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So, when one goes to a park to listen to some music, read a book and watch one's spouse (and friends) doing some hooping - because 08/08/08 was World Hoop Day - one would expect not to be bothered (except for the people intrigued by the hooping, of which there were many.)  The record had been pretty good up to now.  We'd hooped in various parks in the south Bay Area, and thought little of making the big hoop day meet at the Los Gatos town plaza park. 

So we arrived and set up near the eastern corner of the park, at the same time another group was setting up at the northern corner (actually on the street corner of Main and N Santa Cruz.)  This group, at first glance, appeard to be setting up for a protest.  It was the opening ceremonies night for the Beijng Olympics, so it didn't seem out of place that a protest would occur.  Unfortunatley, this was not a protest (or demonstration of any national importance) it was people telling us "Who Will Jesus Destroy".  I am serious (just click that phrase if you don't believe me.)  They had signs, and t-shirts, and hard-hats.  The works!

 

Now I probably should tell you some of my backgroud.  I was born into a Catholic family (therfore baptised, against my will) and went to Catholic school - where nuns either tried to ram god into me, or beat him out of me.  It turned out to be the former, as I am a devout agnistic (as in I don't give a fig if there is, or isn't, a god) bordering on athiest.  From the history of this tiny planet, one can see that religion has been - and continues to be - the cause of great suffering.  Even greater than patriotism. But even with this, I still feel that everyone has the right to their own beliefs.  I just don't think that people have the right to SHOVE THEIR BELIEF DOWN OUR THROATS.

Being in the United States of America, we have this thing called the constitution.  The first ten amendments are refered to the bill of rights.  The one that these people are utilizing is the first amanedment.  I'll quote it here as a reference:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

There are three sections to this amendment.  Section one: Freedom of Religion - they are evidence of this.  Section two: Freedom of Speech - they have a website, and probably put out a newsletter.  Section three: Right to Protest - this is not what they are doing.  It specifically states  ...the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.  This is not what they were doing. 

Of course, they don't give a fig either. On their web site they claim to respect law enforcement, but then basically contradict that in the next paragraph - taking the Hebrew National hot dog defense of answering to a higher authority.  Here is the statement from their web site:

 

    ON DEALING WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT
We will respect and submit to the powers of law enforcement
(Romans 13:1-7). We believe they are the ministers of God
for righteousness. We will be courteous and Christ-like in
our spirit toward police officers.

However, when human authorities contradict God's
authority, a conflict arises. This conflict arises when the
police try to stop us from preaching on a public sidewalk in
the open air. When they do so, they are trampling our First
Amendment rights as U.S. Citizens, as well as our mandate
from Christ in the Great Commission.
In the case that police officer's authority contradicts God's
authority, we are constrained to submit to the higher
authority (Acts 5:29). That higher authority is God.
 
So they are basically saying to everyone - screw you, and you are all going to hell.  Luckily I don't believe in hell. Of course, I'm not going to heaven either - for exactly the same reason. 
 
I can not, by any reason, find myself beholden to a document (this being the Bible) that was solely edited by kings and tyrants nearly three-hundred years after the death of Jesus (I don't dispute the existence of the man, by the way.) As far as I'm concerned, the Bible is the best selling novel of all time (next to the works of Shakespeare and Christie...)  Just as people today get together in groups to celebrate a writer or television program, religion - to me - is just another type of fan club. 
 
Unfortunately, just like any fan club, there are some extremist nut-jobs out there that give it a bad name. For example, the nut-jobs of the closest thing to a religion create problems for others - as noted here. Unfortunately, these god botherers (a phrase I discovered recently) were bothering me to the point where I'd have gladly taken a cricket bat to their craniums.  I'd spend the rest of my life in prison, but I'd have been hailed as a hero...
 
By the way, there have been some words that have always upset me.  Many christians consider the Bible to be the truth.  A truth is a fact that has been verified.  Is there any empirical data to support any of this?  They all claim to believe, but a belief is not a fact.  A belief is a mental acceptance of a claim as truth.  And you can't prove the existence of god, because - as the late 20th century philosopher (or writer, as many would call him) - if you do prove god's existence then god will cease to exist.  This is because god relies on faith, or a belief inthe existence of god.
 
Also on the existence of god angle, and why I can't bother my self to believe, is that vengeance is no way to get people to follow.  If I were god, and people were doing things in my name not to mention continually bothering me on my day off) I would put a stop to all this.  Look at all the things done in god's name.  All the genocide, torture and general marginalizing of people. Believe as I do, or you will die was how christianity became so widespread.  Now they try to get you to believe that if you don't join them that after you die it will be bad.
 
Oh, well.  I can only conclude by quoting another former Catholic.  "Good night, and may your god go with you."
 
 
PS: To lighten things up, try this comic strip: part 1  part 2

 

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