Religious Chutzpah

I am officially over the self-identified “Christians” whose definition of “liberty” is freedom to pick on and marginalize anyone their crabbed version of God disapproves of. (And yes, I ended that sentence with a preposition. So sue me.)

America is deep, deep into indignant, knee-jerk reactions to a legal and social attitude change that these holier-than-thou hypocrites consider heretical: the proposition that other peoples’ life choices and beliefs–or lack thereof– are entitled to equal respect under the law.

So Tennessee makes (a Christian version of) the “holy bible” its state book. North Carolina and Mississippi enshrine ugly anti-LGBTQ bigotry in state law. In Maine, a ballot initiative proposes to strip gay rights out of the state’s Human Rights Act. And don’t get me started on Indiana, where–in addition to keeping gays second-class citizens and women barefoot and pregnant– a state trooper named Brian Hamilton remained in the employ of the Indiana State Police until yesterday.

Hamilton was sued previously for using traffic stops–traffic stops!–as an opportunity to preach about Jesus and “being saved.” Despite losing that suit, he is being sued yet again for the same behavior.

The lawsuit alleges Trooper Brian Hamilton of the ISP Pendleton post pulled the woman over for speeding and gave her a warning. He then asked her what church she went to and if she was saved. Documents said Hamilton invited Pyle to his church and even gave directions.

A Google search will provide you with literally hundreds of additional examples of what I can only call religious chutzpah–the incredibly arrogant and ahistorical belief held by far too many people in and out of government that their beliefs are entitled to primacy, that this is their country, and the rest of us are here on sufferance, and that any law or court ruling that suggests otherwise is unAmerican and illegitimate.

When historians point to evidence of the Founders’ very purposeful separation of Church and State, the David Bartons and Ted Cruz’s of chutzpah world rewrite history.

When Courts apply longstanding First and Fourteenth Amendment precedents, the American Taliban attacks the judges: in states that elect jurists, they elect crackpots like Roy Moore; when the federal courts are the offenders, Senate theocrats stamp their feet and refuse to fill judicial vacancies.

When some poor shopkeeper has the temerity to wish them “happy holidays,” they scream that there is a “war on Christmas.”

When their efforts to retain privileged status are unsuccessful–when they aren’t able to disadvantage gay people or Muslims or atheists or Christians who disagree with them– they can can be counted on to whine about being victims.

Religious believers–all religious believers, whatever their faith– are entitled to equality before the law. No less, and no more.

No matter how convinced these odious folks may be of the superiority of their particular theologies, they are not entitled to dominance. They are definitely not entitled to use the power of the state to  disadvantage people whose beliefs differ.

Unfortunately, they are legally within their rights to annoy the hell out of the rest of us.

 

40 thoughts on “Religious Chutzpah

  1. They may have the legal right to annoy us, but they do not have the right to legalize their hate.

  2. That’s precisely why RFRA is tantamount to freedom. As a Jew, RFRA protects me from being forced to work on Sabbath or on Yom Kippur. I cannot be fired for that. You correctly state that “all religious believers, whatever their faith, are entitled to equality before the law. No less, and no more.”

    I would say instead, all religious believers are entitled to equality before the law. No more but certainly no less. My business, my choice.

    As a believer in G-d, however, I want legislation out of my choices for my life. And out of yours too. That includes abortion, where I shop for rainbow cupcakes, or who can get married.

    Freedom is key.

  3. I can’t help but wonder how many Tennessee lawmakers have actually read their hew “state book”.

  4. I believe man’s initial evidence of Chutzpah was that he created God in his own image, not the other way around…I found no physical description of God or any living creature, including man, in my Bible (King James version). Others can speak to what is written in the Torah and Koran, et al. There are frogs in some areas of the world who, when there is a shortage of males, have the ability to turn from female to male to meet their needs to procreate. I have so far read nothing of male frogs becoming female to meet their own need so who is the stronger and more intelligent sex in that instance. Male sea horses carry eggs to term after they are fertilized and give birth. Of course this is science and evolution in its most basic form so must be ignored by our elected “Christian” leaders and they probably include LGBTs in this lower life form…if they can admit it exists. Per the Bible, man was “…given dominion over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” They have taken this literally and run amok with it recently; taken literally that it is only MAN and that their dominion is complete.

    And Sheila, I not only know where you are coming from with this blog, I know where you are at. Now they can sue both of us for ending a sentence with a preposition. Where do we go from here is the question; but we need to find and agree upon a direction and decide the most equitable path.

  5. Theresa,

    “They may have the legal right to annoy us, but they do not have the right to legalize their hate.”

    As long as the pro-democracy forces continue to RUN AWAY from EFFECTIVELY engaging “They” then “They” will have the right to legalize their hate. And the months to come will only be worse than what the situation is now.

    The NEW STRAIN of the HITLER VIRUS is now mutating and becoming more and more virulent. Because of its ability to pass human to human, if not treated with an ANTIDOTE it will spread exponentially in the coming months. Many Europeans like the English have been vaccinated from direct exposure to the original strain in the 30’s and 40’s.

    Over 90% of Americans have no immunity whatsoever. Consequently, we’re now the greatest threat to peace and stability on Planet Earth. And because of the fragility of the planet at this time, we’re probably much more dangerous than Nazi Germany was in the mid 30’s.

    I warned Ulla Gudmundson former Head of intelligence for Sweden in the EU and later their Ambassador to the Vatican of the danger of this PANDEMIC more than three years ago during our E-mail exchanges at that time.

  6. “Religious believers–all religious believers, whatever their faith– are entitled to equality before the law.” So are those of us blissfully free from religion. Nonbelievers are held in the lowest regard of all in the U.S. theocracy. Highly recommended: the Freedom From Religion Foundation, http://www.ffrf.org .

  7. So valid! The key here for us all is ” I want legislation out of my choices for my life. And out of yours too. That includes abortion, where I shop for rainbow cupcakes, or who can get married.” From ” political correctness” to insidious governmental legislation affecting every aspect of our lives, we are giving away our freedom. How do we stop this?

  8. Don’t worry about that preposition at the end of a sentence. The “rule” against such was created out of whole cloth by scholars who thought English needed to be more like Latin in terms of grammar. I think it’s John McWhartor who points that out. The rule makes no logical sense, so have a little chutzpah and ignore it.

  9. Carolyn,

    “From ” political correctness” to insidious governmental legislation affecting every aspect of our lives, we are giving away our freedom. How do we stop this?”

    We use the same epidemiology methods that were displayed in the movie: “CONTAGION,” starring Matt Damon, in order to develop an effective ANTIDOTE against the NEW STRAIN of the lethal virus.

    The FIRST STEP (like in the movie) is placing a sample of the new strain of the virus under a microscope and find out how the new strain differs from the original one. I would PREDICT that the findings would show that the new strain of the virus has an INGENIOUS SHIELD.

    The shield, if I am right, is analogous to the one that was successfully penetrated in the movie: “INDEPENDENCE DAY” starring Will Smith. Once the shield is penetrated, like in the movie, the threat can be eradicated.

  10. Shiela, so why have you excluded the non-religious from your consideration of intolerance? “Religious believers–all religious believers, whatever their faith– are entitled to equality before the law. No less, and no more.” Aren’t we worthy of the same rights of the religious?

  11. I read an opinion somewhere that this rush of hateful “religious freedom” bills is an attempt to get evangelicals to the polls this fall. As a group they’re running out of patience with the political party that makes promises it doesn’t keep. Most of those laws will be thrown out later by the courts, or at least I hope they will. As Jan Lindemann said, I doubt if most of the legislators have a clue to what’s really in their bible, other than a few pretty cherry-picked verses.

  12. Joyce,

    “Most of those laws will be thrown out later by the courts, or at least I hope they will.”

    Not if a Republican is elected President and is in a position to nominate our next Supreme Court Justice.

  13. I suspect that fear by many is borne out of the fact that we live in a very connected world, one that didn’t exist in the pre Internet age.

    It’s also the product of living in a heterogeneous society that’s more mobile and interconnected than ever.

    And I suspect that the political activism of mainly evangelical Christians — who seem to think that their views represent ALL Christians — has played a role.

  14. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all lived by the do unto others notion that seems to be at the root of most organized religion.(I’m obviously not a religious scholar) I’d guess the world will end with people fighting over different versions of God and none of them will get the irony.

  15. Sooooooo true, Marv Kramer. And the Republicans now do the actual vote counting in 2/3s of the states . . . .

  16. Sheila and JoAnn both made comments about being arrested for ending a sentence with a preposition. I’ve heard this bit of advice for years, but have never been able to find it in a grammar book. What are you two up to?

  17. Successful religions have books written by zealots in support of their religious views, so our present day fruitcakes have a head start in interpreting who wins, i.e., their views expressed in state statutes or the Constitution. Fortunately, the Constitution is winning to date. As a liberal Lutheran, I have told more than one pastor that I didn’t leave my brain at the church house door. Not everybody who goes to church is a nut. A few years ago when I was holding a sign in an Occupy demonstration, I noticed a fellow sign-holder who was wearing clerical garb. I assumed he was a Catholic but upon inquiry found he was a Lutheran pastor. Condemnation of Christians and others who follow the Pencers back to the cave is certainly justified, but not all the people who go to church are in that group, not by any means. Even their pastors hit the street to protest such mockery of scripture and the civil rights of ordinary citizens, so let’s be selective when putting down Christians. Not all of us have gone over the cliff.

  18. Gerald,

    “Condemnation of Christians and others who follow the Pencers back to the cave is certainly justified, but not all the people who go to church are in that group, not by any means. Even their pastors hit the street to protest such mockery of scripture and the civil rights of ordinary citizens, so let’s be selective when putting down Christians. Not all of us have gone over the cliff.”

    That’s especially so with many Lutherans who are aware that 60% of the Protestant churches in Germany voted to be Nazified with the Lutherans leading the pack. From my observations over the years, individual Lutherans have been at the top echelon of those who have had the courage to speak out in the U.S. Many have been immunized by observing the despicable rhetoric of their fellow Lutherans, especially within their own families. Fortunately, both the Baptists and the Lutherans have significant Extreme-Moderate splits within their own denominations which give me a REALISTIC HOPE that the level of hatred we’re now experiencing can be reversed.

    Unfortunately, it is very hard to be selective in criticizing Christians when only a very small group of Christians are willing to speak out against other Christians. As I have mentioned before, who wants to spoil family reunions?

  19. As I have opined previously freedom at all is freedom for all. The opposite of freedom is power and that’s the main reason that democracy is the only source of freedom, and power’s biggest obstacle. The governed choose who governs.

    In those few words you have American politics today. Conservatives want power, liberals want freedom. Those who use conservatism as a path to power, like Ted Cruz, have deluded their followers into believing that the only source of freedom is weak government because our democratic government is what he must overcome to get the power and control that he’s addicted to.

    It’s our historical turn to defend freedom. Fortunately we can use votes and not guns, otherwise it would be like Syria here now.

    We can do this.

  20. I’m so happy that that cop finally got fired. That was his second or third offense. Spot on Professor!

  21. Yesterday, I mentioned the beneficial actions in Dallas of, the author and playwright, Jim Schutze. As a matter of fact and probably of much importance, Shutze’s father, as I remember, was a Lutheran minister.

  22. I used to be Christian, but a couple of years ago, because of exactly what you write, I started telling people that I am NOT Christian. I am a follower of Jesus, but NOT Christian. I just can’t bear being associated in any way whatever with THOSE people.

  23. When I realized that I am in no way intelligent enough to understand what’s behind life other than the mechanics of it I became more spritual and less religious.

  24. I agree w Pete. Religion doesn’t matter anyway; what matters is what you do while you’re alive. Planning for a “life” after death seems like a waste of time and since nobody really knows what happens to your “soul” after death training yourself to be flexible seems to me like the best preparation for living and whatever follows.

  25. From “Dark Money” by Jane Mayer:
    “…the Right needed to combat the Left by asserting appealing “counter-rights” of its own. ”

    We have seen the perversion of “religious freedom” to be, in fact, freedom to legally empower religious belief holders to discriminate against anyone who holds a different belief system than they do. By asserting “counter-rights” as having equal standing, they are putting their religious right to discriminate above those who would have freedom from religious tyranny.

  26. Here’s my take on religious freedom and business:

    If you run a kosher deli, you cannot be required to serve pork. You do, however, have to serve Gentiles.

  27. “God has always embodied power to Believers. That’s why they believe.”

    Pete; this is the basis of the current GOP and the biased laws they are passing to prevent birth control, women’s medical choices in general and denial of basic civil and human rights to LGBTs. The actually believe their legal power is God inspired and ordained.

    “I used to be Christian, but a couple of years ago, because of exactly what you write, I started telling people that I am NOT Christian. I am a follower of Jesus, but NOT Christian.”

    Eric Metzler; you got it right for the most part! But for me it was much longer than a couple of years ago I left organized Christian religion; I do consider myself Christian combined with Jews for Jesus and a touch of Atheism due to my strong belief in science and evolution.

    “Here’s my take on religious freedom and business:

    If you run a kosher deli, you cannot be required to serve pork. You do, however, have to serve Gentiles.”

    Bright water; well put. If only the current “Christians” in politics (and their followers) could understand this from their side of religion; Jesus would have no problem understanding your view.

  28. JD,

    “By asserting “counter-rights” as having equal standing, they are putting their religious right to discriminate above those who would have freedom from religious tyranny.”

    Jane Mayer has exposed the organizational strategy behind the “counter-rights movement.” The Koch Brothers are analogous to the industrialists who funded Adolph Hitler. When the industrialists in Germany started to pull back from their support, by then it was too late.

    That’s where we are now in the U.S. However, our problem is much more difficult than the one in Germany. It was in the hands of one man, that’s not the case here. That’s what Donald Trump is trying to become, THE MAN, and he can’t do it in the long run. He’s only an opportunist like the real estate speculator and investor that he is.

    The only option we have in the U.S. is to COUNTER THE COUNTER-RIGHTS OF THE RIGHT. Jane Mayer has exposed the surface problem. That’s an important part of the problem. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t stop the MOVEMENT which gains its strength, for the most part, at the sub-surface level which she isn’t in the position to monitor. She’s only an investigative reporter and a very, very good one.

    But she has no ability to monitor the OPAQUE sub-surface. That takes continual monitoring from the beginning, like the command and control of an intelligence platform like the FBI or better the CIA.

  29. The popular picture of Jesus knocking on a door without a handle symbolizes that it’s up to the free will of individuals to decide whether to invite him in and to become believers. The Bible does NOT suggest that the force of government should be used to compel religious beliefs or practices or financial support. Jesus himself urged rendering unto Cesear that which is Cesear’s. For the Christians who assert otherwise, I have to wonder what gospel they are reading.

  30. Nancy Papas; I, too, have wondered for years what gospel they are reading. My curiosity began many years ago when I first began to question why Christian missionaries traveled thousands of miles to force their religion on others, why not share it and learn of theirs. We may not understand the belief of others but it is not for us to understand if we choose not to accept and believe. Others should be allowed the same privilege. The current GOP lawmakers have promoted themselves to Legal Missionaries and pass laws to ensure their religion is the only one we are allowed to live by.

    Is this Chutzpah or enslavement?

  31. That state trooper who was fired for preaching to his traffic stop violators should have learned from his first law suit that it is a no-no. Here’s a thought; you can turn a Jehovah Witness or Mormon Missionary away from your door but being stopped by an officer of the law, with a badge and a gun, would be a threatening situation for me. Could/would they file more charges if you drove away during their sermon?

    Here’s another thought; what if he were selling Amway or Tupperware? What are the “rules of the road” for public safety officers issuing traffic tickets?

  32. When “religious freedom” is the license to be hateful, mean-spirited and judgmental, that may be legal in some places, but it sure is neither Christian or in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Even the Old Testament prophets are pretty clear about that, and for that matter, Sodom’s big sins weren’t connected with homosexual practice. They were right wing policies connected with the 1%: “Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door.” (Ezekiel 16:49, NLT)

  33. “When you are accustomed to privilege, equality can feel like oppression.” Unknown
    I’m using this much too often as a comment but it’s called for much too often. These people.. They may be people but I sincerely doubt their humanity.

  34. Shelia – Thank you for your well stated editorial. In spite of its good sense, it will not convince evangelicals who can find numerous examples of their god’s supremacy in their holy book. You already know that. I do not believe you or I can convince anyone who believes in the literal bible. It plainly gives primacy to fundamentalist religious beliefs. Even a small admission of doubt or reconciliation is considered a sinful thought. Our constitutional framers were wise men of which few were fundamentalist. They put their nation before a vengeful biblical deity. How fortunate we are.

  35. Pingback: Religious Chutzpah
  36. Shelia- Another thought. We need to recognize and support the many organizations that are in the forefront of the battle to retain our constitutional rights. Prominent in those organizations are the Center For Inquiry (CFI) and the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). As you well know, we owe them our gratitude and support. I encourage all freethinkers to join and be active in both organizations. It is the ideal way to make our voices heard.

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