Jul

06

Posted by : Brian | On : July 6, 2014

It’s almost that time of year where thousands of Christians citizens go to church in order to worship God America by singing spiritual patriotic songs and talk about the freedom they have in Christ America. Prayers of thankfulness for Jesus soldiers dying on the cross on the battlefield will fill the sanctuary. The superior idolators will attempt to correlate a soldier’s death to the redeeming work that Christ did on the cross. They may take some time to publicly recite catechisms the pledge of allegiance and sing Amazing Grace the National Anthem.

Of course there’s those churches that don’t need the 4th of July or Memorial Day to display their American idolatry, such as the church pictured below:photo

One of several churches that Keri and I have passed that proudly displays the American flag above the Christian flag.

Now I’m not a big man of symbolism, although I do wear a wedding ring, I’ve been baptized, and I take communion regularly – all symbolic. I don’t really care much about birthdays or other nationalized holidays, however. But if you’re going to use symbolic representations such as flags, please do it right. In the photo above, we have a symbolic representation of America, a symbolic representation of North Carolina, and a symbolic representation of – let’s see, what is that? Oh yes, Christianity.

For those that are unaware, the place of honor for a flag is centered and above other flags. If all flags are of equal height, the “marching right” (usually the onlookers left) is the place of honor. For the church above, their flag placement (if their symbolism means anything – and if it doesn’t, why are they out?) shows that America is most important, North Carolina is next, and then Christianity gets an honorable mention.

If your church doesn’t have flags flying outside, there may be a good chance that they are inside on stage. Which one is in the place of honor? Take a look this Sunday. The “marching right” in the auditorium would be to the right from the speaker’s view, not the congregation’s (i.e. the congregation’s left).

Now I am in favor of not having the American flag displayed in churches at all because Christianity transcends nationalism. In fact, 1 Peter 2 tells us that we are “a chosen race, a royal preisthood, a holy nation.” Christianity isn’t defined by geographical borders, so why is our idea of Christianity limited to America? I am more of a brother to an Iraqi or Afghani or Iranian Christian than I am to the American atheist.

(Insert plug for Chuck Baldwin’s article Christians’ Love of the Warfare State is Killing Other Christians.)

Patriotic holidays, including the 4th of July, have essentially lost their intended meaning and become another day to get drunk and sensationalize America’s do-no-wrong greatness. In the church, we just don’t get drunk.

American idolatry is nothing new, but my awareness of it is fairly new. I noticed how church members can sit with their arms crossed and eyes half-closed while the pastor spoke of Christ’s death on the cross, but hoot, holler, and tear up when a slideshow is played of American soldiers carrying “Old Glory” to the background of “God Bless America.” I noticed how church members are ashamed to speak of Jesus in public, but can’t wait to share about their son/daughter/nephew/niece who just joined the military. I noticed that churches invite military members to wear their uniform to church on Sundays nearest patriotic holidays-because that’s why we go to church.

It’s ok, rather good, to love your country, and I do love mine. But when God says “Have no other gods before Me,” that includes America.

Jul

01

Posted by : Brian | On : July 1, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 10.19.53 PM

It’s quite coincidental that the Hobby Lobby ruling came out on Frederic Bastiat’s birthday (Happy 213th!). The dissenting opinion of the Supreme Court ruling was written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and to say the least, I think she should read Bastiat’s book, The Law.

The website motherjones.com published an article outlining the 8 best “zingers” that Ginsburg wrote in her dissenting opinion that, according to their opinion, address the irrationality of the majority opinion. This is my opinion of motherjones’ opinion of Ginsburg’s opinion of the SCOTUS’s opinion. I look forward to hearing your opinion.

Zinger #1 – “in a decision of startling breadth,” [the decision] would allow corporations to opt out of almost any law that they find “incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

If, in Bastiat’s terms, law is “the collective organization of an individual’s right to lawful defense,” the corporations wouldn’t be able to opt out of laws that encroach on the rights of others. Hobby Lobby’s desire to not provide contraceptives is not encroaching on other’s rights of life, liberty, and property. Maybe more corporations should opt out of more laws that are incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Zinger #2 – “The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Consetoga would…deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs access to contraceptive coverage.”

No it wouldn’t. Stop lying.

Ginsburg nicely sums up here the progressive logic of “If you don’t give it to me, then you’re stopping me from having it at all.” You don’t want to support food stamps? You must want people to starve. You don’t want to pay for welfare checks? You must love that people are in poverty. I could go on, but since this is about why Ginsberg should read Bastiat, I’ll let him do the honors.

“But what do the socialists do? They cleverly disguise this legal plunder from others — and even from themselves — under the seductive names of fraternity, unity, organization, and association. Because we ask so little from the law — only justice — the socialists thereby assume that we reject fraternity, unity, organization, and association. The socialists brand us with the name individualist.

But we assure the socialists that we repudiate only forced organization, not natural organization. We repudiate the forms of association that are forced upon us, not free association. We repudiate forced fraternity, not true fraternity. We repudiate the artificial unity that does nothing more than deprive persons of individual responsibility. We do not repudiate the natural unity of mankind under Providence.

Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.

We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”

Zinger #3 – “Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community.”

Once again we see the term “for-profit corporations” being used as a dirty word. “Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations” must be SCOTUS-speak to reference Marx’s theory on the poor laborers fighting in the class struggle against the wealthy bourgeoisie. Therefore, in this never-ending class struggle against the rich, elite, (and now religious) capitalist, these laborers are now forced to endure anti-religious persecution.

That’s what I love about capitalism – real capitalism – people are free to associate (or disassociate as the other SCOTUS ruling confirmed) with whomever they choose, including businesses. If you don’t like your company’s stance on religion, you are free to change jobs. You are also free to not take your business there. Try Michael’s. Or Craft Mart. Or Ben Franklin. Or another hobby/craft store that my wife thoroughly enjoys.

Zinger #4 – “Any decision to use contraceptives made by a woman covered under Hobby Lobby’s or Conestoga’s plan will not be propelled by the Government, it will be the woman’s autonomous choice, informed by the physician she consults.”

And…?

Zinger #5 – “It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage.”

Whew. Well I guess it’s a good thing that Hobby Lobby employees get paid more than minimum wage. In fact, the minimum wage for a full-time employee at Hobby Lobby is $14/hr, 93% above the national minimum wage.

Also something that should be noted, the cost of a 2014 Audi R8 is nearly equivalent to 3.95 years full-time pay for workers earning Hobby Lobby’s minimum wage (nearly 7.63 years for national minimum wage earners).

(Interesting side note: that’s also the estimated cost of  2 movie tickets and a tub of popcorn in the year 2030.)

So it takes some time to make enough money to buy something that I think I need. Lesson learned. Thanks for the bear note.

Zinger #6 – “Would the exemption…extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations [?]…Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today’s decision.”

Let me try to answer those in the right order. “Yes.” “Yes.” “Yes.” “Yes.” “Yes.” Yes.” and “Yes.”

Once again, a legitimate law is one that supports an individual’s right to lawful self defense. If it is not lawful for Bob to force Bill to give Bruce a blood transfusion or antidepressant, then replacing the word “Bob” with “government” cannot make it lawful. This goes deeper into just today’s ruling, but I digress.

Zinger #7 – “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.”

This is where things get tricky. If the ruling would have gone the other way, it would still be favoring one religion over another. The religions that worship God/gods/flying spaghetti monsters, etc. would be undermined by those whose religion is worshipping the State. Does the religion have to be a 501(c)(3) to be considered legitimate?

Zinger #8 – “The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”

Disclaimer: I didn’t read the full dissent. I wanted to get this out before it was no longer Mr. Bastiat’s birthday. I’d have to change the whole two-sentence intro. Needless to say, I didn’t get this exact quote in context; but then again, neither did probably any reader on motherjones.com

The SCOTUS being in a minefield is a good thing. For too long they have ruled contrary to Mr. Bastiat’s warnings and have allowed illegitimate laws to be upheld. Maybe it’s time to take a step back and have the interpreters of the Constitution examine the legitimacy of laws in a country that claims to be the bastion of liberty and freedom.

Maybe they could start by reading The Law.