Saturday, March 04, 2006

Which version?

David Sater, a state representative in Missouri has sponsored a bill making 'christianity' the official state religion of Missouri.
The resolution would recognize "a Christian god," and it would not protect minority religions, but "protect the majority's right to express their religious beliefs.

The resolution also recognizes that, "a greater power exists," and only Christianity receives what the resolution calls, "justified recognition."
Oh, great idea. Now the easy question: Which Christianity? There is no ONE view christianity that everyone agrees with. Does his version give priority to the new or old testament god? salvation through faith or works? eastern or western orthodoxy? biblical literalism? child baptism or adult? Jesus divine or not? support gay marriage? ordination of women? which bible? how old is the earth? Quite a few of the evangelical sects think that Catholicism is not Christian. There are literally hundreds of basic, fundamental questions that differentiate the hundreds of different sects of christianity. If you visit ten churches, you'll get ten different versions. Of course, this guy means his church, of course. Which will be the official version? When will we have the Defender of the Faith outlining what is required to be a good citizen?

And let's be perfectly clear: This is a completely manufactured issue. No one is saying that you can't express your christian beliefs. Please do. You just can't force them on anyone else and you can't have the government do that enforcing for you. Simple. Some christians apparently want you to believe that denying them the right to "enforce" their view, that they then are then persecuted and that they are oppressed. They are just getting a little bit pissy that we aren't giving them special treatment anymore. We've realized that there are other views in the world and we no longer give automatic priority to their view. What they want is to legislate that "special treatment" for themselves.

So, "only christianity" gets "justified recognition" -- what does that mean? Are you going to enforce christmas? Refuse to acknowledge other religions' holy days? ban expression of any religion but the christian one? Then we can give priority to christians for jobs, and ensure that their prayers are forced on everyone in school and no other beliefs can be expressed. What absolute, unmitigated arrogance.

Think that isn't what the 'religious right' wants? Keep a close eye on their proposed laws and tell me that they don't want a theocracy. Because, you know, the enforced state religion of medieval europe surely worked so well. (Think I'm sounding a bit hostile? This is pretty toned down, for me).

I think that amendments should be proposed to the bill to a) identify exactly what 'christian' means and what details are supported, and b) identify non-christians in some way, and c) outline how non-christian religion is to be treated. It would also be nice if the church leaders in the state would be required to approve the "official" version. That last bit? That will be the stick that breaks the whole movement's back, I can guarantee it. Each group has to believe that they are the ones who are right and everyone else is wrong, if only slighly. How else can they be special?

When I lived in Glennville, GA, oh-so-many years ago, there were a round dozen churches in the tiny town. Two that stick out in my memory were the 'Ebeneezer Baptist Church' and the 'Old Line Ebeneezer Baptist Church'. Members of each church did not socialize with the other. The difference? As far as we could see, the Ebeneezer Baptist Church allowed women to wear pants to church and didn't forbid dancing. Yup, these two groups would be able to agree on an official standard. I'd like to see that.

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