The Watering Hole, Saturday, May 24, 2014: Love Thy Neighbor As Thy Self Does Not Mean Love Thy Neighbor Like Thy Self

As a Liberal Atheist (no, that’s not redundant) who believes in treating others as I would like them to treat me (also known as the ethic of reciprocity; it’s a good philosophy, one that came from Plato, not Jesus), it surprises me when elected public officials who proclaim to be followers of Jesus Christ’s philosophies fail to interpret them correctly. One of the laws Jesus followed was Leviticus 19:18

You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

Yet the Chesterfield County, VA, Board of Supervisors seems to believe the word “as” is the same as the word “like”.

Not content to be allowed to open their public meetings with a prayer (because nobody really means it, according to the Conservatives on the Supreme Court), the board “limited opening prayers to ordained leaders of monotheistic religions.” The county maintains an official list of local clergy from which the invitee to give the prayer is chosen, but not all religions are welcome. A local Wiccan was denied a spot on the list because it was felt that “neo-pagan” faiths do not fall within the Judeo-Christian tradition and that they invoke “polytheistic, pre-Christian deities.” And the official county list (isn’t it a little creepy to hear of a local government keeping an “official list” of local clergy?) excludes a local Sikh organization, even though they practice “strict mono-theism.” Then there’s the problem that the list only includes ordained clergy. As the ACLU of VA and Americans United for Separation of Church and State say in their letter to the board, “The requirement that prayer-givers be ‘ordained’ is similarly problematic, as some religions do not require their clergy to be ordained, and others do not have clergy at all.” Out of curiosity, I wonder if any Muslims will be invited to say a prayer? After all, they worship the same God as the Christians and Jews. Actually, I would be surprised if there were anyone the list, because it would mean there are practicing Muslims in Conservative Virginia.

Why do Conservative Christians continue to blatantly act as though Freedom of Religion only applies to some denomination of Christianity? Why, when given an opportunity to impose their fantastic beliefs on others do they deny others the opportunity to impose their own fantastic beliefs right back to them? Why do they act as if Christianity is “under attack”? Why do they think Christians are being persecuted? Are they trying to assert that Christians aren’t being allowed into public office? Do they think that no Christian can ever get elected President of the United States, except for every single President we’ve elected, and even the one we didn’t? (No, I’m referring to Gerald R. Ford, not George W. Bush. Bush was declared the winner of an actual election thanks to voter fraud by the SCOTUS, who weren’t required to show a photo ID at the time.)

Look, I’m all for protecting your right to practice the Religion of your choice, even if that means believing in magical sky beings who don’t seem to care about human suffering. But it doesn’t mean that I have to practice it along with you. And it doesn’t mean you have a right to shove it down my throat, to borrow a common Conservative term applied to things that frighten them, or sexually arouses them, I’m not sure which. Probably both. It means you get to practice your Religion in the privacy of your own life. If you and others who believe as you do wish to gather in a privately-owned facility (such as a church, a temple, or a bar) to practice your Religion, go for it. But don’t believe for a second that the Public Square is the proper venue for Christian Evangelism (or any other kind, though few practitioners of other kinds, if any, seem to be doing it.) It’s funny to me how the Supremes said religious phrases are okay to be used by elected public servants because, in essence, nobody really means it, so nobody is trying to force their religious beliefs on you. But that’s not the point. Part of being a human is sharing experiences, and when non-Christians are being asked to publicly assert their devotion to Christ, our natural human desire to belong is challenged. Would you want to be a Christian standing in a street of Muslims all bowing down and facing Mecca to pray? Would that make you comfortable? Wouldn’t you think that, at the very least, you ought to get down on the ground, too, even if you’re just faking saying something? I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be made to feel that way by others, so why do you insist on being the one doing it to others?

This is our Daily Open Thread. Feel free to discuss oppressed and persecuted Christians, or anything else you wish to discuss.

29 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Saturday, May 24, 2014: Love Thy Neighbor As Thy Self Does Not Mean Love Thy Neighbor Like Thy Self

  1. Why do they act as if Christianity is “under attack”? Why do they think Christians are being persecuted?

    Because playing the victim is the easy way to gain sympathy during an attempt to victimize others.

    Banning ‘pre-Christian’ dieties means the Old Testament isn’t allowed?

  2. Yesterday I was busying myself in the garage, door open, when a well-dressed young dude walked up and introduced himself, then started to hand me a brochure. I heard the words “Jehovah’s Witness” and quickly said “no thanks, I’m not interested.”

    He said, “Not interested in what? Religion?”

    I said, “I’m a non-theist and have absolutely zero interest in anything that relates to any kind of creation mythology.”

    “Can I read you a scripture?” he replied.

    I turned to walk away and said “nope.” He left.

    What is it with people like that who seem to feel so compelled to push their religious beliefs (aka crapola) on everyone else they encounter? Why can’t they just worship whatever they care to worship — alone and in any way that suits them — and then shut up about it? Think of how they’d react to the other extreme: what if atheists and nontheists printed up a bunch of brochures and walked around ringing doorbells, knocking on doors, asking for permission to explain how, in no uncertain terms, belief in a non-existent god is not only a complete waste of time but also a complete and total drag on both intellect AND the quest for knowledge, for truth?

    My guess is that if non-believers really got together and agreed to waste hours of time each week attempting to convince others (particularly, in this country at least, Christians) how incredibly wrong and shallow are their beliefs, that within a month or two there would be a movement in Congress to pass a Christer “Stand Your Ground” law that would allow any believer to shoot any non-believer in order to protect the concept of god’s love for all people. Or something equally stupid. And the current Scotussians would likely uphold it, 5-4.

    In the sixties I had a college roomie, a bonified nontheist, who liked to say, “Faith. If ONLY we could find a way to get rid of FAITH we could get rid of religion and solve most of the world’s problems.” He was spot-on correct.

    • So, if we lost 6k in Iraq/Afghanistan +3k in twin towers, then Haliburton grossed about $7m per American killed.

  3. Late to the usual. Wayne, there hasn’t been a religion or a deity who has spoken out in over a thousand years. Evidently God just isn’t into us.

  4. Pretty much:

    Father of UCSB shooting victim: “Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA”

    • And he used three legally purchased guns. How the Hell can someone who has been making death threats for months, if not years, legally buy a fucking gun? What will it take to convince the rightwhiners that, when the laws don’t protect society, we need to change the laws? I got roped into this discussion today with a right-wing guy and he’s so afraid that the government will take his stuff and give it to “illegals” that one can’t even make him discuss the option of making it harder to buy guns. When I told him that I have never owned anything that was worth taking a human life the blank look was, well, vacant in the extreme.

    • The Sheriff emphasized

      Deputies found three semi-automatic handguns with 400 unspent rounds in his black BMW. All were purchased legally.

      Time to revamp the damned second amendment.

  5. I’m still hanging around on Discussionist, and I’ve already served on five juries in eight days.

    I declined jury participation at DU because I didn’t think I was qualified to know exactly what they expected. At Discussionist, I can help to shape the tone of the site, which is to discourage the flaming and name calling mostly. At DU, juries have to delve into much more nuanced subjects.

    • Not what you’d expect to see…

      Universe is Not Expanding After All, Scientists Say

      New evidence, based on detailed measurements of the size and brightness of hundreds of galaxies, indicates that the Universe is not expanding after all, says a team of astrophysicists led by Eric Lerner from Lawrenceville Plasma Physics.

      I’m not sure I buy the ‘dimmer but bigger’ theory. Light has a wavelength, just like RF, and its strength decreases with distance. just like RF.

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