Amen: it’s like Abracadabra, only Christian!

Here’s a video I saw posted on Facebook from YouTube’s Betty Bowers. Pretty funny stuff overall. I like the fact that there are a lot of jokes/gags going on in this video: the scroll at the bottom, the captions, the images in addition to what the “reporter” is saying). You’d have to watch it several times to catch everything.

It’s a miracle!

The CBS News had a report on tonight’s news (they haven’t posted a video of it yet, but I’ll put it here when they do) where they 3 times mentioned that people being saved from the rubble in Haiti was a “miracle”. Maybe I’m overly sensitive to such language, but does the word “miracle”, used not by people being interviewed but by reporters, appropriate in a newscast?

It’s similar to the comments by President Obama saying of the horrible earthquakes and its aftermatch, that “there but for the Grace of God” would the United States be. These comments were covered by the mainstream press, including CBS of course. Even if he or CBS News are not overtly thinking of religion with these sorts of comments (which I happen to think they are), much of their audience will construe it as such. There are at least two things wrong with this type of thinking.

*It implies that the people who died, and did not get saved by an alleged “miracle”, deserved to die. Why else would God not save them as well? Why does God like the United States more than Haiti for us to be spared? Obviously these people in Haiti and elsewhere that God miraculously saved from this disaster must be God’s chosen, which means the ones who died certainly must have been less chosen, right? I don’t think anyone deserves to die in an earthquake, but I guess God does not agree.

*It minimizes the efforst of millions of people who have donated their time or money to help save as many people as possible from the ruins. There are actual doctors, paramedics, crane operators, civil servants, and other volunteers who searched through the rubble, often at personal risk, to try to help save people. If God is to get credit for saving these people, why isn’t he there in person (he can take human form when he wants, cf. Jesus) risking his own behind, working night and day sifting through dirt, broken concrete, and the dead remains of those who didn’t live?

It is not a miracle that these people are being saved, it is thanks to the work of many wonderful people who are working hard to save them because God will not. Obama, the media, and even some Haitians themselves may have “faith” that God is with them. What they fail to see is their worldview would mean that their God allowed the earthquake to happen (or some like Pat Robertson say he even caused it), and it’s humanity picking up the pieces afterwards from an indifferent or vengeful God.

Or maybe, just maybe, there is no God to thank for the few who are saved, or for the hundreds of thousands who perished. There’s just people who will pull together after this devastating tragedy, other people who will give aid and support to these survivors, and a world of people who will pull together to help rebuild Haiti. Isn’t that a much better way to view life?

Praying for Toyota?

Image source: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/eng/eed/research/peater/links/toyota.jpg

Individuals are free to pray as they want. But should elected officials be telling people they should pray for the success of a company?

According to Reuters, here are the comments of Kentucky state representative Charlie Hoffman.

“They are our great corporate citizen. We’ve got to pray for Toyota.”

It bears mentioning that, according to the same article by Reuters, “Toyota has invested over $5 billion in Kentucky. Some 6,600 people work full time at its Georgetown factory, the firm’s largest outside Japan and its first in the United States.” I’m sure economic concerns have nothing to do with the representative’s desire to pray for Toyota. After all, as Georgetown’s mayor, Karen Tingle-Sames, says, plant workers

“are not just employees of Toyota — they are our friends and family members. The people we go to church with and the people we shop at Wal-Mart with”

So as long as you go to church and Wal-Mart with someone, they are deserving of God’s grace, it would seem. If they didn’t go to church, I supposed the workers could just go to Hell (figuratively, of course)?

It is this sort of intrusion of religion into the state that seems the most common: elected representatives acting as if everyone can and should believe in God. Whether it’s telling people to pray, or emblazing “In God We Trust” in the U.S. Capitol entrance, it is illegal religious intrusion into our secular government.

State-Church Separation (parody of “My Generation”)

Here’s my latest project, which I’ve just posted on YouTube. It’s called “State-Church Separation”, and is a political parody of The Who’s song “My Generation.” I wrote the song last month and just finally was able to finish recording and make a quick YouTube video. It’s a very nice coincidence that The Who will be doing the halftime show at the Super Bowl! When I found this out, it gave me even more motivation to finish this up and post it this weekend. (I’m an amateur singer and this is my first YouTube video, so please bear that in mind when viewing it or commenting!)

More and more, I’ve been reading about cases of government officials ignoring the constitutionally-mandated separation of church and state. I’ve reported on the Memphis City Council having official Chaplains of the Day who pronounce prayers, often in Jesus’ name, and get cuff links emblazoned with the city’s logo paid for at taxpayer expense.

Cases such as these, with the government promoting or endorsing religion, or even more egregious ones (such as a Mississippi police department trying to collect funds to rebuild a church in Haiti, saying “Jesus Christ [is] the answer for this life and the next”) are coming to light as more atheists, freethinkers, humanists, and other non-religious people are standing up for their rights. We are being marginalized in society, often by our own government at the local, state, and national levels.

This country was formed on religious freedom for individuals, not state-sponsored religion imposed on citizens. There are thousands of religious denominations in the United States, as well as millions of Americans who do not subscribe to any religious beliefs. The government should not be spending taxpayer money to support the religious practices of their choosing (nativity scenes, religious memorials, etc.). Our elected representantives, and other government officials, should not be holding religious prayers while doing government business for their constituents, many of whom may believe in a different god than that of the majority, or in no god at all. There is a time and place for everything. A church service is not the time or place for goverment business, and a city council meeting is not the time or place for prayer.

There is a growing movement of atheists and other freethinkers who are speaking out, and I thought a parody of “My Generation” might be able to capture this. Hopefully as more people speak out about this issue, public officials will realize that the rights of all citizens, no matter what religion if any they profess, need to be respected.