Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Don't blame the ACLU or me we didn't close the megachurches

Yes I know; you're sick of this subject.  Me too.  But here I go...

I'm a New York Jew; a life long Democrat and a card carrying member of the ACLU.  Much of the time I'm very disappointed in the Democratic party, but at this moment it's better than the alternative.  I don't believe in all of the ACLU's causes, but I believe that everybody has a right to be represented.

But when I read blogs that blame the ACLU and/or minority groups for taking Christ out of Christmas, I have to say that as a Jew I, and most Jews, want you to celebrate Christmas.   On Christmas Jews traditionally went to the movies and ate Chinese food.  We think it would be good if you spent time in church or with your family; as we liked it when the theaters weren't packed.

In the 80's my friends practicing Catholics wanted to go to the Limelight on Christmas Eve after Midnight Mass.  I was beyond shocked. The Limelight was (is?) a disco in a former Catholic Church.  It sounded blasphemous to me.  It felt like eating pork on Yom Kippur.  We went; and I did have a life changing experience.

I don't think I believe in G-d but I respect people of any religion who truly believe.  If I were to feel that I was in any way denying you the ability to pray, I would feel that I have failed as both a person and a person who does worship The First Amendment.  I don't care about the manger in the courthouse.  But understand something else.  I care greatly that church and state stay separate.

Before the news of the mega churches closing I wrote a post in my personal blog about the Christmas/holiday season mess.  One of the comments was from a Jewish blogger, Neil, who is usually very witty and tres lite.  He really struck a chord; couldn't stop thinking about his comment and asked for permission to quote him.

Frankly, I think one of the things that makes our country so great is that the majority religion has tried so hard to make minorities feel comfortable. Where else have Jews and others been made to feel as equals and as comfortable with Christian holidays? Certainly not in many European countries where you are considered Jewish first, then a citizen of that country.

New York is not the rest of the country. I think it would be nice to bring back some of the religiosity to Christmas in big cities, so it isn’t such a consumerized holiday. Thank you, Christians, for being so good to the rest of us. You can now celebrate Christmas a little more openly.

However, things are different in smaller cities and towns around the country. Those places have a habit of mixing up religion and public policy. It is places like those where I don’t think it appropriate for the public sector to promote religion symbolism and ideology.

Here is where I want to delete most of what I wrote before Neil's comment.  It feels too silly.  As Jews we do feel grateful to the Christians in this country for allowing us to be full citizens.  We're grateful because our great grandparents weren't, usually, allowed to own land, have a profession or be citizens of their towns. They were allowed to be conscripted into the Czars army so they could wipe out Jewish villages. We're grateful that they left and came to this remarkable country. 

As a child I would ask my father why they didn't do anything about the camps.  "We didn't know."  After Viet Nam, I understood.  But Roosevelt, the people's hero, had evidence of the camps, and our country did nothing.  Nor did Roosevelt bomb the train tracks leading to them.

When boats of refuges came here, we turned them away, or didn't let them near here, knowing that we were dooming them to death.  After the war we took people who had been in concentration camps and put them in displaced persons camps.  We had strict quotas on the number of refuges let in here

Yet we were still grateful because we who were here, and those of us yet to be born were afforded the opportunity to be full citizens.  When we bought houses we remembered our ancestors who weren't allowed to.  It still amazes me and I'm basically third generation; but I heard so many stories and met so many people with numbers on their arms.  I have never taken being free for granted.  You accept us as we have never before been accepted in modern history. 

Separation of church and state is built into our Constitution.  If you understand the history of Jews in America, you will understand why we care so much about The First Amendment.  It's not just a symbol of our freedom, but a tool that is used to preserve every Americans right to keep church and state separate.  Here are two quotes by Fran Quigley, Executive Director, Indiana Civil Liberties Union

For example, the Alliance Defense Fund celebrates the season with an "It's OK to say Merry Christmas" campaign, implying that the ACLU has challenged such holiday greetings. (As part of the effort, you can get a pamphlet and two Christmas pins for $29.)
The website WorldNetDaily touts a book claiming "a thorough and virulent anti-Christmas campaign is being waged today by liberal activists and ACLU fanatics." The site's magazine has suggested there will be ACLU efforts to remove "In God We Trust" from U.S. currency, fire military chaplains, and expunge all references to God in America's founding documents. (Learn more for just $19.95 . . .

Of course, there is no "Merry Christmas" lawsuit, nor is there any ACLU litigation about U.S. currency, military chaplains, etc. But the facts are not important to these groups, because their real message is this: By protecting the freedom of Muslims, Jews, and other non-Christians through preventing government entanglement with religion, the ACLU is somehow infringing on the rights of those with majority religious beliefs

Many of us are fully assimilated; marry outside our religion; feel and look WASPier than the biggest WASP.  But there's always one moment when something happens that reminds us that other people view us as different.  I know that most people are rational; that most people don't believe this.  (Did a Google "ACLU" "Christmas" search and this was the number one document.

According to ACLU "Christmas haters" everyting refering to Christ inpublic has to go. But try as they might, they can't take the spirit out of Christmas, something this group is in dire need of. Boy talk about selfishness

Yes let's talk about being selfish; selfish is the same woman saying the following. 

The Constitution can be read front to back, sideways, upside down, and nowhere does it read there needs to be a separation of church and state. Good grief! The framers would have been very dense or dumber than a box of rocks, to put separation of church and state in the most "intentionally" misunderstood document, and then proceeded to have a nation built on God and in every aspect of their lives

Good grief, indeed.  If this is true then I have to not only be grateful to you, but bow down to your religious superiority, and that is where I draw the line. 

Just understand that we're not your problem.  You are.  If a person can find G-d in a concentration camp, any American can find G-d anywhere.  It's up to you to put Christ back in Christmas, not us. 

I could never celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday.  Why?  It is the symbolic observation of Christ's birthday no matter how you look at it.  But selfishly I want you to celebrate it so that I can see the trees, lights, decorations and even go to some Christmas parties.  That's right; Christmas parties at peoples homes.  Every other year my friends make an Italian feast in their Tudor house in Forest Hills Gardens, a picture perfect Ives & Currier Christmas community.  It's wonderful, but I will never have a Christmas dinner in my apartment.

Merry Christmas; Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Winter Solistice. I will call this season whatever you want me to call it as long as The First Amendment remains intact.  And I will always be grateful to the USA for allowing my family to live as full citizens for over a century.  Grateful but I will never feel less an American than you do.  And I thank G-d for organizations like the ACLU that make sure I will always be a full American.

Crossposted at

Posted by Pia Savage at 12:01 AM in Current Affairs, Politics, Religion, Right Wing Nut, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

People in the blogoshpere: Q&A with Belinda

At Bring It On! we like to shake things up. We also believe that there are many people in the blogosphere who share our views. I had been toying with the idea of interviewing people as I love asking questions and understanding how and why people come to their ideas. Then I came across Belinda.

Some of you will think that I made Belinda up. I didn't. She commented on my blog; loved the comments and went to her blog to thank her. Then I read the sidebar. I had to interview her. Fortunately I didn't have to tie her to a stake or take her daughter or anything to get her to talk.

Belinda is a practicing Christian who lives in Arkansas.

That's all I'm qoing to say; to learn more about Belinda, the person, please read her blog. It's great.

Were you pro-Bush at the beginning of his first term? How did you get to where you are now?

Never was pro-Bush. (it's funny--part of me deep inside is crying, "How could you ever think such a thing?) Never could understand how anyone could be, given his record both in business and government.

Have you always been Christian or did you come to religion through a life experience?

By definition, one cannot "always" have been a Christian. I had a Jewish friend once say to me, "You know, I think I'm the only non-Christian in this group." Well, she was the only Jewish person in the group, and there were no Buddhists or Muslims or Hindus...but in that small group of women, probably only 30% were actually Christians. You could always have been a Gentile, but Christianity is a faith which specifically involves a conscious decision in your own heart and mind and a profession of faith...that's where you find divisions even among Christian denominations, like the Baptizing of infants and literal transubstantiation. Christianity is a faith (believing that Jesus Christ was the messiah, the son of God, your own personal savior through grace once you've accepted him as such--but please don't rely on my words for definitions of these things. Ask Billy Graham --he's non-partisan, brilliant, and in my opinion, truly ordained by God. And he has a website where you actually CAN ask questions! I have similar feelings about Rick Warren .), while "religion" has to do with denomination of choice.

Do people tell you that your religious views conflict with your political views? If so how. what do you say?

I've not had these things directed at me specifically, but have been involved in some debates on the subject. I've been screamed at because of my opposition to the war in Iraq. Before the 2004 election, I heard talk about how if Kerry were elected, it would bring on the "end times". This made me CRAZY. I think this goes along with what is behind the "Religious Right's" distrust of the U.N., etc. There is a real fear of "Zionism", Globalism, etc. because of their ties to the Biblically prophesied Apocalypse. Now--here are the two things that are STUPID about that kind of thinking. #1.) The current administration is pushing us TOWARD these prophetic events with things like globalizing control of the internet and proposing a National "I.D." system, and microchipping humans, etc. ("Mark of the Beast", anyone?). They're taking away our civil rights by the truckload, and trying their best to end diversity of every kind and homogenize all people into the same-thinking, non-trouble-making entity. #2.) I have a clue to give all the religious zealots who fear the "end-times" and think that they can prevent/delay them. In the first place, if you believe in the Biblical prophecy, and you are a true believer and have accepted Christ, you WON'T BE HERE for the apocalypse. You will have ascended already, OK? What happens after that to whoever's left ain't gonna be your problem. In the second place (again, if you are a believer--and all these people profess to be), God has already chosen the time of the Second Coming, and has said that "NO ONE shall know the day or hour." It will happen when it is (pre)ordained to happen, and you aren't going to prevent/delay the Apocalypse by voting Republican! What do you think--God will say, "You know, since the beginning of time and even before that, this has been the scheduled time for the end of the world....but gosh, Arkansas voted against gay marriage, so what the heck--I'll wait and see what happens. But so help me Me, the next time they elect a Democratic president in the U.S.A....." Please.

And please don't ask me any hard theological questions, because I don't have any but the simplest of answers. I am not a theologian, just a Christian, by choice and by faith. Because, above all, what God instilled in man was FREE WILL. The free will to decide whether or not to accept Him and in what form, or whether to reject him altogether. He could have made us all the same; He didn't. Doesn't that tell anyone anything? And our free will is what is being taken from us, little by little, day by day, by the very people who claim to be carrying out God's agenda. And for people like Pat Robertson and his ilk (ugh), a memo: Jesus' Great Commission for us went like this: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Dudes, you are REPELLING people in droves. Your current administration and its cronies are causing people who might have come into the Christian fold to recoil instead, because your actions do not match your words, and often, your words themselves are repulsive!

Oh, and just a sidenote on the whole evolution vs. intelligent design bruhaha: Most Christians I know believe that there is a way, not knowable by us, that evolution and Divine creation dovetail perfectly. I don't know who these people are who flatly reject the science of evolution, but stop it, already. God gave us the gift of science, and the intelligence to use it. So just stop it. Who knows what God's concept of "time" was in the beginning of the world? That first day could have been billions of years. We just don't know. And while we're on the subject, I've had just about enough of the flying spaghetti monster, too. Just because science can be accurate, does not mean that there is no God. I feel quite the opposite. So you guys just can it, too.

How do you define "conservative?" "Liberal?" Do you think any of that matters?

I think that both terms have become icons of hatred and fear now, we are THAT divided as a country. So much for the "uniter, not a divider" promises of GWB.

Do you see a difference between a fiscal Conservative and a foreign policy one?

Probably. I do know a lot of conservatives who are conflicted about this.

I don't believe in the death penalty simply because I think even DNA can be switched, and I think a life sentence without the possiblity of parole is a much harsher sentence. What are your thoughts on this?

Absolutely, 100% against capital punishment. This comes from my faith more than politics--I just don't believe we have the right to take a life in such a deliberate fashion. On the practical side, as you indicate: if even ONE person is wrongly executed, that should serve as an unassailable argument against the death penalty. I have a really hard time understanding how the same people who are pro-death penalty are anti-abortion. It's all killing, folks. And I do personally abhor the very concept of abortion. HATE it. Wish it would just go away forever. But to make it flat-out, no-excuses illegal in all circumstances? No. This is why I would be a terrible ruler...everything would have to be decided on a case-by-case basis (ask me how much I'm opposed to mandatory sentencing and "three strikes" laws), and it would all take forever, and the anarchists would gain control while I was dithering.

One point I'd like to make about capital punishment that just sticks in my craw (yes, I'm from Arkansas, and we say lots of things like that), is the often-spouted Biblical "support" for such a thing by conservatives crying, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth!" This has to be one of the MOST misrepresented Biblical references ever. Here is Matthew Chapter 5, Verses 38-42, NIV (this is Jesus talking) : 38"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'[g] 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. "

Tom Delay? First sentence that comes into mind when you think about him?

Quotes like "I AM the Federal Government", and "I AM the Constitution." May he swiftly be indicted.

Bill Frist? Same thing?

May he follow quickly in the steps of Newt Gingrich and fade from public sight...while being indicted.

GW Bush?

Failure. Short-sighted. Controlled. Possibly well-meaning in the beginning, but taken over by the forces that propel and control him (Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld). Probably not evil. Probable "dry drunk." Stooge.

Karl Rove?

Bats, blood, all-consuming darkness, wailing, gnashing of teeth and rending of garments...I view the world as desired by Karl Rove as being something like that town in "Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang", where there were no children, and everyone dressed in gray and never smiled. No moral or ethical constraints to keep him from his goals. I can't imagine him stopping at ANYTHING that got in his way. Read, or see the documentary, "Bush's Brain ". If you weren't frightened before...well, you will be.

Dick Cheney?

"Arrrrggggghh!" (That's what he looks to me like he's saying in almost every picture of him.) Consumed by greed. Anyone else would have cut ties to even the appearance of impropriety with things like Halliburton , but not Dick. How do you have as many health problems as he's had, still be alive, and NOT have a deal with the devil? That was a very un-Christian thing to say, and I'm sorry. In the Rankin-Bass Christmas special, "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town", Cheney would be the Burgermeister.

How did you feel that the government handled 9/11?

By almost immediately deflecting attention elsewhere, and repeating and repeating "9/11" and "Saddam Hussein" and "Iraq" in the same context, until people believed it. Then starting an unjustified war to keep the public's collective mind OFF Osama Bin Laden.


Is there evidence that the federal government handled Katrina? I wasn't aware of that. Being an Arabian horse breeder and fancier, I do know something about Mike Brown, or good ol' "Brownie". He ran the IAHA, all right...ran it right into the ground so that it NO LONGER EXISTS. That's right, we don't have an International Arabian Horse Association any more. Thanks, Brownie--you did a heckuva job! I think that Katrina and its aftermath were just, no pun intended, a "perfect storm" of imcompetence and mistakes on so many levels, that I'm not willing to lay blame at any one set of feet.

You live in Arkansas; what did you think of the Clintons?

Uh...LOVED them. Loved Bill, loved Hillary, loved when baby Chelsea was born (and Hil finally added the "Clinton" to her name). He gave us so much. I personally had the benefit of attending the Governor's School for the Gifted and Talented, thanks to Bill. He was young, vibrant, and everything we needed. And as a president...what I wouldn't give to have him back. He gave us the huge budget surplus, W. has given us the largest deficit in history, and it's growing every day. Clinton did so much for our nation in the global community...all that hard work destroyed now. But let me tell you--I really believe that the Clinton-hating is nowhere in the world as intense as it is right here in his home state. It's bizarre. And yes, he was an idiot about sex, obviously. Every man has flaws, and his were squarely centered in his pants. But I'll take that over what we have now any day. You know, when I think of the whole attempt to impeach Clinton over ORAL SEX...I can't help think about King David. One of the Bible's biggest screwups. Sinned, and sinned, and sinned again...yet he was "God's favorite." Why? Because he truly repented, and in his heart truly desired to honor the Lord. God knew his heart, and loved him for it.


How do you spell the sound of me blowing a huge raspberry into my hand and making a huge fart noise?

The 2000 election?

*sigh* I remember disbelief, hope, more disbelief, grief, flat-out denial that this could possibly be happening...and a total outrage at the deceit that is the "electoral college", especially now that the Republicans (thanks, Tom DeLay!) have gotten the districts arranged just so. And now that the "machine" has learned how best to exploit and manipulate those districts ( i.e. getting anti-"gay marriage" initiatives on the ballot in every single swing state in 2004--thanks, Karl Rove!, "push" polling, and downright scare tactics against minority voters)...well, I'm not extremely optimistic for the future. It seems unlikely that American voters could be so stupid a third time...and yet, I thought that the second time, too.

Thanks for the chance to vent somewhere other than my own site, where I might infuriate family members! And please remember, these opinions are NO ONE's but my own, so if you disagree, that's great, but don't yell at me about it, because we're all entitled, OK? If I have a fact wrong--a FACT, not an opinion--let me know, but gently. I both cry and bruise easily. If you are an atheist or a "pastafarian" who wants to ridicule me for my faith in God, don't bother, 'K? And after all this navel-gazing, I can assure you that my own blog will be full of nothing of substance for at least a week now.

Can I be truthful? Bill Clinton is my hero. Belinda helped me understand how true Christians can repent and forgive. I thank her for that and for everything else she taught me.

Posted by Pia Savage at 12:01 AM in Current Affairs, Politics, Religion, Right Wing Nut, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (46) | TrackBack

Friday, September 23, 2005

Another perspective on Intelligent Design

Bonnie and I both live in New York. I spend a lot of time looking at The Hudson River; Bonnie spends a lot of time kayaaking, and crewing on other boats in The Hudson River.

I read Bonnie's blog Frogma to learn about our shared city from a totally different view point.  I'm constantly in awe of Bonnie's New York; it's much more fascinating than mine.

I'm a native New Yorker. Bonnie comes from a state far from the mainland and New York, Hawaii where the story she's going to tell really begins.

On Fridays at Bring it on!, we like to present guest authors with different perspectives, and voices. I like how Bonnie presents her arguments; with logic, reasoning, and she remembers high school science.

I have been following the debate over the teaching of Intelligent Design in our schools with great interest, concern, and not a little mystification over how this has gotten as far as it has. Recently, around the time that the article from which the above quote was taken first ran, I took a break during a late evening at work to participate in an online discussion of the topic, posing a few simple questions to those who were arguing in favor of ID.

"Much has been made of a 2004 poll showing that some 45 percent of Americans believe that the Earth - and humans with it - was created as described in the book of Genesis, and within the past 10,000 years. This isn't a triumph of faith. It's a failure of education."
-- Verlyn Klikenborg,

Their arguments seemed to be running in circles, and I was hoping that they'd break out of those circles and talk a little more about what was driving each of them. Having never had a chance to speak to anyone who was actually a supporter of that concept, I was curious to see what they'd say.

I am not an atheist; however, I do not feel that acceptance of the theory of evolution and belief in God are mutually exclusive; and in fact, as I see the issue, my personal religious convictions aren't even really relevant to whether I find the theory of evolution to be a convincing explanation of how life came to be as it is on this planet.

I began reflecting on why so many people now have come to believe that being a person of faith and being a person who understands (and accepts) the theory of evolution are somehow irreconcilable.

I speak as one who identifies herself as a Christian. Yet I cannot identify with, or even begin to agree with, those who would have Christian precepts taught in our public schools. I am in complete agreement with statements that have been made here and elsewhere that teaching ID in public schools is in violation of the First Amendment. And I think that our Founding Fathers were very wise to institute the separation of church and state, allowing Americans individual freedom of worship (or lack thereof, as the individual sees fit). And that's coming from someone who is, at least in part, the product of an education overseen by clergymen.

I am of the school of thought that finds religion and science to be, quite simply two entirely different modes of thought. They are only contradictory when the boundaries & purposes of the two are confused -- which I feel is definitely the case in the arguments in favor of Intelligent Design.

Following my brief participation in that on-line discussion, the quote with which I began this post kept running through my mind, and I began thinking about what I myself had been taught in a freshman or sophomore biology class in high school. It was a long time ago, but I have clear recollections of Lamarck's giraffes (taught as an example of a hypothesis that was directly contradicted by observable evidence), Darwin's finches, Mendel's genetic principles, peppered moths, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, convergent evolution, and a lot of other evidence offered in support of Darwin's theory of evolution that stuck in my head because it all worked so well together.

God (either as God per se, or in the guise of an "Intelligent Designer") was never mentioned in this classroom.

This is particularly noteworthy in light of the fact that the school, a very highly regarded institution in Hawaii, was a private one run by the Episcopalian Church. Religion was absolutely present there. The staff was made up of both laypeople and Episcopalian ministers. The headmaster was one of the latter. We attended chapel on a weekly basis; religion classes were part of the standard curriculum, and for those who were interested, Episcopalian confirmation classes were available. 

Science classes could easily have been run with a theological spin, had those in charge felt that was appropriate. Why did they not do so?

I don't know the answer for sure, but I suspect that it was because the primary mission of the school was to offer the children of Hawaii a quality education. Teaching science as science, religion as religion, and refraining from muddling the boundaries between the two was evidently completely in line with that commitment.

What I do know is that being taught as I was absolutely did not make me into an atheist. It just made me into a person who has an understanding of science that is separate from and does not conflict with my personal beliefs.

In fact, I remember learning about the two in very different styles -- as is, I think, appropriate to two very different types of thought.

Most of what I know about science and evolution, I learned at school. My religious beliefs were primarily formed by what I was taught and saw practiced at home, and at church, and I think that's as it should be. In fact, I have to admit that I can't remember any specifics of what the fathers taught in religion classes, just the most general recollections - like a concept that the ideas contained in the Bible were important and could lead a person to a spiritually fulfilling life. But that the Bible itself, from Genesis to Revelation, was a collection of writings by human beings - inspired and reverent human beings, yes, but still human, and therefore fallible.

The fathers at Iolani were intelligent, caring teachers with great confidence both in their faith and in the ability of our young minds to find room for our own faith to thrive alongside of the concepts we were being taught in science, math, history, literature, languages, and all the other secular subjects offered by the school. They were there to teach us, and their teaching did not include forcing any particular dogma down our throats.

By taking that approach, and teaching us in such a way that religion was not confused with other subjects, I think that the fathers allowed for a triumph of both faith and education (in a fashion of which Mr. Klickenborg would approve), in a fashion that the ID people don't seem to understand is possible. What I see in the statements I've read from ID supporters doesn't look to me like confidence in their beliefs.

Their need to have their personal spiritual beliefs validated by science, their thirst for secular acknowledgement - those don't strike me as things that people with real confidence in their beliefs would require at all.

Posted by Pia Savage at 12:01 AM in Current Affairs, Politics, Right Wing Nut, Science | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A year of blogging: from The First Amendment to Intelligent Design

Blogging has been great for me.  It's allowed me to meet people from parts of the country I didn't know well enough before, and realize that people throughout this incredible country are caring, compassionate, and intelligent with beliefs that are very similar but they don't exactly mirror them.

That's the problem.  We, who are called liberal, don't think exactly alike.  Earlier this summer I wrote about subway searches.  I was scared, angry, tired of answering comments from people who do usually think alike, and can't understand how people on Bring it on! can think differently from one another.

I won't explain how The First Amendment really means that America is a Christian country; because as many times as it's been explained to me I still don't understand how this: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution can possibly mean that as a non-Christian I have been living in a legally Christian country all these years.  Yes the majority of the population is Christian. 

The variety of religious beliefs in the United States surpasses the nation’s multitude of ethnicities, nationalities, and races, making religion another source of diversity rather than a unifying force. This is true even though the vast majority of Americans—83 percent—identify themselves as Christian. One-third of these self-identified Christians are unaffiliated with any church. Moreover, practicing Christians belong to a wide variety of churches that differ on theology, organization, programs, and policies. The largest number of Christians in the United States belong to one of the many Protestant denominations—groups that vary widely in their beliefs and practices. Roman Catholics constitute the next largest group of American Christians, followed by the Eastern Orthodox.

That in no way means that Thomas Jefferson and the other founding fathers meant for this to be a Christian nation.

The roots of the First Amendment can be traced to a bill written by Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) in 1777 and proposed to the Virginia Legislature in 1779. It guaranteed freedom of (and from) religion. After an impassioned speech by James Madison, and after some amendments, it became law on 1786-JAN-16.

Why when we at Bring it on! have been saying this since we began am I bringing this up now?  Because many radical Christian Rightists still don't get it.  It's simple; it's the Amendment that guarantees the most basic of rights, the right to practice or not practice a religion, and never have to worry that a state religion will be formed, and also and equal, guarantees freedom of speech.

Because so many people feel validated and vindicated by the people occupying The White House, Intelligent Design, and The Discovery Institute have been getting much play recently.  Here are a few quotes by William Safire who isn't exactly known as a liberal, but yikes, he's Jewish, so the Radical Christian right always knew that they couldn't trust him, really.

Then along came the phrase intelligent design, and evolution had fresh linguistic competition. Though the phrase can be found in an 1847 issue of Scientific American, it was probably coined in its present sense in "Humanism," a 1903 book by Ferdinand Canning Scott Schiller: "It will not be possible to rule out the supposition that the process of evolution may be guided by an intelligent design."

At about that time, the traditional creationists took up the phrase. "We are a Christian organization and use the term to refer to the Christian God," says John Morris, president of the Institute for Creation Research in Santee, California. "The modern intelligent design movement looks at Dr. Phillip Johnson as its founder. ... His book, 'Darwin on Trial,' kind of started it all in the early '90s. We were using intelligent design as an intuitive term: a watch implies a watchmaker."

The marketing genius within the phrase - and the reason it now drives many scientists and educators up the wall - is in its use of the adjective intelligent, which intrinsically refutes the longstanding accusation of anti-intellectualism. Although the intelligent agent referred to is Divine with a capital D, the word's meaning also rubs off on the proponent or believer. That's why intelligent design appeals to not only the DNA-driven Discovery Institute complexity theorists but also the traditional God's-handiwork faithful.

To counter the "sophisticated branding experts" who flummoxed establishmentarian evolutionaries with intelligent design, opponents of classroom debate over Darwin's theory have come up with a catchily derisive neologism that lumps the modern advocates of intelligent design with religious fundamentalists: neo-creo. The rhyming label was coined on Aug. 17, 1999, by Philip Kitcher, professor of the philosophy of science at Columbia University, New York, in a lively and lengthy online debate in Slate magazine with the abovementioned Phillip Johnson, professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley.

Intelligent design advocates like to point to Albert Einstein, who repeatedly rejected a statistical conception of physics with his famous aphorism, "I cannot believe that God plays dice with the world." However, his recent biographer, Dennis Overbye, a science reporter for The New York Times, says: "Einstein believed there was order in the universe but that it had not been designed for us." Overbye also notes that Einstein wrote the evenhanded "Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind."

Can't really trust Dennis Overbye, he's a reporter for The New York Times.  Like many New Yorkers, I have spent my life in a love/hate relationship with The Times, but I'm very proud it's my hometown newspaper now.  Anybody who wishes to point out that Einstein's brain was smaller than average, and that he couldn't learn to tie his shoes until he was six etc., will be ignored.  Here's something about The Discovery Institute.

After toiling in obscurity for nearly a decade, the institute's Center for Science and Culture has emerged in recent months as the ideological and strategic backbone behind the eruption of skirmishes over science in school districts and state capitals across the country. Pushing a "teach the controversy" approach to evolution, the institute has in many ways transformed the debate into an issue of academic freedom rather than a confrontation between biology and religion.

Mainstream scientists reject the notion that any controversy over evolution even exists. But Mr. Bush embraced the institute's talking points by suggesting that alternative theories and criticism should be included in biology curriculums "so people can understand what the debate is about."

Financed by some of the same Christian conservatives who helped Mr. Bush win the White House, the organization's intellectual core is a scattered group of scholars who for nearly a decade have explored the unorthodox explanation of life's origins known as intelligent design

In any other political climate, these people would be known as crack pots who are pushing a pseudo-scientific answer to the theory of evolution.  But in today's climate they are scientists posing an important alternative to a theory that has been postulated over and over again.  Oh right, Intelligent Design can't be tested through regular tests; a designer acted.  How can you test faith?  Sorry,then it's not science, and can't be taught in public schools.

Here's something by Carl Zimmer that refutes Intelligent Design

It describes how the Institute has spent $3.6 million dollars to support fellowships that include scientific research in areas such as "laboratory or field research in biology, paleontology or biophysics."

So what has that investment yielded, scientifically speaking? I'm not talking about the number of appearances on cable TV news or on the op-ed page, but about scientific achievement. I'm talking about how many papers have appeared in peer-reviewed biology journals, their quality, and their usefulness to other scientists. Peer review isn't perfect--some bad papers get through, and some good papers may get rejected--but every major idea in modern biology has met the challenge.

It's pretty easy to get a sense of this by perusing two of the biggest publically available databases, PubMed (from the National Library of Medicine) and Science Direct (from the publishing giant Reed Elsevier)....Look for the topics that have won people Nobel Prizes--the structure of DNA, the genes that govern animal development, and the like--and you quickly come up with hundreds or thousands of papers.

A search for "Intelligent Design" on PubMed yields 22 results--none of which were published by anyone from the Discovery Insittute. There are a few articles about the political controversy about teaching it in public schools, and some papers about constructing databases of proteins in a smart way. But nothing that actually uses intelligent design to reveal something new about nature. ScienceDirect offers the same picture. (I'm not clever enough with html to link to my search result lists, but try them yourself if you wish.)

Here's another search: "Discovery Institute" and "Seattle" (where the institute is located). One result comes up: a paper by Jonathan Wells proposing that animal cells have turbine-like structures inside them. It describes no experiments, only a hypothesis.

Zimmer's talking about peer review and the importance of papers agreeing with or refuting a hypothesis.  Anybody who does any kind of meaningful research in any field will tell you that the first step is a lit review to see what is or isn't there.  Don't tell me that Intelligent Design is too new to have been studied; it's been discussed enough these last several months, and has been studied for a longer time period.  I have linked to an article from The Natural History Magazine that talks about it in 2002. 

They take it a little less seriously then New Yorkers take subway searches.  They're an inconvenience that can't work. .Subway searches can't work though I would have loved for them to be an easy answer.  Like any good Liberal I have flip-flopped on that one.  I will discuss why they can't work in depth next time.  But I will leave you with one last thing that I have learned this year; the ACLU is a Commie organization out to poison your water and kill your children. No, I added the part after "Commie organization."

Of everything that has happened in the past year, and of all the things that I have learned the movement to stop the ACLU scares me almost as much as or the same as the movement to re-create The First Amendment.

The 2006 elections will be here before we can blink our eyes; and then there will be 2008.  Moderates will take back this country because more and more people are waking up to the reality that the Radical Christian Right has gained power way beyond its membership.  When William Safire and I agree on an issue; it should be a wake-up call.

We Jews don't all know each other; but we do tend to get a bit crazed when The First Amendment is under attack; and Intelligent Design is just another attack on it.

Posted by Pia Savage at 12:00 AM in Current Affairs, Education, Politics, Religion, Right Wing Nut, Science, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Friday, June 24, 2005

This Explains Much About Rove!!!

"At the age of 9, I put a Nixon bumper sticker on the wire basket in the front of my bicycle. Unfortunately, the little Catholic girl down the street was a couple years and about 20 pounds on me. She was for Kennedy.

"When she saw me on my bike with my bumper sticker for Nixon, she put me on the ground, flattened me out and gave me a bloody nose," he said.

"Despite that beating, I never lost interest in politics."

Karl Rove told graduates of Jerry Falwell's Liberty University Sunday, May 9, 2004. Brought to you courtesy of bopnews who had this interesting take on Rove.

For years I've suspected that Rove is stuck in an adolescent rage, taking revenge upon the Civil Rights marchers (whose courage he couldn't match), the anti-war organizers (who beat him), and those who believe in and struggle for democracy (who drove off Nixon).

God, he gets beat up by a girl at 9 and thinks he needs to take out his rage on the country. If there is anyone out there today that has 20 pounds on Rove and sees him riding down Pennsylvania Avenue do us a favor and push him off his bike.

Posted by The Bastard at 11:58 AM in Right Wing Nut | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Monday, June 13, 2005

utterly absurd

Don't usually provide a link to this blog; don't usually go there

In the article she states that the fetus is 26 weeks old--but that's not even the point.

The cow's blog reminds me of The National Enquirer when it showed three headed babies on the cover and other impossible in the real world freak shows. Fun to read for a hot month when I was eleven but I got over it really quickly.

No reputable doctor would perform an abortion on a woman who is 26 weeks pregnant.  Now 20 weeks would be stretching it quite a bit.

Most abortions are performed in the first trimester--that's 13 weeks; doctors will go up to 16 weeks.  Life's not viable then; maybe not at 20 weeks; very possibly at 26 weeks

The cow is amazing.

She wants you to believe that a 21 week old fetus (and this is at least five weeks older--which is a lot in fetus terms) is holding a doctor's hand. How cute.  How improbable if not impossible. 

The mother would have to be cut for the doctor to do this. If this is a healthy fetus there would be no reason for the mother to be cut and for the fetus to be exposed.

She's doing this, obviously, to divert attention from the very pressing matter of stem cell research.  Fetuses, embryos, and stem cells--all living matter--no distinction in the cow's mind. 

There's a slide show in this link somewhere.  It shows a new type of technology that shows the fetus from all sides. 

Right the doctor is really holding the fetus's hand

Sad, really sad.

Posted by Pia Savage at 05:19 PM in Right Wing Nut | Permalink | Comments (18) | TrackBack

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Dobson Shows Restraint But I Can't

I mean, Jesus fucking Christ, enough with this guy already!!!

As a member of the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography, I listened to testimony by those who thought they could jazz up their sex lives by viewing obscene materials. They discovered that the stuff they were watching quickly seemed tame and even boring. That led them to seek racier, ever more violent depictions. And then they journeyed down the road toward harder and more violent materials. For some, not all, it became an obsession that filled their world with perversion and sickness. They lusted after sex with animals, molestation of children, urinating and defecation, sadomasochism, mutilation of genitals, and incest. And how did it happen? The door was quietly opened to obscenity, and a monster came charging out.

Posted by The Bastard at 07:16 AM in Right Wing Nut | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Trip Down the Right Wing Nut Aisle

The high priestess sings praises for the architect of the New Deal and a man who stands for everything she is against (I'm confused).

The altergirl doesn't want France to forget D-Day but I guess she forgot about the American Revolution succeeding because of the French.

This alterboy is singing the praises of FM radio can't wait to see his post on the demise of the fairness doctrine.

Nothing specific here, just complete right-wing lunacy!

Just a repeat of the last site. (The last two sites can probably be equated to the two old men in the back of the church always bitching about the burnt free coffee and the stale choir doughnuts.)

From the church janitor, proof that homeshooling does not work.

And a perfect example of your ultra Reich-wing CCD class running amuck, oh, and why homeschooling still doesn't work.

Posted by The Bastard at 06:19 AM in Right Wing Nut | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Friday, June 03, 2005

Shrub Quotes

1. In a Rose Garden news conference, Bush defiantly stood by his domestic policy agenda while defending his actions abroad. With the death toll climbing daily in Iraq, he said that nation’s fledging government is “plenty capable” of defeating terrorists whose attacks on Iraqi civilians and U.S. soldiers have intensified  (from CNN)

Plenty Capable? Well then by all means George, why don’t we let them.

What? They aren’t quite ready? But I thought you said “plenty capable”

2. After a bruising week on Capitol Hill, Bush urged both political parties to “set aside partisan differences” and work together. (from CNN)

OK George, your party first.
What? That’s not what you meant?

3. “It’s absurd. It’s an absurd allegation. The United States is a country that promotes freedom around the world,” Bush said of the Amnesty International report that compared Guantanamo to a Soviet-era gulag.

Now, I’m not argueing that the report might be tainted by people who hate America, but you know after naked pyramids and dog collars I’m a little skeptical about it being absurd. We need an indpendent highly respected pannel to actually go out and investigatejust what the hell is going on. I refuse to believe that every complaint is just a bunch of people trying to lie about America. We’re starting to sound way to much like China defending their human rights record for my tastes. Prove to me that the administration of Alberto Gonzales, Don Rumsfeld and Dick Chenney isn’t abusive. I want to believe it. In the past I would have beleived in without second thought, but not now. Now, the only thing “absurd” is believing the denial without evidence

4. “Now, a personal savings account would be a part of a Social Security retirement system. It would be a part of what you would have to retire when you reach retirement age. As you — as I mentioned to you earlier, we’re going to redesign the current system. If you’ve retired, you don’t have anything to worry about — third time I’ve said that. (Laughter.) I’ll probably say it three more times. See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.

Way to go Gobbels Jr!

(cross posted at The Cranky Liberal Pages)

Posted by Cranky Liberal at 10:04 PM in Right Wing Nut | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New SEC Chief? Bush Sure Can Pick Em!

Assuming you sold short that is. Investors didn’t seem to be overly happy with Bush’s appointment of Christopher Cox as the head of the SEC. In this post Enron era, the last thing investors wanted was someone who is lax on reform. Well guess what Mr. Bush just handed them.

A guy who is about as tough on reform as a marshmallow. Instead of someone who would have kept the tough reforms of outgoing SEC chair William Donaldson, Bush appoints a guy who thinks that investors shouldn’t be able to sue a company.

The only reason there is an opening at the SEC is because business lobbyist got tired of the tough reform stance that Mr. Donaldson took. They got so fed up with his actually trying to hold them accountable that they had him sacked. Oh wait “quiting to spend time with my family.” Sure.

Doesn’t the Corporate Cowboy understand that investment is based on trust and paramount to that trust is the confidence that companies are not lying about their financial situations? Doesn’t he get that tougher regulations makes it more honest, more fair and more competitive, not less. Think about it this way, Shrub is pushing an SEC chief that will lower the bar for companies at the same time HE”S PUSHING SOCIAL SECURITY PRIVATIZATION!!!! He’s making it easier for companies to pull a WorldCom while preaching that you should put your money in the market.

That’s not just stupid, it’s dangerous.  Then again, what do you expect from this Administration.

(cross posted at The Cranky Liberal Pages)

Posted by Cranky Liberal at 10:00 PM in Right Wing Nut | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack