Saturday, December 6, 2008

The "War" on Christmas

Each year at this time, the contrived "War on Christmas" is brought up, usually by some pundit or by a religious group looking for fuel for their fire. This year Bill O'Reilly brought up the fact that an atheist group got a permit from the State of Washington to put up a sign that had negative connotations to Christians. The sign was put up near a nativity scene that had also been erected by permit. O'Reilly and his misguided fans took this act as part of the "war" being waged by government.

Of course the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech. Most government agencies that have places for public forums have a permitting process in order to maintain some semblance of order. For many years agencies would set aside a first amendment area where people could express their opinions. Recent court rulings have basically said that designating areas is too restrictive.

Because we have freedom of speech, government agencies cannot restrict how people express themselves as long as no laws are broken. In the case of Washington State, it couldn't say no to the atheists or the Christians and it, of course, issued the permits. The fact that the two were together means nothing. Both groups are exercising their right to free speech.

If O'Reilly and his minions don't like it, then maybe they should try living in a country where free speech isn't allowed. I don't think it would be very long before they would be barking up a different tree. They would decide that atheists expressing opinions isn't so bad after all.

In addition to the pundits "outrage," which I might add doesn't hurt their ratings and the millions that they happily deposit in their bank accounts each year, there will always be groups or individuals that seek attention to their "cause." They do this by erecting some sort of illegal display. Their act almost always brings a law suit, which is, of course, what they want. The rest of the year they complain about high taxes, keeping quiet about the fact that their frivolous act cost their local government hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

I am always amused by these acts and the "war on Christmas." There is no "war." There are nativity scenes and other symbols of Christmas everywhere you look. Church's have live nativity scenes, fake nativity scene, stars, candles, lights, etc. Individuals do likewise as do commercial establishments. Even city and county governments put up lights and other decorations. However, governments should not endorse one religion or the other by placing religious displays on government land and should, "make no laws, respecting religion."

There is a fine line that must be maintained. There was a reason the founding fathers addressed the religious issue. They were much closer to the issue than we are today, although, if we look around the world, especially at some of our adversaries, we can plainly see the terrible results of the meshing of government and religion. In my next post I will address some of the issues that influenced the founding fathers' thinking and made it very clear to these men, that government and religion should not mix.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Bible Lesson

This goes around the Internet occasionally. It is funny, but it also gives one pause when Christian and Muslim fundamentalism come to mind.

Why Can't I Own a Canadian?October 2002

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned under any circumstance.

The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a east coast resident, which was posted on the Internet. It's funny, as well as informative:

Dear Dr. Laura:Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:

When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? - Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted fan,


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Chambliss Wins In Georgia, How Embarrassing!

Once again I'm sorry to say that I am from Georgia. This man, who never served in the military defamed a Georgia hero and won six years ago. Since then, he has been a hawk, eager to send men and women to their deaths as a shill for the Bush Regime. He stooped low enough to bring in the Wasilla Hillbilly to campaign for him.

I simply cannot see how Republicans can continue to send men like Chambliss and Paul Broun to serve in Congress, and even seem to consider running the Alaskan Bimbo for president in 2012. There are many good Republicans, somewhere, I know, who are not yes men and women, and who will stand up for what is right and ethical, regardless of what the party says. People, for example, like Richard Lugar and Everett Dirkson. I once thought John McCain was one of those. Now, it is clear that he isn't much better than Chambliss, Boun, and, yes, Palin.

Unfortunately, we have to put up with Chambliss for six years before something can be done. I guess I will have to continue writing him letters, only to get a party line, arrogant response. At least our other Republican senator, Isaakson, seems to be a good man.

Careless Gun Violence Continues

It remains so amazing to me that people, who own guns and fight "windmills" about having them taken away, keep killing their family members and shooting themselves "accidentally." The most recent was Plaxico Burress, a pro football player, who shot himself in the leg in a Manhattan night club. How he managed that is a mystery to me. Maybe he felt the need to feel the cold steel in his hand and forgot to keep his hand off the trigger. Who knows?

At a Massachusetts gun show recently, an eight year old boy was killed while shooting an Uzi machine gun. The gun recoiled, of course, and the muzzle was left pointing at his head in time for the next round to kill him. He was firing with the permission of his father, and supposedly under the supervision of a trained instructor. Just exactly why a father would give permission for an eight year old to fire an automatic weapon remains a mystery to me. The "trained" instructor wasn't very well trained, obviously, or he would not have taken part in such a travesty.

Then there was the man unloading his .45 semi-automatic a month or so ago, who managed to shoot a 10 year old girl in the stomach. Carelessness, but not accidental, in my mind. There is no excuse for that. There is no excuse for anyone to shoot someone, while cleaning a gun as well, but that is often the excuse. Just exactly how you clean a loaded gun has never been explained to me.

These scenarios repeat themselves time after time, day after day throughout each year. Thousands of adults and children are killed and maimed each year because of the careless handling of guns. Yet, again this year, the NRA has run a major fear campaign, stirring up its base with the lies that President-elect Obama will take their guns from their "cold, dead, hands." Of course he has only advocated control over assault weapons, enforcing laws against illegal gun sales, and continuing background checks on purchasers. He has always said that he will uphold the second amendment.

The NRA is one of the most irresponsible organizations around today. It's leaders harp continuously about the government taking away gun rights, and it has all of the right wing fear mongers on its side. It is a gold star for a politician to claim that he/she has been endorsed by the NRA. If I were running, I would not want to be associated with an organization that gives gun safety lip service, but keeps very quiet about these tragedies caused by "law abiding " gun owners.

As usual, let me say, that I am a gun owner, and I believe in the right to own guns. I don't see hobgoblins sneaking around the corner to take by weapons away. I see no need for anyone to own an AK-47 or any of its many brothers in chaos. I also have no problem with background checks and waiting periods. Unless someone wants to kill really badly, he/she can wait a few days before taking possession of that new rifle, pistol, or shotgun. If a someone needs a rifle or shotgun to go hunting tomorrow, then he/she needs to plan better. It's that simple.