Wednesday, October 27, 2004


I don't recognize Christianity these days. In bygone years, one could depend upon a churchgoing Christian to be loving and kind, to forgive and forget, to praise the Lord and give alms to the needy. But today's Christians seem to have turned into an Army of Rush Limbaughs. They are militant and indignant and more than a little frightening.

Take the Ten Commandments, for instance. We have flaws in our educational system, big ones. If you go to prosperous, influential Bloomfield, Michigan, you will find the schools to be well-financed and quite successful. But if you go to schools in Detroit, Michigan, you will find the schools to be in dire need of plumbing repairs, lacking playground equipment, books, and even teachers! The problems in our educational system could be fixed somewhat by simply ascertaining that ALL schools receive the same amount of funding.

But the Christian right seems to think the problem lies in immorality and ignorance and can be fixed by pasting the Ten Commandments on the walls of every school.

They feel that, because the schools do not teach Creationism, they are graduating a bunch of agnostic lunkheads, and that God has been pitifully locked out of schools, government, and even our courtrooms. They cite stories about teens practicing oral sex in the seventh row of the classroom, drugs sold in the hallways, girls baring their midriffs and kneecaps, and equate all this with a lack of religion being taught in schools.

When I went to school, we were kept in line by fear tactics. As students, we feared the superintendant, the principal and the wrath of the teacher. We trembled if the principal spotted us in the hallway and summoned us to his office. There was no back talk. There was none of the substance parents call "lip". There was simply trembling obedience, at least until we got out of eyesight of whatever authority was nearby. We were taught the Ten Commandments at home.

Today, it seems, there is no fear. Students are not afraid of principals. They do not tremble with fear when a policeman halts them, or a teacher admonishes them. Fear of authority seems to have gone with the wind that swept over the last century, perhaps when a few bright teens hovered in garages to create the personal computer, earned zillions of dollars, and proved that they could open up a new empire of technology that changed the world.

Perhaps it left us when the first Rap artist sang about killing policemen, or called their mothers whores, or talked about making out with their girlfriends. Morality changes slowly and each change leads to the next, moving in so sneakily on soft kitten feet that one isn't aware of the change until long after it is entrenched as reality.

Christians feel that we should instill the "Fear of God" into our children. That, by having religious beliefs, hammered into their ears from kindergarten onward, they will emerge as well-behaved, sedate young citizens...and perhaps toss away all that hardware decorating their eyebrows, lips, tongues, nipples and ears, as well as forego the tattoos that sometimes makes a young person indistinguishable from a Maori warrior.

I haven't decided whether Fear of God can ever be truly interpreted as Love of God, but being no theologian, I can only stumble along through this forest, trying to see through the trees. The trouble with the Christian Right these days is that "Love" doesn't seem to enter into the equation at all. While they tell us God loves us, they harp on feelings of guilt, misery and punitive measures. We are all sinners, we will go to a fiery Hell if we do not repent, and we must live according to the rules that someone...Heaven knows who...declared were rules back in Biblical times.

The trouble is, the rules of Biblical times just don't help much in the modern world. Kids aren't dumb, in fact they are much brighter than ever, probably from chugging down Mountain Dews and sneaking Marlboros. They know they can't sacrifice a lamb these days and get any action. A majority of them do not go to church and, if they did, would whine that the minister is dull (he is) and that they haven't a thing to wear!

We bring them up on fairy tales about Jack Spratt eating no fat and little pigs triumphing over that big, bad wolf, tell them stories of Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, then tell them it was all in fun and not true. Then, are we to turn around and teach them that Jonah lived in a whale's belly and that Lot's wife was turned into salt and that Methuselah lived 900 years and, yes, it's true, don't question it, just believe it? Should they believe the world was created in seven days, when every scientific fact points to centuries and centuries of slow formation?

Take the statistics of teen pregnancy, for example. The Religious Right is against Birth Control being taught in classrooms, as a rule. They believe in Abstinence. If you mentioned Abstinence to any teenager, they would probably think you are talking about a Rap Group, but this is what the RR believes will end teen pregnancy. They are absolutely right, you know, it certainly would end it, if only the teenagers would cooperate. But teenagers have been young and stupid about life since time began and, if I were the parent of a teen, I would teach Birth Control first...and Abstinence second, weak Believer that I am, Sinner that I am, Realist that I will always be.

Their stand on Abortion borders on the insane. They approve instigating laws that protect the "rights of the unborn". This means that every pregnant woman could live in a state of absolute terror, afraid to have a cigarette, a cocktail, a second dessert. It could conceivably evolve into the prosecution of women who give birth to retarded or disfigured babies. And the Laci Peterson law opened the door to these injustices. While the RR says nothing about women who want to conceive so vigorously that they go to fertility clinics, where medical personnel helping these hopeful parents toss away or freeze embryo after embryo not used in the process, the RR continues to oppose Stem Cell Research using these fetuses. And they frown upon abortion, even in cases of rape or incest or health problems. The question remains...should a woman risk her own life, or turn it into years of misery and guilt, for a fetus not yet formed, not yet a human being with heart, brain, lungs, etc., not yet able to live without the sustenance of the womb? Who should own the rights to life, liberty and happiness?

Sexual Sin seems to be the primary concern of the RR. They really get fired up when one speaks of the right of all people to live as they see fit. Any mention of homosexuality seems to place these people on their pulpits and they have labeled homosexuality as an "abomination", claiming that this is fully backed up by Biblical instructions. They seem to have approved this War in Iraq, where innocent children are being blown to pieces daily by bombs, where citizens are being killed and maimed with regularity, and our own soldiers have been sent into this battleground of hell and chaos by "faulty intelligence". And they call homosexuality an "Abomination". I think it could bounce back to describe their behavior when they cheer our "Christian" president with his obvious arrogance and love of aggression.

Homosexuals are people just as you and I, with every right to marry, love, live, laugh and be happy, the same as anyone else. The abomination is the people who try to deprive them of their liberties. And this Limbaugh-inspired religious faith that is growing in America, with an eye toward helping Israel to its Biblical status and hurrying the Second Coming, is as ignorant as believing a Fountain of Youth bubbles happily somewhere in Florida. It is every bit as ignorant as the Taliban were when they whipped the ankles of women walking in the street and insisted upon a man escorting her on a shopping trip. It is every bit as ignorant as the terrorist jihad that proclaims all Americans responsible for the actions of their government.

I can live without this kind of religion. I can die without it. And, if these war-loving squads of Crusaders are frolicking in Heaven when I die, just let me bask in the peace and serenity of death without having to listen to their nonsense any longer.