By the Book

In this age of social media and networking, we are deluged with information daily. We talk, text, tweet and email back and forth, then on top of that we join organization and list serves that forward their news. Sometimes we get forwarded stuff that we don’t like. The following is a forwarded message I received and the response I sent back:

ONE MINUTE EACH NIGHT

This is the scariest election we as Christians have ever faced, and from the looks of the polls, The Christians aren’t voting Christian values. We all need to be on our knees.  Do you believe we can take God at His word? Call upon His name, then stand back and watch His wonders unfold. This scripture gives us, as Christians, ownership of this land and the ability to call upon God to heal it.

I challenge you to do that. We have never been more desperate than now for God to heal our land. This election is the scariest I remember in my lifetime.

2 Chronicles 7:14.
“If my people, which are called by my name shall humble themselves, and pray,
and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from
heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

During WWII, there was an advisor to Churchill, who organized a group of people who dropped what they were doing every night at a prescribed hour for one minute, to collectively pray for the safety of England, its people and peace. This had an amazing effect, as bombing stopped.

There is now a group of people organizing the same thing here in America .

The United States of America , and our citizens, need prayer more than ever!!! If you would like to participate, each evening at 9:00 P.M. Eastern Time (8 PM Central, 7 PM Mountain, 6 PM Pacific), stop whatever you’re doing and spend one minute praying for the safety of the United States, our troops, our citizens, for peace in the world, the upcoming election, that the Bible will remain the basis for the laws governing our land, and that Christianity will grow in the U.S.

If you know anyone who would like to participate, please pass this along.  Someone said if people really understood the full extent of the power we have available through prayer, we might be speechless. Our prayers are the most powerful asset we have.

Thank you. Please pass this on to anyone who you think will want to join us. God Bless You!!!

(end email forward)

So this kind of thing gets my blood boiling. 90% of it is either good hearted or at least a harmless exercise (if you don’t believe in prayer or God). I can’t think of a good reason for anyone – atheist, Muslim, or Hare Krishna – to begrudge a group of people from praying if they choose too. The remaining 10% though (which I believe is the whole reason the email forward piece was created), crosses the line from a commendable suggestion for solidarity to a subversive play to push the Bible as a founding document for the nation. As Lakoff taught me, simply getting these words to the eyes of thousands of people (via “viral” email) turns our brains on and normalizes the concepts presented. Seeing them, thinking them, and hearing them makes the reality a bit more possible – even if there isn’t a huge action item around it.

Here is my response to the email:

The power of love, people pulling together and God, is awesome. I can get on board with that. I would add something about helping all of the people of the world to find peace and feel secure. However, there is one part of this suggestion that I feel is dangerous, “the Bible will remain the basis for laws governing our land”. The Bible has never been the basis for laws governing our land, The Constitution is the document that is the basis for governing our land; it was the only document agreed upon by the founders.

If I thought that everyone would interpret the Bible the same way that I do, in a way that promotes Christ-like unconditional love and acceptance of your fellow human, I could get behind a push to change our founding documents. However, we all know that there is no one way that people interpret the Bible (nor any hope or effort at consensus). There are a whole lot of folks out there talking about the Bible that do not promote Christ like love, they use the Bible as a tool to get what they want and to persecute others. I find that extremely offensive. I would never want someone to be in power that used the Bible for their own personal agenda or power plays.

This is very difficult to write because I know many people I love very much might disagree with me and are on this list. I purposefully don’t engage in politics with much of my family because emotions run high and I would rather spend the little time I see my extended family doing more joyful things (like loving them unconditionally!). I feel very strongly that there should be a separation of church and state, the first amendment establishes that. While we might be a nation chock full of Christians, we’ve gotten there without having a national religion and we are not a nation governed by Christianity.

Any leader or citizen can use the Bible and their spiritual beliefs as a template for life, no one is saying it cannot be included as a personal guide. If you like how a candidate is guided by the spirit, by all means, vote for them! Work to get the principles that motivate and inspire you to be implemented into our laws, but please, please, please keep the roulette wheel of Biblical interpretation out of our laws (it’s hard enough to deal with interpretations of our secular documents). I would never want a “Fred Phelps” kind of Christian anywhere near a governing body (his church’s website is here).

I believe there is a faction of people out there that want an audience of good hearted Christians to be on their side – which for the most part, they are – but their real agenda is to change the foundation of this country’s laws to be religious laws. As an American and as a Christian, I have to stand firm and say “NO!”

I love many of you, don’t know some of you, and this is in response to someone I love and respect very, very much. Most importantly for me, I love God, Jesus, and I do try to pattern my life after his. That is why even though my fingers are a little shaky and my stomach is churning a bit, I’m still going to press send.

Peace to us all,
Amy Meier

(On a personal note, this is where the rubber meets the road for me. I am the most liberal person in my large extended family; if there are other liberals in my family, they keep it on the down low – my family culture does not take kindly to liberal rhetoric and is not afraid to say so. I was born in the heartland of the country, in the bible belt and feel like a bit of a “black sheep” when I am there because the conservative Christian culture pervades life at every facet. I also kept most of my views on the down low to keep the peace. I love my family. They are kind, loving, generous, and accepting of me and all of my personal faults. They are the real reason I am so passionate about having civil discourse – but it is still exhausting to get into political battles with them when I’d rather just enjoy time together. The conservative Christian culture is so pervasive that I am often included (though I don’t think it is a secret that I am a liberal) in an assumption that things are, or should be, a particular way. Today is the day I publicly “outed myself. The gloves are off… but it’s because I want to shake hands (or hug) and start this election season with a respectful, meaningful exchange.)

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5 thoughts on “By the Book

  1. Kathy Ault says:

    Thank you, Amy. I’m so glad there are clear thinkers like you tugging at the rest of us to be objective, reasonable and honest. Keep up the good work. Kathy

  2. MicheleH. says:

    I think you’ve made a very well stated response to this email – bravo. It is often hard to be liberal (or heck, even independantly minded) amongst many conservative family and friends and i know i’ve gotten into more than a few scrapes in my own world on the few occassions I’ve felt strongly enough to speak up. Like you, i know that most liberals and most conservatives are thoughtful, kind hearted, well intentioned persons. My ire goes up when discourse turns to sensational propaganda instead of fact – there is a big need to keep it “civil.” I don’t necessarily think there’s a wholehearted effort to change the foundation of the country’s laws to religious law as you’ve stated, but there is very much an effort to incite strong emotions based on religious upbringing and pride to get voters to the polls. Its safe to say “you’re only a good Christian if you vote for so and so” since in this country, in terms of votors, the folks who idenify as “good christians” have the numbers. But more often than not, the folks running the show think that fire and brimstone is the only way to get you there. So instead of the good Christian life I try to lead, to those who would follow the pundits, I’m destined to hell because of how I voted in the last election. The only way not to be ostracized by your community and spend all eternity in the fiery inferno? Vote for the guy you’ve been told is the better Christian (even though more often than not, his moral transgressions are just as bad if not worse than the other guy).

  3. Amy Meier says:

    Politics and family can be very tricky. It is easier to “walk the talk” with total strangers for sure! Matter of fact, for the faint of heart or those just beginning to try these conversations, I would try to find some folks that aren’t that close to you in case the fireworks get out of control. A lot of these issues cut to the quick, they are about our values and very identity and it can be quite delicate.

  4. lokywoky says:

    The pseudo-historians on the right are determined to destroy what’s left of public education. History, and in particular, US history is almost never taught by anyone who loves the subject in any K-12 classroom. The idealogues in Texas decide what goes into textbooks nationwide and the recent revisions leaving out the accomplishments of people of color and a lot of what Thomas Jefferson said and did are among many of their latest.

    The right has been pushing the meme that the US is a “Christian” nation for at least the last 3-4 decades and that the Founding Fathers were also Christians. Both of those things are false. But, as George Lakoff has told us numerous times – tell a thing often enough and it becomes an embedded frame – and then every effort to debunk it only makes it stronger.

    Among the conservative evangelical/fundamentalist Christian right – it IS a mission to try to change the underlying structure of the laws in this country to be based on the Bible. Many of them have openly stated that goal. It may not be the majority, but because these people are in positions of leadership and they have the bullhorns of television, radio and the internet to carry their message, their influence is outsize – even to folks who don’t subscribe to their general point of view.

    They are dangerous. Do not think that they aren’t.

    Thanks, Amy, for all your fine work.

  5. Luke Haskins says:

    Our system of government was created, and yes, because the government’s job is to secure rights, the constitution is there to do that very thing. But if you look into the very genius that is our country and how it was instituted, it only works with a morally upright and honorable society. Many (not all, but many) of the founding fathers were Christians. I don’t think that it’s too far a stretch to say that our country was at the very least based upon the morals that the Bible teaches. The bible is the foundation OF THE FOUNDATION of the laws of the land, in my opinion.

    The seperation of church and state isn’t what you seem to think it is. We have freedom of religion. Think about this. What is a religion? It isn’t just a belief in God. It is, from the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “A cause, principle or system of beliefs held to with ardour and faith.” That is one definition, out of many modern ones that all seem to mean that a god is involved, so to make atheism a basis for the modern school systems. The Ten Commandments being taken out of the public school system? How is this not a violation of the Constitution? The 1st Amendment says this, the exact wording:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    The Ten Commandments in schools was a choice BY THE SCHOOLS. The government had NO PLACE to be able to prohibit the free exercise thereof. This is one example of what we are talking about. The teaching of atheism disguised as “science” is inevitable when the government gets involved in religious practice.

    So why am I even posting this? Because we ARE a nation governed by Christianity, or at least by its morals. As soon as secular humanism rises, man creates morality. Then, the biblical idea of the church helping out the poor, and other such ideas, go away, and the government becomes in total control. For the idea of governmental control, think Hitler and Stalin. Disregarding the Constitution gets easier and easier, because the God that created the inalienable rights that the Constitution was based on supposedly doesn’t exist, and so the document is meaningless. The government becomes the ruler of the people, rather than the other way around, and the system that once so beautifully held Christian society in place has led to one more destructive and evil nation.

    So do we force people to become Christians, so to have the perfect society? No. That would only lead to one more religion-controlling government system, one that is VERY risky and highly unpredictable. So what should the government do to fix this problem?

    Nothing.

    We have a call as Christians to bring others to Christ. Not the government, the Christians. Let people believe what they want to believe, don’t try to “even out the playing field” by leaving it to secular scientists to tell us what to believe. And it’s quite admirable that this e-mail came to you, as an e-mail. It was an establishment of the free worship of faith, not politically centric, but prayer and Christ-centric, created by people, not government.

    You are right, government should not make laws simply because of a certain religion. Homosexuals should not be shot in the street as a crime. The only argument for such an action lies in the Christian knowledge that homosexual unity is wrong. But don’t say that things like abortion shouldn’t be illegalized simply because the Christians think it’s wrong, and agreeing would be favoring them over the atheists. The vast majority of Americans would agree that murder is wrong in all forms. Abortion is a blatant taking one’s right to Life.

    I am not for a theocracy, but I am for a government that values the people as God’s creation, not one in which the government tries to “even” (make preferences about) the religious playing field and ruins the system we are founded upon entirely.

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