Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Dear Religious Zealot and friends

[A letter to the editor compared oppression of Christians unfavorably with relative respect granted Homosexuals in America] - I responded

You said: "If a homosexual is pressured to keep his/her beliefs or preferences "private," many call that persecution. But if a Christian is told to keep his/her beliefs or preferences "private," that's "freedom"?"

First, I find it curious even amusing that you equate "homosexuality with Christianity". While it would seem the electorate of this "enlightened" state [Florida] is not quite ready to provide the blessings of marriage to homosexuals, I was unaware that Christians suffer the same or similar sanctions. I hope you'll find the time to explain the sanctions suffered by Christians that in anyway approach those severe sanctions suffered by those whose preference lies beyond the strictly heterosexual.

If I misunderstand, and your reference is that somehow without government support, and the promotion of your religious symbols by the Government of all the people, your religion might wither and disappear?

While there are those whose hearts might be gladdened by such a prospect, I find Christianity not without some social and literary merit. But by the same token, might not other taxpayers want the same respect and honor for their beliefs?

Taxpayers who are Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Zoastroan, Sihk, Minoan, Wiccan, Thelemite, Mormon and others of various gods and goddesses might want equal representation in our Civic structures. Mightn't our public buildings become more like shrines, if every gods and goddesses worshiped by taxpaying Americans were present. Or maybe you would prefer just yours? I'm sure you can sense the problem there.

Careful study of the letters of the founders, show that they hoped to create a truly secular government free of religious fervor. Since the religious wars that had plagued Europeans were very much on their mind, they hoped to avoid giving any religious zealots governmental authority to require religious tests for citizens.

Governments of the past have used civic authority to enforce religious doctrine. Let me give you a specific analogy, that might be easier to digest.

Take the host, or not... Some Christians, have within their belief system that the body of Christ is imbued by a religious ceremony, into a wafer and those who have made certain religious observances and thus made themselves ready may consume the body of God and gain sanctification thereby. Other Christians eschew these practices.

There are those in diverse Christian communities who observe the Shabbat or Sabbath, on Saturday and some Sunday. Each has their arguments, each can cite scriptural text for their position.

If you were a Saturday sabbath Christian and your own government was controlled by "Sunday worshiping" Christians, would you approve of a sheriff (an Arab term) arresting you at your Saturday observance and demanding, even compelling you at pain of prosecution, that you and your grandchildren practice Sunday ceremonies?

Heresy and Apostasy laws are the fruit of such governments and our founding mothers and fathers widely chose to avoid those problems. Don't you agree?

So keep your observance, at your home, enjoy them in public at your house of worship, you need fear no civic authority will accost you as you set up your manger, flanked by it's illuminated Rudolf* and St. Nick** burdened with his bag of ***Yule-tide gifts. Your Christmas tree**** is safe. But please try to understand why our government should not be writing prayers, nor hosting religious shrines.

Your brother in Darwinism. May Deoxyribo-neucleic acid, be with us.

* Rudolf -
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer started life as a poem created by an American advertising executive called Robert May. (1949)

**St. Nick -
Saint Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra, lived in Turkey during the 4th Century AD.

*** Yule Tide - According to the Edda, gifts from the gods and goddesses were laid on Balder's bier and he, in turn, sent gifts back from the realm of darkness into which he had fallen. However, it probably is from the Roman Saturnalia that the free exchange of presents and the spirit of revelry have been derived.

**** Christmas Tree - In the 7th century a monk from Crediton, Devonshire, went to Germany to teach the Word of God. He did many good works there, and spent much time in Thuringia, an area which was to become the cradle of the Christmas Decoration Industry.

Legend has it that he used the triangular shape of the Fir Tree to describe the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The converted people began to revere the Fir tree as God's Tree, as they had previously revered the Oak. By the 12th century it was being hung, upside-down, from ceilings at Christmastime in Central Europe, as a symbol of Christianity.

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