Remember the other day when I said that since the election...I had buried my head deep in the sand on a self imposed media blackout? Yeah well....I goofed up and happened to catch the headlines of the news the other night as I was getting ready for bed. I found myself standing there with my mouth opened....completely speechless as I listened to the opening story. Before I go there though.....let us take a walk down memory lane.
Let us go back to late 1960 something. It was the dawning of the age of Aquarius. Tye dye, mini skirts and floppy hats were the fashions of the day. Civil rights were still part of the headlines as was the Vietnam war. Draft cards were burned and people were taking a stand against a war they didn't agree with. Peace was a word that was said with conviction and the hippie movement was well under way. The United States had enjoyed a period of post war rebuilding and peace time after World War II and even though we were gradually changing and moving away from our Ozzie and Harriett image.....we were still the greatest country in the world. There was no denying the change though as we could turn on the evening news and not just hear about what was going on in Southeast Asia....but we could watch it as if we were there thanks to journalist who were camping out on the front lines. With this up close view of the fighting on another continent.....here at home....the reaction was just as visible. Sit in's, school riots and peace demonstrations were fighting right along side the war for media attention. It was a time in our country when the world seemed to be spinning sideways and the generations were colliding. The generation who had lived through WWII saw the Vietnam war as a stand the US had to take. The younger generation though, saw it differently. They wanted a peaceful solution to what they viewed as an unwinnable war....and words such as "tolerance" and "acceptance" along with "peace" and "love" became the buzz words of the era. And in a strange way....they meant something.
In all the midst of all the craziness and change during that time....I went to public school. Each day was started with the Pledge of Allegiance in which the words "One nation under God," were said just as easily as we took our next breath. Following the Pledge we always bowed our heads and prayed. In kindergarten I think we were taught a basic prayer where we asked God to bless our day and bless our class. In higher grades we just bowed our heads and said a silent prayer. It never once occurred to me that my head being bowed and my silent inner prayer might be offensive to someone.
The first time I ever ran into someone being offended by prayer in school...funny enough happened in of all places, a Catholic school. I was in the third grade and living in New Mexico. I had just moved there half way through the year and I was still trying to learn the ropes. My teacher was an older nun that I was immediately NOT fond of. She told me that my handwriting was horrible and when my mother sent a note to school one day about an appointment I had, Sister looked at me and said..."Now I understand where you get your horrid handwriting." In Sisters class we always said morning prayers as school started, grace before lunch, a prayer after lunch and a prayer at the end of the day. They were mostly traditional Catholic prayers such as The Morning Offering, The Angel of God, etc. One day though....a young boy in my class refused to bless himself or pray. In fact he acted out making faces and dropping books while the rest of us prayed. He was kind of an ornery kid anyway and Sister went and stood by him while we prayed. When we concluded she asked him why he acted that way, and he said his family didn't believe in God and so he wasn't going to pray. If this was true or not....I don't know and I am not sure why he would be going to a Catholic school when there was a public school just down the street if as he said his family didn't believe in God. The next day before school started this boy and his parents were talking with Sister as we came into class. When the morning prayers began....Sister said that this boy would not be praying with us. He would step outside the class room while we prayed and then would come back in. Apparently he was happy, his parents were happy and other than Sister telling us that he would be stepping outside....nothing more was ever said about it. Strange for a Catholic school? I guess...but I had no idea at the time, how this would be setting the stage for the future.
When I came back to Kansas things were starting to change. When I went back to public school, we still had our morning prayer, sort of....but it was either called our moments of silence or our moments of meditation. God/prayer really was not mentioned. Still...in my opinion it was an okay compromise. I could silently say my Morning Offering that I had grown to love and anyone who didn't want to pray could just think about their dog, the assignment they didn't do.....or nothing at all. I was not forcing my love of God on anyone and no one was forcing their beliefs or lack of beliefs on me. In a perfect world where people really were tolerant and accepting....this should have worked. However, we are not living in a perfect world.
It was about this time that the late Madalyn Murray O'Hair was preaching her atheistic views far and wide. In O'Hair's world.....Christians were expected to be sensitive and respectful of the beliefs (or lack thereof) of their atheistic brethren but Atheists felt no desire to return that sensitivity or respect. Quite to the contrary. O'Hair made it her mission to take all prayer/meditation/moments of silence, out of the schools and any place else she could. For the most part....she was fighting and winning this battle. Prayer in school and God in many public places was quickly becoming unconstitutional. Children could be reprimanded or even put in detention for openly praying in school, especially if it "offended" someone and a teacher could be fired for speaking of religion outside historical text. During this time the term "Separation of Church and State" was thrown about a great deal. I remember asking my mother about it as I did not fully grasp what was going on. I remember her explaining to me that the Separation of Church and State was originally meant to give people of this country more religious freedom. After all those who had left England to come here had left because the church and state were one...thus depriving people of their choice in religion. The separation keeps any one religion or the beliefs of a few from dictating laws and rules that go against the beliefs of the many. In other words...it was never intended that we kick God out of our country, schools, etc it was intended so that we had the freedom to worship as we chose. O'Hair though twisted this into something that ultimately tried to rob those who did believe in God of their right to openly pray. Tolerance and acceptance became a one way street.
Through the years....O'Hair's presence has been felt often as there have been efforts to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance, out of traditionally patriotic songs and off of public buildings where His name has stood for many years. In other words...an atheist can be offended by Christianity and the Christian can lose his rights but if a Christian is offended by an atheist....then the Christian is intolerant and unaccepting. And we continue to slip sideways.
So now we come to the headlines on the news the other night. A small town (Buhler) in my home state of Kansas, has to change their long standing city seal...because a group in Wisconsin called the Freedom From Religion Foundation threw a fit calling their seal unconstitutional. Yes...you guessed it, the city seal had a cross on it. The town could have fought this as the majority in the town were outraged over the issue, but the town council realized that to keep their seal, it would result in a legal battle that they simply didn't have the financial resources to fight. The few won and tolerance and acceptance never once even had a horse in the race.
And so the outrage. I am a Christian. I believe in God, the Ten Commandments and yes...the bible. I believe everyone has the right to believe as they choose, but I also believe that no one has the right to have their beliefs over rule mine. More and more Christians are being victimized simply for their belief in God. The tolerance and acceptance that atheists, pagans, muslims, etc feel is owed them for their beliefs, is in no way reciprocated by these groups as a whole. As Christians we can no longer take a stand for our beliefs because it might offend someone. Privately owned Christian hospitals and universities can no longer stick to their core religious teachings and beliefs because the government is now dictating how they practice their beliefs. We have gone from a country who separated church from government so that there could be more religious freedom.....to a country who is letting government dictate to religions thus squashing freedoms and working with desperate speed to make us not a country of freedoms but a Godless country run by Godless people hellbent on stripping us of our wealth, our ambition, our freedoms.....and our God.
So with all of this being said....here is what this Christian is going to do. This season...if I see you...I will wish you a Merry Christmas. I will proudly display a Nativity scene in my home as a quiet reminder of the reason for the season. I will say God bless you when you sneeze and Thank God when a prayer is answered. My house will have a crucifix above my front door and I will always have a rosary in my pocket or my purse. And finally.....I will always take a stand for my faith and my God for as the saying goes...."I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there isn't and die to find out there is."