Posts Tagged “brookville IN”

Jesus Facepalm: He gave up too so please stop this foolishness (Demotivators; defunct)Honestly, although I’ve posted many stories along these lines, it brings me no joy to do so. It’s not as though I like heaping derision on people like the one I’m about to mention. But at the same time, the topic I’m addressing here isn’t something that can be ignored. You see, Christians love to say that morality comes only from belief in God, and more specifically, from their God. They say that the more people believe in their God, the better off everyone will be, because everyone will be morally upright. Religious Rightists in particular often demand that Americans turn to God (or return to God) in order to alleviate all of society’s ills.

The problem with this sort of thinking is that it’s just not fucking true! Believers in deities, which includes Christians, are not — as it turns out — any more or less moral than any other segment of the population. Yet, they keep on bellyaching that more Americans need to be Christian, usually their own particular variety of Christian, as though this reality weren’t the case. And they use their assertion of moral superiority in order to rationalize imposing their religion on everyone.

Hence, when notable examples that run contrary to this trope come up, I must mention them. Because they’re object lessons in the reality of both religion and human nature that shouldn’t be ignored, merely because they’re inconvenient.

The latest politician-crusader for Jesus who turned out not to be very morally upright after all, as the Indianapolis Star reports, is Judson McMillin, floor leader of the Indiana House (WebCite cached article):

Rep. Jud McMillin, a rising star in the state’s Republican Party, abruptly resigned Tuesday.

The Indianapolis Star has learned that the surprise resignation came after a sexually explicit video was sent via text message from McMillin’s cellphone. It’s unclear who sent the text or how broadly it was distributed.

The Brookville Republican sent a separate text message apologizing to his contacts for “anything offensive” they may have received after he said he lost control of his cellphone.

McMillin claimed his cellphone had been stolen in Canada. But it remains unclear if it actually had been stolen, or who sent out the video in the first place.

The reason this is significant is that McMillin was a chief among the Indiana legislators who’d campaigned to legalize discrimination against gays and others, in the name of “religious liberty,” earlier this year. He did this because, apparently, the Christians of Indiana were being ruthlessly oppressed by gays. Or something.

As the Star mentions, though, this sexting scandal shouldn’t really have been a surprise:

In 2005, his career as an assistant county prosecutor in Ohio came to an end amid questions about his sexual conduct. He admitted to a relationship with the complainant in a domestic violence case he was prosecuting, but he insisted the relationship began after he stepped off the case, according to the Dayton Daily News. He resigned a week after he stopped working on the case.

As something of a counterpoint, the Star article closes by mentioning that another Indiana legislator, this one a Democrat, was also involved in a sexting scandal. Which brings me around to my original point: Christians, including outspoken crusading Christians, aren’t any more morally upright than any other kind of person. They have the same impulses as everyone else. And their religious beliefs simply aren’t sufficient to change them.

Which brings me to a corollary point to consider: If being a Christian isn’t enough to make one change one’s behavior, then really, what value can it have? How truly “divine” can it be, if it carries no power to change people for the better? If moral behavior is something people need to work on, regardless of whether or not they’re Christian, then does being Christian really matter, where morality is concerned? Where, exactly, is the connection between Christianity and morality, if Christians are not — as seems to be the case — any more moral than any other type of human being?

If Christians were honest with themselves and everyone else, they’d admit being troubled by this. They’d admit their beliefs don’t make them morally superior. And they’d stop telling everyone else that they’re immoral because they’re not Christians. Because all those things are lies — and they fucking well know it, even if they won’t admit it.

Photo credit: Demotivators (defunct).

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Luca della Robbia, Nativity with Gloria in Excelsis, c.1470Here’s an example of one of the standard responses, when officials are caught using public property to proselyize. WLWT-TV in Cincinnati reports on yet another nativity controversy in Brookville, IN (WebCite cached article):

Residents of Brookville rallied at the Franklin County Courthouse on Saturday to save a nativity scene that has come under fire. …

[The Freedom From Religion Foundation] said that the display violates the First Amendment and said it had received a complaint about it.

The group said that displaying the Nativity alone would indicate that the local government was endorsing one religion above others.

Of course, there was no need to “rally” to “save” the nativity, since the FFRF had not actually ordered that it be removed entirely. Rather, they explained how it might be retained, but legally:

The [FFRF] letter indicated that if the reindeer already on the courthouse grounds were not separated from the display as they are now, or there were other seasonal decorations, such as a Santa Claus, the display would be more secular and would likely comply with legal precedent.

The standard response I mentioned, which was repeated in this story, is:

Brookville Town Council President Michael Biltz said the display, owned by the city, has been at the courthouse for at least 50 years without complaint.

There you have it. The old “we’ve been doing it that way for years, why should we change now?” retort. This is an appeal to tradition, and as such is both childish and fallacious. That something has been done one way, for decades, centuries or millennia even, does not mean it cannot or should not be changed. For example, in the occidental world, we used to use horses and oxen for transportation; should we have refused to use automobiles and trucks to replace them? At one time, too, people used to think the earth was at the center of the universe, with the sun and all else revolving around it; should Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler all have refused to contribute to a heliocentric model, because the geocentric one was traditional and had always “worked” before?

The cold fact is that “tradition” does not equate with veracity, and it doesn’t make anything “right.” That no one had complained in 50 years about the Franklin County courthouse’s nativity scene, does not mean it’s legal to have been there in that form, all those years. All it means is that Franklin County managed to get away with something that it shouldn’t have — because of the voluntary complicity of local Christians.

Photo credit: *clairity*.

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