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The War on Christmas

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Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

This time of year as the war on Christmas heats up I am reminded of the immortal words of Doctor Seuss:

“The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!

Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.

It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.

It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.

But I think that the most likely reason of all

May have been that his heart was two sizes too small…”

Dr Seuss How the Grinch Stole Christmas

 

Yes my friends I hate to admit it there is a war on Christmas. However unlike those that want to blame it on all of those Godless types, I have to say that some Christians have waged a real war on Christmas for centuries.

Now I have to be fair. There are some people in the secularist camp who file lawsuits against municipalities that have Christmas displays on public property and even some who will push those lawsuits to exhibits on private property.  However, despite the media attention these are nothing in comparison to what the Christian Grinches have done over centuries. So despite the efforts of some I do not fear for Christmas because the celebration of Christ’s Incarnation and Nativity has survived far worse even from those within the faith.

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Puritan Anti-Christmas Laws

Now let me be fair here. Some of the things that the Christian Grinches have protested are frivolous and not very spiritual. But that tends not to be the case today. Today’s Christians seem perfectly at home with the crass materialism and consumerism of our modern Christmas celebrations even within the walls of Christian churches. It seems that as long as we are willing to put a nativity scene made by Third World slave laborers in the middle of an otherwise completely capitalistic consumer orgy we don’t care. But God forbid an Atheist object or a member of a minority religion demand equal time and space for their display in the otherwise crassly materialistic celebration, those things are a declaration of war against the very holiday that we as Christians wantonly desecrate.

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The Puritans hated Christmas…

Let us go back and look at some history. Not the kind of “history” promoted by David Barton and Glenn Beck, but real history. You know, stuff that actually happened and that we have documentary evidence to support, not stuff that we pull out of thin air.

Back in the 1600s a Christian group that was tremendously influential in our nation’s early development hated the celebration of Christmas. I am not kidding. These were the Puritans.

The Puritans believed that they were the “elect” based on their theology. The Calvinist doctrine of double predestination ensured that they as the elect knew they knew they were right. For those that do not understand this doctrine, let me explain. The Puritans and other strict Calvinists believed that they were the elect. They believed that they were pre-ordained by God before the foundation of the world to go to heaven, and the rest of us were created to live and die, and then go to Hell because God decided so before the creation of the world.

But that is not all. The Puritans also believed that as the elect that they had a “Biblical Mandate” to rule for God on earth and as such they established a theocracy in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. If the Puritans had simply died out and gone away this might not be an issue. However, their theology has continued and their modern successors in the modern Christian Dominion or 7 Mountains Theology movements believe the same thing. They believed that sine it was God’s will that they rule that whatever they said that others needed to obey, after all God put them in charge.

The Puritans came out of the Protestant Reformation in England. Unlike the Englishmen of today, the English of that period took their religion pretty seriously.  Now despite the cultured accent that we hear on the BBC or CNN World the English religionists of that day were actually more like unruly football fans only worse. When it came to matters of religious tolerance and loving their neighbors they were rather un-Christian.

English Protestants of the non-monarchical Reformation type like the Puritans did their best to rid the Church of England of anything that appeared to even look Catholic, especially anything to do with Christmas. Of course this cleansing of the church often included killing real people including the few remaining stick in the mud Roman Catholics as well as Anglicans who still liked Catholic stuff.

But to be fair to the Puritans back then the English of all Christian denominations tended to be a bit intolerant. They would lop off the heads, burn at the stake, or crush with heavy stones anyone that deviated from their beliefs. They killed first first and asked questions later. It was kind of like the fans of the Premier League only without professional officials to regulate the game.

Early in their history the Puritans were a persecuted group. They were militant, intolerant and exclusive, so who could not find reasons not to like them? But when the Puritans took power after Oliver Cromwell overthrew the monarchy they took their revenge with great gusto. They didn’t just decide to lop, crush and burn their opponents of all denominations, but they also decided to outlaw the celebration of Christmas.

Of course they did so for the noble reason of purifying England of heresy. In fact if you want to compare them to a modern religious group, they would be pretty similar to the Taliban. When the Puritans took over the government they did their best to ensure that everyone was as miserable as them. This included banning the celebration of Christmas.

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Wassailers 

The Puritans were not content with inflicting their beliefs on church going people, they inflicted them on the majority of the people who simply wanted some relief for the drudgery of daily life in 17th Century England. The Puritans even banned the poor from the tradition of Wassailing. Wassailing was a custom in which the rather pungent poor would go from house to house, begging for treats in exchange for drinking a toast to the family.  The drink they called wassail was a hot-spiced wine.  Now this was not a vintage Napa Valley or French wine but a rather pungent and rancid English wine, thus the need for spices and heat.

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Mob Football

Wassailing sometimes ended up with episodes of drunken revelry, much like current English Football match celebrations, which is why the Puritans objected so strenuously. They didn’t like football either. No kidding, then it was called “Mob Football” and it didn’t have very many rules. Since it was particularly popular at Christmas, the Puritans suspected that it must have been from the Devil.

The Puritans had no sense of fun as we know it. They viewed any religious practice that might include something that might be fun harmful, as such anything fun needed to be completely removed from public life.

Oliver Cromwell by Samuel Cooper

Oliver Cromwell

This miserable situation lasted until 1660; a year after the Lord Protector and head of the army and police Oliver Cromwell kicked the bucket. The anti-Christmas laws were quickly overturned and everyone was happy. Well sort of, the populace went back to simply lopping, burning and crushing heretics, especially Roman Catholics. That being said, people were so happy to bring Christmas back that the new rulers in England exhumed Cromwell’s body from Westminster Abbey and executed him posthumously. Since decorating was allowed these rulers lopped off Cromwell’s head and displayed it outside Westminster Hall for about four years. A popular verse of the time said:

Now thanks to God for Charles’ return,

Whose absence made old Christmas mourn;

For then we scarcely did it know,

Whether it Christmas were or no.

Not to be outdone the Puritan colonists in the Massachusetts Bay Colony decided that what was going on in their homeland was not to their taste. So in 1659 under Governor Sir Edmund Andros they enacted laws like those of Cromwell. The laws remained on the books until 1681. During the time that the laws were in force everyone had a grand time. To keep the festivities going the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony banned the celebration of Christmas and other such holidays at the same time it banned gambling and other lawless behavior.

Grouping all such behaviors together the court placed a fine of five shillings on anyone caught feasting or celebrating the holiday in a manner that might be construed as fun. Things like taking time off from work, feasting, partying, wassailing, playing Mob Football, or anything else that might be construed as fun were criminalized. The law stated:

“For preventing disorders, arising in several places within this jurisdiction by reason of some still observing such festivals as were superstitiously kept in other communities, to the great dishonor of God and offense of others: it is therefore ordered by this court and the authority thereof that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way, upon any such account as aforesaid, every such person so offending shall pay for every such offence five shilling as a fine to the county.”

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That sounds lovely doesn’t it? To their credit the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony didn’t go lopping, burning or crushing heretics with heavy stones unless they were proven to be a Christmas celebrating witch.

Christmas law 1658

Unlike England where the lifting of the ban was celebrated with the aplomb given to a World Cup championship the Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and their descendants frowned upon the celebration of Christmas until the 1820s. That was when enough Irish showed up in Boston to turn the place around and make it the fun town that it is now.  Coincidently the last State Church in the United States was the Congregational Church in Massachusetts. It wasn’t disestablished until 1833.

So the next time you hear about the war on Christmas, remember that a lot of the people ranting about the supposed “war on Christmas” actually want to re-establish a very harsh and sterile Puritan view of faith that led to the celebration of Christmas being criminalized in England and in Massachusetts. Of course they would have a hard time doing that now since they so connected to the corporations and retailers who make big time bucks off of Christmas.

Thankfully for now we only have to suffer from the yearly rants of the fun deprived army of Christian Grinches, who without the religious flair of the Puritans attempt to crush the spirit of Christmas. Thankfully, today, more people like all the tinsel, bells, lights, decorations, the presents and time off regardless of their religion or lack thereof to want to abolish Christmas. So the Christmas celebration as we know it will survive, at least until next year. One can always hope.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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A Matter of Degree: The Taliban, Kansas, Jim Crow and Nuremberg

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“The segregation laws in your country and the anti-semitic laws in mine, are they not just a difference of degree? Herman Goering (Brian Cox) to Captain Gustav Gilbert (Matt Craven) in the film Nuremberg)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjbsD-TYi3s

Over the weekend I posted a link to an article about the attempt by the Kansas State of Representatives to pass a law entitled the “Religious Liberties Protection Act.” The Bill, which seems innocuous was actually a law written to enshrine the discrimination against Gays in the public and private sectors by anyone claiming that serving them would infringe upon their “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

The law was held up in the State Senate, and today the Bill was shelved, but it’s author Representative Charles Macheers, insisted that in order to protect Christians and other religious people that anyone claiming that their religious beliefs were infringed upon should be legally able to discriminate against others.  Though specifically directed against Gays it would have set a terrible legal precedent.

I posted a link to an article about the Bill on my Facebook page. Most people, even many of my more conservative Evangelical Christian friends, who are not big fans of Gay rights or Marriage Equity, to their credit were appalled by the law and by the attitude of my former colleague.

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When someone asked me about it on my page, I made a comment that the law was a product of “the Kansas Taliban.” The comment was deliberately designed to be provocative. It was loaded and it did what I intended.

I honestly believe that there is little difference between the religious zealots of the Taliban and those that introduce such religiously based laws here. Such laws enshrine discrimination and differ from the Sharia of the Taliban only in a matter of degree. The attitude exhibited by such zealots, be they Christian, Moslem or any other religion is so strikingly similar it is frightening.

My comment elucidated a response from a man who I had worked with years ago at a Evangelical Christian television ministry. The head of that ministry has become one of the leading figures in the politically active Christian Right and is quite active politically, especially in Texas. The man who jumped in on my conversation has been working for that ministry for over 20 years.

His comments were so hateful, disrespectful and ignorant that my friends, who range from very conservative Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christians to devoted secularists, Gays and Lesbians and even an Atheist jumped in to defend me and what I said. The fact that my friends really know me and understand me, and even if they disagree with me they are willing to defend me. That is remarkable tribute to American values. It was a testament to the good nature of most Americans, as well as Brits who commented on the post. The fact is I would do the same for them.

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My comment about the “Kansas Taliban” was not about religious people who despite their strongly held beliefs are respectful of others and hold the rights of people who believe differently than them to matter. It was directed at those who use fear and hate to promote an agenda that vilifies and demonizes others based on their religious or ideological beliefs. The fact that the people promoting the Kansas law were conservative Christians is only important as it demonstrates that some Christians can be just as brutal and thoughtless as the Taliban.

That is a nuance that people driven totally by ideology miss. Some might think I am attacking Christians. That is not the case. The attack is on any group that would attempt to enforce their religious beliefs on others through the police power of the state.

The real fact of the matter is that the Mullahs of the Taliban have much in common with Christians and others who desire to impose their beliefs by the law of the state on those that do not agree with them, be it in religious beliefs, political ideology or racial, ethnic, cultural or linguistic differences.

My former colleague called me many things before he dropped me as a Facebook friend. He made himself look foolish. It was his loss. I would have been willing to listen, care for and respect his views had he not resorted to name calling and character assassination in his attempt to shame and silence me. Anyone who really knows me knows that for me life is more about caring for and having relationships with people, even if we differ in our beliefs than attempting to argue them into my position or abandon a relationship with them because they do not agree with me.

Sadly for him my former colleague did not understand that. It was a loss that he brought about, and in that sense it is his loss, because I actually do care for him and remember him fondly from when I knew him 20 years ago; but in the end of the day it is probably a loss for both of us.

Unfortunately that is the cost of those more committed to their ideology than they are to people. It matters not if they are Christians, Moslems, Jews, Hindus, secularists, or others that hold the purity of their political, social, ideological, racial or economic theories as more important than people.

My comment about the Kansas Taliban was fitting, and like Hermann Goering’s comments at Nuremberg to Gustav Gilbert the difference between the ideology and actions of the Taliban as opposed to militant Christians who attempt to use the power of the State to suppress, control and persecute those that they find offensive is only a matter of degree.

That may not seem important to some. But it is the difference between a divided society that can agree to disagree respecting the differences within it, and one for which factions attempt to use the police power of the State and the law of the land to persecute those that are different.

Goering in his critique of America in the 1930s and 1940s was correct; what we as a society enshrined in law and in our culture to discriminate against others differed little from what the Nazis did, only in the matter of degree.

It is something for us all to think about.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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The Season of Hope: Advent and PTSD

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“Totally without hope one cannot live. To live without hope is to cease to live. Hell is hopelessness. It is no accident that above the entrance to Dante’s hell is the inscription: “Leave behind all hope, you who enter here.” Jürgen Moltmann

Advent and Christmas are my favorite times of the Church year. But that being said I don’t see them in isolation from the rest of the Church year, especially Holy Week, Good Friday and Easter. In fact they cannot be divorced from them. However for me the mystery of the incarnation and the season of waiting in hope is incredibly important in a world that mystery is unappreciated and waiting is an annoyance.

The beginning of Advent stands in stark contrast to the false God of Black Friday. Black Friday is marked by a materialistic rush for all that satiates our desires. Waiting takes a back seat to the throngs of shoppers lined up for a mad rush at retail outlets.

Now before anyone gets the wrong idea I am not against business making profits or people saving money. However that being said the stark contrast between the crass materialism exhibited by our consumerist culture that is blessed by many Christian Conservatives and the message of Advent and Christmas.

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The starkness between the two really became apparent to me when I returned from Iraq in 2008 suffering from severe and chronic PTSD. It  something that still plagues me though not to the extent that it did for a long time. During that terrible time hope was hard to come by. In the midst of the madness I was for all intents and purposes an agnostic just praying that God still existed. Only my deep sense of calling as a Priest and Chaplain kept me going as I served in the ICUs of a major medical center working with people facing death and their families.

On Christmas Eve of 2008 I was doing so bad that I handed my wife the keys to our car at the Christmas Eve Mass where she was singing in the choir and walked home in the dark and cold. If there had been a bar within a few blocks I would have walked in and poured myself out. I understood the depth of hopelessness that Dante wrote about.

But a year later I experienced what I call my “Christmas miracle” while administering the last rites to a dying patient in our emergency room. It was a miracle and for the first time since Iraq I felt the mystery and wonder of Advent and the Incarnation.

Faith returned, albeit different. In place of the certitude that marked my previous faith I was now open to new possibilities as well as being okay with doubt. I rediscovered, or maybe better put discovered the importance of being human, something that the Gospel makes so clear when it comes to the humanity of Jesus. Jürgen Moltmann wrote of the incarnation:

“God became man that dehumanized men might become true men. We become true men in the community of the incarnate, the suffering and loving, the human God.” 

In a sense I was born again in that emergency room that Advent night. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that “Advent creates people, new people.” That I agree with.

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However there are some that profess to have a direct line to God who neither understand faith, life or humanity. On a Veteran’s day broadcast of The Believe’s Voice of Victory two of them made some incredibly ignorant comments about PTSD. Kenneth Copeland the host of the program a long time prosperity Gospel charlatan and huckster and the faux historian David Barton made the comments that real Bible believing Christians could not get PTSD. Copeland stated:

“Any of you suffering from PTSD right now, you listen to me. You get rid of that right now. You don’t take drugs to get rid of it, it doesn’t take psychology; that promise right there [in the Bible] will get rid of it.

But truthfully there is no promise in the Bible that says that you get rid of PTSD or any other neurological condition. The fact is that many Fundamentalist Christians believe that such conditions are a product of the sin of the individual. Something that they take from Douglas Adams’ “Nouthetic” or “biblical” counseling. Adams’ who believes that mental illness, including PTSD is not a “sickness” but due to the “sinfulness” of the afflicted person. This really is not much different than what Scientology preaches but it finds a home in many Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christian circles.

Barton added to Copeland’s ignorance showing that he is not only an ignorant pseudo historian but a danger to any person suffering from PTSD. Barton said:

“What we’re talking about, getting rid of the PTSD, guys who have been through battle, they need to understand that soldier’s promise, you come back guiltless before God and the nation…You’re on an elevated platform up here, you’re a hero, you’re put in the faith hall of fame if you take this [Bible],…We used to in the pulpit understand the difference between a just war and an unjust war. And there’s a biblical difference, and when you do it God’s way, not only are you guiltless for having done that, you’re esteemed.”

To cut to the chase these men believe that if you are a soldier suffering from PTSD it must be your sin causing it. Likewise if you are Barton you believe that if you kill in the name of Jesus it is not a sin, you are a hero of the faith. That sounds a lot like Al Qaeda’s understanding of killing in the name of Allah, and some people get mad at me when I call men like Barton “Christian Taliban.” But if the shoe fits they can eat it.

Barton, Copeland and their fellow travelers embody the worst of modern Evangelicalism and their type of Christianity is why young people in particular are leaving the church and not coming back. They are anti-science, anti-reason, anti-history and dare I say, Anti-Christ. Reducing the Bible to a technical manual they strip the mystery of faith and life out of the scriptures. Their certitude flows from a combination of arrogance and ignorance. Devoid of compassion, and love, consumed by the lust for power they are dangerous. Armed with money and air time they spread ignorance and hatred of others not like them and call it “the Gospel.”

Like Black Friday they too stand in stark contrast to the message of the Gospel proclaimed during Advent and Christmas as well as the week of the Passion.

For me, still suffering from PTSD I find great comfort and hope in the message of the season of Advent. It was during Advent that my faith and life returned.

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Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians:

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.” Gal 4:4-5

Now I look forward to the coming of Jesus, but on a daily basis, in the life I live in the real world where people like me struggle. It is the world that Jesus

I look forward to this time of hope and patient expectation.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Start by Prosecuting Me: A Challenge to the Drumhead Justice of World Net Daily’s Erik Rush and Joseph Farrah

Few things work me up more than those that seek to find “legal and constitutional” means of silencing dissent. The Nazis were great at using the Weimar Constitution to silence, prosecute, jail and finally kill their opponents.

I never thought I would see Americans who allegedly are Christians seek to find ways to interpret the Constitution of this country in ways that would silence and deny legal and constitutional rights to those that they disagree.

I am reminded of the words of Patrick Stuart playing Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek the Next Generation. In one episode called The Drumhead Picard makes the following observation after he has been brought to trial by justice gone mad.

“With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.” Those words were uttered by Judge Aaron Satie, as wisdom and warning. The first time any man’s freedom is trodden on, we’re all damaged.

Although fictional the words are more than true. In a column today Erick Rush a columnist for Joseph Farrah’s wonderful pile of cyber rubbish World Net Daily proposed a way to forge those links.

“Those whose speech and actions impinge upon the God-given rights set forth in the Declaration of Independence and codified in the Constitution are, by definition, excepted from protection under the First Amendment (as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment). This is a very important concept to consider, because it is based on these presumptions of protected speech and equal protection for all that progressives and socialists have engaged in their predation upon our liberties.

If these truths can be acknowledged and widely accepted as such (as opposed to progressives’ Orwellian interpretations), then the political disenfranchisement of liberals, progressives, socialists and Marxists can begin in earnest, and in the open.” Erik Rush World Net Daily http://www.wnd.com/2012/10/how-to-disarm-the-mainstream-media/

Rush and Farrah and the World Net Daily site are incredibly popular among many of the supposedly “Christian Right” and a bastion of conspiracy theorists and proponents of a Christian Theocracy.

What is written above are the last two paragraphs of Rush’s latest article which deals with ways to silence the “mainstream media” or for that matter anyone that disagrees with his or the editors of World Net Daily’s ideas of what the framers of the Constitution and writers of the Declaration of Independence believed.

To cut to the chase here. Rush and many others believe that unless someone agrees with their interpretation of history and the Constitution that they “are excepted from protection under the First Amendment.” He further argues that if his view of the Constitution or “these truths” can “be acknowledged and widely accepted….then the political disenfranchisement of liberals, progressives, socialists and Marxists can begin in the earnest and in the open.”

Rush and people like him really have no clue. If the government can silence one group it can silence another. The same propositions that Rush and those like him can be used against them, and in other countries where “Christians” or those of other religions that desire theocratic states can be, has been and is being used against dissenting minorities including Christians.

For my conservative Christian readers and friends just imagine if a liberal wrote something like “be acknowledged and widely accepted….then the political disenfranchisement of conservatives, Libertarians or Christians can begin in earnest and in the open.” How would you respond? Civil and religious liberties are a two way street.

As a career military man, historian priest and theologian who has served combat tours and seen results of the oppression and hatred generated by those that promote their religion and rights above those that they disagree I dare say that you do not represent the ideals of the founders of the this country. You represent the tyranny that was best exemplified by the leaders of the European State religions that our founders fled.

I am sorry that most of your readers can’t and won’t see this. But you are no better and little different than the Taliban or the Shi’a and Sunni Terrorists that held Iraq in tyranny and that killed many American Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen.  You are religious bigots that label anyone that does not agree with you are heretics and unbelievers who have no rights to anything. If you find that offensive that’s just too bad. deal with it.

I have had to deal with the hatred and rejection of supposed followers of Christ for a while now and  I figure if you and people like you ever get their way that even though I am small I will be a target.

So go ahead Mr. Rush and Mr. Farrah, you don’t need to start with the mainstream media, start with bloggers like me. We’re small, we don’t have multitudes of lawyers of money.  However, unlike either of you I have spent my life serving this country and going into harm’s way so you can have a soapbox to preach on. From your biographies I know that you and the vast majority of your writers and columnists have not have not served a day in uniform or risked anything for this country. So I dare you to start with me. I will fight you until I draw my last breath.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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The Unchristian Christianity of Modern America

I cannot and will not recant

We live in an era where religion and politics especially in conservative circles have become one just as they were in the days following Constantine’s granting of religious freedom to all in the Empire while making the Catholic Church the State religion which went from a persecuted Church to an Imperial Church overnight. The Church in the coming centuries became an arm of the State something that until the enlightenment it remained in many nations. Most of the English Colonies that became the United States had State Religions even after the Bill of Rights the last to disestablish its state religion being the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1833.  Most European State Churches remained until the fall of the Empires after the First World War but many countries in Europe still have State Churches which are not very vibrant now days.

The curious thing is that until the 18th and 19th Centuries the powers of State Churches were great and heavily benefited greatly through their allegiance to the State.  To disobey the Church was to disobey the State and to disobey the State was often tantamount to disobeying God since the State and the rulers thereof were not simply ordained by God but in fact God’s instruments. Unfortunately this led to many abuses of power by those in the Church as well as the State and thankfully we in the United States were able to for the most part break with that tradition which was and is repugnant to the Gospel as well as human freedom.

In fact the United States has been the foremost proponent of religious freedom and tolerance of any nation in history. It was something that we enshrined, the right of all people to worship according to their faith. Now we haven’t been perfect practitioners of our ideal as there have been plenty of religious based prejudice and persecution in this country dating to colonial times, especially of religions outside the mainstream of Protestant Christianity, it took nearly 150 years for Catholics to become part of mainstream America and longer for others especially religions outside of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Despite those instances our experiment of religious liberty has been an amazing success in which many denominations have prospered.

All that being said I fear we are entering a stage where authoritarian religious groups closely allied with the rich and the powerful are on the ascendant in the United States just as radicals in other religions, particularly Islam but not limited to Islam are on the rise. Frankly I expect that people who are either living in a culture that still believes that the world is like it was back in the 13th Century and those that have become fantastically rich and enamored with the technology of the West to be that way. Let us face facts most of the counties in the Middle East lack the centuries of related social, political, philosophic or religious development that is part of Western culture and we still screw things up. The Islamic World has not experienced anything like the Renaissance, Reformation or Enlightenment. There is a chance that it might amid the pro-democracy and freedom protests that are occurring throughout the Middle East even as radical Islamists dream of a new Caliphate, something that seems to be anathema to many of the young protestors in Egypt and other Arab Nations.

In the United States the movement to religious authoritarian systems closely allied with politicians and the State to do their bidding comes from conservative circles, particularly conservative and fundamental Evangelical Christian churches and the Roman Catholic Church which since the reforms of Vatican Two has retreated into its old Ultramontanistic self.

That being said I figure I should go ahead and continue to dig my grave with my conservative brethren who view anyone to the left of them as a wild eyed raving liberal and quite possibly a Socialist.  I am a moderate and I might be classed as a liberal conservative or conservative liberal.  Thus I and people like me stand in the uncomfortable middle of a deeply polarized society where most to our left or right despise us for actually deviating from the established dogmas of the left or the right.

To the extreme right I might be a raving liberal, and the far left an intolerant conservative but the I choose to live in the tension between the two, although I think that in today’s Tea Party charged environment I would be called a liberal.  But I am a moderate and I will not give up the middle ground simply because others have adopted a scorched earth policy in faith and politics where “if you ain’t for us you’re against us” is the norm. In fact I think that Jesus stood against that kind of thought process, if you don’t believe me look at Mark 9:38-40 where Jesus says something different when the disciples confront him about others casting out demons in his name “he who is not against us is for us.”

As a passionate moderate who is also a Priest and Christian my goal in life is to get along, find common ground among disparate groups and care for God’s people.  I do this by acknowledging and maintaining the tensions that are inherent in a pluralistic society and not simply going along what whatever is popular or expedient. This takes a lot of effort and does not exclude being prophetic.  However that prophetic role comes in relationship with others where there is mutual respect, civility and care for each other even when we do not agree. It does not come from being angry or acting disrespectfully just because I can.  The prophetic role does not come from the outside looking in railing at your opponents.  That only increases your isolation, eventually to the point that you are no longer a player in the debate, simply an annoying pest with absolutely no say in anything.  It takes more courage to be open and dialogue with people respectfully than it does to rail against them.  Anyone can be a critic and anyone can be a wrecking ball.  That’s easy.  There is little personal risk in doing so, because you don’t have to open you self up to the possibility that there may be some merit in your opponent’s view and once you have a relationship with someone it is hard to demonize or dehumanize them.  Unfortunately that is what is happening across the religious and political divide in our society.

Despite the rancor on the extremes I think that there are more people out there like me than not. My belief is that voices like ours are drowned out by drumbeat of competing demagogues on the far right and the far left.  Since I am a priest my focus will be on the dangers that I see in the current climate and the captivity that churches have unwittingly placed themselves in making political alliances.  These alliances, particularly those of conservative Christians have become so incestuous and so intertwined that they are seen as one with supposed political conservatives. As such these churches and Christian leaders have become the religious voice of political movements fighting a cultural war in which only one side can win and in which there is no room for compromise or dialogue.

In doing so these religious leaders have compromised themselves so that only their followers give any credence to what they are saying.  They are so to speak “preaching to the choir” and not reaching out to or even caring about the welfare of their opponents, they are in a sense like the Taliban. They frequently demonize their opponents or for that matter anyone, even other Christians that might disagree with their understanding of the Christian faith.

That is why I say that many have become like the Taliban. If you do not agree with them on their social-religious agenda you are a heretic regardless of how orthodox you are in your actual theology.  Theology and belief is no longer the test, the test is if you agree with a social-political-religious agenda which often is at odds with the Christian faith proclaimed by Jesus.  This is like the Taliban because the goal is to gain control of the government and use the government to impose a social-religious theocracy where the church uses the “police power of the government” to achieve its goals.  Such a message is anathema to the Gospel and its redemptive message that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting men’s sins against them.” What many churches and Christian leaders have done is to for practical purposes discard any real attempts to engage people with the message of the Gospel in favor of using political power to coerce non-believers into compliance through the police power of the government.  This in stark opposition to the early Church which was martyred for their faith in Christ versus their opposition to government policy or social ills, of which there were plenty that they could have protested.

Early in his “Reforming” days the young Martin Luther wrote a book entitled “The Babylonian Captivity of the Church.” It was a severe critique of abuses in the Roman Catholic Church of his era.  I think churches today have become captive to various political parties, social and economic theories, movements and ideas.  These are not necessarily Christian even though any churches have “baptized” them so to speak.  Capitalism for instance is has many benefits, however unbridled capitalism which is not moderated with true concern for the least, the lost and the lonely, is nothing more that economic social Darwinism.  It is the survival of the fittest with little concern or regard for real people.  People in the world of baptized unbridled capitalism are not people, but consumers and economic units.  In the United States we can see this in practical terms where historically US corporations which at one time employed millions of Americans and produced actual good that were in turn exported to the world have outsourced so many jobs and industries to other nations.

This was done in order to increase corporate profits by paying foreign workers almost nothing and not having to abide by US environmental laws or tax codes.  This may bring cheaper goods in the marketplace but it has endangered our economic and even strategic military security. Economic power is one of the key elements of national security.  In the military we call this the DIME:  Diplomatic, Intelligence, Military and Economic power and unless your economy can keep up you will fail.  Just ask the Soviet Union.  It is interesting to see many Christian leaders and churches talk of capitalism as if came down from heaven even using the Bible to try to bolster their argument.  This is just one of many areas where the church is not longer a prophetic voice, but a willing captive mouthpiece for political and economic institutions which at their heart could care less about the Christian faith and wouldn’t mind it going away.

On the left many churches have embraced social reform, the civil rights movement, women’s liberation as well as left leaning and even socialistic economic models and a demonstrated preference for the Democratic Party.  While none of these goals of themselves are anti-Christian the linkage to the causes often over the Gospel has hurt progressive Christianity.

On the right conservative churches beginning in the 1970s in reaction to the social revolutions of the 1960s moved lock, stock and barrel to the Republican Party. They were led by men such as Jerry Falwell who founded the Moral Majority in 1979, Pat Robertson who founded the Christian Coalition and Dr D. James Kennedy who founded the now defunct “Center for Reclaiming America for Christ.”  Ronald Reagan was the political spokesman and was an outspoken advocate of the role of America’s Judeo-Christian heritage. Conservative religious leaders solidified that relationship in the 1990s during the presidency of Bill Clinton, whose sexual proclivities did nothing to help his cause with Christians despite him signing the Defense of Marriage Act.  The 1994 “Republican Revolution” and “Contract for America” helped solidify Christian conservatives as a central component of the Republican Party and by that point there was a clear alliance between Christian conservatives and the Republican Party.  It was also during this time that politically conservative talk radio became a force in American politics and many on the Christian Right gravitated to broadcasters such as Rush Limbaugh and later Sean Hannity.  Conservative Christians now stand at the center of the Tea Party movement and are a force that no Republican politician can ignore if he or she wants to keep their job.

Despite what I have said I am not saying that people’s faith should not play an important part of their political viewpoint.  Churches and influential pastors have been an important part of American life and has contributed to many advances in our society including the civil rights movement, which could not have succeeded without the efforts of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and many other clergymen and women, from across the denominational and racial spectrum.

Other examples of where churches spoke to societal wrongs included slavery and child labor.  Now this was not a unified front as many churches especially regarding slavery and civil rights opposed these measures.  This included the major denominations that split into northern and southern factions over the issue of slavery prior to the Civil War.  The Southern Baptist Church is a product of this split.  Other churches such as the Methodists and Presbyterians eventually came back together, the Presbyterian Church USA doing so in 1982, 117 years after the Civil War…better late than never I guess.  This will not happen with the Southern and American Baptist Convention’s as they are now theologically poles apart.

There has been a trend over the last 20 years or so by many clergy and laity in both liberal and conservative churches to be uncritical in their relationships with political parties. In my view this has emasculated the witness of the church.  I have experienced this on both the left and the right. When I was a kid my dad, a career Navy Chief Petty Officer was serving in Vietnam. New to the area we went to a church of the denomination that my parents had grown up in and in which I had been baptized.  This was a mainline Protestant church, the name I will not mention because it is irrelevant to the discussion.  The minister constantly preached against the war and the military probably assuming that he had no military families in the congregation.  At that church I had a Sunday school teacher tell me that my dad was a “baby killer” when I told her that my dad was serving in Vietnam.  If it had not been for the Roman Catholic chaplain at the little Navy base in town who showed my family the love of God when that happened, caring for our Protestant family without trying to make us Catholic I would have probably never reconciled with the church.

I trace my vocation as a priest and chaplain to that man. Since I have spent more of my life in conservative churches in the days since I have seen a growing and ever more strident move to the political right in conservative churches.  I think this has less to do with the actual churches but the influence of conservative talk radio which has catered to conservatives, especially social conservative Christians.  Conservative Christians are a key part of this demographic and it is not unusual to hear ministers as well as lay people simply parroting what these broadcasters are saying. I often hear my fellow Christians on the right talk more vociferously about free markets capitalism, the war on terror and justifying the other conservative causes which are general less than central to the faith in public forums like Facebook.  Some of what is written is scary.  People who pray for the government to fail, pray for the President to be killed, call anyone who disagrees with them pretty horrible names or prays the “imprecatory Psalms” against their opponents.  I saw an active duty Army Chaplain call the President “that reject.” The words of a lot of these folks are much more like Sean Hannity than the Apostle Paul.  When I have challenged conservative Christian friends on what I think are inconsistencies I have in some cases been attacked and pretty nastily if I might add.

I see this in stark contrast to the witness of the early church.  Pliny’s letter to the Emperor Trajan sums up how Christians responded to real, not imagined persecution for their Christian faith, not social-political cause.

“They stated that the sum of their guilt or error amounted to this, that they used to gather on a stated day before dawn and sing to Christ as if he were a god, and that they took an oath not to involve themselves in villainy, but rather to commit no theft, no fraud, no adultery; not to break faith, nor to deny money placed with them in trust. Once these things were done, it was their custom to part and return later to eat a meal together, innocently, although they stopped this after my edict, in which I, following your mandate, forbade all secret societies.”

Pliny was perplexed because although he thought their religion to be “fanatical superstitions” he could find no other fault in their lives; they even obeyed his order to stop meeting together.  My view is that Christians some on the left but especially on the right lost any prophetic voice not only in society, in their respective political party alliances.  They have become special interest groups who compete with other special interest groups, which politicians of both parties treat as their loyal servants.  This is what I mean by captivity.  I think that the church has to be able to speak her mind and be a witness of the redemption and reconciliation message of the Gospel and hold politicians, political parties and other power structures accountable for their treatment of the least, the lost and the lonely; caring for those that to those who seek to maintain political and economic control, merely numbers.  The church has to maintain her independence or lose submit to slavery.  There are many examples we can look to in this just a couple of relatively modern examples being William Wilberforce and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  We can find many others throughout Church history. These men were not apolitical, but they and their ministries were both prophetic and redemptive.  They maintained peaceful dialogue with their opponents and helped bring about justice.  Billy Graham never gave in to the temptation to endorse any political party.  Instead he had a voice and relationship with every US President during his active ministry, be they Republican or Democrat.

It is incumbent on Christians and other people of faith seek to embody this witness in our divided and dangerous world.  Christians especially cannot allow themselves to be ghettoized in any political party, or political faction where they are just another interest group even an important one. Nor can they allow their public witness to be absorbed and consumed by the promotion of political agendas or causes, even if those causes are worthy of support.  It is a matter of keeping priorities causes can never take precedence over the message of God’s love and reconciliation in Christ.  Unfortunately this is too often the case.

My view is that if you build relationships with people by loving them, caring for them and treating them with the same respect that you would want for yourself; even with those that you have major differences, then you will have a place at the table and your voice will be heard.  If we on the other hand cauterize ourselves from relationships and dialogue we will be relegated, and rightly so to the margins of the social and political process of our nation.  In effect we will ensure that people will stop listening to us not only on the social and political issues, but more importantly in our proclamation of the faith in the Kingdom of God which was proclaimed by Jesus which that comes to us from the Apostles.

Unfortunately I believe that Christians thinking that they are more influential than they are have marginalized themselves.  This is because many have compromised the faith by allowing extremists to be the public face of the Christian church in public debates on social, morale and political issues.  I hope someday we will rebuild our credibility as people who actually care about the life of our fellow citizens and our country and not just those who agree with us.  God have mercy on us all.

Peace, Steve+

 

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Filed under christian life, faith, History, philosophy, Religion

Christian Grinch’s: How the Puritans nearly stole Christmas

There are a lot of people now days in the United States that believe that the Christmas Holiday is under attack and to some extent they are right. It seems that lawsuits are as abundant as public displays of Christian themed holiday observance and décor as various individuals and groups attempt to expunge such observances from public life, even some of those erected on “private” property.

Now I am not one to go out and all these people are evil or even anti-Christian as some do from the pulpit and the even more influential “pulpits” of radio talk show hosts. However there are times that I have to admit that it seems that there is Grinchlike element present in our society. The Grinch’s who come in various types are often well meaning and concerned that religious displays of any kind but mostly the Christian kind will either offend people or create an environment where religious and non-religious minorities might be discriminated against by the religious folks. Thus they believe that all religious displays need to go lest someone be offended or discriminated against.

 

Above all it seems that they really don’t like the displays with the kid in the crib surrounded by a temporarily indigent family, smelly animals, even smellier migrant worker type pre-Bedouins and undocumented aliens from realms of glory.  I find the whole notion that is somehow harmful to individuals or society be quite Grinchlike and wonder of these people had their sentimental and fun glands removed at birth or simply got too many lumps of coal in their stockings.

 

Despite this I do not fear for Christmas because the celebration of Christ’s Incarnation and Nativity has survived far worse even dare I say from those within the faith.  Yes my friends way back in the bad old days a group influential in our early development as a nation the Puritans were big into cancelling Christmas.  Despite the fact that they were Christians they were pretty Grinchlike and in some sense the philosophic predecessors of those that want to banish Christmas from public life today.

 

You see after the Protestant Reformation, the English, who despite the cultured accent that we hear on the BBC or CNN World were actually more like unruly football fans in matters of religious tolerance and loving their neighbors. English Protestants of the non-monarchical reformation type did their best to rid the Church of England of anything Catholic. Of course this often included people who were Catholic or even Anglo-Catholic.  The English of all denominations tended to lop off the heads of, burn at the stake or crush with heavy stones those that deviated from the beliefs whoever was in charge. Of course those that leaned Catholic reciprocated in kind whenever they had power which made the era something like the Premier League “lite.”

 

The English Grinch and Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell


However when the Puritans took power they didn’t just decide to lop, crush and burn but they also decided to outlaw the celebration of Christmas. Of course they did so for noble reasons such as ridding the country of anything that smelled Catholic or did not fit within their rather harsh and purist views of the faith. Thus when they took power they did their best to ensure that everyone was as miserable as them. This included banning the celebration of Christmas which they objected for a number of reasons.

 

So in 1647 the Puritan dominated Parliament backed up by the brute force of the Army and Police led by Oliver Cromwell simply abolished the feast and all that went with it.  Like the Grinch himself they tried to eliminate everything including the Roast Beast. Gone were such nasty pagan ideas as Christmas Trees, feasting, caroling, and decorations. And let’s not forget the favorite target of Grinch’s everywhere, Nativity scenes, which were banned as the worship of idols. Indeed, the Puritans even frowned on the use of the word Christmas because they believed that it was akin to taking the Lord’s name in vain.

Wassailing


Not content with inflicting their beliefs on the majority of the people who simply wanted some relief for the drudgery of daily life in 17th Century England they even banned the poor from the tradition of Wassailing.  Wassailing was a custom in which the rather pungent poor would go from house to house, begging for treats in exchange for drinking a toast to the family.  The drink called wassail, was a hot spiced wine and not a vintage Napa Valley or French wine but a equally pungent English wine, thus the need for spices and heat. The result of the wassailing sometimes was an out of control drunken revelry, much like current English Football match celebrations, which is why the Puritans objected so strenuously.
Be it known that the Puritans did have their sentimental and fun glands removed on conversion had no sense of fun, or what they viewed as harmful religious practices and wanted to remove them from public life altogether.  Well altogether now: “kill the fun and sentimentality! And if need be those that practice them!” Very good you are honorary Puritans for the day doesn’t that make you feel good? It does me, I just love reenacting history sometimes.
Well this lasted until 1660 when the Lord Protector and head of the Army and Police Oliver Cromwell kicked the bucket.  The anti-Christmas laws were overturned and the populace went back to simply lopping, burning and crushing and everyone, save those being lopped, crushed or burned was happy.
Not to be outdone the Puritan colonists in the Massachusetts Bay Colony enacted similar laws which were on the books from 1659 through 1681 when a newly appointed Governor in the employee of the Crown Sir Edmund Andros.  However during the time that the laws were in force everyone had a grand time. Like others in places like Iran and Afghanistan the General Court banned the celebration of Christmas and other such holidays at the same time it banned gambling and other lawless behavior. Grouping all such behaviors together the court placed a fine of five shillings on anyone caught feasting or celebrating the holiday in another manner. The law read like this:
“For preventing disorders, arising in several places within this jurisdiction by reason of some still observing such festivals as were superstitiously kept in other communities, to the great dishonor of God and offense of others: it is therefore ordered by this court and the authority thereof that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way, upon any such account as aforesaid, every such person so offending shall pay for every such offence five shilling as a fine to the county.”

That sounds lovely doesn’t it? Just kidding. At least they didn’t go lopping, burning or crushing with heavy stones unless you were proven to be a Christmas celebrating witch. Unlike England where the lifting of the ban was celebrated with the aplomb given to a World Cup championship the Colonists up in the Massachusetts Bay Colony frowned upon the celebration until the 1820s when enough Irish showed up in Boston to turn the place around and make it the fun town that it is now.   By the way the last “State Church” in the United States was the Congregational Church in Massachusetts back in 1833, seems that they didn’t appreciate that separation of Church and States stuff thought up by Tom Jefferson and Jim Madison very much.

 

So the next time you hear about those that want to impose their beliefs to quash Christmas realize that this isn’t a new thing at all. Christians have been doing it for centuries and some of the un-fun Fundamentalists that want to re-establish the faith in the way the Puritans had imagined or legislated it to be, would do it again if they ever took control of Congress.  But for now we have to suffer those fun and sentimentality deprived army of Grinch’s that without the religious flair attempt to crush the spirit of Christmas in the name of tolerance.

 

So Merry Christmas my friends,

 

Peace
Padre Steve+

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Filed under christian life, purely humorous, Religion

Gordon Klingenschmitt Calls Admiral Mullen a “Liar”

How do you know when Gordon Klingenschmitt is lying?

When his lips are moving.

Well Gordon James “Chaps” Klingenschmitt a former Navy Chaplain convicted by a Special Court Martial for disobeying a lawful order not to wear his uniform to participate in a partisan political rally back in 2006 is at it again.  The defrocked Priest, former chaplain, convicted criminal, compulsive liar, and theological thug has called the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen a “liar” in an e-mail sent out through the Washington Times Marketing Showcase in which he was calling for Christians to join his petition “DEFENDING OUR TROOPS AGAINST OPEN HOMOSEXUAL AGGRESSION.” Since I received this unsolicited and poisonous e-mail I figured that thousands of others had it well. The fact that the conservative bastion Washington Times allows a man of Klingenschmitt’s low ethical and moral character to send out poison like this to collect money for his particular political-religious crusade shows me that this paper is nothing more than a shill for the extreme right wing fringe of American political and religious life.

Klingenschmitt who has little regard for truth as was evidenced during his relentless campaign against the Navy while serving as an active duty Navy Chaplain as per his standard operating procedure has one again engaged in the character assassination of yet another military officer, this time Admiral Mullen.  Klingenschmitt who has a palpable propensity to spin the truth in such a manner that it is no longer recognizable as truth; has launched this gratuitous attack against Admiral Mullen using the venomous invective that is his specialty.  The title of his e-mail reads: “Top Admiral Lies to Senate about Homosexuality.”  If I recall lying to Congress is like a felony, so not only has Klingenschmitt accused Admiral Mullen of being a liar but committing a Federal Crime.  Well I guess that Klingenschmitt knows what that is about having done it himself and then using it afterward to make a decent living off of gullible Klingenschmitt believing Christians who I sometimes refer to as the Klingenban who eager eat up his fabricated tails of being persecuted for “praying in Jesus Name.”

Since lying to congress is a pretty stiff charge to level at anyone let’s see the Klingenfraud’s leap of legal logic which allows him to make such a claim about the nation’s top military officer.  Klingenschmitt is his e-mail makes the following explanation of his case in his e-mail:

CHAIRMAN OF JOINT CHIEFS DEMANDS HOMOSEXUALS LIE TO MILITARY

Tuesday the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen deceived the Senate Armed Services Committee, repeating President Obama’s demand to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) prohibition against open homosexual aggression within the ranks of the military.  “We have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens,” Admiral Mullen fibbed, revealing his personal belief that “allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do.”

First he claims that Admiral Mullen “deceived the Senate Armed Services Committee” by “repeating President Obama’s demand to repeal “the don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) prohibition against open homosexual aggression within the ranks of the military.”  If don’t ask, don’t tell was a “prohibition against homosexual aggression in the military” then the charge might have merit, but alas Gordon is serving up his own lie.  “Don’t ask don’t tell” was designed to protect homosexuals and allow them to serve in the military with the restriction that they could not openly admit that they are homosexual and to prevent commanders or others from asking if they are homosexual which then could be used against them in judicial, non-judicial and administrative procedures which leave them with a criminal record like Mr. Klingenschmitt and end their career.  It was never designed to protect the military from “homosexual aggression” as is charged by Mr. Klingenschmitt.  The fact that the nation’s top military officer supports allowing homosexuals to serve openly is lying by saying that don’t ask, don’t tell is a “policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they areis frankly insulting to any rational human being.  The policy indeed forces these men and women to daily hide a major part of who they are in order to serve.

Now here is where Mr. Klingenschmitt’s argument gets a little bit, oh well a lot loopy.  Instead of perusing any actual point of law in regard to the crime of lying to congress he goes into an anti-homosexual screed built around his theology which is taken loosely out of Romans Chapter One but even so incoherently argued that it makes your head spin.  It as if that he believes that his interpretation of scripture places him as the judge of Admiral Mullen or anyone, especially homosexuals who dare to disagree with him.  He then makes this incredibly ignorant statement of circular logic that says in short that homosexual man are trying to be women and homosexual women are trying to be men. You have to read this to believe it:

“Here’s a simple proof:  Men who were created by God with male body parts are not women, and they lie to themselves, the world, and their commanders when they pretend to be, and act like, women.  Women who were created by God with female parts are not men, and they lie to themselves, the world, and their commanders when they pretend to be, and act like, men.” So in other words if a gay person admits to being gay they are lying about who they are because they are pretending to be the opposite sex.

He then goes on:

“Mullen’s confused argument would permit men to deceptively act like women, and women to deceptively act like men, openly deceiving themselves, the world, and their military commanders, and boldface lying against God’s very truth, that He created men to be men, and women to be women.   But today’s confusing homosexual propaganda equates “honesty” with men openly flaunting their femininity, and “truthfulness” with women openly flaunting masculinity.   Who’s really telling God’s truth?”

Gordon states that: “Admiral Mullen’s confused argument…”  You have got to be kidding.  I don’t know any homosexual men on active duty who deceptively act like women and some of the homosexual men and women who are lesbians would surprise you, manly men and feminine women.  You see Gordon Klingenschmitt attempts to impose his beliefs on others and uses the basest of stereotypes to paint homosexual men as effeminate, when only some are and homosexual women as the classic “dyke” which again pandering to the basest of prejudice which seeks to all lesbians as the crudest stereotype imaginable.  He continues on in this vein for some time and it is not worth regurgitating here.

He then launches his attack loosely paraphrasing Romans One interspersed with his own commentary to buttress his charge that Admiral Mullen lied to Congress and that homosexuals are liars and that we need to help Senator McCain to “fight this open perversion, and protect our troops from open homosexual aggression…”  The attack is disingenuous and dishonorable, but then I would expect nothing less out of a man who has made a career out of defaming others and using bully tactics to attempt to force the Navy to let him do whatever he wants.

He then makes a vicious and yet nonsensical attack at Army Lieutenant Daniel Choi a West Point Graduate.

“CBS news interviewed homosexual Army Lt. Dan Choi, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point who currently faces discharge for publicly announcing he’s gay.

“I think it’s a very healthy thing for people to be able to tell the truth and to come to terms with who they are. I think it’s a sign of maturity,” Choi said, “At my very first day at West Point, I learned that the honor code says a cadet will not lie, will not tolerate those who lie,” said Choi. “They didn’t say that a cadet who was gay could lie whereas straight cadets didn’t have to lie.”

As a USAF Academy graduate knowing the honor code, I now personally confront Choi as a liar, who now openly violates his honor oath, since he deceives himself and the world, by claiming to be feminine, when God created him masculine, with a male body.  LIAR. Choi should immediately be thrown out of the Army, not merely for sexual perversion, but for DISHONESTY AND LYING.  The only reason he graduated West Point is that he never lied by openly claiming to be feminine while a cadet, when God created him to be masculine.  THIS PROVES DON’T ASK DON’T TELL IS THE MOST HONEST POLICY, because it encourages people with sexual perversions not to openly lie about their sexual identity.  But if DADT is repealed by Congress, men will claim to be women, and women will claim to be men, and the open season of dishonesty and lying will begin.”

Klingenschmitt once again uses the argument that Choi like other homosexuals is a liar because they are honest about their sexual identity.  Whether Klingenschmitt and the Klingenban agree with this or not we live in a free country.  We don’t live in Afghanistan or Iran where guys just like Klingenschmitt, only Moslem versions, preach the same hatred and use their religion as the law of the land.  Klingenschmitt though “Christian” is no different than the Taliban and if people like him were ever to assume control of the country we would discover what fun it is to live in a country where religious fanatics have the power of the gun to enforce their law.  Lieutenant Choi in my view whether one agrees with his sexual preference has demonstrated integrity, honor and devotion to his country and never in his protest against don’t ask, don’t tell slandered his superiors.  However I digress. Klingenschmitt who did not lie about being on a combat tour on USS Anzio his combat record pales in comparison to Choi a Military Academy graduate, son of a Korean Baptist minister, Arabic and Farsi translator and interpreter who served two combat tours as an infantry officer in Iraq before returning to the National Guard was discharged under don’t ask, don’t tell when he revealed his homosexuality.  Since then he has become an advocate for ending don’t ask, don’t tell.  Both are advocates for their cause but Choi has never offered public prayers for the death of his opponents or smeared the reputations of honorable men who were his superiors either before his discharge or after.

Klingenschmitt then recites a litany of reasons of why don’t ask don’t tell should not be ended.  His e-mail makes the following points:

“Four reasons: 1) Allowing open homosexuality especially hurts unit cohesion and would cost American lives in war, damaging the trust shared in close proximity, common sleeping quarters and showering facilities that are unavoidable in close combat.  2) Men and women do not share the same showers for obvious reasons, so why force men to share showers with openly homosexual men?  This fact alone would hurt recruiting.  3) The rampant spread of the HIV-AIDS virus contaminates the blood often shared by necessity on the battlefield.  Soldiers requiring blood-transfusions and medics would be immediately endangered.  4) “Gay promotion quotas” would soon be forced upon presently impartial promotion boards, causing a burdensome rise in sexually-charged “equal opportunity” complaints against commanders, especially those who offend gays by inadvertently speaking of their traditional Judeo-Christian faith.”

First he makes the charge of decreased unit cohesion and trust but most recent polls of military personnel do not bear this out. Yes some will not be comfortable with open homosexuals in the ranks. However as I have said it is about conduct, if the standards of how one conducts themselves toward other service members are enforced uniformly there will be few problems.  Shower facilities are an issue often thrown up by people like Klingenschmitt but there is no actual facts to back it up.  His misuse of AIDs and HIV being blood donors either in combat zones or outside of them is spurious. No one with AIDS or HIV is allowed to donate blood and military personnel regulations which I helped to draft in 1987-88 forbid the deployment of HIV positive people to areas that they cannot be treated or that could endanger their medical condition.  Since HIV and AIDS is not confined to the homosexual population and is not being spread rampantly as Klingenschmitt alleges the argument is a straw man.  Finally the charge that there would be homosexual quotas for promotion is also disingenuous.

Plainly speaking Klingenschmitt has no honor. He is an expert at distortion of the facts, misusing scripture and character assassination. He has since his first days in the Navy sought to enforce his brand of Christianity on his shipmates, peers and superiors. He lodged complaints against every commanding office that he served under and with his accomplices at World Net Daily engaged in every form of malicious conduct imaginable to include clandestine recording of the his superiors informing him of his court-martial charges.  His shipmates from USS Anzio have told me in person and in comments to this site of his intimidation tactics and bullying on that ship.  Following his discharge from the Navy he has engaged in a tactic called “imprecatory prayer” against a number of adversaries, praying for God’s judgment on them and that their days be few, a comment that he says is not a prayer for their early death but in the context of the entire scriptural passage (Psalm 109: 7-11) can only be read as such.

Klingenschmitt also quoted Elaine Donnelly of the “Center for Military Readiness” a right-wing organization that features Phylliss Schafly as a member of its board of advisors, that “it is unconvincing to hold up the small, dissimilar of foreign nations…as models for America’s forces.” Well since 25 nations including our closest allies, Britain, Canada, Australia, Israel, Germany and France as well of most of NATO whose soldiers both straight and gay serve alongside of ours in Afghanistan have allowed homosexuals to serve with little or no disruption in operations or efficiency I wonder what she is getting at.  Maybe its that she feels that American military personnel are less professional than our allies and would not behave professionally if we end don’t ask, don’t tell.  It is curious that I don’t see too many elected Republicans getting on the Klingenban bandwagon…huh… perhaps they know that a large majority of voters would find their support of Klingenschmitt’s crusade unpalatable and might react negatively to them if they oppose the change. 

I have posted a myriad of links to other things that this dangerous man has done here:

http://shamefulchaplain.blogspot.com/

http://pubrecord.org/religion/3355/ex-chaplain-offered-sacrifice-jesus/

http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/press-releases/audio_recordings.html

http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2009/04/klingenschmitt_prays_for_death.php

http://blog.au.org/2007/04/05/a-matter-of-honor-the-truth-comes-out-about-former-chaplain-klingenschmitt/

http://undergroundunbeliever.blogspot.com/2009/04/continuing-tale-of-court-martialed-navy.html

http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=33868

http://faithfulprogressive.blogspot.com/2009/08/scaring-naive-christians-and-elderly.html

http://www.benedictionblogson.com/2009/04/28/the-imprecatory-prayer-of-gordon-james-klingenschmitt/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-rodda/conspiracy-theorist-milit_b_204948.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/09/AR2006010901812.html

http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2008/07/the_continued_absurdity_of_gor.php

http://bypi.blogspot.com/

http://hamptonroads.com/node/153451

http://www.britannica.com/bps/additionalcontent/18/25635760/ExChaplains-Boss-Says-Religious-Right-Tales-Inaccurate

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389×6708951

http://www.religionnews.com/index.php?/rnstext/does_god_answer_prayers_to_do_someone_ill1/

The list can go on and on, these are but a few reports about Klingenschmitt so here are my own tributes to “Chaps” which are linked below:

https://padresteve.wordpress.com/2009/05/30/gordon-klingenschmitt-and-his-followers-the-klingenfraud-and-the-klingenban/

https://padresteve.wordpress.com/2009/08/08/oh-lord-stuck-in-lodi-again%E2%80%A6-gordon-klingenschmitt-does-lodi/

So with Klingenschmitt in the news it is right that his theological cousins in the Taliban, Iran’s President Ahamadinejad and the Mullahs seek to enforce the same standards of belief on their people as Klingenschmitt and the Klingenban seek to do here. He may be a “D-lister” but he serves an evil purpose and masquerades as a minister of light.  Klingenschmitt’s cause is not the redemption and reconciliation paramount in the Christian Gospel, but rather a twisted and hateful campaign of self promotion as he exalts not Jesus but himself and his political cause which he baptizes with Scripture verses.  This is not Waziristan and the Taliban and Al Qaeda are not in charge. Our founding fathers fought to prevent the United States from becoming a theocracy. While we cherish the role of religion in particular the Judeo-Christian tradition of this country we recognize that this is a pluralistic nation where no religion can impose its views simply because they believe that they are more correct than others and no-one including Gordon Klingenschmitt can issue a Fatwah stating otherwise.

Have fun with the links and spread the news that Gordon Klingenschmitt is coming to town.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Filed under faith, Lies of World Net Daily, Military, Political Commentary, Religion, US Navy