They don't believe in your God the way you do. Even some people who call themselves Christian are not considered saved by other Christian groups. So, who gets to impose their faith on the world?

This absolutism also tends to cause religious organizations to have deep influence on their follower's lives. Intolerance and absolutism that aims to dictate how you should live so that you can make God happy (or is it all for the clergy? Hmmmm). Regardless, involving your life in a religious faith is a personal decision. Government should NOT pressure any of the citizens to do this. And the interesting part is . . . the Bill of Rights cannot be repealed. So, no act of Congress or vote of the people can erase this ideal.

Government simply does not need the power to rule people's lives in such a manner.

The USA is a Republic -- remember?

I fear, however that our Republic is slowly eroding away. People can become quite corrupt and the citizenry of any country can be lulled to sleep.

I fear that a religion of sorts is grasping the citizens at large and is causing them to forfeit the power of rule into the hands of corrupted entities who influence our government officials.

And believe it or not . . . I'm not referring to the so called 'conservative Christian Right'.

I'm referring to extreme, unquestioning, patriotism.

The religious kind.

Don't misunderstand me! Patriotism is good. We need it. Loving one's country is wonderful. We should be involved and we should care. We should come together as one and be proud of our nation. We should feel fortune and gratitude for our realized rights and freedoms. We should have deep respect for those who died for our country and died to protect our freedom.

Patriotism does not require believing our country is completely perfect. The USA has some blemishes in her past. You can still be a patriot while acknowledging these past (and yes, present) faults.

For example:

  • In the expansion of the USA, Native Americans were slaughtered. For restitution, the Native Americans were given tiny plots of land so they can be pseudo-sovereign nations. (Gee, thanks.)


  • Navajo Indians were being assimilated into American culture and being forced to forget their language in new public school programs. That is, until the US military realized the Germans never head of the Navajo language. Then, they wanted the Navajo to use their language for encrypted communication in World War II.

  • The US build concentration camps to hold Japanese immigrants during World War II.

  • US leaders planned a State sponsored terrorism* scheme called Operation Norwoods. The plan was discovered before it was implemented and people were held accountable.
* In other words, US leaders were plotting to stage the hijacking of a US airplane or bomb US buildings. US citizens could very well become casualties so that the people would become upset and rally behind the government in a show of patriotism and readily support war.


  • When Hussein rebelled against US interests, the Gulf War broke out. (And I thought we were trying to liberate the people of Kuwait). Eight years after that, US leaders end up in Iraq again**. Rumsfeld is in charge of the military strike that ultimately captures Hussein and has him tried for war crimes and executed. (I'm not saying Hussein was a nice guy . . . but, US leaders weren't being too nice, either).
** Ironic that Rumsfeld was sent by Ronald Reagan -- whose Vice-President was George H. Bush. And years later, the Gulf War happened; George H. Bush was President. Eight years later, the Iraqi War happens after 911; George W. Bush (H. Bush's son!!!) was President! And Rumsfield was Secretary of Defense for President George W. Bush at this time.

All coincidence?
  • The Iraqi war was launched under false pretenses. Alleged weapons that could endanger the US were said to be horded by Hussein before his capture. Military troops were sent in and toppled the Government. No weapons were found. Then, leaders started to say that we invaded Iraq to free the Iraqi people. Again, patriotism is used to get people's minds off of the scandal. Our love for freedom and our love for our troops gets exploited.

That's enough for now. You get the picture.

But, hey, I still love this country. And I deeply honor our troops. But, I am ashamed of some parts of US history. But, the strength of the US is that we can freely discuss these things and hold our leaders accountable.

Unless, the people become too patriotic to tolerate listening to the truth.

All the things I mentioned above -- all verifiable fact. None of it is left wing, wild-eyed liberal, hogwash. This problem transcends political parties. Both political parties will exploit hyper-patriotism.

Admitting America's imperfections is not unpatriotic. This is important to understand.

Lutherans realize that their name sake, Martin Luther, did evil things against the Jews and spread antisemitism so hard that Hitler was inspired by it. Lutherans acknowledge this and denounce this evil. Does that make them any less Lutheran?

Extreme, unquestioning acceptance to any leadership is like being in a religious cult. This type of patriotism allows corrupted officials to keep the populous in the palm of their hands. This is a type of brainwashing.

I did say that Christian conservatives were not the religion we needed to fear most in attempting to abduct our government. But, I do think that they are influenced the most by this blind, extremist patriotism. And, many religious leaders exploit this notion as do politicians. Mixing extreme patriotism with faith can cause people to follow God and country -- no matter what. Even if both 'God' and country both get caught doing something evil.

People forfeit their power to voice grievance when they refuse to examine the governments actions for the sake of patriotism. Such people will think the country is never wrong and the leadership shouldn't be questioned. They will support every war, fearing they are defaming our precious troops and spiting on our freedom. This is not the case. You can disapprove of a particular war and still honor and support our troops.

Yes, disapproving of a war and still honoring our troops can still be patriotic. Acknowledging the faults of our nation and still being proud of our country can be separate feelings within the same patriotic citizen.

Church and State need to be kept separate like that, too.
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