It’s bound to be a slow news week, slow blogging week, etc. so I’m going to take this opportunity to blog all week on First Freedom First, a group that advocates for support of Americans’ Constitutional right to religious liberty as guaranteed by the First Amendment. On my sidebar there’s a link to the FFF website, which indicates eight battlegrounds, yes, battlegrounds, in the struggle for First Amendment freedoms.
Today: No Religious Discrimination. It amazes and saddens me, as one who is inspired and indeed devoted to Jesus, that we have to fight fellow “Christians” (and I use the quotes for myself as well as others) to stop religious discrimination in America. Christians who blandly deny equal rights and opportunities for non-Christians, and today that means Muslims above all, have no sense of the history of their own religion, either in this country alone, or perhaps more importantly in the time of Jesus himself.
The Puritans and many who came to the United States afterwards came in search of the freedom to practice their religion freely. That is an incontrovertible fact.
And Jesus. Jesus. No, not using his name in vain, just with a sigh. Nailed to the cross, executed in cold blood, because he spoke the truth to the secular AND religious majority of his day. Aggressive attempts to make the human power structure conform to the Jesus/Christian worldview? How did that work out for you, Judas Iscariot?
It is throughly tragic that most “Christians” have succumbed to the comforts of cultural majority, and erased all memory of the radical, radical savior whose birthday we celebrate next week. Neither right-wing nor left-wing politics, the tinny whine of human advocacy, can contain the power of the unconditional sacrifical love of Christ. Excellent book on this subject is Gary Will’s What Jesus Meant:
Not only is he born into an oppressed people, and forced out of his parent’s city, and excluded from the common shelterÂ—now the oppressed person, the homeless person, the excluded person must become a fugitive, driven farther away from the familiar, the comfortable, into an exile that recalls the wandering of the whole Jewish people. Herod the persecutor takes up the role formerly played by Pharaoh, the men of power trying to stamp out God’s chosen instrumentÂ—first his People, then his Son. The relationship of Jesus to worldly power is revealed from the very outset of his life. He is the rulers’ prey, on the run from them down through the ages.
“Love thy neighbor” is the most radical statement ever spoken. If you don’t believe me, walk around an outdoor mall, oh, I’m sorry, “lifestyle center,” and watch the shoppers avoid each other, battle for PS3’s, and go into deep debt in the name of a holy holiday. As Jesus himself might say today, “Oy.” (By the way, Wills also points out that if you persecute gays, you’re persecuting Jesus. Just saying.)
The Religious Discrimination prize of the year has to go to the so-called faith-based initiatives of the Bush Administration, who clearly were pandering to a specific narrow-minded group of political supporters. Recommended: Ellen Goodman’s editorial from October. As she sums it up, it’s “We the People, not we the parishioners.”
Next up: End of Life care and an appreciation of hospice care workers. (Have a nice day!)