Vintage US Flag Gra[hic

We Need a Populist Movement—Part 3: Civil Rights

140th US Flag Day poster. 1777-1917. The birth...
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It’s pretty simple, really.

I can not imagine a United States in which women were not allowed to vote, in which they were considered more as a man’s property, his birthright, his just reward for manhood.  I can’t imagine a United States in which black people were considered property, slaves, people owned and bred for the profit of white men.  I simply can not imagine a United States in which entire nations of people, the American Indians, were exterminated because white men wanted what was theirs.

And to do these things in the name of a god, a deity, a faith practice that holds to some ancient tenets most of 21st century civilization finds barbaric and so out of touch with present reality as to be rendered irrelevant superstitions is appalling, oppressive, and the very definition of evil.

Now don’t misunderstand, I think people should be allowed to practice their chosen faith but within constraints that will be the content of the upcoming post on faith practice.  Denying the civil right of marriage to inter-racial couples is the stuff of antiquity.  To deny same sex couples the right to marriage is also the product of a similar hate-filled thinking process.  To deny gay men and women from serving in the military is just as ignorant, intolerant, and, like the aforementioned marriage issues, the product of forcing a narrowly defined faith practice on people who do not hold to the teachings of that ancient religious belief system.

Additionally, the whole marriage concern poses another interesting issue.  The church claims that they must “defend the traditional definition of marriage.” That tradition is, of course, born in the very religious intolerance of which I’ve already written.  In other words, marriage is a curious legal and religious institution in which church and state are not separate. The founding fathers built as a major and fundamental tenet of this nation the separation of church from the state.  They, after all, had fled the religious tyranny of the protestant British Empire, though Sarah Palin might think it was the North Koreans.

I strongly, adamantly advocate for the separation of church and state.  Obviously, in the context of marriage, we need, as a nation, to explore this intermingling of the two.  The two must be separated!

As I have written before, if a church does not want to “endorse” or participate in a same sex couple’s marriage because that marriage is inconsistent with the ancient teachings of their church, teachings to which they choose to adhere [are any of them out there still doing blood sacrifices?], then they should not be required to.  But for any religious body to try to inflict their faith practice on others is unacceptable and completely out of touch with the fundamental and founding tenets of this nation.

I frankly am glad that the religious front organization, the bogusly named Family “Research” Council, was labeled a “hate group” the day before yesterday by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  Indeed, they are a hate group.  They are trying to force their hate-filled beliefs about a minority group on the nation as a whole.

Their activist agenda is immoral. Their activist agenda perpetuates a culture of hate and intolerance that continues to encourage and even endorse violent words, verbal assaults, bullying, taunting, physical assaults, murders, suicides, verbal abuse, distrust, and hatred. This can not be tolerated by those who value the separation of church and state, who value tolerance, understanding, civility, and who aspire to live by the golden rule. Their activist position is the antithesis of American values, is the antithesis of who I believe God to be and what God wants of people.  And while this post will not be popular with some of my very conservative friends, I believe in my soul that my position is the moral and just one that will stand the test of time.

People can oppose marriage and military service equality and not be a hate group.  I can respect that.  And for those who find the notion of same sex marriage and inter-racial marriage something loathsome, then I invite them to live by the simple words Whoopie Goldberg recently said, just “Don’t get one.”. It’s pretty simple really; isn’t it.  In the land of the free and the home of the brave, no one will force them to.  They simply must stop trying to force their chosen, narrowly defined, religious beliefs on those who do not accept them as the teachings of a loving, relevant God.

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2 thoughts on “We Need a Populist Movement—Part 3: Civil Rights”

  1. Though you are passionate about a separation of church and state, you are mistaken about both our founders and their documents. Our founding documents recognize the guiding hand of the Creator and attempt to capture His law, rather than to create something of their own making. The separation of church and state–a concept which does not occur in our Constitution, though frequently referenced there–was a concept of protecting religion from the state, rather than the current and growing practice today of the state trying to drive religion out of the public square.
    I am unable to reconcile your description of FRC with the organization I’ve seen, nor do I find the civility you seek in your descriptions. They, as do I, see that when society must confer the benefits and burdens of marriage on same-sex couples, society is forced to accept a very different and chosen, narrowly defined religious belief that has never been a part of the fabric of our society. We may attempt to shape God in our own image, but it would be far more useful to put ourselves in the Potter’s hands.

  2. BC, I suspect nothing either of us would ever say in a post or a comment would change the other’s mind and heart about these matters as matters of the mind/heart are the product of lifelong journeys. As a wise man in Atlanta once told me, “We are all the product of how we have been trained to think. While some of us take our thinking very seriously many unwittingly have the thinking of others foist upon them.” I know you take your thinking very seriously. I respect and admire that.

    Matters of fact on which we disagree include the separation of church and state both historically and in our current time. I suspect that if we fail to keep the two from intermingling, we create an environment rife with the same violent conflict that has gripped the earth for ages. In our ever-shrinking world, the protestant faith to which you and I ascribe, in which there alone is great diversity of faith practice, is indeed the minority.

    I suspect your position would be very different if, throughout our lifetimes, the Muslims or the Hindus comprised the same percentage of our nation’s population as the protestants do now, and were attempting to weave their perceptions of God’s laws into the public square–our legal, social, cultural, religious, and daily lives. Their view of the Potter’s hands is quite different and just as fervently held as yours or mine. It is that very passionate adherence to any faith practice that can become so unstable and dangerous–the stuff of subjugation, persecution, of wars and crusades in the name of God.

    I believe the words people use are important. They reflect, usually poorly as language has fairly significant limits, the state of the human heart. Words lead to actions. Actions have the power to hurt or help, separate or bring together, hate or love.

    The work of the FRC and other individuals and groups with extremely passionately held religious views creates an energy that drives people to do. (I see them as committed to achieving their social goals in the “culture wars” as they call it, sometimes with no regard for integrity. They actively work to have people “do” their agenda.)

    This week, in the news, I saw an example of this. David Bahati was in Washington. He is the MP (Member of Parliament) sponsoring the bill in Uganda that, according to him, when passed, will execute gay people in Uganda or place them in prison for life. He even stated that the bill requires extradition back to Uganda for gay people who flee Uganda. His sponsorship of this bill is, by his own statements, a direct result of his very sincerely held belief in what God looks like to him. He wishes to return Uganda to what he believes is “God’s law”–his words, not mine. Astoundingly, a Ugandan newspaper published the names and addresses of people suspected of being gay. Part of the banner for the article read, “Hang them.”

    That bill can be directly linked to the teachings of the religious fundamentalists in the United States, alluded to above. The words of these probably well-intentioned and sincere people and organizations in the US are now spreading persecution abroad. Is this what they would have happen here in the US? Is this their agenda? Is Uganda a test case? I certainly want to think this is not the case, that they had no such intentions at all. But, at the very least, this is the horrifying reality their words have created.

    Some recklessly use hateful words in the US to espouse a narrow religious position that marginalizes people. These words result in teen suicide. These words result in verbal and physical abuse. These words result in intolerance and dismissive condemnation by those who espouse these positions and by some who unwittingly have that thinking foist upon them. The list could go on and is in large part the result of the words used by some very shrill religious groups and leaders who appear determined to dominate the national conversation on this topic. These words now may result in government-sponsored genocide in Uganda.

    You mentioned that this doesn’t sound very civil. I couldn’t agree more. It’s hideous and completely appalling. Words can harm and kill people. Words matter. Words become actions.

    But religious persecution is not just limited to protestant faith practice. The honor killings of girls and women in middle eastern countries (even occurring now in the United States as we become more religiously diverse) are another example of how the blending of government and religion leads to actions I personally find horrific. I don’t think we should say that, because an honor killing was born of religious belief, the killing is moral. It’s murder. Thankfully, our courts and juries have agreed.

    I guess it’s just human nature to want other people to be like us, to agree with us, to see the world, God, relationships like we see them. It requires less effort from us when people are more like we are. I totally get that. When people are more like us, we understand them more easily, with less cognitive dissonance, which we generally try to avoid, as we try to get our heads around something we don’t really initially grasp.

    But ultimately, I believe we are all far more alike than we are different. (PK was right on this point.) I wish our world, our nation, our religious leaders would focus more on what we share in common as human beings. In time we’ll get there; I think; I hope.

    As I mention in the post, US history seems to bear this out: women’s rights, slavery, et al. Voting wasn’t “redefined” when women could vote. It was “just” a civil right. Allowing women to vote made the nation stronger.

    Civil rights are governments way of treating people fairly, respectfully, equally, and with dignity under the laws of the land–laws that should reflect the diversity people represent in their personal, genuine, sincere life journeys and personal, genuine, sincere faith practice. We just have to draw the line when our words, our beliefs, the actions of our lives begin hurting other people. Bottom line for me: I just don’t see who gets hurt when same sex couples have marriage equality or can serve in the military. I think we all suffer when they can’t.

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