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GLBT's strange bedfellows
GLBT's strange bedfellows
by Rev. Barbara Allen - SGN Contributing Writer The Pursuit of Equal Rights made for strange bedfellows last week when a legally approved plaque in the Capitol Rotunda in Olympia was put on display, stolen and vandalized, then returned to the rotunda. Bill O'Reilly, via his radio broadcasts, seems to have whipped up a negative frenzy to the inclusion of the sign along with a crèche, Christmas tree, and Menorah. Calls deluged Gov. Gregoire's office and staff in favor of the sign's permanent removal as an affront to the American way and God's truth.

In the December 19, 2003, edition of SGN, an article on the "secret history" of Christmas was published, which is as true and relevant today as it was then.

Erosions of Americans Constitutional rights have historically occurred at the instigation of organized religion. Up to 1954, and the Eisenhower (Republican) administration, the Pledge of Allegiance read:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

The words "under God" were added between the words "nation" and "indivisible" at that time upon the instigation of organized religious groups. (Long-term efforts to add these words began with a concerted campaign by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization, in the 19th Century.)

The Olympia sign in question reads:

At this season of THE WINTER SOLSTICE, may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world; Religion is but myth and superstition that sometimes hardens hearts and enslaves minds.

A line-by-line summary of the plaque follows:

This is the season of the winter solstice, December 21, observed by Pagans and others for millennia, the day upon which there is far more dark night than light. The idea of multiple gods is passé, which is not to say that there is no God or Creator. The idea of a devil and/or angels and hell are the inventions of organized religions, particularly the Church. There is no mention of a "devil" in the original Hebraic Old Testament. Science and space exploration have demonstrated that there is no "heaven" in the heavens above, but rather our solar system, galaxy, and many universes. All most of us can physically experience is our natural world, but it is also true that we may each experience things in a slightly different way. (Considering human history and human beings inhumanity to their own species among others, if there is a hell, it's here and now, unless and until we become enlightened.)

All religions throughout time and the world are created of myths and superstitions which may or may not evolve from actual events. Myths have included 20th century Nazi stereotypes of Jews vs. the Nazi concept of a "master race." The result was genocide and the Holocaust. Nazism, founded on myth and lies, was a diabolical religion. (It's of interest that in the 21st Century, Muslims have succeeded in having the Holocaust removed from being taught in British public schools, paving the way for this monstrous nightmare in human history to be considered a "myth," and perhaps repeat itself.)

Stereotypes are not a complete truth. Stereotypes, bigotry and myths may harden hearts and cause great harm, as can exaggerated statements or points of view (including the FFRO sign).

Organized religion may do great good, as well as great harm. I was reminded this past week of the great good that may come from personal practices at the memorial service in a Lutheran church, for a magnificent human being who lived the most positive and enlightened principles of her belief system and inspired others by her good works.

Lutherans don't have saints, but if they did, surely all who knew her would vote for canonization. There are many individuals who are devoutly religious and do great good, in all faiths! There are also extremists who do unthinkable harm and evil in God's name.

It's indicative of great insecurity and fear when any group or special interest works towards enslaving minds, hearts or spirits. As Americans, we may disagree with the sign and what it says, but must also defend to the death the right to ones beliefs, so long as they do no harm!

The rights of any person end where the rights of another person begin. If any religious symbols are allowed in government buildings, surely we must allow equal opportunity for all. The Biblically mistranslated concept from Christianity of human beings being created to rule over this planet and exploit it for their own selfish purposes has done great harm.

The correct translation is rather that we are to be wise shepherds and stewards of the planet upon which we live.

An interesting sidelight to current events is that FFRO states that it advocates for the rights of the GLBTQ community, and women. (For more information about the Freedom From Religion Organization, visit www.ffrf.org.)

I believe that there is a higher power, God or God/dess, a Creator. Perhaps the best way for FFRO to promote its ideas is not to denigrate those who believe, but rather to modify their statements and avoid stereotypes, without sacrificing their principles.

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