Thursday, November 19, 2009

CC2009: What I Wish I Had Said

The religious zealots are at it once again. They are a very loud minority and are quickly becoming odious to many here. They have a peculiar theology in service of which they wish to claim everything in the name of their peculiar and narrow bibilical idolatry, currently dubbed Dominionism. (The link is to Wickipedia but the article is well cited and more information can be found from those cites). Sociologist Sara Diamond writes that the Dominionists in essence believe that "Christians alone are bibilically mandated to occupy all secular institutions until [their messiah] returns."

Thus the land of the free would become a land of Christian masters and the rest of us would be dhimmis.

Thus on Saturday afternoon we were treated to a half-an-hour of Dominionist propaganda from the pulpit, er, the lectern. One particular piece of incorrect propaganda read to us was this comment on the First Amendment:

"This meant that congress would not impose any Christian denomination as a state religion, such as Baptist, Presbyterian, etc. And that everyone would have the freedom to worship God and Jesus as they saw fit. It was not intended to include religions with other gods. Almost everyone of the founding fathers had a personal relationship through faith in Christ with God. We too have the freedom to worship the God of the Bible in our own way, but no member of that first congress would have allowed for the worship of any other God than the God of the Bible. To them that would have invited failure."

Essentially, this person (who shall remain nameless) is saying that the first amendment does not protect the first amendment rights of non- Christians, and was written only to prevent religious warfare among the Christian sects. And it appears that they need that prevention, although that is NOT what the First Amendment says in plain English. Rather it says:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Today, as the Continental Congress was presented with a Compact to work on, the zealots made a motion to replace the reference to "the Creator" (language from the Declaration of Independence) with what they called "more specific language." They once more sought to divide the delegations and dominate the group with their restrictive belief system.

I have been sitting in silence all week. There was so much religious yelling and arm-waving at the Saturday session that I hesitated to speak. And felt like a coward at that. So today I rose to speak my mind.

These late nights and early mornings, these five days without once seeing the sunrise or sunset, had taken their toll, and I was not eloquent.

I began by quoting Danny Perl, z"l: "I am a Jew and the son of a Jew." To the everlasting shame of the Continental Congress, when I pointed out that Jews do not use the Eternal Name, intending to continue that religion is a private matter, I was subjected to catcalls.
In shutting them down, I lost my train of thought and merely said that if the restrictive language was used, I would be unable to sign the document that I and others had worked so hard to produce thus far. And that not being able to sign would break my heart. And then I said that I have had enough of their religious bully pulpit, thanked the President of Continental Congress, yielded the floor and left the room.

I was tired, tired, tired. And thus I was not eloquent.
And you know how you always think of the right words later?
Here, if I had the chance at that mike again is what I would say:

"I am a Jew and the son of a Jew." These are the words of Danny Perl, z"l, uttered just before he was ritually slaughtered by Islamic religious zealots in 2002. Danny is one of millions of Jews who have died al-kiddush ha-Shem--for the sanctification of the Name at the hands of religious bigots who desire to claim the Eternal for themselves.

In the United States, our government is charged with protecting the religious Liberty of all Americans. The United States is not a Christian country. There is, thank Providence, no established religion in the United States. On these shores all of us have, by right, freedom of conscience, and may choose to express any religion or none at all.

I say to the small minority of the delegates who have been mounting the evangelical bully pulpit that you are unfriendly to the cause of Liberty in this respect. Your god is too small. And in insisting that all of us here and in our respective States bow to your narrow views, you are paving the way for tyranny. There is no such thing as having a little bit of freedom. One is either completely free or one is not free at all.

I cannot take a document back to New Mexico and ask friends and neighbors to sign it, when it excludes those who do not subscribe to these narrow views. If this Body wants to gain the support of 8 to 10 million people, then we must be able to appeal to Americans of all religious persuasions and walks of life.

Further I cannot sign any document that contains such restrictive religious language. If this motion carries, I will not sign. And that would break my heart.

I do not want to die al-kiddush ha-Shem at the hands of any religious zealots. Nor will I remain silent any more to the thousands of little martyrdoms inflicted by Christian religious zealots. You see, I, too, have the freedom of expression granted to ALL by nature and nature's G-d. Thus I say: "I am a Jew and a daughter of Israel."

There. I said it here even if I could not say it there.


Retriever said...

You were brave and eloquent, Elisheva. Dominionists are awful. I am sorry that such people took over the congress. What a disappointment. Nothing I can say except that those of us who know you, even just over the net, believe in you and admire you. Most of us are tribal in some sense, but growing up and becoming civilized is supposed to broaden our horizens, and to include respect for other faiths, religious tolerance, not bigotry and narrowmindness of the type you just endured.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Thanks, Retriever. Except I wasn't eloquent. The last is what I wished I had said. But I am glad I have this blog. I get my say here anytime I want! :)

I had heard of Dominionism, though only in the context of Mikey Weinstein's fight with the Air Force, but I had never experienced it until now.

Anonymous said...

I doubt that even the most perfectly reasoned, constructed, and delivered speech would have made any difference; some attendees have chosen to be blinded by their own ignorance. Too bad the rest of you have to deal with this.


Judy Aron said...

sigh... I am so sorry to hear that this happened. Hopefully, the whole religion thing will make its way into the final document - that would be a real shame and disappointment for many.
Thank you for speaking your mind.

Mike Blessing said...

I am an agnostic, scientist-in-training, a son of 3508 Vinton Rd., Philadelphia, PA, 19154, and a descendant of western Poland or eastern Germany.

Really, what are these theocrat clowns trying to accomplish by doing this? Why can't they just be satisfied with starting their own church? AGH.

We had a bit of this at the New Mexico Liberty site in a thread related to the recent Ft. hood shootings. After responses by myself and Joseph Knight, it appears that the thread was deleted by the originator and that person deleted his profile there.

Been countering this sort of BS since about 1995, when Jim Skinner kept bringing it up in the NM Milita group I was involved with.

Donna B. said...

Oh my. I just read the Wikipedia article and am near speechless.

Lee said...

I'm sorry about this unpleasant episode at CC09.

I am disappointed to learn that some folks who champion constitutional principles would resort to cat calls.

Anonymous said...

I am not an American . I followed the CC on the webcast and various other websites.
I question the effectiveness of such a meeting. It did not seem to me to represent a cross section of the US population and I feel that its conclusions will be totally ignored by the country at large. Its only value that I see is that it may be a very small part of the resurgence of the conservative side of politics in your country. The whole meeting seemed to be the culmination of the lifes work of Bob Shulz and where he will go from here , who knows.

It is very presumptive to assume that it will have any more notice taken of it than say the American Grand Jury movement or the Birther movement. I am not suggesting that you agree with these movements, you may, I don't know
I am an atheist but not evangelical about it.The fundamendalists of any religion or organisation bother me.
You simply cannot have a reasonable conversation with them and expect to have them give your ideas any respect at all. Fortunately in my country we don't have a great many, in fact religious observance is much lower here than in the US and nobody seems to ask about your religion.

You mentioned in an earlier post the denial of the Holocaust that you have come across. Several years ago I went to the Holocaust exhibit at the Jewish museum in our capitol city and I was looking at picture of people beimg herded across a bridge by the Germans. This little old lady standing next to me spoke to me and said that she was there and that she lost close family at that event. That cracked me up and I had to put my arm around her more to comfort myself than her. It more than brought home to me the fact that, regardless of religion or ethnicity , we are human beings.

Somebody said to you about Slavs and Gypsies being killed as well. That does not in any way justify putting down the Jews. It means that evil was done to many people.

I look forward to your posts on the CC2009 and your thoughts on its effectiveness as time moves on.


Chuck Ring said...


I hate your comment program, but I respect you.

Just to let you know, I am a Christian and I do not subscribe to the Dominionist credo.

I hope we will work together in the future as we have many things in common and that is what binds us together ... not the differences.

Thanks for being there (the convention or conflab) and it is nice having you back.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Thanks for the discussion everyone. I have two more in the queue that need to be dealt with separately.

FYI: As I said at Facebook, the vote was finally resoundingly against the theocrats--34 - 4, with a number of states abstaining. Should have said that earlier but time has been hard to find.

Chuck, sorry my comment program does not meet with your approval. I am unclear on the reason, but if you mean that the comments are moderated, that is because there was some unpleasantness a few years ago fomented by some equally narrow-minded atheists when I defended the right of homeschool parents to teach religion to their children in their own homes. Just goes to show that there are those who cannot respect people who choose a different way than theirs on all sides of the religion issue. And this is why the founders wisely refused to sanction a state religion.