Talking Ted Cruz-Scariest Candidate Running

 Election, Featured, Politics, Presidency, Religion, Right Wingnuts, Society  Comments Off on Talking Ted Cruz-Scariest Candidate Running
Feb 112016
This entry is part 2 of 7 in the series 2016 Elections

So, Rafael “Ted” Cruz wants to be President of the United States. That should scare the crap out of any sane person. Ted and his supposed pastor father (I say “supposed” because there is scant evidence of his ever pastoring a church) subscribe to a very dark end-times religious doctrine referred to as Dominionism, and the two of them have decreed that Ted is ordained by God to lead the Government area of influence of the 7 Mountain scheme of Dominionists (more on that later).

This is a longer article, and I apologize for that, but there is much you need to know and understand, particularly as regards the Cruz’s religious beliefs.

The Father

rafael-cruz-485x303You really don’t quite get Ted as the truth challenged theocrat he is, without understanding his father, who frequently campaigns as a surrogate for Ted. So let’s get this all out of the way right up front.

Rafael has an interesting bio posted on the American Speakers booking website. He was helped out of Cuba to come to America to attend the University of Texas in Austin. His public bio states he, “immigrated to this country over 55 years ago to flee an oppressive communist regime. He fought in the revolution and was imprisoned and tortured.” The problem with that is, he actually fought on the side of Fidel Castro during the communist takeover.  He was granted political asylum in the U.S. (something he and his son now oppose for others), after his student visa expired. He got married, divorced and remarried while living in New Orleans. He later moved to Canada where he was naturalized, and then back to U.S., where he was naturalized in 2005. Continue reading »

Apr 082007

Blog Against Theocracy LogoA blogswarm has been organized to use the 2007 Easter season to write articles about the separation of church and state. Regular readers of this site know that I stand firmly on the principles of that separation, and believe it is an important tenant of our democracy (such as it is). Therefore, I’m participating by offering this article.

The cry from today’s Krazy Kristian Kooks is all about how this country was founded by Christians and based on Christian beliefs. One of the kraziest of the kooks is Roy Moore of Alabama with his Ten Commandments granite slabs, and the ensuing cause celeb. It is patently untrue that U.S. Laws are based on the Ten Commandments. First, let’s ignore the fact that there are numerous “editions” — including discrepancies between those in Exodus and Deuteronomy, plus distinct Hebrew, Catholic, and Protestant versions. The Decalogue, as it is more accurately named, intersects with U.S. Law on only three issues: murder, theft, and perjury. Furthermore, all these crimes had already been forbidden in civilizations far more ancient that any Judeo-Christian cultures.

No less than Thomas Jefferson himself writes to Dr. Thomas Cooper in 1814, “Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of common law.”

It also important to point out the language of “The Treaty of Tripoli, initiated by George Washington during his Presidency and later signed into law by John Adams in May of 1797. This is”a treaty of perpetual peace and friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and subjects of Tripoli, of Barbary.” It was approved by the Senate of United States, and stands in effect to this day. The Treaty reads (complete with eighteenth-century spellings of the words Muslims and Mohammedan):

Article 11.

As the government of the United States of American is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion, as it has in itself not character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Messelmen, and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

The founding fathers were hardly uniform in their Christianity. They were freethinkers, agnostics, atheists, Christians, Freemasons and Deists. Washington and Franklin were Deists. Washington rarely attended church, and when he did, he stood during prayers rather than kneel. Washington wrote in a letter, “Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by difference of sentiment in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be deprecated.”

Thomas Jefferson worked vigorously to oppose efforts by Patrick Henry to establish a theocratic government in Virginia. In “Notes on The State of Virginia,” Jefferson writes: “It does me no injury for my neighbors to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” Jefferson often issued stern warnings about the intertwining of government and religion. He writes in 1813, “History I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.” How familiar does this ring in today’s political environment?

James Madison, “The father of the Constitution,” opposed all use of “religion as an engine of civil policy.” He even opposed the appointment of Chaplains for the Congress. In 1789, as Chairman of the House Conference Committee on the Bill of Rights, he offered his own wording for the First Amendment:

“The civil right of none shall be infringed on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal right of conscience be in any manner , or on any pretext, infringed.”

The Constitution contains not a single reference to a deity or to any supernatural powers. The word “religious” arises only once, and that is in terms of a prohibition against any religious test for elected officials.

Article Vi: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

The original “Pledge of Allegiance” was penned in 1892 by Francis Bellamy (a Baptist minister no less), and?did not contain the phrase, “under God.” This was not added until 1954 after lengthy lobbying by the Knights of Columbus and the American Legion reflecting the McCarthyite bombast against “godless communism.” It was on Flag Day way back in 1943 that Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote for the majority of the U.S. Supreme Court in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette that, “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.

The founders of this country knew from first hand experience the dangers of a theocratic form of government. They not only carefully left out references to religion as part of the founding doctrines of this country, but went so far as to expressly prohibit the intertwining of government and religion. Not only was it a core belief of the majority of our founding fathers, it was written into the founding documents. It is the krazy kristian kooks of today that attempt to re-write history to be something other than what it is. Be not fooled, for it is a dangerous game we play by lowering the wall of separation.

I can go on and on about the dangers of mixing government and religion, but as is often the case, Jefferson himself sums it up best when he writes, In 1814 to Horatio Spafford, “In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection of his own.”

I'm Not Sure I Was Meant To Be Here

 Culture, Religion, Right Wingnuts, Society  Comments Off on I'm Not Sure I Was Meant To Be Here
Mar 062006

If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin. ~Charles Darwin

I’ve been pondering this post for sometime. I do not want this post to be seen as self-serving, but to point out how poorly we are doing as a society at caring for the least of these.

Some weeks ago it was getting pretty cool here at night. I have lived in the mountains of North Carolina and in Ohio. I know how cold it can get, and I realize the 38 degree lows we were experiencing here at not as cold as some places, but if you’re not used to it, and don’t have a warm place and warm clothes, it would be cold enough to be quite uncomfortable.

I was leaving the grocery store nearest the house. Sitting on a bench just inside the door were a man and a woman. I don’t know if they were married, lovers…I don’t know. They were in their late 40s or early 50s I would guess. I tuned in to part of their conversation when I realized the woman seemed to be close to tears.

They apparently had enough money to either get something to eat, or rent a cheap motel room for the night. The lady was imploring her companion to get the room because she knew it was going to be cold that night. He was bravely trying to figure out a way to get the room and still get “something” to eat.

Continue reading »

An Incredible Article By Bill Moyers About Today's Holy War In America

 Religion, Right Wingnuts, Society  Comments Off on An Incredible Article By Bill Moyers About Today's Holy War In America
Sep 102005

While drilling around through links in some comments on one of the blogs I read frequently, I was linked to this article adapted from a speech given by one of my favorite journalists and a leading thinking of our time, Bill Moyers. The article is titled 9/11 and The Sport of God. As with most his writings, it is well worth reading, and chocked full of some of the most important insights of our time.

My spiritual forbears did not take kindly to living under theocrats who embraced religious liberty for themselves but denied it to others.  “Forced worship stinks in God’s nostrils,” thundered the dissenter Roger Williams as he was banished from Massachusetts for denying Puritan authority over his conscience.  Baptists there were a “pitiful negligible minority” but they were agitators for freedom and therefore denounced as “incendiaries of the commonwealth” for holding to their belief in that great democracy of faith—the priesthood of all believers.  For refusing to pay tribute to the state religion they were fined, flogged, and exiled. In l651 the Baptist Obadiah Holmes was given 30 stripes with a three-corded whip after he violated the law and took forbidden communion with another Baptist in Lynn, Massachusetts. His friends offered to pay his fine for his release but he refused.  They offered him strong drink to anesthetize the pain of the flogging. Again he refused.  It is the love of liberty, he said, “that must free the soul.”

He talks about how the terrorists can win, even if they never attack again. And he believes they are winning.

But it is never only the number of dead by which terrorists measure their work. It is also  the number of the living— the survivors—taken hostage to fear. Their mission was to invade our psyche; get inside our heads—deprive us of trust, faith, and peace of mind: keep us from ever again believing in a safe, just, and peaceful world, and from working to bring that world to pass. The writer Terry Tempest Williams has said “the human heart is the first home of democracy.” Fill that heart with fear and people will give up the risks of democracy for the assurances of security; fill that heart with fear and you can shake the house to its foundations.

Terrorists plant time bombs in our heads, hoping to turn each and every imagination into a private hell governed by our fear of them.

They win only if we let them, only if we become like them: vengeful, imperious, intolerant, paranoid. Having lost faith in all else, zealots have nothing left but a holy cause to please a warrior God. They win if we become holy warriors, too;  if we kill the innocent as they do; strike first at those who had not struck us; allow our leaders to use the fear of terrorism to make us afraid of the truth; cease to think and reason together, allowing others to tell what’s in God’s mind. Yes, we are vulnerable to terrorists, but only a shaken faith in ourselves can do us in.

Moyers talks about how all the compassion of our response to the 9/11 attacks, has so often been replaced by a darker side.

As a Christian realist I honor my inner skeptic. And as a journalist I always know the other side of the story. The historian Edward Gibbon once wrote of historians what could be said of journalists. He wrote: “The theologians may indulge the pleasing task of describing religion as she descended from Heaven, arrayed in her native purity. A more melancholy duty is imposed on the historian [read: journalist] He must discover the inevitable mixture of error and corruption which she contracted in a long residence upon earth, among a weak and degenerate race of beings.”

Very succinctly, he explains how religious fundamentalists have taken over the Republican party, and are imposing their biblical interpretation on the rest of us.

We can’t wiggle out of this, people. Alvin Hawkins states it frankly: “This is a problem we can’t walk away from.”    We’re talking about a powerful religious constituency that claims the right to tell us what’s on God’s mind and to decide the laws of the land according to their interpretation of biblical revelation and to enforce those laws on the nation as a whole.  For the Bible is not just the foundational text of their faith; it has become the foundational text for a political movement.

True, people of faith have always tried to bring their interpretation of the Bible to bear on American laws and morals—this very seminary is part of that tradition; it’s the American way, encouraged and protected by the First Amendment.  But what is unique today is that the radical religious right has succeeded in taking over one of America’s great political parties—the country is not yet a theocracy but the Republican Party is—and they are driving American politics, using  God as a a battering ram on almost every issue: crime and punishment, foreign policy, health care, taxation,  energy,  regulation, social services and so on.

And then, he sums of the war we are in this way:

What’s also unique is the intensity, organization, and anger they have brought to the public square. Listen to their preachers, evangelists, and homegrown ayatollahs: Their viral intolerance—their loathing of other people’s beliefs, of America’s secular and liberal values, of an independent press, of the courts, of reason, science and the search for objective knowledge—has become an unprecedented sectarian crusade for state power. They use the language of faith  to demonize political opponents, mislead and misinform voters, censor writers and artists, ostracize dissenters, and marginalize the poor. These are the foot soldiers in a political holy war financed by wealthy economic interests and guided by savvy partisan operatives who know that couching political ambition in religious rhetoric  can ignite the passion of followers as ferociously as when Constantine painted the Sign of Christ (the “Christograph”) on the shields of his soldiers and on the banners of his legions and routed his rivals in Rome.  Never mind that the Emperor himself was never baptized into the faith; it served him well enough to make the God worshipped by Christians his most important ally and turn the Sign of Christ into the one imperial symbol most widely recognized and feared from east to west. 

I have quoted liberally, and could go on and on. Every paragraph says something important, and I desperately want you to take the time to read the entire article. Its important.