Archive for January, 2007

Chris Buttars: Tilting with Windmills

January 19, 2007

Amazing how the little things in life can suck all the time away you expect to have for something like blogging. Alas, when life does crop up, blogging must take a backseat. Until someone is willing to pay me for my thoughts, that’s how its gonna have to be.

The Utah legislature is again in session, so there is a lot to talk about currently. One of the first topics which come to mind is the latest brilliant idea by the legendary Chris Buttars, bastion of conservative lunacy. Renowned for his advocacy for such ideas as mandatory recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools, banning gay-straight alliances in those schools, and the misnomered theory of “Intelligent Design,” the esteemed Mr. Buttars is now sponsoring SB 111, the “Free Exercise of Religion Without Government Interference” act. Buttars claims that the bill will allow students to wear shirts with messages like “CTR” at school, or to pray at graduation.

The topic has already been thoughtfully addressed by Jennifer of Green Jen’s Journal and Oldenberg of The Third Avenue, two local blogs of which I’m fond.

Jen’s scripture reference is the one which immediately sprung to mind when I heard of Buttars’ bill.

5. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, cpray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly (Matthew 6:5-6).

We don’t need—nor does the Lord seem to want—ostentatious public displays of worship. He wants us to worship in our hearts. If we worship him humbly in our heart, and live our life in a manner consistent with his principles, we will be rewarded. I admire Jen for her perceptiveness in recognizing this, and find it rather sad that the avowedly pious Chris Buttars struggles to grasp this concept which the non-Christian so readily comprehends.

Likewise, Oldenberg asks a valid question when he wonders whether Buttars would be so eager to protect the right of a student to wear a satanic shirt. I’ll even make the scenario less outrageous: Would Buttars be eager to see his bill used by Muslim students to recite the Shahada? Would he like to see atheists wearing shirts proclaiming the non-existence of God? If not, he has no business promoting this bill. I suspect his interest is merely in perpetuating the favored status of our faith.

Mr. Buttars and his efforts to protect Christianity from diabolical secularists and their ilk reminds me of the instance in 2000 in which the Christian Family Research Council, a conservative Christian think-tank historically associated with James Dobson, objected when a Hindu priest gave the invocation of a session of the House of Representatives.

Our founders expected that Christianity – and no other religion – would receive support from the government as long as that support did not violate peoples’ consciences and their right to worship…They would have found utterly incredible the idea that all religions, including paganism, be treated with equal deference…As for our Hindu priest friend, the United States is a nation that has historically honored the One True God. Woe be to us on that day when we relegate Him to being merely one among countless other deities in the pantheon of theologies.

Astounding.

All too often, conservative Christian apologists (including LDS apologists) fail to understand that religious tolerance demands the assumption that all religions are equal. We who follow a particular faith may believe ours is innately superior, but we have no right to demand such superiority in the sight of the law. The idea that Christianity should be accorded a privileged status by the government in our nation is as ludicrous the “separate but equal” status of the races prior to the civil rights movement. Perhaps Mr. Buttars should spend less time hunting for anti-Mormon/religious snipes, and more time studying the nature of both our faith and our nation.

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Back From My Holiday Sabbatical

January 5, 2007

I hope everyone had happy holidays. Ours were overall very nice, very restful and recharging. I very consciously took some time away from my blog and politics in general for the last several weeks. I am intensely fascinated by politics and passionate about political and social causes. But I decided I needed to take some time this holiday to recharge and refocus. What better time to take stock and reorient around the Savior than the time we choose to celebrate his birth? I kept listening to the news, but that’s about it. I haven’t listened to partisan radio from either side, read any political blogs, or written on my own. I know I missed a number of events about which it would have been very interesting to immerse myself and post about, but it was worth it. I focused instead on my wife, my family, and my relationship with the Lord. Now I feel very rejuvenated after this sabbatical. Now I’m ready to pick up where I left off, commenting on current events and defending the liberal cause. Stay tuned!