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July 14, 2014



It is a good time to be a white, middle-class Christian.  The US Supreme Court can’t wait to find faith based rights and freedoms under every rock, so you are good there and getting better.  Those pesky women who think that access to contraception and abortions should be on a legal par with access to antibiotics and statins are on the run, so you are good there too.  Next up is sure to be public funding of parochial schools – hard to see how the present Supreme Court can pass on the opportunity to ensure that every parent of every child who wants religious instruction in the educational mix should be able to share in the tax-supported educational pot.  And let’s not forget that Christmas will be here before you know it, offering each of us the opportunity to hang out at the crèche at town hall while waiting for the opening prayer before the town council seasonal bible reading.  All good there…


It is also a good time to be a corporation.  According to the US Supreme Court, corporations get all the rights of regular humans but bear little of the responsibility associated with actual human conduct.  Corporations get to indulge their religious preferences and prejudices just like the rest of us, but they also get to act on them to the detriment of others, without consequence.  As we speak, they are opting out of contraceptive care for their employees while also opting out of providing the child care and family leave that might add a moral foundation to otherwise craven profiteering in the name of religion.  On the funding front, and just to make sure that the gospel keeps flowing, they get to pour as much money as they can scrounge from lucky shareholders and overpaid executives into political contests that directly pay back on the investment.  When real folks do this, it is called a bribe; when our corporate citizens do it, it is called protected participation in the great democratic experiment that is America.  With regulation on the run and corporate tax havens everywhere from Texas to the Cayman Islands, there always seems to be a few million extra for that CEO who turns hamburger into gold, while there is barely a minimum wage for the person who actually turns the burger.    All good there…


It is also good time to be an arms merchant.  You get to sell your instruments of death right here in the homeland without fear of an executive, legislative, or judicial branch of government even remotely interfering.  There are around 30,000 deaths a year in the US alone in firearms-related incidents, and yet those gun merchants keep on pushing their products without fear of pushback from government or god.  Better yet, they enflame US internal fear of terrorists from abroad while ensuring that all sides have access to the guns of war made in the USA.  They arm the homeland, arm the potentates, and arm the terrorists without even the slightest shred of a conscience.  After a hard week of this, you can be sure that the executives, their henchmen, their flaks, and their bought politicians make a Sunday morning stop at church to thank god for inventing bullets, and at Christmas, they are surely among the first to help sponsor the town hall crèche.  All good there…


Amidst all these good times, it is a bad time to be an atheist, the parent of a poor child who wants good schools and access to decent medical care for his/her child, or the relatives of those slain on the killing fields of Chicago or Afghanistan.  Atheists will probably be ok – we are a resilient lot armed with the knowledge that whatever god might be out there can’t be all that big a deal if children die of hunger, disease, and violence every day, gun merchants live in big houses, and corporations are people.  Parents of poor children are something else – they must watch politicians with car garages bigger than the homes they live in make decisions or fail to make decisions that keep them poor, keep their children hungry, and deny basic healthcare to those in need.  Republican opposition to an increase in the minimum wage and continued obstruction of expanded access to healthcare allows for a shared devotional experience with the gun merchants, but leaves the poor “children of god” well short of a full dinner plate.


Finally, the Ugly – human adults waving American Flags, shouting hatred at the top of their lungs and stopping buses filled with scared immigrant children and their mothers, often children themselves, from even reaching a locked and guarded processing facility.  Then Obama comes along to respond to the flag wavers – “Don’t worry, my henchmen and I are going to send them all back to where they came from.”  Obama has reached a new low.  I expect he prayed on it before taking that low road.  After seeming to try hard to humanize immigration policy and practice, especially for children, Obama aligned himself with the likes of Rick Perry and John Boehner to feed this nation’s basest instincts.  Seemingly without shame, this triumvirate talks about what is best for those scared kids without even a nod to what is actually best for those kids – finding them a welcoming and caring community in this country that understands and embraces the cultural richness of immigrants and the wonder of children with smiles on their faces and a lot of love in their hearts.


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