Tag Archives: Christianity

Yes, there is a church-state ‘separation’

A former colleague of mine used to insist that because the United States Constitution doesn’t contain the phrase “separation of church and state” that the concept somehow is not relevant.

Well, I would remind him that the First Amendment about a prohibition against writing laws that establish a state religion implies the separation graphically.

Enter the new man nominated to become the U.S. attorney general, William Barr. He has declared his skepticism about the “secular” state the founders created in the late 18th century. He wants to invoke “God’s law” when enforcing the laws of the land.

I am going to presume he means the laws of the Christian God. But what about the laws of all the other gods that Americans worship? The Islamic god, the Jewish god, the Hindu god, the Buddhist god, the Shinto god? Do they matter? Of course they do! Or at least they should.

Except the founders created a Constitution that say there should be no law passed “with respect” to a particular religion. It stipulates there should be “no religious test” for anyone seeking public office.

The words “Christian,” “Christianity” or “Jesus Christ” are not mentioned in the Constitution. Nor does it mention “Jewish” or “Muslim” or “Buddhist” or “Hindu.”

So, to the AG-designate, I merely want to urge him to stick to enforcing the laws of the land, as enacted by Congress, signed by the president and affirmed by the courts.

Irony just doesn’t disappear

I cannot get past the irony of the U.S. attorney general citing Scripture as a justification for a policy that came from the Donald J. Trump administration.

It is fair to presume that AG Jeff Sessions was speaking on behalf of the president when he cited Romans 13 — a New Testament passage — to justify a policy that allows border security agents to take children from their parents who enter the United States of America illegally.

When Sessions told us how the Apostle Paul instructed his listeners to follow the government’s law, I was struck by this thought immediately: Has there been any U.S. president in the past century who is less familiar with biblical teachings that Donald Trump?

Thus, if Sessions was speaking on Trump’s behalf, are we then to believe that the president (a) endorsed what the AG said or (b) even knows what Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans.

I should note, too, that Romans 13 also has been used to justify human bondage, such as slavery. Given the president’s seeming tolerance of white supremacists (such as what he displayed in 2017 in the wake of the Charlottesville, Va., riot) then maybe it’s not such a stretch after all.

I was offended in the extreme to hear Sessions cite New Testament  Scripture to defend the policy that has resulted in roughly 2,000 children being separated from their parents while enforcing this so-called “no tolerance” immigration policy.

It is inhumane, cruel and about as non-Christian as it gets. What in the name of all that is holy and sacred would Jesus Christ himself think of this policy? None of us was around when Jesus walked the Earth, but those of us who know anything about the Bible might conclude he would be aghast at such a policy.

For the attorney general, speaking on behalf of arguably the most amoral president in U.S. history, to use the holy word to justify an inhumane public policy is shameful on its face.

Do these symbols speak for a community?

CLARENDON, Texas — We have been traveling through this community for more than two decades en route from Amarillo to the Metroplex … and occasionally beyond.

During a relatively recent span of time, though, I have been struck by the plethora of religious symbols that have sprouted up on both ends of the highway that courses through the Donley County community.

Some of them are crosses, symbols of Jesus’s crucifixion. There are signs, too. They speak about God. There’s a touch of preaching in them; some of the signs speak of the “only path to salvation.” That kind of thing.

I’ve long wondered: Who put these messages out there? Did the city sanction them? I’ve sniffed around only a little bit.

Then I found a link to an Amarillo TV station that rooted out an answer or two.

As KFDA NewsChannel 10 reported: A local resident, Jim Griffin, put the signs up. They are meant to predict consequences far worse than 9/11. They seek to espouse Christian belief.

Not everyone is happy about the signs, or the crosses, or the message some have construed — which is that Clarendon is welcome only to Christians.

Hmm. I don’t buy that. I’ve never felt “evangelized” when I read the signs or look at the crosses.

The signs generally speak of hope and faith. Is there something really wrong with that? I think not.

Yes, it is a curious community feature. I have noticed that all the signs and the crosses are sitting on private property. I haven’t noticed anything on the Clarendon College campus, or at the Donley County Courthouse, or at Clarendon City Hall. There clearly would be a constitutional concern were there to be such messages delivered on public property. That First Amendment prohibition, after all, does prevent government from sanctioning any specific religion.

Not everyone is happy about it. Read the editorial in the Clarendon Enterprise here.

As for non-Christians’ feelings as they motor through Clarendon, I am sensitive to that, too. However, I am unaware of anyone forcing individuals to abide by whatever message the signs convey.

I rarely stop in Clarendon for anything other than gas or perhaps a convenience snack or cold drink. I might feel differently about the crosses and the signs if a convenience store clerk were to start preaching to me.

My response would be: Talk to me on Sunday — in church!

‘Comedian’ crosses a sacred line

Joy Behar calls herself a “comedian.” She also purports to be a political pundit, using her post as co-host of the TV talk show “The View” to express her views on politics and public policy.

I’ve never considered her to be either funny or insightful.

She has, however, now established herself as a boor.

This week, Behar decided to do something I find wholly repugnant. She ridiculed another person’s religious faith. The other party happens to be Vice President Mike Pence, a self-described devout Christian.

Pence supposedly said he receives guidance daily from Jesus Christ. Behar decided to ridicule Pence, saying that anyone who hears Jesus’s voice is “mentally ill.”

Oh, my.

I’ve long held true to some tenets in my own political commentary. I do not like to poke fun at people’s appearance, their name or their religious faith. Those three areas are off limits. Period.

Behar crossed that line with her hideous ridiculing of the vice president. She does not seem to understand how people of faith are able to receive guidance from holy Scripture. For her to suggest that Vice President Pence, or anyone who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ, are “mentally ill” because they receive daily guidance from the Holy Bible.

If Behar wants to criticize Pence’s policy statements or his extensive record as an elected public official, that’s fine. She is entitled to do that. She’s also entitled to utter distasteful comments about the vice president’s faith. The same Constitution that grants Behar that right also enables folks such as yours truly to call such commentary what we believe it is.

As a conservative political commentator noted in a pithy comment about Behar, had she declared that “gay people” are “mentally ill,” ABC-TV would have “fired her on the spot” and hauled her off the set on live television.

Disgraceful.

No ‘real Christian’ would do this

You likely cannot see the writing on the side of the building shown here.

It says “Happy birthday, Jesus Christ.” Then it adds, “From a real Christian.” The building happens to be a mosque in Clovis, N.M., the only such house of worship in the city.

What does one say about such a disgusting act?

I’ll start with this … whoever did this is no “real Christian.” He or she is a religious pervert. He or she is as faithful to Christianity as the perverts who commit acts of terrorism in the name of Islam.

Scripture teaches us many lessons about how Christians should act. Vandalizing property that belongs to those who follow another religious faith is nowhere to be found in either the Old or New Testaments.

Indeed, what I think we have here in Clovis is an act of terrorism. The dictionary defines the term as an act that seeks to make some sort of political point.

When police capture whoever is responsible for this hideous act, perhaps they can consider asking Curry County prosecutors to charge them with committing a terrorist act.

Real Christian? Whoever did this is nothing of the sort.

Christian nation or a ‘nation of Christians’?

A former colleague and critic of this blog made a fascinating — and legitimate — point while participating in an exchange about a post I wrote about a guest columnist whose work appeared recently in the Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News.

I asserted in my own critique of the essay that the nation’s founders established a “secular government” when they wrote the U.S. Constitution.

My former colleague/critic pointed out that the nation comprises a population “of Christians” and that the nation was founded on “Judeo-Christian principles.” I agree with his assertion about the nation and that the founders likely were motivated by their deep religious faith.

However, that doesn’t dissuade me from insisting that the Constitution is as secular a document as it possibly can be.

The founders were direct descendants of people who migrated across the Atlantic Ocean to escape religious persecution, among many other repressive actions brought on them by their European rulers.

They launched a revolution in 1775. They gathered in July 1776 to sign a Declaration of Independence, which does contain a reference to the “Creator” and to “Nature’s God.” Neither term, though, is specific to Christianity. Each of them could — if one were to interpret them liberally — refer to any of the world’s great religions. Some of us today, though, choose to ascribe Christian theology to any reference to the Creator or to God.

Eleven years later, after we won our independence from the British Empire, our founders crafted the Constitution. They specifically avoided using the term “Christian” or “Jesus Christ” or even “God” or “Creator.” Did they bicker and quarrel among themselves while putting this governing framework together? Of course they did.

I remain committed to the document they produced, the one ratified by the 13 states comprising the United States of America. I have scoured it repeatedly over many decades and I have yet to find any reference to religion, other than in the First Amendment, which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion … ”

Are we a nation “of Christians”? Certainly. Are we a “Christian nation”? Certainly not.

There. Does that settle it? Hah! Hardly.

President Carter has more work to do

**FILE**Former President Jimmy Carter takes a question during a conference at The Carter Center in Atlanta, Tuesday, June 7, 2005. An independent panel Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2005 reversed a Pentagon recommendation that the New London submarine base in Connecticut, base be closed. One of the panel members even said a letter from Carter _ the only president to ever serve as a submariner _ pleading the panel to keep the base open was one of the reasons he voted against closure. (AP Photo/Ric Feld, File)

Count me as one American who was thinking dark thoughts when President Carter announced some months ago that his doctors had found cancer in his brain.

There was a certain sound of resignation in the former president’s voice as he told the nation of the diagnosis, while announcing he would proceed with radiation treatment.

Then came news today. It was much better news … at a time when we Americans are looking for a glimmer of hope somewhere in light of recent events in California and the still-simmering aftermath.

President Carter told his Sunday school class he is cancer-free. The cancer is gone. The treatment worked, did its job.

This is an admirable man. He spent four years in the White House and has spent the longest post-presidential period in the nation’s history doing good work around the world. He’s been building houses for poor people; he developed the Carter Center in Atlanta; he has been monitoring elections in countries that never had free and fair elections before; he’s been speaking out on issues of the day.

I was delighted to hear this good news about the former president’s  health.

Yes, he’s an old man. He’s past 90 and he’s lived a full and fabulous life. When it’s his time to leave this world, the president — a deeply devout Christian — will be ready.

I’m glad to know his time among us isn’t up just yet.

 

Let’s not condemn them all

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The image that jumps out at me from this picture might not be what you think it is.

It’s not the low-life cloaked in that robe. It is the burning crosses in the background.

What do the crosses symbolize? Well, I suppose you can say they represent Christianity’s holiest symbol, the crucifix on which Jesus Christ lost his earthly life.

Yet the Ku Klux Klansman pictured here no doubt proclaims he burned those crosses to stand up for “Christian values.” Isn’t that what those loons proclaim?

Well, as a practicing Christian, I do not consider them in any shape or form to represent my faith. They are outliers in the extreme.

So, too — in my view — are the terrorists who commit their horrible acts today in the name of Islam.

And yet …

There are individuals around the world — including Americans, some of whom are friends of mine — who continue to tar all Muslims with the same brush with which they are painting the monsters who commit hideous crimes against humanity.

This prejudice and bigotry goes far beyond declarations by state governors, such as Greg Abbott in Texas, that seek to ban refugees from Syria from entering their states. They are concerned over whether some so-called refugee is a closet terrorist seeking to deliver more misery.

The bigotry being displayed by many against all Muslims is no more acceptable than it would be to label all Christians as believing in the hatred that is spread by Klansmen.

Yes, the Islamic State carries the name “Islam” in its own label. It does not, however, represent the tenets of what remains one of the world’s great religions. It is a murderous cult that has perverted Islam’s teachings to suit the demented ends of a terrorist organization.

And that, I do believe, cuts straight to the view that’s been expressed by the nation’s two most recent presidents — Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack H. Obama — that the war in which we are engaged is not a war against Islam.

It is a war against murderous perverts.

Obama ‘pretends to be a Christian’? Really?

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How in the world does Mike Huckabee possibly know what’s in another man’s heart and soul? What on God’s Earth qualifies him to make such a claim by saying another man “pretends to be a Christian”?

That’s what the former Arkansas governor and current Republican candidate for president has done with Barack Obama.

He said the president “pretends to be a Christian,” suggesting quite openly that the president’s profession of faith in Jesus Christ — which he has made several times during his presidency — is somehow inauthentic.

Huckabee has stepped in it with this ridiculous assertion.

What’s more, he contends that the president and his administration are making it more difficult for Christians to worship as they please.

Let’s hold on here.

I would challenge Gov. Huckabee to offer a single example of how Christians these days are less able to worship in their church. He needs to provide specifics on how individuals are being punished or harassed or ostracized by the federal government because of their religious faith.

If he’s referring to the case of Democratic Rowan County (Ky.) Clerk Kim Davis, who’s made news by refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples based on her religious belief, well, that argument is a non-starter. Davis took an oath to serve all the people and she has no right under the secular law to which she swore to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

As a friend of mine noted on social media, the only authority that can judge someone’s faith “isn’t from Arkansas.”

Why is Obama’s faith an issue?

“… but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

— U.S. Constitution, Article VI

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker got a question the other day about whether he thinks President Obama is a Christian.

His answer? “I presume he is … I’ve never asked him about it.” Then said he takes “the president at his word” that, yep, is he’s a Christian.

Walker wants to succeed Obama as president of the United States. He’s one of 17 Republicans seeking the GOP nomination; four Democrats are running, too.

I keep wondering, though, why this question keeps coming up about the current president’s faith.

Hasn’t he stated time and again that he believes Jesus Christ is his savior? Hasn’t he attended church services with his family? Hasn’t he made the declaration that he is a Christian?

The issue ought to be moot. The Constitution says we shouldn’t set a religious standard for candidates seeking any “office or public trust.”

Why can’t these individuals answer such ridiculous questions in a straight-forward matter? Perhaps something like this:

“Thank you for the question. Let me answer it in two parts.

“First, the president is a Christian. He’s stated his faith repeatedly since taking office and I believe him.

“Second, the question is not relevant to any discussion about those who hold public office or those who seek public office. The Constitution says there shall be ‘no religious test’ for candidates. I happen to support the Constitution of the United States, which is crystal clear on the place of religion in politics.”

I really don’t blame Walker for keeping this issue bubbling. The blame belongs to the media who keep raising it.

Enough already!