~Living a life of sophisticated domestication deep in the heart of Texas~

Saturday, June 6, 2009

In case you don't get the Sunday paper....

Here's what SGTex, guest columnist has to say:

"Thank goodness the ACLU of Texas is conducting a legal investigation of school districts that have been accommodating Gideon Bible distribution on campus. I wrote a letter to the editor on May 19 voicing approval of the AISD policy restricting the Gideon organization from doing that, and questioning the way schools in nearby towns have been flagrant in permitting it.

In my letter, I mentioned concern about other things conservative Christians seem to think they should be allowed to do, in condescending disregard for their neighbors who happen to believe differently---such as conducting sectarian prayer at a graduation ceremony, teaching creationism in defiance of the findings of science, and insisting on reference to God in the socially compulsory Pledge of Allegiance. Oh, and then there is our school district’s habit of providing churches with a list of the addresses of very young students for use in mailing out Vacation Bible School invitations, for Pete’s sake.

As has often been the case, there followed multiple letters of rebuttal from God-fearing Bible believers, understandably incensed that someone should speak against all this righteous Constitution-stomping. That is a reaction I have always found gratifying, as it shows that I am a writer after all, with an audience.

Since moving from San Angelo to Abilene in 1986, I must have written more than a hundred letters to the editor, always about this sort of thing---though the frequency of my commentary did fall off with the advent of Internet discussion forums. In 1997, I wrote the one of which I’m proudest, disagreeing with Billy Graham about reincarnation, which arguably led to my being harassed and persecuted right out of a career by my employer of 11 years, a Baptist hospital best not named here.

But, hey. Many hours of chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, quite a few blessed occasions of dialogue and learning with the Abilene Interfaith Council, considerable tequila and, now, the love of a lovely Pagan Methodist…these happy factors have healed my bitterness and dissolved my grudge, leaving the grizzled hippie heathen you see before you today. Quiet, perhaps, but not silent, and hoping the Abilene Reporter-News prints his occasional column with a minimum of editing.

Whatever they may say about you, Abilene, you have come a good long way and are getting better every day. Did y’all notice how the National Day of Prayer went this year? We Buddhists and Jews and Catholics and Muslims had our interfaith ceremony at the little park downtown once again, our fourth such open and progressive event…

Whereas, I hear, the conservative or fundamentalist congregations had their usual type of observance, imbued with frenetic passion for tearing down the barriers Satan and the First Amendment have placed against making theirs the national religion. For them, it was the same down-home exclusivisitic National Day of Prayer as always, but---by heaven!---they did not have it on the steps of City Hall."


image borrowed from sfusualsuspects.com

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