Tag Archives: civil rights

Closing Gitmo: A Return to Ethics in the U.S.

As many of you are probably aware, one of Barack Obama’s campaign promises was to close the detainment camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Apparently, that promise is about to come to fruition. According to one of the president-elect’s advisors, he may issue the order as soon as he takes office. The biggest stumbling block remains what to do with the detainees.

This is one of the most hopeful statements I’ve seen in quite some time.  Of the many things I grew up believing about our country, one in which I always took pride was “The United States does not torture. The United States  abides by the Geneva Convention.” I took that belief with me into the military, and what happened at Guantanamo made me feel that the uniform I wore was disgraced because of it. Hopefully that disgrace is coming to an end.

The last eight years have been, if not enjoyable, very instructive. I’ve seen a side to my countrymen that I would have previously denied. While I believed that we were a little tarnished, I never thought we would stand by and not only watch, but cheer, while our government perpetrated horrible offenses against our Constitution.  As with most problems, it’s going to take far longer to correct it than it took to let it go wrong. We have so many problems we don’t even know where to start. Our economy is in ruins, civil rights have been slashed, our health care is a joke, and we are seen as arrogant bullies with big mouths on the world stage. I can only take comfort in the fact that with President-elect Obama’s inauguration, the world finally sees that we DO want to change for the better.

Guantanamo Bay detainment camp is a dark spot on our country’s history. Let us not forget how far we can go down the road of fascism. At the same time, let us celebrate the beginning of our walk back toward reason and ethics. Let us once again become the beacon of democracy and protectors of the weak that we believe ourselves to be.

Yet More Repression of Christians

The Christian News Wire (tag lined “The most used, recognized, respected religion newswire,” which made me smirk a bit) did a top ten list entitled “Top Ten Instances of Christian Bashing in America, 2008.”  Aside from the eye-rolling banality of yet another top-ten list (is there a single place in the blogosphere that DIDN’T put one out?), the list itself comes off as whiny, petulant and paranoid, filled with appeals to emotion, distortions and logical fallacies. Not to mention a distinct lack of citations for the assertions it makes.  A couple examples? I thought you’d never ask.

INSTANCE #5: Chaplains Fired for Praying in Jesus’ Name

Chaplains for the State of Virginia are being denied their right to pray in Jesus’ name. Six chaplains were fired for continuing to pray in Jesus’ name. Earlier this year in Virginia, Rev. Hashmel Turner, a city councilman in Fredericksburg, was told by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that his prayers during city council meetings that ended in Jesus’ name will continue to be banned.

Sounds sinister, doesn’t it? If only it were true. In fact, the chaplains resigned in a snit because they were asked by the state to NOT reference Jesus Christ in prayers at public events and to keep the prayers non-denominational after a ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Yes, I have a citation. The new policy does not apply to private functions like funerals, just public state functions. Naturally, the reaction has been…well…over-reactionary:

In a statement Wednesday, Grayson County Delegate Bill Carrico called on the Superintendent to abandon, “this attack on Christianity.”

Delegate Morgan Griffith says, to “require those troopers to disregard their own faith while serving violates their First Amendment rights and prevents them from serving effectively as chaplains. These men had little choice but to resign.”

Aren’t we being just a little over the top? Nobody’s being asked to “disregard their own faith.” They’re being asked to actually obey the constitution and NOT attempt to force the state to recognize one religion over others. Y’know, if you’re going to invoke the first amendment, you’d better read the whole damn thing.

Next:

INSTANCE #10: Jack Black Musical Video

In a short video posted on FunnyorDie.com entitled, “Prop 8 The Musical,” an all star cast of Hollywood celebrities perform a low budget musical farce that defames Christ, mocks Christians and distorts the teaching of the Bible. Jack Black played the lead role of Jesus.

Um…Okay. First, Jack Black didn’t “defame” Christ, he portrayed Christ. Nor did he “distort” the teachings of the bible at all. Every single thing he said was true and a tenet of scripture. That Christians are not able to defend those tenets does not make it “defamation.” It just points out certain hypocrisy.

It’s difficult to take these people seriously. Really, I laughed when I read this list. Christians get everything they want by stamping their feet; they even manage to get programs removed from broadcast television and politicians discredited just by saying that person isn’t a Christian. But they’re being repressed? Yuh, right. No group in the history of our country has enjoyed such a protected position as Christians. The difference is that now, that position is being challenged because they’re not the only game in town, and they’re losing their power base. They now have to respect “freedom of religion” in practice as well as in theory. Which is something they’re just going to have to get over, because it isn’t going back to the old way any time soon.