Arx Hereticus

Welcome to the ramblings of a merry heretic, an ex-pat (Tex-pat?) American living in Maryland after having spent six years in Germany. Arx Hereticus is part travelogue, part cooking, part budo, part socio-political commentary and mostly just me BSing.

Friday, November 09, 2007

God-patriot glurge

Glurge: (GLURJ) n. A sentimental or uplifting story, particularly one delivered via e-mail, that uses inaccurate or fabricated facts; a story that is mawkish or maudlin; the genre consisting of such stories.

I got glurged this morning:

Subject: FW: New Pledge of Allegiance

New Pledge of Allegiance!

Since the Pledge of Allegiance and The Lord's Prayer are not allowed in most public schools anymore Because the word "God " is mentioned...

A kid in Arizona wrote the attached NEW School prayer. I liked it ! !

Now I sit me down in school
Where praying is against the rule
For this great nation under God
Finds mention of Him very odd.

If Scripture now the class recites,
It violates the Bill of Rights.
And anytime my head I bow
Becomes a Federal matter now.

Our hair can be purple, orange or green,
That's no offense; it's a freedom scene.
The law is specific, the law is precise.
Prayers spoken aloud are a s erious vice.

For praying in a public hall
Might offend someone with no faith at all.
In silence alone we must meditate,
God's name is prohibited by the state.

We're allowed to cuss and dress like freaks,
And pierce our noses, tongues and cheeks.
They've outlawed guns, but FIRST the Bible.
To quote the Good Book makes m e liable.

We can elect a pregnant Senior Queen,
And the 'unwed daddy,' our Senior King.
It's "inappropriate" to teach right from wrong,
We're taught that such "judgments" do not belong.

We can get our condoms and birth controls,
Study witchcraft, vampires and totem poles.
But the Ten Commandments are not allowed,
No word of God must reach this crowd.

It's scary here I must confess,
When chaos reigns the school's a mess.
So, Lord, this silent plea I make:
Should I be shot; My soul please take!


If you aren't ashamed to do this, please pass this on.

Jesus said, "If you are ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of you before my Father."

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but a commitment to continue."
David Moore
It came in a shotgun e-mail to a ton of people in my official work e-mail domain, it had been forwarded several times already, and I'm not acquainted with the latest sender in the least. Here's my response (sent only to the last sender, I didn't want to waste all that bandwidth AGAIN):

First off, nice to meet you.

Second, please check your e-mail addresses, as I'm probably not who you think I am.

Third, I am one of the non-believers -- an atheist, actually (despite the picture some would like to paint, even as an atheist, I'm also a veteran, a GS employee, a patriot and am happily married).

And yes, atheists are a growing part of the American populace. Depending on whose figures you want to accept, the number of Americans who don't believe in any gods ranges anywhere from 9% to about 20% ... even if you take the low end, say 10%, that's STILL more than 30 million Americans who are unbelievers. That's a significant population.

The numbers, by the way, come from sources ranging from the US Census, to Pew, to Barna Institute (a Christian thinktank). Some surveys actually put the number of unbelievers at about 1 in 4, but I think that's a bit high.

Now, with even 10% of American being unbelievers, we have to also look at the believers.

Many of those folks who identify themselves as believers aren't going to believe exactly the same way as you. Break Christianity down into Catholics, Baptists, Pentacostals, etc, and you'll find that even amongst Christians, many of those folks don't identify other denominations as being "Real Christians".

For instance, most evangelical Christians believe (or at least their doctrine preaches) that Catholics are not real Christians and that those folks (and the Catholic chuch is the largest of all Christian denominations, by the way) are not going to make it into heaven. Catholics don't think Protestants are on the right path and Mormons don't think Baptists will make the cut for the highest level of their heaven either. And the real hard-corps evangelicals don't think anyone who doesn't follow their exact doctrie is going to make it.

It's difficult to talk about a Christian America, because, frankly, it doesn't exactly exist. There are, indeed, lots of Christians in America, but they can't agree on what "Christian" means and on exactly what the rules (or even the right way to worship) are.

Then, too, aside from Christians, the numbers of believers includes the Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Rastafarians, etc.

Now, all that said, please understand that I'm not trying to be argumentative, but when a believer talks about unbelievers being a minority, that you can expect the non-believers to rebut the statement and try to straighten out the facts.

So, on to the Pledge. Personally, I don't care whether there's a mention of God in the Pledge of Allegiance or not. I don't have to say that part if I don't want to. And if you check the history of the Pledge, you'll find that the original Pledge, written by a Baptist minister, by the way, did NOT include the phrase "under God" at all. That was added much later.

Truthfully, I also don't care if a child wants to pray in school. Really. It's the child's right. I'm all for Freedom of Religion. It's part of what has allowed American to flourish -- allowing people of many faiths (and of no faith, you might be surprised to learn that there were atheists and what we'd call Unitarians today, among the Founding fathers) and from many cultures to come together, and work together to build a nation that is strong and prosperous.

However, that said, prayer should not be forced upon others who might not want to pray (whether it's because they pray to a different god, pray in a different way, are taught not to make prayer a public display by their scriptures, or they simply don't believe in praying at all).

Freedom of religion also means that one's religion cannot be forced upon others. In other words, having a classroom pray together is un-Constitutional but a child taking a moment to say a silent blessing over lunch is perfectly fine. Fact is, that _your_ prayer could very well be offensive to the Muslim or Quaker or Rastafarian sitting next to you. That's the core of all the fuss.

I hope I haven't annoyed you too badly, or bored you, but these are important issues, and when folks blindly throw out ideas like the "New School Prayer" (oh, and look at for more info on that), someone's got to step up to the plate and try to correct the misinformation.

I know you meant well, and were only trying to pass around something you found inspirational or informative, but the fact is that by far, most of those e-mails and inspirational stories are just that, stories.

There's a good reason that the USA has a separation of church and state. Imagine if the church and state weren't separate, but that the church running things wasn't YOUR church.

Anyway, Name deleted, take good care and remember that when it comes to chain letters like the one below, research (and websites like Google and is a Good Thing.
I get 2-3 similar glurge e-mails a week at home or at work, and I usually will answer them in similar vein. I try to provide info, and not just argument.

Folks, a lie repeated is still a lie. And crap like the New School Prayer -- while they may contain an element of truth -- are almost ALWAYS not exactly true. And many are outright fabrications.

These things disturb me on two levels:

First, the indiscriminate linkage of godliness with patriotism. Look folks the old saying that there "ain't no atheists in foxholes" is an outright lie. I was one (and am still a member of Military Atheists and Freethinkers), and I know many, many more Soldier-atheists from my association with the military over the last 20+ years. IN fact, some statistics seem to indicate that the number of atheists in the military is significantly higher than that of our civilian counterparts.

I will not tolerate it when some knucklehead impugns my dedication and courage because I don't believe in the same god he does. I served my time (and continue to serve today, as a civilian employee of the US Army). The Lie, told again and again (and military chaplains can be some of the worst offenders), impugns the bravery of the thousands and thousands of other atheists in the military.

I do have a dear friend who is an Episcopal chaplain in the Army who took his commander to task for stating The Lie.

Chap gleefully related his experience to me and thanked me forsome of the ammo he used to flesh his argument out and educate the brigadier general in question.

And second, the attitude of some senders of glurge that "even if it IS not quite true, it's okay if it turns even one heart toward God!" or "but even if it's not true, it still makes people FEEL better!"

Lies is lies, and a lie told for God is STILL a lie. And under the rules of Christianity, it's still a sin to lie for God. Whether it makes them feel better or not.

Glurge sucks. Really ...

Anyhow, this guy replied:

I must say you make a very interesting point.

Sorry I got you mixed up with another Chuck Gordon.

Have a good day.
Sigh ...