Friday, February 21, 2014

I Am So Excited About the Freedom Of Religion Bills

Hi there! How are you? How's your day going? I have been seeing so many angry posts. And I understand the right and privilege to do so. Social Media, Self-Publication, and “Everyone's Need To Be Understood” is very prevalent in our current societal construct. So, I get it. I do. I also understand the frustration. When I see social injustice, my face gets so hot. I want to cry, but I hold it back and my face and ears just radiate heat. But there are lots of people that are truly upset over some of the new bills being sent to Governer's desks lately...

But, honestly, I don't feel that weepy anger over what I've read out of Kansas, Arizona and Georgia. I know... that seems illogical. But I just don't. I do feel fear. I feel afraid, and I feel like the end result is not what people expect it will be. I feel like their zealous and anxiety-riddled legislation is not going to produce the resultant metrics to which they aspired. If legislation can aspire to anything...

I mean, I, personally, kind of love the "Religious Freedom" bills being proposed. The pragmatist in me wants to see them pass. I mean, of course, not being mentally ill and having some semblance of intelligence, the pragmatist and mischievous nature within me know that this won't end well.

(Why, Michael? Why will this not go exactly as these state legislations have ratified and sent to the Governor????)

Hon, I am GLAD you asked. Pull up a chair and read this: See, not only within the country as a whole, but on state and community levels, it will serve a purpose in separating wheat from chaff. (Huh? What's that? Well, Gentle Reader, that's when people start saying that they are good vs. bad "christians") I believe that "Real Christians" that love Jesus won't touch it with a ten foot pole. And then I believe that those that bellow on and on about it, and support it might as well past a label on themselves as those that are just "Conservatives," not truly followers of the Christ. Why such a hard stance? Why so glum? Well, I don't see where the people called out Christianity. And I don't see how any of the people that want this to become law aer anything other than "Conservative Christians" which by nature means they can't legally call out ONE religion, but they mean and intend only Christians and this will all blow up way later in lots of small ways that cause harm, and pain, and will in no way show the love of Christ.

This won't actually win souls for Christ.

So, I suppose I am at a loss of why Christians are even worrying and associating with the legislative side of soul winning. Unless I missed something scripturally about how the Acts Church, the Great Commission, and the signs that are to follow believers were to occur. Maybe somewhere in my two degrees from Seminary I missed that. Or when I completed a third degree later. Or the doctorate I'm currently working on may have missed that one, too. I am human, after all... But that's not the point. (Well, what IS your point, you long-winded...) Here IS my point: I love Christ. I am a Christian. I am a Pentecostal... As a Christian, I have to admit that these bills and what will likely stand as subsequent laws, worry me and they cause my spirit to be vexed.

First and foremost, I think that anyone that is a citizen of this country deserves to be endowed with their inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of their individual and sentient happiness. I fully support the Constitution of the United States of America and the fully support the Preamble to the US Constitution. But, let's all just face historical fact: the constitution is not scripture. The constitution is a living, dynamic document that can and should be updated as time progresses. And it should meet the needs of the citizenry of the country it serves. It shouldn't be viewed as an all-powerful, point-in-time document that men of vision created to be revered and forever shrouded in "See, what had happened was..."

They didn't found America on the principles of "Christianity." This wasn't founded as an Abrahamic, Judeo-Christian nation. This country wasn't even "founded." Let's be clear, the men that came here as "pilgrims" were coming here to colonize this area for England. That's what colony means. Territory, area, land owned by... any of this coming back to you from elementary history lessons? This country started out as a territory of Great Britain and the people were subjects to the King of England. We were basically a low-class suburb with a horrible commute that stared out so we could rape and pillage the land for natural resources, use that ill-gotten gained goods to impress royalty so we could be left alone and not get killed over stupid court issues and religious zealotry that riddled the bored upper class of 1500/1600's England. You know... kind of like the upper middle class of America today. Befuddle the working class so that they don't know the waste and luxury spent on anyone that makes higher than 250G's. (Gentle Reader: Get that right in your head, and take time to let your blood pressure go down). Christopher Columbus didn't sail here in the late 1400's a-lookin' for a better way to serve Christ. He sailed her on behalf of Spain for money, and a-lookin' for fortune and fame. Then, the "New World" opened up and England came and let the many, many issues of the Western Europeans loose onto and into the indigenous peoples of the Americas. We came here for money and stole land and killed people. We didn't come here to be the U.S.A and have ill-informed and uneducated debates. (Breathe in, hon. Just breathe. Just let all of those truths sink in. You can still love Jesus and be smart and educated. It's hard, and you have lots of obstacle, but you CAN. You can have knowledge and use it for good. You can be educated on these things and realize that Jesus didn't ride dinosaurs to the Indians and set up hetero-anglo dominion in the Americas waving flags and shooting Biblically-relevant six shooters.)

Once the "Founding Fathers" came together to BREAK AWAY from England over money, rights, and land disputes (you know, that little matter of “equal representation for taxation” or as the lower class and middle class like to call it: ' no tax breaks') they drafted a document to ensure that no one people would be ruling class, and no one people could be "less than" or "others." Well, that's not exactly true of the time... you were not "less than" if you are a free, white, heterosexual male of means. If you were white, but Irish and an indentured servant or a share-cropper. Uh, bye, gurl... Get yo' po' butt back to your shanty. And unless you were a woman, black, Jewish, immigrant, Irish, Italian, alleged witch, or some type of "other." But these all-knowing, revered, misnamed, "founders" didn't mean to be that way; they were just men of their time. See, that's why all those updates to the Constitution and THAT'S how we got all of those nifty ammendments, but that's a whole 'nother socio-political history lesson.

Back to the "Christian Founding of 'Murica'" - So, these "founders" were mostly a non-Christian group. They were Deists. There may have been a Quaker or two thrown in the mix. I recall that there were lots of Anglicans. But they were not what you'd see on TBN, PTL, 700 Club, Focus on the Family, etc... And thank GOD for that! Otherwise, we'd likely never have gotten this country off of the ground. Although, some did enjoy a garish wig or two! ;) However, fashion-of-the-times aside, what they did do was ensure that regardless of your beliefs, as crazy as they might be; you were entitled to hold them! And they ensured that while the PUBLIC SECTOR has to hold to strict guidelines that ensure that all of the citizenry are treated equally, they do allow for the PRIVATE SECTOR to behave as it will. You can refuse service to anyone for any reason, to this very day. You won't need any new law for that...

I would also like to point out that being a Christian is a true belief construct and a resulting lifestyle that follows the tenants of your professed faith. You cannot merely verbally assert your faith in Christ, without the subsequent and very real "works" that follow it. (i.e. the tenant that 'Faith Without Works Is Dead'). And, furthermore, and quite ingeniously on God's part, you cannot win salvation BY works, only through faith, therefore, to (proudly) hold that title, you must have faith in Christ, the divinity of Christ, and then through that faith, you will have the lifestyle of a Christian and the works that follow someone that professes such. Being affluent, white, and voting conservative does not make you a "Christian." Just like overall, "Conservatism" does not inherently equal "Christianity."

The favor that truly occurred generations ago with our “founding” fathers is that they clearly sought the separation of Church and State. This was fresh in their minds, due in large part to the debacle that England had faced with Catholicism, Protestants and a resultant Church of England. That may be a bit too much history for some, but it's the truth. As Elizabeth noted after her staunch Catholic sister died: “People have to be able to live as God directs their conscience.” For example, as a Christian, I am all for prayer in school. But, where I differ from most Southern, Bible-Belted, White, Conservative, Christian folks is that I am not for school-led prayer. I am not for anyone leading children, save their parents. I don't have children, BUT IF I DID, I'd not want them to be anything other than the religion I raised them to be. I believe what I believe because I've done my research and I have eliminated the options I feel don't suit me, or would not suit MINE. And, while I believe in the citizens' right to pray whenever, wherever, however they want to, I don't think it's anyone's business to tell me when or where I can pray. If you want to pray in the bathroom, in your shower, in the car, on the bus, at school, in a meeting, at your desk... do it. And I think the Government should allow it and stay out of it. I also think work should stay out of it, or give leeway and some privileges to that. But realize this... prayer in school doesn't naturally equate to a Christian prayer to what is commonly accepted as the Judeo-Christian God, Jehovah, Creator, I AM, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. If you don't want your children exposed to prayer from other religions, cultures, and beliefs, or to be exposed to teachings that may derail them from what you want instilled in them at home - well, then you should probably support the separation of Church and State.

Please realize, I am a Christian. I am not even what most would call a "mainstream" Christian. I am a Pentecostal. I believe in Oneness. I believe in the full divinity of the Christ. I believe in the supernatural, God's omni-attributes. I believe in the Holy Ghost and being so full of God's love and full of God's Spirit that signs and wonders follow. I want the continued freedom to not only believe that, but to practice that. I want the freedom to gather with other believers that practice that. But, I understand that Freedom of Religion means freedom of ANY religion, freedom of ALL religion. If I expect tolerance (not necessarily a 'celebration' of my difference, but tolerant, benign, goodwill and being left to attend and worship as my conscience and God direct) then I have to be willing to extend tolerance. There is an old story about "When They Come for You."

But that does beg the question: "Why?" Why is this considered an affront to minorities? Why get all uppity? Why is this such a big deal? Why do non-white folks and non-straight folks even care? Is this an infringement of one set of civil liberties while ensuring a different set of civil liberties?

Yes and no.

I think that every citizen has been endowed with the right to pursue thier civil liberty. I think that if you are a grown adult, non-indigent, pay your own bills, and of sound mind and health, that you have every right to worship as the Creator dictates to your conscience. I think that, for me, that means I will attend Pentecostal worship services, give of my time, money, and goodwill toward that end. I will support them and promote them. I will pray for them, I will endorse them. That does not mean that I will lobby to have Presbyterians and Lutherans shut down. I will not tell my Senators that Baptists are TV-watching hussies that can wear lipstick and should be shunned or legislated into submission. I have never asked that my non-Pentecostal friends or even those that are just not "Godly" enough be limited by government exception, or treated differently on a personal level. I don't buy into that due to my personal Christian faith, and what I pray is a Godly example in my walk with Christ. Yet, if called upon to document those actions, I'd be able to point to scripture and verse. I'd be able to quote them in multiple translations, with historical context references, and I'd be able to hang all of the law on those references. Would you?

The bottom line is that the government cannot legislate morality. Moral and ethical responses to any myriad of topics will vary as much as any person. You may be 7 of 10 on this, or 4 of 10 on the next one. You may be either progressive or conservative or anywhere in between on any topic and come up with an overall range of "where you fit." But, hopefully this Freedom of Religion Bill in various states will allow for States' Rights to allow the good Christians that are living by the Bible to eschew any "Bad Christians" that are not quite up to snuff.

You cannot legislate spirituality. A person's personal faith that guides their moral compass and dictates tenants of belief cannot be mandated, cannot be regulated and should not be legislated. God is the great judge of a human heart, and God is the one that knows the truth, even when lies are spoken. God knows intent, even when your words are kind, and the result is cruel. Maybe these bills can shed light on what God really, truly meant when He called on us to judge others. We are called to judge the fruits of others and to be as wise as serpents in our daily walk for the Lord. These pieces of legislation may truly help every religion to have that measuring stick of what is intended. The government authorized, legislated code of conduct on what a good "Christian" should be before service and social acceptance may occur.

You cannot regulate stupidity. You just can't.

The very people championing these causes will wake one day to realize that they are, in fact, the minority: racially, spiritually, ethically, socially, and they will be in fear. They will realize that they gave away their OWN freedom when they sold everyone else's. The law is clear that you must have documented proof that you are put out, hurt, and offended by someone else to deny claims under this law and religious freedom. Everyone will now be on trial. You can claim religious freedom, but in court, your paperwork must stand up to scrutiny. Your personal life must be above reproach. Your past, and all of your prejudices, proclivities, proactions, pride, and problems must be able to withstand the harsh glare of public consumption. You think the guise of this bill will protect you while you give out general platitudes of your convictions and how you use it divisively, but it will unite us all as we all splinter and fail while everyone polices everyone else. We will all feel the sting of being turned away due to someone’s “religious freedom.’

An example of this very method was on a message board about these very bills. The topic was religious freedom. The clear secondary topic was legislation, and the majority of the commentary was about gay marriage. Um, not exactly the neither desired topic, nor what the "journalism" had been about. But one comment of note stated: "Jesus said one man one woman. If your a Christian, you follow Christ." That comment had 72 likes at the time. Obviously the commenter meant that on the topic of marriage, scripture defines marriage as one man and one woman, bound together, faithful, and that they serve the Abrahamic, Judeo-Christian God. They meant that Jesus stated this at some point of his earthly ministry, and that if you were to claim the banner of Christ, and use the term "Christian" to identify yourself, then you follow Christ's teachings and his wording.

Sadly, I am forever going to have my diagnosis of OCD and I was immediately drawn to the fact that they were unclear, didn't use context, and had poor grammar. *said marriage was... *you're *the teachings of the... Let's be honest, the Devil is in the details. And we all know that even the Devil can quote scripture. And even the devils believe in God and tremble with fear... so, take what I am about to point out to you with either... learning or a grain of salt. My goal isn't to force you to agree with me, bolster me, or believe what I believe. My job, and my only job, is to spread God's Word, and give an honest account of what I interpret that to be. Take that as humbly as you will.

Nowhere did Jesus talk about homosexuality. There is ONE vague possible reference in the use of the word Raca where he is protecting people from being bullied by the possibly slang translation of the word Raca which might have been a word like "fag." He did talk about the silliness of the "Church Leaders'" questions when wanting to know about folks with multiple marriages and writs of divorce. And he did talk about the divorce decrees under the law. He did talk about Heaven not being bothered by marriage and that those fortunate enough to make it "neither marry, nor are given in marriage." That's it in all of the research I've ever encountered.

Jesus said nothing. But he spoke volumes when He gave His life.

You know who DID talk about marriage a lot though was Paul. He clearly had his issues, and there are tons of things he wrote over his ministry - specifically about marriage in 1 Corinthians 7. He wrote of how marriage was for the husband and wife, and those seeking God should try to stay single, to focus on God, unless they just HAD to consummate relationships, then it was better to marry than to burn. He spoke to Timothy of the office of the Bishop and how they should only have one wife. Now does that mean polygamy? Or does that mean never divorced, or remarried after issues or even a death? If you are to pastor and carry that burden, what is your role in your personal relationships?

There really are few words given on that, other than those I've pointed out. Yet, I've seen so many pastors divorce and remarry and continue to serve the Lord in an official capacity. Some may have even led places of learning for ministry. They may have been extremely vocal conservatives and ranted and raved about holiness, but what of their literal following the letter of the law when tragedy, divorce, and scriptural detail come up in their lives? What of their ex-spouses that go on to other successful marriages and careers and continued ministry? Some even have blended families. Some go on to continue to pastor and carry the title of "Bishop." Some have spouses that die and then remarry to avoid being alone. Scripture offers no loopholes for this, yet, the stigma of those issues has passed with time. Why? There is clear and definite scripture associated against that. So, I guess under this law, if your third wife offends the arranged marriage of the Muslim you hire to work on your home, should they notify you that your sin and your blatant disregard of marriage law in scripture is an affront to them before they deny you service? Or can they just say no?

What if your stricter churches did that to the more relaxed churches? (Specifically, the drinking of alcoholic vs. non-alcoholic beverages for Communion). Some of the people like for THEIR blood of Christ to be non-alcoholic. And some believe that if you truly want to see Jesus, it's wine, not Welch's! Yet, Proverbs clearly states that wine is fine, just not too much. Jesus used His very first miracle to create wine, and anyone that's a Bishop has to abstain from "strong drink." How will the courts interpret these in the disputes and varied responses under "religious freedom?" Or is all of this moot because it really is to specifically discriminate?

For instance, you can choose not to hire gay people, and you can be offended by their marriages. But you must have documented proof that your religion thinks this is sacred and that you, personally, adhere to this. Maybe you think "sexual sins" are worse than other sins in the Bible. And let's make this real for some folks... maybe YOU are very vocal in your Facebook posts about how you "just can't fathom why gays exist" or "why would two guys love each other" or how you, in your present state cannot even imagine not living for God. Well, hon.... let's be clear, you SURE could "fathom" not living for God when you got pregnant in the back of a car before you were married. #Bloop You "fathomed" a few sexual sins were when you have multiple partners before you found "the one" and conveniently forgot how big of a whore you were dancing on table tops in downtown Jackson.

Or, if we need to, we could look at how you pontificate on how those pesky "special rights" gays need to quieten down because they are "okay to know," and you even "have some as friends" but don't let them get all "in your face." Aww, that's cute dude. I remember when you were the biggest loser in class. And even though, for instance, if you are now divorced because you had an illegitimate baby due to an affair - then maybe you shouldn't be championing Chick-Fil-A and be all "Rah Rah" about how awful gay men are for marriage. You should probably worry about where YOU are failing your first wife. Oh, and your bastard child. And how if you marry again you are technically committing adultery, causing your new "virgin" to commit adultery and that either of you should be allowed in church services, or you should relinquish your role as a minister. Right???

*cue crickets* I mean, let's only uphold these and truly pass these amazing bills if we are going by scripture or as my early commenter pointed out "What Jesus Said." Or if you really don't want to have to serve someone of another religion because they are just full of hate for Americans, then maybe you should realize that you can't use the N-word, or the K-word, or the R-word, or any number of other issues. This will go both ways. You will lose YOUR ability to be yourself, under your religion the very instant you regulate and legislate someone else's ability to be themselves under THEIR religion...
  • Or maybe you shouldn't be so gung ho to hate on Muslims or Jews. Under this law, they can refuse service to you, as well. Where would you get your diamonds???
  • Or maybe you think interracial marriages are sinful and we can FINALLY begin to refuse service to those couples and their gorgeous, mixed children.
  • Or maybe you think women should only work in the home, and be subservient to their male spouses. Because someone that thinks that could refuse to hire a woman, even part-time. That might ruin your two-income household. Who would clean the office buildings then?
  • Or maybe you think any number of things that your religion wants YOU to know. Like, dress codes, what is acceptable to watch, where it is acceptable to go eat, to go shop, to live, to recreate... if you don't adhere to those, and document how you adhere to those, how can you prove in court why your religion means so much to you?
The bottom line is that anyone can argue the legal perspective. The bottom line is that anyone can talk about being lawful. The bottom line is that anyone can live under the law and with legalistic attitudes. The bottom line is that the Pharisees and Sadducees lived under legalism.

So, after all of this... what DID Jesus really say? Here's what Jesus really said:
  • 1 - Love God with all of your heart, your soul, and might. Love God. Period.
  • 2 - Love your neighbor, as yourself. Period.
After this, ALL of the law hangs on these two commandments. You can live the law to the greatest detail, and you can miss the relationship with God. You can live the law and be perfect, and still bust hell wide open for not knowing, and not having a relationship with, God. And if you have a relationship, God will clean you up, you don't have to clean anyone else up. That's God's job, not yours. And if you have a real relationship with God, you will love people. You will love their souls, and you will worry for them, and pray for them, and hope for them, and have compassion and love for them. Like Jesus did. Like the Christ did. Like the founder of our faith did. You won't be cruel. You won't be over-bearing or take joy in their correction or failure of tenants of the faith. You will love them and work to restore them. You don't take joy in completing the Devil's task for him. You don't side with the Accuser.

These are scary times and we are fearful of everyone. We are fearful of next steps. We've sold our future stability for present luxury. It's right to be fearful. But God has this and God is in control. What does that even mean? I can't predict the future, but I know who holds the future. What is the right thing? What is the good thing? What is the proper and most Christ-Resembling thing?

Be kind.
Be respectful.
Be honest.
Be loving.

Kindness is never the inappropriate reaction. Compassion and empathy is never the wrong choice. You can be the strictest of conservatives or the most liberal of progressives... and you can be the cruelest to your fellow humans in your march for your ideals, regardless of what they be. What you can do, is be kind. What you can do, is allow others to see that regardless of your obvious differences, you can show compassion. You can show kindness.


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