You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader, But Apparently You Need a Bible

The organization I work for is all about continued learning and growth in its employees. As a part of that, some of us were able to attend a leadership conference that was being held in Atlanta, but we viewed via a live feed in our city auditorium. The conference is called Leadercast and it is put on by Chick-Fil-A. I do not patronize Chick-Fil-A because I think they have awful business practices and they are far too religious and bigoted for my taste. So, needless to say, I had some sort of expectation that this was going to be bad.

chick-fil-a-bigots-2012Last year, Chick-Fil-A put on the same Leadercast event and, except for an interview with Tim Tebow (can he PLEASE just go away already?!), it was great. I learned a lot from the many speakers and they all had very useful things to say. I even purchased a couple of books from my favorites.

This year was different. Much different.

The speakers ended up being just blegh but that wasn’t my problem with them. All of them, with the exception of maybe one, had an underlying Christian tone to their thoughts about leadership. The funny thing was that even though they all mentioned having faith of some kind, the things they were teaching about leadership — the principles one is supposed to take in and implement in their daily professional lives — were completely and totally contradictory to their Christian faith. It was a phenomenon I saw time and time again as each speaker wandered on the stage.

John Maxwell, a bestselling author of leadership self-help books mentioned in his discussion that he has figured out our problem. He says that our problem is that we are always trying to find a leader to fix all of our problems. He said the answer is simple: be the leader that solves the problem.

Now, in the realm of professional development this is great advice. This is how people move up in companies and corporations; this is how shit gets done in this country (or doesn’t). But how can one believe in that while still believing in a god? How does this relate to Christianity? The truth is, it doesn’t. In fact, it is completely contradictory to everything Christianity teaches.

How to Let Go and Let God lasso imagesCAG533J1

 

 

If going to church the majority of my youth taught me anything, it was that god would take care of everything for me. If I loved him and did right by him, well then he was going to look out for me. I was taught that he had a plan for me and that, no matter what, everything would always be OK. This is a direct contradiction to Maxwell’s idea about leadership and responsibility.

The worst offender, by far, was Condoleezza Rice. I have never been a fan of hers and after her interview it only further concreted in my mind that she truly is an idiot. At one point in the pre-recorded interview, John Maxwell asked her who had inspired her most in life — who she would always strive to emulate. Good ol’ Condi answered delightfully, telling a story of how the family was all together for some holiday (I can’t quite remember which) and one night they were all awakened to find her uncle had fallen incredibly ill. She said that everyone was running around the house putting clothes on, finding keys, gathering him up to put him in the car and take him to the hospital. But, she said that in the midst of all that mayhem, she happened to glance over at her grandmother who was sitting calmly on her bed not doing a thing. Condoleezza said that she asked her if she was going to help, to which her grandmother replied, “God’s will be done.”

Let’s recap: Condoleezza’s uncle is possibly dying, everyone is rushing around trying to get him to the hospital for help except for grandma who basically says that she isn’t going to do shit to help save his life because it may be that god wants him to die. Gnarly shit, right?

Not to Condoleezza! Oh, no. She thinks this is admirable. She finishes the story by saying that she is in awe of her grandmother in that moment because it is “remarkable to have that kind of peace.”

Remarkable to have that kind of peace? Or that kind of ignorance? Or that kind of basic disregard for human life?

THIS IS WHAT THEY WERE TEACHING US AT A LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE. Can you believe that? Neither can I.

One speaker, however, Dr. Henry Cloud, spoke a few words that really resonated with me, being an atheist. He said about leadership:

“The worst thing a leader can do is hope. Leaders must create a necessary ending.”

I agree with this whole-heartedly and honestly think the world would be better off if the majority of the people on it did too. For example, Christians hope and pray that something will happen — that their god will implement his divine will in a (hopefully) favorable way. This has always seemed like such a waste of time to me. Why hope and pray for something? Why not go out and get it? Or position yourself in a way that you are more likely to achieve what it is that you want to achieve? That is not true leadership, that is true helplessness.

Basically, all I learned from this leadership conference was that god and religion hold people back from ever amounting to their true potential. So many of these Christian speakers spoke about their faith being the strongest guide in their ability to lead but, from what I can tell, it has been the most hindering. These people had a real opportunity to make a difference in young people’s lives and give them helpful advice for tackling issues in the real world. But sadly, instead they opted to preach about a god that doesn’t exist and while telling us one thing, they were preaching the opposite. Although, I suppose that isn’t anything special or different. Christians do that all the time.

My Soap Box

I firmly believe that atheists should have a bigger voice in this world. We should not allow ourselves to remain sequestered for fear of what others (namely employers, family, friends, potential constituents, etc) will think of us if we don’t. Personally, I’m done with hiding my non-belief. I’m over just answering with a “No” when asked if I go to church. It’s time to start answering, “No, I do not because I am an Atheist” instead because I want them to inquire about it. I want people to start thinking differently about atheism and what it means. I want Americans to begin accepting openly atheist people into their government and local positions of power. We are not evil. We are not immoral. We are not devoid of meaning in our lives.

To me, religion as it stands today is a disease. It is a disease that is spreading through the weak and the weary spreading ignorance and turning us on each other. It has created a culture in which one is not allowed to be happy with themselves or with anyone else if what makes them happy is outside of their religious doctrine. Religion suppresses people. It suppresses progress and tolerance and it suppresses growth and personal responsibility.

If it were up to me, people would practice or not practice any religion they choose if it makes them happy and fulfills their life but also understand that each person is different and will have different views of what that fulfillment looks like. Unfortunately, religious people can’t seem to recognize that those outside of their religion are just like them — they have dreams and goals and families. Instead, they view someone else’s happiness in another religion as dangerous and ignorant. They kill people who are different than they are because they are viewed as a threat. Ok, death is on the extreme end of this spectrum but, you get the point.

What I want to know is this: Why can’t people just be happy for people who are happy? Why do we have to be right all the time? Why do we have to be in everyone else’s business and personal life? If people are not pursuing personal happiness at the expense of others (i.e. murder, rape, burglary, etc.) then why do so many feel so inclined to stop them? Let them be gay. Let them be nerdy. Let them be Muslim or Jewish or atheist. And you should expect the same respect in return.

There is a huge movement happening in this country to put an end to bullying. While it’s great to teach your kids not to bully others, we should consider leading by example first. Adults in this country are bullying each other every day. There are idiots at all ends of the spectrum looking down on those opposite them while belittling, hurting, offending and essentially shitting on everything they believe to be real and true. How could that not make people mad? How could they not react?

I myself am guilty of this. I make jokes about Christianity almost daily. A big part of me even enjoys doing it. I think the difference is that I would never suggest to a Christian that they need to stop being a Christian. I would only suggest that they need to stop chastising me for not being one. So, Christians (or, anyone really) bring on the jokes right back at me. We should all care about what others have to say but we should also be respectful of their thoughts when they say it. Making jokes and/or expressing yourself is one thing, hurting people intentionally is quite another. We are all different and differences make people uncomfortable, I get that. But, instead of falling victim to discomfort by never exploring others, why not engage each other and learn something. By opening our minds to the different and unusual we can become more accepting of what others say and do.

I think, for the most part, atheists get this. We all tend to agree on the premise of, ‘To Each His Own’. Unfortunately, some of us tend to lash out when others cannot accept that premise and 9 times out of 10, those unwilling or unable to accept are the religious ones. This change in human perspective has to start in the religious world. Muslims have to stop killing westerners, Christians have to become more tolerant of other beliefs/lifestyles, and Jehovah’s Witnesses have to stop knocking on my door!

The burden is on religion and those that practice it to make our world a better, more peaceful place. As an atheist, that makes me extremely uncomfortable (to be honest) however, if I have faith in anything, I have faith in people. I have faith that people are capable of great love and tolerance. At the end of the day, we all want the same thing; we just have to agree to disagree on the details.

Christianity is Such a Tool

 ‘But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant, I also will do this to you:

I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.

 I will set My face against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies.

Those who hate you shall reign over you, and you shall flee when no one pursues you.

‘And after all this, if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.

I will break the pride of your power; I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. And your strength shall be spent in vain; for your land shall not yield its produce, nor shall the trees of the land yield their fruit.

‘Then, if you walk contrary to Me, and are not willing to obey Me, I will bring on you seven times more plagues, according to your sins.

I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, destroy your livestock, and make you few in number; and your highways shall be desolate.

‘And if by these things you are not reformed by Me, but walk contrary to Me, then I also will walk contrary to you, and I will punish you yet seven times for your sins.

And I will bring a sword against you that will execute the vengeance of the covenant; when you are gathered together within your cities I will send pestilence among you; and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.

When I have cut off your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall bring back your bread by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied.

‘And after all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me, then I also will walk contrary to you in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.

You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters.

I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars, and cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols; and My soul shall abhor you.

I will lay your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries to desolation, and I will not smell the fragrance of your sweet aromas.

I will bring the land to desolation, and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it.

I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you; your land shall be desolate and your cities waste.

Then the land shall enjoy its sabbaths as long as it lies desolate and you are in your enemies’ land; then the land shall rest and enjoy its sabbaths.

As long as it lies desolate it shall rest—for the time it did not rest on your sabbaths when you dwelt in it.

‘And as for those of you who are left, I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; the sound of a shaken leaf shall cause them to flee; they shall flee as though fleeing from a sword, and they shall fall when no one pursues.

They shall stumble over one another, as it were before a sword, when no one pursues; and you shall have no power to stand before your enemies.

You shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up. And those of you who are left shall waste away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands; also in their fathers’ iniquities, which are with them, they shall waste away.

‘But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers, with their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, and that they also have walked contrary to Me, and that I also have walked contrary to them and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, and they accept their guilt—then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and My covenant with Isaac and My covenant with Abraham I will remember; I will remember the land.

The land also shall be left empty by them, and will enjoy its sabbaths while it lies desolate without them; they will accept their guilt, because they despised My judgments and because their soul abhorred My statutes.

Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, nor shall I abhor them, to utterly destroy them and break My covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God.

But for their sake I will remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am the Lord.’” Leviticus 26:14-45

judgement-day-600_s640x427One of my biggest complaints with Christianity (and most religions for that matter) is how fear-based it is. I mean, I get it. Fear is the easiest tool in our human tool box to take out and use to control massive amounts of people at one time. But, that doesn’t make it right. The Bible is FULL of passages like the one above from Leviticus. In fact, for every comforting/loving thing god says in the Old Testament, there is either a completely unrealistic demand attached to it and/or an incredibly violent and scary threat if you don’t comply.

And if I hear one single person say, “But Missy, that’s why Jesus came down and died for us so that his daddy wouldn’t be mean to us anymore and we wouldn’t have to suffer as he intended us to if we were bad like we are.” I’m gonna say, “BULLSHIT”.  If that were actually the case, then wouldn’t hell be non-existent? Why would anyone go to hell if Jesus loved everyone no matter what and “saved” us all? Why is there a planned apocalypse/rapture coming to swoop up all of Jesus’ favorite people if he died to save us all from god’s irrationality and anger?

He’s not going to save me because I believe in a different god? God was going to kill me for that anyway, so why delay the process? He’s not going to save me because I believe in no god at all? Again, why would Jesus die to protect me from the sins god threatened to kill me for if he intended to leave me behind in fire and brimstone for the rest of eternity later on anyways? This ‘You have to believe in him/it or it doesn’t work’ argument completely contradicts the entire purpose for Jesus supposedly dying for my sin of not believing (which by the way, he knew I would commit). Which therefore completely contradicts the idea that Jesus came to save us from the sins we were told we would die for, which therefore makes passages like this one, in Leviticus 26,  open for complete legitimacy in the Christian religion (despite what some apologists would argue). Which therefore makes my argument that Christianity is a fear-based tool used to scare and control huge portions of the population through psychological and emotional violence completely legitimate. I’ll bet you $10 the CDC would agree with me.

“Psychological/emotional violence involves trauma to the victim caused by acts, threats of acts, or coercive tactics. Psychological/emotional abuse can include, but is not limited to, humiliating the victim, controlling what the victim can and cannot do, withholding information from the victim, deliberately doing something to make the victim feel diminished or embarrassed, isolating the victim from friends and family, and denying the victim access to money or other basic resources. It is considered psychological/emotional violence when there has been prior physical or sexual violence or prior threat of physical or sexual violence. In addition, stalking is often included among the types of IPV. Stalking generally refers to “harassing or threatening behavior that an individual engages in repeatedly, such as following a person, appearing at a person’s home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects, or vandalizing a person’s property” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Jury is Out

I have disappeared for a few days… OK, maybe more like a week, because I had become consumed by a court case I was selected to serve as a juror on. I have never served on a jury before, so this was a completely new experience for me — one that I thought I wanted, but now, in hindsight, realize that no one should ever want. Ever.

r620-caf28fc922350a27f51ce3f6661c0b51I promise I am not trying to be dramatic. Hear me out. The case I was on involved a man who shot his wife of 8 years in the head because he was jealous that she was texting another man on her phone (doesn’t matter he himself was actually sleeping with another woman and seeing another on top of that at the time). They were planning a divorce but were waiting on tax money to come in so that they could afford it. The worst part? They regularly locked their 5-year-old child and 3-year-old child in their bedroom and after he shot his wife, he left the house with his roommate and his dog and left the young children locked in their room all night long with no one but the corpse of their mother to look after them. Yes, you read that correctly — he took his dog with him, but not his children.

Initially, he tries to play it off as a suicide which the police quickly find to be a lie, but for his defense strategy he claimed that it was an accident — She had the gun, pointed it at him first, he wrestled it away from her and it went off and shot her in the head. The evidence that the DAs presented did not match the story of there ever being a struggle and after 5 days and 37 witnesses, we found him guilty of attempting to persuade a public servant (he lied to the police), 2 counts of child abuse and ultimately of 2nd degree murder.

We were shown endless amounts of pictures of her body, the crime scene, her autopsy, the disgusting state of their apartment and the little boys’ bedroom that detectives said smelled so badly of urine it was unbearable to be in there for long. I don’t know if you know this about me (how would you, I suppose) but I work for an organization called Head Start. It is a federally funded, nation-wide organization in America that provides free preschool to families living under the federal poverty guidelines. It is not just a preschool program, though, the program focuses on the entire family and provides support, resources, advice, classes, services, etc. to families in our communities with the most need. The idea is that if you can get a child learning and educate their parents to continue that desire to learn in their children while also supporting the parents by teaching them about parenting and budgeting, the child will have a stronger/better foundation to grow on and ultimately will become more successful in their lives. So, needless to say, I care A LOT about kids. I would say most decent human beings also care a lot about kids but, the overall health and wellbeing of children has become a sort of passion of mine so this case was incredibly hard for me to listen to objectively. I did it, but it was emotionally draining and awful.

One of the things that surprised me the least about this case came when we were watching the first interview that was recorded with the defendant and the detective. About halfway through the hour-long interview, the detective leaves to go take care of some business (i.e. he wants to see his reaction while he is out of the room) and as soon as he leaves, the defendant gets upset and starts to cry. He puts his head in his hands and says, “God, please help me. Please forgive me of my sins.” Despite it being a really emotional, human moment I couldn’t help thinking, “REALLY?!” Of course. Of course now, when you have murdered your wife and you are about to get caught in your own lie, you turn to god.

We see it time and time again — awful people doing awful things and then praying/begging for forgiveness so that they can bask in the glory of heaven in the afterlife even though they were a piece of shit on Earth. Why does this phenomenon occur? It occurs because only a sick person could believe in a god sick enough to allow a murderer into eternal paradise because he/she asked for forgiveness at the last second. It’s desperate and selfish and allows a person to squirm their way out of personal accountability because ‘it is in god’s hands’ or ‘it was god’s plan’.

While religion (and I’m speaking mainly about Christianity although I am sure it can be applicable to other religions as well) does “teach” a lot about the ways humans should live a good life, it also leaves a lot of wiggle room for those that choose to do bad things. I can’t tell you how many episodes of MSNBC’s Lock-Up I have watched in which they showed a “reformed” prisoner who found god. Is he really reformed? Or does he just appear to be reformed since he has a newfound faith in god? People with faith in god are automatically viewed as being good people at first glance and first judgement by most. People take comfort in being around fellow god-fearing citizens, they feel safer for some reason. This is part of the reason atheists are demonized and viewed as not much more than a menace to society (speaking in generalities).

This phenomenon also further concretes my opinion that religion is nothing more than a crutch used by the weak in order to get through this hard life we have here on Earth. This defendant probably never even spoke once of god in his entire adult life, but now that he is presumably at the lowest point in his life, he wants/needs god. He wants/needs someone on his side, to look after him and help him through this. And, according to the Bible, if he truly believes in god in his heart, he will be forgiven and will walk through those pearly gates alongside those that went to church every Sunday and waited until marriage for sex.

So fine.

Lots of people need a god to feel safe and looked after and loved even if they didn’t just murder someone, but how can this not be viewed as a weakness? Is it always a bad thing? Absolutely not — to each his own. Most believers need this ‘big-brother’ god to look after them all the time, while others only need him/her/it in their time of need. Atheists just never need it. We take responsibility for our own actions and we hold ourselves accountable when we do things we know we shouldn’t do.

This is why I am proud to be an atheist. I may be weak in a lot of different ways compared to a lot of different people (for example, my involvement in this murder trial was incredibly hard on me but was the everyday job of the judge, the lawyers, the detectives, the coroners, etc.), but I know that I am not weak in my heart. I am on this Earth for some reason and dammit, I am going to enjoy it and treat others like I want them to treat me back. And if I ever find myself in a desperate situation, I sure as hell won’t be turning to any god to get me through it.

Faith or Expectations?

Faith. It is at the heart of every theist’s last-ditch argument. When you have questioned the historical discrepancies in their Bible, when you have pointed out all the nasty things their religion has been responsible for, and when you finally work your way down to the core of their beliefs, the answer is always, faith. The phrase goes something like this:

“Well, either way, it doesn’t matter what you think. I believe god exists because I have faith that he does and having faith is a lot harder than not having faith.”

Usually that about ends the argument for me — there is no arguing with crazy, after all. And really, what can I say at that point? “OK, fine, be stupid then!” typically doesn’t fly with my grandmother.

I was confronted with this argument recently and when I was replaying the argument over in my head thinking of all the things I should have said, it dawned on me. I have faith, too. I mean, I think I do. I would go so far as to say that everyone has some sort of faith inside of them. The difference is that my common sense tells me to have faith in things for which I have seen.

For example, I have faith that my car will start in the morning to drive to work. Do I know that it will? No. But, I have kept up with the maintenance and it worked fine the day before, so I have faith that it will turn on. I also have faith that my husband won’t cheat on me. Do I know that for sure? Absolutely not. How could I? But, I have faith that he won’t because he has never done so before and our marriage is good and strong. All of us have faith that tomorrow will come. We schedule appointments, put things off at work and plan vacations all under the assumption that when today ends, the sun will come up and tomorrow will begin. Do we know that it will for certain? No, but we have no reason to believe otherwise. The sun has always come up and tomorrow has always come — whether we like it or not.

The problem with the faith argument though, lies in the very definition of faith itself:

“Faith: firm belief in something for which there is no proof.” Merriam-Webster

My common sense tells me that my faith should be based on proof. My logical, reasonable mind tells me so as well. “I believe that ‘X’ will happen because it has happened before or there is evidence that it will.” However, theists and believers of any god(s) believe that faith in something “for which there is no proof” is a perfectly acceptable way to live and it satisfies their minds to be with religion. “I believe that ‘X’ will happen because I have faith that it will.”

This sort of thinking has never satisfied me, so maybe I don’t have faith then; maybe I have something more like expectations:

“Expect: to consider probable or certain; to consider reasonable, due, or necessary.” Merriam-Webster

I expect that my car will turn on, that my husband won’t cheat and the sun will rise again tomorrow. I still know none of these things for certain, but it is probable that my expectations are correct based on the current evidence.

So, maybe that is the biggest difference between atheists and theists: Theists are perfectly satisfied with having faith and can live with the fact that there will never be any proof to show them that their beliefs are correct or accurate. Atheists tend to let their ability to reason overcome their ability to have faith — It is more reasonable to believe in something because there is proof and, on the flip side, it is more reasonable to not believe in something because there is no proof. This, however, does not mean that having faith is any harder or any easier than not having faith. I think that if your mind is capable of accepting the idea of faith, then it shouldn’t be very hard for you at all. But, if you are struggling with the idea of faith and the blind acceptance of it, then sure, I imagine it would be pretty difficult.

The bottom line is that the common sense of an atheist tells them that if there is no evidence, then it must be bullshit or, at the very least, it should be something that they question. The common sense of a theist (and the Bible, oddly enough) tells them that as long as they have faith, anything is possible. “With God all things are possible.” Mark 10:27

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#PrayForBoston

Twitter and Facebook are erupting with a hashtag in response to the explosions that just took place near the finish line of the Boston Marathon: #PrayForBoston.

Right now, Boston does not need prayers, it needs justice. I will be solemnly thinking about all of those injured, killed and forever affected by this disgusting display of human disregard and hate. And, I will be hoping for swift justice to be upon the perpetrator(s) of this crime on innocent people.

Read the story here.

Praying For Votes… Er, I Mean, Our Leaders

I was recently on a Christian website scrolling through a list of sermons about Atheism and I came across this ad:

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Initially, it literally made me laugh out loud at the ridiculous-ness of it. “Learn” how to pray? …Huh? Isn’t prayer just talking to yourself in your head and hoping someone/something hears it and does something about it? Isn’t prayer personal and customized to fit nicely with your inner voice? And how does praying for our leaders differ from that? Is there a special chant or rhyme that must be used in order for the prayer to make its way up to god so that he’ll immediately know to give this prayer preference because it is for a leader? I was clearly curious so, naturally, I clicked on the link. Here is the description I found:

“‘It is a great privilege, as well as our responsibility, to pray for our government leaders.’ – Billy Graham

This helpful pamphlet helps guide you through what the Bible says about how to pray and about our government leaders. Also included are scripture references and ways to specifically pray for our leaders. The back has space for the names of local, state and federal leaders to be written, so they can be prayed for by name. Great tool for your congregation to encourage prayer for our nation! ” Billygrahambookstore.org

After reading the description and the hilarity subsided, I was left with a disturbing feeling of confusion. Most evangelicals disagree with our current government as well as the progress being made on social issues like abortion and marriage equality so, why would they be so light-heartedly praying for them? Then it hit me: They aren’t! This prayer guide is a rouse. It’s a cover up. They aren’t encouraging simple prayer for our nation (which is disturbing enough in and of itself) but rather, they are encouraging government in church under the guise of prayer.

It’s amazing, really. Without blatantly advertising the discussion of politics and government in their congregation (which would be illegal under their current tax-exempt status) they are disguising it as prayer. And how can one pray for our political leaders unless they know what they are praying for and how to do it? This then gives them an excuse to discuss it in the church and find themselves nice and warm and safe in the comfort of their loop-hole. They can’t legally tell their congregation who to vote for (although this is done quite often), but they can encourage prayer for a particular candidate whose views align with their own. Or even a prayer that an opponent of their chosen candidate wakes up to god and “reality” to find his/her proper way.

Woah. Votes disguised as prayers. Who would have thought?

I have another thought: How about when you are in church you do less talking about grown-up stuff like politics and law and more talking about your cute little fairy-tale book with its magical stories? Or, if you insist on playing with the big-dogs, how about you pay your fucking taxes like everyone else and earn that right?

People, organizations and/or mindless groups of blindly devoted idiots who do not contribute to society financially should have no say in what society does financially; whether in regards to funding social services or otherwise. The government is holding up its end of the bargain by keeping itself out of the church (tax exemption), it is time that the church start holding up its end of the bargain and staying out of government (prayer/vote brainwashing).

America Is NOT A Christian Nation

Many Christians argue that America was founded on Christian morals and beliefs. I have never really been able to grasp that crazy concept especially given the fact that we were founded based on a collective agreement that religion in government is a bad thing and we no longer wanted to be oppressed by it. Religious oppression is the very reason America is HERE today! So, why circle back? Well, we are on track for doing just that.

From 1892 to 1954, god was not mentioned in our pledge of allegiance. It took the Communist scare of the early 50’s to get the word “God” added to anything. You see, at that time, communists were known atheists and since we did not want to align ourselves with communism in any way, we over reacted (weird) and added the word “God” to everything so that it was known that we weren’t atheist therefore we could not be communist either (this is a gross over-simplification of the entire ordeal, but you get the point).

“Senator Homer Ferguson sponsored a bill to add the words ‘under God’ to the Pledge. On June 8, 1954, the bill was approved as joint resolution and signed into law on June 14, Flag Day. That day President Eisenhower said, “From this day forward, the millions of our schoolchildren will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty.” The alteration made the Pledge both a patriotic pledge and a public prayer.” ( Buzzle )

Flag Day became a horrible, horrible day and a giant step backwards for Americans. But, I digress…

It is in America’s nature to be constantly in the pursuit of wealth and success.  Wealth means you succeeded in your pursuit of the “American Dream” and that monetary success is highly frowned upon in the Bible:

“And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24

We value individualism, free speech and the power of dissention. But the Bible says that we should submit ourselves to “every ordinance of man” :

“Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.” 1 Peter 2:13-14

Ok. Most of us abide by the law, even if we disagree. But what if our laws and values are contradictory to god’s laws and values?

The Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:3-2, 7-10, 12-17
1. “You shall have no other gods before Me.

Elvis_Presley_promoting_Jailhouse_Rock1361206351-jordanMichael-Jackson-by-Annie-Leibovitz-michael-jackson-23173496-1261-17492008 American Music Awards - Show

We idolize our favorite celebs.

 

2. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;

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These things sell like hot cakes!

 

 

 

 

3. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

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4. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.

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35% of all working Americans work on the weekend and 51% of those working more than one job do, too. How much do you want to bet that one of the days they work is a Sunday?

 

 

 

5. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

Lonely Nursing Home

 

We have a culture of getting rid of our parents as they age and become bothersome.

 

 

 

 

6. “You shall not murder.

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7. “You shall not commit adultery.

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Yes, this is completely real. It actually exists.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. “You shall not steal.

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9. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

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Look at any magazine or newspaper rack in America (who am I kidding… look anywhere online!) and find stories of people blaming others, telling lies and living in deceit.

 

 

 

 

 

10. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey (I prefer to say ass. It sounds funnier and I’m really mature.), nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

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Plastic surgery is a BOOMING industry in the US. Everyone wants what they don’t have!

 

 

 

 

 

American values rarely align themselves with Christian values and for that, I am glad. Of course there are some virtuous Christian values and some awful American values, but, if it were up to me (and it is) I would pick American values over Christian values any day.

I value working hard and earning what I have while recognizing that others around me may not be so fortunate (and doing something to help!). I value education, growth and progression. I value the freedom to think and believe anything I want as well as to question anything and everything. I value equality and rights. I value accountability and being held responsible for my actions. Most Americans value these things as well.

I do not, however, value ignorance or submission. I do not value blind faith in things that may or may not exist. I do not value holding on to useless traditions that stunt growth and progress. I do not value needless guilt for things I cannot help. I do not value living to anyone’s standards but my own. And, unfortunately, these are the things most Christians do value.

America is NOT a Christian nation and I am proud of that. I refuse to stand by and watch it ever become one.

Till Divorce Do We Part

imagesWhen a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house,  when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man’s wife, if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.” Deuteronomy 24:1-4

First of all, what the hell is wrong with this hypothetical woman if her first husband finds her to be unclean and her second ends up detesting her? Did they uncover some crazy spring break photos of her on the internet?

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Second of all, why would god find a need to specifically draw attention to such a rare instance of a woman’s second husband dying and her choosing to return to her first husband?

Strange.

Either way, it is there, clear as a summer day:  “and he writes her a certificate of divorce”. So divorce is OK, right? Wrong! This is just another one of those tricks that god likes to play on people to keep himself entertained. Or, at least that’s what Jesus says:

The Pharisees came and asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” testing Him. And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.” And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’;  so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” In the house His disciples also asked Him again about the same matter.  So He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her.  And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” Mark 10:2-12

Well, which is it? Can we divorce or can’t we? If I want a divorce I can certainly find a verse that says it is OK, (I just can’t remarry my first husband if my second one dies, AND, since I am a mere woman, I can’t be the one to make that decision, it has to come from my husband) but if I don’t, I can certainly find a verse in the Bible that says it is not OK.

This is the problem with the Bible (among infinite other things). I can find any excuse in any verse in the Bible to justify why I said or did something and why I feel the way I do. In fact, I can change my mind from day-to-day  it’s OK! It’s in the Bible!