Faith or fanaticism? Don’t force your apocalypse on me!

This letter is in direct reply to Frank “Uncle Remus” Elliott’s recent letter, “On Religion, The Gulf Oil Spill, and Our Hypocrisy” [June 30 Xpress]: Frank, I appreciate your viewpoint, and I’m proud you had the motivation to speak your mind when it seems that no one’s will is strong enough to stand up for their own opinions or beliefs.

[But] to be frank (pun certainly intended), the reason that Christianity is becoming such a persecuted belief is that people like you are making it so. I was raised in the church and understand the end-time prophecies, but I also understand that most “prophesies” are inherently self-fulfilling, because if you believe them, you will by very virtue of your belief bring them about…

You are incorrect in stating that people make fun of only Christianity. While I agree that exotic religious fads are about as prevalent as “Keep Asheville Weird” stickers, I personally mock any and everybody who thinks that there are a large group of people out there who believe exactly the same thing. How many different sects of plain old Baptists are there? Just Baptists, not Christians? No one believes the same thing you do, and they never will. That’s the purpose and wisdom behind separation of church and state. The reason this country is circling the toilet bowl is that we forgot that we all are here to be different. You have no right to impose any of your religious beliefs on me just because you feel strongly about them.

Yes, in a direct way this country was founded on Christianity. It was also founded on slavery, theft, murder and chauvinism. Are those American traditions we must carry on? We have to evolve, and that doesn’t mean you have to give up your God. It means you have to accept that maybe other people have their own, and that possibly you’re as wrong and/or as right as they are. … There is very little that I wish to fight anyone over, but between your views and mine, there lie thousands of years of smoke, blood and pain.

There is either forgiveness or fanaticism. Which do you think Jesus would choose?

— Jake Gardner

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3 thoughts on “Faith or fanaticism? Don’t force your apocalypse on me!

  1. Betty Cloer Wallace

    When Calvinist minister Jonathan Edwards (Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God) and his 17th Century predecessors and 18th Century colleagues were preaching extremist fear-mongering fundamentalism in Colonial America, they had brought their extremist religious beliefs and social customs from their homelands and continued to practice them unchanged along the North Atlantic coast of North America—beliefs that were extremely oppressive and dangerous to women, slaves, servants, children, and anyone else who was not a white male landowner, i.e. just about everybody.

    The religious fervor reached its zenith (recent larger lethal tragedies notwithstanding) with the 1690s Salem witch trials in which the deaths of more than three dozen people (hanged, pressed to death with stones, or died in prison) were attributed to zealous Puritan church ministers.

    When political conservatives nowadays pay homage to European settlers of this continent as people seeking religious freedom, they are inevitably referring to those extremist religious sects such as Pilgrims (anti-Anglican Separatists) and Puritans (Anglican loyalists) who came here more than a century before our “founding fathers” decided that “freedom” meant separation of church and state—including freedom from the oppressive extremism of those sects—as well as economic freedom.

    Fundamentalist Christians today totally ignore the fact that the colonies were funded and settled for a variety of economic reasons, primarily land acquisition and commerce, not for religious freedom, and that religious freedom came much later—in 1776 and gradually thereafter.

    Even after 1776, “freedom” was a long time coming for most of the North American population, and we’re still working at it—in spite of those who want us to remain stuck in colonial times.

  2. Ashevegasjoe

    They also ignore the fact that “Christian Ideals” were neither original, nor revolutionary. In fact, many of the ideals and allegories were lifted from cultures that pre-dated Christianity. Everything we hold as ideals has been a progression throughout human history. We hold certain truths to be self-evident, putting it under the guise of a specific religion is disingenuous and arrogant.

  3. Betty Cloer Wallace

    @Ashevegasjoe: “Christian Ideals” were neither original, nor revolutionary. In fact, many of the ideals and allegories were lifted from cultures that pre-dated Christianity. Everything we hold as ideals has been a progression throughout human history.

    Yes, most of our holiday (“holy day”) customs pre-date Christianity and other Abrahamic religions, and most of our pre-Abrahamic customs grew out of observation of and reverence for nature and “natural” life cycles—creation, life, death, rebirth.

    Before Abraham declared that his God and religion were masculine, creation and the natural cycles of the earth (“earth mother”) were considered feminine and spiritual. “God” was non-gendered and non-personified. God was life, the life-force, not a male-sexed person appearing on earth in various human male forms.

    With Abraham, religion was co-opted and claimed by men, for men, of men, to be ruled over by men, to be fought over by men, and to be passed on to their sons.

    Subsequently, major Abrahamic religions splintered out into the world and reinforced that dominant male image with numerous male prophets and male messengers and male disciples and male popes and other representative males in dominant roles—many even claiming to be God Himself come to earth in (gasp!) human male form.

    The older spiritual feminine creation-birth-life-death-rebirth religions based on the natural life-giving spiritual earth mother came to be increasingly condemned by religiose men as non-human, evil, and otherwise negative, e.g. witches on broomsticks—pagan religions to be suppressed, oppressed, eliminated, or transformed into male-based religions. Even any reference to those pre-Abrahamic earth mother religions were given an adjunct-to-the-male-norm name: “Goddess” religions.

    And so it came to pass…..

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