observations from a slightly mad german-american

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Church and State and Radio... update

A friend challenged me on my 7.mar.04 posting. I find my reply to him is inconsistant with what I posted here, so I'd like to amend my statement.

The listeners of public radio, overall, would put up with such (religious) programming. In fact, many might approve. Many others would write letters of complaint, but that would be it.

Some organizations, though, are so opposed to any public expression of religious views that I think you could indeed see lawsuits. "You're using government money to support a religion. That violates our constitution. You can't use that to force their view down my throat!" Here in Wisconsin, our own Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) might be the first to file.

I cannot, without writing a novel, fully express my disdain for that group or their ilk.

I would agree with them that we must make sure that we do not see the establishment of a state religion in this country. I would also agree with them that, yes, there are a some who would attempt such a thing. If we value our freedoms, we should be ever on the guard against such activities.

But they pick the wrong fights. Silly fights. Petty fights. Even vindictive fights. Why? They're paranoid. They see bogeymen hiding behind bushes. Okay, but why? Let me propose this idea: They are exactly like the Christian Soldiers they claim to oppose. They both believe that the USA is a Christian Nation, and not a nation of Christians. That forms the basis for their actions.

For their benefit, I'd like to present a list of situations. I would love for them to tell me what is and is not religious oppression.

  1. An atheist walks through a city park one day and stumbles upon a little shed. In that shed are statues of a woman, a baby, some shepards and sheep, odd men with camels, and a star floating above.
  2. A Buddhist goes to another city park. She stumbles upon a couple three-foot-tall stones. Next to the stones is a sign that reads "Donated by the Lions Club of ZYZIFRAS City." The stone has a list. The first item on the list says "I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no other gods before me." The second, "keep holy the sabbath." The fifth, "thou shalt not steal."
  3. A Muslim first-grader receives a Valentine as school that reads "Jesus loves you."
  4. A Christian first-grader is suspended from school for handing out valentines that read "Jesus loves you".
  5. A Muslim first-grader receives twenty-four Valentines at school that read "Jesus loves you."
  6. An atheist goes to court seeking custody of his son. His ex-wife is a devout Catholic. He finds behind the Judge two large placards. Each has a list of five statements. The first reads, "I am the Lord thy God. Thouh shalt...."
  7. A Roman Catholic priest in China is jailed for refusing to recognize the spiritual supremacy of the State over his pope.
  8. A man is beaten in the Middle East for refusing to participate in the Friday call to prayer.
  9. A woman is killed in the Middle East by her brothers and father in accordance with the Q'uranic laws for having premarital sex and dishonoring the family name.
  10. A gathering of 100 Christians in India are slaughtered during wednesday prayers by members of the area's predominant religion

Which of these represents religious opression?

Which of those warrants smiling to yourself and moving on?

Which of those warrants feeling badly for someone, and then moving on?

Which of those situations warrants lawsuits?

Which of those warrants something greater?

Save the fights for the important stuff. And fight hard.

Until then, live in peace. You were meant to be happy. Let it happen.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Church and State and Radio

As I study, I'm listening to BBC London (FM 94.9). It is 6:12 Sunday morning in over there. And what are they playing? Gospel music. Overtly Christian Gospel. (A few minutes later: bland white Christian contemporary.)

Could you imagine America's Public Radio having such a Sunday A.M. show? Can you imagine the uproar it would cause among many of its listeners? What effect, if any, would that have on its current detractors?

The BBC is government-funded. For the next two hours they are going to play religious music. And for the next two hours, those who are not religiously inclined will either tune into another radio station or put up with the programming. No lawsuits. No cries of religious oppression.

It's indicative of a European attitude of tolerance I think this country could use.