Mamma

There are numerous songs written for mothers, but it just sounds better when it’s sung in Italian.  I’m just sayin’.  The month of May goes hand-in-hand with moms.  Mother’s Day is always the second Sunday in May in the US.  If you celebrated your First Communion, chances are it was on or near Mother’s Day.  May is also the month for proms and school graduations.  When I think May, I think planting flowers and gardens.  May is also the month of Mary.  It’s just a beautiful month.

As a mom, I can say there is no greater calling than being a mother.  It is the most gratifying and frustrating job on the planet.  I’ve accomplished much in my life, but the greatest achievement is my children.  It’s the ultimate gift God gave to women.  It’s a universal fact that the pains of childbirth are instantly forgotten when you hold your child in your arms for the very first time.  Little hands can make a big mess, but who wouldn’t give to hold that hand in yours?  Our children bring boundless joy into our lives, as well as anxiety sometimes—but who remembers that?  Your love for them is unconditional.

You will only have one mother.  It’s true.  And when she’s gone it leaves a hole in your heart that never mends.  It doesn’t matter how old you are when you lose your mother.  A good friend, who is well over 65, is going through terrible loss this week.  Her dad passed away last week and her mom is not expected to live through this week.  She told me this morning that she got through her dad’s funeral just fine, but is dreading the call that her mom is gone.  It’s different when it’s your mother.

It’s not like Dad is less important.  His responsibilities and relationship to his children are just different than Mom’s. I grieved when my father died, but it was a different sense of loss when I lost my mother.  She is the one who is always there…no matter your age.  She gave birth to you, she fed you, she cared for your every want and need.  She was the one who bandaged your scraped knee, fretted over you when you had the chicken pox or flu, wiped your runny nose, held you when you cried and was there for every disappointment and achievement—large and small.  Dad may have you walked you down the aisle, but it was Mom who was there when you chose your dress and she probably planned the wedding with you.  If you’re lucky, she is your best friend.  After your husband, she was the first one you told when you were pregnant.  She was the first one at the hospital, and the first person outside of you and your husband, to hold her grandchild.

For those of you blessed to still have your mother with you, make sure you tell her how much you love her and appreciate everything she does for you.  Take her out to eat this Sunday or better yet—you cook a great meal for her.  You don’t have to buy anything that costs mega dollars.  Just get her something that makes her think of you.  Actually, the best gift you can give to her…is you.  All she wants to do is see and talk to you as frequently as possible.

It’s good to remember our heavenly mother as well.  Sometimes we forget that Mary was a human woman.  She laughed and she cried.  She celebrated and she grieved.  I’m sure she went through the same emotions every mother does when her son spoke his first word and took his first step.  I’m sure the child, Jesus, made his mother gifts and I bet she prized every one of them. We know how upset both Mary and Joseph were when they discovered that a 12-year-old Jesus was not with the rest of the family, returning from a feast in Jerusalem.  It took them three full days to find him!  Think how you or I feel when we turn our heads for just an instant and our child is not in vision.  I can’t even imagine the agony she went through when she witnessed her son tortured and crucified, or the elation when she was told of his resurrection.  Although she knew she’d be with him again in heaven, you know she longed for him when he returned to the Father.

The first miracle ever performed by Jesus was at Mary’s request.  She knew who He was and what He could do.  They were attending a friend’s wedding reception when the wine ran out. Mary told Jesus and he responded with something along the lines of, I’m not ready.  What do you want me to do?  Mary was undeterred.  She told a server to do whatever Jesus told him to do.  Because she knew he was going to do it.  And although it may not have been his hour, he turned the water into wine because his mother said so.  There is no greater bond between that of a mother and child.

This Saturday marks the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima.  This Sunday is Mother’s Day.  Like I said above, all mom really wants is to spend time with you.  Don’t forget that Mary would love a moment of your time as well.  It won’t cost you a cent to say a prayer for all mothers, or to say the Rosary, a request made by Our Lady to the children at Fatima.  In fact, she identified herself to them as Our Lady of the Rosary.

Remember, it doesn’t take much to make your mamma happy.  It’s true because every mother in the word said so!

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Sugar Shack

The song by the same title was performed by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs way back in 1963.  The lyricist simply told a tale about a coffee shop.  Not so for the “controversial” movie The Shack, based on a novel by the same name by author, William Paul Young.  I try viewing as many faith-based films as I can.  Sometimes I just can’t find a theater nearby.  I had no problem as The Shack is playing everywhere, most likely because Octavia Spencer and Tim McGraw are starring in the film.

The film opens with a troubled young boy, named Mack, who lives with his mother and abusive father.  Not many people in his small town acknowledge the abuse, except for one black neighbor, played by Octavia Spencer, who comforts him with her home cooking. When home life becomes unbearable, young Mack, who feels deserted by God, makes a horrible decision.  We quickly fast forward to the present.  Mack is now a man, living with his deeply religious wife and their three children. On a camping trip his youngest daughter is kidnapped and murdered.  The film does not dwell on this so don’t be put off thinking it will be bloody because it’s not.

Mack blames himself for his daughter’s death and cannot shake his depression.  He receives a letter from “Papa”, his wife’s name for God, inviting Mack to meet at the very shack where his daughter was killed. Mack decides to go and is shocked to find “Papa” is the same black woman who consoled him in his youth. Papa explains that Mack couldn’t accept a father figure at this time.  He meets Jesus, a Jewish carpenter, and the Holy Spirit, a beautiful Asian woman.  Towards the end of the film Papa decides Mack needs a father to take him through the rest of his journey of forgiveness and Papa becomes a mature, Native American man.  Again, the viewer knows exactly why God chose this form.

It’s this portrayal of the Holy Trinity that has several Christians upset.  I accepted God’s explanation of why He appeared in these forms.  Mack despised his father and couldn’t forgive himself for not being there for his daughter. He did not have a father figure he could rely on.  The Holy Spirit is portrayed as an attractive, soft-spoken, attentive Asian gardener.  Many Christians associate the Holy Spirit as a dove, ray of sunlight, a spiritual counselor and consoler.  Anyone who gardens knows how devoted you must be to your plants and flowers.  You protect them from predators and the elements as well as nourish them.  The same as the Holy Spirit is in her garden of souls.  All three display the wounds of crucifixion…something I’ve never seen before but makes perfect sense.

More importantly, The Shack is a story of forgiveness and how God loves ALL his children—the good and the bad.  It also emphasizes our free will to make our own choices.  Mack thought God had deserted him when he was a boy, but he comes to learn God was with him every step of the way, even when he made the wrong choice.  God never forgot about him and never stopped loving him.

I would definitely recommend this film not only for its message of forgiveness but also for showcasing the relationship individuals have with God.

 

Words

Remember this song from the Bee Gees about a man who relies on his words to win his sweetheart over?  Well this article has nothing to do about a sweetheart.  It deals instead with wording and spin.

We’re all familiar with advertising.  A winning ad campaign can send a company or a cause soaring into the stratosphere.  One would hope a solid strategy deals with facts, but that’s not always the case.  Let’s look at the adage; breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  How did that get started?  Some argue it was Dr. John Kellogg who wanted to sell his cereal product.  Others say it was the “father of public relations” Edward Bernays who was hired by a company to sell more bacon.  They as well as others convinced our parents that eating a hearty meal was essential to good health.  Is it fact or fiction?  That is still being debated today.

One of the best campaigns in recent times is the anti-smoking movement.  Everyone remembers the hundreds of people lying in the street, representing those who died from lung cancer.  To me, those were far more effective than the new campaign designed to shock you with cancer victims.

Where is this all leading?  If you read this blog on a regular basis you know where I stand on abortion. I watch the Walk for Life in Washington, DC every year and every year it grows in size—even last’s year’s blizzard couldn’t keep the people away.  This year, because I was off work, I watched the event more closely.  I read the banners held by the diverse groups who attended, naming their church, school, or organization.  Every one of them had the words Pro-Life on their signs and even their clothing.

There were, of course, some people protesting the Pro-Life March.  They made themselves heard and seen, as is their right.  It also gave me the opportunity to see what their signs read.  All had Pro-Choice, along with My Body—My choice.  It’s a women’s right to choose, etc.

Interesting.  Against abortion: Pro-Life.  For abortion: Pro-Choice.  Everyone is pro something.  This got me thinking about word association.  We’ve all played the game.  Someone shouts out a word and you have to say the first word that pops into your head.  Let’s play using the breakfast theme.  Bacon—eggs, morning—evening, hearty—light, toast—jam.  You get the idea.

Now let’s play using abortion as the theme.  Life—death, abortion—death, woman—person, baby—little person, choice—uh, um, property…cut?  OK.  If I say I’m against abortion I identify as pro-life but those who advocate for abortion should then be called pro-death or anti-life, but they’re not.  When I watched coverage of the March on local channels, at least those who covered it, people who are against abortion were labeled anti-abortion (negative) while those who advocate for abortion were identified as pro-choice (positive).  This is how wording can be manipulated to influence you.

There is no escaping it.  The opposite of life is death.  If a woman decides to have an abortion she is choosing the death of her unborn baby.  What “choice” does the baby have?  Couple all of this with the exposé on Planned Parenthood’s selling of baby organs to the highest bidder, and the latest outrage—rewarding their employees who perform the most abortions with pizza parties, along with suppressing stories of women and men who suffer psychologically throughout their lives, and tell me again where the choice is.  Why can’t mothers-to-be, be given the “choice” to undergo an ultrasound as opposed to them hearing the claim their child is nothing but a bunch of cells?  Isn’t that a choice?  If the baby could talk I’m betting he or she would be pro-life.

All this leads me back to the power of messaging.  The very successful advertising of the cigarette industry can work just as well for the Pro-Life movement, yet they don’t take advantage of it—and the media won’t help.  The same way young people dropped in Times Square representing people who died from lung cancer, young people can do the same, representing the millions who died at the hands of legal abortion.  Or how about those animal commercials that sneak up on you when you’re watching your favorite television show?  Just think if the sad talking lady was speaking about the millions and millions of innocent babies tortured and murdered every day at the hands of ruthless, money-making abortion mills.  They could show their torn, little bodies refrigerated until the evil biologics company purchases them for experiments; or worse, show them tossed into the garbage.  For just “insert the amount” a day you could save a child’s life… Yeah, you’ll never see that ad.

Being Pro-Life is not “just a religious thing”.  I saw several Atheists for Life signs in that March.  Where are the science and technology communities?   They should be front and center.  We’ve come a long way from “quickening” when doctors believed life began only when the mother could feel the baby kicking.  The ultrasound should have shut down the abortion industry—but it didn’t—probably because of the money it generates.  Just a couple of weeks ago, it was reported in an Atlantic Magazine article titled, “How Ultrasound Became Political” by Moira Weigel, stating there was “no heart to speak of” in a 6 week fetus.  They later removed it because it’s a lie.  It also states how couples view ultrasounds as their baby’s first picture.  Well isn’t it?  Most outrageous was the claim that “Ultrasound made it possible for the male doctor to evaluate the fetus without female interference.” Wow.  Pretty desperate.  Now do you see how words matter?

Late term abortion is flat out murder.  How can you say this is a blob of cells when babies the same age are alive and well?  There are nurses on record who say the child is born alive and they are forced to leave it alone in a closet to die.  Where will people draw the line?  Is infanticide the next step?  Will you be able to “abort” your child up to the age of 12?  If your teenager is getting to be a handful can you abort them too?  How about grandma?  Eugenics is making a comeback with some of the same people who call themselves Pro-Choice.

Technology makes stunning advances at lightning paced speed every day.  There is no doubt in my mind that someone will come up with an app to connect you with your growing baby in utero in real time.  I’m convinced that soon abortion will be exposed as one of the worst human atrocities of our time.  When that happens, no amount of words will ever be able to heal the wounds it afflicted, the losses suffered, or the violence and money it generated.

 

New Year

The group, This Beautiful Republic, recorded a song by the same name.  The song is about someone going through a lack of trust with a loved one.  The lyricist tells the person to put his or her trust in Jesus and begin a new life in the New Year.  Good advice!

The New Year exemplifies new beginnings and along with it comes the infamous New Year’s resolutions.  You can’t turn on your television without seeing countless commercials for weight loss systems or products to help you stop smoking.  Sale flyers are offering great deals on work out wear and exercise equipment.  Fitness centers and gyms across the US are signing up new customers by the droves.

Ads run non-stop to help you organize everything from your closet, your home, and your life. Last night I saw a commercial that floored me.  A client wrote a professional home organizer that she didn’t didn’t know what to do now that her whole house was organized. The home organizer told her they could remain friends.  The client’s solution, however, was to buy a new and larger home so the organizer could organize it. Wow!  Even the organizer was stunned.

Exercising, losing weight, stop smoking, removing clutter, among others are all wonderful resolutions and will definitely help with lowering stress levels and improving your physical health, but have you ever thought about your spiritual health?  I guarantee you’ll never see a celebrity pitching a spiritual diet of prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and good works.  No special plans by Jenny or a pitch from Marie or Oprah on how a daily dose of talking to God will improve your overall wellbeing or how a daily act of simple human kindness can improve another’s life as well as your own.

There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people suffering from poor spiritual health, and I’m not talking about atheists.  There are many believers who know something is missing in their lives and they don’t know what it is or how to find it.  For many the cure is to keep buying and spending their way to happiness, yet that doesn’t seem to fill the void so they keep searching for the newest widget or trend (much like the woman who bought the bigger home so the professional organizer could keep coming).  For others it’s much worse.

So where to begin?  Believe it or not there are many people who do not know how to pray.  As with all resolutions it’s best to start simple.  Start with a daily Lord’s Prayer, add a Hail Mary or pray a daily Rosary.  They claim if you do something daily for a year you’ll keep with it.  Once you have a set routine add something new.  It doesn’t have to be a standard prayer.  Share your day with Jesus.  Tell Him your problems.  Share your dreams.  Ask for His help.  Pray for others.

Need help starting a prayer life?  Talk to your pastor.  I’m sure he has a starter plan for you.  Another recommendation, see the film The War Room.  No, it has nothing to do with traditional war but a great deal to do with spiritual warfare and the power of prayer.  Write down your prayers.  Go to your quiet place and talk to God about them.  You will be surprised how the stress of the day lifts away.

If you don’t attend Sunday service, start—this Sunday.  Excuses like I don’t have time, or I have to work, just don’t hold up anymore.  Catholics have services on Saturday afternoon or evening.  On Sunday you can attend very early morning, mid-morning, or late morning Mass and some parishes offer a late afternoon Sunday Mass for people who party hardy on Saturday nights.  You can usually find a Mass that meets your schedule.

If you feel like the parish you’re attending doesn’t suit your style, then perhaps your New Year’s resolution is to search for one that does.  Some of the best advice I received was if your priest is not teaching scripture and church doctrine, get up from the pew, walk out, and find one who does.  While the elements of the Mass are universal, every parish has its own character.   If you’re “old school” then search for a church that offers a weekly Tridentine High Mass or Latin Mass.  From huge pipe organs, pianos, and guitars to orchestral choirs to children’s choirs, music at Mass is the same yet diverse.  Traditional to modern—cathedral to tiny church on the prairie—God is present.

Another aspect to improving your spiritual health is connecting with others, and I don’t mean on Facebook.  There is nothing like interacting with real people.  Every parish is made up of parishioners.  The people in your community have much more to offer and they usually come from all walks of life.  Some may share interests with you while others do not—variety is the spice of life.  Chances are you could share a pew with a bank executive, a janitor, a school teacher, or a truck driver.  Everyone is equal in God’s eyes; and all agree that Jesus is their Lord and Savior and the parish is the heart of their community.

Along with connecting to other humans is the rewarding aspect of giving them a hand up when they’re down. This is not exclusive to folks in your church but to anyone in your community.  From buying a police officer walking the beat a cup of hot coffee to volunteering at a local food bank to shoveling snow or mowing the lawn for an elderly neighbor, or driving a cancer patient to their doctor appointment, it doesn’t cost much to do something nice for someone else.

All this takes me back to that client who felt a void after her home was completely organized.  Instead of checking her spiritual gauge to fill the gap, she bought another home just so the organizer could stay in her life.  That person is looking for something, somebody who doesn’t leave when one job is done.  That someone is Jesus.

Last Christmas, my daughter gave me a small box.  It wasn’t expensive but inscribed on the top it read, “Mom, Pray More—Worry Less”.  Inside the box was a tiny notepad and pencil.  The plan is to write down every worry I have on the notepad, leave it in the box, and pray on it.  What a great way to start a spiritual health plan.  The best thing about it is you don’t have to wait for anything to be delivered, no sweating or starving involved, and no monthly membership.  It doesn’t get any better than that!

Come Together

The Beatles released this song in 1969.  Some say John Lennon penned the song for Timothy Leary’s quest to become governor of California, while others insist he’s talking about all four of the Beatles.  Whomever he was talking about the message is clear.  Everyone has bad habits, quirks etc. but it’s time to get a grip and come together.

I thought about this as we prepare for Thanksgiving.  The first big Holiday of the year and the first time many families and friends will be getting together since summer.  It’s also the first time everyone will be around the table after this election cycle.  Holidays bring out the best and worst in us and the larger the family, the more assorted the characters.  This year could be a doozy.  With many Americans divided on several fronts you can guarantee more fireworks than Independence Day—and that’s just for Chicago White Sox and Cub fans!

I’ve been hearing from friends and acquaintances that some of their family members will not be attending Thanksgiving dinner under any circumstances because certain members of the family who will be present supported one presidential candidate and they cannot accept that.  Cannot accept is actually being kind.  The words and adjectives being used are repulsive.  If I can live through a Chicago Cubs World Series you can sit down and break bread with your family.

Here’s a newsflash.  We’ve been deciding the fate of our leader via elections in this country for over 200 years, and in each there was one winner and yes one loser.  In politics everyone doesn’t get a trophy.  If the President is doing a lousy job there are checks and balances in place to keep him or her on the straight and narrow.  For those who are educationally challenged in US government—elections happen every 4 years.  The greatest protest of all is silent and done in the privacy of the voting booth.  Well that’s true unless you live in Chicago and then all bets are off.

I brought up baseball and the World Series for a reason.  Baseball and voting in an election are not the same, although each year it seems like it is.  The fact is voting in an election is not like cheering for your favorite sports team.  In sports the winners get a trophy and lots of money.  Fans get boasting rights and in the case of the World Series, spend a fortune on team paraphernalia.  The country is at the heart of presidential elections.  It’s not my team is better than yours because whether your blue, red, green or in-between we’re all technically on the same team.  Team USA.  Or so I thought.  If Mary Matalin, a prominent Republic consultant, and James Carville, a prominent Democrat consultant, can be married for 23 years1 anyone can get along.

Whether you are a Cub fan or White Sox fan, a Democrat or Republican, this is the time to come together.  Some people will not be able to be home with their families and others are completely alone or hospitalized.  Others have lost a family member and don’t know how to “celebrate”.  I’m sure all these Americans would give anything to celebrate Thanksgiving with their missing or lost loved one.

If you are lucky enough to live in this country you have much to be thankful for.  So please leave your politics at home.  Celebrate that you can spend another Thanksgiving with your family and friends.  Thank God that you live in a country where you can change your leader every 4 years, speak freely for or against it, and it doesn’t lead to bloody revolutions as it does in other countries.

And to my friends who are White Sox fans—sit next to your relative or relatives who happen to be Cub fans and let them gloat.  We did it in 2005.  Give thanks to God for all you’ve received this year.  Everything is better with turkey, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie—even a Cubs World Series.  And remember, baseball season starts in just 4 short months!

1 Matalin and Carville were actually married on Thanksgiving Day, 1993

 

Lola

If you were of age in the early 1970’s, chances are you know this classic song by the Kinks.  The lyricist writes he couldn’t understand why Lola walked like a woman but talked like a man.  Lola was transgender.  This was extremely controversial in the 70’s and in some places the song was banned.  Not in Chicago.  I can still sing every line from memory.

In my lifetime I have only met one transgender person.  I met her at a 2009 forum sponsored by our local Congressman.  I approached her after the forum because I admired her bravery.  She was born a Muslim man in a Muslim country. She immigrated to the US because she could no longer risk the threat of death at the hands of her family or the theocratic government.  Under Islamic Sharia Law she would have been stoned to death for identifying as a woman.

I thought of her today while reading about the controversy over North Carolina House Bill 2, otherwise known as the bathroom law.  The law basically states if you are biologically a man you use the men’s bathroom or locker room and if you are biologically a woman you use the women’s bathroom or locker room in all government buildings, including public schools.  You think this would be common sense—but you would be wrong.

The governors of these states are making these laws to counter other laws stating bathrooms and locker rooms in public places should not be restricted to your biological sex as it discriminates against the LGBT community.  It’s my understanding that lesbians are women and gay men are men.  Bi-sexuals are also either a man or woman.  The small population of transgender people in the US, much like the woman I met at the forum, has been able to figure out which bathroom they feel most comfortable in for years.  This leaves the transfluid or genderfluid population. According to dictionary.com the term means, noting or relating to a person whose gender identity or gender expression is not fixed and shifts over time or depending on the situation.  Does anyone else see a potential problem here?

Celebrities have already taken sides and are canceling performances in states passing men and women only bathroom laws.  Not to be outdone, the White House is planning on cutting funds to these states while governors in states who promote non-discrimination bathrooms are banning travel to states that don’t, all in the name of equal rights.  White House press secretary Josh Earnest stated, “This is a good illustration that the fight for civil rights is not over”.  Hmmm, back in the 1960’s when African Americans were fighting for their civil rights; I don’t recall any of them being able to change their skin color over time or depending on the situation.

I thought of that brave transgender woman who I met those 7 years ago.  The last thing on her mind was which bathroom she should use.  She was just grateful to be alive and live as she pleased.  She put her life on the line to identify as a woman.  This was no game.  She dressed and conducted herself like a woman and if she used the women’s bathroom at the event that day nobody paid much notice, but that was way back in 2009.

What are we doing in April, 2016?  Why are we making laws without thinking about the consequences?  The non-discrimination ordinances give rapists, pedophiles, and voyeurs the greenlight to perpetrate crimes against women and children.  Any one of these can claim he feels like a woman, thus making him genderfluid by law, and enter a women’s bathroom or locker room with a hidden camera.  A registered sex offender can do the same, enter a women’s bathroom or locker room and rape a woman or a child.  These potential victims can be your wife, your sister, your daughter or your son.  What about their rights?  Why make it easier for criminals to prey on the innocent?

Now let’s look at a theory nobody’s talking about.  Why are these laws being enacted now?  Does the government really care about the LGBT community or are they using them?  We are a country of laws, not men, governed by a Constitution that states all people are equal and while we have freedom of religion, we are not ruled by one.  This is not the case in other parts of the world where corrupt governments, ruled by drug and organized crime, look the other way at rape and murder.  Or theocratic countries that state women and children do not have the same rights as men.  Under Islamic Sharia Law for example, for Muslim women to be found innocent of rape the rapist must either confess or there must be four male witnesses1 since women’s testimony is worth only half that of a man’s in court2.  In many rape culture countries pedophilia is also legal. The New York Times reported that U.S. Soldiers are told to ignore the rape of young boys by Afghan allies because it’s their culture3. Could this be the politically correct way to force multiculturalism on the US and pander to this section of our population for their vote?

Let’s look at Europe. Multiculturalism has made Sweden the rape capital of Europe. It’s estimated one in every four Swedish women will be sexually assaulted 4.  Swedish courts are sympathetic to the rapists and often acquit, even in the case of gang rape. We are hearing these types of atrocities throughout Europe with the influx of Middle Eastern refugees.  These criminals also prey on the LGBT community.  In Germany this January, two transgender women were allegedly stoned by a gang of migrants after they first tried to sexually assault the women and then learned they were transgender.  The migrants felt their “honor was hurt” and stoned them because “such people” should be killed5.   If we let a rape culture trump our culture we all suffer.  Is this what we want in the United States of America?

For transgender teenagers in public schools, who are bullied and threatened, other accommodations must be made for them, but not by violating the privacy rights of other children.  We cannot allow certain groups of people to have more rights over others because it’s their culture—that’s called breaking the law.  Nor can we allow criminals to hide behind a law and prey on women and children.  If “non-discrimination” ordinances are enacted, and the rights of millions of innocent people are ignored, the consequences could be devastating.

 

1  Quran (24:4)

2  Quran (2:282)

3  New York Times 9/21/2015

4 Gatestone Institute International Policy Council, Sweden: Rape Capital of the West, Ingrid Calrqvist & Lars Hedegaard, February 14, 2015

5 Adam Salandra, 1/17/2016

Hush

1968 Deep Purple, right?  Also a traditional gospel song, Hush, hush, somebody’s calling my name.  The kind of hushing I’m writing about is in regard to the clergy.  I can’t tell you how many times, over the course of the years, I’ve witnessed confused parishioners approach their parish priest and ask them, “Father, which candidate promotes our values and beliefs?” only to be told that they can’t give an opinion.

When did priests and pastors lose their 1st Amendment right to free speech and why?  The Founders were clear that everyone, including religious, have the right to free speech.  If it wasn’t for the Black Robe Regiment during the Revolutionary War, which consisted of clergy who gave inspired sermons that the American Revolution was a righteous cause, to some even leading their congregations into battle, we would probably still be English subjects1.

Civil War researchers acknowledge the importance of the clergy as well.  The war made it acceptable, if not obligatory, to speak out against slavery.  Churches, both clergy and congregations, played a major role in the Underground Railroad.  So what happened?

Is it because of separation of church and state?  Thomas Jefferson, credited with these words, was referring to the separation of church and State, (emphasis on the capital S).  He was easing the fears of religious clergy that the newly formed government would not inflict a State-sponsored religion on the country, as there was in England.   That’s what the Pilgrims ran from.  It was what our country was built on; freedom to practice and live out the religion of your choice wherever you live and whenever you want with no restrictions.

It’s no accident that our first civil right states:  Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech…  (emphasis on prohibiting the free exercise thereof.)  It means no man can stop you from practicing, speaking, or living out your religion.  So how can Congress or any agency in government curtail a member of the clergy’s 1st Amendment, God-given right?  The answer is they can’t—not as long as the Constitution is the law of the land.

Silencing of churches begin in 1954 when then Senator Lyndon B. Johnson (D-TX) decided that tax-exempt entities (mostly consisting of houses of worship) should not be allowed to speak out on politics or lose their tax-exempt status.  Why would he do this and why did Congress go along with it when it states clearly in the 1st Amendment that Congress shall make no law…  Hmmm, let’s think.  Could it have anything to do with Johnson’s re-election campaign that faced stiff opposition from conservative Christians?  Or perhaps it was about silencing pastors, especially black pastors, during the civil rights movement?  It’s certainly strange that from 1788, when the Constitution was ratified, until 1954, preachers, pastors, and priests were free to exercise their right to free speech when speaking directly to their congregations.  Coincidence?

The Johnson Amendment, which many contest is unconstitutional, has been facing significant push-back the past few years from pastors who are willing to challenge the law and participate in Pulpit Freedom Sunday2, an event that takes place on a date leading up to Election Day.  The movement began with only 33 clergy members participating and has now swelled to 1,800 members and counting.  Priests and pastors that pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor are no longer bowing down to man and giving up their God-given right.

It’s our obligation, as American citizens, to be educated and defend our way of life.  This includes the clergy, as so many in the congregation are thirsting for truth and guidance especially since government-run schools are no longer teaching US history.  Since it’s not learned in schools, it’s up to everyone to educate themselves on both our history (good and bad) and the Constitution.

Freedom doesn’t come free, just take a trip to Arlington National Cemetery and look around.  We as a nation and as a people are in trouble.  We can no longer close our eyes to the attacks on life, privacy, free speech, and religious freedom.  It’s time to wake up those who either can’t or don’t want to see. It’s time to take a stand.  This is especially true for the clergy.  It’s that Moses moment.  This election year I will not violate my conscience.  I’ll stand by my principles and beliefs.  It’s that MLK moment.  I will not give in to misplaced anger or give in to violence to push an agenda conceived by man.  I will not call out for a king3, because he alone can’t make a nation great.  I will put my trust in God and not man.4   It’s time.  To quote John Adams, “Liberty once lost, is lost forever.”  To everything there is a season.  A time to keep silent, and a time to speak.5  Now is the time to speak.

 

1Religion and the Founding of the American Republic, Religion and the American Revolution, Library of Congress. www.locgov/exhibits/religion/rel03.html

2 An event sponsored by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) a Christian legal group based in Arizona.  Visit www.adflegal.org for more information

3 1 Samuel 8

4 Galatians 1:6-10

5Ecclesiastes 3:7

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