mission statement..kind of
WARNING: the following contains religious views as well as political criticism, so if the mention of God or government offends you, stop reading this now.
Let me begin by saying that I have had virtually no religious upbringing. The only information that I have about different religions has been gleaned from books and various theological discussions with people who know -- or claim to know -- more about it than I do. That being said, while I am not religious in the least, I am a very spiritual person. I completely believe in a higher power, karma, divine intervention and spirits. I have faith in the moral correctness of the Ten Commandments of the Christians just as I believe that the Ancient Romans and Pagans may have had it right in their worship of multiple gods. The point to this introduction isn't really to clue anyone in about who or what I pray to, but to show that it is possible to straddle the fence on multiple religions and still have faith.
It is hard for me to accept that any one faith has it completely right. This is more because all of the holy books are written by man with man's interpretation of what their God or gods have said or done. Every gospel, every scripture, every teaching in every religion supports the rules that govern that particular religion. For the Hindu, they have days of fasting and can eat no beef because the cow is a sacred animal. For the Muslims, no pork and the women of the more strict temples are expected to cover their hair -- and this is not to hide them away or repress them. Their hair is considered to be their most beautiful feature, their crowning glory, and that is something to be beheld by their husbands and family alone. Wiccans and Pagans worship gods of the earth, air, sea and fire, despite the more common belief of devil worshipping; these practices have no singular figure of evil like the Christian's Satan. In fact, many Christian holidays and practices find their initial roots in a Pagan ritual, though many Christians don't acknowledge that information any longer. Each church, temple or coven has their own beliefs, and that is all your religion truly is: what you choose to believe is Truth.
That being said, how can any congregation condemn another for their opinion? Supposedly we are all intended to be able to think in any manner we choose, to use our intelligence to decide what is true and what are lies. In all of my reading, I have never found any teaching or any religion that says "This is the chosen religion and you must hate any who do not follow our dictates." Generally it's more of a "judgment is not yours to weigh and punishment will by dealt by me/us." So why is it acceptable to judge, hate, kill, and persecute under the guise of religious motivation? Why can a group of people that have no faith tell everyone else that they are no longer allowed to worship and pray? How can anyone say that religion should be kept out of the American government when the majority of us base our opinions on what makes a good man or woman from the morals and characteristics listed in the Bible? Was that not the first place that taught us that lying, adultery, cheating, hate, bias, etc. was wrong? Whether people want to admit it or deny it, the fact remains that the dictates regarding what makes a decent human being were birthed in our holy books, not just the Bible, but the Torah and Quran as well.
The reason that I am so bothered at the moment stems from two things; one being the election ads that have been running, and two being a news clip that I saw a few days ago on the Internet. The elections are aggravating me because I can remember in years past candidates actually telling people what their plans were for reforming what needed reformed, creating programs that needed to be created and what they could do for us that would make them the better person for the job. Prospective officials strived to prove to voters that they were wholesome and with good intentions, that they fit our idea of a moral person and leader. The ads from the past few years haven't had any of that. What I've been sitting through are petty slander campaigns and character assassinations that focus on what the opposing candidate has done wrong, doesn't do or just what a horrible person they are in general. Personally, I have no respect for anyone who resorts to mudslinging to get on top. If you can't win based on your own virtues then you don't deserve to be in office. I KNOW that there has to be some attempt to discredit the opponent, but this should be done in debates or some other political arena.
I don't want to hear that a candidate is a hypocrite because he "claims" to oppose abortion but invests in the company that manufactures the abortion pill. Common sense tells me that the pharmaceutical company most likely has other less touchy medicines on the market, so why not mention those drugs? Because it doesn't suit their purpose. I'm not professing unwavering support for any candidate, but I would rather they defend themselves against the allegations than dig down in the dirt and throw it back. Has the government gone so far astray that our leaders and representatives think that they can't be elected for their own principles rather than proving that they would be the lesser of two evils? That's the way it seems to me and I find it quite pathetic.
As for the news clip: There is some radical church out in Kansas that is made up primarily of one family, a family which is comprised of bigots and zealots. These people actually have the audacity to picket outside of cemeteries while services for fallen soldiers are being conducted. As the funeral procession makes its way to the church and grave site, these cruel churchgoers are there, waving signs with hateful phrases such as "God's wrath is upon you", "Thank God for 911" and "Thank God for IEDs" -- an IED by the way is an Improvised Explosive Device, such as the bombs worn by the 911 hijackers and the kamikazes that blow themselves up just to take out part of a building or a handful of enemies. No one needs to be reminded that all of our rights and privileges have been paid for with the blood of our troops, this includes the freedoms of free speech and the right to religious practice. I am not trying to claim support or disdain for the current war, but I feel that America’s sons and daughters deserve more respect than to have a supposedly holy group gleefully celebrating their deaths for our country, especially when those deaths came from defending the very freedoms which make it legal for the church to spread its hate. The woman they interviewed had no shame, no remorse whatsoever for digging into the families' fresh wounds, proclaiming that each fallen soldier is a curse from God for making war. She sat quoting scripture that she had twisted to support the church's actions, preaching that there are no innocent people, that we will all be forced to drink when the cup of judgment and truth is pressed to our lips.
This is exactly the type of person that I mentioned earlier, the kind that can see no right outside of their own narrow beliefs. She and her fellow church members are among the most cruel people I have ever beheld in my short life and they feel that they are doing their God's work. Nowhere in her Bible does it say to inflict emotional pain. Nowhere does it say that they are sanctioned to be judge and punisher. It does say, however, that vengeance is God's, and that we should judge not lest we be judged by the same actions -- or to steal a popular proverb, he who lives in a glass house should not cast stones. Hatred is supposedly a sin, as is cruelty and bias. Her church doesn't even follow the teachings of its own holy book so I ask again: who is anyone to judge another for their opinion? No one.
This could go on forever because I feel that strongly about the subject matter. None of us are as good as we'd like to think we are, whether that be holy, pure or intelligent. No one knows for sure what God is or what He wants us to be. All we have is our faith, our beliefs and our morals. We live our lives based on these "truths", and they are only true because we choose to make them so. No one has absolute proof that they are right just as no one has irrefutable evidence that everyone else is wrong. Tolerance and acceptance are the key to a peaceful existence because it is no one's divine right to judge another's faith. These are virtues that we need to focus on, not removing certain books and teachings because a small minority is offended or condoning the eradication of a group just because they practice different ceremonies than we do. Our concern now should be teaching these traits to those willing to be taught and accepting that some will not want to learn. It should not be a battle, but a gentle ripple in the water that slowly, but surely, touches every part of the pond.