What is your version of Jesus doing today?

FlagWaiverBack in the 1980s that famous phrase “What Would Jesus Do?” seemed to hold potential to revive a certain sort of mainstream Christian hope that youth would embrace the man we call the Son of God. Yet it too died of overexposure.

Which means we’re left with a Post-Modern sort of Jesus to leverage into cultural memes. That has produced a wide range of beliefs about Jesus and versions of his ministry and message to consider.

Here are a few versions alive and kicking today:

The Evangelical Jesus

The word “evangelical” means to share the word. So evangelicals in the Post Modern world have spread themselves thin trying to promote their version of Jesus to the world. The Evangelical Jesus is now part Economist through evangelical promotion of the Prosperity Gospel. He is also part Politician through alliances with conservatives during election cycles. Finally, the Evangelical Jesus also functions as the Great Decider in situations where Evangelicals determine who should and should not be included in the Kingdom of God. That means the Evangelical Jesus can be used as a tool for discrimination. So if you happen to be black, or gay, or female, or poor, depending on the whim of Evangelical Jesus, you might not get to come to the party. All this is justified under the umbrella of sharing the Word as evangelicals see it.

The Evangelical Version of Jesus keeps quite busy these days trying to separate the wheat from the chaff of society. 

The Fundamentalist Jesus

It’s a little hard to separate the Fundamentalist Jesus from the Evangelical Jesus at times. The watershed between the two can typically be found in the confessional language of fundamentalism. This is sort of a code language formed around key Bible passages, but it all has a shortcut that usually starts with the phrase, “Are you a believer?” From that point a stream of confessional words should tumble out of your mouth in cornucopia fashion. “He is my personal savior. I believe Jesus is the Son of God, who died on the cross and was raised from the dead after three days. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God and will come to judge the evil and the dead.” Of course there are subtle variations of The Fundamentalist Jesus at work in the world these days, but the principle priority is to teach and require this confessional language and use it like a Morse Code to recognize all those who want to be embraced by the Fundamentalist Jesus.

The Fundamentalist Version of Jesus spends most of his days listening to Moody Bible Institute broadcasts where silky-voiced radio hosts spew confessional language into microphones. 

The Creationist Jesus

Way back when the Bible was written and Jesus was just a twinkle in the Holy Spirit’s eye, God somehow decided that things in the world should never change except by cataclysmic events such as floods, plagues and genocidal Kings who followed the Will of God to the letter by savaging entire populations of people who worshipped false idols. This rather fixed version of history in which nothing happens by chance is how Creationist Jesus prefers to conduct business. That means he was actually there in some form when God commanded Adam to name all the animals, plants, insects and other living things on the earth, which all apparently grew and lived in the Middle East so that Adam could name them properly. Then they all reconvened for a reunion with Noah so that he could rescue sample DNA from around the world while the flood deposited millions of fossils of deceased creatures in neatly organized layers so that humans could discover them a mere 10,000 years later. The Creationist Jesus also apparently hung out with dinosaurs.

The Creationist Version of Jesus has been busy raising money for a temple to creationism built in Kentucky. 

The Conservative Jesus

There are some who believe that one cannot be anything but a conservative and a Christian. That would be a really great thing if only Jesus himself believed it. Because Jesus spent the latter part of his earthly ministry castigating the conservatives of his day for their rigid, legalistic belief systems that turned scripture into law and caused people all kinds of suffering. That leaves us with a really interesting figure to worship these days, and the Conservative Jesus as a result is little more than a figurehead for a doctrine that claims supply-side economics, sexual abstinence, distrust of science and a brand of fascist newscasting are indicators of a true belief in Christ. Conservative Jesus would not recognize the acts of the Good Samaritan because one never knows who is really disguised as a Muslim. Conservative Jesus might have a few black friends, but most of them would sit silent in social situations like Clarence Thomas or else crow about the liberation of a few wealthy blacks as indicators that there is no such thing as racial oppression. Conservative Jesus might even secretly wear a Confederate tattoo on his right buttock and engage in Concealed Carry in case those Democrat Pharisees show up to take away the guns of him and his disciples.

Conservative Jesus is a badass with ripped abs and a glock to boot. Don’t cross him. 

The Republican Jesus

Every two to four years, the Republican Jesus is trotted out like a Cigar Store Indian to raise money for anti-abortion candidates and people who like to de-fund science and programs that benefit the poor. Republican Jesus waves the flag a lot and tends to like wars because they benefit the economy and a few very well situated white men that have ties to companies with catering services for the military. In some case these companies actually become the military, in which case the Republican Jesus leads rallies to convince both the real military and the mercenary military they are fighting for the honor of Republican Jesus, who really likes a Good War and knows a Bad War when he sees one. Which isn’t very often, because all wars started by America are necessarily Good Wars. Republican Jesus also tends to ignore the cries of the poor because the Bible clearly states that one shall not spoil the child by denying them the opportunity to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. And if that doesn’t work, Republican Jesus uses those bootstraps to whip the poor into shape.

Republican Jesus really can’t be bothered to see you right now. There’s an election in 2016 you know. 

The Democrat Jesus

On the surface, Democrat Jesus seems to side with many of the principles held dear by liberals who read the Bible. Social programs that help the poor and elderly are often supported by Democrats. So Democrat Jesus looks much like the real thing. Yet in many cases Democrat Jesus is a bit more like the confused disciple Judas, who was a traitor to Jesus by turning him in for a bag of coins. This confuses people about Democrat Jesus, and makes them question the faith of men like Barack Obama, who speaks pretty clearly about helping the poor and the disadvantages, but then spends time at the country club or patting the heads of Wall Street bankers who want to turn government into a collection station for annuities. Instead of flipping the tables of the tax collectors in the temple like Jesus did, Democrat Jesus shakes hands and asks if the temple is too big to fail. If the answer is yes, Democrat Jesus turns to his followers and says, “Let’s move on! Nothing to see here!”

Democrat Jesus is occupying Wall Street, but only for lunch with a few Jewish bankers and the opportunity to stay in a house out on the Hamptons for the weekend. 

The Liberal Jesus

Well, we always seem to be getting somewhere when Liberal Jesus rides into the town on the back of a donkey. Liberal Jesus wants to genuinely help the poor. Even to the point of re-distribution of wealth, Liberal Jesus calls cultures to account for their sins of ignoring the neediest. Yet even Liberal Jesus gets a little distracted sometimes. It’s really confusing for Liberal Jesus to figure out the abortion issue, for example. No one likes killing babies of course. So Liberal Jesus suggests using birth control, but the Bible has plenty of warnings about the dangers of casual sex. So Liberal Jesus has to do all kinds of verbal gymnastics about that, and about gays as well because the Bible has traditionally been interpreted to ban adultery and teens feeling each other up (and more) in the back seats of cars. So Liberal Jesus is constantly busy trying to convince the world that he actually stands for something other than doing any bloody thing you want to do.

Liberal Jesus is alternately cringing and praising the books of Bishop John Shelby Spong.

The Genesis Fix: A Repair Manual for Faith in the Modern Age

The Genesis Fix: A Repair Manual for Faith in the Modern Age

We’ve reached the point where some people are too Christian to function

mean-girls-1In that cinematic pillar of conscience titled “Mean Girls” starring a still-functional Lindsay Lohan, there is a marvelous scene in which the male homosexual character (Damian) in the movie is the subject of commentary by some of his close friends. “He’s almost too gay to function,” someone says.

What that means is that his gayness places so much emphasis on consideration of fashion, behavior and grooming it is almost impossible to move around in the world for fear of breaching some gay standard.

Yes, gays have standards. Plenty of them in fact. If you ever stumbled on the show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, you might have witnessed the transformation for formerly slobbly, careless men into creatures that actually knew how to dress and groom themselves so that women (not men) would be attracted to them.

Yet there are no cliches that apply to all gay men or women. The large population of gay and transgender people is this world is too large and diverse to make generalities about.

We can be thankful that society is beginning to appreciate the contributions of gay people to professions and industries of all types. That’s because the last 20 years have produced an increasing openness about homosexuality.

Of course this trend has been resisted by those who still view homosexuality as a lifestyle or a choice rather than what it is: a manifestation of the biological, emotional and psychological diversity found in the human species.

But because there are scriptures that single out homosexuality as a sin, some people take those words verbatim and claim that there is no way society can tolerate or accept homosexuality in any way, shape or form. Some scholars such as Bishop John Shelby Spong have made the case that the Apostle Paul was actually a repressed homosexual. Repression never seems to come out well. It’s a highly dysfunctional aspect of social frabz-lisa-biron-zealot-christian-lawyer-for-antigay-alliance-defense--16e4e7behavior. Often it turns out those most opposed to a social issue are those who struggle with some other form of repression in themselves.

They are too repressed to function.

Now that brand of confrontation is coming to a head. The Supreme Court of the United States is considering cases pertaining to gay marriage. Never mind that the Constitution already states that religion has no say in the matter. The guarantee in the Establishment Clause says it clearly: the nation shall make no law establishing religion as the law of the land, nor preventing its free exercise.

Some people insist that second section of the clause proves the right to oppose and repress the right to gay marriage. They claim it imposes restriction on their beliefs.

It so happens that conservative Christians also claim that teaching evolution in public schools is also a breach of their beliefs.

Yet how convenient it is that there are Christians out there preaching a prosperity Gospel on claims that God wants us all to be rich! Well, the Bible is full of indictments on the worship of money. So which is the truth?

Meanwhile the Catholic Church has for decades banned use of birth control among its members. Yet some 90% or more of its members ignore this dictum.

See, there’s this problem with Christianity and the functionality of society. Since there is no single interpretation of the Bible accepted by all Christians, it is impossible to make exceptions for all variations in interpretation of the Bible. Otherwise we would not have national holidays or even celebrate Christmas according to some branches of Christianity. We would all be forced to consider the strictures laid out in a set of golden plates if the Church of Latter Day Saints were to have its way as well.

That is why the Founding Fathers made plain that no religion can define the activities of the nation or state. They knew that people become too Christian to function at some point. Unable to distinguish between their personal beliefs and the law of the nation, they too often choose to impose their personal beliefs and concepts of God on others, sometimes forcefully.

Christianity really is too Christian to function as the law of the land.

How to stop being a sociopath

Sociopath: a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience.

The Internet and social media are a wonderful thing. Usually. But the capacity for using the Internet to also socialize anger, fears or repressed emotions is a seemingly new phenomenon in human history.

All it takes, given ready access to content or material that reflects the anger, fear or repressed emotions of an anti-social society is a platform to receive and share affirmation of one’s most harmful beliefs and sociopathy can propagate itself completely at will.

Drug TestingOrganizations and individuals that understand the need of fellow sociopaths to share their angst-ridden and aggressive feelings quickly learn to produce memes and other dog-whistle messaging to propagate the hate. At left is just one example.

Notice that this meme starts off with an invitation to anger. It appears to be aimed at people that would disagree with all that follows. But really, it is a meme designed to cultivate anger in all those that would agree with the nasty claims to follow.

The supposed meaning behind this meme is to hold welfare recipients accountable when it comes to using illegal drugs. The general implication here is that welfare recipients are too lazy to work for themselves and sit around using drugs all day. It’s interesting to

Source: Statisticbrain.com

Source: Statisticbrain.com

note from the statistics shown that the number of Americans on welfare is only a little greater than Americans that are unemployed. The number of Americans on food stamps is the more interesting statistic, with more than 41M receiving that form of government aid. What these statistics more accurately reveal is a society struggling to make ends meet in a culture where income inequality has grown progressively worse over the last few decades. Income inequality

The transfer of wealth from the earning potential of the middle class that once consisted of labor union families and other good jobs has produced a nation where there literally is no money available to a large percentage of its citizens. The reasons for this are manifold, but at least one notable factor has been the export of manufacturing and industrial jobs overseas. This migration of capital out of the United States has included a disinvestment in infrastructure maintenance, another source of good jobs and income for millions of Americans.

So it should be no real surprise that people have turned to government help in response to the almost aggressive and often ignorant removal of income sources from much of the population.

The ironic consequence is that the people who have been victimized by these trends seek explanations in the wrong places, resulting in perverse alliances and even greater anger that builds on itself.

Wage-earners that still make a decent living express anger at paying taxes for those who seem to live “on the dole.” These include welfare and food stamp recipients. A new target for anger emerged as well as a product of Obamacare, in which government-drawn subsidies are offered to help pay for health care. The determining factor is how much an individual makes. At a level of income below $41,000 or so, subsidies become available.

This feeds the idea that wealthier citizens are paying for the subsistence of millions of other people. The conservative meme on this topic is that people ought to fend for themselves. Programs such as Social Security (actually an insurance program to which people pay premiums) and Medicaid are other favorite targets. As part of the New Deal, the Roosevelt-era response to the Great Depression, these programs have galled the Right for more than 70 years. It’s all part of the perception that government has turned into a nursemaid for America.

Symptoms of a greater problem

But these programs are more symptomatic than causal purposes of government debt and spending. When a nation refuses to consider that its economic policies have transferred wealth in outrageous ways to a very small percentage of the populace who happen to be exempted in many cases from paying into social programs, it’s no wonder things have gotten out of balance.

So it takes a sociopath to ignore the reality of income equality and project anger on those victimized by economic policies that reduce living wage, eliminate jobs and foster age and racial discrimination.

This sociopathy evidenced itself during the most recent economic downtown when a number of companies announced (rather proudly it seemed) that they would not hire anyone that had been out of work more than six months. And the predominant advice for all those over the age of fifty years old is that when seeking a job one should hide their age.

Worshipping money

All this is evidence of the dog-eat-dog sociopathy that civilized culture is supposed to avoid. It is now abetted by a brand of so-called Christianity that worships money and prosperity as signs that God favors one person over another. That same brand of Christianity is closely aligned with political allies who favor trickle-down economics and other disproven claims that making the wealthy even wealthier will provide prosperity for all.

The lead sociopaths in America today include one Paul Ryan, the ultimately conflicted conservative Christian who also claims to worship Ayn Rand as well. His anger and contradictory beliefs are evident in everything the man does. Every budget the man conceives is based on cuts to social programs. He can’t seem to imagine any other form of governance.

Dog whistle racism

There is also a dog-whistle racist tone to the meme that poor black people are the foundation of all of America’s problems. Those statistics we reviewed about welfare show a different picture, with just as many whites on social aid as blacks. And those nasty immigrant Mexicans that sociopathic Americans love to hate? Well only half as many use welfare as both blacks and whites.

The only way to stop being a sociopath is to stop relying on what you’re told about the source of America’s problems and get a real grip on what’s happening in the economy. America is being raped by corporatization of its laws, its rights and its morality. That is not to say corporations are bad, or that free market capitalism is bad either. But when those economic tools are used to exploit people, resources and society, then they deserve to be held accountable.

One can only stop being a sociopath by moving beyond this dynamic that gives the appearance of prosperity while impoverishing so many. A certain Jesus Christ warned against the tendency to worship the pursuit and gain of money as a sign of moral insight. Perhaps he recognized that sociopathy finds both a purpose and an expression in economic inequality. And he was right.

So stop being a sociopath. Feed the poor and hungry. Help the disadvantaged. Defend the meek. Love your enemy. And love your neighbor as your self.

That’s what’s really golden.

Government isn’t the problem. It’s people who see government as the problem that are the problem.

Let’s talk about the nature of predictive behavior and self-fulfilling prophecies for a moment. We can start with the famous quote by Ronald Reagan as evidence that self-predictive statements result in self-fulfilling prophecies. Reagan once said, “In the present crisis, government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem.”

You can define a crisis any way you like. That’s the real problem. And when you go around manufacturing crises for the sake of getting your way on this issue or that, then government can be used to aid and abet the wishes of those who have not the best interests of the people in mind. They have their own issues in mind.

Often those issues have deeply conflicting roots. That’s why it feels like a crisis is at hand. When people see a situation that feels like it is outside their control, especially their political or ideological control, they easily call it a crisis.

Around such false premises are most crises formed. Yet what one political party calls a crisis, the other political party calls an investment in progress, or prevention of demise.

So the argument goes round and round. Meanwhile the claim that government itself is the problem gathers powerful meaning. That’s because politicians and religious leaders excel at leveraging that argument to their own benefit. How is it that someone in a government position can dare make the claim that, as Reagan once stated, “government is the problem.” If government is the greatest problem of the nation, what is the nation at all?

That’s like saying religion is the problem with Christianity, or that Christianity is the problem with religion. It doesn’t matter which way you say it. It’s using the existence of one thing to absolve the responsibility of the other.

You may recall for example that Jesus was not a Christian. He could not be, because as he lived there was not yet a symbolic act that created the faith upon which absolution of sins was based. He was both the egg and the chicken. So that argument is settled once and for all.

If we don’t accept that government is also both the egg and the chicken, then we can’t believe in its power to conduct the business of the people. Sure, one can argue about the so-called “size” of government and its supposed taxing powers. You can argue about its impacts on the lives of ordinary citizens. You can argue about the corruption that goes on within so many governments included and especially the United States of America, which despite its claims of exceptionalism is one of the biggest terrorist states ever known to humankind.

Without the deep confession that it’s the people who see government as the problem that are the problem, they are free to conduct themselves any way they like because it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. That’s how we get the Oliver Norths and G. Gordon Liddy’s of this world doing what they like because they see themselves above and outside the constrictions of government. They are held to no accounting because their view of government is unaccountable. Same goes for corrupt governors like Illinois ‘Rod Blagojevich, who saw government positions as a commodity to be traded and sold. Or President George W. Bush, who won a second term by a small margin and claimed that he earned political capital that he could spend at will.

All such people are the vexing scourge of good government. Yet they seem to be the same people who somewhere along the line came to view government as a limiting factor on their ego and their will.

It all stems from worldviews founded on less than moral principles and understanding of the Bible and the Constitution. When we supplant personhood with notions that corporations have the same voice as individual citizens, we compromise the real meaning of government. That is how it becomes the problem.

By contrast using government to promote equal rights, fair commerce and healthy (but not exploitative) trade are signs that government is the solution to human need.

Even Jesus said “Give unto Caesar what it Caesars.” He understood that some form of government was necessary for human enterprise. But he did not necessarily approve of Roman rule and the type of authority expressed by the Romans, which disrespected all those who were not already Roman citizens by birth or adoption.

And that’s the difference. Government isn’t the problem. It is the brutal, manipulative character of the people running governments that is always the problem.

How the Republican Party will blame liberals for climate change

FlagWaiverIt seems almost impossible to think about. Yet one day soon all those who spend time denying the fact of man-made climate change will embrace it as a way to blame liberals for ruining the world.

Here’s how it will go down. There will be a conference somewhere amongst all those that have spent the last 10 years hating Al Gore for stating the inconvenient truth. And the financiers of phonily constructed research that denies the existence of global climate change will suddenly find ways to fund credible science because it serves an all new, entirely political purpose.

That purpose will be to blame liberals, especially environmentalists, for anthropogenic climate change.

There will still be an anti-science motive behind the science climate change deniers use to suddenly reverse positions on the idea that humans can effect climatologically disastrous levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

That motive will be to bring religion to the forefront of the so-called argument over climate change. Religious conservatives will contend that it is the policies of environmentalists that have gone against the will of God. They will claim that it is the arrogance of all those seeking to outsmart the Creator by imposing manmade laws and environmental regulations that has led to our pending climate disaster.

Predictable outcomes

Playing righteousness for political favors and power is how conservatives always operate in this world. It doesn’t matter that there is no logic behind the argument that conservation laws and international governmental agreements to reduce carbon emissions are the cause of global warming.

What matters to conservatives is framing the argument under terminology they can control. That’s where religion comes in so handy. They will point to passages from the bible where people defying the will of God have suffered punishment. The exile of Israeli people to Egypt and to Babylonia will likely serve as the apocryphal bludgeon used by conservatives to illustrate how God punishes those who try to think for themselves and “fall out of worship” with God.

Falling away from God

That means conservatives will rally all the talking points they use to assail what they call liberalism. Which is in fact nothing more than guaranteeing basic human rights. But that has never gone over well with conservatives. For a long time it was persecution of black people that occupied their attention. Then came the 1960s and social revolution. Then women’s rights became the enemy. Now tolerance of gays will be cited as a sign that America, which conservatives brand a Christian nation, has fallen away from the ways of God. For sure there will be a bit of apocalyptic fervor and imagery thrown in for good measure. Just to appeal to the frantically preoccupied base that believes the end of the world is coming about anyway. Nothing like a bit of threat and lost hope to motivate those who see the Bible as a set of bookends with Genesis and Revelation providing the sudden beginning and end of the world. How very convenient it all fits together.

Murderous ways

Never mind that our endless wars of choice and murderous habits of the CIA and other secretive organizations within government do far more evil and murderous things in the world. None of that matters because, in the minds of those who believe in American exceptionalism, none of that comes home to roost. We’re trying to change the world for the better, the argument goes. A few eggs are going to get broken in the process. Some of those “eggs” might have included the killing of JFK or even the complicit design of 9/11 as an excuse to attack Iraq for oil and influence. People lose their lives to these murderous schemes. But what matters more to conservatives is that someone might lose a little profit due to environmental regulations? Talk about skewed priorities.

Shame and blame

So the calculatedly blameless core of the religious and political right will have absolutely no problem blaming liberals for anthropogenic climate change. The sin of trying to act like God by invoking environmental protection laws is to blame for God’s swift justice on this earth. God is changing the climate to punish us all, they will say.

And it won’t be very long before this narrative comes to the forefront of American and world politics. The pressure to recognize this reality is soon going to force conservatives to admit they were wrong. But that just means they need to find someone to blame for their own egregious behaviors.

Need proof? Look at how quickly the religious and political right concocted the narrative that George W. Bush and Republican policies had nothing to do with the economic recession. Or that Bush and Company somehow screwed things up in the Middle East. No, there was no responsibility there on the part of the GOP or worse, the operatives that carry out the will of the corporatocracy.

Because that’s how it all really works. The confusing mix of business, religion and politics all mix together in the netherworld of people who want to own it all and accept no blame for the consequences of their actions. God comes in handy in those circumstances. All you have to do is claim you’re on God’s side and people find it hard to argue with you.

You heard it here first. It shouldn’t be long now. In fact they’ll probably steal the idea from this blog. We can only hope the Pope speaks out against the plot of the new Pharisees.

Let’s hear it for religious liberty, or what’s really eating Jesus

FlagWaiverBack in 1968 or so, Catholic and Lutheran theologians got together to discuss the religious rite of communion in which Christian believers are invited to gather at the altar to partake in the bread and wine. The ceremony is conducted in keeping with a practice established during what the Christian faith calls the Last Supper.

Both Lutherans and Catholics at the time agreed that the Eucharist, as communion is called, means that Christ is literally “present wholly and entirely, in his body and blood, under the signs of bread and wine.”

So far, so food. Symbolic acts of faith are a big part of religious tradition and ritual. You gotta take this stuff seriously or it doesn’t mean a thing.

But Catholics took the meaning of the Eucharist ritual a bit farther, and a whole lot more literally. They confabulated the term “transubstantiation” to describe the religious “fact” that the wine and bread served during communion is literally changed into the substance of the body and blood of Christ.

Whoa. By that definition, Christians literally become cannibals when they eat the bread (the body) and drink the wine (or blood) of Christ. Isn’t that against the law? 

Yes, it is. Which means that transubstantiation is all a bit of hocus pocus in which the wine and bread remain the same in substance, appearance, taste and smell. But still, according to the Catholic definition of transubstantiation, you’re literally eating Jesus when you ingest the bread and wine.

Oh, that’s all overblown you might think. Catholics don’t really believe that. Yet there are plenty of churches that require that no bread or wine be tossed down the sink or into the trash. People literally serve the role of eating the remainder of the bread as surrogate cannibals. The wine is consumer too, or else poured down a designated spot and back to the earth as a kind of faux burial.

Strange questions

This raises some really strange questions, such as: Does wine used in a service and discarded down a well to the earth need to be resurrected to be present at the next serving of communion?

See, the interpretation of religious beliefs is inconsistent and, when taken literally, often a bizarre, macabre mix of hookum spookum designed to scare people into behaviors deemed important by those in control of the religious narrative.

Jesus had a lot of problems with that kid of mind control. He fought the religious leaders of his day for setting up rituals in which people essentially were forced to buy sacrificial critters in order to earn the good graces of the church. Later on in history some branches of the Catholic Church started little “pay for play” scam to pay for things the church wanted to do. In other words, there is no such thing as a standard system by which Christianity has always behaved.

Religious liberty

FlagSolarOf course the big issue in America right now is whether the government is impinging on religious liberty by creating laws that require people with certain religious beliefs to carry out functions that they see as contradictory to their personal value system. The idea of being required to create a wedding cake for a gay couple is, for example, anathema to certain breeds of so-called Christian believers.

But we could just as easily turn around and condemn the practices and belief systems of many Christians to be abhorrent according to common law. The idea that Christians are wantonly and avidly conducting cannibalism by eating the actual and real body of Christ?That’s disgusting. And who is to say, if we socially abide that belief, that someone could not form a faith around actual cannibalism under the claim that their religious beliefs are being impinged by a government that discourages eating other people?

Trumping religious prejudice

In all cases, protection of personal liberties under the banner or the United States Constitution is the first and foremost responsibility of the government. The nation has blocked religious practices such as polygamy on grounds that it is immoral under common law. Yet the nation has moved to protect the rights of gays to marry or create civil unions, also under common law. The fact that certain religious “liberties” are impinged by the spectrum of these decisions is in essence immaterial. Laws are established based on a common understanding of individual rights.

Some people might go their deathbeds claiming that they ate the real Jesus during Catholic Communion. We protect the right to believe that. But we don’t protect the right to impose that believe on all other citizens. That is freedom from religion. It is equally guaranteed by the United States Constitution.

Hard for some to grasp

306523_3795453241128_1825138197_nIt’s hard for some people to grasp the difference between being free to believe what you want and not being free to impose those religious beliefs indiscriminately because it inconveniences your worldview to serve a gay person, a black person, a woman, or Mexican or Muslim. All those choices to refuse service are discriminatory. We can’t run a civil society if a vigilante panoply of religious belief systems is engaged as the law of the land.

What’s really eating Jesus these days is the lack of understanding among people who speak on his behalf that it is not the law of the faith that matters, but the love. Because that’s what lacking in Indiana and other states committed to prejudicial faith as a matter of practice. It’s not about Christianity at all. It’s about selfish fears and hollow pride in controlling the social narrative.

And to that Jesus might just say, “Eat me.” Now that’s a truly liberating thought. 

When religious freedom becomes a farce

Farce: a comic dramatic work using buffoonery and horseplay and typically including crude characterization and ludicrously improbable situations.

FlagWaiverA friend pulled me aside to ask what the hell was going on in Indiana with the bill that apparently opens the door for people to discriminate based on religious beliefs.

Only here’s the challenge my friend wanted to know: Why can’t private businesses choose who they serve or don’t serve? Isn’t it their right in a free market to make that choice?

That shows the confusion most people face over the questions about Indiana Bill 101 (no pun intended) and why it is a farce of dangerous proportions.

The issue of discrimination on basis of religious freedom comes down to a basic Constitutional statement contained in the Establishment Clause, which is described this way by the website Revolutionary War and Beyond.

The Establishment Clause states that Congress shall make no law “respecting an establishment of religion.” This clause is generally interpreted to mean three things. 1) That the Congress may not establish an official religion or denomination and require people to support it or believe in it. 2) The Congress may not favor in its laws one religion or denomination over another, and 3) Congress may not favor or disfavor believers or unbelievers in any religion or denomination over any other.

And there you have it. According to our nation’s Constitution, the Indiana law does not promote religious freedom as it claims to do. Instead, it imposes one religion’s belief on the citizenry as a whole. And that, my friends, is unconstitutional.

The argument that being “forced to serve gays” is an impingement on religious belief is a farce. Here’s why. Interpretation of the bible is, by definition, a highly selective process. There is no “law” that holds true even from one Christian to the next. There may be creeds and general agreement on the statutes of faith, but even in practice from city to city and town to town, or within a specific synod. the practice of religious faith is both highly varied and highly inconsistent.

And that’s perfectly fine because that is the absolute definition of religious freedom. That’s what’s protected by the United States Constitution.

Yet the Constitution also protects people from having to practice any sort of faith at all. There is no qualifying pledge of religious faith to be a United States citizen. Even the farcical phrase “under God” was jammed into the Pledge of Allegiance late in the game by a bunch of conservative politicians fearful of communist incursion in the minds of youth.

And that’s a farce as well. Which is why the Pledge of Allegiance is kind of a joke these days. Sorry to tell you that folks. It never meant that much in the first place. Kids have always recited the Pledge without any real knowledge or conviction about what it meant. It just makes some adults feel good to hear kids barking about patriotism.

The Pledge of Allegiance is a relatively harmless farce compared to the State of Indiana taking up the banner of religious freedom and turning it into a discriminatory manifesto against a segment of the population that frankly can’t be readily identified by appearance or any other measure. So the law is just mean-spirited by nature. It is an ugliness of attitude that deserves to be shouted down because it is the product of political buffoons who govern by fear and hatred rather than consideration and honesty.

There is no justification for any business to discriminate against customers for any reason. Otherwise, as my friend who raised the question ultimately concluded, “there would be chaos.”

Think about it. If you or anyone you know has to constantly question whether they are accepted by a given business either as a customer, as a potential employee or a vendor, that’s not a “free market” at all. There’s another term for that type of business. It’s called the Good Old Boy network. It leads to cronyism and monopoly. It also leads to corruption as every transaction essentially becomes a secret between those doing the exchange.

Is that the kind of nation our Founders sought to establish? Far from it. Of course our Constitution was not perfect from the start. As a nation we’ve had to emphasize aspects relative to personal freedom. This is especially true relative to matters of equality and discrimination. It’s been only 50 years since Jim Crow laws discriminating against blacks were eradicated. Yet we are still a long ways from equality in many categories of life.

So we’re facing a test with this farcical case in Indiana. We can let buffoons run our country or we can stand up against those who hide because chickenshit claims of religious freedom that amount to discrimination. Because guess what? Your religion is not the law of the land. That’s what radical Muslims want to impose with sharia law.

There’s no difference between what Indiana did and what radical Muslims are trying to do in countries around the world. None at all. Any religion advocating discrimination over equal rights is reduced by its own intolerance to a doctrine of hate. That’s not religious freedom. That’s religious intolerance.

Real Christians ought to know the difference. Jesus was welcoming of all people to the faith. According to the Bible, he spoke nothing at all about homosexuality. Not a word. Most references to homosexuality in the Bible were more about control of appetites rather than loving relationships.

And the Bible certainly said nothing about keeping gay people from buying or selling goods.

It proves that Indiana Bill 101 is a complete and total farce. It was drafted as an act of aggression by fearful, ignorant people in positions of power. Jesus called people like that to account all the time. He branded the Pharisees a “brood of vipers” and “hypocrites” for placing law over love in faith.

Those lessons still apply today.