Saturday, March 29, 2014

The South, Christianity, and Tennessee

Anyone who spends any time studying literature is bound to run across southern-born authors who have a love/hate relationship with the south.  I have to admit, though I’m no author, I too have that love/hate thing going on with the south.

More recently, I’ve added Christianity to that list as well.  Sorry, Christians, I’m having a tough time buying it these days, especially as it’s practiced in the US in 2014.  I’m tending to regard it as just another example of man’s attempt to explain the unknown.

Christians:  If you live in the United States, YOU ARE NOT PERSECUTED.  If you want to discover what persecution is, may I direct your attention to India, Russia, and China (those are the “nice” ones), the Muslim world (in its entirety) where evangelization will at very least land you in prison for life (if you’re lucky), and the ever-charming North Korea (where possession of a Bible carries a mandatory sentence of execution, no trial, no jury, no kidding).

In any event, this week the Tennessee legislature passed a nasty and hurtful bill in the name of “religious freedom”.

Tennessee's latest outrage

(this from the same state where a legislator keeps trying to make the word “gay” illegal…).

The law basically means you can say or do anything you want in the name of your religion. 

A quote directly from the bill:

“a student may express beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions. A student would not be penalized or rewarded on account of the religious content of the student’s work.”

The bill goes on to allow any student to commandeer school facilities for “religious purposes”.  So, students can preach at will, forcing others to listen to them; prayer over the intercom is back, etc etc etc.

I lived in Tennessee for 3 long, awful years.  I had some nice friends from there, but I HATED living there.  Churchy, preachy, nasty people.  Sorry, Tennesseans who are friends of mine, but that’s basically what I heard, over and over and over.

Some interesting facts about Tennessee:

Wealth per capita:  #40 of 50
Unemployment:  #43 of 50
Poverty:  #40 of 50
% of students graduating high school:  #42 of 50
Life Expectancy:  #43 of 50
Infant Mortality Rate:  #47 of 50.
Obesity Rate:  #44 of 50.
Overall Wellbeing:  #47 of 50.
Math scores:  #42 of 50.
Reading scores:  #35 of 50 (hey, they broke into the 30's!)
Least Income Inequality:  #41 of 50.
Highest % employed in Math, Science, et al:  #38 of 50 (Oak Ridge...)
Teen Pregnancy:  #41 of 50.
Smoking Rate:  #47 of 50 (meaning 4th worst in US)
Diabetes Rate:  #46 of 50
STD Rate:  #44 of 50.

I looked these up on the internet; most came from very reliable sources (the CDC, for example).

Tennessee legislature, looks to me like you’ve got PLENTY of things to worry about without spending time on protecting Christians from non-existent persecution, eh?

Ah, well…this is the state that brought you the Scopes Monkey Trial.  It’s just sad to see that the great-grandchildren of the Scopes-era idiots are just as stupid (ignorant too, though there is a difference between the two) as their forebears.

Now, this is not saying that Tennessee’s southern friends and neighbors are any less stupid and ignorant; they’ve got lots of company.  It’s just that Tennessee is AGGRESSIVE about being stupid and ignorant.

One more thing:  Christians, do you not realize that bills like this are harmful and dangerous to YOU!?  What if a Satan Worshipper decided to take advantage of the bill’s provisions and proclaim his religion to your precious children?  What if a Christian decided he didn’t like that and they wound up fighting and potentially killing each other?  (Gee, this sounds familiar—Bosnia, anyone?).

One thing I DID learn from my religion classes at Baylor:  Christians are FAR better off when the law protects religious freedom, while saying as little about the actual practice of religion as possible.  The more you try to write religion into law, the more dangerous it is for Christianity.

At least a survey came out this week to the effect that gays are now more popular than evangelical Christians.  (Ya know, Evangelicals, think about that—you’re supposed to be attracting people by example; it appears you’re having the opposite effect.)

Sigh.  Rant over.

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