Tuesday, February 28, 2006

What Have They Lost?
Theresa Chaze

So called Christian leaders, traditionalists and conservative talk show hosts continue to stirred up the old bigotries and unfounded fears in the ignorant. Their message is that Christianity is under attack therefore they have to fight back to save their religion. Increasingly they blame secular progressives for all the troubles and woes in the world. They claim that if the world followed Christian morals there wouldn’t be as much violence or hatred in the world; as if only Christians were capable of having good values. But in reality is that true? Is Christianity under attack? Or are other religions and ways of life just being included in society? What have Christians lost? They are still free to worship, however they no longer able to force others to pray the same or live their lives by the same doctrine. But is that so wrong? Are Christians the loving people they claim to be? Or they just as fallible as the rest of the population?
While some talk show hosts were stopping short of calling for a boycott of stores that didn’t stay the magic words, “Merry Christmas’ they over looked the fact that many people couldn’t afford to celebrate it. Many areas hit by Katrina still aren’t receiving the necessary resources needed for them to recover. Many are without power. Homes remain unlivable, while access to temporary shelters will soon be withdrawn. Most businesses remained closed, thereby limiting employment possibilities. But the gulf states are not the only ones. The increases in gas prices has raised havoc with most family’s budgets by not only increasing the cost of heating homes but also transportation, which in turn raises the costs of all products and services. Two car manufactures have terminated thousand of jobs and closed of many of their factories. Other companies have scaled back, those that continue to hire do so with lower paying jobs with fewer benefits. The cost for health care, food, shelter--all the necessities of life continue to increase in price, yet a family should determine where they spend their dollars on the whether or not the magic words are used. Bill O’Reilly said all they need to do is hang banners for each of the holidays; banners cost money, especially for smaller businesses, which in turn raise the prices of products without adding any extra value. He was so quick to make unreasonable demands, yet didn’t volunteer to cover the added expenses. While he and others are quick point fingers at businesses who are inclusive, they continually ignore or excuse Christian organizations, which do harm.
Are Christians morals and value superior to other religions’. Pat Robertson is a good example. He is an accepted Christian leader, yet he calls for the assignation of other country’s leaders. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez regained power after an attempted coup. Roberts claimed it would be easier and cheaper to send a covert operatives to kill Chavez than starting a war. He believes that Chavez is dangerous to the United States because he controls a great “pool of oil”. So much for “Thou shall not kill.” His latest commits about Israel’s prime minister, Ariel Sharon’s illness being send by God to punish him for dividing Israel is just another example of the Christian mind set. Robertson only apologized for his commits after he was excluded from the fifty million dollar Christian Heritage Center that he had been negotiating to build with the Israel government in northern Galileo. Abraham Huchson, Israel’s Tourism Minister said, Robertson’s help is no longer welcomed for the proposed center. Although his comments have been criticized by many, he has been never sanctioned or censored. He has been freely able to share his views not only on his Christian Broadcast Network, but his message has been carried in many other media outlets. What has he lost? His message is sent out, but instead of receiving approval, he is condemned for his bigotry. That is the only difference. Instead of receiving praise, he became the poster boy for intolerance.
The end of January, 2006 four late teen boys were sentenced for aggravated assault and battery and second degree lynching of an African American teen. Yes, in the twenty-first century lynching is still a reality in South Carolina. In the dictionary, lynching is defined as seizing somebody believed to have committed a crime and putting him or her to death immediately and without trial, usually by hanging. But in South Carolina lynching is defined as a mob attack against an individual where the victim survives. However 17 year old Isaiah Clyburn was not guilty or even accused of a crime nor was he out looking for a fight; on July 7, 2005 he was simply walking home on a country road when pickup trucks containing, Justin Ashley Phillips, 18; Kenneth Eugene Miller Jr., 18, Jerry Christopher Toney, 18, Christopher Scott Cates, 17, and Lucas Grice, 17 intercepted him.. The teens shouted racial slurs and challenged him to fight. But instead Clyburn chose to run. His attackers followed and beat him as he tried to escape to a friend’s home. The attack only ended through the intervention by others. Afterwards, the teens were proud of their behavior and bragged to friends. They were charged and plead guilty. As reported in CNN, one defense attorney repeatedly tried to excuse his client by calling the attack a fight. While another attempted to lesson the sentencing “by claiming his client was a good churchgoing boy who made a foolish mistake” Judge Doyet Early was unimpressed and handed down sentences from 2 ½ to six years. He condemned the teens as cowards and embarrassment to their community. As in the past, there was no boys will be boys slap on the wrist excuses accepted nor did the religious path of the defendants sway the judge. Although they could have received up to twenty years, the sentences are more severe than they would have been given in previous times. Instead they were held responsible for their actions, much to their surprise.
Once again Christians are pushing to require creationism to be taught in public schools; Only now it has been renamed to intelligent design. New name. Old belief. Intelligent design states that life is not the consequences of events as explained by Darwin, but life was created by an intelligent designer. Although in public schools the designer isn’t named, it is still implied that God is the creator of life. Ignoring the separation of church and state, they continue to try to force their beliefs on others in the by renaming their beliefs science even though there isn’t any legitimate science in their theories. Singing because the Bible tells me so, is not scientific proof; it is a faith based belief not a fact. DNA, archeological discoveries, and chemical evidence is proof. Christians claim it is their first amendment right to have their beliefs presented in the public schools because other religions are freely discussed. Yes, they are discussed, but not in the science classes, but as way to bringing a clearer understanding between cultures. Discussing religion in the context of a philosophy or social science is much different than promotion it as a scientific fact. In many cases when the Christian beliefs are promoted without restriction, it is made to be superior to all other religions; instead of promoting tolerance and understanding, the opposite becomes true. What they teach in their private schools is another matter, but they can not legally promote their beliefs as scientific fact in the public schools. In spite of the continuing legal losses, some Christians continue to try to force their beliefs into the public school system. The Dover Area School District in Pennsylvania tried to be the first in the nation to require Intelligent Design be taught as an alternative to Evolution. On October 4, 2005 by a vote to 6-3 the school board approved the decision. In December of that same year, it was challenged. After a six week trial, the school board lost, not only the court battle but their seats on the board. Again in Kansas, Intelligent Design was forced in the scientific curriculum; it prompted controversy and sarcastic responses, including a letter to the Kansas School board from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, demanding that their view of creationism also be included in the curriculum. Printed nation wide, letter brought more attention to the issue. Again the school board was changed and Intelligent Design was removed from the science classes.
The talk show hosts and so called “Christian leaders” claim that Christianity is under attack. That their rights are being whittled away by secular progressives who are working to undermine their religion. They claim they can no longer practice in public without being discriminated against. This is not true. They can practice their religion, however they can no longer force it on others. The Christian religion is not under attack; the only thing they have lost is a protected status and exclusive control over the spirituality of the nation. Others religions have been raised to equal status by giving equal rights and protection under the law. No longer can the Christians attack those that are different without being held legally responsible for their actions. This doesn’t mean they haven’t given up trying to covert others--no. They persist in trying to force their beliefs on others by whatever means necessary. The only difference is that they are being arrested and convicted for the damage they do. If the secular progressives are the root of all society’s evils, why are they promoting tolerance and inclusion. Christians claim they are they prohibited from practicing their religion. Is there a penalty for wishing others a Merry Christmas? No. According to some, Christian values include promoting assassination, lynching and ignoring of scientific facts that doesn’t support your specific belief. Do we as a society really want to promote violence and ignorance? Or do we want our people to have equal protection under the law? So after all the legal battles and debates, what have Christians lost? Nothing.