April 26, 2009

Resurrection of Intolerance

... by Walter Brasch

The fanatic right-wing, after taking a few days off to catch their breath, is back again with vengeance.

Name anything that President Obama is doing, and this broken wing will try to slap it down, unmindful that more than two-thirds of Americans support the President, with his popularity rising each week, according to several independent polls.

During the campaign, they attacked Obama for being a Muslim. After all, they figured anyone with a name that wasn't WASP-sounding must not be a Christian. Of course, they overlooked the Constitution, which says anyone-Christian, Muslim, Jew, or even atheist-has a right to be president.

When the Muslim connection didn't wash with the people, the right-wing said that Obama went to the wrong Christian church. The United Church of Christ, many claimed, wasn't even Christian because it allowed people of all views into its congregations. For the shrill-voiced pretend-Christians, their religion is more a religion of exclusion than of inclusion.

This past week, the holiest of Christian holidays, the lunatic fringe has shown just how far from Christianity it is. On talk shows and in vitriolic columns, the hard-core conservative base blasted the President for not going to church every Sunday. But then, the President and his family attended Easter Day services at St. John's Episcopal Church. The family's plans had been kept secret, both for security reasons and because the President had stated many times both before and after his inauguration that he needed time to find an appropriate congregation and because he was mindful that his presence would, even unintentionally, disrupt services.

Undoubtedly, the harpies of the extreme right-wing will now suggest that the President attended services only because they had raised the issue, and that his attendance was solely for political reasons.

What these self-righteous harpies don't point out, is that while the President and his family are looking for an appropriate church, he's hosted prayer meetings and a Passover Seder, and acted in a way that is far more what Christian charity asks than many who put out litmus tests made up of requirements that might make God weep.

So, here's a few facts for this group-just in case they were foaming at the mouth during their own religious education, and didn't hear their lessons.

One: More presidents didn't attend church weekly than did. Among those who had very irregular church attendance was Thomas Jefferson, a deist not a Christian, who had insisted that freedom of religion be a part of the Constitution.

Two: People can go to church twice a week, and participate in every ritual and still not understand the words and teachings of God and his prophets.

Three: Persons who don't go to church every week aren't worse than those who do.

Four: A church is a building. If God is omnipresent, he is present in every part of this universe, not just in buildings. Persons can understand and have their own faith without going into a building, for the spirit of God is within their hearts.

Five: No one has absolute truth, and any attempt to impose one's faith upon others is a selfish and egocentric approach to religion, something Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, and Mohammad would find appalling.

Finally: If the fanatics continue their shrill screeches that President Obama and his family attend church every Sunday to show the nation they are "true Christians," they should consider that one of the most influential conservative presidents never attended Sunday services while president, believing his presence would disrupt Sunday services. That man was Ronald Reagan.

[Walter M. Brasch is a university professor of journalism, social issues columnist, and the author of 17 books. His current book is Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush, available from amazon.com, bn.com, and other stores. You may contact him through his website, www.walterbrasch.com]

Posted by Walter Brasch at April 26, 2009 05:25 PM | Guest Writings | Technorati links |

"Four: A church is a building. If God is omnipresent, he is present in every part of this universe, not just in buildings. Persons can understand and have their own faith without going into a building, for the spirit of God is within their hearts."

Good point. And yet, no one I know follows this idea through to its logical conclusion, or at least, the conclusion reached when one adds that God is Holy to the idea that God is Omnipresent, as well as Omnipotent and Omniscient, which can be summed up in one simple question:

Are there any gaps in God's Omnipresent Holiness?

There can't be. Either God is Omnipresent, or God isn't. Either God is Holy, or God isn't. I believe God is both Omnipresent and Holy, and that there cannot be, therefore, any gaps in God's Omnipresent Holiness.

Okay, now let all the arguments in defense of guilt and sin and hell commence (you know, all the arguments in defense of the gaps some perceive in God's Omnipresent Holiness. I've heard them all. Anyone listening to a hellfire and brimstone sermon has heard someone defending guilt and sin and hell, while unwittingly saying at the same time that there are gaps in God's Omnipresent Holiness, gaps filled by guilt and sin and hell, gaps in which God. and God's Omnipresent Holiness, is absent. All religious fundamentalists, no matter what religion, teach and preach this exact same message).

And yet, everyone holds the key to unlocking this great mystery of God's Omnipresent Holiness...but this key of light can only be found within each person's own heart...just like Jesus taught, as well as so many other spiritual masters before and since. Unlock yourSELF.

Posted by: The Oracle at May 3, 2009 09:48 PM