Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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"Just a Little Talk With Jesus"


Here's a little story of what happens when a religious majority believes it is above the law, and how it treats minority faiths.

The story begins with an article in the Washington Post. Here's an excerpt:

Judge Upholds Prayer Limits in Ind. State House
Some in Both Parties Vow to Fight Ruling

CHICAGO, Dec. 31 -- In a spirited duel over prayer, members of the Indiana state House are at odds with a federal judge who ruled that the daily invocation appeals too often to Jesus Christ and a Christian god.

The "systematically sectarian" prayers, U.S. District Judge David F. Hamilton concluded, are barred by the Constitution, which forbids the government to show preference for any religious denomination. He ordered the House to avoid mentioning Christ in the formal benedictions.

As the House prepares to open its 2006 session on Wednesday, a number of politicians have vowed to defy Hamilton, whom they accuse of undermining a 188-year Indiana tradition and interfering in legislative branch affairs.

Terry Goodin, a Democrat who rejects Hamilton's order, is among at least two dozen House members who have asked to give Wednesday's prayer. He said he would "absolutely" speak Christ's name if given the chance.

"Really, who do you pray to? If you're offering up a prayer, you're praying to a deity. You don't offer prayers to just an open space," Goodin said. "I will give the same type of prayer that's been given for 100 years. I won't change my words because of someone in the judicial branch who tells me I must."

Hamilton expects House leaders, including Speaker Brian Bosma (R), who is appealing the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago, to honor the injunction. If they do not, the judge said, he intends "to take appropriate steps to insure compliance."

So, the State House in Indiana persists on sectrian prayer. What drove the judge to rule like he did?

It was Clarence Brown's energetic rendition of "Just a Little Talk With Jesus" that prompted several legislators to decide enough was enough. The Indiana Civil Liberties Union soon filed suit in the name of four people -- a Quaker, a Methodist and two Catholics -- to stop what critics considered an increasingly sectarian prayer practice.

Brown, 51, is an evangelical Christian layman who works in an auto parts factory 70 miles south of Indianapolis. Invited to give a prayer to open the April 5 House session, Brown said he was thinking about the separation of church and state as he drove to the state Capitol.

He said he talked with God during the ride and decided to speak up for the man he considers his savior. "I wanted to share the word. That's what I'm supposed to do," Brown said. "I have to do what Jesus Christ says for me to do as a witness."

Brown's prayer included thanks to God "for our lord and savior Jesus Christ, who died that we might have the right to come together in love." When the prayer was finished, Bosma announced that Brown would "bless us with a song."

As Brown led the rollicking tune, some members and staffers clapped and sang along.

Several others left the chamber.

"It's a bad thing for a number of reasons," said Ken Falk, legal director of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union. "The simplest reason is this is the body that represents all of Indiana. If you're going to have legislative prayer, it should be inclusive of all, not exclusive."

That was the conclusion reached by Hamilton, an appointee of President Bill Clinton. In a 60-page ruling in November, he cited precedents from the U.S. Supreme Court and several lower courts in ruling that the "clearest command" of the Constitution's establishment clause is that "one religious denomination cannot be officially preferred over another."

Hamilton studied as many invocations as he could find from the 2005 legislative session and concluded that a substantial majority were "explicitly Christian in content." He said they represent "a clear endorsement of Christianity, sending the message to others that they are outsiders and the message to Christians that they are favored insiders."

Of 53 prayers, nine were delivered by lawmakers and 41 by clergy identified with Christian churches. A Muslim imam and a Jewish rabbi each gave one prayer. A majority mentioned Christ.

On Feb. 28, for example, the prayer leader read from Paul's letter to the Colossians, saying, "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father."

Hamilton interpreted a March 28 prayer as a call to worldwide Christian conversion. [emphasis mine]

"We look forward to the day," the speaker said, "when all nations and all people of the earth will have the opportunity to hear and respond to messages of love of the Almighty God who has revealed himself in the saving power of Jesus Christ."

No other specific religious faith was invoked or endorsed by the speakers, Hamilton said. In contrast to the majority of the Christian prayers, Hamilton said, the imam's March 8 words were inclusive and were "not identifiable as distinctly Muslim."

So, the judge was correct in making his ruling. Now, here's the part where the story takes a very sinister and chilling turn. Writer dhonig at My Left Wing posted a story about a meeting with a delegation of Jewish rabbis with the Speaker of the Indiana House, Brian Bosma. Here's what happened:

Last Tuesday, the Indianapolis JCRC’s Jewish Lobby Day was held. Around 40 Jews from around the State of Indiana came to Indianapolis to lobby our state senators and representatives on a number of issues.

The day ended with a private meeting with Speaker of the House Bosma meeting our group in the beautiful House chambers. We asked questions about full day kindergarten, about the clinics, and a young member of the delegation asked about providing sexuality education in public schools that is more than abstinence based. He responded to everything we asked. Sometimes we liked what he said and sometimes we didn’t. Speaker Bosma wondered why we hadn’t discussed the controversy surrounding the issue of prayer in House chambers. He told us his version of what happened and what he believes, and a passionate exchange took place. The end of this exchange left us, the Jewish delegation, in shock. Speaker Bosma, defending the prayer issue, asked, “How many Jews are there in Indiana? About 2%? There are at least 80% Christians in Indiana.” The implication of this statement was that our minority community doesn’t and shouldn’t have any say or any voice. It is about the majority and what the majority wants. The jaws of the delegation dropped to the floor. We were speechless. Everything we believed about this country had just been trampled. Gone was the belief of the constitutional protection of minorities. Gone was not feeling marginalized. Gone was the belief we were not strangers in this country. I am sure that Speaker Bosma is a fine man, but in that moment, for the first time in my life as a citizen of this country, I was scared. It is what I now call the 2% solution (and Jews are much less than 2% of this state) that if you are only 2% don’t even bother to speak up as the “Tyranny of the majority” will prevail.

I am sorry to bring such a depressing message as we prepare for Shabbat, but it needs to be said and addressed. I have been reminded about why we need to be vigilant. So I come to you on this Friday, February 17, 2006, to ask you to use this Shabbat to think about joining me and others at times to raise our voices. We might not agree on all the issues, but we agree that as Jewish residents of this State we should have a voice. 2% or less shouldn’t matter. It is not about the majority. It is about us.

As you light your Shabbat candles this evening, light one for this great nation that has allowed us to grow and prosper and worship as Jews without restrictions. Light the other as beacon to our elected officials who if they follow the light will understand that leadership comes with responsibility to all, to be inclusive of all, and to help those who need the most help.

Shabbat Shalom

It might be time to remind folks reading this that the Christocrats are less than 2% of the total Christian population, but they have managed to infiltrate the seats of power in the various levels of government, and Bosma speaks and believes as they all do. This tiny minority of Christianity can be shown the door and run out of power if we choose to do so. It isn't only the Jewish writer who should be afraid of this arrogant attitude of the Christocrats- we should all be afraid. They will make us all strangers if they succeed in their coup. It won't just be the Jews, but Pagans, Muslims, and non-conforming Christians who will suffer at their hands. We must use our anger and fear to spark a wave of outrage and desire to throw these people out of their offices when election day comes. We should remind them that it is they who are the minority, and that the gloves are off, and we know what their game is.

Feel free to repost this far and wide. This needs to be a rallying cry for the sake of our country. The Jewish people are being the canaries, along with the gay community. When they fall silent, who will be next?

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