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Location: Boston, MA, United States

I am a clergyperson and was ordained in 1985 by the National Alliance of Pantheists. I received recognition through Our Lady and Lord of the Trinicrian Rose. I volunteer as a member of the Interfaith Clergy Council of the Boston Living Center. I live with my partner and spouse in a timy apartment in the West Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. I like writing poetry as well an prose. I have been a Witch since 1971. I was born in Binghamton, NY and lived there until 1984 when I moved to Maine.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Who Has The Agenda?

It is a standing joke in the Gay community about the Gay Agenda. The Fundamentalists continually say "The Gay agenda" and we look at each other and ask "Did you get this morning's Gay Agenda? I didn't." And we all laugh. But the truth is that the Fundamentalists really think that we have an agenda that is a threat to the world. The real question is Who does have the Agenda.
Earlier this year I read Sam Harris' book End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and The Future of Reason (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2005) where he explores the real agenda, the agenda of the Fundamentalist. In it he talks about not only American Christian Fundamentalists but all Fundamentalists, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, even Hindu. They have one thing in common and that is that they are right and everyone else is wrong and that they will go to any length to make sure that they get their way. Now, the American Fundamentalists haven't quite in the same way as Al Qaeda set up a terrorist plot but they are not far from it when they kill doctors that perform abortions and bomb Gay nightclubs. It is not that there is any organized effort to do these things, but they do give tacit approval to those that do because the think that in the end that they are doing the work of God. That is their feeling, that they are doing the work of God, really. They really believe it. They pick and choose what they feel justifies their Biblical passages and justify their cause by it while ignoring anything that is contrary to that passage elsewhere.
Basically what they are saying is that "We have the only way, and because of that they should control the way everyone else lives". That sounds like Authoritarianism to me ,and if that is not an agenda then I don't know what is.
There two things that I, as a man of faith, believe in, and they are, the separation of Church and State, and Freedom of Religion. Both are cornerstones of American democracy, and have been placed as cornerstones because their is a history of religious abuse of power. Ever since the Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity the State Religion, the Orthodox Christian Religion, of which all Christianity descends from has been in a power struggle to maintain power. First they eliminated their competition amongst their own ranks by calling heresy those that believed differently from them, such as the Gnostics. It is only in recent years that we have found that the texts of their books and see that Christianity was any difference in belief other than that of the Orthodox view point. Gnosticism was much more about what Jesus' message was of that of the spirit, the Kingdom of Heaven, than about establishing a Church, which is the mistake that Paul made.
They were also on a mission to convert anyone, and would willingly kill anyone that was in anyway opposed to them. They closed down Pagan Temple that had existed for hundreds of years. Sometimes they even killed the priesthoods of these temples (e.g. the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus the trapped the priests and priestesses in the temple and starved them to death). They were the enemies of knowledge in another way. One of their saints lead a mob and burned the greatest library of the Ancient world, the Library of Alexandria to the ground. What great ancient works were contained in that library we have on hints at from manuscripts that survived by being copied and placed, not with any more intent than to have a copy, in other library and that by shear luck we still can read today.
It didn't stop there though. Through out history, if a religion can come to power it will make itself authoritarian and suppress at any cost the competition, because they believe that they have "the one true way". Christian history is littered with the corpses of the competitors that were seeking their own way to spirituality. Even some of the members of their own religious lineage were killed if they would not convert, such as the Albigensian, then the Jews. Not a century later, it was recognized that there still existed in the lower classes those that practiced the old ways, and innocent women, men and children were tortured, made to confess to things that were true only in the vivid imaginations of the repressed clergy, because it is only human that one give in when you have the promise of the end of pain if you say what they want you to say. It is that real heroes of the Inquisition that stood up and faced the tortures and refused to say the lies that the clergy wanted to hear.
Then, the Church divided even more than it did in the early day when the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches divided, as a reformer, seeing the abuses of the Roman Church called of a Reformation of the Church, and therefore protested against these abuses, creating the Protestant Churches. Then began the bloodiest conflict yet, where wars were fought as wars had not been fought over a difference of opinion. On both sides, they had the "one true way".
Since then even when not physically killing each other, there is a constant campaign for supremacy that started with Constantine (who saw in Christianity the means merely to preserve his empire, never really realizing that it would bring to0 it the power hungry as it still does today). I came from a Protestant family and Catholics were evil and their only desire was to take over the world. Of course, I say the hypocrisy in that, and saw too that my parents believed that they were the only ones that had the true way, though both had problems with how things went on in church.
I see the irrationality, and that is what it is, IRRATIONALITY. There is no one true way. There are many paths to Spiritual enlightenment. None of them involve power over others. None of them involves suppression of differences of opinion. They are derived from a genuine connection with Deity, a personal experience of Deity. It should never involve the abuse of power. Power should be not be a part of it at all.
Power is what the Fundamentalists want. That is their agenda. They have the "ONE TRUE WAY'. and if you don't believe that then you are wrong, and if someone just might kill you for being different then we will wink and say "Now you shouldn't do that."
How do we deal with it? You might ask. Do what Sam Harris says, Stand up and say No. No More, That is Enough. There will be always people that will want power. It is a human condition, unfortunately. There are some people that need to be lead, for they are too lazy to stand up and take the initiative themselves. We are a social species and therefore work best in groups and but someone needs to take the lead at times and that person is given a trust that they will lead in a way that is respectful and rational, without the need for self-aggrandizement, thus in a Spiritual way, that is open to question and rational inquiry, without rancour or undue criticism. It's a delicate balance that must be maintained.
So Stand Up and speak your mind. Speak out against the power hungry Fundamentalists. Sure you will be threatened, but you have a mind that was given to you by the Deity and therefore is meant to be use. And don't let their threats frighten you. You out number them, andc Fear is their only weapon.


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