One Nation, Under God, In Whom We Trust
They all claim that they have the truth; they’ll set you free. Just give them money and they’ll set you free—free for a fee.
“One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington.”
“As the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Musselmen; and as the said States have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan notion, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”
America was the land of opportunity. It was a country founded by secularists who wished nothing less than liberation from the over taxation of the overtly religious government of England, who persecuted and overtaxed those of other faiths, thus starving, or weeding them out of their system. This liberation was the purpose for the founding of America. This was the reason for the thousands of American and British soldiers who died during the revolutionary war. The objective of the founding of a secular country without religious influence in politics was the delightful inflicted destiny of our founding fathers. But how is it that we, as a country, have become everything from which we fought so hard to be free? How is it that a country of people who wanted to be free to practice or to abstain from religion, became the theocracy in which we live today? Really, does nobody else find it mildly ironic that we’re the only Western country with a clear separation of church and state in our constitution, yet we’re the only Western country ruled by Theocracy?
The founding fathers of this country—all of whom are quoted dissenting against religion on many of occasions—taught insistently against churches, papal government, and the very foundation of organized religion itself. Even Thomas Jefferson wrote a book called The Faith and Moral Teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Essentially, this book was a new, more positive biblical text that removed all of the bells and whistles of the original—or in the case of Christianity, the magic and fairytales of the initial text. The book only taught the actual teachings of Jesus, without the lore and other stranger things that have been associated with religion. The point behind the book is to edify the teachings of Christ—love peace and harmony—without the magical stories of the resurrection, immaculate conception, virgin birth, and beliefs that Christianity is the only true way to God.
At the time of the book, there were actually less people attending church than there are today. However, the country had already started to be invaded by religious outsiders who felt that America would be a great home base for their religions, the very ones that the government of England fought against. This would have been fine, except these faiths were just like the ones that America had tried to reject. The Monotheistic and narcissistic beliefs that their faithful understandings were the only proper routes to bliss, and the immoral teachings that killing in the name of God was to be condoned and celebrated.
While these faiths invaded, other types of “cults” were starting to form in the United States. Exclusive and separatist religious cults were spawning everywhere around the eastern sea board, in fact. Cults like the Quakers, Pilgrims, and Amish were conceived on seemingly every corner, passing, or forcing, their religion onto others, “by any means necessary.”
This started to alarm the founding fathers of the country. As the constitution was still relatively new, it was seemingly the best solution to ensure that the religious diversity between the states would be a healthy balance and not turn into a political struggle. James Madison was the first to really see the total solution in front of his eyes, as he constructed the First Amendment to the constitution that would prevent any one of these particular religions from gaining authority over the political realm of their individual governments or over the centralized government as a whole. The concept of the First Amendment would be to ensure that all of these religious institutions would be tolerated to avoid becoming yet another England. They would be tolerated, not because these institutions had individual rights, but because the individuals of the institutions had every right to choose their affiliations, while seeking their secular quest for life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The second objective was to make certain that religion not establish power in, or over, government, nor should the government have the ability to establish a national faith. Also, that the people had every right to repudiate any deeds undergone governmentally, and that the right of free speech, necessary to the people’s republic, and the right of the press, necessary to the people’s right to information, should never be impeded upon.
In the beginning, in America, there was no “One nation under god” for the Pledge of Allegiance, there wasn’t even a Pledge of Allegiance to begin with. There was absolutely no bible in the courtroom, nor were there religious commandments on the walls of court houses. There were certainly no religious emblems on US currency, and religion was completely separate form the state after the First Amendment and the Virginia Model, which I’ll elaborate upon later. Many conservatives argue that this isn’t the meaning of the separation of church and state, when in reality, it was. You see, conservatives don’t like to admit that this country was not founded by religious fundamentalist Christians. They like to believe that the current conservative Christian majority in this country is the way it’s always been, because they personally believe that this is the way it ought to be. They would like you to believe that the church and state separation is merely a remnant of soviet propaganda, and that religious plurality, especially with “dirty atheists,” is only a myth concocted by the left. Personal agendas have a way of overriding actual historical evidence, don’t they?
If you were to look at the constitution, you will see no references to God. In fact, all that you’ll see is that religion is mentioned only twice, and those are the reference to religion staying out of politics, and in matters of military affairs and senate meetings. In the declaration of independence, all that you’ll read is that we’re endowed by our “creator” with inherent and inalienable rights. The word creator is used in place of the word God, as a reference that this is a country of freedom of religion and recognition that not everybody believes in God as a Christian concept. The only other reference to God in the declaration is the term “Nature’s God”, in reference to nature itself and the natural laws of the Earth. The exact text reads:
We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its power in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their safety and happiness.
If you read this, you’ll not only see the lack of the word God that all of today’s conservative right would like to deny. You’ll also notice the second part of this that most of the Right-wing Christians would like to tell you isn’t there and that is the basic belief that revolution is patriotism. Revolution is the highest form of preservation of one’s country. This is a country that was founded on revolution against religious oppression, and it’s the patriotic duty of all people to stand against religious oppression. And in today’s religious oppressive country, those of us—the majority at 16 percent—who stray away from religion, must constantly deal with the religion of others not just shoved into our face, but even to have it forced upon us.
The New Indoctrination
Children in schools are mandated to recite the pledge of allegiance, which in and of itself is un-American because of the nationalistic properties therein; but within the pledge, children are forced to recite the following:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. And to the republic, for which it stands, one nation under GOD—indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
As we can see here, America has become yet another theocracy, much like those countries in the middle-east, that the same conservative talk show hosts should revel in. In a country where our highest freedoms are dissent against our national legislation without imprisonment—most of the time—as well as our freedom of religion, this pledge that our children forcibly say on a daily basis, is the highest of abominations against those previously stated freedoms. When one forces a child not only to pledge their allegiance to their country as well as another’s religion, we are violating those very rights that separate America from middle eastern countries. And those separations that distinguish us from openly theocratic countries are those which many of us—outwardly, anyway—would die to protect. So then, why is it that they are tolerated? I’m afraid that I just don’t have an answer. Maybe it’s because there just isn’t justice for all.
Justice is a word that is thrown around as much in politics today, as the word extreme would be in the vernacular of a professional skateboarding competition. And truthfully, it’s become just as meaningless. After all, where is the justice in the fact that there are stone statues of the ten commandments in front of court houses all over in the south? Is it not bad enough that when testifying in a court of law, you are mandated to place your hand on a book of religious faith? A religious faith that only belongs to about 12% of this country is a mandatory and integral part of American court proceedings. “I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth—so help me, God,” is what is stated in the beginning of a court testimony, while the testifier has his hand placed in the CHRISTIAN bible. What about this says “religious freedom and diversity”? That’s what I’m trying to figure out. And don’t try bringing this up to any sort of right-winger, because if they don’t just flat out tell you to deal with it, they’ll tell you that this is just the way it’s always been, since the right-wing religious pilgrims founded America.
This is what I like to call The New Lie. I call it this because it’s not only new, but it’s completely false. The word The is only there as a preposition. This new lie is what claims that it’s always been like this. That those of us who chose a different route from Christianity have always had to have it shoved in our face, only because this has always been a Christian nation. The lie claims that our churches have always used their tax free money to buy up real state as well as stock and presidents. The lie claims that all other faiths are to be called “new age” because they always have been. The lie claims that courtrooms have always made people swear on the bible and use the word God before testifying. It claims the same for school children, in regards to prayer.
The truth is, as I’ve clearly demonstrated so far, is that this country was not founded on religion, nor was it founded by religious people. And only when it started adopting these overt religious practices, did the violence, turmoil and moral decay of this country begin. Now we’ve become a neo-fascist religious empire, based on the same type of theocracy as Great Britain so many years ago, as well as many middle eastern countries today. If you want to prove this, then why don’t you try something? Why don’t you call your local congressman or congresswoman, and tell him or her that you want to propose removing the term “In God We Trust” from dollar bills and replacing it with “In Allah We Trust”. What would be more fitting, since I’m sure I don’t have to bring up the statistic again, tell your leaders that you want to replace the religious phrase on the dollar with “There Is No God”. I’m sure that will get you laughed right off of the phone. That may actually get you kicked out of the capital building. If you want to have a larger laugh, why don’t you tell your school that you practice the faith of the Flying Spaghetti monster, therefore you must go to school dressed as a pirate every Thursday. Why don’t you ask for a bible other than a Christian one in a Juvenile corrections facility? Why don’t you ask a hotel if they have a free bible of a religion that is child friendly, and has no murder, rape or bloodshed. Why don’t you propose changing the word God to Buddha in the pledge of allegiance. Well, the fact of the matter is that we’re supposed to have freedom of religion as well as a separation of church and state. Therefore, why is it that anything other than a Christian based proposal is so readily laughed off the table. If you look at the actual numbers, the number of Muslims in America is actually higher than Presbyterians, Roman Catholics and Protestants combined. Therefore, this being a democracy, why would it be so ridiculous to propose changing the word God to Allah in those heavily Muslim areas? Do that and you’ll see the Christian Right pull the separation of church and state amendment out of their hands faster than the bible. The same amendment that they would usually claim doesn’t exist.
Proof of this is what I like to call the happening of 2004. A Jr. high school in Ohio experienced great controversy around Christmas time when the teachers of the school decided it would be a good idea to spend a week teaching children about the faiths around the world, and what they practice on Christmas. After all, December twenty-fifth was the birthday of about nine prophets and quite a few gods as well, even a hundred years before the birth of Jesus. And by the way, that date wasn’t even decided upon until about six-hundred years after the bible was written.
The teachers taught the children about the eastern religions and their lore around this time of the year. They taught the children about Islam, Judaism as well as many of the Nordic and Pagan beliefs, and their lore behind their holidays at this time of the year. Over all, it was a good idea and if done properly, could have been an eye opening experience and would have led the children to be more tolerant of other cultures and religions.
The problem started when the kids all drew pictures. They were all given the choice of one of the religions that were discussed during the week long education, and given an assignment to draw a picture with an accompanying story that averaged about one-hundred words a piece. Again, not that bad of an idea. That is, until the parent teacher conferences when a woman by the name of Valerie Sheldon entered the halls of the school and saw something that her eyes just could not believe. She saw not only a picture drawn by a child of a Star of David, but she also saw a picture of a snowy night with a pentacle in the sky, that represented the pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice.
She immediately started to scream and search around for a teacher. When she found the teacher responsible for the course, she interrupted her conference with another child’s parent and immediately started calling the teacher foul names in front of children and threatened to sue her for teaching the children this kind of “blasphemy”. What struck me was when I found out that she headed up a parent organization that had only two years prior, fought to keep a Christian Christmas play in the schools holiday-time proceedings.
The story is that parents of the children who attend this school, were parents of a very progressive part of Ohio. Yeah, there is one. A few of the parents decided that keeping a holiday play in school was just a little too much when the play involved the birth of Jesus and other solely Christian references. They fought to get it out of the school, however Valerie and her heavily religious parent group fought against them, citing that the play was only a holiday play and not only for people of a certain denomination of Christianity. The other group fought back informing her that the problem didn’t lie with the fact that it only appealed to one Christian denomination, but the problem was that it was Christian in the first place and surrounded around Christian mythology, and not historical timeline. Therefore, this play shouldn’t be allowed in school because many of the parents in the school either didn’t want their children exposed to false history and religion, and others practiced other faiths such as Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and even a few Wiccan families.
Valerie fired back in outrage claiming that Christianity is hand and hand with history and Jesus is a part of history too, which may or may not be true, more heavily in the maybe not category. Valerie just couldn’t understand that others don’t believe in the same things she does, and attested that they should and that this play would be a good way to educate. The end result came when Valerie threatened to sue the school, and the other parent group did not, and made clear their intention not to bring this into the courtroom. The school sided with the side that threatened to sue, because they knew she would. They left the play in the school, where it remained for a few years, before the music/drama teacher retired and a new one was hired that refused to do a Christian based play.
Now, this same woman who thought it would be wrong to pull Christianity out of school, is throwing a fit because other religions are being discussed in school as well. Now, I’m all for getting religion completely out of school, but this is a woman who fought to keep religion in school in more than one other case. Therefore, purely out of poetic justice, I’m glad that Valerie suddenly knew how it felt. However, the story doesn’t have that happy of an ending. In fact, the three teachers who were involved in the study were fired because the school wanted to avoid another lawsuit, as Valerie had again threatened to sue. Valerie is still a leading fighter of keeping Christianity in school but all other religions out, and even today is involved in a lawsuit against a school in Nevada for teaching the new and radical theory of gravity.
Okay, that last part was a joke, but I could see it being true. After all, I would think she’d be all about going back in time and getting in on some of that sweet Scope’s Trial action. But in truth, this tale illustrates the very core of what the religious right is all about. They’re all for separation of church and state so long as it involves any other religion but Christianity. They just don’t want their children learning about other religions, because then they might have to answer some actual questions about their faith. And if there’s one thing that I’ve learned in the writing of this book, it’s that people don’t like to have their faith questioned, and they will go pretty far out of their way, even to the length of violence, to keep questions away from their faith. I guess that’s because if other people ask them questions about it, they just might have to question it themselves to answer those queries. After all, nothing brings defensiveness to the front lines in a person than to ask them a question to which they don’t know the answer.
As I write this chapter, I’m reading a book called Religious Literacy, by Stephen Prothero, who calls into question the misunderstanding of religion, and blames it on the fact that public schools don’t teach enough about it. I guess what he’s arguing is that public schools should have comparative religion courses, with which I whole heartedly agree. We need remember though, that a comparative religion course is mainly a course on philosophy with small strains of history attached. This should never be taught along side biology or science, as even a Vatican scientist will tell you, “The Bible is not a book of science, it’s a book of faith.” It would make as much sense to teach Mother Goose tales along side anthropology.
However, if the fact that Christianity, as he argues, is only carried out in the manner in which it is because of the lack of education among those who practice it, why is it that parents irrationally flip out whenever the school proposes a comparative religion course? I know that these people are mostly pretty egocentric, but I would think this would solve the problem. Although, they wouldn’t want their children learning that there are many other faiths out there from which to choose, now would they? This might breed a new generation of people who aren’t devout and fanatically obsessed as they are. It brings the defenses up, and nothing can do that like religious discussion.
If you have a problem believing in the defensiveness of religious people whenever a questioning of their beliefs comes to mind, consider the Vatican (outside of their science department, by the way, which has changed much since the time of Galileo). Have you ever tried to interview a person in the Vatican? Or have you ever tried to interview a Catholic, for that matter, about some of the more bizarre beliefs in the religious structure? If you were to ask a Christian why they believe that the world is 6,000 years old, if you were to find a person who even knew what you were talking about, you would not get an answer, you would get, “This interview is over.” This is because none of them really have any kind of scientific data to back this up, they just believe it because they’re told to believe it. And that is the entirety of religion itself. People who are just told to believe something, and after a few years, just believe it because they were told to. And the worse part about this, is that this is how people now perceive politics, because religion has merged into politics. People are told to believe that abortion is bad and that abstinence only education is good, therefore they eventually believe it, instead of looking at the facts and the numbers and deciding for themselves. It seems today that every issue of politics is also an issue of religion. This is the rise of American theocracy.
The Unholy Vote
If the rise of American theocracy isn’t apparent in the previously noted passages, then let this be a literation of the dangerous rise of religion. In 2004, the amount of people who, according to a CNN exit poll, voted for George Bush solely based upon his faith and religious beliefs was an astonishing 24%. What this means is that 24% of the people that voted for the Bush Cheney ticket, did so not because of individual idealism—I’m willing to guess that at least 15 of the 24% would have no idea what Bush’s idealism is, beyond that of his faith—but because of his religious beliefs. This was 10% higher than in 2000, where only 14% of the people who refrained from voting for experienced politicians and went the Bush route, because of his personal faith. In the same election, everyone who said they voted with the lead reason being most of the actual pressing issues in the country at the time—economy, terrorism, war, et cetera—voted for the Kerry Edwards ticket. The fact of the matter is that George Bush won the 2004 elections, and I use the word won very loosely, because of his faith. And boy did his personal faith shine through. After all, George W. Bush was a man who openly claimed that Jesus told him to be president, proclaimed that America was chosen by God to be the greatest land in the world, and turned down seven bills that would have kept us as the scientific and medical innovators of the world, solely based upon his religious beliefs. That percentage would have been enough to avoid the last eight years of economic destruction, as well as religious rule.
Keep in mind that George W. Bush banned stem-cell research because of a promise he had made to the evangelical right during the primaries of 1999 and 2000. He appointed yet another pro-life and heavily right wing conservative to the supreme court due to the same promise. He was the man who attempted to federally banned homosexual marriage, because of his own, and that of the right’s, religious induced homophobia. You must remember that evangelical Christians are people who believe that the violence between Hezbollah and Israel, and for that matter, Palestine and Israel, is a sign of the coming end times foretold by John the Baptist in the book of Revelations. Therefore, why would they want to do anything to stop the violence, they believe that they will all be saved in the end. I made reference earlier to the effect of why people who thought good would come to them at the end of the world would want to do anything to stop it. When you have a president who is a slave to the lobbying arm of the evangelical right, you have a president who feels the same way. It’s no wonder he never let any bills go through to help Americans who were sick and had no health insurance—I would guess him to think, “Why do you wanna be healthy? The sicker you are, the closer you are to being with God in heaven.” And have you ever wondered why it is that it’s always the religious right-wing evangelical groups that are the first to start whispering the endearments of war into the ears of the already war-mongering right wing republican leaders? I wouldn’t think it would be irrational to say that the reason for this is because these people are not only anxiously awaiting Armageddon, but they are trying to rush and hasten the “end times”.
Just after the 2004 election, former 2000 presidential candidate and known Christian activist, Gary Bower wrote this on the fervency of the religious vote this. Probably the most irresponsible piece, and most irreverently written run on sentence in history:
After twenty four years of active political involvement starting with Ronald Reagan in 1980, are America’s political, cultural and media elites really this much in the dark about their fellow Americans who were in church on Sunday, at work on Monday, and at the voting booths on November second? The answer to who we are is, of course, that we are your next-door neighbor, your kid’s teacher and the clerk at the local drug-store.
I decided to do a little research of my own about his statement, and it wasn’t all that pretty. In fact, I found that this was pretty much just hijack journalism from a man who’s trying to sell again, The New Lie. He quoted that the majority of Americans were at church on Sunday, at work on Monday and at the booths on November 2nd. I’ll pick at this three piece lie just one piece at a time. Were most Americans at church on Sunday? No, in fact the percentage of people who were admitted and avid church goers in 2004 was only slightly less than it is now, at a whopping eleven percent of the country. This does not mean that there aren’t more people who practice religion, it just means that eleven percent claim to be ritual church goers. And of the eleven percent, I have yet to find a statistic that states how many were actually Christians who attend church on Sunday. As we know, members of other faiths attend church or temple or mosque or palace on different days of the week. A general statement, so I won’t pick it apart too much. His second claim was that the majority of Americans were at work on Monday. Well, although the economy was then, what looks like heaven to us now, most Americans had second and sometimes third jobs. As the unemployment rate was still at the time, at an all time high at nine percent nation wide, he was right in saying that most Americans were at work on Monday. Although, a very thin most, and many of them were at work that night too trying to stuff as much overtime in as possible to help pay their mortgage. His third claim was the extraordinary levels of voting that year. Actually, 2004 had the lowest voter turnout in over one-hundred years. And while the stats still show that 24% were there to vote because of George Bush’s religion, of the majority of America who cared about the actual issues more than a person’s belief in dragons, most people actually stayed home, thinking that it was pretty much a lock for their particular candidate.
Evangelists Still Run the Show
However, the problem has not gone away. Many people think that because we have a democratic president again, the religious rule in this country is over. Well, in truth, Barack Obama proved before the primaries even ended that he stood with the religious right, in pandering for the evangelical vote by voting yes on a bill that was a clear violation of the separation of church and state. This bill was one that would fund churches with government money. Well, how exactly can we have a separation of church and state in this country, even so far as the non-taxation of churches, when the government is funding religious institutions? Now, this vote was solely to secure a higher evangelical vote both in the primary and general elections. I guess we’ll see in the future if President Obama continues on the same path as our former president who was nothing more than a slave to the evangelical right. However, that in and of itself is a tribute to the religious influence in this country. That power being the religious vote and the power of religious lobby groups in this country. A country in which almost every religion out there has their own lobby group, even though none of their percentage numbers exceed that of the 16% of the non-religious or atheist population, yet there is no atheist lobbying arm. Why is that? I’ll tell you why. It’s because this is a country in which an open atheist or agnostic has never actually been allowed in an official electoral debate. There has never been an atheist presidential candidate on either leading tickets. There actually have only been two atheist senators in US history, and only one of the two was an open atheist before his election to the senate.
During the Bush administration, we saw the greatest fabricated public outcry of the last millennia. What we saw fabricated was the public outcry against not just gay marriage, but against gays living in civil unions receiving the same tax breaks as straight people who were married legally. This may have just been the most deplorable scene since Lincoln actually convinced a country of people that the Civil War actually had anything to do with slavery, instead of the centralized government’s power over local and state governments. This was probably the biggest example in recent history of how the theocratic government and it’s primitive beliefs caused civil liberties of minorities to be stripped away like said liberties were merely a job title. To the conservative right, they are. And to the conservative right, there is no such thing as circumventing the constitution, because as the religious right illustrated for us during these times, you can’t circumvent something that you can just change.
How is it possible that even the religious backwaters of Alabama were successful in removing the Ten Commandments from their courtroom walls, and stopping a proposed bible-based school curriculum in the same year, when our own federal government seems to be pushing those very things? This is very confusing to me, as the state of Alabama is the most religious state in the union with nine out of every ten people in the state professing to some type of Christian faith. Yet, in the entire country, there are only between eleven and twelve percent of people in the country who profess to practice any type of Christianity. Even less actually attend church, where in Alabama, the entirety of the 90% are fervent church goers.
I think, in truth, it all comes down to power. Even though Alabama is mostly Christian, it seems that the people of the state seem to have more respect for the constitution and for the rights of others than the religious zealots in the federal government. How did we allow this to happen? Stem cell research could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Even Superman’s. But it was shot down because of the religious promises made by George Walker Bush, of which I spoke earlier. But the constitutional banning of gay marriage wasn’t just a matter of improving our own healthcare system, it was a matter of the civil rights of nearly twenty percent of the country.
This plainly happened because the United States federal government managed, with its vast PR campaigning, to convince the American people that allowing homosexuals the same right of straight people, somehow threatened the way of straight, white Christian life. They argued that marriage is only between a man and a woman and should not be allowed to happen between a man and a man because of this. The truth is that marriage may be between a man and a woman in their particular religion, but that doesn’t mean it’s the same way for the rest of us. However, with their Christian leadership and theocratic backing, they managed to legislate a morality that is solely based upon religion. This opens up a pretty nasty can of worms though. In fact, the argument of the United States government at the time was the very Locke-esque version of God’s law. This point was argued in many cases, including the former judge in Alabama who was removed because of his unwillingness to remove the Ten Commandments statue of which I earlier spoke, stated that it would be “frivolous to make a constitutional amendment for a law that god had already passed.” So, I guess the basis of the banning of gay marriage was justified because the bible already spoke against it. The can of worms this opens could be even the question of slavery. The Holy Bible, in many verses and even psalms, condones slavery of one race over another. Does that mean that we should start to take another look at the thirteenth amendment of the constitution, and argue that god’s law condones slavery, therefore the constitution should as well? It seems by this level of thinking, we ought to. Although, being a person of moral fiber, unlike religionists, I would oppose that bill just as fervently.
Amendment the First
Now that we’ve wrapped back around from where we came, let’s look at the other problem with legislating religion-based morality. This problem lies within a certain document that I’ve quoted many of times already in this book, although it seems to be one that the United States federal government seems to have Left Behind faster than the “sinners” in the books of shared name. That document is the constitution. While Bush and Cheney were launching their religious crusade led by homophobia, liberals and civil rights activists everywhere were quoting the first amendment in regards to the fed passing laws respecting establishments of religion. What they didn’t quote was a more important part of this amendment. Let’s take a look back at the first amendment of the constitution and how it actually reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
When we read this passage we see that congress cannot make a law for, OR AGAINST, an establishment of religion. There are over one-hundred federally recognized religions in the US today, and almost 400 unrecognized ones that promote the bond of marriage whether it’s between a man and a woman, a man and a man or a woman and a woman. This seems to be a breech of the contract that we all signed at birth. The contract being that of a United States citizen who is protected by the constitution. As well, the federal government, as well as the supreme court, seems to have breeched that contract the same by passing a law that prohibits the free exercise of religion. There was an argument against this that stated in writing:
There are religions in the world that condone murder. Therefore, are we to grant them that right to murder innocent people just because it’s part of the free exercise of religion?[i]
The ironic thing about this is that this is from a letter written to me by a member of the Christian Coalition in 2006, and it seems like he’s talking about his own religion. After all, the only religions that are practiced widely in the US that condone murder for ANY reason at all are Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Even Satanism, which by the way is not an officially accepted religion in the US, does not condone murder for any reason. Therefore, it seems that the representative just incriminated his own faith, probably just a Freudian slip, right? The other issue that I have against this statement is that he was actually comparing the marriage of two homosexual people to murder. That’s right, to murder. How, even in the warped mind of an integrity free, and morally bankrupt Christian, is an act and expression of love between two people, and the act of taking another person’s life, the very same thing? It seems as though the good Christian and the good Coalition has a problem distinguishing between an act of love, devotion and benevolence, from an act of hate and malevolence. In what way are these two things even similar? Until I get an actual response as to why they feel that allowing gays to marry, threatens the way of life the all of straight America, I’m just going to assume the obvious. After all, they can’t answer my questions, they just spin and read the same rhetoric as they would if I were to ask about taxes. The fact of the matter is that banning gay marriage was not only a violation of the first amendment, an act of aggression against the secular and evolved world, an act of religious induced homophobia, and more importantly, an act in violation of the inherent and unalienable rights, of which we are endowed by our “creator”, being life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This act was a violation of liberties and of the pursuit of happiness anyway, although one might argue that life is love and to deny love is to deny life. But that’s just coming from a Beatles fan. After all, all you need is love.
Stripped From the Shelves
The overt religion in the US government today is a clear sign of why we seem to be moving backward as a country. Religion in government is nothing new though, in fact, my first experience of this horrid trend was in 1993. I was at the tender age of 11 for the majority of that year. That was the year that a book called Freedom under Siege: The Impact of Organized Religion on Your Liberty and Your Pocketbook by Madalyn Murray O’Hair was taken off the shelves of my local library. Madalyn’s book, although published in the 1970s was a very innovative new perspective on the Draconian present as well as the decaying future to which we have to look forward, because of the religious influence in politics. Local Christian groups demanded that the library take the books off the shelves as it was abominable and filled with harsh lies about the Christian right. The most ironic part was that just by making this demand, they were proving everything within her book to be completely correct and factual. A vast part of her book was about censorship and the influence of the religious right thereof.
This ordeal scared me to death. As I was at a tender age and was still working on erasing the religious brainwashing damage that my grandfather had perpetrated upon me. I still wasn’t sure how I felt about religion in its organized form. I had been forced to grow up pretty quickly, but I really hadn’t taken a trek into that field of politics. Now I was, however, old enough to know that most of the things the religious right had protested in my life have been things that I had enjoyed for various reasons. So, I knew that I wanted to read this book and find out what all of the chaos was over. That weekend I got my grandmother to take me to a nearby mall close to Minneapolis called North-town Mall. I knew that there was a book store in there and I figured that with all of the controversy over the book, they would have it for certain. It turned out that they didn’t have it. They had stopped carrying it because of the little known controversy around it. The controversy was kept so secure that I later found out that the book’s author didn’t even know it was happening.
This was starting to get scarier. Was this the time of the Roman Inquisitions where the inquisitors were walking around with a copy of the Index Prohibitorum? Was this the times of the Catholic church burning book sellers for carrying copies of books they felt were blasphemous? Was this New York in the time of Anthony Comstock and his great inquisition to remove every book off the shelves that fell in line with his hand written and YMCA doctored obscenity and heresy laws? Was this the time of the freedom hating and liberty stomping NODL and their infamous crusade against “obscene literature and television? Was this the time when our favorite Mississippi reverend couldn’t seem to figure out how to change a station, therefore took a radio station to court causing the supreme court to rule almost unanimously that radio and television were the only areas of United States entertainment that were not protected by the first amendment? Was I there? Had I gone back in time? I mean, it’s not like I didn’t know about censorship. It’s not like I hadn’t done my research on the MPAA and their backwater religious philosophy. However, this was the 90s. How could this type of primitive reasoning and finding bare its ugly face in my time?
The end was not near for censorship. In fact, we see it more and more today. There are more things that you cannot say and do on television today than there were in 1970. Every year, the MPAA along with the FCC—both of which, heavily influenced by religious falsehood—find more and more things that are offensive to a couple of people in the United States, therefore should not be allowed in television and movies. And every year, less and less people watch television and go to the movies. Most people like to blame this on prices, but I really don’t think that’s the case. I firmly believe that more people everyday are watching shows on the internet, not only because of the reduced price and greater variety, but also because of the lack of FCC control. In internet is a paid feature, therefore the FCC cannot, constitutionally, have any authority over the internet. And there are more people not going to movies since in invention of DVD, because DVD gave birth to unrated versions and director’s cuts. Why would you want to go to the movies and pay your hard earned money to see something that barely resembles what the film makers originally intended, because it’s so spliced and torn after the MPAA gets done telling them all of the things that God doesn’t want in movies?
The FCC is almost a more powerful source of anti-freedom sentiment than religion itself. Although, religion and the FCC are basically one in the same in the sense that the decisions made by the FCC always have a moral background that somehow involves religious teachings. Since the Telecommunications act of ’96, the FCC has had all of the power in the world to regulate as they see fit. They have no oversight committee and also have no rules. This means that there are no caps to the dollar values of their fines, and there are also no regulations as to what constitutes a finable offense. The FCC could fine any program on any station for any reason, anytime they want to do it, and that is a “right” that they are not afraid to exercise. For more information on the FCC, see my short entitled “Everybody Fucks ‘An Open Letter to the FCC’”.
The thing that most stands to question here, other than organizations such as the FCC being completely detrimental and antithetic to personal freedom, is why the FCC is allowed to operate in the first place. The FCC in and of itself is a violation of separation of church and state. This was put best in the book I mentioned before having been taken off the shelves of my local library when I was eleven. Freedom under Siege states:
The FCC has even awarded licenses to religious organizations. In 1965 I received from the National Religious Broadcasters their list of stations owned and operated by churches and other religious institutions. There were ninety-four of them, in every state of the union. This raises a vital constitutional question: If the FCC is an instrument for regulating the public airways and one that is set up by an act of congress, can it assign radio wavelengths or television channels—which are public domain—to religious organizations? The first amendment of the constitution states specifically that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Yet a radio or television station owned by a religious organization and using the public airwaves surely represents an “establishment of religion.”
In this passage, the question is raised of just how the federal government could justify the congressionally instituted Federal Communications Commission not just awarding licenses to religious groups, but also having mandated that stations in the 1950s to have a certain amount of religious programs on their stations. There is another concern here as well. This is the concern of the FCC’s rules about broadcast television, not just when it comes to the morality of religion, but also to religion itself. The National Association of Broadcasters’ radio code, section F is as follows:
1. Religious programs shall be presented by responsible individuals, groups and organizations.
2. Radio broadcasting, which reaches men of all creeds simultaneously, shall avoid attacks on religious faiths.
3. Religious programs shall be presented respectfully and without prejudice or ridicule.
4. Religious programs shall place emphasis on religious doctrines of faith and worship.
The FCC, the NAB and individual broadcasting stations, by the way, have held that stations are in no way obligated to give Atheists or other non-religionists any airtime, either free or paid.
This is another clear case of the lack of the separation of church and state in politics. Whereas, the FCC is a federal group with federal power, how exactly can it have the power to institute religious rules over public airwaves without violating the first amendment of this country? How is it that the FCC can mandate that religious programs be offered? At that extent, how is it that one can say that religion must be broadcasted respectfully? This again illustrates that any kind of challenge to a person’s religious belief, even if protected under the first amendment, is completely out of the question. After all, you don’t want to make people think. What’s more is that it seems like any kind of scrutiny of religion is completely out of the question. Some of these rules have changes since they were inducted, but the fight continues any time a person would want to make any reference to religion that is anything but a respectful hailing of God and all of his religious accoutrements. Another order of the FCC is their view on sex.
America has become the most sexually repressive country in the world. It is possible that we would be seconded by some parts of the middle-east. If you were to run down the FCC rules only half a century ago, you would find rules regarding husbands and wives on television that are flabbergasting. These rules ran the gambit between not allowing any sort of alluding to a male and a female even sharing a bed with one another, to any kind of kissing other than just a short peck being completely prohibited. While these rules have calmed as the FCC must have realized that most couples sleep in the same bed and occasionally kiss, the FCC has yet to figure out that men and women do actually fornicate from time to time, and even the most prenatal of lesson, everybody poops. You could find so many rules in the FCC handbook that revolve around a male and a female who are in bed with one another that it’s astonishing. There can be no movement while a couple cuddles, they have to be wearing X amount of clothing articles, et cetera… Well, if you can’t see why this adds to the sexual repression of America, then I don’t think I have a large enough microscope to help you read the writing on the wall. We are decades behind most of the rest of the world, such as Japan, where you can see fornication and full nudity on television at 9:00 in the morning.
The fact of the matter is that the most repressed cultures are always the most violent. Look at the middle-east again for an example. Children are often separated from the opposite sex at birth and not allowed to even interact with them. Can you imagine why the thought of forty virgins in heaven after flying an airplane into a building might sound like an attractive thought? I certainly can. Sexual repression leads to angry people. Bill Maher once said, “If you can show me one suicide bomber, who after death, his friends said, ‘All that man did was fuck, fuck, fuck, and now this,’ then I’ll shut up about sex.”
He’s right. This kind of sexual repression does lead to violence. If you withhold the one thing that all of us share, and that all of us urge for, then you get buildings collapsing and bodies strewn about the streets. And we have that here as well. After all, it’s just now starting to be alright to even have two men or women kiss one another on television. If I were to run down all of the shows that lost most of their sponsors in the “tolerant” nineties, I would account for every show on television that had anything even eluding to a gay couple. Once again, the primitive idealism of one small part of the culture is trying to control the rest of the culture, and force them to swallow their beliefs and morality. Yet I’m being called a hypocrite for writing this book. Well, I do think that you should all keep your opinions to your damn selves. I’m writing a book that you have a choice to read. You can choose to put it down. If I want to choose not to have your beliefs shoved down my throat, I have to apply for citizenship in another county, because America is not a tolerant land for anything except Christians, and the more you repress the more violence you’re going to have.
I quoted Japan earlier—Japan has sex everywhere the eye can see. Forms of legalized prostitution, gambling, porn on their networks and even breasts in their Coke adds, but do you know what the violent crime statistics are in Japan? By populous, about 10% of the crime occurs in Tokyo compared to that of LA or New York. And there are far more people in Tokyo than in either one of those cities. Could that have anything to do with the fact that they’re liberated? Could it have anything to do with the fact that their standards and practices realize that everybody fucks, shits, pisses and even grovels around like a dog at the feet of a gorgeous woman from time to time? Yes, of course these are the reasons. History has shown time and time again, that liberation means more than just being free to express, but it also means freedom from violence. And the culturist, homophobic theocratic US government may never understand that until we fall, along with half of the world, and the only countries left standing are those that run a truly free, liberated and progressive ship. In the end, American Theocracy will surely be the end of “the one last beacon of freedom on this Earth”.
The Motion Picture Ablution of America
One cannot discuss the negative ramifications of the FCC without mentioning its movie counterpart, the MPAA. The Motion Picture Association of America was forged by the religious right as well. This one organization is maybe the worst of the fascist organizations invented by the right, and by those who are seemingly so afraid of their bodies that they don’t want others to enjoy their own or others’. In one year, the MPAA is responsible for the livelihood of thousands of people, and is responsible for much of the sexual repression in this country that has led to much of the violence in our land. Remember, cultures that are the most repressed are most often the most violent. Let’s remember that all of the terrorists in the 9/11 attack were the results of sexual repression. They were all separated from women at birth and told that all women are evil. Then after a life of sexual repression, the promise of 72 virgins in Heaven seems pretty tempting. That’s just one example of how sexual repression ruins our society.
The MPAA does this in a far less direct way. Producers, directors and writers live with the threat throughout the writing and filming process, of their work either not being allowed to be released, thus bankrupting them, or of their work having two letters and two numbers put in front of the title of their movie that will discourage any and all theatres from playing the work—livelihood lost. The organization can also send out the names of theaters that play work they discourage to organize people to protest them—livelihoods lost. More and more people every year, including myself, don’t see movies in theaters because they don’t want to see the MPAA edited version of both the director’s vision, and/or the writer’s initial vision. They want to see the movie unrated and unedited, therefore they wait for the unrated DVD to come out—livelihoods lost. More and more movies are being made every year that are outside the Hollywood system because of the MPAA’s control over the industry—livelihoods lost.
I’m not against the concept of warning people of the content of a product before they pay money to purchase it. What I’m against is an organization that’s just supposed to do that, wielding the power of dictating what people can and cannot place in their movies, how they can advertise them or even what they can call their movies. This is not freedom of speech. The Supreme Court ruled that radio and television were not protected by the First Amendment, which was bad enough, but their exact words were, “Radio and Television are the only things in America that are not protected by the First Amendment.” The word “only” is there for a reason, however, it seems like movies have been somehow included on that. Did you know that if your movie is not sent to the MPAA for a rating, there is under five magazines that can legally advertise your movie, and it cannot be advertised on television, unless the lack of rating is only tentative? It’s true—as the director and creator of Frankenhooker about that one.
The MPAA, like the FCC is attributing to the downfall of the American economy and nobody seems to care. Yes, if there’s sex and gratuitous nudity in a movie, let people know, that way they don’t take their children to see it. However, rating movies and assuming that parents dong’ have the right to raise their children the way they see fit—which is a whole other conversation for another book—is fascism, and so is ordering theaters, indirectly, not to play movies with certain ratings. The organization was put in place to inform people of the content of movies, and that is all it should have legal authority to do. It should not hold a monopoly over the movie industry.
The purification of America is the goal of such organizations, and by purification, I mean sheltering people from “dirty language” and “gratuitous sex.” Guess what, in a free culture, people should have the ability to choose for themselves and distinguish within their own morality, which movies they don’t want to see and which movies they do want to see. Parents want the rest of the world to be forcibly abstained from matters from which they want their own children abstained. Well, the rest of us don’t need to be policed just because parents don’t want the responsibility of raising their own children. If you don’t want that responsibility, then there is an easy way to make sure it’s not weighted onto you—that again is a whole different conversation—although if the Catholics had their way, child birth wouldn’t be a choice. The MPAA is a negative organization and should never have been birthed, but since it has been, we need to find ways to remove it in our own modern day society, lest we fall under the umbrella of complete governmental control and dictatorship.
The Word, Word
There is yet another nuisance out there in the world trying to form a religious history where there was never one. The New Lie can expose many people and their hidden agendas, but what about the people who define the word Agenda? Webster’s seems to fall right in line with both trying to rewrite history in their encyclopedias as well as improperly define words in their own dictionaries. I’ll give you a few examples of this:
PAGAN n. a heathen; a. heathenish idolatrous, -ish a. –ize v.t. to render pagan. –ism n. [L. paganus, a peasant].
We can easily see that Webster’s has taken the word Pagan and changed it to another meaning. A pagan would be a person who practices a pagan religion, whether stemming from the middle-east, Celtic routes or even Nordic. However, Webster’s tries to demonize the meaning of the word and place a negative connotation upon it. Is this any way for a respected and notarized dictionary to behave? Is this in any way, responsible behavior for a trusted source of definition? We can see the New Lie and it’s motivations even more apparent in the Webster’s Encyclopedia. There is a section dedicated to great quotes throughout history, and what is it that you suppose we see when we check the more religious ones. In fact, what we see is flurries of positive quotes regarding religion and not a single negative from any of the famous anti-religious free-thinkers in history. When we check the encyclopedia for quotes regarding atheism, we see even more disturbing quotes. As you may guess, there weren’t a whole lot of quotes in this book from the founding fathers of our country.
Religion is the best armor a man can have but it is the worse cloak.
I’ve lived long enough to know what I did not at one time believe—that no society can be upheld in happiness and honor without the sentiment of religion.
These are just a couple of examples of what lies in the book regarding religion. And what lies in the book regarding atheism. There are only five, and here they are:
Atheism is the result of ignorance and pride; of strong sense and feeble reasoning; of good eating and ill-living. It is the plague of society, the corrupter of manners and the underminer of property.
There is no being eloquent for atheism. In that exhausted receiver the mind cannot use its wings—the clearest proof that it is out of its element.
Atheism is rather in the life than in the heart of man.
No atheist, as such, can be a true friend, an affectionate relation, or a loyal subject.
By night, an atheist half believes in God.
Now, these are all pretty strong statements, especially the one by Dr. Bentley. Now I wonder why the good people at Webster’s decided not to put any quotes in here regarding atheism that might look positively upon an atheist. You know, from people like H.D. Thoreau, or Isaac Newton, Freud, Neitchzke, Ginsberg, Adams, Jefferson, Rogers, Cummings, Verne, Wilde, Washington, or Blaise Pascal. I’m sure that much of the world would like to see some even ground. Or why wouldn’t they use some of the ways any of the authors I just mentioned have described religion in the past? For the same reason they’ve tended to leave out great quotes form people like Shakespeare in the quote section about God. Much of the quotes are from either the bible or from old Hebrew texts. One wouldn’t want to take a piece of Hamlet and place it into this section, because much of Hamlet was quite anti-religious, mostly to religion in its organized form.
I’m just looking for a little objectiveness here. What is the world to do when we can’t even trust our own dictionaries to be objective and truthful? What are we to do when the New Lie is being perpetrated even by the most trusted name in dictionaries? What are we to do when our history books and encyclopedias start resembling the Holy Bible more and more every year? I would think there would be some public rage or outcry, but nobody seems to care. Again, the effects of the Theo-glitch and the New Lie are prevalent. Here, people are just believing whatever they’re reading, thusly, they seem to think this is normal. They seem to think that Webster’s is still a trusted source of information, when it’s clearly not. In this book, there are many quotes from very prominent people in our history regarding religion and atheism, and wouldn’t you know that the reality again seems to conflict with the reality presented by those involved in the grand scheme to falsify our religious history. This is a blatant attempt to falsify information, as well as provide only one perspective of the truth, thus relieving any sense of objectivity.
If only the founding fathers of America could see the country now. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Thomas Edison, John Adams, George Washington, Mason, Brant, John, Paul, George Ringo, yada, yada, yada. Their hearts, if not their pacemakers, would stop in a heartbeat. They would look upon the country, especially Capitol Hill, in shock, awe and dismay. There would be no rational thought in their head as to how things could have gotten like this. They would all think to themselves that, “this is everything that we spent our lives trying to make sure we didn’t see in America,” and “What about the Virginia Model did you guys not understand? What about the First Amendment did you not understand? What about the Declaration of Independence did you not understand? What about Article VI did you not understand?”
These are legitimate questions. No matter how many outward justifications that are given for the theocratic decisions that have been made over the last forty years or so, the truth remains: just because a decision is covered by a veil of shallow logic, does not mean that there isn’t religion underneath it. Whether or not a fetus has a soul is a matter of theological discussion, and has no place in federal courtrooms or in Congress. Whether or not the bible is clear on marriage only being between a man and a woman, is a matter for late night restaurant discussion, not the House of Representatives. Whether or not And the next time we have media coverage of another Bosnia crisis, or a crisis anywhere near the Balkans, how about we don’t use euphemisms like “Croat” and “Serb” while only mentioning religion when it pertains to Muslims; and actually confess that the violence is being caused by Catholic extremists and Orthodox Christians. What would happen then? What would happen if the veil of media quarantine were to be lifted from the United States, and people actually had to question why people of their own faiths in other countries were committing the same violence that they had been throughout the 2,000 year history of the faiths that they probably have no concept of? Oh no, people might have to question their faith, and namely its place in politics, because there is no greater example in our contemporary times of what happens when religion pokes its head into politics, let alone, becomes open theocracy, than the Middle East. One can argue this by saying that their faith is better than that one and would create a better world. Well, you’re not considering that the West’s three major faiths (Christianity, Islam and Judaism) are all descendent of a common literary ancestor, and that is the old testament, and the only actual differences in the faiths are the stories (or sides of the stories) they tell regarding kings, queens wars and prophets, and the names they use. There is not a one of them that does not condone the kind of radicalism that we see in the Middle East today. To kill in the name of god is to be Holy in these faiths, and don’t forget that Hinduism is right there with them in that effect, no matter how many deluded people want to argue that it’s a peaceful and tranquil faith. If Hinduism is a peaceful and tranquil faith, then Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime was secular and westernized, and George W. Bush was a bipartisan, unilateral reformer with results.
There is no place for religion in politics unless we want to become just like those “evil” Middle Eastern countries that we all allegedly hate. Well, one must really look deep into the history of the Middle East to see where all the violence is coming from, because to say that all the violence in that region of the world is Muslim based, is a statement as radical as the violence itself. I don’t favor one religion over another, and never will, as I see them all as a negative influence and probably the greatest of all inhibitors of human progress, but one must really ask themselves why all of the Muslim extremist groups say that what they’re doing is an act of defense and self-preservation. Sure, I don’t usually associate religionists, especially radical ones, as honest people, but you really have to wonder if they all could be lying. The Muslims in the Bosnia crisis, for the most part, were guilty of nothing more than were the Christians or the Catholics involved in the crisis. And when this type of violence is going on, you need to take a look at the religious leaders who bother to talk about it. One side or the other, the majority of the time, they condone the violence going on. And on the rare occasion that they don’t condone the violence, what they’re doing is protesting the war from a humanist standpoint, not a religious one. What does that tell you? After 9/11, the first statements issued from either side of the argument were religious statements. One side said, “The thousands who died are in heaven,” and the other said, “Those who acted in the name of God are now in heaven.” There could be no logical justification regarding the US and its use of Middle Eastern soldiers in the Cold War, or the CIA-led training of military extremists in the Middle East in the name of the conquering progress of the United States, or the use of Muslims in the Bay of Pigs invasion, or US military bases on Muslim holy land, or the fact that the US was funding horrific Middle Eastern regimes, including the Taliban, for up to four months before 9/11, or the US sold missiles to Saddam Hussein who used them on Sunni countries in acts of horrible terrorism and war. None of this was mentioned after the attacks, if it were, it was only as an afterthought. Those who say that 9/11 was not an attack of religious fundamentalism are deluding themselves, and truthfully, I think the Religious Wrong actually invented half of the conspiracy theories regarding 9/11 just so that people wouldn’t actually have to call religion into question—if you question one, you really have to question them all.
No more religion in politics or no more religion at all. I refuse to live under the Taliban, and that’s where we’re headed if the people in Chapter Two have their way. The words of John Lennon must be called upon again, “Imagine…and no religion too.”
[i] From the Christian Coalition of Minnesota, writer unnamed, the document was only signed by a generic printing of the founder, or chairperson’s signature, received on November, 17 2006