14 October 2008

Some thoughts on religion in our country

My brother-in-law forwarded this to me today. He often forwards me many posts about loving God and how we as a nation should embrace our love of God. I love my brother-in-law dearly, but usually these posts leave me saddened that others feel that they need to force their Godness on others, rather than speaking to the more universal aspects of Christianity. But this post was different. Instead of feeling battered about by a Bible, I felt a call for religious tolerance. Maybe that wasn't the point of the post, but it is what I came away with. I am not a Christian. I am a Unitarian Universalist, and the UU religion is based on support of diversity of beliefs. I personally feel most comfortable with Earth-based creeds, and the UU faith encourages me to follow that. I love my faith because I feel that it demands that we follow our religion and develop our spirituality, regardless of what specific doctrine and path to spirituality we choose. I think this post touches on that.

I wish that America could find a middle ground, one that allows everyone to feel welcome, be they fundamentalist Christian or devout Pagan or decidedly atheist. Our country was supposedly based on religious freedom (not really, the Puritans were anything but religiously tolerant), and yet we have become a bizarre mix of fundamental Christian and Atheist. There is a middle ground. Just because one person wants to do something doesn't mean they are going to try to force you to do the same. I do not believe prayer or Bibles (or any other religious trapping) should be required in school, but I also don't believe they should be banished from school either. I think prayer groups for students are fine, since anyone who wants to can go and if they don't want to, they don't have to. I am even fine with the school permitting use of their space for such a group and for other groups of differing religions.

Okay, on to the post from my brother-in-law:

Remarks from CBS Sunday Morning (everyone should read!)

I only hope we find God again before it is too late!!


The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning


My confession:

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees.. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees.

It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, 'Merry Christmas' to me. I don't think they are sl ighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu . If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her 'How could God let something like this happen?' (regarding Katrina) Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, 'I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?'

In light of recent events... terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said OK.

Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with 'WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.'

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Are you laughing yet?

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on

your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they

will think of you for sending it.

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.

Pass it on if you think it has merit. If not then just discard it... no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

My Best Regards, Honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein


Howling Hill said...

Interesting letter from Ben Stein. He's well know for his conservative belief system though.

Like yourself I want to see a more more religious acceptance in the US. Somedays I'm really optimistic and other days really pessimistic as to whether acceptance of non-Abrahamic religions will truly occur.

Got to you from Women Not Dabbling in Normal.

Jenny said...

I'm not sure I buy that Ben Stein wrote that, but the sentiments are wonderful.

You know I'm a Christian and have been since high school. In that time, I've struggled with my faith with the ferocity of one who wrestles bears. I've watched some pretty terrible things happen in churches, to the point that I just refuse to go, now.

These days, I work for a bunch of jewish doctors. Judaism is totally alien to me; the food restrictions, the many holidays celebrating things I've never heard about, the foreign-language words. Yet these men and women find a way to make me feel included. They answer my questions, not with annoyance, but with love. They never proselytize. I appreciate that. They respect my faith, and I have great respect for theirs. I wish everything could be this way, that we could ask questions of one another, and indeed, were encouraged to do so.

Watching the election, it felt like either you were a conservative christian living on a plantation in fundie-land, or you were an unapologetic San Francisco heathen who didn't live in "real America".

What about people like me, who are very moderate -- please don't tell me I cannot or must have an abortion, but for heavens sake PLEASE balance the budget! Please stop persecuting gay people, but also, could we think about smaller government? I have never really felt represented, my moderate, accepting voice.

As for you... I have never seen eye to eye with you on some of your spiritual thoughts. But you know what? I *respect* them, and am proud that you actually consider your spiritual well-being in addition to your physical well-being.