Sunday, March 25, 2012

Nonbelievers Stage Rally In Washington

Interesting article below about a Washington rally staged by atheists and secularists. As a former atheist; I never had problems with people holding religious views. Such views were only societal belief systems in my thinking--and yes, I considered myself a rationalist at the time. But belief systems need not surround religious or superstitious ideologies at all. Even hate groups hold specific beliefs which lack "empirical validity" . Belief systems also include secular and atheistic lines of thought as well. Belief systems are components of all societies.

I never felt nonbelievers necessarily lack morals more so than Christians. If I was begging for a dime, I would rather a willing atheist give it to me than a judgmental Christian stereotyping the daylights out of me for being poor--not even knowing my name, my history, or my dreams.

What nonbelievers do not have is the regenerative spirit of Christ residing in them. And no, God will not likely "show up" to prove Himself to an atheist (but He could), because He has already done so. Look at the celestial and earthly order around you -- chaos and a spontaneous explosion from nonexistence could not produce all you see. Science ever remains speculative while ever adjusting theories towards many unanswered questions.

But back to my point. I never felt I had to rally for my atheist belief system because other people believed in a "higher power". There will always be conflicts, disagreements, political turmoil, impoverished people, and wars as long as there are governments and more importantly, as long there are people on this planet. There will always be political motivations held by various groups sharing a common political philosophy. Atheists or not. Religious or not. But because someone subscribes to a particular religious ideology, does not mean they share a common political ideology. This will always be so until Christ returns.


The Reason Rally: A Woodstock for nonbelievers
by Patrick Gavin/Politico

Washingtonians know all too well about rallies on the National Mall. On a regular basis, thousands of citizens converge near the Capitol to speak out about the issues they passionately believe in.
So what would happen if the march was about passionately not believing in something?
On March 24, the Mall will be occupied by the Reason Rally, an event that pulls together those seculars who don’t accept that there’s a higher power. It’s being billed as a “Woodstock for nonbelievers.”

Paul Fidalgo, communications director at the Center for Inquiry, said that, despite appearances, this isn’t a rally about believing in nothing. There’s actually an agenda involved — and that includes current politics, the 2012 race and President Barack Obama.

“There isn’t one specific issue we’re going out there to rally on behalf of. But that’s not to say that there aren’t shared values and a shared agenda amongst the various groups,” he said.

Among the issues: international anti-blasphemy laws, the recent clash over contraception and the Republican presidential race.

“The right has so commingled themselves with religion,” Fidalgo said. “I will say that I do find it interesting that in an election season in which the main issue is ostensibly about the economy, that in recent weeks it’s been issues surrounding religion that have become so central.”

Fidalgo said the majority of atheists are “center left” (with a sprinkling of libertarians), but makes it clear that this is not an event supporting one party or the other.

“We do not endorse candidates,” said Fidalgo, adding, in a lighthearted moment, “we will not be rallying for” Rick Santorum, whose faith represents a big part of his public life.

Jesse Galef of the Secular Student Alliance calls the March 24 event a “political statement.”

“This is a demographic that Washington, D.C., will have to pay attention to,” Galef said. “With 2012 being an election season, it seemed like the perfect time to do it.” Galef said atheists are the only demographic that is growing in all 50 states.

Although much of the concern by Galef and Fidalgo regards what they see as threats to the separation of church and state as most recently heard in comments made by Santorum and Newt Gingrich, they’re not letting Democrats off the hook either, including the president.

Fidalgo said it was “a big deal to us” that Obama included a mention of “nonbelievers” in his inaugural address but expressed concern that “he attends the National Prayer Breakfast and uses religious language in his rhetoric.”

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Historic Church Faces Foreclosure

Historic black church faces foreclosure from minority-owned bank
The Washington Times

In a dispute that some are calling a modern-day updating of the biblical Parable of the Ungrateful Servant, a minority-owned bank that benefited from federal bailout funds is threatening to foreclose on one of the nation’s oldest black churches.

The 194-year-old Charles Street African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood could have its sanctuary forcibly auctioned off as early as this week unless a last-minute deal is reached.
The action could be taken by OneUnited Bank, which received $12 million from the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) and whose board of directors once included the husband of Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat.

Having the auction take place on the church’s front steps “is as mean-spirited and as godless as you can get,” the church’s pastor, the Rev. Gregory G. Groover Sr., told the Boston Herald.

Mr. Groover did not return calls from The Washington Times seeking comment, and a secretary at the church said Friday “there’s no way I could comment” when asked whether there were any new developments.

U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, the Massachusetts Democrat whose district includes Charles Street AME, said he has sought to persuade OneUnited not to foreclose.

“Charles Street AME is an historic and important community institution and means so much to so many people. I have asked One United to come to the negotiating table to try and resolve this matter without resorting to foreclosure. I remain hopeful that a satisfactory resolution will be found,” he said in a statement.

Biblical parallels

Charles Street AME supporters claim the pending foreclosure is a real-life reflection of the Unforgiving Servant Parable from the Gospel of Matthew (Matt. 18:21-35).

In the story as Jesus tells it, a servant forgiven a great debt turned around and choked a colleague who owed a small amount. The parable about divine mercy ends with the king sending the first servant to be tortured until he pays off his own debt.

According to Ryan Bell, pastor of the Hollywood, Calif., Seventh-day Adventist Church, OneUnited Bank is behaving like the first servant, showing the black church little mercy after receiving its millions from language designed to help black banks that Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, inserted into TARP-related legislation in December 2008.

“To foreclose on this historic African-American church, is disappointing to say the least. We forgave the banks and bailed them out, and now they’re coming after the little borrower,” said Mr. Bell, who also is a leader of LAVoice/PICO (People Improving Communities through Organizing).

News reports indicate the Charles Street congregation had borrowed $3.6 million from OneUnited to construct a community center adjacent to the sanctuary, which the congregation had acquired in 1939. Fundraising and rentals from the new building would have helped pay off the loan, but construction was halted when, Charles Street says, OneUnited cut off funding.

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

One Nasty Stew

This past Sunday a Tulsa church hosted Republican Rick Santorum to be its guest speaker. People held up political banners to enthusiastically rally their support for the candidate, cameras rolling of course. This marriage of church and political candidacy has increasing become a disturbing trend in my eyes. I personally feel it has no place in a church. A social cause--yes. Encouraging people to vote, why not. But pushing political views such as promoting a particular candidate for presidency, or bashing President Obama's healthcare plan--no. By the way, I did not support President Obama in the previous election--shocked?

This church/politic blend increasingly strays away from the Gospel. Church hierarchies (pastors, clergy, etc) promoting their own political agendas, and the candidates most happily promoting theirs in church services under the banner of God. Myself, I can see churches discussing the oppression of certain groups--the poor for example. Nowadays, it seems quite the contrary however. It has become more like bashing the poor.

Mr. Prophet: "Tonight, we have a most important message. Detoxifying the planet by electing the right public official, in the name of Christ."

Mr. Unbeliever: "Why did you not step over that homeless man on the way into the sanctuary? He yelled out when your foot crushed his hand!"

Mr.Pastor: "Let me interject. Of course, he stepped on him. We got a presidential candidate speaking in our service tonight! Do you think we have time for the likes of the homeless when we got a tea party candidate coming here?"

It is not a good witness, contrary to what a lot of people think.

As a former atheist, I can tell you what I would think. I would think how I used to think--people are promoting their political agendas under the guise of religion. As an unbeliever even adhering to a different faith, my head would reason relatively the same. My next thought would be to dismiss any other message this group adhered too--including the Gospel. So not a good witness.

Two entities meet in the darkness of the night: one person's presidential platform and a more than willing church merge to promote personal political beliefs in a church service. The publicity might do wonders for both!!

Lord Jesus, please come quickly.