I rarely write about religion because when I do, it tends to:
(A) Bring the ugliest of ugly out in people.
(B) Sets me up as a verbal punching bag for those who don't respect others' opinion and/or are angry about anything and everything and yet about nothing in particular.
But I'm putting it out there anyway. Like it or don't; this is how I feel about this Sylvania mess.
Mild(?)-Mannered Politicians By Day, God's Warriors By Night
This whole Sylvania town sign fiasco has gotten people in a tizzy. Who will be the hero? It appears Councilman Tony Goolesby has stepped up to the plate. "I'm ready to stand-up for God!" he proclaims and a cheer erupts from the cyber-sphere. And just in time for elections, too. Oh, how easy it is for the masses to forget that just a few short years ago, this very man who is standing up for God lost his temper over a simple political matter at Ider Mule Days and ended up getting himself arrested.
On a side note, for those who would say it is a fluke, it's not that hard not to get arrested. I'm not saying I'm infallible, just that I've been on this Earth for 34 years and have yet to have a "run-in" with the law. Okay, so once about a decade and a half ago, I got a ticket for coming to a "rolling stop" at a stop sign, courtesy of the Fort Payne PD . Other than that, I haven't found it that difficult to behave in public.
Now, I don't know Councilman Goolesby personally (probably just as well) and I don't know if he's running for reelection (Update: I actually found out today - 5/15/12 - that he is running for mayor, so there you go), but I do want to put out a word of caution to voters who seem all too eager to jump on the religious bandwagon. I will say (DISCLAIMER: in no direct relation to Goolesby!), that when it comes to campaigns and elections and so forth, it's easy for any politician to proclaim they are Christian but it doesn't always mean the same thing to them that it may mean to you. When there is money or power involved, people will say or do almost anything to get their way, even if it means using their faith as a catalyst for support. I've always based my voting decisions with an amount of skepticism in cases of religion, as should everyone.
Signs with Scripture = Heaven?
As for the signs, I can see both sides of the fight. I think it's incredibly sad that there are people out there with nothing better to do than go poking around for the slightest little thing to gripe about.
But, it is the law and aren't Christians supposed to obey the law of the land? No government should give the perception that it endorses, backs, or mandates any religion. I'm a Christian and even I agree with that.
I once had a preacher man tell me how baffled he was about how anyone could claim themselves a Christian but be okay with the above sentiment. Because I'm aware of our history, I say. I'm aware how many of our ancestors fled their home countries because of government mandated religion. Do we really want to give our government the power to tell us who, what, when, where, and why we can worship? Because that's how it starts. Keep reading.
But what ticks me off the most are the comments referring to "Christian rights" and how our rights are being stripped away.
Humor me, por favor, and answer the below questions for me:
1. Will anyone arrest you or cut off your head if you walk into a park, a store, or other public venue, bow your head, and pray?
2. Are you forced to attend a church not of your choosing?
3. Are you worried about your life and the lives of your family because you believe in God?
No? Great. Then riddle me this:
What rights exactly are being stripped away that prohibits you from praying, attending church, and worshipping God as you see fit?
Because, see, our ancestors didn't have that luxury. They were told by their governments when, where, and how to pray. But that's okay; as long as that government's beliefs lined up with your own, then there wasn't a problem, right? Wrong, because with any change in government leadership came a change in beliefs. And if you didn't conform, you were killed. Read up on your history, especially in the Middle Ages in Europe. Heck, take a look at what happened to Jews less than a century ago.
“Oh, but Pamela, you're being silly. We would never resort to those barbaric measures.”
You may not, but how can you be so certain of everyone in the Christian faith? Take the Westboro Baptists, for instance, who think its okay to protest military funerals. And that's just because it is within the scope of the law. How far do you think this hate group would get if the government opened up to religion? These people claim to be of the same religion and faith many of us are. So you see, you can't be entirely certain that things like that wouldn't happen.
So great! We've succeeded in making our government a Christian government. But wait... we've been duped into electing someone of a different faith (or a fanatic of our own faith) that has the power to change the laws to favor their beliefs. Uh-oh. And the worst part of this scenario would be that we did it to ourselves by cheering on these notions that we need an openly Christian government.
If you're so boxed in that you think there would be no shift in population and belief systems as the future rolls on, then I have nothing for you. And if you think it's okay to persecute those who believe differently, I have nothing for you, either. This also goes for those who love to tell others they are going to go to hell or any variant on that. That is snobbery via religion and one of my pet peeves. Who knows what God really wants or what God has planned for others? Not I. And likely, not you, either.
And we don't just have to look at history. The terror our ancestors lived with is real in the current world, too. Two online acquaintances come to mind; one in the Middle East who fears for his and his family's lives everyday because of his Christian beliefs and another one who barely escaped the horrors of genocide when she was a child. It's horrible what other people have to go through every day and we want to sit here and squabble about words on a sign and how our "rights" are being stripped away.
I think Americans have lost a little of that rationalization that comes from fearing for your life daily like our ancestors once did. Like many in the world still do.
Seriously, it is a sign. It is a piece of wood with words on it and to consider that it holds any significance in reflecting the town's Christianity is ludicrous. In the meantime, the lawsuits that will crop up over this will likely bankrupt the town. I guess if that's what Sylvania residents want their tax dollars spent on, they can have at it. But what good is that going to do anyone?
Really, no one is being denounced or denied. You can still pray, you can still go to church, you can go sing Amazing Grace in the middle of Walmart, and you can even, as the Times Journal suggested, post your own signs.
Just as you may be baffled at how a Christian can think it is okay to take scripture off a town welcome sign, I'm baffled at how other Christians refuse to look at history and the bigger picture of what we'd really be giving up if we allowed religion in government.
I always end my blog posts with "Peace, love, and..." whatever my overall thought for the post is. It is important because that is what my faith is to me. Believe, pray, share with others, be peaceful, be happy, and love one another.
The rest is up to Him.
Peace, love, and more,