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Santorum and Dennis Terry: Another Tale of Uneducated Christian Bigotry
By now you have probably heard about Rick Santorum attending a mass where Baptist Pastor Dennis Terry delivered a videotaped sermon. If you have not yet heard about this story, you can read an article written by Katherine Q. Seelye in the New York Times here.
Numerous problems present themselves regarding this story. The most troubling aspects of this situation are the words that came from (the Baptist) Terry’s lips. He stated, “I don’t care what the liberals say, I don’t care what the naysayers say, this nation was founded as a Christian nation…” There a couple of glaring beacons of stupidity in that statement. First, I was unaware of the fact that to be a Baptist, one had to be politically conservative. Someone please point out to me where or when that became a requirement. I realize that Mr. Terry may not speak for all Baptists, but when do we cross the line of offensive stupidity? When do we cross the line where members of the flock (or all the flocks) realize that their leaders are leading them towards hate, a lack of education, and moral poverty and decide to leave? To stand up and speak out against the type of foolish bigotry that comes from the mouths of people like Terry.
Second, I am really becoming sick and tired of the religious continuing to falsely claim that we are a Christian nation. As I have previously blogged, we are not. One of two things needs to occur quickly. Either the religious must all be required to take a refresher course on American History or the historically educated of this country must speak out whenever this type of nonsense is spewed from the pulpit or political soapbox. It cannot be allowed to continue. It accomplishes nothing more than to spread ignorance of reality to the masses and serve as a way to keep the flock herded. The fact that so many in the pews believe nonsense like that is what gives people like Terry power in the first place.
Terry goes on, in a more offensive manner to write:
“There’s only one God, and his name is Jesus,” he continued. “I’m tired of people telling me that I can’t say those words. I’m tired of people telling us as Christians that we can’t voice our beliefs or we can no longer pray in public. Listen to me. If you don’t love America, if you don’t like the way we do things I have one thing to say — get out!”
Thunderous applause interrupted him before he went on.
“We don’t worship Buddha! I said we don’t worship Buddha, we don’t worship Muhammad, we don’t worship Allah, we worship God, we worship God’s son Jesus Christ.”
He said that the church had to be the conscience of the nation and went on to rail against abortion and homosexuality. His goal, he said, is to “put God back in America,” in homes, schools and “in our state house.”
As the congregation gave Mr. Terry an enthusiastic standing ovation, Mr. Santorum also stood and applauded. (Seelye NY Times)
Where to begin criticizing that verbal onslaught of insanity is a tough choice. I suppose we can start with the question: Mr. Terry could you please prove that there is only one god, and his name is Jesus? If you are going to insist that we all fall in line and make this supposed deity such an integral part of our society, I demand that you provide concrete evidence to back up your first point. Again Mr. Terry does not disappoint us in providing another poorly thought out and uneducated statement.
Second, no one, let me repeat, no one is telling you that as Christians, you cannot believe or say things about your beliefs. You have the complete right to believe whatever childish stories you wish and you even get to talk about all you want. What people are saying is that you cannot force those beliefs on the rest of us. You can even pray in public. You have the right to do so whenever you want. At the same time, we have the right to not be subjected to making your prayer any official part of a program, event, courtroom, school, etc that we attend. You can pray wherever or whenever you like, just keep it to yourself.
“If you don’t love America, if you don’t like the way we do things I have one thing to say — get out!” I must say, as an atheist, it has been a long time since I have attended a Christian mass, is this what it has become? Mr. Terry’s statement is nothing more than anti-American hate speech. I write that it is anti-American because the beauty of this country is that we do not always have to agree, that opposing viewpoints are encouraged. Mr. Terry’s grasp of our founding is once again illustrated as severely lacking. I am beginning to wonder if one needs to even have any sort of formal education to become a pastor.
His comments about other religions are equally offensive. To imply that he and his ilk are superior to those who believe in other religions is nothing more than plain hate speech. (As an aside, do you think he realizes that his god and the Allah he rails against is supposedly the same god?–judging from his previous examples of poor learning, I am going with a “no vote”.) At times people say that I write similar things about religions. There is a fundamental difference. I am not bigoted towards any one religion. In my vision of a perfect world, religion and a belief in supernatural beings would cease to exist. I do not feel this way because of any internal hatred or superiority I feel towards them, but rather, as so many atheist writers have pointed out, religion/god comes from the infancy of human development. It no longer offers any relevant answers to modern day questions and only serves to hold back human development. Mr. Terry is arguing that his particular brand of childlike beliefs makes him superior to all others. That is a key difference to note between people like him and many atheists.
His last statement regarding putting god back in America is a blatant rejection of the separation of Church and State. We have already pointed out his lack of U.S. History, but that does not excuse his incorrectly educating entire groups of people. Nor does it excuse those people from buying his nonsense. It is time that religious Americans take a long hard look at education and start to really question what they are being told by their leaders. There are undoubtedly many educated religious people in this country. It is time they apply their critical thinking skills to every word uttered from the pulpit or from politicians.
Mr. Terry is nothing more than an embarrassment to this country. It is a shame that anyone shows up to hear his poorly thought out and uneducated sermons. He was interrupted with “thunderous applause” and received a standing ovation at the end of his sermon. As has been noted on just about every news network, Rick Santorum participated in this response.
This brings us to the second major problem with this story. Santorum is claiming that he supports much of what Terry says, but draws the line at the ‘if you don’t like it get out!” stuff. Where the truth lies, I do not know. What I do know is this. Mr. Terry did not say anything out of character from his usual rhetoric. Knowing the kinds of things that he could say, why would a presidential candidate be present at an event where such nonsense would surely be spoken? Furthermore, why would he applaud such hate filled, uneducated, drivel? One has to at least ask if Santorum believes all of what Mr. Terry said and is now only backpedaling to soften his unpopular stance, as he has done in the past.
Santorum goes on to say:
“…obviously I believe in freedom of religion and all religions are welcome and should be. I think I’ve made that pretty clear throughout my campaign that I believe very much in freedom of religion, and folks should be able to worship whoever they want to worship and bring their thoughts in the public square.” (Seelye, NY Times)
One last question for Mr. Santorum: Do you really believe that? If you do, why accuse Obama of false theology? Why fight so hard against the secular movement, are not we entitled to bring our thoughts into the public square? Would you support a candidate who happened to be a Muslim from the Wahabi school of Islam running for office to have an equal standing as you and your views and to bring them into the White House or Congress? I have to be honest here Rick, I don’t think you meant a word of what you said.
One thing seems to be clear—The Christian Right does not want you to think for yourself. The educated need not apply.
Thanks for Reading. I look forward to your comments.