Wednesday, August 13, 2008

America Love it or Leave it, or God's Gun's and Guts, or, Something Else?

Recently I had a dear friend who I really love and appreciate post a blog that got my juices going, some may say even boiling. It was a typical reposting of a political email sent out by a religious group. Now don’t get me wrong, I have no issue with these types of things as long as they are above board, and a legal thing. I do have issues with religious organizations though, that have a 501 C3 Status of a Non Profit Agency that continually violates the law in regards to their involvement in the political process. In the early days of the development of The Virtual Pew, I spent some time in discussion with David Bruce of Hollywood Jesus regarding this; I valued and appreciated his recommendations as it made a lot of sense to me that The Virtual Pew not seek a 501 C3 Non Profit Status.

In the typical 501 C3 Non Profit world which most churches and religious organizations are a part of there is a stipulation that limits, restricts, or even prohibits their endorsement of political candidates. Yet, even with this provision, it always amazes me at the number of religious organizations that openly violate this regulation during elections. I will say, The Virtual Pew because of our belief that we should be involved in the political process did not file for a 501 C3 Status but instead are recognized as a Religious Organization, which allows us to make political comment but not receive all of the nonprofit status components in compliance with the tax code of the IRS. On this level, while some of the contributions that come in are tax-deductible, not all are.

I would like to share some of my thoughts on a few things which my dear friend got my juices flowing about recently. How many have ever heard of the phrases, America Love it or Leave it! Or maybe another phrase, God, Guns and Gut’s Made America, Let’s Keep All three! Then there is the one that usually gets me to thinking, it is one that has many dear brothers and sisters in my faith, disagreeing with me, it has them often times becoming upset at me, calling me an extreme liberal, and has had some of them even call me a heretic. The issue that many Christians especially don’t like is my refusal to call America a “Christian Nation,” or for that matter, even to say that our roots are based on Christianity. Don’t get me wrong, I love my country, I don’t know if this is the right way to phrase it or not, but I am proud to be an American, consider the fact that I was born here a blessing, but I have learned to distinguish a difference between my citizenship in Heaven versus my citizenship in the United States. They are different, and while I am to be obedient to the laws that do not conflict with God’s laws, my obedience to God’s laws are of superior importance in regards to the laws of man. One of which, is taking a tax free or nonprofit status while openly discussing political issues and endorsement of political candidates. As an individual fine, say what you will, but if one takes a ministry or organization to this level, with a nonprofit status, they would be in clear violation of directives given out in Romans 12.

I come from a family where most every person for many generations has served in the US Military in one fashion or another. For me to say the things I say, for me to present the argument I do, believe me, has come at a great cost. That don’t change the reality though of what I believe to be truth. I firmly believe that Christians in America have been sold a bill of goods that is as valuable as two boogers and a dirty Kleenex by political pendants on both sides of the fence, whether Republican and or Democrat. Unfortunately, as Christians or people of faith, we have forgotten the importance of studying to show ourselves approved, or the concepts of testing things we are presented to determine truth. An example of this comes directly when we look at how the founding fathers of our country supposedly developed a country intended for religious freedom or based on Christian principals.

Some of the things I like to point out to people surround several areas, first in regards to the first settlement in America. It wasn’t Plymouth, it was Jamestown, a colony largely established for the sole purpose of financial gain. In fact, religion had little to do, if anything in the colonization of Jamestown.

Aother area I like to point out is the historical fact that some places, especially some of the Southern States were originally colonized as penal, or prison colonies for people who had been in severe trouble.

A third area is the fact that even in the establishment of Plymouth, you know, the Pilgrims and Puritans, that less than half of the people there were actually people of faith. I also challenge people to study the beliefs of the Puritans and Pilgrims. If one does, they will be hard pressed to not recognize that much of their belief systems fell way outside the standards of typical Christianity.

Another thing I hear, and often challenge folks about is on the concept of the Separation of Church and State. I have heard many times, that this is not in the constitution, and that the concept was never spoken about or the phrase never used. On this point, I refer people to the writings of Thomas Jefferson and others such as James Madison, their intent, and word usage was clear.

Then there is the fourth thing I challenge people to think about, that is the assumption that most of our forefathers were Christian. That is so far from truth it is sad that many continue to perpetrate this lie. While some were, many, and in fact most historians would say, most were not Christians at all. Most in fact were members of the Freemasons, and most in fact were Deists. This is a belief that basically believes in a God other than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Many Deists in fact had negative things to say about the person of Jesus and the Bible in general. Yet, for some reason, many Christians choose to ignore these facts.

Now don’t get me wrong, again, I am not giving reason for Christians to not be out there practicing the teachings of Christ. We should, but we have to read carefully, how we view a passage from Jesus that says we should pray in our closets alongside an idea that we should have prayer instituted in school? How do we reconcile the concept of endorsing one political candidate over another when in fact Jesus as far as we know, was reluctant and as far as we can tell, seldom if ever became involved in the political process involving an occupying nation, Rome? When Jesus talked about bringing a new kingdom, not of this earth, how do we justify giving nations more recognition and efforts of change as opposed to doing the very thing Jesus did, attempt to reach the souls of people who did not know him? I don’t have the answers to all of these questions, I realize I could be wrong on many of these things, but I have tried to study scripture, tried to have the same attitude and mind in me that was in Christ Jesus, and I am saddened that so many are fooled and lied to by people who would manipulate our faith in Christ to be something other than what Christ himself intended.

I have seen the pictures of George Washington kneeling beside his horse while in prayer, but have you ever wondered who he was praying to? Have you ever wondered what his position was on various issues related to Christianity, The Bible, or even faithfulness in marriage, a simple concept? Then there are those like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Payne, or even later on Abraham Lincoln. We are so quick as people of faith to hold them in high regard, even use them as examples as people of faith who would have us have a government that has as a part of its focus religion.

I’ll admit, on the above things, I still ponder, I still struggle, and I still look for answers. In that search for answers, in that search for truth I have done some research. It isn’t as if the research to find the materials was hard, but it is to say the research didn’t seem to verify the things I have been told for years. I find that troubling. I haven’t really lost a ton of respect for these men; I haven’t lost respect for them because I always realized that my citizenship is in Heaven, not in a country, not in a political system. Heck I have never even said that America is the best country on the planet, you know why? I haven’t been to all that many other countries and I learned a long time ago not to trust and believe everything I am told. If I did that, I would likely still believe in Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy and that I could practice concepts like jumping off the roof of house with an umbrella and not get hurt when I hit the ground. But in life, I have learned that the search for truth is invaluable.

I have come to a singular constant truth in my life, Jesus loves me! Now there are other truths I have come to regarding God, my need for salvation, how broken we are as a human race and I could go on, but I have learned that my search for that truth is one of the things that helps to show that I have studied to show myself approved. I don’t believe something just because some preacher sends it to me in an email. I don’t hate gays because some Christian organization is hell bent on promoting their political and religious views. In fact, I have learned that many times those organizations have to later go back and offer public apology for a variety of reasons. There is one organization in America that I get emails from that have had to make an apology, give clarification, or change their views several times because they don’t always tell the truth; yet, Christians by the bus loads continue to believe their propaganda.

There is an old saying in life, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. I think a lot of us, including me at times have to reconsider and understand, we are listening to people with agendas who feed us a ton of lies, and in return, we get caught up in those lies without ever discovering truth for ourselves. Like I said; I just challenge you to think about the words I have written here without getting all mad, all defensive, or feeling the need to prove me all wrong. I also challenge them to think about the words of some of those forefathers who were supposedly founding this nation on Christian concepts. Consider their words which I have documented here, read them, think about them, and then I challenge, if these are the views and expressions of our forefathers, are we sure we want to align their beliefs, words, and actions as being Christian? Are we so dead set on promoting nationalism over salvation? Are we so dead set that we establish our faith concepts based primarily on our nationalistic pride? Then ask are you so willing to believe what people tell you? This concept isn’t just for Americans but all people, from all races, and all nationalities.

While I am more familiar with American Nationalism, I am sure that other nations fall into the same category. I’m not saying don’t love your country, by all means, do so, but learn to balance truth from fiction, and realize that there is no truth that supersedes or has more value than the truth presented by God in his Holy word, the Bible. Think about that, chew on it, and test your own thoughts as you read these quotes by individuals who were supposedly Christian men founding a nation on Christian concepts.

A Few Quotes from some of the "Founding Fathers."

James Madison
"The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries."
-1803 letter objecting use of gov. land for churches

"What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not."
- "A Memorial and Remonstrance", 1785

John Adams
"As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?"
-letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, Dec. 27, 1816

"I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved-- the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!"
-letter to Thomas Jefferson

"The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole cartloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity."
"God is an essence that we know nothing of. Until this awful blasphemy is got rid of, there will never be any liberal science in the world."
"This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it."

Thomas Jefferson
"Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced an inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth."- "Notes on Virginia"

"It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticisms that three are one, and one is three; and yet that the one is not three, and the three are not one. But this constitutes the craft, the power and the profit of the priests."
- to John Adams, 1803

"Gouverneur Morris had often told me that General Washington believed no more of that system (Christianity) than did he himself."-in his private journal, Feb. 1800

"Difference of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects perform the office of a common censor over each other. Is uniformity attainable? Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced an inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.""Notes on Virginia

"I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature."
"It has been fifty and sixty years since I read the Apocalypse, and then I considered it merely the ravings of a maniac."
"I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology."
"Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the Common Law."-letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, 1814

George Washington
(Also a noted Freemason and Deist)
"Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause. Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by the difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be depreciated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society."- letter to Edward Newenham, 1792

Benjamin Franklin
". . . Some books against Deism fell into my hands. . . It happened that they wrought an effect on my quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist."
"I wish it (Christianity) were more productive of good works ... I mean real good works ... not holy-day keeping, sermon-hearing ... or making long prayers, filled with flatteries and compliments despised by wise men, and much less capable of pleasing the Deity."- Works, Vol. VII, p. 75

"Lighthouses are more helpful than churches."
"The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."-in Poor Richard's Almanac

Thomas Paine"Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half of the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind.

"What is it the New Testament teaches us? To believe that the Almighty committed debauchery with a woman engaged to be married; and the belief of this debauchery is called faith."
"Take away from Genesis the belief that Moses was the author, on which only the strange belief that it is the word of God has stood, and there remains nothing of Genesis but an anonymous book of stories, fables, and traditionary or invented absurdities, or of downright lies."
"All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."

"The study of theology, as it stands in the Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authority; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion."

Ethan Allen"I have generally been denominated a Deist, the reality of which I never disputed, being conscious I am no Christian, except mere infant baptism makes me one; and as to being a Deist, I know not strictly speaking, whether I am one or not."
preface, Reason the Only Oracle of Man

Abraham Lincoln
"The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my profession."
-Spoken by Abraham Lincoln, quoted by Joseph Lewis

Lincoln's first law partner, John T. Stuart, said of him: "He was an avowed and open infidel, and sometimes bordered on atheism. He went further against Christian beliefs and doctrines and principles than any man I have ever heard."
Supreme Court Justice David Davis: "He [Lincoln] had no faith, in the Christian sense of the term-- he had faith in laws, principles, causes and effects."

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