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Eco M. Shared originally byDate:Thursday, December 11, 2008, 11:49 PMSubject:Christianity: The Keystone of Our Nation, or Its Nemesis? Perspectives on Equal Rights, Gay Marriage, and Proposition 8
American history conveniently chronicles countless examples of injustice, intolerance and discrimination perpetrated upon non-white, non-Christian, and non-straight people. In fact, our history clearly illustrates how religion, notably Christianity, has been involved in many, if not all, of these occurrences.
Protestant reformers made history by burning suspected witches at the stake and southern Christians used Christianity to defend slavery. It was preached from the pulpit that the master class was charged with the burden of Christianizing heathens in exchange for rewards in the after-life; and slaves were tricked into believing that disobedience to their white masters would be perceived by God as disobedience to Him. Later, racial segregation in the South became the standard of accepted societal discrimination supported once again by Christian scriptures.
Many other groups continue to use Christianity to defame, discriminate, and harm minority individuals. They include, but are not limited to, the White Aryan Nation, the Neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan , and the Westboro Baptist Church. These groups believe that Christian scriptures condone the killing of Jews, gays, and gypsies; or the lynching, and murdering of black people.
The Catholic church, in concert with other Christian churches, continues to fight to repeal a woman’s right to have an abortion even if the mother’s life is in danger. And the Catholic church has also been a fierce supporter of abstinence-only sexual education programs for children; they blatantly refuse to accept and endorse the use of condoms despite scientific studies that have concluded that condoms can save lives by preventing the spread of deadly sexually transmitted diseases as well as preventing unnecessary abortions.
Sadly, Christianity, and especially the Catholic and Mormon churches have not always been a friend to women. The inequalities and injustices that women have had to endure over the centuries due to the patriarchal hierarchy entrenched in Catholicism and the Mormon church are indeed staggering. Women, like black slaves, were the property of their husbands or white masters; women could not own property, they were frequently traded or purchased as if they were commodities, and they could not vote. For all intensive purposes, women were objects of convenience for men. They were baby-making-machines, mothers to their husbands children that they carried in their wombs, cooks, cleaners, and receptacles for their husbands pleasure and seed.
What a nasty walk down memory lane! I find it thoroughly amazing how Christianity can rewrite itself according to the times. I have come to call such revision, morality of convenience. For if one carefully reads Christian scriptures, one might be surprised to find that it shares many similarities with what many Americans refer to as radical Islam.
Last month we witnessed the Mormon church in Utah hijack the state of California after pumping millions of dollars into the California November elections to help repeal Proposition 8. This religiously-motivated political coup resulted in the redefining of marriage as a union between and man and a woman prohibiting the marriage of same-sex couples in California. Again Christianity resurfaced to steal the full citizenship of gay Americans in California.
Christianity also prevented gay Americans from equal protection under federal law. Just this year, The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007, commonly known as The Matthew Shepard Act, was a bill introduced in the US Congress. This bill would have extended the 1969 United States federal hate crime law to include among other things crimes motivated and committed solely based on the perpetrator’s hate for the victim’s sexual orientation. Although the bill was passed by both the House and the Senate, it never reached the Oval Office since our Christian President, Mr. Bush, had made it known that he would veto it. Imagine, a nation founded in part on religious tolerance for all people, becomes the schizophrenic, divinely-inspired oppressor of gay people. So much for the separation of church and state.
Full citizenship should not be dependent and contingent upon one’s sexual orientation. American history has chronicled the painful and unjust suffering of women (gender discrimination), Native Americans and African-Americans (race discrimination). The plight of gay Americans centers around sexual orientation. We’ve been a minority group disenfranchised from full citizenship ever since the founding of this nation. Legal, religious, and social roadblocks and detours have always stood in our way when we, like women and African-Americans, challenged the white Christian and straight status-qua. Indeed, America needs to erase the last remnants of apartheid that plague the our nation.
As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently stated, “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.” All Americans regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation should be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Just as America defaulted on its “romissory note” with African-Americans, it continues to default on its “romissory note” to gay Americans. And instead of honoring this “romissory note,” the US government simply writes “bad checks” to gay Americans, and these checks always come back with “insufficient funds” stamped on them. Still, we endure this inequality even as we pay our taxes which are then used to subsidize the full citizenship of our straight neighbors who live on Main Street USA. Talk about forced tithing!
Although Christianity does not have a monopoly on intolerance, injustice and discrimination, the United States was founded on Christian principles and beliefs. Therefore, it’s crucial to consider and review our history through the looking glass of Christianity. There are many denominations found in Christianity-- liberal, moderate and conservative. It’s imperative that the liberal and moderate Christians come forth and speak out against the injustices being committed to gay people by their conservative Christian brothers and sisters. Just as many Americans expect peace-loving Muslims to speak out against terrorist atrocities committed in the name of Allah, we expect and welcome liberal and moderate Christians to stand up and fight against those whose interpretations of God’s words only seek to do harm to God’s children. Not only is it the responsibility of gay Americans to mobilize and combat the injustices in our nation, it is the obligation of all Americans to stand up for those whose causes have yet to be resolved. Remember, silence is indifferent acceptance, and ultimately the fuel that fires all evils.
I am optimistic that Barack Obama will make gay rights an important issue in his first year in office. Often it takes another minority person to recognize the needs and injustices faced by others who live across town, not on Main Street, USA. Nevertheless, while we wait, we will continue to be creative and productive tax-paying citizens of this nation. However, we will also continue to fight for what is rightfully ours and we will settle for nothing less. And just as women and African-Americans finally secured their full citizenship through amendments to the US Constitution, gay Americans soon will, too.
Lobbyists, Mass Mailings and Gerrymandering; these things do not create more democracy or even help it. They are all gimmicks that do not help this country or the people.
The Presidency can take too much power. The White House insulates itself against the public and the Congress, and the longer it is there in power, the worse it gets.
The party has to speak for the people, and keep power of the Presidencyin control, even if it is the same party that is doing the objection or investigation.
Republicans investigated corruption, and did not hesitate to prosecute war profiteers. They also objected to Presidential policies independently.
Earmarks are stupid and irrational, and the smaller they are the more ridiculous they are.
The political system is profoundly broken. Mayor Bloomberg is saying he will spend up to 500 million to become President.
There is clear censorship against citizens. The system is broken.
If we do not fix this broken system, the system will get weaker and this country does not have a good future. Congress cannot reform itself.
When you know nothing about history you should not be surprised when you lose all sense of perspective. There is a long wave theory of change. Monopolies piss people off, and eventually they deserve to get dismantled and taken apart. The railroads are a good example of how this happened.
Gerrymandering does not work in primaries. In primaries it is impossible to hold onto power with artificial mechanisms like money and power. Primaries are volatile and can do miracles when people decide to vote in mass, because they are pissed off enough to stand up and say something.
We need to abolish the ability of our reps to get Pac money. Five PAC events a day to raise funds, is sicker than going home to campaign and eliminating this. Our Reps do not read the laws or debate anymore. They are spending all of their time raising funds to win their next election. This is sick.
I rode with Reagan. Reagan would chat with members of Congress. He would say; I tried to get the pilots to bomb Congress, and they would not do it. He did not like them resisting what he wanted to do, or the oversight that they gave him.
Every President believes that the executive branch should be running the country absolutely and completely. Do they not trust the President? Why not just let the President rule? Why not just get out of the way? The Founders designed the system to keep the power and ambitions of the President in check. When Congress fails in this regard, democracy is weakened and dictatorship is a possibility.
Congress is time consuming and that is on purpose. It is the most inefficient, ineffective system that the founders could devise. They designed it that way and did that on purpose to avoid one dictator taking control of all three branches of government through quick actions. At least a dictator will have to move slowly, even if he manages to take over somewhat.
Notes above by Newt Gingrich
Thomas Foley notes on his speech;
The Democratic majority did some things that were excessive in the past. They did not like the right of the Republicans to frustrate the will of their majority. There is a majority rule but minority rights. Republicans did not feel they had a right to influence the majority.
It is impossible to get a working Congress if one party is shut out completely as it is being done now. This only creates an enormous reservoir of resentment.
Each branch of government has its role. One branch cannot over control or dominate the others. This is not healthy for our society. The founding fathers set up branches of government for a reason. It is not being traitorous to be against the President and his policies or actions when in war, and in Congress.
During the Founding Fathers period, there was a separation of powers. No member of Congress is exempt from the law. Those who violate the law deserve to be prosecuted. They have violated a trust that constituents gave them. If Congress fails, then America fails. If Congress is dysfunctional, then America is dysfunctional. Right now, both of these are true.
Let’s not get back to a payback time. It is not our turn now. There needs to be forgiveness or the cycle will just get worse. Violence will beget violence in a spiral of escalation that will end in total and complete chaos.
Congress people no longer spend time in Washington. They live at home. Parties are ideological now and members do not spend time together to get to know one another anymore. Their kids no longer play together or have teams where the parents see each other and share something in common. They no longer live in Washington. They used to live and work there and share family events together. That is not the case anymore.
Both parties want complete control of all branches. That is not healthy. They protect their own from any critics. If different parties have power in different places then there is a necessity of having a debating process. There is oversight and President has to pay attention to Congress. Things often work better if the House and others are divided in power than if one party gets everything. They are forced to work together.
Being Commander in Chief means being Commander of the Armed Forces, but not of the whole country and all of its affairs. The Congress is actually in control of the country together with the Senate, not the President.
WWII lasted a few years. Vietnam lasted a few years. Excessive power to the President lasted only a short time. Now that has changed. The President is now assuming excessive powers forever, because the war on terror will never end.
There used to be meetings between Party leaders to hash out differences. Now that does not happen anymore.
It used to be that Presidents had aides who talked with Congress members on a daily basis, to find out what they wanted and how they felt. The President would decide what to do based on the leadership of the Congress, and not dictate to them about what they had to do on his behalf.
The House and Senate do not get along. They never have. They do not like each other. They are enemies, and that is on purpose. The Founders designed it that way. The Senate and Congress get along only rarely and are otherwise enemies. This is to prevent anyone from gaining too much power, again leading to a dictatorship.
The tension between the House, the Senate and the President is supposed to be there. It is supposed to be difficult, stressful and hard to deal with. There is no easy way to get anything through all of this unless one does it in secret, violates all kinds of rules and procedures and processes. This then endangers democracy because it is too easy for a dictator to take over.
Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein
Co Authors The Broken Branch
The decline of debate in the House, has happened because policy is decided from an ideology, rather then from a debate involving many sides and players and points of view. Committees are not allowed to deliberate, and are stacked or operated so that no debate is heard. The Committee system has broken down completely under Republican rule.
Congress is representing a 50/50 interest in the nation as a whole. If one small segment of the 50% gets power and runs everything, that is not democracy or freedom. Being more extreme and radical just makes the system break. The nature of the system is to find balance in the middle of things, between the two extremes.
Congress operates in the middle by agreement of two sides. The middle is the strength and power of the Congress. Making the sides polarized and more extreme weakens Congress and makes it less and less powerful, giving more power to the President, who becomes King.
This country was based on getting rid of a King, not setting one up in power. King George was the Supreme Commander, The Religious Leader and the Ruler over all in England. The Founders set up this country to divide that power into many branches, and never allow one person to gain even two of them together again.
Congress is no longer holding hearings and deliberating on anything. This part of Congress is broken. It was set up by the Founders to be a debating, slow moving, deliberative body, which represented the people. That is no longer true.
The people have little or no influence on Congress anymore. People are ignored when Congress takes action on bills no one has read, created by a small group of people who are lobbyists or corporate board members, or military Pentagon members.
Fund raising is now the coin of the realm. Lobbyists are pulled in to fund campaigns, which then creates extortion to pass laws favorable to their constituents. This further weakens the power of the people. Peoples needs are ignored while corporations and their needs are focused on.
The money culture has become very corrupt. Getting into power and staying in power is all that Washington is about anymore. Incomes are now competitive with corporate incomes, with PACS giving a corrupt sense of how things work. Leaders are now expecting to be wined and dined everywhere, instead of serving the people.
When the Congress and Senate is in session, they are running over to political clubs to raise money, instead of debating and listening to other members points of view. They do not talk with each other, except to threaten and brow beat to sign laws that they have not read. Congress used to be about debate and listening to other points of view. That has disappeared completely.
There used to be a regular order in the Congress. Now that is gone completely. Bills are passed in secret or in the dead of night. Minority members are banned from meetings or committees to hear about or debate about bills. Ethics is completely out of bounds.
The Congress is supposed to give oversight to the Executive Branch., This has completely disappeared. There is no more oversight. There is no accountability over the President. Debate is now seen as traitorous.
There is now a view of executive power and the war making apparatus, that it ignores all of what the Founders said it should be. The war on terror is never ending. The power is now all in the President. There is no role for the other branches anymore, other than to be traitors who resist the President in his war efforts.
The end of democracy is near, unless there is a shift in this attitude, spiritual decay and loss of democratic process. There is an answer, but there must be first an awareness of this lack, and then a willingness to address it.
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