Wednesday, August 29, 2007

when good ideas go bad

Just to put it out there, I am not a Christian. This is not a remark that is meant to infer judgment. I am not a Christian in the way you hear many secular people claim that though they were raised Cathotolic, Protestant, Evangelical, ect. they no longer believe, say they are not Christians. I am Jewish. But I live in a nation of Christians. This is not to say that America is a Christian Nation. I don't believe that it is. But it would be foolish to say that this country doesn't have a Christian majority. That it's founders were, if not strictly Christian (as many like to call them deists), coming from a Christian heritage in Europe, and had a decidedly Christian view on life. Granted they were also given the foresight, that though there was a Christian majority, we would be given a secular government to ensure the rights of all citizens regardless of religious or ethnic back ground. And to any one out there would claims this isn't really a nation of Christians, ask yourself why we get Christmas vacation but not Passover, Diwali, or Ramadan vacations? Even if you want to call it winter break, it still is set up to coincide with Christmas. So semantics aside, America is, was, and probably always will be set up and run with a Christian ideology (not Judeo-Christian as people like to say, if it really were Judeo-Christian then eating pork would be just as hotly contested as abortion - well that's a stretch, but you understand what I mean).

So it hurts a little bit when I hear about Christian groups complaining about the lack of Christian values in this country. It takes supreme hubris (and a Rumsfeldian sized disconnect with reality) to make such claims and act the victim.

Recently on CNN Christiane Amanpour had a three day special about God's Warriors and if you really want to learn more about it, click the link. Personally I don't think it was that good of a documentary series as it pulls a false analogy between Jews and Christians with religious ferver, to Jihadists who actively train and then follow through with murder. But I'm not going to get into that right now. You can follow the link and make up your own mind.

In this documentary, for God's Christian warriors they follow (among others) a group called BattleCry. to learn more about the organization I give you this and this and then look the rest up yourself (fine I'll help). I also had an interesting conversation with two friends down in Atlanta about BattleCry, and why it scares us as people.

But where am I really going with this you ask? Well I'm glad you did. I went to the Battlecry website and I read their teen bill of rights. And for your reading pleasure I give it to you here.

We, a new generation of young Americans, in order to protect the heritage of our forefathers and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and generations to come, do affirm and pledge this declaration:

When character and morality are uncommon qualities,

When corporations and marketers seek to profit from our destruction,

When pop culture icons do not represent our values,

When Judeo-Christian beliefs are labeled as intolerant,

When activists seek to remove God from our schools,

When truth is deemed relative and unknowable,

It is necessary for us, the emerging generation of young Americans, to stand for what is right and reclaim the values that have made our nation great. We call our nation to a higher standard, a lifestyle based

not on convenience, but on character,

not on what is easy, but on what is excellent,

not on what feels good, but on what is good,

not on popularity, but on principle,

not on what is tempting, but on what is true.

We, as young Americans, assert our right to determine our future and the future of our great nation. We hold these truths as our God-given rights, and we embrace them with our hearts and our lives:

We recognize that God, our Creator, is the source of all truth.

We will live with honor, always striving to do the right thing, even when it is unpopular. We will be honest and truthful in matters large and small, regardless of the consequences.

We will take responsibility for our actions, and not point to governments, schools, celebrities, parents, or friends to justify our wrong decisions.

We recognize that we are responsible for our mistakes. We will pursue purity throughout our lives.

We will not be seduced by a fabricated idea of sex and love.

We will save our bodies and hearts for our future spouses, and once married we commit to pursue faithful and enduring relationships.

We will see through the lies of drugs and alcohol and refuse to let any chemical influence our thinking or destroy our lives.

We will respect the authorities placed in our lives, even though some may not live as honorably as they should.

We will honor our parents, teachers, and other leaders.

We will reach out with compassion to the hurting and less fortunate, both in our society and around the world.

We refuse to be absorbed with our own comforts and desires.

We recognize the value of each life, whether born or unborn, and we seek to protect those who are unable to protect themselves.

We will do our best to represent and communicate our Creator to our peers, leaders, and society as a whole.

We will work to see that every person has the opportunity to see and hear about the true nature of our God.

In signing, we commit to pursue a life that exemplifies these standards.

We refuse to sit idly by and witness the destruction of our generation.

With God's help, we envision a bright and prosperous future for the nation we love.


Honestly, even though I'm not Christian, (and I'll let go on my animosity towardst the phrase Judeo-Christian) most of what is in this pledge are actually really nice sentiments. Sure I don't agree with everything in this pledege, but nothing jumps out at me as wrongheaded. Some of it is a bit naive (the bit about abstinence before marriage specifically, and the automatic respect of all authority placed in their lives regardless whether said authorites act with honor or not), but nothing so out there as one would assume based on their rallies and such.

So how does an orginization with a pledge that basically encoureges kids to help other people ("We will reach out with compassion to the hurting and less fortunate, both in our society and around the world.") turn into what they themselves call a militant orginization? It's not called a Battlecry for nothing. How does calling for a war against secularization not contradict with the overt peaceful message in their pledge?

I am just saddened that an idea of peace, and respect, and a desire to share one's belief's (which I am not opposed to, sharing is caring, it's the judging that comes along with it that I don't care for) turn into a fountain of distrust and even hate.

2 comments:

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Noodles said...

I was, in retrospect, a fundamentalist-y Christian in my tweens and early teens. I look back and want to throttle myself at the level of self-righteousness and presumption of wanting to help my peers turn away from their “unsaved” lives. Jesus!

Anyway...

In the Old Testament, the children of God (Jews) had to physically fight the wicked (Gentiles). In the New Testament, the disciples of Christ (Jews & Gentiles) have their enemies in the flesh, the world and the devil. The flesh is an internal fight, the devil will be dealt with at some final battle, but the fight against the world is what spawns Battlecry, God’s Victorious Army et al. I think fighting the world means keeping your values despite the secular world, not conforming. To others I suppose it means enforcing their values on the secular world -- maybe preserving their current way of life in order not to suffer future persecution.

So the militant aspect may come from the perceived enemies as well as language overtaking sentiments; we are told to fight the good fight of faith, put on the armour of God... Some personalities tend to latch onto the ideal of conquering a land, nowadays a country; the Walls of Jericho as some pychological ancestor of America for Jesus. Okay, I just spoke rubbish.

In any case, I imagine that from the point of view of the American militant-ish Christians, they are not so much fighting to take over country but fighting to keep it and its moral heritage. They actually don’t think they are oppressing anyone else and if any groups “feel oppressed” they must be wicked. I cite this not as an excuse but an example of their naivete.

To an outsider as me, it seems like the usual Americans fighting to preserving their way of life, Christian-style. (I do not mean that as a political slight at all.)

For the record, all sorts of religious fundamentalists scare me, especially those who are blatantly trying to conquer the whole world. Now that is presumptuous.

[Sorry, that was long.]