Saturday, June 23, 2012

Get Outta My Pants!

Isn't the notion odd that someone would dare forbid you the use of contraception?

The Catholic Church is claiming that President Obama's health care plan will force them to purchase and provide insurance that will offer medical features (contraception) which are against their faith. In so doing, this violates their rights to practice their faith.

I thought about this a bit. Maybe the Catholics have a good point. If their leaders think contraception is evil, they shouldn't be forced to purchase it or use it at their own free will.

But for all the ideals that their leadership attempts to unjustly impose, I think they cancel out their own point.

I noticed an organization named Amac who supports the Catholic Church's official stand against ObamaCare. They sent out a message to their members encouraging them to purchase arm bands and where them on certain days in order to vocalize their support of the Church. In that message, they quote and emphasize a potion of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

They really hone in on "prohibiting the free exercise thereof"-- which is extremely important, I must admit.

But, they seem to overlook the clause that balances out that statement-- which is also extremely important-- "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion".

Nope. No religious faith gets any special favors, attention, or exemptions by Congress when laws are made. The laws made shouldn't care what any establishment of religion thinks about them provided the free exercise of faith remain.

But don't get carried away. If the tenants of your faith include world domination, well . . . I don't think the Bill of Rights will cover that one . . .

That's why faith is a private thing . . . just like the inside of my pants.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Amazing Grace

The Southern Baptist Church has elected Rev. Fred Luter as it's first African American president. To me, this is amazing because I didn't even know the SBC had any African Americans members to begin with-- let alone, one to elect as it's president!

To their credit, the SBC has acknowledged that flirting with racism and the Confederacy was a mistake and they admit that racism shouldn't have any place in their congregations today. They want to change their image now and embrace diversity because their membership is currently on the decline.

I can't help but wonder, though . . .

When did African Americans start joining the SBC?

Is that when membership started to decline?

Is this a case of white flight?

OK. I'm sorry-- that was a bit tacky.

To be fair, SBC statistics suggest that the decline started happening before African Americans (and other minorities) started to attend SBC congregations. So, I don't think any so called "white flight" is going on just yet.

Isn't it interesting, though, that the decline of membership (and funds) jarred the SBC into finally realizing they needed to change their "unwelcoming" image?

I never thought I'd live to see an African American president. But this goes beyond that because I never even thought to consider an African American member of the SBC-- let alone a president!

My, how times are changing!

Just Keep on Waiting

I let my mom and mother-in-law guilt me into going to my old church this past Father's day. Deep down inside though, I think that's my last time going there; although, I haven't voiced this to my family, yet.

Certain elements of the pastor's message really irked me. For starters, he stated that the sort of people who want results before they can ever be convinced would have a hard time being Christians. Christians need faith, he asserted. And he defined faith as trusting and believing without any results or evidence. If you need evidence or results, Christianity isn't for you because you don't have faith-- that is, according to the pastor's sermon.

I was also bothered by how he constantly insinuated that Christians have happier marriages and home life. He frequently suggested that believers always had "blessings" following them while disobedient Christians and unsaved people would always have trouble as their constant companion. I particularly take issue with that idea. Having been Christian, I don't see that trouble has followed me now that I am atheist. In many ways, my life has become far easier. Yes, I still have problems . . . but that was true while living as a Christian, too.

I think what bothered me most from his sermon, though was his key point-- his encouragement to "just keep waiting". He encouraged the congregation to just keep waiting for Jesus to return . . . just keep waiting for God to turn around a situation that seemed impossible. Just keep waiting for God to reward you for your faithfulness.

Just keep waiting.

Then, he gave an analogy of a school child waiting for a bus. That child never leaves the bus stop until the bus comes-- even if the bus seems to be running late. Just keep waiting-- that bus is sure to come.

For as many times as my kids have missed the bus, this was a poorly chosen analogy.

The bus has passed by my house without me hearing it. So, I still send my kids out. The bus (of course) will never come. At some point, I've need to understand that we've missed the bus. At that point, I must take matters into my own hands.

But, you may say-- Ah, the bus did come . . . you just missed it.

Well, there have been a few occasions where I know I was on time for the bus, but it never came to pick up my kids. (Sort of like in Waiting for Godot).

Buses do break down, you know. This has happened one or twice. We also had a situation where the bus driver stepped off the bus between stops for some reason. He twisted his ankle while going down the steps, fell and tore a tendon. He couldn't finish his route. Another bus never came; I had to take my kids to school myself.

You know how I found out the bus wasn't coming? I looked at the clock and compared it to the time the bus usually arrives. That time had long passed and I realized I needed to take matters into my own hands.

Influencing people to mindlessly wait for anything is regressive at best. Discouraging the desire for supporting evidence is folly and worse than being regressive.

It's actually quite dangerous.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Wits' End

About a month ago (from this post), my daughter plainly and flatly told her older cousin that we simply don't believe in god in our household.

At first, I got rather worried, but then I came to the realization that her cousin (my niece) probably won't make a stink of it. And so far-- she hasn't.

However, that incident forced the question of whether remaining a closeted atheist has any real benefit.

Summer vacation began and my kids started spending their days at my mom's house. The kids surprised my wife and me one evening by telling us that my mother was trying to make them memorize bible versus.

Now, we're strongly considering putting them in a secular summer program. But, something like that will be hard to find in Jesusland and we don't have tons of cash to spend on summer camp.

The question of whether remaining a closeted atheist comes up again. My wife becomes a bit flustered about having to hide what we really feel; I worry about how sick my seventy-four year old mother will become if we told her. I worry about how our relationship could fall apart just near the end of her life.

Then, both my mother and mother-in-law start really putting social pressure on us to come to church-- at least for Father's day. We didn't make Mother's day . . . my mother-in-law was quite cross. There was no gift, gesture, or convenience that made up for our missing church. Her daughters skipped church to cook her an amazing meal to eat after church service. She almost didn't come over to enjoy it out of disappointment at our absence from service.

And again-- we wonder if staying in the closet is even worth it.

I grow tired of the default expectation that everyone is a Christian. I grow tired of people compelling us to participate in an activity that-- for me-- feels like a waste of time.

I don't want to make other people stop being a Christian-- I just want them to stop trying to make me into one. Ah . . . but there's the problem. The very nature of being a Christian for many believers, is to faithfully spread the Gospel. These ideas are not mutually exclusive and poses a difficult problem for those who want to simply be left alone.

I'm at my wits' end.