Tag Archives: religion

United States Becoming More Secular

A just-published study by the American Religious Identification Survey found that14.1% of Americans or 29,481,000 people identify as atheist, humanist, agnostic or non-religious (see pages 12-13, SO sorry about the PDF).

Additionally, nearly 40% of those who identified as Christian stated that neither they themselves nor members of their families belonged to or attended a church or religious institution. The difference between “identification as” and “affiliation with” [a religious institution] is very pronounced: people call themselves Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim… but don’t attend Church/Temple/Mosque. The association is more a state of mind than actual state of being.

Can we now, then dispense with the meme that “we are a Christian nation”? That in fact, we are a nation of people, many of whom identify when asked as Christian, but have no actual ties to any Christian church?

I take this as a particularly encouraging sign. What was previously seen as an impenetrable wall now seems no more than smoke and mirrors. Church membership is declining. Atheism and humanism is markedly on the rise. Reason is making headway in public schools and government. It does lead me to wonder, however, just how accurate a certain survey was. You know the one. It shows atheists as being the least trusted group in the U.S. With close to one fifth of the U.S. atheist/agnostic or non-religious….just how accurate is that statement?

Planned Parenthood is Not Evil and You Are Not Saving Anyone.

Mr. Matthew Derosia has issues. He’s been committed nine times since 2004, which amounts to more than twice a year. So, Red, why are we talking about some guy you’ve never heard of you ask? Because last Thursday, Matthew Derosia took his mother’s boyfriend’s SUV and rammed it into the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Paul Minnesota.

Fortunately, no one was injured, because Matthew decided to destroy private property at 7:42am before business hours. Damage appears to be minimal, and the clinic was not closed down.

Matthew’s statement is particularly disturbing, stating that Jesus told him to “stop the murders.” One has to wonder…what would’ve happened had he actually committed his crime when there were people at the clinic? If he had run down a pedestrian or actually harmed someone inside the clinic? Why is it okay then? Why do living, breathing people take precedence over potential people?

Enough. Planned Parenthood is not evil. In fact, I’m fairly sure that most people don’t even know what Planned Parenthood does beyond abortions. How about a few facts from a nurse who actually worked for PP?

  1. Abortions account for precisely 3% of Planned Parenthood’s business. The vast majority of their business comes from office visits and contraceptives.
  2. They also provide assistance for low/no cost mammograms for low income women, pediatric services for the children of low income parents, pre-natal services for women who decide to have their babies, annual pap smears, sterilization services for men and women, counseling for teens, and, of course, contraceptives.
  3. They contribute more to their local communities than nearly any other medical non profit organization.
  4. They provide MUCH needed sex education to teens and schools. I was an educator for PP for a year…some of the things that are accepted by teens as fact are plain scary.

Planned Parenthood is not the enemy. The people who work there are, in my experience, some of the most empathetic, community spirited people I have ever met. They are dedicated to the cause of women’s health, and the truly believe in what they’re doing. It’s sad that the people who work so hard to put them out of business aren’t even aware of half of the services provided in those clinics, or that the people who are helped are usually low income with nowhere else to go.

Additionally, many anti-choice women make use of Planned Parenthood’s services. Not for education or contraceptives, sadly, but for the very thing they picket and protest against: abortion. In the spring of 2000, Joyce Arthur collected anecdotes from doctors, nurses and health workers at PP as well as pro-life women about women who obtain abortions even though they protest at clinics and identify as pro-life. It’s eye opening.

Abortion is an incredibly polarizing subject. What people forget when they argue that subject is that it’s also a very difficult, painful choice for the women who make it. It doesn’t need to be turned into a shameful, guilt ridden one as well because someone doesn’t approve. The people at PP are doing a difficult job providing services to men, women and children who need them. They don’t need “saving,” and their patients deserve dignity and understanding. They’re not a cause, they’re people. Actions like those of Matthew Derosia just further remove the realization of that fact.

Ted Haggard’s Closet Gets a Little Fuller

Ted, Ted, Ted, Ted, Ted. What are we going to do with you?

Yes, it’s true. Ted Haggard, public homophobe and pastor of the Denver New Life Mega-Church, is once again the center of a gay sex scandal. I know. I’m as shocked as you. Who would’ve thought that just two short years after having meth fueled sex with a male hooker (which I understand isn’t nearly as pleasurable or fulfilling as the straight laced hetero man on top get it over with quick with the lights out kind), yet ANOTHER story about Ted Haggard having gay sex with a member of his own church would find its way to the surface? Other than me and, probably, you.

The article states:

Boyd said an “overwhelming pool of evidence” pointed to an “inappropriate, consensual sexual relationship” that “went on for a long period of time … it wasn’t a one-time act.” Boyd said the man was in his early 20s at the time. He said he was certain the man was of legal age when it began.”

Ohhh, good. Because of all the things wrong with the head of a mega church that influences public policy by snuggling up to the President of the United States and getting him to pass harmful legislation against gays and women being found to have gay sex with a young member of his church, the one I’m MOST worried about is whether the young man was underage or not. Mr. Boyd, are we on the same planet? I think something a bit more worrisome was the fact that Mr. Haggard paid the kid off.

In a letter e-mailed Friday to New Life Church members, Boyd said of the settlement and agreement not to talk: “This decision was made not as an attempt to conceal wrongdoings, but to protect him from those who would seek to exploit him.”

Okay. I think we’re stretching the suspension of disbelief a little far, even for Christians. If part of the agreement was explicitly that neither party discuss the affair? It was hush money.

In an AP interview this month before an appearance in front of TV critics in California, Haggard described his sexuality as complex and something that can’t be put into “stereotypical boxes.”

*sigh*…. Ted? Ted, you’re gay, and you’re closeted. That’s about as boxed in as you can get. Look. I’m going to try to help you. I know you’re scared and  I know you’re worried, but at this point…how much worse can it really get? You lost your church, you lost your reputation, you’re a national joke, and the woman you’re married to doesn’t trust you now and (thanks to this new thing) probably never will again. You’ve shamed your children. Was it worth it? Ted…stop making their and your life miserable. There IS a way. Two simple words, and then … believe it or not… life will get easier. Ready? Repeat after me. “I’m gay.” Now own it. It will be okay. I promise. Your wife will be able to move on with her life. You may even be able to mend fences with her. Your kids will need lots of attention and understanding, but you could really be a model dad, one who shows just what grace and acceptance really mean, not all that fire and brimstone crap you’ve been spewing for years. And YOU, Ted, will be happy. At least, happier than you are now. Believe it.

And later, we’ll work on that whole god fixation thing.

Texas Rejects God in the Science Classroom

I am still being surprised by my adopted state. I have had to reject my preconceived notions about Texas and recognize that, while some stereotypes do apply, when it comes to politics and sociological views, it’s as diverse as my home state of California.

Today Texas stepped firmly into the 21st century and embraced science without religion. Although it isn’t final, the fifteen member board voted to remove the “strengths and weaknesses” clause in the state’s science curriculum as it applies to evolution. The clause has previously been used to open the door to the “alternative theory” of Intelligent Design.

The article states:

The new science curriculum standards will take effect beginning with the 2010-2011 school year and last about 10 years.

[snip]

Instead of allowing teachers to teach the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolutionary theory, the proposed science curriculum standards would encourage students to apply critical thinking, scientific reasoning and problem solving “to analyze and evaluate scientific explanations using empirical evidence, logical reasoning and experimental and observational testing.”

In other words, YES, question evolutionary theory. YES, look for gaps in reasoning and facts. But use facts to get there. The original wording of the “strengths and weaknesses clause” reads as follows:

(1) good science education should prepare students to distinguish the data or testable theories of science from philosophical or religious claims that are made in the name of science; and

(2) where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why this subject generates so much continuing controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed participants in public discussions regarding the subject.


Never mind that were science simply taught as science, there would BE no controversy, or that religion and philosophy have no place in a science classroom, or even that the US Senator who originally proposed the clause was a huge proponent of intelligent design and felt religion should be re-instituted into public schools. Just go ahead and teach the kids that not everyone “believes in” evolution because we need them to know God’s there, too. No. If you want your kids to know that God’s there, too, YOU teach them that. Let the science teachers teach science. It isn’t their job to remind them that they need to feel guilty for learning there’s more to the universe than was covered in the Bible/Torah/Qu’ran.

So I think it is an astounding and wonderful and courageous move by the Texas Board of Education that in the face of knee jerk reactionaries and politicians who are too afraid of not getting re-elected and the near omnipresent church (you can’t go three blocks without seeing a church in Texas), they agreed to let the kids learn how to apply logic and reason in their studies. Of course there are those who disagree:

Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, who voted to keep “strengths and weaknesses,” said he wouldn’t rubber stamp recommendations from the experts.

“This is a battle of academic freedom. This is a battle over freedom of speech,” Mercer said. “It’s an issue of freedom of religion.”

No, Mr. Mercer. It is not an issue of freedom of religion, because there IS no religion in our classrooms. It is an issue of teaching science in the classroom without fear of religion being inserted. It is an issue of teaching our children to be competitive in a global market. Because we owe them that. We owe our country that. The US is falling behind in scientific development, and the blame can be laid squarely on the shoulders of those superstitious uber religious fundamentalists who have been allowed to push their agenda in our schools and our government. No more.

Today I can honestly state that I am proud of my adopted state; happy to be a Texan.

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.

Atheists and Christmas

As I think I’ve shown thus far, there have been many “reason[s] for the season.” It bears repeating that Christmas is NOT the day Christ was born. In fact, it’s been debunked to death.  There’s only one point in the year when shepherds “watch over their flocks by night,” and it ain’ t the dead of winter. It’s lambing season, around April. We also know Joseph and Mary were on their way to Bethlehem to be taxed by the Romans, which didn’t happen til late spring. The date December 25th wasn’t even arrived at until the 4th century CE, and was mainly chosen because the church needed something equally important to rival the pagan festival of the Winter Solstice. What could possibly be more important than the birth of the savior? Perfect. The actual facts fudged for the more important “truth” of Ecumenical politics.  December 25th it is.

As a result, I have absolutely no problem celebrating Christmas as a generic, mid winter holiday. There are many reasons to celebrate. My children are happy, healthy and doing well in school. They’ve worked hard all year; they deserve the gifts they’re getting. They have time off, and we get to spend time making cookies, watching old movies and playing games together as a family. Family has come in from California to visit, making this holiday special. We are happy to have each other. Do we really need to impose another reason? Especially one that isn’t true anyway.

And despite what Bill O’Reilly froths, I really have nothing against Christmas at all. I’ve always been a huge fan. Tell me Merry Christmas; I don’ t mind. I enjoy the lights and the displays on my and the neighbors’ front lawns. I love decorating the tree (incidentally, for those Christians still reading, you should look up what Jesus said about keeping company with ‘pagans’ who keep trees in their houses during the winter festival) and the house. I throw myself into Christmas. It’s the one time of the year I forget all my cares and worries and just enjoy.

So, no. I don’t have a problem with Christmas. If anything, I think it’s a shame that not everyone celebrates it. I think we should remember the original reason for it: We all made it through the year alive, we all have our health, we have our family gathered close, and the days are going to start getting longer any time now. It’s come full circle and time to start again. Merry Christmas.

A Short History of Holiday Traditions, Part 2

Okay. So we got as far as Easter yesterday. I know I skipped over quite a few things that are tied into Easter, like Lent and Good Friday and Ash Wednesday.  Rest assured, I didn’t forget about them. To put it rather bluntly: they’re just not that important. They, much like the Easter Bunny, are sort of societal vermiform appendixes. They once had meaning, but it’s changed and now we keep them around more or less out of habit.

Moving on.

Samhain aka Hallowe’en aka All Hallows Eve. Yes, I know. It’s roundly rejected by horrified Christians as a night of demonic influence, but it’s still a religious holiday. What would a religion be without a demon to point to and use to scare the masses?

Samhain (pronounced Sowen, not Sam Hane) and Halloween are now woven together as one holiday, the traditions of both making the whole. In Ireland, where Samhain originated, it was the festival celebrating the end of the harvest, and originally translated to “end of Summer [season].”  According to Wiki:

Traditionally, Samhain was time to take stock of the herds and grain supplies, and decide which animals would need to be slaughtered in order for the people and livestock to survive the winter. This custom is still observed by many who farm and raise livestock.[3][4][13]

Bonfires played a large part in the festivities celebrated down through the last several centuries, and up through the present day in some rural areas of the Celtic nations and the diaspora. Villagers were said to have cast the bones of the slaughtered cattle upon the flames. In the pre-Christian Gaelic world, cattle were the primary unit of currency and the center of agricultural and pastoral life. Samhain was the traditional time for slaughter, for preparing stores of meat and grain to last through the coming winter. The word ‘bonfire’, or ‘bonefire’ is a direct translation of the Gaelic tine cnámh. With the bonfire ablaze, the villagers extinguished all other fires. Each family then solemnly lit its hearth from the common flame, thus bonding the families of the village together. Often two bonfires would be built side by side, and the people would walk between the fires as a ritual of purification. Sometimes the cattle and other livestock would be driven between the fires, as well.

I’m having difficulty figuring out exactly how a harvest festival came to be viewed as “evil” and “the work of the devil” from the Irish custom. Let us move on to the “Dia de los Muertos,” Day of the Dead, as it’s celebrated in Mexico. This, I can at least understand if not agree with.

The Day of the Dead is a rather sweet holiday that got misunderstood by knee-jerk reactionaries. It’s all about honoring ancestors. That’s done in every culture at some point and is still valid in many countries. The church saw this and reacted in a predictably horrified and histrionic manner. It was wicked. It was worshiping ghosts. EVIL!! AAAAAARGH! What, oh WHAT to do? I know! All Saints Day! It had worked with those obstreperous Irish. Well. It worked and it didn’t. Dia de los Muertos is still celebrated, it just has a more Catholic flavor.

Thanksgiving. I need to clear this up. There are two schools of thought on Thanksgiving. One is that because it is about giving thanks to god for making it through the really nasty New England winter it is therefore religious. On the other hand, it’s not celebrated anywhere else by any other Christians, and is viewed by the other school as a purely patriotic holiday like 4th of July. Yes, I’m probably biased in my atheism. But since it is celebrated by EVERYONE in my country regardless of religion or creed, I view it as a secular holiday that is more along the lines of St. George’s Day (Britain) than anything else. Except without the dragon.

And we are brought full circle to Christmas. Which, when you get right down to it, is the latest in a long line of holidays celebrating the end of the dark and the return of the light. So. Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukhah, Joyous Yule, Happy Solstice…whichever may be appropriate. Enjoy the season, whatever your personal reason. The sun really will come up tomorrow.

A Short History of Holiday Traditions, Part 1

So after coming back from my extended hiatus, I dropped over at the Atheist blogs list to see what was going on. Interestingly, Superjesus had posted a rather cool discussion about the origins of Christmas. Turns out the Europeans had that whole sun-worshiping thing going on.  And guess what? As it turns out, tonight is the winter solstice. The longest night of the year. You know. That time when the new god kills the old god and the days start getting longer and life comes back to the earth.

Yup. Pretty silly, backward, superstitious-y religion, that pagan stuff. It got me wondering. Just how many “Christian” holidays are actually derived, condensed and rearranged pagan myths set into the church’s uptight, joyless, sexless doctrine? Let’s count, shall we? The major ones, because otherwise we’d be here all damn year, and I got Christmas presents to wrap. I am to present wrapping what Lucretia Borgia was to modest virgin Catholicism.

St. Valentine’s Day. This was originally a very fun and exciting Roman holiday called the Lupercalia. According to Wiki, The Lupercalia was an extremely important fertility holiday, in which young boys ran through the streets, striking women with thongs of goat skin dipped in blood, which was thought to aid in ease of pregnancy and labor. The things people will come up with, eh? On the other hand, afterward was the feast and the sex lottery afterward. WOOHOO, SEX LOTTERY! In which young people were paired up for a year or so, and if children were the result, marriage generally followed. I don’t mind telling you, a feast and a sex lottery sure beats the hell out of some chintzy stuffed bear holding a heart that says “I Heart you THIIIIIS MUCH” and an hour and a half wait time at the steak joint downtown.

Easter. As everyone knows, Easter came about because Jesus and all his apostles were celebrating Passover (you know. The Jewish holiday.), and Judas sold him out and told the Roman soldiers where he was and he ended up having to do the walk of shame through Jerusalem with a big assed wooden cross strapped to his back. Except for that one part, where it was carried for him. Well, in order to make it more appetizing to those fun loving Romans who, frankly, weren’t quite the guilt-ridden Catholics you now see before you, the church found it necessary to tweak a few things and told the pagans that of COOOUUURSE they could keep some of their more time honored traditions and idols, because Jesus was TOTALLY down with that, even though he wasn’t and it was a desperate ploy for converts. Let’s take the name Easter. See, way back before the church told all us Italians how incredibly bad we should all feel about Jesus’ death (because it was all our fault, after all, even if it was “pre-ordained”), there was this moon goddess. Her name was Eostara. Her totems were the hare and the egg, for fertility. Yeah, them Romans, they liked sex a LOT. This has not changed noticeably. Ever wonder how we got something like the Easter Bunny?  I mean…a rabbit? Handing out eggs?! Amazing what we hang onto, isn’t it? Cultural memory is a funny thing.

Wow. This late and I’ve only covered two holidays. This is getting a bit long, too. Okay, kids. I promise I’ll be back tomorrow and we’ll go over the rest of the story. Right now I’m going to pay attention to my family some.

There’s “Reaching Across,” and Then There’s Pandering.

Alright, I realize I’m late getting here and we’ve likely blogged it to death, but I was hoping to discuss this rationally now that we’ve had a couple days to catch our breath and look at this objectively. By this, I am of course referring to Barack Obama’s recent decision to invite Rick Warren to perform the invocation at his inauguration. Let’s take a gander and see what we can see.

First off, as an atheist, I see no need for an invocation of god’s blessing at a state function. To me, it’s another glaring case of just how religion has imposed itself on our political system. But that’s just me personally. Objectively I can see that it’s part of the ceremony and expected, blah blah blah. Fine. I’m willing to make that concession for the time being. On to the meat.

Rick Warren. Mr. Obama is attempting to be reasonable in the face of the lashback but quite honestly, I think he’s over reaching on this one. He could have played it so much differently. He’s made it clear from his cabinet positions that he intends to listen to those who are best equipped to help the nation, regardless of the letter after their name. It was totally unnecessary to extend that invitation to Rick Warren. Forget for a moment what he stands for (because we WILL be coming back to it), and let us remember all those who supported Mr. O when he needed us. That, effectively, is the most glaring and obvious mistake in this whole issue. Not who he has chosen to include… but in so doing, who he has forgotten. The GLBT community is currently undergoing, collectively, its toughest challenge in the history of our country. It is the civil rights issue of our generation. This was an opportunity…a HUGE opportunity…to reach out and say “thank you” and “I recognize you.” Neither of which happened. For Rahm Emanuel, whom I admire, to come out and say “We’re going to have someone else friendly to the GLBT community do the benediction” felt like a placating gesture. A pat on the head. And in favor of what?

Rick Warren (I told you I’d get back to him). The man who has compared being gay to being a pedophile. Who has compared gay sex to bestiality. Called it a sickness. Campaigned and campaigned hard against women’s rights. This man has no place giving a “blessing.” I don’t care if he invited Obama to the christening of his first child. There is simply no excuse for him giving the invocation when there were so many other GLBT-friendly pastors who could have done as good a job.

Yuh, so this has turned out to be less than the rational, reasoned post I had hoped it to be. And yes, I thoroughly understand the choice. I just disagree with it. Because civil rights are not earned by being reasonable. Civil rights are not earned by rational discussion. Sadly, history shows us that the only way civil rights are earned in this country is by taking them and refusing to let go.

“So What if He’s Muslim?”

So I was on the couch yesterday morning watching Meet the Press (in what must have been the first time in a month the darling man and I have been able to relax together for more than 20 minutes at a time), and retired Gen. Colin Powell made the point I have been trying without success to make ever since this whole “Obama’s a Muslim!” thing started. He calmly, unabashedly and with great conviction said “it doesn’t matter.”

You can catch the full interview on MSNBC here. His exact words were as follows:

Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim; he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian.

But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America.

Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?

Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, “He’s a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.” This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards — Purple Heart, Bronze Star — showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old.

And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn’t have a Christian cross; it didn’t have the Star of David; it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life.

Thank you, Gen. Powell, for so eloquently explaining what really matters. It isn’t whether a candidate is Muslim, Christian, Atheist, Zoroastrian… it matters that they are an American. That they love and want to help our country, and that their policy stances are ones we wish to embrace. That is ALL that we should look for in any candidate.

I am aware there are those who will say “But if he’s Muslim, it will spill over into how he looks at things!” Could be, yes. My atheism certainly influences my line of thinking. What matters is, will the candidate attempt to instill religious influence in government? So far, only one in my lifetime has done so, and with disastrous results.

I will say, I find it vastly amusing that those railing for a “Christian nation” are so outraged at the thought of any other religion being involved in politics. Suddenly “it would infringe on my civil liberties!” has become a rallying cry for those who loathe what they think the ACLU stands for.

I applaud Gen. Powell for his statement, and sincerely hope that at least a few will consider his words and recognize that they are a plea of tolerance and wisdom, not a partisan attempt to sway.