9.30.2008

American Taliban

Buried underneath all the financial bad news of the past week is a story in the Washington Post about 33 pastors who have decided to defy the governmental edict by mixing politics with religion from the pulpit.

One of them, the Reverend Ron Johnson, jr. told his congregation that a vote for Barack Obama represents a moral schizophrenia and was in violation of the Bible. Johnson stopped short of endorsing John McCain, but not by much.

The 33 ministers are part of a group that is attempting to generate a court battle that will ultimately overturn the 54 year old ban on telling their congregations how to vote. They say they have a constitutional right to tell their people who to vote for. They say the law violates their rights to religious expression.

The law, which is part of the national tax code says churches or any entity with a tax exempt status are barred from participating in, or of intervening in any political campaign on behalf of any person or public office. The law was enacted to prevent the joining of church and state government. There is no such ban on pastors who talk issues from the pulpit.

The IRS has taken no action...it says it is monitoring the situation.

For me, the solution is simple...if you want to talk politics from the pulpit...give up your tax exempt status. Pay taxes like the rest of us and you can say anything you want.

These blatant attempts to circumvent one of the basic tenants under lying the founding of this country has always scared the hell out of me. The people who came to these shores, and founded our country, and authored the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, were escaping from religious persecution, not running toward it with the goal of setting up their own system of preferential abuse.

If these American Taliban are ever successful at infusing our government with religion, me and people like me, will be in big trouble. There are things about me that I can’t change...the very things that make me, me, are the things that these fanatics, and they are fanatic, want to control...lock away...kill...

I’m a woman....they want to take away my control of the only thing I really own....my body..
I’m black....their religious book says I should be a slave....
I’m lesbian.....they say I can’t love the one I choose...or that I should be killed for having such thoughts...
I’m left handed......at one point in our history...left handed babies were put to death because it was said that left handed children were sired by the devil....

Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, in 1956....My first grade teacher tried to make me right handed because she said it wasn’t correct to use your left hand.. I told my Mom...she put a stop to it...That teacher should have lost her job, because who knows how many other little kids she messed up because they didn’t tell their mom, or their mom chose not to intervene in the abuse.

Civil rights for Blacks and the LGBT community continues.....look at the vicious racial attacks on Obama in this campaign...I’ve had my fair share of personal brushes with racism, some of it based in the old testament, my phone chats with the late Bill Wilkinson, grand wizard of the KKK, for instance. I was okay with him until I told him I was black, this coming six weeks into our weekly phone conversations....He couldn’t tell I was black by hearing me talk....When I started in broadcasting...I had a news director tell me that I was too light to be black on television...I’m high yellow in complexion, as we say in the ghetto...I can’t help that...My complexion is testimony to the race mixing of America...been going on for ages...yet this white man chose to judge me for color...never mind that I had a track record of running rings around every other reporter he had on staff.....I won that battle....I worked in darker makeup for about six months..until he stopped paying attention...It didn’t end there...but it’s over...I don’t choose to look back....unless provoked.

The specter of the repeal of Roe v. Wade looms large these days...It’s not just about abortion..It’s about returning women to second class citizenship or the days of barefoot and pregnant. There is actually a legal group who is studying whether or not women can be limited in their travel or crossing of state lines, if they seem to be with child..or someone thinks they may be traveling in order to get an abortion...no proof necessary...just the suspicion would be enough...

Anyone who is sitting on the fence need only look to the middle east to see religion taking over government....dissenters silenced in the name of religion...women killed in the name of religion.

Don’t think it can happen here? Listen to the pseudo Christians of the conservative right. Listen to the Governor of that great state of Alaska. The concentration camps have already been built with our taxpayer money by KBR, the Bush/Cheney favored corporation. Bush, as I said has done away with some basic civil rights protections that would make it easy to co-opt the government if the religious right in this country makes it to the White House. Don’t believe me, then go read The Patriot Act. We basically have no rights. The trouble is most of us won’t know, until the government starts to use our laws against us.

Back to the topic at hand....In an open letter from the Rev. Eric Williams, of the United Church of Christ...he warned that many members of the clergy are "exchanging their historic religious authority for a fleeting promise of political power," to the detriment of their churches.

"The role of the church -- of congregation, synagogue, temple and mosque -- and of its religious leaders is to stand apart from government, to prophetically speak truth to power," Williams wrote, "and to encourage a national dialogue that transcends the divisiveness of electoral politics and preserves for every citizen our 'first liberty.' "

I just hope that more people are listening to Rev Williams than Rev Johnson.
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