I Am Running Out Of Patience With People Who Think God Needs Our Defense

This ulcer’s coming along nicely, thanks much:

The Assembly GOP plan would also enact several restrictions on state and local governments when it comes to limiting crowds. It would:

Restrict the power of local health officers from ordering the closure of a business unless it applies to all types of businesses. Similarly, a local health officer would be barred from restricting capacity at businesses unless those restrictions apply to all businesses.

Prohibit state and local health departments from prohibiting gatherings in churches.

Okay. Let’s ignore the obvious, which is that this entire bill is BUGBONKERS INSANE, punishing schools for offering online education and forcing people who can work remote to not to, just because. Let’s take some of this nonsense on its face, and while we’re at it, work into this the also bonkers ruling by Neil Gorsuch, who knows exactly what he’s doing here:

At the same time, the Governor has chosen to impose no capacity restrictions on certain businesses he considers “essential.” And it turns out the businesses the Governor considers essential include hardware stores, acupuncturists, and liquor stores. Bicycle repair shops, certain signage companies, accountants, lawyers, and insurance agents are
all essential too. So, at least according to the Governor, it may be unsafe to go to church, but it is always fine to pick up another bottle of wine, shop for a new bike, or spend the afternoon exploring your distal points and meridians. Who knew public health would so perfectly align with secular convenience?

Forget Gorsuch’s snippy little asides and his idea that somehow one becomes governor of NEW YORK by shutting down churches and synagogues. Let’s keep it simple. Framing opposition to temporary, targeted public health measures as an assault on religious freedom is bananas.

Before the pandemic I attended church. The building had a fire code posted on the wall. There was an occupancy limit then and there is one now. It was a different occupancy limit than the one in a bar, or a theater. No one, not a single person, implied that it was government overreach to expect the roof to be maintained, or the electrical wiring to not catch fire. All of those codes are dependent on the particulars of what occurs inside the spaces as designed. All of them take into account not just the physical size of the space but how it is used.

So now, in a global pandemic that is killing thousands of people every single day, to be told that services cannot be limited because to do so is an infringement on the freedom of religion is an affront to the intelligence with which God endowed His creations.

To, in fact, rile up religious congregations in opposition to public health measures in the name of belief, to characterize care for one’s fellow citizens’ LIVES as some kind of liberal communist plot, to silence the voices of the doctors and scientists God gave us who are BEGGING for a reprieve from large indoor gatherings, who are not asking us not to pray but to temporarily change just one small aspect of our behavior for one finite period of time, is the kind of naked avarice and political cynicism that once had a nice Jewish carpenter flipping tables.

So why is this happening? Why are we being told that God doesn’t want us to listen to doctors? Who has an interest in making this point and why are they making it?

All of this is predicated on the same persecution complex, the same paranoia, that has suffused American Christianity for the past 40 years and has filtered down from the obvious mouth-foaming snake-handling backwoods tentpole preachers to the nice ladies at your aunt’s book club.

They are all convinced Christ is under attack and must be defended.

Why? Well, God has been “banned” from “the schools,” you see.

People aren’t “allowed” to say Merry Christmas “anymore.”

(That one’s from a site called Texas Values, by the way.)

People can be married who couldn’t 20 years ago, not in certain congregations of course, but under American civil law.

Now, George says, “society has brought social and legislative approval to all types of sexual relationships that used to be considered ‘sinful.’ Since the biblical vision of what it means to be human tells us that not every friendship or love can be expressed in sexual relations, the church’s teaching on these issues is now evidence of intolerance for what the civil law upholds and even imposes. What was once a request to live and let live has now become a demand for approval. The ‘ruling class,’ those who shape public opinion in politics, in education, in communications, in entertainment, is using the civil law to impose its own form of morality on everyone.”

There are rude words that your maiden aunts now have to see on Facebook, also. I don’t know anymore. It’s become a morass, a generally accepted narrative that the most victimized people on earth are the ones with “Blessed” stickers on their cars. And the best way to defend against that kind of assault is to throw a massive public hissyfit.

Somehow any evidence of a secular society, or the simple fact that not everyone is bound to respect what you respect, has become fuel for the least justified persecution complex in history. Yes, including the Cubs. And it enrages me more than almost anything else, because: How dare you make God so small, as to be bothered in the slightest by things like this.

As a practicing Catholic (I’m not very good at it, clearly) I’ve found my religion hemmed in on very few sides despite the secular circles I run in. I wear a saint’s medal around my neck and have done for 20 years and literally no one has ever said boo about it. I’ve worn it in mosques and synagogues and at liberal political gatherings where absolutely the most vocal atheists on the planet were in attendance (and drank me under the table).

This year I bought a large, overly expensive Christmas tree and lit it up in my front window. My daughter is learning the Nativity story in our home and there is a Bible, albeit more of a family heirloom than a working copy, in public view. We own, at last count, six books about the Christian holidays, including one with the full-on Beatitudes.

I discuss God with as many people as can possibly handle it. That someone may not like my tone doesn’t mean I don’t believe, and I find it offensive in the extreme to have my faith questioned because I don’t share the misconception that God and His Son and their representatives here on earth need us, of all creatures. That Jesus and His Dad can probably handle Themselves is not a point They need me to make.

Time was, my mainstream American brothers and sisters and nonbinary buds in Christ, we made vigorous mockery of the kinds of idiots who’d let their own kids die rather than entrust them to doctors, in the name of the Lord. Now we’re throwing in with them, in the name of political power and sticking it to the libs. Now we’re no better than the man on a rooftop who, watching the floodwaters rise, let a boat and a helicopter pass him by because God would save him. Great job, everybody. Well done.

I miss church, too. Advent is my JAM, my spiritual booty call, the time when I LOVE being in church. But Illinois is not, thank God, governed by the kind of people running Wisconsin, so unlimited indoor services are out of the question. Anyway, my parish priest is in quarantine.

Visiting the sick and dying, the elderly and alone, placed him at risk so he’s locked down while his test results are processed and for 14 days thereafter. He’s not screaming about government tyranny. He’s not in front of the church nailing himself to the door because no law of men applies to him.

He’s staying in the rectory and sending out emails asking people to please stop bringing him food because he has plenty, and in fact if anyone needs some they should come by when this is all over.

That’s who this kind of thing puts at risk. That’s who will truly suffer because some right-wing politicians want to make people think they’re being martyred. That’s who will sicken, through no fault of their own, because it was in the interests of a few people to feel important by acting like they’re persecuted.

That’s who will die alone in an ICU while their families say goodbye on an iPad.

Look at that and imagine it’s your mother, your son, your spouse, on the other end, miles away, because you didn’t think God could handle waiting six months for you to get a vaccine and sit in a pew again.

I am so tired of explaining this to people who should know better. Who pride themselves on their belief in an awesome God, in a God who is everywhere, always with us, and can do anything including make it not rain on circus day. Who seem to think God wouldn’t cut them a break if they thought they could save their neighbors.

Who seek out — and you have to seek it out, you have to sign up on Facebook to get memes from these pages and make the kinds of friends who’ll send them to you in e-mail forwards — stories that activate this disgust response in order to have something to get riled up about. When, in truth, they can practice their faith all they want without HAVING to deal with anything more than the occasional bit of evidence that there are other people out there who aren’t them.

No one is coming for your Nativity scene, DUGAN.

While we’re on the subject of faith, the only people who’ve ever questioned my Christian bona fides have been my devout fellow believers. It’s not the atheists lifing me all day long about how I’m doing it wrong, but there sure are a lot of Catholics up in this piece implying I am no real member of their Body. Mostly because I don’t believe in limiting medical procedures of the type that helped me have my daughter, or in putting lawmakers in charge of women’s health.

Maybe it would help convince them if I simply told them I was worried about government overreach.

A.

4 thoughts on “I Am Running Out Of Patience With People Who Think God Needs Our Defense

  1. LarrytheRed says:

    For so many people, it’s no fun having “faith” if you don’t feel persecuted for having it. But it’s really quite simple, tho’ impossible for them. Believe whatever you want. Just don’t try to impose it on me, and especially don’t get me killed over it. Just because I disagree with you does not mean I’m persecuting you.

  2. But my religious freedom includes my right to impose my beliefs on you, your loved ones, our shared governmental entities and out online content providers. Otherwise, you know, you’re persecuting me. I don’t understand why this isn’t clear to everyone, but those for whom it is unclear must be put to death. Clear now?

  3. Snarki, child of Loki says:

    Yeah well MY deeply-held religious belief REQUIRES me to plant a sharp ax in the noggin of annoying christianists, and do the Supremely Deplorable Judicial Hacks release me from those 1st-Amendment violating rules? NooOoooOOOOoo!

  4. pacemappellant says:

    Persecution is woven into the fabric of xtianity. It’s part of its mission, its history, its message of salvation. While shameful, it isn’t surprising that the persecution narrative retains its potency.

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