Saturday, September 24, 2011

Alabama Never Disappoints

I'm getting kinda sick of writing about religion in this country, but I just keep reading about things that I can't, in good conscience, ignore.  I wouldn't do you that disservice, loyal readers.  I will remain your beacon of light in these confusing times!

Anyway, some hick-ass town in Alabama has begun a program that will allow nonviolent misdemeanor offenders the choice of jail or going to church every Sunday for a year.  How can such an idea even get past the, "Hey, what if we offer them church or jail?" stage?  These people will be the first to talk about how much they love America, then wipe their ass with one of the country's most fundamental ideals.  I don't care if 100% of that town's population are practicing Christians; the program is simply unconstitutional.

Supporters are probably already saying, "Well, they don't have to go church.  It's their choice."  Wrong.  Church vs. jail isn't a choice at all (insert "What's the difference?" joke).  Offenders are essentially being forced, by the government, to attend church.  Who wouldn't rather sit in a pew for an hour a week than serve a prison sentence.  Even a weekly colonoscopy would be better; at least you'd be allowed to go home after taking it in the ass.  This is basically a "get out of jail free" card.  What productive result could possibly come from this program?  Odds are, most people in that town go to church fairly regularly anyway.  If it didn't stop offenders from committing the crime in the first place, it's not going to do much good in preventing them from doing the same thing again.  Especially if the only punishment is being forced to eat a tasteless wafer and take sip of wine every Sunday.

The pastor of one participating church is a little more optimistic: "You show me somebody who falls in love with Jesus, and I'll show you a person who won't be a problem to society but that will be an influence and a help to those around them." It's hard to decide which atrocity committed in Jesus' name to mention... Let's go with slavery.  As recently as the '60s, mainstream Christians were using the Curse of Cain as a justification of racism (because, obviously, this one guy was the forefather of all African people).  But let me guess; these people never truly understood Jesus, right?  Never mind the countless instances of slavery being condoned in the Old and New Testaments (Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear.  Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.  [Ephesians 6:5]).    But I suppose I'm just nitpicking outdated passages that aren't meant to be taken literally.  I wonder how anyone knows which Biblical passages ought to be taken literally and which ones are just silly misunderstandings?  Or is it that "slave" was the translator's choice, and the Bible really means "servant"?  Call it what you will, these people were denied the most basic human rights and treated as livestock; if you think slaves were any better off 2,000 years ago, you're retarded.

I think this pastor needs to take a look at some actual facts.  The lower one's socioeconomic status and education level, the higher the likelihood that one will be religious.  Do you know what else the poor and uneducated are more likely to do?  Commit crime.  Seems kind of counter-intuitive, doesn't it?    Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion has more concrete figures, but I can't be bothered to look them up.

The problem isn't that other religions are excluded.  The problem is the logic behind this illegal program.  Attending any religious service does nothing to fulfill a criminal's debt to society.  And, although some might disagree, it's not a punishment and therefore will do nothing to prevent the criminal from breaking the law again.  In Alabama, you can steal up to $2,500 worth of stuff and still be charged with a misdemeanor and be eligible for this program.  I would trade 51 Sundays in church for a free $2,500 shopping spree any day. 

One nation under god is right.  He's been on top for centuries and still hasn't nutted.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Render Unto Caesar...

A New York town clerk has decided to use her official (and lowly) government position to impose her religious belief on other Americans and deny them their right to marriage.  Rose Marie Belforti, the owner of a dairy farm in a town called Ledyard, is refusing to sign the marriage certificate of a lesbian couple because she believes it's immoral.  She apparently has no qualms about breaking her oath to "faithfully discharge the duties of the office of town clerk".  I'd be a little surprised if that oath wasn't made over a bible.

When New York first allowed gay marriage, Belforti told the town board that a clerk must be hired to sign marriage licenses for gay couples because she would not do it.  While it's legal for a clerk to delegate duties to a clerk, the town didn't have one.  With only six local government offices, a clerk was never needed.  Simply hiring a clerk may seem like a fair compromise, but this will draw tax money away from other areas to pay for this new position.  Sure, one new employee won't break the bank, but why should the burden fall on tax-payers?  I wouldn't want one cent of my taxes to pay for someone else to fulfill duties that this woman is perfectly capable of performing herself.  Not to mention the fact that she is legally obligated to do so and that refusal to grant a license to an eligible applicant is a crime.

In an attempt to placate those who are justly angered about this fiasco, Belforti is now refusing to sign marriage licenses for anyone.  I guess the logic is that if she screws over everyone, then it isn't discrimination.    

 I don't know where this lady gets the balls to take the law into her own hands, but people like her shouldn't be given any kind of authority that might affect other peoples' lives.  Christians claim that American religious freedom grants her the right to not perform duties that go against her faith.  Well you should've thought of that before you took a legally binding oath to uphold laws that (technically) have no basis in religion and therefore could come into conflict with religious beliefs.  Imagine how those defending this criminal would feel if the town clerk was a muslim who refused to sign a marriage license because alcohol is consumed at weddings.  

As of Saturday, September 17th, the U.S. Constitution is 224 years old.  But we still can't seem to accept that this nation was not founded on any kind of religious belief.  And next time someone tells you that those incorruptible and infallible Founding Fathers endowed this nation with traditional Christian values, remind them of this excerpt from the 1796 Treaty of Tripoli: "the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion".