Friday, August 24, 2012

War On Religion

Some claim there is a war on religion happening right now - and they might be right. But what they might not understand is that it is not a war between those who believe against those who do not believe. The war on religion is being fought between the believers themselves. That's because faith and religion - two different things - are both very personal and different for everyone. Faith alone is very benign and belongs only to one's self. A lack of faith is much the same in that it is personal and belongs only to one's self. Those with faith (but not religion) and those with no spiritual beliefs do not feel the need force their beliefs or disbelief on others. However both of these groups may fight for constitutional rights based on the constitution alone and not on their faith or lack of faith.

Religion is quite different. Faith becomes religion when it is felt you must share your beliefs with others so that they may believe as you do. Most religions also feel that if you do not believe as they do, then you are surely going to Hell and therefore you must be "saved". While many different religions exist around the world, all believe that their particular religion is the correct version blessed by God and that all other religions are false. Further, they believe their particular religion - being the correct one - should be the basis of morality our country is governed by. Unfortunately, even though our nation's constitution was based on one of these religions, the constitution itself does not hold up well to many religious beliefs - especially those of other religions. The Founding Fathers knew this and fashioned our constitution with a separation from religion. That was brilliant forethought in my opinion. The religions however do not agree.

Armed with the "knowledge" that their religion is in fact the will of God, these religions cling to their belief that all morality should be based on whatever article of faith they believe is the actual word of God. Problem is there isn't just one article of faith or one "word of God". Some cling to the Bible - some to only certain parts of the Bible, some to the book of Mormon, some to the Koran, some to the teaching of Budah etc. etc. Not even their particular Holy Days occur on the same day causing friction and disagreements between the various religions. In this age of technology these arguments and disagreements are more evident than ever. A Facebook post or a Tweet can cause an instant firestorm of controversy. The war has begun.

Those without faith and those with faith but no religion appear as if they are involved in the war because they are forced to defend their constitutional rights against those who wish to deny them equality based on their particular religion. But the truth is that the non-religions faithful and those without faith are not fighting religion - they are fighting only for their constitutional rights. This is a very important distinction because the constitution is necessarily separated from religion. So how can those who are fighting for constitutional equality be waging a war on religion? The simple answer is they are not. The war on religion has been started by and is being fought exclusively by the various religions. In the past, slaves fought for freedom based on the constitution even though some religions condoned it. Likewise women fought for the right to vote even though some religions state that women are not equal to men. In the end the constitution of our country eventually solved these disputes and continues to do so today.

There is only one way to end this war and that is for all the religions to co-exist. Further, the various religions must remove themselves from politics. The constitution of the United States can be defended and supported based solely on itself. It was written with that intention and has endured the test of time - with a few modifications - because that is the only way our magnificent country can be strong and united. I am not here to tell you religion is bad or that a person should have faith or not. I am perfectly comfortable with you enjoying your beliefs or lack of beliefs and sharing that with like minded individuals. All I ask is that you do the same. Live your life and let others live theirs. It is the only way we can truly be the United States of America.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Twisted Truths and Outright Lies

Only months from the election and the presidential candidates are neck in neck with Romney pulling slightly ahead of Obama - in the lie department. Source as of today 8-23-12

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mashed Friends

I totally love summertime - except for one thing. All my favorite shows are in reruns. I've written about this before - one summer I spent watching "How do they do it?" type shows and great science exploration shows like "Through the Wormhole" - canceled. Last year I had just purchased my new 3D TV and enjoyed a variety of 3D programming on DirecTV - which they have since stopped updating. So this year I'm watching a couple of old shows along with a couple of new somewhat entertaining original sitcoms on TV Land. My favorite 2 older shows I'm watching right now are M.A.S.H. and Friends. M.A.S.H. is just as relevant today as it was way back then and Friends is just as irrelevant now as when it first aired - but still entertaining. I want to briefly focus on M.A.S.H.

I find myself going to bed each night thinking about how destructive war is with very few if any real benefits. M.A.S.H. is set in the Korean war - one of many we should never have been involved in. The writing for the show is brilliant - somehow making light of a terrible situation. It makes you chuckle and yet leaves you thinking about the sad reality of war and the people who are killed and wounded - along with the families and loved ones they leave behind. The show eloquently points out how we as foreigners or even invaders of another country act as superiors with disregard of the local customs and the needs of the poor who never get a say in what happens to their country. Wars are never fought for the poor but almost always by the poor. Bombs don't discriminate between army camps or orphanages - they just blow up everything.

The TV show M.A.S.H ended in 1983 - the same year I graduated high school - but the wars didn't stop then. In fact America has been involved in our longest wars ever in Afghanistan and the recently ended war in Iraq. Over 10 years we have been wrecking peoples lives "over there" and what has it gotten us over here? Nothing. Not cheaper gas prices and not more freedoms - in fact we now have fewer of them. A few people profited handsomely from these wars - but not most Americans.

Nobody said it better than Bruce Springsteen (The Boss) "War - what is it good for - absolutely nothing"

UPDATE: I just wanted to add one thing here. Lots of comparisons have been made between President Obama and President Bush. I think the more important comparison is between President Obama and Senator McCain who would have been President instead. President Obama has ended one war and is hopefully winding down the war in Afghanistan (faster please!). Meanwhile Senator McCain has been on CNN at least once a week saying we should be involved in this war or that one. Thank GOD McCain did not get elected or we would be in many more unfunded and tragic conflicts. We need to keep our noses out of everyone else's business. We have our own problems right here in the USA.

UPDATE #2: As I watched an episode of Friends last night, something very relevant to this article kept popping up - the Twin Towers in the New York City skyline. Is that a good enough excuse for war?? Does it justify over 10 years of conflicts and more lives lost than were lost that day? Did those wars solve anything? The answer for me is no - but I'm sure anyone who lost a loved one that day would feel differently.

Friday, August 03, 2012

If You "Like" That - You Don't Like Me

Since I'm on a bit of a sabbatical this busy political season, I'd like to post a guest commentary from a friend, former co-worker, and blog buddy on this site. I won't mention his name and I will slightly edit the names mentioned in his letter as a matter of privacy - but please know this is a real letter sent to his family with regard to the Chick-fill-a controversy unfolding this week. He may claim ownership of it in the comment section if he chooses to. He writes:

I'll preface this by saying, I normally refrain from forwarding religious or political material because i realize that not everyone shares my spiritual or social beliefs. I'd never deny you the ability to practice whatever faith works for you, nor would I have the audacity to assume my faith is any more valid than yours. I also, for the most part, keep my identity as a gay man to myself; mainly 'cause I know it makes people (Aunt A, Uncle D, Aunt R, Uncle G...etc) uncomfortable, even though they don't think twice about condemning gays, gay marriage or HIV right in front of me. Mom tolerates it, but I know it's a struggle. I can empathize. It's taken most of my life to get past the shame and guilt; the stigma and fear. It's draining to live amongst people that think I'm going to hell, am an abomination, and am somehow less of a person because I don't subscribe to their religion or politics. Please, keep this in mind as you read on...

This whole Chic-fil-A issue isn't news to me. I've known about their ties to "Family" organizations - The Marriage and Family Foundation, The Family Research Council and Exodus International - for over a year now. Like I said, I usually keep my thoughts on these issues to myself. Then I saw you "liked" a post on facebook linking Chic-fil-A with President Obama and the tagline, "LIKE if you're fed up with liberal attacks on Chick-fil-A". Honestly, it hurt me. Then I thought, maybe you don't know the whole story. This isn't about First Amendment rights; The CEO's statements on marriage and "God's judgment" are covered under the same amendment that allows protesting, so nobody's freedoms are at stake...or are they?

Here's a statement from Peter Sprigg, the VP of The Family Research Council, one of the organizations Chic-fil-A helps fund... "I think that the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned the sodomy laws in this country, was wrongly decided. I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior."

and another one...

“I would much prefer to export homosexual from the United States than to import them into the United States, because we believe that homosexuality is destructive to society.”

So, if it were up to The Family Research Council, they would either have me exported out of the US or have me put me in jail. Really. These quotes are on video and not taken out of context. Both this group and The Marriage and Family Foundation have also done “missionary” work abroad that served to strengthen and promote criminalization of same-sex relations. Consider the fact that 29 states in the US can fire me, just because i'm gay. No questions asked. There are 75 countries in the world where it's illegal to be gay. In 9 countries, being gay is punishable by death. Death.

Think about this for a second. Think about all the pain and self-loathing I've been through. Think about how tough it's been to grow up in this family and realize I'm gay. Mom's support came in the form of a telephone number to some group that said they could "cure" me. Dad's support came in the form of "You're not gay!" Now, Do you think I've done anything to be thrown in jail for? Am I not fit to live in the US? Am I destructive to society? Chic-fil-A does considering they've donated $5 million to this organization and others like it. Think about this the next time you hear a debate on gay rights, sign a petition that wants to exclude me or give money to any cause that would keep me from having as fulfilling a life as you have.

Is it wrong to stand up to organizations that would want to put me in jail, remove me from society, fire me for being gay, prevent me from having the same benefits with my spouse that you have? This isn't a liberal or conservative stance as far as I'm concerned. I'm not a liberal if I choose to boycott an organization that would put me in jail if they had their way. I'm not a conservative because I think everyone has the right to be happy in a consensual, loving relationship. I'm not an independent because I'm able to accept our differences and allow you all the freedoms I have.

I love you and I know you love me. I just wanted to shed some light on this issue and provide some context.