Skip to main content

Ignorance of God and Other Tiny Concerns.

If we believe our national leaders, God is partial to the Presidents of the United States.

Jimmy Carter claimed a personal relationship with the Big Fella. So did Ronald Reagan. Dubya was a praying man, who claimed that God alone (with a little help from Laura) kept him off the bottle and walking the straight path to global supremacy.  Under his administration, the United States instituted a way to pay tax dollars to the churches doing the work they should do without the money.

Dubya created a whole new branch of government, and called it good. The Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives has a clergy man at the helm, and billions of dollars in its coffers. They fund everything. I mean everything. They fund the presence of religious groups in federal prisons with the clear and certain purpose of converting offenders to the love of Jesus Christ. They fund health initiatives, for heaven's sake - claiming faith-based groups can assist in a pandemic.

Our own dear, darling, blessed Mr. Obama is a faith-based initiative fan as well.  Makes sense.  He's ordained President of the United States.  He sitteth at the right hand. 

So, let me put the record straight, right here and now.

Before I start my rant, rememer, I'm an ordained Presbyterian Pastor.  And clergy around the nation know who and what the church is. Granted, it is many things. It is not, however, a social service agency. Sunday-go-to-meeting protestants are not trained, nor are they equipped to negotiate housing, jobs, child custody and parole for convicted and released sex offenders.

Here in Minnesota, our Governor sends tax dollars down that hole, however. For many years his Commissioner for the Department of Corrections held a contract with Inner Freedom Initiative, a faith-based program instigated by Chuck Colson, former Watergate conspirator. The program cherry picks offenders from the prison population, isolates them in tax funded facilities, teaches them Christian principles and when they are fully "discipled," gives them special privileges while they are incarcerated and promises special benefits when they are released.

One of these freedoms apparently, is the freedom to form a prison "gang;"  a group of righteous offenders, roaming the prison grounds together, professing eternal truths that other offenders may not access because they are not "chosen" into the IFI program.

Other freedoms as well - freedom to access housing in your neighborhood when released. A "mentor" on the outside, and a job.

None of this is available, mind you, if the offender is a Presbyterian, Methodist, Roman Catholic or Jew who refused the indoctrination of the program.

In the real world, the Salvation Army offers resources to poor people. Food, shelter, clothing - but first they must submit to a sermon and a little moralizing.

A little tough for some poor folks to take, but they have a choice. If they want the free food, they'll listen to the free message. The Army raises charity funds for these services - there are no other strings attached.

In the prisons, that ain't the case. Imagine yourself incarcerated for ten years. Your family abandons you - your church ignores you - your life, it seems, is over.

You learn through prison gossip, that your whole experience inside the prison will be different if you confess Jesus Christ as Lord and savior, give yourself over to the gang of religious thugs running the IFI program, submit to their tenants and relinquish your will.

You learn also that life on the outside will be easier as well.  Do you give up your Catholicism?  Do you turn your back on your Lutheran upbringing?  You're all ready in prison - why not? 

I'll tell you why.  Because faith is not for sale.  No matter what Pawlenty and his commissioners say.  Faith, real faith, does not come to those of us who need it to hide.  Faith is a gift, wrapped in grace.  It is not to be grasped when offered in order to gain creature comfort and false safety.


Popular posts from this blog

Why I no longer trust the St. Paul Police

My dogs awoke me,  barking,  at 3:00 AM -  and I knew something was wrong. I grabbed my under-the-bed baseball bat and stormed into my backyard. The car next door had been burglarized; a neighbor's garage broken into. And the woman who lives in the house behind mine was robbed in the middle of the night. And so as the flood lights slapped across my empty back yard and my dogs growled, I determined to apprehend the culprit. I searched the yard for the wretched, evil doer who would dare take advantage of the decent folks who live in Como Park. Behind me, in my living room, someone walked out the front door with my MacBook and other electronics. Because I didn't check inside the house - I didn't discover the crime until the next morning. "This ain't CSI, lady."  I phoned the police at 7:30 A.M. It took him almost an hour to get to my home - and when he finally knocked -  I opened my door to an overweigh, winded officer. By then I was frant

Here's to you, Mister Hoffman

Dustin Hoffman is eighty-years-old.  Dustin - say it isn't so. Baby Boomers around the globe worship your legacy - your brave, outrageous career where you stepped out - risked much - and led us into our maturity. As Michael Dorsey in  Tootsie  - you exposed an artist brave enough to lampoon his feminine side. As Ted Kramer, in Kramer vs. Kramer  - you challenged other men to reexamine their ability to nurture, to settle for the glories of domesticity. And no one else could have exposed the complexities  of Raymond Babbitt as did you in  Rain Man.   The world honors your excessive and grand talent - but if these allegations are true, none of that will matter.  History will forget your artistry and remember you as a dirty old man. That's what I do not understand.  You're not a B list guy - - not a "made for TV" Hollywood guy. You're Hoffman, for god's sake.  And I cannot fathom you jeopardizing your lionized legacy around someone's seve

Overheard at a coffee shop; An old woman's wisdom.

When she was a small child, she posed in front of her nursery mirror - fascinated with her reflection.  Sometimes she emulated Betty Davis.  Sometimes Shirley Temple.  When she was old enough, her mother enrolled her in tap dance classes, hoping to channel some of that ham-bone energy into something constructive. It worked.   Twice each year, the tap school dressed her in frilly, fluff-flounced costumes, put her on stage with a dozen other little show-offs,  and together they tapped their way to elementary school stardom. When she turned 13-years-old, her tap-dance gang joined the downtown YWCA where they spent their Saturdays doing something called "creative dramatics." Swimming, archery, bowling and hula absorbed their weekends, and she made new friends who introduced her to neighborhoods and families she might never have met and enjoyed. In high school, she auditioned and was cast in every onstage opportunity. In college, where the competition stiffened, she turn