Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Open Letter to America's Liberal Christians (UPDATED)

This post is directed at American liberal/progressive Christians. 

I am an atheist. You probably think I am misguided, angry, foolish, and maybe even unfortunately going to Hell. Conversely, you are Christian. You believe in Jesus, God and a “Host” of supernatural things I reject. I wholeheartedly, unequivocally reject these concepts. They are absurd to me. We are diametrically opposed when it comes to the belief in a supernatural deity. Fine. Let’s accept that and put it aside. Now that we got that out of the way let’s have an adult conversation about what direction our country is heading.
We are not supposed to accept each other, let alone work together. There is one problem with that: as Americans, you have the freedom of religion and I have freedom from religion. We have a secular government to protect all people. Contrary to popular opinion (*cough* Fox News *cough*) secularism does not equate to atheism or anti-religion. It is institutionalized religious neutrality. It’s a nice little concept that was integral to the foundation of this country and allows everyone to coexist without repeating the horrors of the past. However, there are those that wish to utterly destroy this concept.
Last weekend far-right, anti-democratic conservative Christian organizations sponsored the “Thanksgiving Family Forum.” Of course the media, for whatever reason, felt compelled to completely ignore this event. All of the major GOP presidential candidates were there minus Romney and Huntsman (why were those two not there? Because they are Mormons and therefore considered members of a cult). This event was a profound open declaration of visions for an American theocracy. If you don’t think for a minute that these people despise you (as “liberal” Christians) as much as me (an atheist) you are mistaken. They think your religion is heresy, a sin, evil, and the work of the Anti-Christ. Their theology requires—requires—everyone to be obedient to Mosaic Law. If you don’t know what that means then you do not know your own religion. Mosaic Law will require the strict enforcement of Old Testament Biblical restrictions. This means codified, enforceable punishment, imprisonment, or death for crimes including; but not limited to blasphemy, heresy, Christian apostasy (leaving one’s religion), witchcraft, assaulting ones parent(s), females (and only females...) guilty of premarital sex, repeat juvenile delinquency, adultery, incest, sodomy, homosexuality, etc.
Read the quotes from the candidates below and ask yourself if you agree with them. Ask yourself do you, in any way, wish to live in a society that operates this way. Because the current status quo of not talking about it and ignoring it is how they are close to putting someone in the White House to say nothing of the military and Congress which is already full of these people. It’s called Dominionism. It is not some left-wing conspiracy theory. Look it up! It is not hard to find concrete evidence of it.
I had commentary to point out the constitutional (and moral) flaws in each one of these statements and I deleted them. I want you to read them and think about what each quote means on your own. If you don’t have any problems with this and you could sleep well at night knowing they could represent you then so be it. Thanks for reading.
Excerpts provided by Church and State in their article The Republican plan to nullify the courts and establish Christian theocracy.

1. Religious Americans must fight back against nonbelievers. To quote Herman Cain:
What we are seeing is a wider gap between people of faith and people of nonfaith. … Those of us that are people of faith and strong faith have allowed the nonfaith element to intimidate us into not fighting back. I believe we’ve been too passive. We have maybe pushed back, but as people of faith, we have not fought back.
2. The religious values we must fight for are Judeo-Christian. Rick Perry warned:
Somebody’s values are going to decide what the Congress votes on or what the president of the United States is going to deal with. And the question is: Whose values? And let me tell you, it needs to be our values—values and virtues that this country was based upon in Judeo-Christian founding fathers.
3. Our laws and our national identity are Judeo-Christian. Michele Bachmann explained:
American exceptionalism is grounded on the Judeo-Christian ethic, which is really based upon the 10 Commandments. The 10 Commandments were the foundation for our law. That’s what Blackstone said—the English jurist—and our founders looked to Blackstone for the foundation of our law. That’s our law.
4. No religion but Christianity will suffice. Perry declared,
“In every person’s heart, in every person’s soul, there is a hole that can only be filled by the Lord Jesus Christ.”
5. God created our government. Bachmann told the audience:
I have a biblical worldview. And I think, going back to the Declaration of Independence, the fact that it’s God who created us—if He created us, He created government. And the government is on His shoulders, as the book of Isaiah says.
6. The U.S. law should follow God’s law. As Rick Santorum put it:
Unlike Islam, where the higher law and the civil law are the same, in our case, we have civil laws. But our civil laws have to comport with the higher law. … As long as abortion is legal—at least according to the Supreme Court—legal in this country, we will never have rest, because that law does not comport with God’s law.
7. Anything that’s immoral by religious standards should be outlawed. Santorum again:
God gave us rights, but He also gave us laws upon which to exercise those rights, and that’s what you ought to do. And, by the way, the law should comport—the laws of this country should comport with that moral vision. Why? Because the law is a teacher. If something is illegal in this country because it is immoral and it is wrong and it is harmful to society, saying that it is illegal and putting a law in place teaches. It’s not just—laws cannot be neutral. There is no neutral, Ron. There is only moral and immoral. And the law has to reflect what is right and good and just for our society.
8. The federal government should impose this morality on the states. Santorum once more:
The idea that the only things that the states are prevented from doing are only things specifically established in the Constitution is wrong. Our country is based on a moral enterprise. Gay marriage is wrong. As Abraham Lincoln said, the states do not have the right to do wrong. … As a president, I will get involved, because the states do not have the right to undermine the basic, fundamental values that hold this country together.
9. Congress should erase the judiciary’s power to review moral laws. Newt Gingrich suggested:
I am intrigued with something which Robby George at Princeton has come up with, which is an interpretation of the 14th Amendment, in which it says that Congress shall define personhood. That’s very clearly in the 14th Amendment. And part of what I would like to explore is whether or not you could get the Congress to pass a law which simply says: Personhood begins at conception. And therefore—and you could, in the same law, block the court and just say, ‘This will not be subject to review,’ which we have precedent for. You would therefore not have to have a constitutional amendment, because the Congress would have exercised its authority under the 14th Amendment to define life, and to therefore undo all of Roe vs. Wade, for the entire country, in one legislative action.
Gingrich said the same strategy could secure the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages and protects the right of states to disregard same-sex marriages performed in other states. In his words, “You could repass DOMA and make it not appealable to the court, period.”
10. Courts that get in the way should be abolished. Gingrich again:
The simplest first step which I would take is to propose—and I hope this will be a significant part of the campaign next year—I have proposed to abolish the court of Judge Biery in San Antonio, who on June 1 issued an order that said, not only could students not pray at their graduation, they couldn’t use the word benediction, they could not say the word prayer, they could not say the word God, they could not ask people to stand for a moment of silence, they couldn’t use the word invocation, and if he broke any of those, he would put their superintendent in jail. I regard that as such a ruthless anti-American statement that he should not be on the court, and I would move to literally abolish his court, so that he could go back to private practice, as a signal to the courts.
Biery’s order was an overreach. In fact, it was overturned two days later by an appeals court. But he’s only the first target of the anti-judicial purge. The next words after Gingrich’s threat came from Santorum, who said: “I agree with a lot of what has just been said here. I would go farther—one step farther, Newt. I would abolish the entire Ninth Circuit.” (emphasis added)
11. The purge of judges should be based on public opinion. Gingrich once more:
Part of the purpose of singling out Judge Biery and eliminating his job is to communicate the standard that the two elected branches have the power and the authority to educate the judiciary when it deviates too far from the American people. And I think you would probably take that approach.
12. Freedom means obeying morality. Santorum concluded,
“Our founders understood liberty is not what you want to do, but what you ought to do. That’s what liberty really is about.”

Most Christians I know do not agree with the right-wing Christian theocratic lunacy that has taken over the Republican Party. So my question is...why do you accept it? Why the silence? Why does the Religious Right get to speak for you? Why are the godless and very few progressive Christians the only ones in active opposition, let alone even acknowledging this? I know you vote against them, but that isn’t enough. This is your religion. Whether you like it or not it represents you as much as you represent it. Do you attend a church where the preacher or congregants have conversations sympathetic to these concepts? Are you a preacher and have large sections of your congregation believing in these things? It is your responsibly to have that uncomfortable conversation with them. If you are not or are too afraid to because of the consequences then they have won by cowing you into silence. I get emails and direct, private messages on social sites from Christians who say they agree with me on a lot of these criticisms and they don’t believe this or that. Few ever admit this in public though. Let me tell you…that is maddening! This letter isn’t an attempt to change anyone’s worldview. I don’t care whether or not you reevaluate your religion. I care even less if anyone thinks I shouldn’t have written it.  

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

UPDATED: Below is a 12 minute, "highlight" reel of some of the discussion at the Thanksgiving Family Forum.