Sunday, April 22, 2007

Well, I already talk about politics. Might as well include religion.

My son is now an ordained minister. I don't really know what to make of that.

When he was a kid, we asked him what he wanted to be. His answer? "A policeman, a fireman and Spiderman." So this seems like a step down, really.

Technically, there are probably people who might argue the point of whether he qualifies as a priest of any kind. He got ordained for free over the internet, by the Universal Life Church, because he wanted to perform the wedding for two of his friends.

This might possibly come as a surprise to my sisters: one's a Wiccan and might be OK with it, but the other is an ordained Episcopal minister. Somehow, I don't think she'll see the humor in all this, really.

But that isn't the most disturbing news on the religious front, though.

Studies are now coming to light that show that "abstinence-only" programs, Bush's biggest "faith-based agenda" effort, don't work. They're ineffective. Not only do these programs not have any effect on whether children will have sex, they don't even have any effect on whether the sexually-active children will use a condom. (At least a traditional sex-ed class can improve that statistic.)

That's $176 million dollars in federal money, and millions more in state and local grants, teaching a program with no effect at all. And they intend to waste more money starting this year, because they plan to push it on adults (as old as 29) despite the fact that it's a complete waste of our tax money.

However, we can take heart in the fact that this program was merely ineffective. Usually, the policies coming from the White House are disasterous and destructive - in effect, the "abstinence-only" program is actually an improvement in job performance for our Chief Executive.

And in other news, the latest hero of the Religious Right is Gordon James Klingenschmitt, a former chaplain for the Navy. He says that, in March 2005, he was released from the Navy as punishment "because he refused to practice a 'government-sanitized' faith that he calls 'Pluralism,' with a capital P." He claims that he was kicked out of the Navy because he wanted to "pray in Jesus' name." (The Religious Right calls him "Chaplain," or sometimes just shorten it to "Chaps." There are so many Village People jokes here, I don't know where to begin.)

You can trust me on one thing, by the way. Having gone to military chapels for my entire life, there is no shortage of prayers to Jesus or about Jesus, and the vast majority are in Jesus' name. And I've even met one or two chaplains who seemed to think that they might be Jesus (I'm pretty sure they were wrong).

After Klingenschmitt (or his handlers) convinced the Kentucky House of Representatives to honor him for his "service to God, country and the Commonwealth of Kentucky," his former commandant, Capt. Norm Holcomb, sent an email to the members of the Kentucky House, explaining what actually happened. The group Americans United for Separation of Church and State (who, admittedly, have their own agenda on the matter) printed part of Holcomb's letter.
I was the dishonored ex-chaplain's supervisor for the past 2 years... I found him to be totally untruthful, unethical and insubordinate. He was and is contemptuous of all authority. He was not court martialed for praying in Jesus' name. I sent him out in uniform every week to pray at various ceremonies and functions. He always prayed in uniform and in Jesus' name. He was never told that he could not pray in Jesus' name. In fact, the issue of prayer had nothing at all to do with his dismissal from the Navy. He disobeyed the lawful order of a senior officer. I am sure that you understand that Navy Regulations forbid any of us, regardless of rank or position, to appear in uniform in support of any political or partisan event.
At the time that it happened, incidentally, even the Associated Baptist Press (speaking of people with their own agenda) reported it this way:
But the commanding officer at Klingenschmitt's base, Capt. Lloyd Pyle of the Norfolk Naval Station, had earlier ordered him, in writing, "not to wear your uniform for this or for any other media appearance without my express prior permission." Pyle's order came shortly after Klingenschmitt spent 18 days last December on a hunger strike in front of the White House to protest the policy on sectarian prayers.

Of the conviction, Klingenschmitt said he was only "guilty of praying in Jesus' name," according to the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot. His attorneys claimed that he had the right to appear in uniform at the event because he was conducting a bona fide religious service.

But the jury agreed with prosecutors, who argued that the evangelical Episcopalian's uniformed presence at the press conference alone was sufficient to determine he had violated Pyle's order and military policy.
But that isn't the way you're going to hear it from his supporters these days.

And finally, the most important news story about the things we worship would have to be this:
The federal Food and Drug Administration is proposing to redefine the very essence of chocolate and to allow big manufacturers such as Hershey to sell a bar devoid of a key ingredient — cocoa butter. The butter's natural texture could be replaced with inferior alternatives, such as vegetable fats. And consumers would never know.
There's even a website which will tell you how to defend your constitutional right to good chocolate. Those of us who've lived in Germany, and eaten chocolate made in Europe for European consumption know that Hershey's is a waxy, paraffin-filled bar of faux-chocolate already. Don't let them make it worse.

They can have my chocolate when they pry it from my cold, dead, chubby fingers.


D. Sinclair said...

Takes a lot of guts to take a stand like yours...oh wait a minute you don't give your name...Gee, then I guess it doesn't....

Anonymous said...

Gosh, I wish I understood d. sinclair's point, but I just don't. Is it snark about the chocolate? Does d. sinclair not understand the beauty of the internets where you can use a pseudonym so that not every single crazy out there can track you down and make your life hellish? Or does d. sinclair think that crazies are ok?