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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Does it hurt being that stupid?

As many of you know today is the day that Barack Obama is to be inaugurated as the fourty-fourth President of the United States. As you might guess I am quite excited, both because the previous President is out of office and because I honestly think President Obama is exactly what we need right now. Granted, I think the hype about Obama is seriously overblown- particularly the reports that he plans to walk across the surface of the Potomac, casting bread and fishes into the crowd with a compressed air gun as he goes- but nonetheless, I am excited.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of other people are less than excited. There are, after all, an awful lot of Republicans who voted for the other guy and are not thrilled to see Obama take the oath of office. Yet, as is usually the case in elections, while they are disappointed, I think the majority are respectful of the process and hope that President Obama carries his duties with the grace and skill of our best presidents. Others, however, are not so respectful and, particularly, are a little obsessed with the process of the inauguration itself. I refer specifically to the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, which describes itself as:

...a not-for-profit 501(c) (3) Education Corporation whose purpose it is to become the first-in-mind champion of Christian religious liberty, domestically and internationally, and a national clearing house and first line of response to anti-Christian defamation, bigotry, and discrimination.

The CADC will work constructively to advance a robust religious liberty in public opinion and policy so that Christians everywhere might fulfill their biblical duties to God and neighbor; to proclaim and to live out the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the whole counsel of the Word of God.

The CADC will respond in the media to attacks by any individual person or groups of persons, institutions, or nations that defame and /or discriminate against Christ, Christianity, the Holy Bible, Christian churches and institutions, Christian individuals, and Christian leaders.

And based on that description, I have absolutely no problem with them whatsoever. Despite the fact (or, indeed, because of the fact) that I am a damn dirty atheist, I actually have a great appreciation for religious freedom. People should be free to worship whatever god or gods they choose- or no god at all- without fear of persecution for their beliefs. Unfortunately, however, while the CADC's mission sounds like something I could get behind, their definition of "anti-Christian defamation, bigotry, and discrimination" is a tad broad. Particularly, take a look at this helpful news release about Obama's inauguration which warns not to let your children watch. Why? Oh, you have to see it to believe it:

National events ought to unify and elevate the nation by celebrating what is virtuous, such as God and patriotism. Obama is making a terrible mistake by polluting his inaugural events with sexual sin. Some one ought to remind him that he wasn’t elected mayor of Sodom.

It then proceeds to rant about the role of Bishop Gene Robinson, who they refer to as a flagrant homosexual who, "...would rather destroy his denomination than repent of his sin." They're also rather ticked off that Robinson would have the nerve to make his prayer non-denominational out of respect for the non-Christians in the United States. Next up, we have a complaint about the participation of a gay man's chorus:

And if you thought that leaving Judeo-Christian values out of the prayer wasn't statement enough to Christians -- for your entertainment pleasure, Robinson will be appearing with the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington D. C. which forces all Christians around the world to compromise their character if they want to watch the inauguration.

So, evidently if you're Christian even listening to someone of a different sexual orientation sing is a sin? This begs the question, how the hell can Christians ever listen to music, given that it's difficult to tell when someone is gay? I mean, hell, Christian faith doesn't seem to guarantee to the contrary. And what's with the photograph? Is this the planned costuming for the inaugural performance? In Washington D.C.? In January?!

And, after some bitching and moaning about a gay marching band, we get to this warning:

On this historic occasion of the Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, I must unfortunately recommend that you keep the kids away from the TV and pray that God will not rain fire and brimstone down on Washington DC.

Because, yeah, god really seems to still be in the rain of fire and brimstone business. It's been, what, four thousand years since the last time? Better pray hard!

Not content to stop there the Christian Anti-Defamation League has issued an update to their original warning. Amusingly, it is mostly commenting that- as it turns out- the inaugural has so far not been a non-stop public gay orgy. Color me surprised. Strangely, however, they also remark on the sheer horror of Gene Robinson's prayer, which apparently made the audacious assertion that homosexuals are people too:

In a galling act of reckless boldness, Robinson prayed that tolerance be replaced with genuine respect for all people. This is madness. Some people rightly do not deserve to be respected because they act in wicked and disrespectful ways. [emphasis added]

Yes, indeed, it is clearly madness for a religious leader to pray that all people receive genuine respect. Who would ever suggest that?

They then conclude with this reasoned commentary:

Obama ought to be ashamed. The fact that he isn’t sends a troubling message. His promises of political payback to radical homosexual groups seem likely to be carried out. He has already appointed many open homosexuals to his administration and has promised to pervert the military with open homosexuality. Those who voted for Obama share in the guilt of his “Obama-nations.”

But you know what the funniest part of all this is? After all those admonitions not to let your children watch the inaugural and assertions that a Christian couldn't watch a gay chorus without compromising his or her principles, the bottom of the update has an embedded YouTube video of Robinson's prayer.

I shit thee not:

For those who want to spend more time with CADC, I highly recommend their article on the Top 10 Instances of Christian Basing in America in 2008. Amusingly, there are eleven. Less amusingly but unsurprisingly, only one consists of any actual violence, the rest are just people talking. Hell, number ten comes from Jack Black's amusing Prop 8- The Musical. In perfect honesty, if Prop. 8- The Musical makes your top ten list, you're doing okay.

As you might guess, I find myself irritated at this group that refers to itself as being Anti-Defamation. There is a role for such groups but, really, it is not defamation whenever someone does something that you don't agree with. I, as it happens, really wish that religion were not going to be a part of the inauguration at all but it isn't defamation that it is. It isn't defamation against atheists when people go to church. And it isn't being anti-defamation when you defame the hell out of everyone except your own group.

The ironic thing here is that I am not Christian and, indeed, dislike a great deal of Christian theology and doctrine. I find that I am unfortunately willing to believe the worst about Christians and must remind myself sometimes that the great majority are good and decent people. My long friendship with my erstwhile co-blogger Slag is helpful in this regard. Yet, even with my relatively negative view of Christianity, what I find sad is that even I read the venomous rant from CADC and find myself thinking, "Good god. This is insulting to Christianity." All religions have their problems and Christianity has some legitimate grievances to be laid at its feet but, that said, CADC does more to defame the religion they claim to profess than I would have believed possible.

There is Christianity, and then there's whatever the hell CADC practices.

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