Thursday, August 14, 2008
Every so often, I get a "thing" that purports to be by Ben Stein. I say "purports", since one should always question the authenticity of things on the Internet. Several months ago, a parishioner forwarded the Stein comments; I got it again today. Below is my response:
1. Ben is a privileged man and Jew who lives in Malibu, is highly educated, and probably has not been personally much affected by anti-Semitism.
2. I would be happy to have the religious symbols of ALL RELIGIONS displayed in our common life. Have you ever been to the places I have been to, where people were absolutely and viciously intolerant of having anything except Christian symbolism displayed? Have you noticed that Judge Moore wanted only Judeo-Christian symbols in his courtroom? There are beautiful expressions from other religions that speak to justice, peace, common civility. He didn’t want that. No: because he was determined to “establish” a Christian-centric ONLY culture. Like the Aryan Skin-heads. Is this what Jesus would approve of?
3. Many of the Christians who seem to think they are being “pushed around” are being “pushed around” because they are intolerant and disrespectful of other peoples’ beliefs or non-religious beliefs.
4. There is no such concept that America is an “explicitly atheist country”. The Constitution simply says that no particular religion is to be espoused. It does this because the Christians and Deists who formulated it wanted us to be respectful of ALL faiths, and to live in harmony with all.
5. There is also no explicit concept that America is an explicitly Christian country. President Adams made that clear in a treaty statement in the late 18th Century.
6. I’m all in favour of “getting us thinking”. Because people seem to me these days just to react out of the prejudices, and their determination not to change, and not to embrace the faiths of others.
7. What a fatuous answer Billy Graham’s daughter made! (And remember, Billy Graham was very anti-Semitic, and very homophobic, and very patriarchal, and very anti-Roman Catholic, and very into power as the confident of Presidents.) God does not “back out”. What God is deeply saddened about is that we refuse to love and respect those who do not believe what we believe, value what we value, think differently from us, and love all God’s children in their great diversity. No, we want people to be “American” according to our rules - and of course God will “back away” until we get the message.
8. Many of us Christians and believers have NOT been telling God is “get out of our schools, to get out of our government, and to get out of our lives”. We have been “on God’s side”, trying to establish a country in which ALL God’s children are respected. Jesus did not die for the freedom of Christians; He died for the whole World’s freedom from the power of Sin and Death. We have been advocating that God’s activity in the lives of people of other than Christian faith be recognized. But Christians have been adamant in their arrogant belief that God only talks with and loves Chrisatians.
9. Madeline O’Hare did us a big favour. She reminded us that God loves even unbelievers, and especially those who are persecuted by his so-called followers.
10. I would be happy, as a Christian, to have the Bible read in schools along with the glorious Wisdom and godly insight of other paths. But oh no; so-called Christians seem determined to defend that only they have the Truth.
11. Would you like, as a child, to have been beaten? Jesus said, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And have you noticed how many kids who were spanked and beaten become abusers?
12. Children “have no conscience” because Christians have refused to have a conscience themselves; it’s either “our way or the highway” - and we have taught our kids hatred against the “other” by our attitudes. Once we respect all peoples and their Wisdom, we can “teach or children well”. Yes, we are “reaping what we sow”.
13. We are not “trashing God”. We are confronting those who think they have God in their corner of prejudice, bigotry, ego-centrism, chauvinism, and zenophobia. Look at the latest Pew poll: America falls at the bottom of the list of fairness and tolerance.
14. It is hard to discuss God in school, when only Christian kids are respected.
15. The World is in bad shape because of the way that so-called Christians are behaving in a way contrary to the way of Jesus Christ.
16. And I say with Ben: “if you disregard this thought process, don’t sit back and complain about what bad shape the World is in”.