Monday, November 3, 2008

Chosen by God

A brief anecdote:

There's a rather conservative church that I pass on a regular basis here in Madison (I know, gasp!) that sports a sign on its front lawn that is often updated with phrases that range from regular ol' churchy stuff to fundamentalist proclamations. Tonight I drove by and noticed that it had been changed to something about "the powers that be" having been "ordained by God."

Was this church implying that our government had been "ordained by God" or was I misreading it? They'd also helpfully supplied the relevant Bible verse, so I went ahead and looked it up when I got home.

Romans 13:1 - "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God."

That Paul, always good for a laugh. But yes, it would appear that the person who decided what to put on the sign (at least) believes that we should all submit fully to government because those in it have been handpicked by God his ownself.

I wonder, then, if this conservative church will feel the same way if Obama wins the election. Or will they suddenly decry the teachings of Paul in favor of the somewhat more anti establishment leanings of the big JC?

Which leads me to wonder - if Obama wins the election, will all those far-right-wing fanatics start sporting "Impeach Now!" bumperstickers and the like? If so, I'd be mighty tempted to start telling them to "Love it or leave it." Be good for shits and giggles, anyway.

But that's not what I believe, and I certainly as hell don't believe that any of our leaders have been ordained or chosen by God. I'm not certain why anyone, especially those as into the deep rooted fallibility of humanity as conservative Christians, could believe that.

Then again, it's just a sign, right?


Em Richards said...

Poppycock! All questions can be answered by Google! I refuse to believe otherwise! *puts fingers in ears*

Emily said...

If the Presbyterians say it, it must be true. I mean, they don't take hard-and-fast stances very often, so when they do, there must be something to it, right? ;)

js155306 said...
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Emily said...

Jake - I'd ask that you do the same thing. First off, I've made it pretty clear over time on this blog what my feelings are toward religion, but since you've apparently only come here to snipe this particular post, I'll reiterate for you.

I grew up in the Christian church. My father is a Presbyterian minister (hence the joking above comment). I have a great deal of respect for what he does and believes, and that extends to many other Christians as well, even though I don't call myself one anymore.

And though I have such respect for many religious people, I still believe that we're all open for criticism--hopefully constructive--and that anyone who can't take that (or a joke) is taking themselves waaaay too seriously.

That said, this particular church has a history of posting really fire-and-brimstone style commentary on that sign, so you'll understand if I'm doubtful that the current message was posted with the assumption that Obama will win the election.

Regardless of whether or not I'm right about that, the main point of my post was to contest the very message (and associated Bible passage) itself.

I don't believe that any of our leaders are ordained by God, Democrat or Republican or Pope, and I think such a belief can and has lead to terrible consequences for humanity.

This has almost nothing to do with any supposed belief on my part that all Christians and conservatives are crazy idiots (because, to be perfectly honest, I don't believe that at all).

js155306 said...
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js155306 said...
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Emily said...

Again, my point wasn't whether they were covertly endorsing one candidate over another (I speculated that they might be, but it wasn't my point), but rather that I disagreed with the sentiment within the passage itself.

No human leader is ordained by God.

I apologize for suggesting that you were sniping this post (you'll understand why it felt that way, as I don't recall you commenting much in the past), and it is understandable that you might have missed past posts in which I made my position on religion clear. I don't post about religion on a regular basis, so it's easy to miss.

I won't get into a debate over which religion is more ridiculed in this country (though I would lean more toward it being Islam...or, despite it not being a religion, athiesism). And while I do agree that Christianity comes in for a good bit of criticism and mockery from certain corners - the claim that they are more persecuted in the USA is, I think, ridiculous. If any religion has more influence and sway here, it's Christianity. Heck, our presidential candidates are grilled about their Christian faith, and heaven forbid a non-Christian candidate ever try to run.

Statistically, it's the majority religion. And it's the one most likely to pop up in cases where the law is attempting to push back toward a balance against the mixing of state and church.

Does this mean I don't think some criticism of Christianity is unfair? Absolutely not. But I'm sick and tired of hearing this refrain about how put upon Christians are in the US, when this is one of the most Christian friendly countries in the world.

...let's eliminate the bias and come to the defense of every religion.

Yes and no. Let's come to the defense of and fair criticism of every religion / person. We're mostly all capable of being assholes, and we're mostly all capable of being wonderfully good. No one should get preferential or deferential treatment based solely on what dogma they do or do not adhere to.

js155306 said...
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Emily said...

All right, I think we're both a little more clear with one another now.

Ah, text - always good for rampant misunderstandings. :)

I agree that any ideaology being seen as "cool" or, conversely, not worthy of having an opinion, is a dangerous mindset to fall into. It's understandable that a lot of us tend to fall for this at times, though, as the need to belong to a group with some sort of (perceived or real) power is great for most folks. But it's important that we all recognize it for what it is, and fight against it.

This post was meant to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but I had a serious point at the end. Regardless of that or your coffee intake, your response was valid (though I wish you'd laid off the personal insults), and I'm glad you stopped by to talk this out.

js155306 said...
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George H. said...

Jeepers, it's just a sign. I suspect whoever was in charge of signs this voting week did a cross-reference and found the government connection and, most important, it fit the sign.
Wouldn't that be a kick in the pants?
All the god that fits.

Don't forget to vote.

Emily said...

But George, if we can't trust signs, WHAT CAN WE TRUST?!

Anonymous said...

I much prefer the "Render unto Caesar..." passage for how people of faith should deal with government. Paul was quite the extremist in a lot of ways, and that conversion on the road to Damascus didn't really change that very much at all.

I think we will, in fact, see calls for impeachment from the very beginning. The far right have shown themselves to be poor losers in the past. The entire Clinton presidency was an impeachment trial in search of a crime; I suspect an Obama presidency will be much the same. I just hope the margin of victory will be such that the howler monkey faction of the right can just be told to sit down and shut up and let the clear will of the people govern without their BS obstructing everything.

The Lost Albatross