Wednesday, May 7, 2008

RENDER ONTO CAESAR

I recently received an e mail pass-along-message from old friends who are not right wingers nor fundamentalists, but nonetheless thought it worthwhile to pass on to their friends a circular about how we should all refuse the new dollar coins because they don’t have the words “In God We Trust” on them.

The message implies, or actually outright says, that this is part of the whole ongoing attempt to remove God from public life in “America” and concluded that if America turns its back on God, then God will turn His back on America. It totally bugged me.

I love my friends and know they only mean well. But I felt compelled to respond anyway.

This is an edited version of what I wrote back to them:

If God turns God’s back on a people for not putting God’s name on their coins, than that isn't the God I learned about in school and the Gospels.

Jesus made his famous statement about rendering onto Caesar what is Caesar's and God what is God's, using a Roman coin as an example. He didn’t say Caesar should put my father’s name on his coins.

My God is interested in me helping people who need help, in loving others as myself, and in fact the Jesus I dig says in the Gospels he came to replace the old laws with one new one: love your neighbor as yourself.

This campaign to refuse to accept or use the dollar coin is one of those divisive issues that distract people from the real political issues that truly affect their lives, and to distract them from the true message of the Gospels.

It also helps the fundamentalist preachers earn millions by stoking people's fears that this country—which has a higher percentage of citizens who believe in God than anywhere outside of some Arab nations—is somehow forgetting about God.

I always wonder why these same fundamentalist preachers, whose version of Christianity has only been around for little more than a century, always insist on following the ten commandments and having them inscribed on walls in government buildings, but never ask to have the beatitudes put up in public, which are their spiritual leader’s own words, who they profess to follow.

They sure do love that Old Testament religion. I think it's called Judaism. Except in the Jewish religion there is no set-in-stone text, or interpretation of the text, unless you're one of their fundamentalists, which have also only been around for little more than a century, though there have been different versions of that kind of thing in the past in all religions.

Jesus confronted that literal, fundamentalist, follow-the-rules-and-add-more mentality that has been the cause of so much death and destruction in the world and continues to be.

That’s about all I said in my email response. But I’d like to add that this idea many Christians have that they are a victimized minority in this country, and that the government and other public entities are out to destroy them, or at least suppress and marginalize them, is mind bogglingly absurd.

I understand that the culture at large is full of elements that either seem willfully sinful or at least contrary to the Old Testament rules. Like rap videos that are all about bling and objectifying women and their body parts to the point of being more sexist than the good old days many fundamentalists often seem to be nostalgic for (even if those days included racism and sexism and poverty etc. on a scale young people wouldn’t even recognize if they encountered any of it).

But the elements in popular culture that really go against the spiritual leader they profess to follow are the wanton violence and the violation of people’s basic humanity, and the exploitation of children and the poor and bewildered and uneducated and fearful and stressed out, and so much more.

And to think that the government deliberately removed “in God we trust” from the coins because there’s some kind of governmental conspiracy to remove God from public life, when this administration is headed by an avowed born again Christian who has filled the government with fellow born agains, including all those graduates of evangelical colleges like the ones in the Justice department who graduated from that new fundamentalist evangelical college and had no experience in the law or in government nor even a very good education. Or the armed services where Christian fundamentalism has become part and parcel of military life, and where troops who don’t join in prayer circles and prayer meetings are ostracized and held back from advancing in rank and even discharged!

There’s certainly more Christianity in public life at anytime in my lifetime. When I was in the service it was still like the old Hollywood movies where the guys represented every faith and ethnicity that makes up what they used to wishfully call our “melting-pot” of a nation, but now, we have commanders in all the services professing that ours is a Christian nation and that this war is a crusade and that anyone who doesn’t believe in their God the way they do is not saved and is not to be respected and worse.

The Supreme Court justices who dominate with their conservative opinions and handed Junior an election he lost and continue to be “activists” for conservative causes and issues are all Chirstians, the cabinet is mostly Christians, and the few exceptions still believe in a God.

Can these frightened people who think their religion is being somehow suppressed in this country name one atheist in government in any prominent or important or authoritative or decision making position?

Give me a break. Atheists are the ones whose perspective is suppressed in the public life of this country. And if the culture is polluted with values that Christians see as against their religion, blame that on corporate greed, not some government conspiracy.

But I suspect this email some folks are passing around the internet is one of many indirect ways of making this election about “values” again instead of issues, and creating an “us and them” mentality with I’m sure the avowed Christian Obama being cast as the anti-Christian, if not the anti-Christ (have you noticed that Hagee, the fundamentalist preacher who endorsed McCain, has not had the youtube loops repeatedly shown on TV of him professing far worse beliefs than Rev. Wright including his onw version of "the chickens coming home to roost" when he claimed Katrina was God damning New Orelans for its sins, or that journalists have let McCain get away with accepting his endorsement and appearing in public with him, even though this same preacher has called the Catholic church “the whore of Babylon” and the popes, not just this one, the anti-Christ and has already implied that Obama may be the new anti-Crhist).

Thank God there are Christian preachers in the USA today who are beginning to preach Jesus’s words and teachings about feeding the poor, sheltering the homeless, visiting those in prison, taking care of the earth, and rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do Atheists have certain inalienable rights endowed by their Creator?

While "In God We Trust" was brought back during the Cold War, it is really the product of the various frateral orders that founded and rule this nation.

The Masonic Order for the most part states that this is a Christian nation because they recognize the Bible as the national Holy Book. The Masonic oath is taken on a Bible. All national legal oaths are made over a Bible.

It was just recently that a Quoran was used for the oath of office when a Muslin was elected to an elected position in government. This conforms to the Masonic dictate that all Masons believe in a 'God' or Creator in whom all faith and trust flows. The Members of the various Faiths would use their Holy Book for the Sacred Oath.

All injustice and inequality flows from such fraternal orders and religions who teach, preach and believe that non-members are lesser entities. Membership in these orders is usually limited by a morality peculiar to the order or religion.

Their version of 'God' is akin to the Darwinian God. This is also the 'God' of the Elitist and Monarchists. Survival and prominence of the fittest.

The larger joke in my view of the Masonic Order is that they are nothing more than a Zionist organization. They made this nation the 'Promised Land' but now are conflicted since Israel became a nation.

As in Revelations, we are reminded that there is no place for the Goyem in the New Jerusalem or in the New Temple.

"In God We Trust" that these things will come to pass.

harryn said...

thanks for the post michael -
you know its apt to stir up a hornets’ nest ...
the kind of hypocrisy being flaunted on the subject is unnerving - particularly when i see fox news or televangelism, hear right-wing talk radio, or overhear local diner conversations ...
i haven’t heard this level of outward aggression and intolerance since since ‘longhairs’, negroes, fags, and jews were the subject of distrust, fear, and change back in the early 60’s ...
and i’m always surprised how the ‘god’ these individuals claim to know so well hasn’t intervened in their own lives to bestow a little more intelligence or compassion - maybe there are some miracles god feels ill-equipped to handle and relies on federal legislation for ... or maybe it’s like in ‘bruce almighty’ when bruce says “i didn’t know god took vacations” and god says - “ever hear of the dark ages” ...
i was doing a little research for an essay about this phenomenon a year or so ago but quit because it got too scary - right wing christian fascism in america - their motives and objectives - it specifically targeted artists, poets, gays, and ‘other dissenting groups’ as being unnecessary in their version of a perfect society ...
man, we’ve heard that jive before ...
i just think its more deluge of distracting minutia to divert our attention from what’s really going on - opiate the masses so the real power players can subvert the government ...
we’ve seen this before ...

John M. Lally said...

I prefer the United States' original motto, "E pluribus unum", or "Out of Many, One". This was a motto that was meant to unite us. "In God We Trust" is a motto designed to divide us.
The US Congress adopted "In God We Trust" as our official motto in the fifties, a politically divisive time in our history.

The e-mail you received is also uses God in a destructive and devisive manner. It suggests an "US v. THEM" mentality among Americans.

No act of Government can illustrate the divisiveness of religion more than the defacing of the Pledge of Allegiance. The words of unity, "one nation, indivisible" were forcefully wedged apart by "under God". It was no accident that these words were placed here-- to literally divide words of unity.

I prefer the motto "E pluribus unum", or its American brother, "United we stand, divided we fall".

JIm said...

Isn't it nice that an American can believe and preach what ever they want about God. There is no fear of beheading, stoning or burning. What a country! It is however good to remember the Declaration of Independence phrase, "We are Endowed by are Creator with certain inaliable rights", thus our rights come not from man or the state but from God or from the fact that we are human.
PS. There is some thought that liberals, progressives have and would like the "State" to be the new religion that "Giveth and Taketh away". Mussolini, Hitler, and the USSR tried this without success. By the way that fundalmentalist thing has been around a lot longer than 100 years, in this country. The great "Awakening" was a significant movement in (I believe early 1700's late 1600's).

JIm said...

Hey Anoymous,
Your getting out there a bit with the whole, Masonic as Zionist conspiracy, anti-Jewish stuff. Keep watching your back. I think the black helicopters are closing in.

John said...

Jim said "There is some thought that liberals, progressives have and would like the "State" to be the new religion that "Giveth and Taketh away".

-Conservatives are the ones who argue that a murderer "forfeits" his right to life by committing that crime. How can you forfeit that which is "inalienable". And why would it act as a forfeiture to the "State" if the right comes from the "Creator"?

- Conservatives also claim that foreigners aren't afforded the same civil rights as Americans because the Constitution doesn't apply to people from other countries. Does that mean that the Creator only endows rights on US Citizens? What happened to "All men are created equal"?

-Conservatives claim that security interests of the United States outweigh an individual's right to free speech and freedom of assembly, the freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, right to representation by an attorney, the right to confront witnesses against you, and the right to examine evidence against you. How can the State take away "inalienable rights" endowed by "the Creator"?
--The Conservatives are the ones who have been ignoring some of the basic cornerstones of our concept of human rights including the Magna Carta (in regard to habeas corpus), the Geneva Conventions (quaint and outdated), The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The United States Bill of Rights, and all documents based on or derived from these documents.

...No, the Republican party firmly believes that its unitary executive has the power to take away human rights if he feels that it's necessary to do so. Not only are these rights alienable, but they are either given or taken by the government.

JIm said...

John,
Most of the people convicted of crimes worthy of the death penalty are convicted under state law which is governed by the individual state constitution and state laws. The people elect the representatives and the representatives make the law. If the people don't like the laws they elect new representatives. Things sometimes goes awry, when unelected judges either, state or federal, supersede the people and make up new law, rather than just interpet the state or federal constitution. Punishment of a crime is not new and is not necessarily a conservative or a liberal concept. It is good to remember that victims and victims families have rights also.
A true American Conservative is guided by the founding documents. Forigners do have rights in the US, just not the same rights as citizens. In my mind it does not make sense to extend citizen rights to forign combatants in the War on Terror. Neither Lincoln or FDR extended those rights in their time.
"The Constitution is not a suicide pact". I can't recall who said it but it is true. The US govt has used wire taps to prevent another 9/11. So far we have success.
The conservatives usually advocate the rule of law. We give primacy to our founding documents and do not want to submit to any international tribunal. You refer to "The Universal declaration of Human Rights". Is that the "Universal Rights of Man" from the French Revolution? If so, that was used to commit atrocities against noblemen and commoner alike. What grew out of it, was a religion of the state. It was also very influential on Marxism and 20th century fascism. In fact, I believe the French Revolution was the first fascist govt. I prefer our founding documents.
I am not sure what you mean by a unitary executive, but the power of the US president has waxed and wained with the power of the congress. The checks and balances of our founding documents has proven to be truely remarkable. Each generation is faced with what sometimes seems like insurmountable problems, yet the Republic lives on and is the envy of the World.
God,Jehovah, Allah, the Goddess, or the spirits of the Diest founding fathers, bless America.

Anonymous said...

There is a difference between Jewish and Zionist people.

The Masonic Order claims its origins go back to the times of the building of Solomon's Temple. There goal is also world domination under their own peculiar principles.

Further, their ethic that a 'brother' should be dealt with on a better basis than a 'non-brother' is similar to the Jewish and Islamic teachings.

Remember that the Founding Fathers did not regard all men as a Man. There are far more similarities in our nation's founding principles and the Masonic Order than most people care to admit or realize.

In case you missed the point, Atheists do not advance in our government because they do not believe in a Creator Being or Great Architech. They will never be able to join the fraternity of power that rules this nation.

JIm said...

Anonymous, I try to avoid obscenities, but will make an exception in your case. I think your mind and your values are totally f**ked up. You would be more comfortable in Iran with Ahmadinajad or with Hezbollah in Gaza. Do your self and America a favor and drop dead.

Anonymous said...

I see that the realization that there is no place in the New Jerusalem for the Goyem has upset you.

It is what it is.

Christians the world over are praying for a Redemption of which they are disenfranchised.

Lally said...

Okay boys, simmer down. And see my latest post about this.

Anonymous said...

maybe too late... but if you look on the edge of the coin.. what do you see...
In God We Trust...

your friends are idiots and should be told as such, maybe in a gentle manner.