[SEB Guest Post] Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing.

Pic of Church and State street signs.OK. My Mother sent me another one of these infuriating chain mails. Here it is (minus the touching pictures) and below it is a rebuttal I would like her to read, although I’m not sure I’ll send it.

Subject: Re: Honored to do this

The first picture and the last picture are taken at the beach in Santa Barbara right next to the pier.  There is a veterans group that started putting a cross and candle for every death in Iraq and Afghanistan .  The amazing thing is that they only do it on the weekends.  They put up this graveyard and take it down every weekend.  Guys sleep in the sand next to it and keep watch over it at night so nobody messes with it.  Every cross has the name, rank and D.O.B. and D.O.D.  on it. Very moving,  very powerful??? so many young volunteers.  So many 30 to 40 year olds as well.   Amazing !

Did you know that the ACLU has filed a suit to have all military cross-shaped headstones removed? and another suit to end prayer from the military completely. They’re making great progress. The Navy Chaplains can no longer mention Jesus’ name in prayer thanks to the ACLU and our new administration.

I’m not breaking this one. If I get it a 1000 times, I’ll forward it a 1000 times!

Please, let us pray…

Prayer chain for our Military … Don’t break it!

Please send this on after a short prayer. Prayer for our soldiers Don’t break it!

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, hold our troops in Your loving hands Protect them as they protect us Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in this our time of need.

These things I humbly ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior,

Amen.’

Prayer Request: When you receive this, please stop for a moment and say a prayer for our troops around the world.

There is nothing attached. Just send this to people in your address book. Do not let it stop with you. Of all the gifts you could give a Marine, Soldier, Sailor, Airman, & others deployed in harm’s way, prayer is the very best one.

GOD BLESS YOU FOR PASSING IT ON!

Mom, the ACLU has done and still does great things for this country. Please read the following in its entirety.

Taken from http://aclu.org/faqs— > “The ACLU has never pursued the removal of religious symbols from personal gravestones. In fact, following lawsuits filed by the ACLU and the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Department of Veterans Affairs agreed to allow family members to include a religious symbols on headstones.

The ACLU has long argued that veterans and their families should be free to choose religious symbols on military headstones — whether Crosses, Stars of David, Pentacles, or other symbols — and that the government should not be permitted to restrict such religious expression in federal cemeteries.

Personal gravestones are the choice of the family members, not the choice of the government. The ACLU vigorously defends peoples’ freedom to choose the religious symbols of their choice. The right of each and every American to practice his or her own religion, or no religion at all, is among the most fundamental of the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

The Constitution’s framers understood very well that religious liberty can flourish only if the government leaves religion alone. The free exercise clause of the First Amendment guarantees the right to practice one’s religion free of government interference. The ACLU will continue working to ensure that religious liberty is protected by keeping the government out of the religion business. You can read more about the ACLU’s position on religious liberty at www.aclu.org/religion.”

Also I could find no such suit to end prayer in the military. That is another Lie. And really sounds ridiculous to me how that could even be possible.

So, this BS you were tricked into forwarding is nothing more than propaganda. Jesus freaks, enemies of liberty, twisting the truth because they are afraid of non-Christians (such as myself) actually practicing the FIRST AMENDMENT. What you are supporting (by forwarding the nonsense above) is an anti-American sentiment that doesn’t allow a soldiers personal spiritual beliefs be represented on his own headstone.

Many soldiers are not Christian, some are Jewish, Muslim, etc. and would never wish to lay under a cross but even though they died to protect the first amendment, the first amendment has not been observed to respect and honor those fallen.

So Mother, do me favor, if you REALLY want what’s best for this country you will forward this to all your friends and help end a little of the ignorance that plagues and threatens to destroy this country. If everyone started researching all the people and issues they feel strongly about, they might learn they were lied to & this country might have a chance. (And Palin would not be so well liked!)

In fact anyone who does not forward this has no regard for the truth nor respect for what our soldiers die for every day, FREEDOM.

I LOVE YOU

Your Son,

D.

Gulf War vet and professional pilot loses job because of “no fly” list. [UPDATED]

The terrorist watch list is such a fucking joke, except that no one who is on it is laughing about it. It’s not a bad idea in principle, but the fact that you aren’t allowed to know if you’re on the list (at least until you get yanked aside at an airport) and you have no means of challenging your inclusion on the list renders it ineffective and unnecessarily troublesome. It’s the sort of thing you’d expect of Soviet-era Russia and not the United States of America. All it seems to have accomplished so far is ruining the lives of innocent people.

Take, for example, this news item about an Gulf War veteran and professional pilot who’s about to lose his job because he’s on the list:

“We don’t know why they’re on the list. They don’t know why they’re on the list. The government won’t tell us why they’re on the list,” said Amy Foerster, an attorney with Saul Ewing, who is providing pro bono counsel and working with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and the Schuylkill County couple on the case, which was filed in U.S. district court.

The suit filed against the U.S. departments of Homeland Security and Justice and the FBI, among others, is “unique” because Erich Scherfen, a New Jersey native who converted to Islam in the mid-1990s, is a commercial airline pilot whose flight privileges were revoked in April, said Witold Walczak, the legal director of the state ACLU chapter. On Sept. 1, Scherfen will be terminated by his employer, Colgan Air, despite the airline’s cooperation.

“My livelihood depends on getting off this list,” Scherfen said. What list he is on and which government entity maintains it is unclear, Walczak said. The federal government has declined to acknowledge flight restrictions placed on the pilot.

Yes, the pilot is Muslim and his wife is Pakistani and the natural assumption would be those are the only reasons why they’d be included on the list. It’s entirely possible the government feels it has a valid reason other than his religion and his wife’s country of origin, but they won’t say what their reasoning is. The whole terrorist watch list needs to be seriously overhauled and that’s not going to happen if John McCain gets into office.

After reading this I stumbled across a similar story on CNN.com:

SAN FRANCISCO, California (CNN)—James Robinson is a retired Air National Guard brigadier general and a commercial pilot for a major airline who flies passenger planes around the country.

He has even been certified by the Transportation Security Administration to carry a weapon into the cockpit as part of the government’s defense program should a terrorist try to commandeer a plane.

But there’s one problem: James Robinson, the pilot, has difficulty even getting to his plane because his name is on the government’s terrorist “watch list.”

That means he can’t use an airport kiosk to check in; he can’t do it online; he can’t do it curbside. Instead, like thousands of Americans whose names match a name or alias used by a suspected terrorist on the list, he must go to the ticket counter and have an agent verify that he is James Robinson, the pilot, and not James Robinson, the terrorist.

“Shocking’s a good word; frustrating,” Robinson—the pilot—said. “I’m carrying a weapon, flying a multimillion-dollar jet with passengers, but I’m still screened as, you know, on the terrorist watch list.”

He’s one of three people with that name that get screened all the time at airports:

[T]here’s the James Robinson who served as U.S. attorney in Detroit, Michigan, and as an assistant attorney general in the Clinton administration; and James Robinson of California, who loves tennis, swimming and flying to the East Coast to see his grandmother.

He’s 8.

The third-grader has been on the watch list since he was 5 years old. Asked whether he is a terrorist, he said, “I don’t know.”

Thank goodness the government is keeping us safe from all those terrorist five-year-olds! I feel SO much safer now. Meanwhile I’ve vowed not to fly in this country until they get this shit straightened out.

The sad part is that all three of these people have found a way around the problem. Just change their name slightly:

although the list is clearly bloated with misidentifications by every official’s account, CNN has learned that it may also be ineffective. Numerous people, including all three Robinsons, have figured out that there are ways not to get flagged by the watch list.

Denise Robinson says she tells the skycaps her son is on the list, tips heavily and is given boarding passes. And booking her son as “J. Pierce Robinson” also has let the family bypass the watch list hassle.

Capt. James Robinson said he has learned that “Jim Robinson” and “J.K. Robinson” are not on the list.

And Griffin has tested its effectiveness. When he runs his first and middle name together when making a reservation online, he has no problem checking in at the airport.

So not only is the watch list making life difficult for non-terrorists, but it’s also easily bypassed by a slight change of your name. What do you think the chances are of a terrorist using his real name to get on a plane these days anyway? In the meantime the airlines and the TSA are busy blaming each other and nothing gets fixed.

Thanks President Bush! Your legacy will live on for decades I’m sure. Shame it’s not something positive.

Christians in Berkley Michigan try to force nativity scene on City Hall.

Here in Michigan in the Detroit suburb of Berkley there’s been an ongoing attempt to subvert the Wall of Separation because some True Believers™ are upset that the City Council did the right thing in moving the city’s nativity display off of public property and onto private church property to avoid a lawsuit from the ACLU. It seems Berkley has had a nativity scene on display for years, but without any additional holiday decorations such as a Santa Claus or Jewish menorah which the courts have ruled are necessary to keep such a display Constitutional. The City Council had two choices: Water down the scene with additional non-Christian decorations or give the nativity scene to the downtown churches to display solo. They made the better of the two choices in my mind in part because it allows the display to be downtown without being water down and in part because I’ve always thought the argument that including other decorations was a pretty fucking weak attempt to allow something that shouldn’t be allowed. The Detroit News had an article on the dispute back on the 15th which read in part:

Leading the charge for a civic display in Berkley is Georgia Halloran, a 37-year resident angered by last year’s decision by the Berkley City Council to remove the figures from City Hall property and turn them over to the Berkley Clergy Association to display at local churches around the town of 15,500 residents.

Halloran and other residents collected 952 signatures to force the question to a vote on Nov. 6. She sees passage of the initiative—which would amend the city’s charter—as Berkley’s chance to stand up to the American Civil Liberties Union, which told the city the display violated the law.

“I’m tired of these organizations coming into a small-town community and threatening us with lawsuits and the city rolling over,” Halloran said. “We are celebrating a national holiday. We are not promoting a religion. The government isn’t supposed to be hostile toward religion.”

So the True Believers™ got their panties all in a twist and have managed to get a petition on the November 6th ballot to force the city to reinstate the nativity in front of city hall. They’ve set up a website full of misleading information to try and persuade folks to vote for what is clearly an Establishment Clause violation that’ll just end up in an expensive lawsuit with the ACLU that they’ll probably lose which is just stupid when they could avoid the whole fiasco with what is a very reasonable compromise.

Fortunately there’s a group of folks out there actively campaigning against the charter amendment and they too have a website: Citizens for Religious Freedom and they appear to have a fair amount of support of their own. Additional today’s editorial in the Detroit Free Press advocates Berkley residents to vote NO on the proposal:

The decision made solid sense then, and on Nov. 6 citizens should insist the choice stand now by voting NO on a charter amendment that would require the city to display a nativity scene on public property.

There ought to be equal distaste for the amendment’s demands as there was among some for the city’s bow to the ACLU.

Both smack of inflexible strong-arming. Beyond fumbling with the charter, the proposal overreaches, going so far as to set the dates of the display and the minimum requirements of which holiday figures to include, namely Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Noticeably absent is any mention of Santa Claus.

Georgia Halloran makes the claim that this isn’t about promoting a religion, but if that’s true then why all the fuss over where the nativity is displayed? If not an implied government endorsement then what is it she thinks is gained by having the nativity on government property? How is the display diminished by having it on private Church property where it’s still in full view of the public, but no longer gives the impression of government endorsement? There answers to both questions won’t be found on their webpage because they don’t bother to address them. One is left to conclude that implied government endorsement is exactly the goal in mind.

Conversations with a dumb ass about the ACLU.

I did something at work yesterday that you’re not supposed to do. I told a customer they were wrong. Worse than that it had nothing to do with anything work related such as an advertised special. It was a misconception about the ACLU and that makes it a political topic which is a definite no-no according to The Rules.

The trouble started, as it often does, with a little old lady who was browsing through the stepping stones that are on sale. Several of them have various Christian quotes on them because, well, the store isn’t above trying to profit off of the overly religious. Stuff like the ever popular “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”.  You know the sort of stuff. Anyway, I walked up to the sweet old lady and asked her if she needed any help finding stuff to spend her money on, because that’s what you do when you work for a retail store, and she proceeded to engage me in some small talk for a few minutes.

Then she pointed at one of the religious stepping stones and said to me, “I’m surprised you’re allowed to sell those.” This prompted me to ask the obvious question of why she’d be surprised by this and she replied with, “Because that damned ACLU is trying to stamp out God.”

I tried, with only partial success, to suppress the urge to laugh.

I spent a moment or two debating what my reply should be because I immediately recognized this as one of the Topics That Shall Never Be Discussed Under Pain of Possible Termination that was drilled into us during the orientation training. I ended up going with the “fuck it” option and replied with, “Ma’am, as a card carrying member I can honestly tell you that the ACLU doesn’t care if we’re selling stepping stones with religious passages on them or if you buy them and put them on your lawn. They’re only concerned with improper promotion by the government. They actually have taken on suits in defense of believer’s rights to religious expression.”

She blinked at me a couple of times as she processed the sudden realization that she was face-to-face with an ACLU member who was contradicting something she clearly believed to be true and her face dropped into a rather dour expression. She mumbled something under her breath and wandered off back into the store. I called after her in my cheeriest voice as she meandered off, “If you have any other questions I’d be more than happy to answer them and thanks for shopping with us!” That was fairly early in the morning and the store director didn’t show up to chew me out or fire me so she must not have complained to anyone of any importance.