Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

This was written during President Bush‘s first term in office.

Letter to the editor…

We have a president (Bush ’43) who has an infallible view of good and evil, who doesn’t allow facts to get in the way of his vision, and who sends American sons, daughters, mothers and fathers into combat “knowing” that there will be no casualties. This irrational behavior makes sense only in the context of his “born-again,” evangelical beliefs which, when checked at the church door, are of little consequence. However, when those beliefs are allowed to guide the foreign policy of the most powerful nation on earth, they have the potential to thrust the world into the abyss of worldwide cultural and religious war. (For a summary of Christian evangelicals’ view of middle-east strife, click http://www.bitterlemons-international.org/previous.php?opt=1&id=55#226)

Christian evangelicals may argue that such conflict is the inevitable playing out of Biblical prophacy: They are entitled to their beliefs. But for the sake of good men and women everywhere who do not share them, this obsession with Armageddon must be made part of the national debate before it, indeed, becomes prophecy, not of the Biblical variety, but one tragically self-fulfilling.

We often hear pleas for moderate Muslims to reject the radical fundamentalism that has hijacked Islam. At the other end of the spectrum, where are the voices of moderate Christians who reject the back-door theocratic policies of this administration?

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James Madison, Hamilton's major collaborator, ...

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Letter to a friend regarding the relationship between religion and politics.

My anger is focused somewhat differently than yours. I am angry at all those who claim to know God’s will and intent. How presumptuous of us! How presumptuous of any religion!

The events of the past few years have driven a wedge between me and organized religion. I resent those who think that they have some “exclusive” knowledge of things that can’t be known. In place of this spiritual chauvinism, my view of ethics and morality is derived, very simply, from the Sermon on the Mount. Everything is there that anyone needs. Everything else is politics.

I find it more than coincidental that many of our country’s greatest thinkers felt similarly about the role of religion:

“The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma.” Abraham Lincoln, American president (1809-1865)

“I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life, I absented myself from Christian assemblies.” Benjamin Franklin

“In no instance have…the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people.” James Madison, American president

“This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.” John Adams, U.S. President, Founding Father of theUnited States

“The time appears to me to have come when it is the duty of all to make their dissent from religion known.” John Stuart Mill

Looking at it another way, the religious right would have us believe that there is no morality without religion. History, both recent and past, proves that to be a tragically flawed notion and yet, here we are, walking down that path again.

The Discovery of Global Warming

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This was written in early 2005. It is as relevant today as it was then.

I was recently in Florida for a couple of days. During the trip I had lunch with two people of the evangelical/Republican persuasion. Inevitably, the conversation turned toward the recent presidential election (Bush 2). Because I like to frustrate myself, I made the point that I would have voted against George Bush even if Iraq hadn’t happened, arguing that his environmental, economic and civil rights records were more than enough to convince me he was bad for America. They were, not surprisingly, uncomfortable with this heresy, but I pressed on. I voiced my concern about global warming and what it might mean for my children and their children. Unimpressed, one of my two luncheon companions reminded me that she was a Christian woman, and that I was wrong for not putting more faith in God. She reminded me that if the world was going to come to an end, then it was God’s will.

I thought better of mentioning it at the time, but what she said reminded me of three song titles: “Don’t worry, be happy”; “What will be, will be”; and that perennial favorite, “I feel better when I outsource to God any personal responsibility that I might have for future generations.”

That evening I had dinner with someone of a similar mind. She is a nice woman who described herself as a “believer,” and did so often. We, too, discussed the election and, not being too bright, I shared with her my luncheon conversation in between the entre and dessert. She listened quietly. When I suggested that it was irresponsible for America not to take steps to reduce greenhouse emissions to protect future generations, she continued to listen quietly. So, with that sign of encouragement, I foolishly pressed on: Believing that God is going to solve the world’s problems is okay, I said, but when those beliefs influence America’s policies, they must become part of the national political debate. Seemed pretty reasonable to me.

Then we finished our coffee in silence and quietly left the restaurant.

This letter to my pastor, a wonderful man, was written during President Bush’s second term in office.

Dear Father,

Yesterday, my wife told me that you asked about me.  Thank you.  I appreciate that.  Perhaps we could spend a few minutes together one of these days talking about my unsuccessful efforts to reconcile some issues in my very convoluted spiritual journey.  With that meeting in mind, here are some thoughts on which I would surely appreciate your point of view.

I don’t know that any single event served as a tipping point for leaving the church but, if pressed, I would say it was probably the second-term election of GWB.  Oh, the first one wasn’t any bargain, either, but the second one made it clear that the rules had changed and that religion, and specifically Christianity, was at the heart of it.  Foolishly, I never thought that any religious group in America could influence the outcome of a major election.  Okay, a Senator or two from Kansas, maybe, but the Presidency? No way!

But it wasn’t just that GWB won, it was how he won.  Otherwise good people, many of them right in our own parish, were blinded by a mantra of moral decay brought to America by Godless liberals.  Prayer in the schools became more important than children going to school hungry.  Abortion rights became a lynchpin in the campaign against so-called activist judges who brought us evils like the New Deal, voting rights and affirmative action.  And the environment?  Why worry about global warming, a National Forest or two or mercury in the blood of our children when, in the inglorious tradition of James Watt, the end of days is at hand, anyway?

Tragically, the election of GWB was both a referendum on religious credentials and a demonstration, for all the world to see, of how religion can be used to influence the body politic of the most powerful nation on earth…a body politic that is either too ignorant, too lazy or too stupid to ask the hard questions of anyone who wraps him or herself in a cloak of Christian values.

I’m embarrassed for America and I’m embarrassed to be a Christian.  I resent the self-proclaimed morality police…the ones who high jacked our religion…the ones who would display the Ten Commandments in public buildings because they think we need to be reminded of our moral underpinnings and yet fail to pay attention to Christ’s message in the Sermon on the Mount.  And I’m embarrassed, ashamed and more that a little bit angry at those who give this president a blank check to lead the nation into an unjust war and gut our nation’s social programs because, after all, he is a man of faith.

But what really causes me pain is how moderate clerics and church leaders of all Christian denominations refuse to challenge would-be leaders who beat the drum of Christian values as a means to grab power, or who refuse to hold a spotlight on the unholy alliance between religion, business and government.  Does anyone give a damn that this is Fascism?  To argue that the pulpit should be free of politics ignores reality.  The pulpit is already politicized.

Then there are the many issues of present-day Catholicism, issues that make it more and more difficult to define myself as a Catholic.  For example, is it right for the “universal church” to purge gays from the seminary?  Surely, many Catholics will take comfort in the spin that doing so is in response to the clergy abuse situation. Yet, one would be hard pressed to find an expert who could draw a causal link between homosexuality and pedophilia.  This makes the issue of homosexuality nothing more than a politically correct red herring.

And, is it right that the church continues its ban on birth control when 40 percent of sexually active adults in eastAfricahave either HIV or AIDS?  How many deaths does it take for a theological position like this to be reconsidered or is this terrible human toll somehow in God’s plan?

And, speaking of blood, we cry for our war dead war, but who cries for Iraqi families…the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters who die and whose bodies are torn apart in a war of liberation that they didn’t ask for?  Or would it be un-American or un-Christian to bring it up?

The week or so ago, in connection with a CCD function, Fr. Joe gave an interesting and very useful talk about spiritualism and religion, noting that more people claim to be spiritual than ever before but often find organized religion wanting.  It’s no wonder and it sums up the problem that I face with my own spiritual journey.  I don’t think I have ever felt as spiritual as I do now and never more estranged from religion.  If ever there was a time when people needed to embrace the simple message of Jesus Christ it is now.  Yet, religious leaders seem far more interested in preaching support for our war-criminal president.

I suspect that if Jesus Christ were to walk among us once again, he would be none too pleased.

Kindest regards, Brian McCabe

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This was written during President Bush’s second term in office.

As you know, I have never disguised my extreme disappointment with administration inWashington.  Of course the good news is that Bush and his cronies will soon be sent packing, forever to serve as an example of what happens when otherwise good citizens, the press and even the opposition party don’t ask and demand answers to tough questions for fear of being labeled “unpatriotic.”

If you feel as I do, 2008 can’t come soon enough, but it would be a grave mistake to assume that a different administration, whether it be Republican or Democratic, will either be able or willing to drive all the demons out of government, because many of those demons fly well below most peoples’ radar screens.

This email concerns one such demon: Christian Nationalism.  I believe that if it continues to function out of view and out of mind it has the potential to create a political disaster that will make Bush and Company look like a walk in the park.

Please,   for the sake of your country, your children and their children, read the   review of Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism.  Here is a link to the full review … http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dean/20060825.html … along   with the first paragraph to whet your appetite:

“If   more Americans would read works like Michelle Goldberg’s Kingdom Coming:   The Rise of Christian Nationalism, the longevity of our democracy, as we   know it, would be more assured. I say this because the more people who   understand the thinking and agenda of the growing forces of “Christian   Nationalism,” the less likely it will be that these forces will succeed.   Not many people want to go where Christian nationalists want to take the country.”

I know I don’t want to go “where Christian nationalists want to take the country” and I suspect you don’t, either.  So if you are concerned about the forces that would steer America in that direction, please talk to your friends about what you’ve read and forward this email to those who may share your view.  Only by making Christian Nationalism part of the national debate can we protect what our Founding Fathers fought so hard to pass on to us.