Friday, March 11, 2016

God Under Attack

As I posted on the blog on Tuesday, the El family went to see Zootopia this weekend. Before the movie were the ubiquitous trailers which included The Jungle Book (I hope it’s as good as it looks), Finding Dory (not really feeling the love for this, which is troublesome because Finding Nemo remains one of my all time favorite Pixar movies), The Secret Lives of Pets (No) and The Angry Birds Movie (Oh hell no!). 

And there was the trailer for God Isn’t Dead 2.

Which was kind of awkward.

Yes, it’s a sequel of sorts. I really don’t know if there is any characters who bridge the two movies. Basically, this new film covers the same ground as the first one, that is, Christianity is under attack and Christians gotta rise up and fight back. What I can gather from the trailer for God Isn’t Dead 2 (or GID2), somebody has a bug up their butt about anyone even saying the name Jesus in school so he goes to court to provide Jesus ain’t real and God is dead. There’s a lot of impassioned declarations from various Christians that they will not be silenced, they will not be forced to disavow their faith and they will stand up for their God and Jesus too!

By the way, Melissa Joan Hart is in this thing. Yes, the former star of Clarissa Explains It All and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. (And no, she doesn't still look like this.) 

Now here’s the thing I’m wondering about: where is all this actually happening in the United States?

Yes, I know that there are dozens, hundreds of stories of people going up against schools and government agencies on the placement of nativity scenes on public property or saying prayers in class. Sometimes I think that people who raise a stink about this sort of thing are assholes. Yes, they are right but sometimes they can be assholes about it. “The presence of this nativity scene on the courthouse lawn offends my eyes and it’s an abomination to society.” Dude, it’s just some plastic figures of shepherds, sheep, Mary & Joseph with baby Jesus. Chill out, already.

But let’s be blunt: there are Christians who can be assholes about it too.  “How dare we be told we can’t put up a nativity scene on the courthouse lawn at Christmas time? This is an affront towards God and supplicates us before the Devil!” To you, the same thing: plastic shepherds, sheep, Mary, Joseph, Jesus, chill.  

I’ve done some cursory research into God Isn’t Dead and was distressed to find no objective discourse on it. Lots of pro-articles from Christian sites and some articles against the very concept of religion on other sites. I did find one comment from one of the producers of GID and GID 2 who admits the films are preaching to the choir. They are specifically designed to provoke specific reactions. That is, YOUR faith is under ATTACK! YOUR God is under ATTACK!

At the core of American governance is the concept of the separation of church and state. Basically, government can’t impose a religion and religion gets to do its thing without government interference.  I think we can all agree, cool beans. So to apply that in towards our plastic representation of Christ’s holy birth, a nativity on the courthouse lawn is a not cool but nobody can stop you from having a nativity scene on private property.

Applying that to prayer, the deal here is you can pray where you want on your time and your property but when you are in a place where you are compelled to share space with other people who may not necessarily share your beliefs, maybe keep that prayer to yourself.

I think what a lot of Christians forget or willfully ignore is that America does not guarantee freedom of Christian religion. America is about freedom of religion. There is no qualifier. 

To review this further, come with me to this charming little middle school in the middle of Middleboro. Let’s go to Mrs. Ludwig’s 7th grade home room where she leads the class in prayer every morning. Mrs. Ludwig is a good teacher; the kids love her and they all do pretty well with good grades.  Also she is a good Christian. She goes to church every Sunday and actively participates in various charities. No one denies Mrs. Ludwig is a good person. 

But somebody has to raise a stink about Mrs. Ludwig leading a prayer every morning and the principal consults with a school district attorney who suggests that Mrs. Ludwig really shouldn’t be doing that due to that pesky separation of church and state stuff. 

Well, all H-E-double hockey sticks breaks out among the good Christian parents who think that Mrs. Ludwig should not be denied the practice of her faith in leading the class in prayers. The school board agrees and passes a resolution that says a teacher can lead classes in prayer in accordance with his or her faith. The school district attorney thinks this is going to backfire on everybody but who listens to him? No one! Because the good people of God will not be silenced in the practice of their faith.

Then one day Mrs. Ludwig has to miss class. Poor thing has an inner ear infection. God bless her, she really is a good person so I hope she gets better soon. So the principal scrambles for a substitute. 

So the class day begins as the students make their way to their desks and the substitute teacher enters and takes her place at the front of the class. “Hello, kids,” she says with a warm smile, “I am Mrs. Al-Mahlahiki and I will be filling in for Mrs. Ludwig today. So let’s start with our morning prayer. Dear Allah…”

Oh hell NO! 

There are Christians who are fine with making a big show of standing up for the freedom of worshiping as one chooses as long as one chooses Jesus Christ. The moment freedom of religion gets applied to someone different, it’s not quite the same thing is it.

The thing is there are people who are truly being oppressed and persecuted for their Christian beliefs. In other countries, men and women are being imprisoned, tortured and killed for their Christian faith. Here in America, you may think you have things to complain about. But at least you still get to complain.  

That’s all I have for today. I’ll be back with another new post tomorrow. Until then, remember to be good to one another.


Here's some bonus religious stuff from Ruben Bolling, the creator of Tom the Dancing Bug

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