“Religious Freedom Is Fading…”

I’ve got Jesus in my bedroom
I’ve got Jesus in the halls
I’ve got paintings, prints, and posters
Of my savior on my walls
There’s a Jesus on my dashboard
While I’m driving down the street;
And my shirt says “Jesus loves you”
To the strangers I might meet

Now, my neighbors’ yard is filled with saints;
It’s hard to count them all!
There’s a Virgin Mary Grotto
Carved directly in their wall
There’s religious iconography
(They say it helps them cope)
And a special little closet
Filled with pictures of the pope

There are twenty-seven churches
I could visit if I like
There are twelve that I could walk to,
And there’s fifteen more by bike
They are thick as flies on honey
Some are old and some are new
But a couple public places
Have no Jesus-stuff in view!

There’s no cross above the courthouse
There’s no crèche at City Hall
There’s no Jesus on our currency—
“In God We Trust” is all—
I could put the Ten Commandments
Carved in granite at Town Square
But the secular “progressives”
Say there’s no religion there

It’s a travesty of justice!
It’s a trampling of my rights!
It’s oppression! It’s barbaric!
They’ve got Jesus in their sights
And they plan to take us over—
Wipe religion from the map!
That’s my honest, true, opinion…
Though it’s total fucking crap

A Christian Post editorial, utterly unsurprisingly, confuses the reeling back of the slightest measures of over-privilege with jack-booted religious repression. It is laughable in some of its claims (“The lackadaisical religious expressions of presidential candidates and their parties is another point at which religion’s impact has been parsed out.”), and varyingly disingenuous and sloppy in others:

While the fading of American religious freedom may seem subtle to some, in actuality it has been blatantly pursued for some time. For instance, think of the trend to remove prayer in any shape or form from public venues. Think also of the debate over whether the Ten Commandments can be displayed. Call to mind the upheaval caused by the phrase “Under God” being printed on US currency. The limiting of religious texts within certain venues, such as educational institutions, is another instance.

“Public venues”? Not at all–you can have all the religious expression you want; you just cannot have the government take your side. “Whether the Ten Commandments can be displayed”? Display it at your home, at your church, at your own place of business…but do not force me to display it at my house, or at any place where you and I both are represented. “Under God”? Heh… it’s “In God We Trust”, actually, on currency, and “under god” in the pledge. And the very fact that these two examples exist despite multiple challenges rather undercuts your argument.

There is no argument, actually. There is misrepresentation, there is false witness, there is paranoia, there is a martyr complex of epic proportions.

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“A Symbol Of National Unity”

I shouldn’t be shocked—hey, they’re only the news,
They can say what they want with impunity—
But it took me aback that they called a cathedral
A “symbol of national unity”.

It’s a beautiful building, I have to admit,
(Darth Vader hides in the façade!)
But it seems our one nation once deemed indivisible
Separates now, “under god”

The cathedral is of the Episcopal Church
So the Baptists, of course, disagree—
Not to mention the Wiccans, or Muslims, or Jews…
But it’s Unity, clearly, you see?

It’s not their intent to do anything wrong
They try to be open, it’s true
They’d love to unite the whole nation, of course,
But that’s something religion can’t do.

It’s a feel-good story; the National Cathedral is getting its needed repairs after the 2011 earthquake sent God’s message that He is a Darth Vader fan. It’s beautiful architecture, wonderful stone carving (my favorite is at 1:40 in the video, reminding us that artists have long used whatever source material they could, from pagan gods to bible stories, as an excuse to showcase naked bodies), extraordinary stained glass (which includes secular themes, like the Apollo lunar landing, incorporating an actual moon rock in the design), and I am happy to see it being restored.

Also, despite being the “National Cathedral”, every dime paying for its construction and repair is from private donors. It officially is an Episcopalian cathedral, not a U.S. one (its official name is “The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington”), although it has seen events from many denominations, and secular events as well.

But one thing it is not, though the linked story makes the claim–it is not a “symbol of national unity”. I can see why the Episcopalian Church would want to call it that–the Pew numbers put traditional and evangelical Episcopalian/Anglicans, combined, at under 2% of the US, not even in the top ten denominations, percentage-wise; to lay claim to a unified “National” anything would be a serious cap-feather. I think, maybe, the only real symbol of unity for this diverse country might well be the motto e pluribus unum, which at once recognizes our differences and our common identity.

But of course, that has been replaced by “in god we trust”, which just emphasizes the fact that it is not in religion’s power to unite, only to divide.

On The Deeply Held Religious Beliefs Of Corporations

A local corporation is a member of my church
Though it never puts a dollar in the plate
I haven’t seen it in the pews, no matter how I search
Though it claims it’s more devout than me, of late
It reads its bible daily, and of course it watches Fox,
It’s offended by the liberal elite
It loves Scalia’s reasoning (“He thinks outside the box!”)
Saying personhood is not confined to meat

If the church’s wisdom dictates, say, that women be controlled
There’s a trick our local corporation learned:
Your insurance isn’t yours at all, despite what you’ve been told
Compensation isn’t something that you’ve earned
You must subjugate your wishes to the corporation’s will—
Your insurance is dependent on their whim
So it’s really up to Jesus which prescriptions you may fill,
Cos the corporation puts its faith in Him.

If it holds beliefs devoutly, while abstractly it exists
It’s protected by the constitution, too
And (all thanks to Hobby Lobby) the Supreme Court now insists
Its protections mean it’s even safe from you!
In a battle of religious rights, it’s kinda, sorta, funny—
Corporations have beliefs, by all reports!
They are just like you or me—except, of course, they have more money…
But, of course, that doesn’t matter to the courts.

An Atheist Town Council Prayer

The town of Greece, NY, as a result of their recent court decision, is going to have a town council opening prayer delivered by an atheist. This has left a segment of the Christian population utterly befuddled; when the bible is the only book you need, you are not likely to have a dictionary handy. As both articles and comments show an astonishing lack of imagination or understanding on the part of these concerned Christian citizens, I offered the following comment at the link above (for whatever reason, though, my comments never show up, so I have reproduced it, with additional comments in verse, here):

To pray, by definition, can mean to entreat, to beseech, to implore–to make a request of a person or persons. The verb is not restricted to communion with a god, but may include communion with our fellow citizens. If I were offering the opening prayer, I would beseech the council to remember that they serve *all* the citizens of their community, not just those who share their religious views. I would implore them to look to the constitution and laws for their guidance, instead of to a holy book that many in their community do not follow. I would entreat them to put themselves in the place of these others in their community, as their own bible tells them (Matthew 25:40). I would pray that they use their critical thinking, not merely their faith, in fulfilling the obligations of their elected office.

I beseech the worthy council
To remember, as we pause,
That they serve the constitution,
And the people, and the laws;
They are here as public servants
It is us they represent
By, and of, and for the people
Thus, they serve by our consent

I entreat them to remember
During arguments or fights
That minority positions
Do not lead to loss of rights;
That our freedom of expression
Will protect us as we rant—
We can favor our religion;
It’s the government that can’t.

I implore my fellow citizens
Here gathered by my side
To remember that we use
The constitution as our guide
The majority can’t bully—
We’re protected from attack,
If we heed the constitution
Then the founders have our back

And I pray to every one of you
The bold, the brash, the meek
If you hear or read my words,
Then it’s to you that I would speak
Let us gather here together
Cos there’s work that must be done
So let’s work with one another,
We the people… every one.

Sixty Years Under God

I don’t know how I missed this–Monday was a big anniversary:

Feb. 10, 2014 was the 60th anniversary of the original congressional move in 1954 that added “under God” to the official Pledge of Allegiance, and state lawmakers all over the country have introduced resolutions to mark that unfortunate moment in American history.

Given that the original, God-free version of the pledge is just over 121 years old, it seems reasonable to me to suggest that the current 60 year term is up, and it’s time to retire the pledge entirely. After all, “indivisible” and “for all” kinda imply that the godless are people too, deserving of equal treatment and respect.

Or maybe not–a school in NC can have a Christian athlete’s club, but a proposed atheist club is getting a thumbs-down from the administration (the atheist students did some reaching out, some organizations sent letters to the superintendent, and… God shut down the school with a snowstorm before anyone could comment).

It’s funny–coins and bills and pledges are all “ceremonial deism”, but it really does seem sometimes that the “ceremony” has the express purpose of marking public territory as Christian.

I pledge allegiance to the flag
At school, with all my friends
While one girl sits there silently,
And one boy just pretends
And three don’t mention “under God”,
Just roll their eyes and wait
And two more use the pledge to sneak
To class a little late.
There’s one or two who think it’s cool
To monitor the rest
To see who says the pledge; who loves
America the best
But most of us just wonder
Who this pledge is really for
And count the days till we don’t have
To say it any more.

Pissing Off The Atheists

They took the crosses down, that used to stand at City Hall
The took the face of Jesus from its place there on the wall
They didn’t leave a single thing—they took them, one and all
So I’m hatching up a plan to make them pay!
You put a cross in your yard, and I’ll put a cross in mine
For every cross they’ve taken down, we’ll put up eight or nine!
They’ll be visible from everywhere, as proof of the divine!
And the atheist complainers said… “Ok.”

Clearly, that was insufficient, so we’ve got to do some more
We can airbrush the Last Supper on our walls, or on our door
We can proudly fly the Christian flag, and tell them what it’s for
Or explain it on a billboard or a sign
They say we’re not a Christian town—well, this will give them proof
We can paint a crucifixion scene on every Christian’s roof
We’ve been humble long enough; we can’t afford to be aloof
And the atheist complainers just said… “Fine.”

If the godless won’t get angry, then it feels like they have won,
Though we’ve crosses by the hundreds more than when we’d first begun
If it doesn’t bug the atheists, it isn’t any fun
Having crosses scattered all across the town
If we try to bug the atheists, and all they do is yawn
Once the crosses on the public lands were taken down and gone
And our crosses are a nuisance when we try to mow the lawn…
Well, screw it, then, I’m taking my one down.

So, over at The Blaze (don’t blame me!), they are reporting on that story from a couple of days ago about Stratton, Ohio, where the mayor took the solicitor’s advice and is removing the unconstitutional crosses, and relocating them to private yards where they are constitutionally protected. A perfect illustration of both the establishment and free exercise clauses of the first amendment. We (and they at The Blaze) do note that a number of citizens are upset at the reeling in of privilege, and that there is more than a bit of snark in noting that, in their new locations, the crosses will be more visible than the had previously been.

As if the visibility of the crosses has been the problem, rather than the unconstitutional locations of the crosses. And the commenters at The Blaze (who inspired today’s verse, and are hilarious) are certain that the FRFF (variously a communist, socialist, marxist, atheist, or muslim organization) will be terribly upset that the crosses are even more visible than before, and just you wait, the atheist/muslim/marxist/communist/socialist FRFF will soon begin phase two, where even privately displayed crosses are verboten. Because Christianity is under attack by atheists and muslims, communists, socialists, marxists, darwinists, southpaws and redheads. Even though majority rules and this is a Christian country and you atheists, muslims, communists, socialists, marxists, darwinists, southpaws and redheads had better never forget it!

Yes, the real goal of the FRFF (“I know I read it somewhere”) is that there be no more crosses anywhere, public or private.

Frankly, I want everyone who wants to, to have a cross up in their own yard. And I want them to feel free to raise one, or not raise one, or put up a crescent moon, or a star of David, or a flying spaghetti monster, or whatever, if they want to do so, and on their own property. Given that freedom, the unfettered ability to erect the symbol of your choice on your own property, then and only then would I honestly wish for everybody to realize that the world is a more beautiful place without all that clutter, and decide, each for themselves, not to put one up.

I don’t claim to speak for anyone else.

Wait… A Town Is Going To Move Its Cross Without Going To Court?

Though the Christians could say “Batten
Down the hatches!” here in Stratton
They’ve decided unexpectedly to follow good advice:
“You’d do best to cut your losses
By distributing the crosses—
Maybe put them in some private yards; I’m sure they’d still look nice.”

Former Mayor, Fred Abdalla
Found removal hard to swallow:
“Move our crosses? For outsiders? We’ll do nothing of the sort!”
A solicitor-advisor
Whose opinion was the wiser
Said the crosses were illegal, and they’d surely lose in court

Current mayor, John (Fred’s brother)
Though they share, of course, a mother,
Seem to differ in opinion (and it’s John’s that wins the day)
Seems the town can’t be religious
‘less they want to get litigious
So the Stratton village crosses, now, are gonna go away.

So, yeah, the FFRF told the Village of Stratton, Ohio that some crosses displayed on public property were illegally placed, and warned that they would sue if they were not removed… and the village is, quite sensibly and unexpectedly, removing them. Mind you, they don’t want to, and a good number of locals would rather fight their relocation… but:

“I refused to remove them at first,” Mayor John Abdalla told The Herald-Star. “I have them for safekeeping. (The foundation) even raised hell about the manger scene at the front of the building.”
After speaking with the village solicitor, Abdalla decided the crosses were to be removed. But despite the removal, the crosses will now be given to private landowners to display on their property.
“At the regular council meeting at the council of the village of Stratton, council unanimously resolved to give the crosses that were taken off the building,” Stratton Village Solicitor Frank Bruzzese told WTOV-TV. “The result will be that (the crosses) will be on display actually more visible to the public than they used to be.”

A win-win! The FFRF will have no problem with crosses on private property, and the villages who love the crosses will get to have them all the more visible! Perfect, isn’t it? Well… not quite:

[Stratton Village Soliciter, Frank] Bruzzese stated that the atheist group has not produced anyone that was offended by the crosses.
Even though the crosses will still be displayed on private land, Abdalla is not happy about the situation.
“They don’t have the guts to come up and say, ‘It’s me that’s saying this,’” Abdall told WTOV. “Everything is anonymous.”

Cos if nobody is offended by you violating the constitution, then apparently it doesn’t count. Or worse, if you an intimidate people into not vocalizing their offense at your violation of the constitution, it doesn’t count.

It doesn’t help, though, that the former mayor and current sheriff (and the current mayor’s brother) wants to put up a fight:

But his brother, long time Stratton resident and former mayor, sheriff Fred Abdalla says they must stand up for themselves.

“We are not going to bow down and say oh well take the crosses down no well fight and let the fight begin,” sheriff Abdalla said.

And town residents ought to listen to the solicitor as well:

Some residents believe the village should be able to keep the crosses there.

Dan Carman of Hopedale says he does not understand the groups motives.

“You can be whatever religion you want. I don’t understand why you have to worry about satisfying anyone not being religious,” he said.

That’s right, Dan, you can be whatever religion you want. But your village cannot. It’s that simple.

Just Marking Their Territory

Everywhere the big dog goes, he leaves his little sign
Alerting all the other dogs, “This property is mine!”
“This is mine, and this is mine, and this and this and this!”
He makes a claim of ownership, and seals it with a piss
He roams the streets and alleyways, and all around the town
He leaves his little messages, in yellow or in brown
He’s never paid a mortgage on the land he claims as his
He doesn’t pay the taxes; all he does is take a whizz
There are signs at every crossroads, half a dozen at the mall,
In the yards of private citizens, and one at City Hall—
These little signs are adding up, with more and more each day
But whenever I complain, they tell me “look the other way”

Take a look–Searcy, Arkansas has a dog problem. No, a God problem–I always get those two mixed up. There’s been a big God sniffing around and marking His territory all over town:

Seriously, those little white crosses are aesthetically crap–they must cost the church well under a buck apiece to make, they are not imaginative, nor artistic, nor historical, nor anything but tacky little ways for this God to mark its territory.

Around Cuttletown, there are people who post signs at intersections, advertising goods or services… and there are other folks who mark these signs with large, obscuring stickers that label the signs “LITTER” (which, legally, they are). The little white crosses, if placed on one’s own property, are nothing more than a sign of your tolerance for the tacky, a Christian equivalent of a plastic flamingo or ceramic garden gnome, but cheaper. If they are a sign of your faith, the sign’s message is “I love Jesus, but not enough to spend any money on Him–just enough to put up a tacky cross everyone knows they give out for free.”

No, the crosses serve no function other than that of a dog’s urine: they say “I’m the god (or dog) in charge here.” And the sheriff of Searcy rolls over and exposes his neck to appease the church, instead of picking the litter up off of the lawn and throwing it away.

Oklahoma Satanist Monument Now Fully Funded

That didn’t take long. As of this posting, they have $20,389 $21,455 of their proposed $20,000.

I like commenter Randomfactor’s idea; the statue should have built-in webcam eyes. Maybe a few more bucks… reading the various stories on this proposed statue, there is no shortage of volunteers ready to welcome it with open arms (of the second amendment sort), sledgehammers, chisels, jackhammers… it would be nice to have good, clear video of these nice people.

Freedom of religion means
My statue gets to stay,
And I get to tear down anything
That gets in my one’s way.
My monument must stand alone
For everyone to see…
No other statues anywhere–
That’s how we know we’re free.

Proposed Oklahoma Satanist Monument Is Really Quite Gorgeous

Though they’re looking for permission,
They’ve not quite received it yet;
But the Satanists’ new statue—
The goat-headed Baphomet—
Is more stunning than the Decalogue
Of simple, stark, black granite
By the Oklahoma capitol,
The place where they began it

If it’s deemed a public forum
Baphomet will find a spot
Just as public, to be legal,
As the one the Christians got
And the icing on the cake, you see,
The feather in their cap—
When the people come to visit
They can sit on Satan’s lap.

If the monument’s rejected
(Why they might, I cannot say)
Then, of course, the Ten Commandments
Should not, can not, must not stay:
Though a monument of Baphomet
Quite frankly, looks like fun…
Soon the place could get quite crowded,
And it must be all… or none.

Via Hemant, it seems the Satanic Temple has unveiled their proposed monument, to sit beside the black granite decalogue in Oklahoma City, at the capitol. Some sources are referring to it as a statue of Satan, others to a statue of Baphomet… it’s far more aesthetically pleasing than the old Ten Commandments monument. And, frankly, much more than the atheist bench in Florida.

Still, though, I would rather have a nice empty lawn–someplace the dogs can run.

Proposed Statue of Baphomet, the goat-headed deity.

Image credit: the Satanic Temple