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Tertia,

I'm sure I missed something. What made Melanie upset? I didn't comment, but if I missed something that hurt her, please share. I'm not a Christian. By that I mean that I don't believe that Christ is the son of God. However, if someone disrespected her belief system, I'd like to say that Mel has considered and prayed and decided that she believes what she does. How dare anyone insult her. If they questioned, that is one thing, but insult?

Off to bed half way around the world..

I think most HC's have given themselves a bad name by trying to make EVERYONE HC. I know many people of many religions, and it is only the Christians who force their opinions on you. I think this is rude and untactful. When last did a Jewish person try to convert you, or a Muslim?

But I love Mel, and when she has a religious post, I skim.

Nothing personal, I chose not to be religious, spiritual yes, religious, no.

But on the other hand, I would never call her a name. That is uncalled for, and unnecessary. And hurtful, why do it?

I haven't seen the comments on your sister's blog, and I don't know if this applies, but . . .

I think many of your U.S. readers react strongly to HCs because in many parts of our country they aren't quite so happy-go-lucky or stick-to-themselves. They're ban Harry Potter from school libraries types (http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin157.shtml). Many of us non-happy clappers feel our 'way of life' is actively under attack from HCs (and, I admit, HCs feel the same, but feel that the attack is coming from us) (see http://www.bpnews.net/printerfriendly.asp?ID=23296). It leads to a lot of acrimony between the two camps, and a certain lack of understanding when someone we otherwise feel akin to chooses to come down on what we feel is the "wrong" side of the argument.

The movements in the US to make abortion illegal, to continue to deny gays and lesbians the right to marry, to ban books like Harry Potter, and to not only ban Evolution being taught in schools but to make creationism being taught a law are all primarily led and backed by HCs.

Further, not all HCs believe as your sister does regarding Heaven. One of the commenters on your sister's blog spells it right out, "not everyone is going to heaven." (I wonder what her book-banning minister thinks on the issue?) It's just not that big a leap from telling people to not read a book out of fear of the devil getting into their child to thinking it's a swell idea to ban the book for all children to save their souls as well.

Historically it's also not been terribly difficult for religions that believe they are "the one" to cross the line into thinking that people of different religions are "less than." It's like race in that way.

I am a christian, I believe in God, Christ, The Holy Spirit and everything the Bible says. Am I short minded? No. I have read other books with their fabulous theories that contradict the Bible, I laugh at them because sometimes they are just really funny. I don't go to church and I don't believe in religion as such as they are man made "systems". As far as gays, lesbians, abortion, Harry Potter and the likes I don't judge, each one to their own. I do believe that Mel is right in not allowing the little ones to watch Harry Potter as they can't distinguish between fantasy and reality at such a young age, but when old enough (such as Daniel) then they can make up their own minds.

On the comment that HC's try an impose their beliefs on others, yes you do get those, but from personal experience, let me tell you, atheists take every opportunity to bash Christians and their "silly beliefs that originate from stories".

So on that note, I would rather believe in something all my life - with all my heart and soul, one day when I pass on if there is no God to answer to I'm happy I believed, if there is a God and I lived all my life denying him - then what?

Again, each one to their own.

I don't know if things are different here in the US, but as a non-HC, I do have a few friends who are HCs and I get along with them just fine, but there are a LOT of HCs here in the US that try to force their religion upon others (including family members of mine), and I think that's why people (at least here) might be put off by a HC.

But I think for the same reason that I expect people to respect my choice of not having a religion, I also give the same respect to those who do have strong religious beliefs. I just try to avoid the subject if I know someone disagrees with me because as they say you should never talk about religion or politics in polite conversation!

long time lurker...and speaking in generalisations (as you asked in a generalisation)

I think it´s because so much of the in-your-face hard-core HC mentality encourages narrow-minded thought and ignorance. Love everyone- unless they´re gay. Right to life- to all except abortion doctors. They home school with religous text books, indoctrining children in ignorance. How far along the gradient of "I believe in a God" to "full on fundamentalist" is a HC in your definition Tertia? At what point does it stop being a harmless, loving belief and start becoming Jesus Camp?

Btw, I´m frightened by fundamentalist ANYTHING, not just fundamentalist Christians.

Thanks lovely sister T. I know I am a little sensitive on the whole subject.
I am with Rachel on this one. New BF Rachel, u and me!
Where we come from and where we are going is such an imporatnt part of life. It gives us purpose and direction and meaning. For the aetheists... If their is no God or Allah or higher being, then that implies you are a random accident. Something that has evolved over millions of years from a blob of something arb. That is just too depressing for me....life's a bitch and then you die kind of thing.
I know they feel sorry for us sheep types but having nothing to believe in except oneself is just too sad for me.
Remember I am not saying you are less than or bad or wrong, I am just saying I could never live MY life like that.

Rachel, There is a huge difference between verbal rudeness by a small group of people and a large group of people trying to impose their religious beliefs on a non-theist nation. I'm sorry that people have been rude in front of you. I'm far more concerned with the fact that so many HC are trying to keep the right of marriage from my son. I hope you'll understand why I think you are comparing apples and oranges.

Sister Mel, Chaos is beautiful too. I consider it spectacular to be part of this system of never ending cycle of life and death; from stars to to all living things here on Earth. To reduce evolution to "a blob" is to dismiss all the beauty of millions of life here on Earth. I think not seeing that beauty unless it was designed by a higher power is a bit sad.

In the end, it's difficult to read much history and not develop a skeptism about large groups of people who believe everyone would be better off if they thought as they did. If that fails, a favorite close second is forcing people to at least act like they do.

I don't need belief in a higher power to give my life and death real meaning. However, that is not the same as saying that my life does not have meaning or that my attitude towards life and death is so crass as "life is a bitch and then you die."

HI Tertia
Im sitting here having a little giggle - sorry no offence to anyone, you may see why....
When i was in school i was introduced to an HC church by a friend we had a 'tape library' as we did not 'believe' in listening to secular music and i was introduced to a band called DC Talk. One of their title songs is called "Jesus Freak" its a really cool song (and album) - and i still listen to the album every now and then cos its just such good music!! We also walked around calling ourselves "Jesus Freaks" even our friends at the nearby Roman Catholic school who would join us at the HC youth group on friday nights - it was such fun!
here are the lyrics and you will understand even more....
http://www.lyricsfreak.com/d/d.c.+talk/jesus+freak_20037735.html
So when i read the comment i thought "Rainbow" was just being flip and i thought of the song... My point is that i guess us newbie South African specific blog readers/writters have a very different view on religion. Or maybe its just me...
Most of the sites i read have loads more international people reading/commenting than South Africans and it seems that the argument is extremly heated... and very black and white.
When sister Mel uses the term 'HC' she sees it best describing her particular belief system/church etc, I must confess though while i attended that HC church i turned on my mother who is Roman Catholic. I bible bashed her for years only to have someone i looked up at make a hateful comment about RC's that made me tell him to stick it and walk out of my own devoitional class and never go back!! I think the HC's have a bad rep becouse of the 'trying to convert the masses' mentality, and i only speak from my own disgusting behaviour!! I am unfortunatly also a recovering teeth kicker inner of the family...(lol ;-)
I must say i had to laugh at the commenters turning on one another eventually just showing how crazy this all is... and as i said to your sister Mel i just wish people would check what they are saying before sending a comment and respect one another...
i have already posted on your sisters site feel free anyone to read there... and im really sorry that Mel got hurt

The problem I have with religious folk is that I used to be one of them. I went to a very strictly religious high school. I got told I was "selfish" every time I said I was sad (I suffered from - and still struggle with - depression). I poured my all into god and tried my best to be a good Christian girl but it was never enough. If I questioned anything, it was the devil inside me. I can't tell you how many times someone tried to pray Satan out of me. It got to be so bad, I literally thought there were demons in my head. I was terrified of mirrors and shiny surfaces because I just KNEW if I looked in the mirror, I would see demons swarming around me.

After high school, I landed in the mental ward for awhile because I couldn't figure out why god would let Satan have me.

I know now that not all Christians are like that. Back then, though, it was all I knew and I was a failure to them. I struggled to accept all the teachings but there were just so many things I couldn't understand.

I shy away from churches and preachy-folk because it brings back such awful memories. I went to church a couple years ago because a friend asked me to, and I had a panic attack and had to excuse myself.

I don't care if people are Christian. It's their choice, and as long as they THINK FOR THEMSELVES, I'm happy for them. I have a problem with religious folks like Fred Phelps from g0dhatesfags.com. I have a problem with people who don't follow Jesus' loving example. I have a problem with people who tell me I'm going to hell because I have a few piercings. I have a problem with people who PUSH and SCARE others into the HC world. I have a problem with the man who snapped at me, "Well at least I know when I die that I'll have lived a good life."

And apparently I won't because I'm not Christian.

I can never go back to that world. I prefer to seek god on my own terms now and I'm much happier (and saner) that way.

xoxo
anonymousey

you forget that i live in a place where they take jesus rather seriously at all levels of my society, despite protestations of equality. it colors my attitude considerably.

my federal government is trying to outlaw my work because it's immoral. state and local governments restrict where i may carry out my work in such a way as to make it physically impossible to actually find space to carry it out legally (despite the fact that my business is, in fact, legal). in my state it's against the law to sell cars on one day of the weekend, to sell beer before noon on sunday. i have been physically assaulted on a number of occasions for not believing as the majority of the local population does. between the end of october and the middle of february, i'm totally unable to go a single solitary day without some mass media, marketing, or "friendly greeting" reference to a big christian holiday that usually falls in late december. it even spills over into places i must go to do my business or work -- like government offices and my employer's office -- that are supposed to be neutral. shit, it even creeps into AA meetings (and oh are the drunks ever so resentful of the idea that maybe those damned trees are offensive to some members).

religion is used where i live to demonize people and discriminate against them, in everything from marriage and property rights to employment to military service to medical insurance to visitation of sick friends in the hospital to protection from hate-motivated crime (or, in the most whacked out cases generally known to the public, to praise a popular diety whose little-known middle initial is H. for things like roadside bombs that kill soldiers as retribution for society's immoral behavior -- at said KIA soldiers' funerals).

it is used to force a specific world view that isn't empirically verifiable into science classes in public school. it is used to intrude into private medical decisions, to harass people with whom you don't agree or whom you dislike, and to justify what i (an adult) may or may not be permitted to read or share with my children. it is used to justify outlawing "obscene devices" (like, you know, dildos) -- posession of six or more can land you in prison in my state, and my state is far from the only one. it is used to oppose the administration of potentially life-saving vaccines to young women because they might "get the wrong message" that protecting their health is a good thing.

now, lemme take a moment and make a distinction that's going to be lost on most people. i have no problem with people who believe what they believe, implement their beliefs in their private life, and do their best to model their beliefs in their behavior. whom you sleep, associate privately, pray, live, or otherwise interact with in your private life is your business. more power to you.

where i get angry is when you (the royal "you") try and impose your world view on me and my choices. telling me i can't read about anal rape, can't buy a vibrating penis for use in my private home, can't have a school that teaches only facts supported by repeatable, empirical, physical evidence, can't put my dick up my wife's ass when she asks for it, is imposing your morality on my private behavior -- something i don't do to you. i don't force you to buy dildos or read dirty books or watch porn or believe in evolution or buy cars on sunday, but you want to prohibit it for me. that is a fundamental imbalance in attitude, and it is egregious because, at least in my society, the power of the state is frequently motivated in support of that imbalance.

if you believe that imbalance is a good thing, i think you're a freak. if your motivation for that imbalance comes within light years of jesus, you're a jesus freak. if you are so motivated by your imbalance that you take to the street shouting bible verses through a bullhorn -- yes, we have them here, in my residential neighborhood, occasionally even picketing my jesus-killing (aka nominally jewish) home and scaring my noise-sensitive autistic child -- you are a bible-thumping jesus freak who was brain-damaged at rebirth.

leave me alone to practice my perversions in private, and i'll cheerfully leave you alone to practice yours in private. all i want is to be left alone.

jesus freaks can't seem to figure that out.

let me also point out, as a side note, the simple lunacy of believing that harry potter is the work of the devil:

the generally held belief is that the devil is, shall we say, somewhat on the powerful side. he is intelligent and conniving, ready to trick you out of your soul at any opportunity.

if he's so smart and powerful, couldn't he come up with something better than a series of children's books about love, loyalty, courage, self-sacrifice, triumph of good over evil, and a healthy disrespect for abhorrently stupid adults? oh my gawd, harry kissed cho! what ever will we do! come on, most boys will kiss just about anything with lips at that age. the idea that harry potter or judy blume or the what's happening to my body book for boys or any of the other most-banned books i listed on my blog in february, 2005, are somehow the work of the devil simply make me wonder about some peoples' ability to think rationally. (actually, an apparent inability to think from any point of view other than their own, let alone rationally enough to find possible flaws in assumptions and logic, is a hallmark of most jesus freaks as defined above.)

so if mel is the sort of person who might write about her beliefs on her blog, but doesn't try to cram them down others' throats through legislation, all's well in my little universe. or, if mel is still offended ... yeah, it's time for a thicker skin.

Wow! What a debate! I'm OK with HCs, except for the ones we have in this country that are not so happy. I think we all need to remember how tolerant Jesus was of all people. He never told them they were bad or made them feel bad about themselves. On the Harry Potter thing, I don't believe it has anything about "the devil" in it, but I understand the need for parents to make decisions about if they will let their children watch the movies. As the movies go further along, each one is darker than the last. You need to check first to make sure the latest movie is not too scary for the kid in question. Our daughter has watched them all (she's six years old) but she's watched them while cuddling between us on the couch. She has never seen an HP movie in the movie theater. She's OK with movies that are a bit scary, but only in the comfort of her own home.

You do have to understand that many evangelical christians in the USA are really sort of out of control. They believe that the US should be a christian nation, that other religions should be thrown out, that Bush was appointed by God to run the place, and that religious doctrine should be the law of the land.

Say, doesn't that sound like the state of things in a few other countries? Countries that the US gov claims to be "bringing democracy" to?

Fundamentalist ideologies of any kind are dangerous. They make people act with a mob mentality and think in a us vs. them way. This goes for religous ideologies, political ideologies and others. I feel personally threatened, as do others in the USA like RainbowW above, by the current evangelical christian movement in the US. Nothing RainbowW said about the laws they would like to impose was untrue or even exagerrated. It's frightening and horrifying to me.

As for HP - if you believe in a strict interpretation of the bible, than sure, HP is not of God and the teachings of that book and you don't want your kids exposed to it. Most people I know (in my family) who are fundamentalist christians do not want their minds opened, and do not seem to believe that creative thinking is a good thing. Therefore, books like HP which are complete flights of fancy are not acceptable reading.

Tertia,
I understand that feeling of wanting to defend a sibling. Do I ever.

I enjoyed your thoughts about Chaos as beautiful, Kathleen. I think in some odd way, we're all talking about the same experience. I also heard a quote recently that no one talks about God more than atheists. "Live in the question".

The problem I had with my RC upbringing was that there was no living in the question. I wasn't meant to ask a lot of questions. And when I was old enough to be critical of the answers, they were so convoluted and fantastic, so removed from real life experience that I couldn't take it seriously anymore.

If anyone is interested, there is a great book out there, "Jesus For the Non-Religious" by John Shelby Spong. He is a Christian Bishop who struggled with the trend of taking the bible literally.

From Amazon: "Spong, the iconoclastic former Episcopal bishop of Newark, details in this impassioned work both his "deep commitment to Jesus of Nazareth" and his "deep alienation from the traditional symbols" that surround Jesus.

"For Spong, scholarship on the Bible and a modern scientific worldview demonstrate that traditional teachings like the Trinity and prayer for divine intervention must be debunked as the mythological trappings of a primitive worldview."

The problem that I have with many of the Christian sects, not all mind you, but most, is that they believe that if you don't accept Jesus as your personal savior you're going to hell, and that it is therefor THEIR JOB as Christians to convert you to the faith and save your soul. You can holy clap all you want, and there are many churches that do an incredible amount of good for the sick, poor, imprisoned what have you...but my soul just isn't your business...period. Jews, Buddhists, followers of Islam, Hindus, you name it don't have it written in their doctrine that it is their work as whatever they are to convert YOU. A great deal of horrible atrocities have been committed in the name of Jesus for this reason, including missionaries coming to Africa and helping to enslave Africans, and that's without talking about all the killing that went on during the Spanish Inquisition. Here in the US the fundamentalists have kidnapped Christianity, making it political and nasty, and making everyone believe that being Christian means being bigoted, pro-war, pro-Bush, and extremely conservative, and that just isn't the case. They are giving Christians a bad image, and it's a crying shame. (although to be honest, because of the stuff I mentioned, the Church has a LOT to answer for, not Christians themselves, but definitely the Church)

To be called a Jesus Freak is a compliment for Christians. If you are the salt and the light you are living your life right. As Christians, most I would say, we want to engage non-believers in a discussion. When confronted with the truth-forgiveness, grace, love, judgment people get scared. Recognizing your sinful nature means you have to change. Once someone opens your eyes your only choice is to make a decision to accept or reject. People do not want to think about their sinful nature. They do not want to think about changing. People would rather do what feels good. The post-modern world tells us judgment is bad but one day we will all be judged whether you believe now or not. You will be judged. I think everyone should read the Bible, even non-believers, because it is central to world history. Read the Bible to see what gets people so freaked out over Jesus. Jesus was love and peace. But he was not accepting of sin he asked us to go and sin no more. He understood we are sinners and that he had to die for our sins so that we may have everlasting life. Christians feel we know a truth that could save your life, why would we not share the most wonderful thing with others?

I wish more Americans understood history. When children are killed via abortion or infanticide (so-called late term abortion) life has lost its sanctity. If we kill our elderly via euthenasia we begin to look Germany in the 1930's under the T-4 program.Read Horton: a person's a person no matter how small.

I see a lot of ugly and negative and judgemental statements here, a lot of condemning of other people's thoughts and beliefs. None of it is coming from HCs but it's all accusing them of being that way.

A bit ironic, really.

Wow - great discussion. I think it comes across pretty rapidly that, at least in the US, where a large percentage of your readers are (including me), HC vs non-HC is indeed a big, big deal. Even more so in certain regions of the country that are historically more "traditional" (shall we say). Although Rainbow's words are harsh, his sentiments are on the mark, in my view. If everyone here, and everywhere, shared the view of Live and Let Live, or even better - "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" - there would be world peace. Somehow people don't seem to be made that way. I wonder sometimes if those of us I consider more "enlightened" - i.e. more likely to be tolerant and to question what we are told - are actually different in some way from those who are close-minded, intolerant of anyone whose beliefs or practices are not their own, and frightened of questioning, or whether it's totally about where you come from and the experiences you've had.

On a slightly different topic, I thought Sister Mel's comments about feeling that a life without "something larger to believe in" would be sad and depressing, were interesting, in that this is part of why her religion is attractive to her. But many people also feel that the magnificence of the universe and all of the beauty and untold wonders in it, and mankind's yearning to learn and discover what we can of it, is also "something larger to believe in." I'm not saying one is better than the other, but one is clearly more comforting to us tiny humans (believing in an all-powerful God who is attending to us individually) and the other possibly less so (believing that no one is specifically looking out for us, but we have the personal power to make our lives meaningful by making positive contributions to the world). My 2 cents!

Oh - Carl Sagan's book, Contact, deals with this topic in a very cogent, and also entertaining manner - I recommend it highly!

weird. you and i bloggedthe same thing on the same day.

hugs and love to you and your sister xxx

In America, unlike a lot of other countries, Christianity is the dominating religion, by something like 85-90%. That is a lot. And, sadly, religious beliefs permeate laws, education, public policy...all facets of our lives. I cannot imagine a God that does not want people to thinka dn act for themselves, that is filled with hate and punishment against any of his ir her children. But I rememebr reading once that if you keep your eyes on other Christians, you will be forever disappointed, and the goal is to truly try to act as Jesus acted. And it sure wasn't by banning books, hating gay people, confusing religion with science...it was by tolerance and kindness and love. Too bad more people don't act like it.

My 2 cents:

1. A small group of vocal "Christians" in the USA give off a terrible, hateful, cruel vibe. They are plain hateful.

2. That group is loud and obvious, and so most people tend to associate all devout Christians with them.

3. I find it VERY ironic that in the USA, the expectation is that you must respect everyone's beliefs - except for Christianity.

There are obvious exceptions (hate groups, like the kkk), but in general, a blogger who wrote about how horrible Asian people are, or how horrible Jews are would NEVER be supported, and for just cause - it's hateful and racist and cruel.

However, Christians are fair game.

Mostly, that is thanks to the minority of hateful people who proclaim that they are Christians and yet hate God's people.

But I have little respect for people who spew hatred for all Christians, who ignore that there are millions of Christians on Earth and only a small % are those hateful people.

I dare say that the same % of Christians who are horrible people matches the % of Muslims who are horrible people, and the % of Jews who are horrible people....

Every religion, every culture, every group of people has cruel people involved.

OK, I couldn't help responding to Cookie, who posted while I was composing my comment. She makes the point that believers feel strongly that they should share their "gift" with non-believers, which of course is one of the main things that most of the previous commenters indicated they find irritating about HC's. The question I would give in response to Cookie's comment, is to ask whether people like her actually think that people in today's society (in the US anyway) don't KNOW about the basic premise of Christianity? Everyone KNOWS what their message is, but that doesn't mean we all accept it. And if we don't accept it, that should be OK - we will live with those consequences, it is not your concern. If there are individuals out there (and of course there are) who are actively searching for religion and reaching out to a church or to HC's individually, then by all means share those beliefs that have brought joy and meaning to you. But do not go out soliciting - that is truly offensive to many people.

I think being called a Jesus Freak is a compliment. I wish I lived my faith the way Mel does.

I think this must be a difference between the US and SA. I'm in the US, and I think the fundamentalists here are truly trying to make everyone else adhere to their beliefs. The amount of religion being injected into politics and SCIENTIFIC POLICY, for goodness sakes!, is just astounding and, in my view, wrong. It would be impossible for anyone to be elected president here if s/he didn't profess a deep personal belief in Jesus. That's our society, and the idea that we are tolerant of all religions except Christianity is oft-repeated but has no merit. Once we have political figures that reflect the true religious diversity of our population, I'll consider it.

(BTW, I am hugely involved in my church. I teach Sunday school, etc., so this is not coming from someone who is threatened by religion! I just think that religion and policy should stay generally separate, and that line is crossed far too frequently for my taste.)

I come from an extremely religious background and, after much thought and reading and serious consideration I realized that religion (and so far all other organized religions) was not right for me. Because my parents believe that they are responsible for my soul this has caused enormous pain in my very loving family. All I can do is reiterate that I am happy that they have this thing in their life that brings them joy - I respect them and their beliefs and always will. The trouble is their religion does not allow me the same respect and happiness.

However, I do wonder how much of our current American sensitivity to fundamentalist Christianity is because of the very real, very frightening things happening in politics? When someone on my street believes that God is telling them what to do and that everything they do is righteous and correct that might irritate me (if it involves loud music early in the morning or something) but not frighten or offend me. If my president and his advisers do the same thing, and their beliefs about what God is supporting them in doing violates my rights, or causes death and destruction to others... well, then I become very afraid.

I'd like to know where in the US I can live where the Christians are in the minority and it's OK to badmouth them like Sarah Cool posits.

Because honestly, right now? The laws in the US are DOMINATED by the Christian beliefs, not by the Consitutional beliefs where all people should be respected and laws should not be made in prejudice to one faction or another.

I've seen plenty of churches burned deliberately because they were mainly black congregations, but never a church burn because they were deliberately white. I've seen health clinics bombed and destroyed because they would perform abortions, but I've never seen a Christian Help Center even vandalized. I've seen cars with Darwin fishes (the judeo-Christian fish with DARWIN on the inside) and pro-choice bumper stickers vandalized, but never a car with a cross on it, or a pro-life bumper sticker even touched. I've seen books banned from libraries because they had naughty words, had magic, or were sexually explicit but the Bible is never banned, even though it's full of magic (you say miracles, I say magic) and sexually explicit stories (Song of Solomon anyone?).

In my state alone, we can get FREE "In God We Trust" license plates, but to support anything else, we have to pay extra.

I have nothing against people who have specific religious beliefs. In fact, if that is what makes them happy and content, fine, so be it. But when those beliefs are then supposed to have law over MY life, that's where I draw the line. And I think that is why so many Americans are so strongly divided on this issue. Right now, those who don't believe with the majority are being punished by the LAW with regards to what we can and cannot do as opposed to being considered reasonable adults able to make our own decisions.

Christians, Jews, Atheists, Muslims, whoever... no one has a right to tell me that I can't marry another woman just as I have no right to tell them that they must marry another man. They have no right to tell me I can't read pornography just as I have no right to force them to read pornography.

But right now, in the US, Christians are trying to do that, trying to legislate their beliefs on many people who disagree, and unfortunately, there are more of them than there are of us. And until this country remembers taht this is not a majority rule country (try reading the consitution, people) we non-Christian minority get ignored.

So, it doesn't come down to what we believe or not, it comes down to what we are trying to be FORCED to believe.

Fellow HC and proud Jesus Freak here but totally ambiguous about Harry Potter as I have neither read the books nor care to read them and form an opinion. Boo hiss to people being mean to Mel for being honest and open with her faith.

Tertia - please tell Mel that Jesus Freak is the highest compliment she can be paid, no matter how meanly it is meant. She should just stick her fingers in her ears (or, eyes since she's reading the comments?) and ignore the jerks.

As for Christians trying to legislate our beliefs? Hello? Prayer in school anyone? Oh yeah, can't do that. 10 commandments hanging on a Court House wall? Can't do that either. Christmas trees or other displays in public (i.e., in view of non-Christians)? Nope take it down. Peach, I wonder where you live because the country I live in is on a decidely ANTI-Christian slide, attacking Christians in Court, press, and elsewhere for being Christian. But that's neither here nor there. NO ONE should be attacked for his or her beliefs, whether they are Christian or Atheist or other.

I'm with you, Sarah Cool.

I didn't comment on the HP thing. I think it is fine for people to withhold reading material from their own children, but if they want to ban them from libraries or schools, that is where I get upset (although I agree that schools is a little touchy if books are 'required' but - what if a racist parent doesn't want their child reading _To Kill a Mockingbird_? Where does it end?)

I live in Canada and overall, we don't have these issues to the same extent as the US.

I do think in the US it is a very different situation because sex education is being removed - "abstinence-based" programmes are being funded; equal rights to civil marriage are being withheld from gay and lesbian individuals; access to abortion is being seriously threatened; and so on.

I am also a bit surprised that in a post-colonial state you do not understand the way that Christianity was used not that very long ago as a weapon in cultural and resource appropriation, destroying native culture while being used an an excuse to expropriate land and natural resources.

Here in Canada we have the extremely great shame of the residential schools - the wholesale removal of a generation of people from their families and homes to be placed in religious schools to be instructed in the "truth" - Christianity - and be saved from barbarism. These children were torn from their families, beaten and punished for speaking their own language, and often sexually abused. It was terrible and resulted in a total disconnect and skyrocketing rates of suicide and addiction among our native peoples. Fortunately those very churches are now having to provide a small amount of restitution in the form of money.

Obviously these are not people NOW who did/are doing this (although this was not long ago; in the 50s and 60s), but it is a part of our cultural fabric and contributes to the discussion.

I do think some HCs also bring it on themselves personally by proselytizing. I have never seen your sister do that, so she is exempt. :)

Still... I understand that they believe this is their role, just as some other religions believe in converting or eliminating non-believers. But I find it a real violation when people come up to me to talk about Jesus. I was horribly abused in a ritual/religious context and I find it personally affronting to have people assuming that I "need to learn" about Christianity. There is no acknowlegement - NONE - that maybe it is just not right to go up to random strangers and get in their faces about it.

I think the problem with HC (or Holy Rollers, religious extremists, etc) is that they think everyone else is going to HELL and are superior. The excuse their behavior b/c "God will forgive you", but at the same time, think they are better than everyone else b/c they "know" the answer. Again, that is just my opinion.

Tertia, I've encountered HCs in both SA and US and I have to say that the American ones tend to be much more involved in movements to ban things that don't match the way they see the world.

If you have an opportunity, you must rent the documentary "Jesus Camp". It's about a fundamentalist camp for young children where the organisers don't spend a whole lot of time talking about God's love or the gospel stories. Rather, the majority of the time is spent making the kids afraid that they are going to hell for this or that reason, making them responsible for evangelising their friends and doing a very graphic presentation on abortion, all with a disturbing level of pro-USA overtones. They study a special curriculum and disproving evolution and global warming seem to be major themes of their science curriculum. In fact, there is a South African guy who shows up at the camp halfway through, although we don't really find out whether or not he agrees with everything going on at the camp.

I've never heard of SA Happy Clappers trying to introduce anti-abortion legislation or attacking abortion clinics and they barely made a peep when SA's gay marriage legislation went through. (Being an American HC seems to be synomous with being deeply involved in the anti-gay marriage and anti-abortion movements.) The SA HCs seem to stick to projects like your sister is doing-- poverty alleviation and reaching out to the hungry, etc. Maybe because the Dutch Reformed Church was so mixed up with the Nationalist Apartheid government and supported some policies that were completely contrary to the bible, South Africans are less keen to mix church and state.

Tertia, I've encountered HCs in both SA and US and I have to say that the American ones tend to be much more involved in movements to ban things that don't match the way they see the world.

If you have an opportunity, you must rent the documentary "Jesus Camp". It's about a fundamentalist camp for young children where the organisers don't spend a whole lot of time talking about God's love or the gospel stories. Rather, the majority of the time is spent making the kids afraid that they are going to hell for this or that reason, making them responsible for evangelising their friends and doing a very graphic presentation on abortion, all with a disturbing level of pro-USA overtones. They study a special curriculum and disproving evolution and global warming seem to be major themes of their science curriculum. In fact, there is a South African guy who shows up at the camp halfway through, although we don't really find out whether or not he agrees with everything going on at the camp.

I've never heard of SA Happy Clappers trying to introduce anti-abortion legislation or attacking abortion clinics and they barely made a peep when SA's gay marriage legislation went through. (Being an American HC seems to be synomous with being deeply involved in the anti-gay marriage and anti-abortion movements.) The SA HCs seem to stick to projects like your sister is doing-- poverty alleviation and reaching out to the hungry, etc. Maybe because the Dutch Reformed Church was so mixed up with the Nationalist Apartheid government and supported some policies that were completely contrary to the bible, South Africans are less keen to mix church and state.

re sarah cool's comments: i will believe that "christians are fair game" in the united states when 26 states ratify constitutional amendments requiring that all persons marry people of the same sex, have late term abortions when their doctors tell them they're not needed, and ban the sale and distribution of christmas lights and frosty the snow man blow up lawn ornaments.

as we say in texas, that dog don't hunt.

I was raised with no religion and have an agnostic father who is a PhD scientist. I agree with you totally on the live and let live, to each his own philopsophy of religion.

I hate that there are many people in the world who are so convinced that their religion is right that they feel that gives them a right to hurt or annoy others (ie, "islamic" and other terrorists, and on a lesser level, any zealot who goes around trying to convert others to his or her own mindset).

My life is full without religion. Don't need it. But I'm glad that it gives many people happiness and a community they want to be part of. More power to them.

Here in the states the HCs are trying to take over! Separation of church and state? What the hell is that?

I also believe to each his own and therefore think gay marriage is okay and abortion should be legal, etc. But here in the US the HCs are damned determined that these things should not be legal because they are immoral. To me, they are pushing their religious views onto others.

I must be developing very thick skin or else I'm a poor skimmer, but I missed the mean posts on Mel's blog. Hope mine wasn't one of the ones that upset her.

I'm a devout Christian, church member, and Sunday School teacher, but not a happy clapper - which, here in the US, denotes fundamentalists. I take no offense at the resentment I hear and read towards Christians because I think it points to some problems that we MUST take seriously - 1) hateful, judgmental people hijacking Jesus as part of a power grab (see Bush and the neocons) and 2) the aspect of the faith-based movement that discourages people from thinking logically, objectively, and for themselves.

Last summer I was in Hungary; the history there is interesting and sad, as the people were first terrorized by the fascist party (associated with the Nazis) and then by the communist party. Two opposite philosophies, but one long reign of terror - both led by the same power-hungry psychopath. He had no real connection to either political philosophy but used both for his own sick means.

I am also a believer in "live and let live" - but religion, in the US (and the middle East, I'd say), is often the vehicle that the hateful, the power-hungry, the bossy, the self-important ride. When we as Christians stop thinking critically, we support and enable these folks to hijack our religion and use it for their own ends, not God's.

Mel sets a wonderful example of serving Christ - she's devoting herself to helping others, she doesn't seem judgemental in the slightest, and I have endless respect for that. What sets off a nerve in me (and maybe other readers) - and you have to see this through the eyes of someone whose country is at war because of faith-hijaked politics - is when she talks about being an immature Christian who is willing to listen and learn from more mature Christians who, when quoted, seem judgmental (like the friend who chastised her for using the word "fuck" in a post) and overly concerned with the trivial (like banning a child's book) - two things associated with Christians that we need, I think, to challenge.

I don't mean to post like I'm talking about Mel behind her back! Mel, you are reading, right? Love you, love your blog.

I agree with what the other commenters said. Here in the UK, happy clappers aren't as vocal and don't play as big a part in politics. In the US, it's a different matter.

Personally, I enjoy reading HC blogs and about their beliefs; I can live and let live.

And being called names on the internet is not nice. I've had that happen to me once (organised invasion of my blog), and I'm still jumpy when I see comments from people who are not on my Livejournal friends list. Poor Mel!

I didn't read any of the comments from here or the previous post but I am sorry that your sister felt hurt. She seems like a very nice and thoughtful person so it rather burns my butt that she was hurt for no reason but so someone could say something rude.

My adult response to HC's really is to each their own. The one "bad" feeling I have is really my own hangup. I feel like if they know all the "rules" and are trying so hard to follow them, surely they must notice when I am failing and they are probably judging me so I either feel extremely nervous or defensive. Like when you talk with a nun and are sure you will accidently drop an "F" bomb.

I do remember as a child being approached in a store by someone with a doomsday pamphlet. When I told my mother, she went ballistic, probably because this person approached me but at the time, I remember thinking it was because of the material (the person SEEMED nice enough but obviously shouldn't have been approaching children in stores). So now, when I hear things that aren't specifically related to my religion, my knee jerk reaction is fingers in the ears, LALALALALA, I can't hear you because I'm afraid I might be doing something "wrong". Of course, thats only knee jerk, as a grown up I am willing to listen and respect other people's views.

I don't have to like something, but I can respect it.

The US is starting to feel like the beginning of the Crusades. When Ann Coulter can get away with hate language like "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." Or promoting books with names like "Godless." And she does it on legitimate news shows. It's just crazy.

It's a big problem when a group of people want to dictate to the rest what is moral, how to live their lives, etc. Why should I believe that life begins at conception just because someone else does? Is the Supreme Court going to outlaw divorce, because 5 Catholic men believe that divorce isn't allowed? Why do I even have to worry about it?

And the big thing in all of this that gets me is that a lot of these over zealots who claim to be Christians are practicing such a bastardized form of Christianity that it's a joke. Since when did Christianity allow absurd judgement on others, *not* giving and helping the poor, etc. It's really scary in the US.

To be clear, I support people who choose to believe in their religions. I have a problem when people tailor a mainstream religion for their personal gain at the cost of others.

I haven't seen anyone else identify as a Jehovah's Witness on this, so here goes. Please remember that I do not speak for anyone other than myself. Jehovah's Witnesses do not participate in any way, shape, or form in secular politics at any level. Therefore, no one will ever hear of us picketing anyone, lobbying anyone, or trying to influence public policy in any way. The only thing we do remotely connected to the political process is pursue legal cases when our rights to hold meetings and/or preach publicly are denied. We have won a lot of major free speech cases before the US Supreme Court. But we don't interfere with anyone elses' right to whatever they want. And if you ask me directly to never knock on your door again, I will make arrangements to mark your address as a "Do Not Call" and no one else in my congregation will call at your door. If you have a "No Trespassing" sign up, I won't call at your door. If you tell me you aren't interested, I will go away. But I am obligated to look for people who might want to learn about the Bible and become Jehovah's Witnesses. Nothing makes me happier than to show someone the Bible's answer to a question they have, or provide them some comfort and peace. I do want to reiterate that Jehovah's Witnesses are absolutely not part of the fundamentalist faction or any other group/movement etc. We stand alone as separate from any other religion or movement or group. We do not support any political system, type of government, or nation. Our full allegiance is to God's Kingdom which is no part of this world.

A couple of points, mainly about the terminology that´s getting thrown around here:

1. The word tolerance. I was brought up with the understanding that the word tolerance described putting up with something you didn´t agree with. These days if you don´t agree with something you´re immediately labelled intolerant whether you put up with it´s existence or not. If I agreed with it the word wouldn´t apply at all, as I´m not "putting up with something".

2. Tolerance does not equal respect. I will tolerate someone thinking they were abducted by aliens. I do not have to respect them for that belief. I will tolerate that *this guy (whoever)* is an illread, ill-educated buffoon, but I will not respect him for it. I will tolerate that *she* is a shallow pain in the arse, but I will not respect her for that. I may respect other aspects of them, but not those ones.

I think most HC's have given themselves a bad name by trying to make EVERYONE HC. I know many people of many religions, and it is only the Christians who force their opinions on you. I think this is rude and untactful. When last did a Jewish person try to convert you, or a Muslim?

Um, Coral? Ever heard of an Islamic Jihad?

The very basis of Christianity is that after you believe, you try to share the message of Salvation with others. Who would we be if we honestly believe this is the way to heaven and didn't share it with others?

Yes, people of all religions get a bad name. But isn't the automatic inherent judgement of Christians the very thing opposers say they despise about the religion?

Interesting.

What interests me is that so many people who are against Christianity are upset they aren't allowed into our "theoretical" Heaven. So, you don't want any part of my faith, but you're appalled the way you live might not constitute the prize? That one makes no sense.

1. My pastor doesn't "ban books"...and encourages us to think for ourselves. Of course, some of thses readers wouldn't know that, because they see a Christian and go on the attack.

2. We have a moral standard we fight for. Sorry that doesn't include abortion or gay marriage. There's plenty I disagree with other readers on as well, but I have yet to call them bad names over it.

3. Either we "evolved" or were "created", and presenting both arguments is valid. I'm still trying to figure out why the dust on the moon amounts to thousands of years and not billions, how evolution has yet to explain the five huge Haldane-Oparin hypotheses that must be assumed true in order for evolution to stand, why carbon dating has shown an animal's head to be thousands of years older than other parts of his body, the assumptions that must be made about L and D-amino acids for evolution to stand, and the quite literally thousands of other contraditions to it. It's a "theory" not an absolute. I would think that - in any situation - only presenting one side of a theory is ignorant. How people could see it any other way is beyond me.

I do NOT condone such extremist positions as abortion clinic bombings, yet I am still surprised at how these isolated incidents are made representative of the millions and millions of Christians in America. In 1993, two gay rights activist groups attacked a church, where they physically harmed people, spit in their face, and pounded on the doors and windows of the churches screaming "we want your children."


How is that any better?


Tertia is right: Most people fall in a norm. It really is unfair and unintelligent to judge all on the actions of a few. I have a right to oppose gay marriage just as much as a person has a right to fight for it. I have a right to oppose abortion just as much as a person has a right to fight for it. I have a right to my Christianity and a right to tell others about it just as much as any other religious or agnostic or atheist individual has a right to their beliefs and sharing of those beliefs.

I have never - EVER - tried to say that wasn't the case.

Nonetheless, this nation has a heritage that so many want to deny. How can this be denied?

"The Bible is the cornerstone of liberty. A student's perusal of the sacred volume will make him a better citizen, a better father, a better husband." - Thomas Jefferson

"It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible. Morality is the necessary spring of popular government. And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without Christianity. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle." - George Washington

"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. So great is my veneration of the Bible that the earlier my children begin to read it, the more confident will be my hope that they will prove useful citizens of their country and respectful members of society." - John Adams


This is what the people who founded the nation that has afforded so many opportunities believed. Contrary to popular belief, straying from this - according to the people who gave us this nation in the first place - is going against the very standard of the constitution itself. So excuse me for defending the foundation my country was built on.


Tertia,

Let me lend some perspective. I'm a HC in the US, and there are a lot of bad HC's here. They are judgemental, self-righteous and say very hurtful things to people. Its not limited to HCs, but very typical of HCs, especially HCs on TV. The HCs on the news hate people, they hate gay couples, they hate single mothers, they hate punk rockers, and that's why they're on the news, because it generates ratings, its interesting, and its something to get upset about. They get into each other's kitchen about yoga, Harry Potter, without looking into their own souls about their gossiping or jealousy. You rarely find an HC on TV saying, "geez, I did not handle that conversation with my sister well, how is she ever going to fall in love with Christ when I keep beating her over the head with my Bible, Lord, I really need some guidance and your spirit when I talk to her. Forgive me for being so rotten", but there are HCs who confess this sort of thing to each other and in their prayers. And we get better, and we grow, as all people do (HCs or otherwise)

So, yes, it is mean spirited of people to attack your sister for her beliefs. It is rotten, but they have been beaten up by people who claim to represent her view. Its their team against ours, and this gets perpetuated sometimes in church when people talk of spritual warfare. As HCs, we can't retreat and cry, we have to pray for the people who feel beaten up by our church (because all of us HCs do belong to the same church), we have to pray for our bad representatives, and we have to carry on and continue to spread the love of the gospel. It's hard, but its worth it. It's not just about a room in heaven with a sea-view, Tertia, its a kind of love I can't even describe to you, and your sister loves you so much that she wants you to feel this indescribable love too.

I'll head over and give some encouragement to Mel. Praying for those who felt they had to attack her.

I am a South African living in the US,and after three years I can say "it is an American thing",not just Christian VS non Christian.South Africans are more tolerant and less opinionated.To have an opinion about something is one thing but to voice every single opinion you have?
I have seen a dedate following a woman's decision to have an selective C section(for no reason other than her own choice) where she was shredded to pieces.In SA even if we disagreed we would haved accepted it as her choice.Other examples are the debate that followed the 60 year old woman who had the IVF,(it does not have anything to do with the rest of the world,it's her life!)the debate on Ophrah's website after that infertility segment(because she dared to choose A.R.T and not adoption ),and the working mother VS stay at home mom debate,ect...It seem to me that American people think it is OK to say hurtfull things if they don't have the same opinion than someone else.
South Africans in general (especially those of ages mid-40's and younger) are more tolerant towards other people,other peoples choices does sometimes have nothing to do with us.
I hope you will be tolerant towards my grammer,English is not my first language.

HP the work of the devil? Since when? What did I miss? Oh my, how thing can get blown out of proportion. What about StarWars? What about Lord of the Rings? Don't they all really have the same underlying themes?

I assume by HC you mean fudementalist Christians? They hate women, I don't think they are harmless at all.

I don't see how referring to people who press their extremist views on others as being part of a "Jesus Freak" mentality, constitutes an "attack?" It's a label but a pretty harmless one and hardly an attack. I somehow find labelling people to be "jerks" (as CariP does) far less pretty.

With all due respect to Sister Mel, she's outta her mind about the good house with the sea view. I've read my bible and she made that part up! (Please don't hit me)

If you are a Christian (HC, fundamentalist, or otherwise) there is one way to heaven and it does not involve banning books, loving your fellow man (all of 'em including the gay ones), or clapping to the hymms. Good grief.

Thrice - "The US is starting to feel like the beginning of the Crusades. When Ann Coulter can get away with hate language like "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." Or promoting books with names like "Godless." And she does it on legitimate news shows. It's just crazy."

The crusades had absolutely nothing to do with people exercising their free speech rights.

I can't stand Ann Coulter, won't listen to her or read her stuff. But she has the right to express anything she wants to. It's put on the news for one reason: because people like you get exercised about it and that sells advertising. You think she shouldn't get away with it - what, exactly, do you want done to her?

I don't often have time to read all the comments your posts generate Tertia, but today I made the time. Very interesting comments, and some very emotional as well.

I would agree that there does seem to be a lack of tolerance in general in the US. Hilda brought up some very good examples.

I'm generalizing, but I think ones views come about mainly from personal experiences. I know that my feelings on religion have been greatly impacted by some negative experiences I've had with "Christian" family members.

My cousin has told me several times that because I married a Jewish man and our son is Jewish that none of us will go to heaven. Now frankly, I don't believe in heaven and hell so the thought that we won't go to heaven does not bother me. The fact that she would judge my family in such a way does hurt me. If she wants to worry about us and pray for us that is fine. The fact that she has to throw these things in our face is, in my opinion, just mean.

She has spoken to me of a lesbian couple that has a child in the same class as one of her children. She would never allow her daughter to go to this family’s home because it "might rub off" or they might be doing something immoral that her daughter would see.

The fact that I am now pregnant with a child from IVF is almost as bad in her mind as my family being Jewish. I don't quite understand the reasons. In her words "It's gods will I could not have children."

My cousin and I grew up together and graduated from high school together. She is an intelligent woman, yet she chooses now to let others think for her. Her life and opinions now appear to be very black and white.

My brother’s family is also now Christian (for the last five years or so). I support my nephews fund raisers, even when they ask for money to help teach other countries the ways of Christ. I support them because they are my family, even if I don't believe what they believe. I'm saddened though that when we were visiting my parents last December it was during Hanukkah and we had a Hanukkah party/diner one night. We share Christmas with my family but I also make sure my husband and son are able to celebrate their holidays as well if they overlap. Fortunately, my parents are very supportive of that. We did the blessings over the candle (in Hebrew of course) and my older nephews laughed and made fun at the "silly" words we were saying. I understand they are children and that was probably a "normal" reaction at that age. What hurt was my brother and sister in law did nothing to stop their children’s ridicule. I'm open to explain why my family does what it does if they are interested, but I'm not going to force it at them. I am hurt that they couldn't show some respect for it. What makes some of this worse is that I don't believe my brother even considers himself truly Christian. He joined the church initially for the political contacts it gave him as he was seriously contemplating running for local office. My SIL does believe, and I think the community of the church has been good for her. It just saddens me when I hear the intolerance (as with my cousin) about gays, other religions, abortion, etc.

These are just some personal experiences I have had, that turn me off of HC, and in some ways, religion in general. What I see in the media, the government, and other random experiences, have pushed me that way as well.

I read somewhere that it is far more work to be a nonbeliever, than a believer. I have to agree, because as a nonbeliever, I have to think for myself.

This topic certainly presses buttons for me!

My concern is that a blanket comment is made about HP being satanic.Did the leader of the church, explain specifically why he/she (that is if they are enlightened and allow women to also share in leadership), believes that there are disturbing elements within it. Did they feel that same about "Lord of The Rings"?

As an ex-Christian I believe that there is a lot of fear mongering and very little intellectual enquiry based on research or rational thought. Are the terrifying images in Revelation more acceptable because they are framed in a religious context?

I am reminded of a massage therapist I went to see a couple of years ago, I asked her whether she did reflexology.
"On no, I can't I am a Christian."
"Why not?" I responded.
"No, it comes from the East, it has something to do with Buddism...."
She could not give me any more information than that, bar that a preacher had told her in her church that she would open herself up to bad and negative forces.
How satanic can it be rubbing someone's toes?

Why is HP more frightening than the tragic images of war we see daily on our television sets? Do you protect your children from that as well?


I just wanted to add (as someone who has lived in both SA and US) that I don't think Happy Clapper in SA exactly equals Fundamentalist in the US.

A lot of mainstream denominations (like Methodist, Presbyterian etc) in South Africa have become what my grandparents call Happy Clapper churches. At least according to my grandparents' definition, Happy Clappers are Christians who like modern Christian music that sounds like music on the radio rather than the traditional hymns. And they clap a lot and raise their hands up to catch the spirit of the Lord. They also tend to start a lot of new programs in the church (be it feeding hungry children, making the church more welcoming to potential new members or starting small cell bible study groups that keep people more connected to the church). This tends to generate contraversy between the old-time members who liked things the way they were and the newer members who want to change things. Basically, Happy Clappers are modernizers.

Fundamentalists by definition believe that everything in the bible must be taken literally and often get very hung up on things having to do with sexuality (gays, abstinence before marriage, abortion) and work to change US social policy. There is also the literal belief in heaven and hell and devils and the tendancy to see everything very black and white. They also have the tendancy to cut themselves and especially their children off from things that don't reflect their worldview like by not letting their children play at the homes of non-Fundamentalists or banning Harry Potter books and videos from public libraries.

Many, many people (even mainstream Christians) in the United States have had run-ins with Fundamentalists that have left a bad taste in their mouths. Even if they have not had personal experience with Fundamentalists, many Americans are pissed off by the power they have over the current Bush administration and their desire to change public policy to suit their personal beliefs. Some of your American readers anger over this is unfortunately carrying over to Mel, which is unfair to her.

Happy Clappers (by my SA grandparents' definition) are not necessarily fundamentalists and they don't necessarily take the bible literally and see everything in black and white. Since Mel talks about being saved, I would guess that she is probably Baptist or something similar and that it is her obligation to testify to her friends and family so they also have the opportunity to be saved. However, she doesn't appear to have the extreme black and white thinking and she doesn't appear to be iscolate her children from non-Christians or people who don't have exactly the same worldview she does. She also doesn't seem to use scare tactics to convince people to convert.

I have a lot of respect for the work Mel does and honestly I believe that serving the poor is more in line with what Jesus told us to do than trying to ban gay marriage or abortion. If Mel was like an American fundamentalist with extreme black and white thinking I doubt you guys would be able to be close. The fact that she wants to spend time with non-Christians and respects your decision not to join a Happy Clapper church means that she is quite different than a fundamentalist.

I just wanted to add (as someone who has lived in both SA and US) that I don't think Happy Clapper in SA exactly equals Fundamentalist in the US.

A lot of mainstream denominations (like Methodist, Presbyterian etc) in South Africa have become what my grandparents call Happy Clapper churches. At least according to my grandparents' definition, Happy Clappers are Christians who like modern Christian music that sounds like music on the radio rather than the traditional hymns. And they clap a lot and raise their hands up to catch the spirit of the Lord. They also tend to start a lot of new programs in the church (be it feeding hungry children, making the church more welcoming to potential new members or starting small cell bible study groups that keep people more connected to the church). This tends to generate contraversy between the old-time members who liked things the way they were and the newer members who want to change things. Basically, Happy Clappers are modernizers.

Fundamentalists by definition believe that everything in the bible must be taken literally and often get very hung up on things having to do with sexuality (gays, abstinence before marriage, abortion) and work to change US social policy. There is also the literal belief in heaven and hell and devils and the tendancy to see everything very black and white. They also have the tendancy to cut themselves and especially their children off from things that don't reflect their worldview like by not letting their children play at the homes of non-Fundamentalists and by banning books and videos such as Harry Potter.

Many, many people (even mainstream Christians) in the United States have had bad run-ins with Fundamentalists that have left a bad taste in their mouths. Even if they have not had personal experience with Fundamentalists, many Americans are pissed off by the power they have over the current Bush administration and their desire to change public policy to suit their personal beliefs. Some of your American readers anger over this is unfortunately carrying over to Mel, which is unfair to her.

Happy Clappers (by my SA grandparents' definition) are not necessarily fundamentalists and they don't necessarily take the bible literally and see everything in black and white. Since Mel talks about being saved, I would guess that she is probably Baptist or something similar and that it is her obligation to testify to her friends and family so they also have the opportunity to be saved. However, she doesn't appear to have the extreme black and white thinking and she doesn't appear to be iscolate her children from non-Christians or people who don't have exactly the same worldview she does. She also doesn't seem to use scare tactics to convince people to convert.

I have a lot of respect for the work Mel does and honestly I believe that serving the poor is more in line with what Jesus told us to do than trying to ban gay marriage or abortion. If Mel was like an American fundamentalist with extreme black and white thinking I doubt you guys would be able to be close. The fact that she wants to spend time with non-Christians and respects your decision not to join a Happy Clapper church means that she is quite different than a fundamentalist.

I find it funny (not in a good way) how people like to categorize Christians as assholes. Like you said, assholes are all around us - and they don't belong to one religious, social or any other type of group.

And yes, I'd have been upset as well if someone were to categorize me according to something like that.

I have at least 5 translations of the Holy Bible in my house. Here are those 5 translations of 2nd Timothy 3:12:
1. In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
2. Yes, and those who decide to please Christ Jesus by living godly lives will suffer at the hands of those who hate him.
3. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
4. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
5. Yes, and everyone who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

Those that persecute Christians, are fulfilling scripture. They are doing to Christians what the Bible, specifically Paul, said they would do. Why would we expect anything different?

Being a Christian (HC makes us sound kind of... dingy, or something) does not make one immune to hurt feelings and persecution, however. Even though we know it will happen, it stings. So many Christians reach out to the world with love. Like your sister. And so many people reach back to Christians with seething hate. I can't even read your sister's blog and comments or the responses to this post today, because I have a lot going on and don't have the mental energy to combat it, inside my head or otherwise.

I went over and read Sister Mel's post, but didn't comment. She seems like a lovely person, and I would never want to hurt her her feelings. But the post did rankle me a bit.
I think it shocks me that people really do believe in witchcraft. Not Wicca- witchcraft. No one is levitating or casting spells to subvert people's wills- even if that would explain a lot about US politics. Even the magic shows we have for entertainment are explainable tricks of diversion and sleight of hand. If such things really existed, the world would be a VERY different place. No one would be able to resist that kind of power.
I also dislike comments that are disrespectful of Wicca, because Wiccans try so hard to respect other people's religion. There is no Satan involved and it's all about Nature. The first rule is Do No Harm- I hate to see people mistakenly think that it is evil, or if their children were to become Wiccan they would be lost to Satan. Children do grow up to have different beliefs than their parents. Is JK Rowling a white witch? Doesn't that basically make her a good person who has a different religion?
As for the atheists and the HC, well, I am an atheist. I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian neighborhood and now live in a fairly conservative city. Any time I've revealed that I'm an atheist or believe in evolution, I've had terrible things said to me. And to anyone who feels atheists are always on the attack, that is why. You can't believe the things I've had people say- and it does put me on the defensive.
I think there is a difference between what is going on in the US and the rest of the world. Here some HC's are trying to turn this into a Christian nation, regardless of what anyone else believes, even though this country was founded to escape England imposing its religion on us. So it is a sore subject. I don't believe in God, I don't believe life begins at conception, and I have a bunch of Christian(mostly men) trying to tell me that I should be forced to carry a baby to term, regardless of my feelings, my situation, my health, whether the fetus has severe defects, based on a religion I do not believe in. MY body. I can't think of it getting more personal than that. (I think before I had a baby, I was more pro-life. But my pregnancy was a horrible experience that basically stopped my life for 10 months. I could not imagine having to expwerience that if was not my choice. I think I would rather kill
myself. I can't imagine forcing anyone to go through that. And I also think if men were the ones to get pregnant, they'd have drive thru abortions available.)
I'm sorry Sister Mel was upset. But if it makes you feel better, she upset me a teeny bit, too. But I would never say anything bad to her because she seems like a wonderful person- how could she not be with such a G&D sister:)?

Working From Home, We must be kindred spirits! I love Spong. His book, Living in Sin? A Bishop Looks at Human Sexuality, blew my mind almost 20 years ago and I've been reading him ever since.

Andrea, We're not upset we can't get into a Heaven we don't believe in. We're wary of the way non-believers have been treated by people who don't believe God wants them in His Heaven.

You provided a good example of what I am trying to get at. You state that Thomas Jefferson said, "The Bible is the cornerstone of liberty."

Inspite of what is claimed at Christian websites, Jefferson said no such thing. It is often misattributed to his A Summary View of the Rights of British America or Notes on The State of Virginia, although the phrase is no where to be found in either.

Jefferson had a complex relationship with religion in his life. In late writings, he expressed belief in the existence of a Supreme Being who was the creator, but he also rejected the divinity of Christ. He wrote to a friend, "I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know."

In anycase, it's an endlessly interesting topic and I highly recommend the research section at Monicello.org as a good starting place.

Okay, so that was my long winded way of saying this...I am tired of Christians rewriting American history to better impose their beliefs on others. It continues to this very day and is no less alarming now than it was when people were misattributing quotes to Jefferson duing his life.

I used to be a HC and have enough experiences to be pretty bitter. The US sounds a scary place. Before Harry Potter, way back in my day, we were taught that the game Dungeons and Dragons was evil, and rock music played backwards (can you even play a CD backwards? no? take that devil) and "hotel california" (I'm old egh). In my dad's day it was dance halls and playing cards.

Now if I had a concern about HP it would be more the sort of racist, monarchist, born to rule thing. Ok Harry has to work hard to fullfill his destiny but he is still the annointed one from birth not just through his achievements. No matter how smart Hermoine is or how hard she works, Harry is born to be "the one". And even though the half bloods are accepted by Harry's crowd, the muggles are still only muggles. Just trying to show you can read way too much into children's fantasy.

Sarah, I find it interesting that you would discribe as disrespectul of Christianity a country where, for example, the vast majority of Christian holidays are also federal holidays and the vast majority of of the population self-identifies as Christian. I do have to wonder what it would take to make you happy in your current position.

From reading here, in a very brief summary, it seems enough South African Christians learned a hard lesson in terms of religious beliefs being used to justify a horrific government. They seem very committed to not going down that path again.

America has had it bumps (slavery being justified via religion, etc.) but we've not had to deal with such a public, in-our-faces moment of reconning. And so critizing the majorities view in realtion to religion and politics is still seen as disrespect by some believers.

The fact remains that world history shows again and again how religious beliefs have been used to both do wonderful things and to justify horrific things. I do not understand the pressure to focus on the first and ignore the second. History repeating itself and all that.

No one can have a problem with people beliefs and thoughts unless they start using them to try and influence others. That is true in many areas, not just religion. The difference is that many Christians want their religion placed outside of that critical thinking. I'm not going to go along with that. That's not calling anyone of any religion a bad name or disrespecting them, it's simply treating religion like any other system of thought that is trying to work its way into the secular world of American government.

Further, in a country with an established seperation of church and state, the need to be vigilant in that respect even stronger. (yes, I realize that that seperation is not written in the counstition. I still believe is an accurate statement on the intentions of the founders of this country.)


As a Christian, I would never try and challenge one's Christianity. That is not my right or within my ability. I can only vouch for Jefferson's actions, which include:

- Dating an official document with "In the year of our Lord Christ", and not simply "in the year of our Lord"

- Signing legislation to provide land to Indian missionaries

- Adding into the budget a salary for the Indian priest

- He was active in the Anglican church

- He sent his children to Christian schools

- He allowed people to use the War Office and Treasury Building for church services, actually attending a service on Capitol Hill mere days after writing the oh-so-misread separation of church and state letter to the Danbury Baptists.

Obviously, Jefferson believed in Christian ties in founding - and leading - the nation. I, too, do my homework...and minored in United States history at a public institution.

(aside)

SO GLAD someone brought up Thomas Jefferson and the founding fathers. This is my favorite Thomas Jefferson quote:

"But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

The founding fathers weren't fundamentalists, as many fundamentalists want to believe.

(More Jefferson quotes here: http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/quotes/jefferson.htm)

(/aside)

I've had widely varying experience with Christians. On the one hand, there are the people that do try to convert you, condemn you to hell, and use apocalyptic imagery to lie a country into a thinly disguised oil war while stuffing the Supreme Court full of values-right-wing judges that have succeeded in taking large chunks out of my rights over my body. This is strange, as we're in a country whose founders were deists influenced by the Iroquois and Seven Nations' method of governance, by the ideas of the Roman senate, and by the values of the Enlightenment--by John Locke, Rousseau, and Voltaire (none of these people, by the way, were very Christian). I find a so-called return to a Christianity that blames the poor for their poverty and that has serious problems with women's autonomy to be a little bit disingenuous.

On the other hand! I think that the Jesus who sought to throw the moneylenders out of the temple, the one who said that the meek shall inherit the earth, and who comforted the widows and made friends with the prostitutes was a great and good man. I personally cannot be a Christian because I don't believe that Jesus was divine, but I think that Christians who live their lives by his example are kind and interesting people. I even happen to be related to some. I think that it was Thomas Aquinas that said that the Mass was the place where the people and God are reaching to each other--and that idea is beautiful, but not one in which I feel like I can take part.

In the end, I feel like people who have interpreted the Bible literally have made a mistake--but that they have gained power in America and have forced that mistake down the throats of many, many people, and that mistake has caused enormous amounts of ill-will on both sides of the debate.

Andrea, You put words in Jeffersons mouth that he never said. You learned it from Christians have been trying to pass off as this falsehood for a long time. As someone who minored in hisotry that does not bother you?

In anycase, Thomas Jefferson is rightly considered on of the founders of public education. In fact, one of the only accomplishments that Jefferson wanted listed in his epitaph was that he authored and had enacted The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. Which states, among other things:

Section 3 "...that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right."

Natural rights.

In finding his public college, UVA, he wrote "After stating the constitutional reasons against a public establishment of any religious instruction, we suggest the expediency of encouraging the different religious sects to establish, each for itself, a professorship of their own tenets on the confines of the university, so near as that their students may attend the lectures there and have the free use of our library and every other accommodation we can give them; preserving, however, their independence of us and of each other..." --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Cooper, 1822. ME 15:405

Where one sends their child to school rather pales compared to explicitly declaring ones one college as "...reserving, however, their independence of us and of each other."

The Danbury letter can only be badly misread if it removed of all context, as often happens when the famous phrase of church and state comes up. The draft (containing the phrase "merely temporal" in contrast to divinely chosen or blessed leaders), the final letter and the consultations he made with politicans before sending it show it to be a carefully worded poltical letter, not a personal statement on theology.

Following up on that becomes the problem of explaining away James Madison, who wrote of "Strongly guarded . . . is the separation between religion and government in the Constitution of the United States."

As I said, Jefferson was a complex religious man. He even wrote that all American would die Unitarians. But in the end, it simply cannot be denied that he thought secular government and education free from ties with divinity were in Americas best interest.


Shandra wrote: "Here in Canada we have the extremely great shame of the residential schools - the wholesale removal of a generation of people from their families and homes to be placed in religious schools to be instructed in the "truth" - Christianity - and be saved from barbarism. These children were torn from their families, beaten and punished for speaking their own language, and often sexually abused. It was terrible and resulted in a total disconnect and skyrocketing rates of suicide and addiction among our native peoples. Fortunately those very churches are now having to provide a small amount of restitution in the form of money."

Most people are not taught this part of our history in the US. Some private schools teach it, but most don't learn about it until college, if even then. Our schools leave out a huge chunk of the more negative parts of our history and usually gloss over the rest.

Marcia, I thought of that selfsame DC Talk song! I listened to the album on the way home from work today, actually.

Sister Mel and Rachel said most of what I'd want to say. I've said many times on my blog that if Christianity doesn't bear out into real-world practical compassion then no one will believe we are genuine. So when I see Mel taking her HC attitude to the streets via Bosom Buddies, I think to myself that this is a good representaion of the HC lifestyle to the world. Most HC's that I know hope their day-to-day life exemplifies Christ in such a way that others want to know Him, too. I never found much benefit in trying to force people to convert with scare tactics and judgement.

It is my strong belief that Tertia's comment was not meant to trigger serious debate. Tertia is clearly a lovely woman who seems to have a huge following. This is well understood within the context of primitive forms of provoking a debate where no debate is possible.

The conundrum is based in disparaging cultural levels. Some of the readers are way more intelligent than Tertia's core audience is willing to tolerate.

It is a matter of trains moving at different speed, and more than often, in different directions. Tertia wants to appease each and every one of her readers, yet she's oblivious to the diversity of her audience.

On a side note, she's often insencere or/and insecure about her own opinions. Which is a good thing, I guess. It just strikes me as manipilative. Eating your cake, etc.

Re: Is is a US thing?

Yes, to me it is. They are trying to take every right we have, those lovely "christians". Frankly, they scare the shit out of me, happy clapping or not.

I don't necessarily identify myself as a Christian - there is a very negative view on what "we" as a whole tend to believe and "I" as one person do not believe a lot of what people think I should.

I find it necessary to point out that for all those trying to "force" your beliefs on others as a way to "share Jesus with the world" should remember (according to scripture) that Jesus himself did not force people to believe in him... he set an example of how to live, and walked around being that example. He led by example and people eventually followed - he didn't hogtie a group and drag them around spouting verses until people believed what he was saying. He showed compassion to all, and people wanted to be around him. There are some Christians like that, but a good majority here are the forcible Christians. The ones who stand outside soldiers funerals with banners spouting that Jesus killed your soldier because the nation was lawless. The ones who lure children into poligamist cults all in the name of Jesus. The ones who when gays want to marry march in Washington and call them sinners - all in the name of Jesus. Really? In the name of Jesus? The same Jesus who hung out with prostitutes and tax men? The same Jesus who spouted nothing but love - "love thy neighbor as you love thyself?" That Jesus.

It really frustrates me when people associate me with those hypocrites. The ones who "follow" Jesus, but spew hate. You can't have it both ways. I stopped going to church and calling myself a Christian when I watched my (now ex) boyfriend throw a Bible at one of my friends and tell him that in that book it said he was going to hell because he was gay. Unprovoked. He found out said friend was gay and took it upon himself to "convert" him, and when he "couldn't" (as said friend told him he believed in Jesus, and that Jesus didn't spew hate) he threw the book at him. Then he didn't understand why I was angry because that's what Christian's are supposed to do - save people from themselves. REALLY? It angers me that I am considered anti-gay because I believe in Jesus - I'm not - Jesus was about love, and I know so many who have such a pure love, gay or straight, that who am I to judge. It angers me that I am "supposed" to believe a child in an undeveloped nation is going to hell because he has never heard of Jesus Christ - so I am the one to save him. Last I remember the Bible I've read talks about everyone having their own level of belief, and they will be judged based on that belief.

For the most part I think Christians are harmless, however I hate to be lumped with them because of the hypocrites. I find the only time I share is when people ask - and only if they are interested. I find it is much better to lead by example than to lead by force.

Laura(southernxy)-The remission of sin was a big thing in the crusades. One of the ways to get remission of sin if one could not afford to buy it was to convert non-Christians to Christianity. Oh, and if the potential convert wouldn't convert the convert was killed. Kind of similar to Ann Coulter's comment.

Hate language is just a lower form of a hate crime. It should not be tolerated, by respected "news" shows and IMHO society in general. I agree with you, shows have her on to stir up the pot and raise ratings. At some point the media needs to step up to the plate and have some type of standard. You can't help but be aware of her heinous actions. I won't watch, read or buy her stuff either.

Haven't read all the comments but I'm guessing Jeanne is one of the people attacking Sister Mel. Your right, calling someone a jerk for needless attacks on someone for her religious beliefs is so uncool. I can barely believe myself.

I read some of the comments, but I agree if someone is living their live with goodness and kindess intended, and... that is some way actual result mirrors that intention - then great. Good for them. Of couse percieved 'outcome' often hinges on 'only a crazy blogger would go there' topics like abortion, death penalty, (and apparently) the noble Harry Potter. So in some fact there will never be an agreement here.

I think in general there are positive and pro-active ways to approach subjects and name calling, or demeaning is always the mark of someone with nothing to offer.

Tertia,
It is awful that the poisoned partisan politics of the US have to be spread across your blog. It looks like most of the judgmental nasty posts are coming from the skeptics, non-believers, atheists, etc.

First of all Christians are not trying to change laws, we are trying to preserve that which the founders gave to us: a Constitutional Republic. By the way Jefferson said the Bible is the cornerstone of liberty (or something similar) in the Northwest Ordinance. This act established public schools that would use the Bible as the primary text.

Unfortunately it is getting harder to live and let live in America because of the growth of government since the Great Depression and continual wars that enlarge the state. There are more hand-outs and regulations from government every day. All aspects of our life seem to be falling under the scope of government. The abortion debate is heated because welfare recipients have subsidized abortions. Christians do not want to pay for those things that are antithetical to our beliefs.

At the state level we have taxes to pay for failing public schools. I pay taxes that support the public school but the teachers refuse to teach the basics. They would rather engage in social experiments than teach reading, writing, history, math. Therefore I spend and additional $10,000 to send my child to private school to get a decent education without indoctrination from the left. If private school vouchers were allowed my per pupil money could travel with my son and at least I could pick the school of my choice. But the teachers Union (big financial supporter of the left) won't hear of that because they want to indoctrinate our children with the secular progressive agenda. Just as you do not want to be beat over the head with the Bible I do not want to be beat over the head with the homosexual, socialist, anti-Christian agenda put forth in many public schools.

It appears the people that hate Christians would rather not live in a democracy. They do not want to play the game of politics, which involves asking questions, debating, and when the vote doesn't go your way accept the outcome. And prepare for the next round.

Another question: why did modern democracy arise in Christian nations?

"It looks like most of the judgmental nasty posts are coming from the skeptics, non-believers, atheists, etc."

Because THAT's not a judgemental statement. Heavens, no!

If I had a dollar for every mainstream religious American who claimed to be the victim of persecution despite being A. In power B. Represented quite generously at all levels of government and C. Not actually being persecuted, I could finance IVF cycles until 2056.

That being said, if any of the aforementioned 'victims' would like to send me a dollar, hey, I won't stop you. ;)

The more I read, the more ashamed I am to live in the U.S. Thank god for the likes of rainbowW., Kathleen, et al. or we here in the U.S. would be in worse trouble than we already are b/c of the HC's here. The ones I am talking about are the ones that clearly do not believe in a "live and let live" philosophy.
It's as simple as that, really. Tertia, you have had similar discussion to this before on your blog and it's always the same... the liberals want to be left alone and aren't prosthelytizing, merely supporting seperation of Church and State... (in other words, go teach your kids about God in church, not in the schools we ALL pay taxes for), the HC's that are the offensive ones remain offensive trying to push their beliefs upon the rest of the world (who don't want to hear it if they haven't asked you about it and that means you too, Jehovah's Witness, who has no right to ring my bell in the first place!!!) and the really extremely annoying HC's begin to re-write our political history to support their position.
As far as Melanie goes, well, I am a jewish, liberal who does not believe in Heaven (doesn't exist in Judaism). I also don't much believe in God. She should be happy to know that i am not depressed at all at the thought of living this one life of mine and doing my very best to be a good person and to help others while here on earth. It is extremely gratifying to do this. It gives my life meaning here and now and makes me happy, not depressed! I can promise her that Jews, in general, everywhere are not sad or depressed because we don't believe in heaven and therefore won't go there someday. I am, however, sad and depressed that I may not get to Paris some day....
That is the type of misconception that when spread gets the HC's into trouble. The assumption that their way is the only way to happiness. I find that type of assumption closed-minded and that's the type of stuff we get so hot and bothered about.
It doesn't have to be an actual bible-thumping, anti-gay, abortion-banning, Jesus Freak that gets the controversy going... it can be someone or something as simple as Sister Mel saying how sad she would be if she was me and had my religious views.
I find that judgmental and offensive. I don't ever assume how christians feel because they are not jewish. You know, "Tsk, tsk... poor thing...".
I'm not saying all jews are good at this. I was recently attacked by another jew for agreeing to give an interview to a German T.V. production company interested in doing a piece on Single Mothers by Choice. I was accused of "helping the Germans to procreate and breed more little neo-nazis"... my attacker was appalled that i was offended at this!!!!
So, it's not a religion vs. religion thing here in the US at all... it is just a "Please don't shove your views down my throat and cloak your self-decided superiority in religious beliefs i do not share" thing.

Nobody, except maybe Tertia, is reading this at this point, but so many of the HCs voted for Bush. And they thought it was a good idea to vote for Bush. And many of them still think it was a good idea. Hard not to form stereotypes. Thanks for sharing about Sister Mel who defies the stereotypes I've formed.

Wow....I just read this whole comment thread, and I am exhausted. This is what I get for catching up on this blog from the oldest post up through the most recent -- from now on, I'll read the most recent first, because it would have warned me about what to expect.

Religion is VERY political in the U.S., because the current administration (and many local authorities) are trying to explicitly incorporate Christian beliefs into legislation and policy.

I'm sorry Sister Mel was upset. I think even the most vitriolic ranters didn't mean anything personal by it!

Wow! What a post!

The problem with the HCs in the USA is they don't seem to read the entire Bible. I'm Methodist - not much of a HC, though.

The religous right in our country are very wrong. They don't try to immulate the life Jesus lead. He taught us to feed the hungry, take care of the sick, clothe the poor, etc. Those are all democratic issues that the republicans try to take away. They think GB is the greatest ever when he has done so many things against the Bible. Such as the war! The Bible says "Don't wage war on the enemy, wait on the Lord." He is leading us into the 3rd war noted in Revelations. And the late Jerry Fallwell was one of his so-called spiritual advisors. Give me a break!

Ok, rambled enough. LOL

Cookie, I'm sorry, I cannot let this go by.

"By the way Jefferson said the Bible is the cornerstone of liberty (or something similar) in the Northwest Ordinance. This act established public schools that would use the Bible as the primary text..."

Oy. What can I say? I hope Cookie will take the time to go read my posts about the fact that Jefferson never said such a thing. Better yet, I hope she'll make use of the links I provided so that she can do the research herself.

In founding UVA (a public college), he wrote:

"After stating the constitutional reasons against a public establishment of any religious instruction, we suggest the expediency of encouraging the different religious sects to establish, each for itself, a professorship of their own tenets on the confines of the university, so near as that their students may attend the lectures there and have the free use of our library and every other accommodation we can give them; preserving, however, their independence of us and of each other..." --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Cooper, 1822. ME 15:405

The line that is worth remembering is "...reserving, however, their independence of us and of each other."

No matter how one feels about politics, it is maddening to have falsehood offered as fact to justify something the founding fathers never intended.


Tertia - If you want to get an idea of HCs in the US, rent the documentary Jesus Camp.

Kathleen~
Thank you again for setting the record straight... i really have no patience for people who twist and re-write our political history to support their religious positions. Irks me to no end.
Every time i read/hear one of those self-serving remarks i want to vomit and tell them what the truth is, but, I do not the exact, correct words. But, oh! You do! Yay!!!!

I am a former HC. I think the whole HC image is quite distorted by assuming that the American model, with its strong ties to party politics, constitutional debates, anti-abortion/homosexuality movements etc is the norm everywhere. In Australia, the HC thing is much less politicised. Also, it makes a huge difference that Australia is a very secular society and active Christians of the church-going sort are definitely in the minority.

I do think, though, that virtually all forms of religion would be more respected if religious people shared the compassion, humility and sense of awe that they found in their religion with others, the more "feeling/personal" kind of stuff, rather than feeling moved to expound on doctrinal, sexual and political issues so much.

Most of us are a lot more willing to talk over these things with a good person who is warm and generous and well respected, and who can listen as well as talk (whether Christian, atheist or other), than with someone who just wants to beat us around the head with their personal convictions.

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