Posts filed under ‘Religious Right’
As I try to move past the MZB scandal, my thoughts turn to other disturbing news about two Supreme Court rulings- one has been a long time in coming about the Hobby Lobby case- for a little background, in the United States legally corporations are considered “persons” (according to a previous B.S. ruling) that have “free speech” that they can use their money to express. Hobby Lobby argues that private companies also have “religious freedom” which is being curtailed by the Affordable Care Act, in requiring employers to cover medical care (certain contraceptives) that violates their version of Christianity.
The other case is that a “buffer zone” that protesters are not allowed to enter near clinics that offer abortions, is an unconstitutional violation of freedom of speech. Well, we all ready have the freedom, thanks to the late Fred Phelps to picket funerals. So, anytime some type of medical care is taking place that violates my religious beliefs (or secular ethical beliefs?) I can harass people who are trying to get it. Totally what the Founding Fathers intended!
Anyway, as I was thinking about how Marion fell far short of her publicly held feminist beliefs in her private life, it made me think of how the idealized vision of America is a lot like King Arthur’s utopian vision of Camelot. It was never real, it was always a fantasy. This country was founded on the backs of slaves and conquest. The movement towards independence began with a protest against taxation without representation. It was more about the interests of certain land-owners and merchants rather than most regular people. Have things really changed all that much? Are we are really being represented by our government? Who do they really serve?
Now I’m not saying the American ideals of liberty, equality and justice for all are not worth holding and fighting for. I remember shaking my head in disbelief at a friend when she told me she wanted to move to be with her husband’s family in Saudi Arabia. She said she wanted to raise her children with the Arab culture and Muslim religion. I did not object to those things, but I felt like asking her- what about teaching your sons the value of democracy, gender equality, freedom of speech and religion? I know American culture has many flaws, and we fail many times to live up to those values. But what example will they get of a mother who leaves her country and culture behind? I had some other friends who decided to leave- for of all places, Russia after Bush II ascended the throne, and I got the impression that they would return after Obama was elected. I disgustedly considered them fairweather friends- the sort of people who give liberals a bad name by affirming the common accusation that we aren’t patriotic. They actually stayed there- apparently due to the low cost of living (including healthcare), and because they had an easier time finding decent jobs. Go figure.
No, some of us embrace a different kind of patriotism- as Mark Twain once said “Loyalty to country- always. Loyalty to the government- only when it deserves it.” Some of us look to the legacies of the abolitionists, the labor unionists, the pacifists, the American Indians and Mexicans who fought for their land and way of life. For the African-Americans, Asian-Americans, disabled Americans, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and trans folk, and women of many cultures who challenged us to broaden our definition of American- of humanity. For the millions in our prisons and jails who don’t get true justice, while private companies profit from their suffering. For the young men and women who think joining our military is a ticket to an education, a way out of poverty, to nobly serve our country, when they fight for Halliburton and Big Oil, and end up being traumatized and injured and getting forgotten and lost on the streets when they return. Our songs are that of the protest singers, the slave spirituals, the Civil Rights anthems like “We Shall Overcome”, the peace march chants. We have our own heroes, our own stories. They might not be celebrated or told as part of a Hallmark/Disney or other corporate sponsored Fourth of July special. But they are far more true and powerful than the stories that are told in so many schools about people who really cared more about their own interests and property than they claimed.
In the past 20 years so there have some changes in the culture of Halloween in the United States. Likewise celebration of the holiday has spread to parts of the world where it was previously unknown. I am interested in exploring this and wondering how this may affect its older cousin, Samhain. I do observe both holidays- celebrating Halloween with my community, decorating my house and handing our treats, sometimes attending events related to it. Then after the trick-or-treaters dwindle, I turn off the porchlight, and ritually honor my ancestors- remember the sacrifices they made so I could be here, and others I know or admire who have died in the past year.
First, the trends that began emerging in the 1980’s, when I was a young child and first starting to trick-or-treat. There has been a “culture war” against Halloween by some evangelical Christians who view it as “the Devil’s holiday”. I always found this quite ridiculous, as it was obvious to me it’s a secular holiday. The problem is that the essence of Halloween just doesn’t fit into their worldview- not to mention their lack of sense of humor! They have managed to stop it from being celebrated in some public schools, ruining the fun for the majority of kids. Still public celebration of Halloween persists, very strongly in fact.
Concerns about safety arose- parents were advised not to let their kids trick-or-treat alone, or eat unpackaged treats. This is all common sense. Still it’s too bad that neighbors can’t hand out homemade treats like cookies or apples, which would be healthier than candy. (at least cookies aren’t pure sugar!) I think handing out those things actually would be possible if arranged previously by neighbors who know & trust each other. I may mention that to folks in my block club for next year.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve seen Halloween get more commercialized each year. The advantage is this gives a wider range of costumes and other products than used to be available. But it’s really getting as ostentatious and wasteful as Christmas. Remember most of these costumes & decorations are made of petroleum products. Even with the economy’s current state, Americans are still spending record amounts on their “hauntings”.
I have noticed that concepts for some of these new Halloween decs are inspired by Christmas ones- Halloween trees with ornaments, orange lights hung outside, miniature spooky villages. While I enjoy decorating for holidays there’s a point where it goes too far. I do have fun looking at how some of my neighbors adorn their houses & yards- I was doing this just a few days ago while doorknocking for Obama. At times I chuckle about the lengths to which they go.
Another trend that disturbs me is some of the skimpy costumes I have seen designed for young girls. It goes along with the regular clothes being marketed towards them. I’d think most parents wouldn’t fall for this, but some have poor judgement, or go along with little Ashley’s pleads to dress like Lindsay Lohan and that “all the other girls wear that”. Sheesh, are these people trying to encourage pedophilia?
I also hadn’t realized until I got into college that Halloween was used an excuse to get drunk at parties. Then again to college students and others anything is an excuse to drink. It also seems like the tricks people pull are more destructive than they once were.
I realize that these changes reflect trends in the overall American culture- everything becomes successively more commercialized- literally nothing is sacred. Likewise, sexuality is reaching a saturation point- where even prepubescent kids are getting sexualized.
I also wonder if as some non-Pagans (other than the anti-Halloween evangelicals) become disgusted with these Halloween trends, they might turn to a revival of All Soul’s/Saints Day, or Samhain as a cultural celebration, and honor their own Dead. My Christian fiance enjoyed observing Samhain with me, remembering his grandparents and others that have passed on. It was nice to share that with him.
If it's one thing I can give the fundamentalists credit for, it's legal creativity. Increasingly, thanks to the efforts of The Gay Agenda, workplaces, colleges and schools have codes that prohibit "hate speech" and policies such as diversity training which promote inclusivity of racial, sexual minorities and women. The nerve! I mean, obviously they're discriminating against Christians! Now I do think that the conservatives should have the right to publicly disagree, up to a point. In fact, it looks like that woman's free speech rights may have been unfairly curtailed to some extent- " Malhotra said she had been reprimanded by college deans several times in the last few years for expressing conservative religious and political views."
I think diversity training can be a good thing, but it should be done carefully. It's one thing to say "Let's try to understand and be nice to gay people" it's another thing to insist homosexuality is morally ok. If your feel homosexual behavior goes against your religion, fine. But calling gays "perverts" and proclaiming that they will burn in hell is hate speech, and it may be justified for a university to prohibit it out of concern for the safety and inclusion of students.
"By equating homosexuality with race, Baylor said, tolerance policies put conservative evangelicals in the same category as racists. He predicts the government will one day revoke the tax-exempt status of churches that preach homosexuality is sinful or that refuse to hire gays and lesbians." (or marry them for that matter) I find that absurd. But I suppose it could be quite a plausible fear for these folks. But there are religions like World Church of the Creator, that hold white supremacist positions- are they denied tax exempt status? or only if they are engaged in certain political activities.
Now personally, I'm in a different position, seeing as I go to a Christian-affiliated college. We do have pro-diversity policies that include sexual orientation, but because we are private no one can sue us for it. But I'm concerned this kind of thing could happen at the University of Minnesota- there is a group, the Maranatha Fellowship which is very active and well-funded and I can totally see them pulling something like this.
More commentary on this at Plastic.com