Saturday, July 26, 2014


While having my morning coffee, I watched a father with his children teaching them how to fly a kite in the park across the street. Then I saw another father teaching his young son how to ride a dirt bike in the grassy meadow behind my house. A little later, while it was still cool enough for such activity, there were teenage boys playing basketball in the court in the park. I reflected upon the joy these children were experiencing, and then thought of the fun some of my own children and grandchildren had last week playing and boating on Lake Austin. You can see by the slideshow on the right that there was no shortage of good times. Family and friends spent several days at the lake -- some even staying in the RV (air conditioned) and popup camper. 

Sadly, there are children all over the world suffering right now from wars, poverty, and violence of all kinds. How can our hearts not be touched when we hear about and view such images of these precious children? The ongoing conflict in Syria has left many children dead, homeless, and refugees. We have all but forgotten their plight as so many new atrocities are being inflicted on children in other parts of the world. The fighting between Hamas and Israel has killed or injured over 400 children in Gaza so far. Today I read somewhere that Israeli children have also been killed. 

What are these children doing for fun? Even when they are sent to a supposedly "safe" location like the U.N. shelters, many have been injured and killed. Some entire families have been destroyed. Do they dare play games outdoors? Is there room for basketball? Will they ever get to fly a kite again? Will they ever laugh and play again after all the bloodshed they have witnessed?


Here in Texas, uppermost in our minds are the children who are crossing the border from Mexico after a long, perilous journey
from their homes in Central America. Our Congress refuses to pass legislation that will assist in relocation or deportation of the thousands who have come here since last October. Texas Governor Rick Perry -- wanting to appear "tough" in lieu of a second presidential run -- has called up the National Guard to help on the border. During his last presidential run he was seen by most conservatives as too "soft" on the immigration issue. Especially when he said those who wanted to send the children home didn't "have a heart". My question is, what is the Guard supposed to do? Most of these immigrants are turning themselves in to the first Border Agent or other official that they see.

These young people beginning their trek across the Rio Grande are not looking for summertime fun like our family recently enjoyed on the lake. Most just want to escape the extreme poverty and violence they are experiencing in their own countries. Many wish to join with parents or other family members who are already here in the States.

The hate groups are having a field day. Someone forwarded a video made by a former border patrol agent that made some of the most ridiculous claims ever about the surge of Central American immigrants. He even suggests that they have been sent here as some kind of insurgency conspiracy... filled with diseases to infect the population of the U.S. One disease he mentions is the Ebola virus! When one discovers there has never been a case of Ebola in Central or North America -- only in Africa, and that the three countries, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala have higher rates of vaccinations than even we have here in the U.S., you can see where this is going! To suggest that it is all a deliberate plot is far-fetched, even for the right-wing extremists.

I agree that something has to be done to alleviate the over-stretched resources in the states these children are being sent to. I don't have an answer, but in my opinion, sending them back to the violent areas they came from is akin to sending children back into a war zone. 

If our government cannot pass legislation to help this situation, at least they can keep from doing harm to the innocent children. The overwhelming majority of both the House and the Senate profess to be Christians. How then do they rationalize when it comes to the teachings of Jesus Christ in regards to "love thy neighbor"? When asked "who is my neighbor", Jesus replied with the parable of the good Samaritan. "Jesus refuses to define who a neighbor is. Instead He asks a question proving something greater than the exact answer anticipated. Being a neighbor to someone is not limited to family relations or proximity. It is showing the love of God to all who are in need: whoever they may be -- wherever they may be."  This quote is from a Christian ministry site. For those of you unfamiliar with this parable, you can read it in the New Testament, Luke 10:25-37.

“…but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.’” – Matthew 19:14 (NRSV)

I am ever grateful that I was born in America, therefore, so were my children. I am even more grateful that my children and grandchildren not only are blessed with freedom and good health, but also with many of life's luxuries, even in these difficult economic times. And we each are blessed with an abundance of love. Most of the children in this essay are not so blessed. What can we do to help them? What are we doing to help?

Peace, love, and blessings,

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Whatever happened to Separation of Church and State..

and freedom of religion? In regards to the SCOTUS Hobby Lobby decision, who's religion are they siding with? What about the religious beliefs of their employees they are trampling on? Surely the employees of Hobby Lobby all don't belong to the same religion as their corporate owners! 
You know, everytime I read (and use) the acronym SCOTUS, the first thought that hits my brain is SCROTUM! It's not something I consciously think, but maybe my brain is interpreting what enters, analyzing, then spitting out the proper term. After all, the majority on this court have one of these. Sometimes I feel the male justices are thinking with their scrotums rather than their brains when it comes to women's issues.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dissent says it best. Justice Ginsburg's Dissent One key quote from her decision reads thus: "Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be 'perceived as favoring one religion over another,' the very 'risk the [Constitution's] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude." She went on to say, "The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield."

I fear she is correct! How many employers will now use this decision to opt out of anything in the Affordable Care Act that goes against their religious beliefs? Such as blood transfusions, many different medications and vaccinations, as well as some who believe in no medical treatment at all? In a sense, these corporations -- or "people" -- will force their employees to abide by their personal religious beliefs.

And then, there is the issue of the hypocrisy of the Hobby Lobby owners and their retirement fund investments in numerous companies that sell the very contraceptive devices they claim to object to on religious grounds. This has been known for a long time. Why was it not known to the Supreme Court? Forbes online magazine had a damning article with backup for these claims, which go back to 2012. You may read about it here: HOBBY LOBBY HYPROCRISY .

The scariest part of this decision to me is the way that the fundamental Christian religion, i.e., a subset of the Evangelicals (which make up about 40% of the U.S. population), has been gradually taking over so much of the governing in our local, state, and federal legislatures. The fundamentalists are very politically conservative, take a literal view of the Bible, and tend to be more judgmental and intolerant than others. The states where they are more prevalent tend to have Republican Governors and Legislatures.

One example is our Texas Governor (who openly claims to be a Christian), Rick Perry's view in his controversial interview recently on homosexuality (which struck me as pretty ironic, as he has been dogged with a personal homosexual scandal for several years), wherein he compared homosexuality with alcoholism. He stated that an alcoholic can "choose" to abstain, and therefore, so can one with same-sex attraction! The so-called "conversion therapy" clinics to assist in a ridiculous attempt at "curing" homosexuality are legal in all but two states, now that the Supreme Court rejected the challenge to a recent ban on these clinics in California. The other state where the clinics are banned is New Jersey, but it also has had several legal challenges. One only has to read of the disgusting means that these clinics employ to "cure" one of same sex attraction, which are never effective by the way, to see why the psychological and medical professions as a whole condemn the practices. Governor Perry and the Republican legislature have effectively implemented their beliefs on many laws in the State of Texas -- most importantly, the anti-abortion legislation that closed so many of the Planned Parenthood clinics that were so essential to the poor. I feel certain they would never ban the conversion therapy clinics in Texas.

Most of the fundamental churches believe that homosexuality is a "sin". And that this type of "sin" will send one straight to hell. What happened to "judge not"? It appears to me that many religions today pick and choose the parts of the Bible they wish to "believe" as literal! Sounds to me like the radical factions of Islam who still stone women to death for what they believe are sexual improprieties. Our Bible also tells of stoning in both the Old and New Testament!

How can one religion dictate the beliefs of a whole country? It appears that the fundamental right wing Christians are attempting to do just that. Which leads me to my biggest fear. What major world religion is in the news most these days? Islam, of course. Particularly in Iraq and Syria. There are differing factions in Islam as there are in Christianity.
(The regions may have changed as the militants take control of more parts of Iraq.)
What is happening in Iraq is really a religion fighting among its differing factions. If the militants do take over the entire country, they plan to impose strict Islamic Law -- their version. Goodbye, any type of democracy. I know this is much more complicated than what I am saying, but watching what Islamic militants are doing in every country they battle, this is how it appears. They hate anything to do with the West, its politics, culture, and religions. 
I watched a 2006 documentary on Netflix recently titled "Jesus Camp" that was very, very disturbing. It is about a Pentecostal youth minister, Becky Fischer, and a camp in North Dakota at the time, where she trains a group of pre-teen children.. some very young.. to be "God's Army" and go out into the world equipped to change everything from worship to politics to the Pentecostal (fundamental) view. It was scary watching how such a charismatic pastor could manipulate these vulnerable children, 9- and 10- year olds, working them into a frenzy with tears streaming down their faces. The hate speech she preached to them about the evils of movies and books such as Harry Potter, (she said that in Biblical times Harry Potter would be killed!) had them wide-eyed with fear. The scenes in the beginning and at the end of this movie of children with camouflage and painted faces, wielding sword-like "weapons" dancing in hypnotic rhythms while exciting their congregation were unbelievable. 
I could go on and on about the movie, but I urge you to see it yourself. It was so controversial, that they closed the camp shortly after the movie was released. That didn't stop Becky Fischer. 

She now is the "founder and director of The School of Supernatural Children's Ministry (aka SSCM). SSCM is a 45 hour training course which teaches parents and children's ministers the basics of great children's ministry. It also shows them how to teach children to hear God's voice, become worshipers, prayer warriors, prophetic spokesmen. It also teaches them to heal the sick, operate in the gifts of the Spirit (one of which is speaking in tongues), be led by the Spirit of God, and do signs and wonders. The goal of SSCM is to help kids become active members in the body of Christ while they are still children." This is taken directly from their website.
Statistics show that 75% of home-schooled children today are Evangelicals. Are they being taught basics from the above ministry? 

The Islamic militants in the mid-East start training their children at young ages as well, some as young as five. Besides the religious training they also receive military training that teaches them how to use weapons and to die for Allah. Could that happen to these children in the U.S. being trained for "God's Army"? 

Now, what if we view the United States broken down into three main religious factions (as well as other religions and nonbelievers)? Granted, they are not all Christian religions, but the effects might be the same. Say we have Protestants, Catholics, and Jews desiring their own brand of religion be enforced as the "law of the land". To hear what the fundamentalists are espousing, a Nation Under God means a Nation Under Christianity. The laws being passed from state to state as well as on the federal level are insidious in their function as religious beliefs. They are being implemented in ways that, as Justice Ginsberg says, "the (Constitution's) Establishment Clause was designed to preclude." Favoring one religion over another. 

How many laws must be passed enforcing the beliefs of the religious right? How much longer before the other religious and nonreligious bodies in our nation rise up in rebellion? How many of our freedoms must be taken away before we realize what has happened? Will there be Christian militias formed to enforce the laws? Will the law of the land be Fundamental Christian Law?

I have no answers, but am deeply saddened. I have been a Christian since my early childhood, but rejected the notions this type of Christianity teaches. Hate and intolerance are not a part of my belief system.

I want to close by referring you to read what "my type" of Christian has to say about the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision. Beth is not only a Presbyterian minister, but she was an attorney before entering the ministry. She has three blog posts since the decision was made, but the first will amaze you!  If Beth Had a Blog  She states it so clearly.

Peace and love,