Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Shield of Prayer and Obedience

As reported in "From Unreal to Real," three Christian protesters interrupted the first ever Hindu opening prayer in the US Senate by loudly praying.

Since then, the persons responsible have explained their actions.

Pavkovic says he knew beforehand he would likely be arrested for what he planned to do from the Senate gallery. "My hope was that our prayer to the Lord God may have provided a shield, lest the wrath of God come down on our nation for allowing pagan prayers to false gods to be offered," he explains. "We just felt like we've got to go stand in the gap, and cry out to the Lord for mercy for what we're allowing in our government."

The activist claims he and his family members did not shout or disrupt the Hindu man's prayer.

"We were praying," he asserts. "If our prayer disrupted anything, then so be it, but we were not shouting." And they were not there to harass Zed, he says. "I don't want it to be mischaracterized as we were there just heckling this man. We were not," says the North Carolina activist. "We prayed to the Lord, and we were obedient to the founding fathers and the first few generations afterwards."

Video of the event can be found here. You can judge for yourself as to whether their prayers could be considered disruptive, but from where I'm listening, I have to concur. They were loud and posed a disruption.

I'm also interested in the notion of being obedient to the founding fathers, as they put it. Here I always thought the idea was to be obedient to one's Gods and give men their proper due, but not revere them as idols. The Founding Fathers weren't perfect by any stretch, but they gave us a chance - through the Constitution - to shape our own destiny as a country. That's worth our respect and admiration, but to be 'obedient' to them is to embrace the worldview of their time, which held that slavery was a necessary evil, and only white men should vote or hold office.

Like I said, not perfect, but wise enough to look ahead and give us something that can change with time.

Here's Operation Save America's take on it.. At the end, they say "May the hallowed halls and chambers of the Congress of the United States of America never again entertain the false religions of this age."

Kind of funny when you consider that Hinduism is the oldest religion currently being practiced, isn't it? ;)

Friday, July 13, 2007

From Unreal to Real - Religious Zealots Disrupt Senate Prayer

How utterly embarrassing: the first time the United States Senate has a Hindu prayer at the start of a session, and a group of Christian protesters disrupt it.

Rajan Zed, a Hindu priest from Reno, Nevada, had just stepped up to the podium for the landmark occasion when three protesters, said to belong to the Christian Right anti-abortion group Operation Save America, interrupted him by loudly asking for God's forgiveness for allowing the ''false prayer'' of a Hindu in the Senate chamber.

"Lord Jesus, forgive us father for allowing a prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination in your sight," the first protester shouted. "This is an abomination. We shall have no other gods before You."

Democratic Senator Bob Casey, who was serving as the presiding officer for the morning, immediately asked the sergeant-at-arms to restore order. But they continued to protest as they were headed out the door by the marshals, shouting, "No Lord but Jesus Christ!" and "There's only one true God!"

Further embarrassment can be found in a quote later in the article, in which a Christian scholar said the prayer was outside "the American paradigm."

"In Hindu (sic), you have not one God, but many, many, many, many, many gods," the Christian historian David Barton maintained. "And certainly that was never in the minds of those who did the Constitution, did the Declaration [of Independence] when they talked about Creator -- that's not one that fits here because we don't know which creator we're talking about within the Hindu religion."

As a Pagan, I can only laugh, but it's a bitter laugh. It's true that the Founding Fathers were working from an old school viewpoint concerning religion, but we've also spent more than two centuries fixing the errors and omissions they left behind. The genius of the Constitution is not that it's perfect, but that it can be altered as time goes by and societal attitudes change.

Some attitudes, it seems, are going to be painfully slow.

And speaking of embarrassments... according to this article, there were only _3_ members of the Senate present at this historic occasion.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Chinese Accountability - Can it Happen Here?

Latest news from China: Zheng Xiaoyu, head of the State Food and Drug Administration from 1997 to 2006, has been executed for taking bribes to approve untested and unsafe substances

Zheng's death sentence was unusually heavy even for China, believed to carry out more court-ordered executions than all other nations combined ... Zheng, 63, was convicted of taking cash and gifts worth 6.49 million yuan (US$832,000; euro619,000) when he was in charge of the SFDA

He was sentenced to death on May 29 and his appeal for leniency was rejected on June 12 by the Higher People's Court of Beijing. China's Supreme Court approved the sentence, saying Zheng "committee vile crimes and caused extreme harm to society."

"Although he confessed to some of the crimes of bribe-taking and returned some of the illegal income, it was not enough for leniency," the court said in its decision.

Is that a little heavy-handed, as they say? Well, sure. But on the other hand ten people died when a "medicine" he passed as suitable proved to be anything but. And who knows what other forms of harm he may have done.

So I'm wondering, here - just hear me out.

How would "Brownie" have acted in front of Congress if he knew revelations of incompetence in the face of Katrina could result in the death penalty?

How would Alberto Gonzales' "duh, I dunno" testimony concerning the attorney general scandals have gone if he'd been all too aware of a noose in his future if he pissed off the committee once too often?

And how about Scooter Libby? 30 months, 250 grand and 2 years probation for obstructing justice and committing perjury... or a firing squad?

Yes, it's fascistic and inhumane, and probably just as corrupt of a system as the corruption its rooting out with terminal means.

But you gotta wonder sometimes. Yes, you do.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th

All things considered, I am proud to live in this country, and to be an American. Stupid governmental officials and Presidents come and go - some more ignominiously than others - but the solid core of what we have remains. All we can hope is that this era of error we find ourselves in provides enough examples of what NOT to do in a national emergency that future Presidents, and generations, are benefited by them.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Scooter Commuter

Well, I have to say I'm slightly surprised: Bush didn't pardon Libby, but he did commute his jail term.

Now, we can't get too mad, right? After all, as our Commuter in Chief said "My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby ... The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant and private citizen will be long-lasting."

And this is true. He's got two years probation and a hellacious fine to pay. And I don't think we'll ever see him practicing law or being a public servant ever again.

However, I have no doubt his buddies will cough up the dough if he can't. And I suspect that, after a period of laying low, we will see a memoir, a round of talk show appearances, and a gig on FOX News as an analyst of some stripe. Maybe even a job - look what they've done for Geraldo!

So no, his life isn't over. It's just gonna change, and there are plenty of people out there who will be more than happy to help him do it. Just watch.

At any rate, I hope the next question a reporter serves our Commuter in Chief is the following: "Sir, you said that you found Scooter Libby's 2 1/2 year jail term, quote, 'excessive.' What do you consider a proper jail term for lying to authorities and obstructing a Federal investigation."

And don't let him off the hook until he gives us a number.