Wednesday, October 17, 2012

On Religion: Being A Religious Minority

I, as you doubtless know, am Jewish.  I keep kosher (for a certain value of kosher), we treat Shabbat as a family day, we go to services, my kids are involved in religious life, I pray.  I am what most people consider an observant Conservative Jew.

I keep hearing from my, and my dear spouse's, nutter-Christian relatives *, that this is a Christian country.  By this they mean that religious values should inform not only their personal choices, but governmental policies.  When I hear this, I hear: Christianity should be privileged over other religious beliefs; Christian activities should be permitted in otherwise-neutral public spaces**; persons who are not Christian should find themselves to be second-class citizens; Christian beliefs of the people in charge should be imposed on everyone.

This idea frightens me and saddens me (and makes me want to never talk to these people again).  Not simply from a women's-rights perspective, but from a simple religious freedom perspective.  I imagine a public school with mandatory, Christian-based education.***  I imagine art classes that only do Easter and Christmas crafts.  I imagine a country where people can be arrested for practicing their minority religion in a public space.**** I hear "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" echoing in my ears.

We pray every week at our shul:
Our God and God of our ancestors, we ask Your blessings for our country, for its government, for its leaders and advisors, and for all who exercise just and rightful authority. Help them to administer all affairs of state fairly, that peace and security, happiness and prosperity, justice and freedom may forever abide in our midst. 
I am not praying for a Jewish country or a Christian country or - even worse- a 'Judaeo-Christian' country.  I am praying for justice and most of all for freedom.


* This is a subset of Christians, who believe in Honky Jesus and who think the Bible was originally written in English.
** My public elementary school took class Christmas-tree-buying trips until my mother raised holy hell about it.
*** I had a global warming vs. pirates shirt printed for myself.  I wear it whenever I'm around people who get the joke.
**** This right here is why I will never move to Israel. 

10 comments:

  1. Anonymous3:57 PM

    It is scary!
    I am also Jewish.
    I have a Catholic friend (whose political leanings are more like mine--left). She said she recently got a letter from Paul Ryan asking for money from her as a "fellow Catholic", and stating that their mission is "God-based" not "government-based."
    Terrifying.

    --Neighbor Lady

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    1. I live in P.R's state and I can personally testify that he is a loon in almost every way possible. I want to give three cheers for Biden's response though, which was essentially "I believe one thing, but I don't think my personal beliefs give me the right to impose that on everyone in this country, as many people have equally devout but different beliefs."

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  2. Very well expressed. I don't want nutter-Christians imposing their will on me, either. I enjoy choosing when and how many children I'll have, thank you very much. My mother visited last week and said she wasn't sure who she was going to vote for. (She is a fiscal conservative, due to the accounting degree.) Perhaps I should point out that if she hadn't had access to contraceptives, she couldn't have gotten her college degree (I was 4, my brother was 5 when she started school) and had the successful career that's paid off their mortgage and my way through school. (Instead, I limited myself to saying that Romney has no clue what it's like to be poor, and therefore no sympathy for anyone but his little rich circle.)

    The prayer is quite similar to our ELCA congregation's conclusion to group prayer. All religions should know the value of justice and freedom! Those nutters wouldn't have the right to be nutty, otherwise. They'd be oppressed Protestants in the British Empire still.

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    1. Mothers! You were very restrained. "My wife drives a few Cadillacs." :)

      It's a good all-inclusive nondenominational prayer. And yes! Executed and burned! (Catholic and Protestant alike, in turn, eh?)

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  3. It's a scary time to be an atheist, I tell you what.

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    1. Yes. The right to NOT practice the dominant religion is just as important as the right to do so. France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Israel: right out. Though maybe France would be okay for atheists; it's pretty overlay-of-Catholic, though.

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  4. I have no idea how the nation whose constitution was originally based on the separation of Church and State could get to this terrifying (and frankly mystifying to a Catholic/Jewish Atheist European) state of religious f*cknuttery.

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    1. Congress shall make NO !@#$%!@ LAW is all I have to say.

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  5. Amen, sister! Like bunny, I am an atheist, and sympathize with you. I have fundamentalist nutjob relatives and in-laws, who really frighten me.

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  6. I was at a Bicentennial event for my county and some idiot (who was actually involved in some capacity as a town historian of some sort) actually said, "We will begin with the Pledge of Allegiance, said as it was originally intended, with no pause between "one nation" and "under God."

    It was seriously all I could do not to shout, "If you want to say it how it was originally intended then you'd leave out "under God" altogether because it was added in the 50s you f'ing idiot."

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