“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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  1. Mary L says

    The original pledge didn’t have “under god.” I refuse to say those two words.

  2. forestdragon says

    I’m irritated by this In God We Trust crap. As far as I’m concerned, the motto is E Pluribus Unem, the way it should be (my spelling may be a bit dubious here). I shudder to think how the country would be if separation of church and state hadn’t been built in. The various Christiani-type godbotherers never seem to think that if they got their way, the US would end up a lot like the Middle East (possibly worse, with all the civilian-owned arsenals).

  3. Pliny the in Between says

    Martyrdom has always been at the center of Christianity. In place of being fed to the lions many would have us believe that having to pay for media exposure is persecution.

  4. Heaventree says

    I find it comical that the right-wing religious wackaloons are always hyper-scornful about claims of racism or sexism, but breathe the least skepticism about the content of their ludicrous “faith” and listen to them whine about “persecution.” It really would be hilarious were the public-policy consequences not so serious.

  5. Die Anyway says

    Excellent! And I see that you live in a neighborhood much like mine. Any walk I take that goes more than a mile from my house, no matter which direction, will pass at least one church. Most of them have one of those signs out front where they can post kitchy, Xtian sayings. The worst is a lighted digital sign. It’s so bright, a friend who lives 3 blocks from that church had to put up black-out curtains in order to sleep at night. But even though it is annoying to the church’s neighbors, it is bringing the message of Jesus to the heathens so… Flash-Flash-Flash… it goes on and on, day after day, year after year. Another church, about 2 miles from my house, is one of those mega-churches (Indian Rocks Baptist Church). Every Sunday the Sheriff’s department has to assign two cars to do traffic control at the church entrance. And yet they feel as if they are under attack, being denied some privilege.

    As a result of once Pharyngulating an American Family Association poll, I now get the AFA newsletter. I haven’t cancelled because I enjoy seeing what their latest outrage is, and lately they are furiously outraged, totally aghast I tell you, because 1 (that’s ONE I say) Burger King in San Francisco printed some rainbow colored sandwich wrappers to be used in support of a gay pride day. Heaven Forbid! The United States is headed for Hell in a handbasket. Boycott Burger King. Send a letter to your Senator. Pray, pray, pray. Oh, and send money to AFA because Christianity is about to be outlawed and only AFA can save America.

    Eat well, stay fit, Die Anyway

  6. CatMat says

    “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations […]”

    The Book says I must spread the Word among those
    Who somehow have yet to find Lord
    It’s their right, says law, well but everyone knows
    Their freedom can just be ignored

    This blatant repression is obvious to one
    Who just wants to further the Cause
    My freedom to subvert and convert is gone
    Must I too now abide by laws?

  7. forestdragon says

    Just as long as everyone knew what I was talking about. Thanks for the info. I’m virtually completely ignorant about Latin – which is probably one of the reasons I found the impromptu Latin grammar lesson in The Life of Brian so damned funny.

    “‘People called Romanes, they go the house?'”

  8. Mary L says

    I took two years of Latin in high school and cracked up over that scene. An old friend of mine with a Masters in Classical Languages howled over it.. Latin grammar is torturous and probably lead to the Empire’s downfall.

  9. Mike G says

    Stop bad-mouthing Latin, Mary L. I like them a lot and made an extra special effort to study them in public school and college, rather than waste time with nonsense such as Drivers’ Ed. and Home Economics. Latin and other dead languages are fun because you are decoding things at a leisurely pace; there is none of the drill-seargeant stand-and-deliver pressure of spoken languages because mostly it is just you and your grammars and lexica.
    Latin is also a, uh, gateway language to other dead languages and reveals much about the linguistic changes (Grimm’s Laws & whatnot) through which your own milk-tongue has passed.

    Perhaps it was oppressive, mechanical, rote Latin teaching or a conservative curriculum that made the black bile rise?

    Give Latin a chance with Catullus (a great but accessible love poet), Horace (Greek-inspired, siliver-toungued, crap artist), and Plautus (just about the only source of real, street-Latin that has survived).

    For a good time reading Latin, avoid medieval religious texts, classical philosophy, and Greek & Roman history. Unless you thrive on tedium, contradictory mumbo-jumbo, and worse tedium…..

    Your comment is also suggestive of the old schoolboys’ rhyme:
    “Latin is a dead language, dead as dead can be
    First it killed the Romans and now it’s killing me.”

    Perhaps a more serious look into the decline and fall of the Roman Empire (and that of the British Empire) might enlighten the remorseful, declining days of our own crumbling empire as the sun sets on the Pax Americana.

  10. Mary L says

    You may like “them”, Mike, but the word Latin, is singular. I didn’t take Driver’s Education or Home Economics either. I took four years of German, though.. My Latin teacher didn’t work at a leisurely pace and there was plenty of stand-and-deliver. He had us keep on-going lists of English words derived from Latin, adding what other languages they then passed through. We listed each prefix and suffix. We translated Latin to English and English to Latin.

    English, our milk toungue as you term it, isn’t Latinate. It’s Germanic.

  11. Mike g says

    Ok, so the problem was the teacher and their antiquated methodologies. Bet ya had to read about stupid wars with Carthage….C’mon! Give Latin (or Greek)a chance!

    Ctrl-x strikes again! Whoops about the “them;” I edited my post and cut and pasted the sentence with the “them” before it’s antecedent which was meant to be “dead languages.” But let’s not pick nits: you probably meant tortuous above but torturous will also work in that context. (They are often-confused words and predictive text just makes the confusion worse by insisting on the more common word every time.) Hell, intervocalic r gets lost a lot throughout the ages regardless of what one meant to say.

    I never wished to claim (incorrectly) that English came directly from Latin. The point was that by studying a language that old you are likely to observe phonetic change in samples of the language far apart in time, picking up a little insight into philology along the way. You might also notice that features from classical grammar such as noun cases and verb “moods” (subjunctive, optative, indicative,etc) are frequently descriptively applied to living languages, a practice which does not always result in simplification.

    Funny how one gets lost in letters…I’d only come to this site to applaud Mr. Die Anyway above.

  12. Mary L says

    You are picking nits, Mike, especially in your second paragraph.

    “…the teacher and their antiquated methodologies.” His, not “their”. (A bit of my own nit-picking.) I can’t complain about my Latin teacher’s methods. It wasn’t his fault that Latin has so many declensions and conjugations to memorize. I clearly remember being astounded that nouns have gender in Latin ((and German), which then placed them in a particular declension with the possibility of 12 different letter groupings at the end of the word. And each declension was different. Then, there were the irregular verbs. That’s what brought down the Roman Empire – the utter madness of Latin. (“Verbs are placed at the end of the sentence, or phrase…”)

    By comparison, English is as simple as riding a tricycle.

    I was adding the information that English is Germanic.

    Have you read “An Affix For Birds,” ? It’s an essay about an English speaking man trying to learn Japanese.
    Read it without laughing and I’ll send you a dollar.


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