Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Bachmann's Pseudo-Christian Views on Marriage

That’s right, you guessed it. The major religion with the highest divorce rate is Christianity. Twenty-five per cent of American adults have had at least one divorce during their lifetime—but divorce rates among conservative Christians are much higher than for other faith groups, according to a survey conducted by the Barna Research Group. Barna commented: "While it may be alarming to discover that born again Christians are more likely than others to experience a divorce, that pattern has been in place for quite some time.” (Here’s another stunner for you: atheists and agnostics have a lower divorce rate than any faith group! What lesson are the kids supposed to draw from that?)

And now Senator Bachmann and her fundamentalist Christian supporters have appointed themselves defenders of the institution of marriage. With their track record on divorce? How’s that for nerve? Note the irony: the pseudo-religious political lobby with the highest divorce rate is trying to prevent other people from marrying--and claims to be “defending marriage!” The clowns, trying to run the circus again!

Of course, it’s not surprising that a lot of divorced people are members of fundamentalist churches. The Christian ethic requires congregations to admit repentant divorcees, and to forgive those penitent sinners who have suffered the agony of divorce, and admit them to Christian fellowship. But most of these people are not truly repentant—by refusing to reconcile with their original spouses, these people persist in remaining divorced. They continue to refuse to honor the covenant they made before God. They remain in their sin, just as much as any practicing homosexual! Even worse are the self-styled Christians who divorce and then remarry. This, according to Jesus Himself, is adultery!

These people, heterosexual though they may be--are sinners, unrepentant sinners! Wallowing in their sin! Some heterosexual Christians are actually seeking divorce right now, and you supporters of Bachmann’s so-called Defense of Marriage Act are standing by, doing nothing about it—oh no, let’s not defend marriage in our own community, we’re all too busy chasing homosexuals! And what about you, the self-styled devout conservative Christian—Do you tolerate divorced people in your own religious community? Do you socialize with divorced family members? Do you allow your children to play with their children? You do? You condone that? With your warm, fuzzy, tolerant, welcoming attitudes toward the divorced heterosexuals in your churches and your families, you expect the rest of us to accept you as defenders of “family values?” Why is there one set of permissive rules for you and your friends, and another set of prohibitive rules that you seek to apply to the rest of us?

You know, friends--Jesus had very strong views on divorce. He was against it. He spoke against it at length, and denounced it passionately. (It must seem odd to some of the supporters of the Defense of Marriage act that He chose to include a rant against divorce rather than homosexuality in the Gospel.) Jesus said it, two thousand years ago: people who divorce and choose to remain divorced are sinning! Even if they remarry, to another. Especially if they remarry, to another. (Matt. 19:1-11.)

Divorce is not genetic, like race, or congenital, like idiocy; it’s behavior, it’s a choice, and therefore it can be called sinful. Yet many “traditional” Christians who rail against homosexual marriage are soft on heterosexual Christian divorce! You don’t believe me? What do you think would happen if Bachmann sponsored a real “Defense of Marriage” amendment; one that really defended the sanctity of marriage—by prohibiting divorce, and nullifying divorce decrees that have already been granted? There’d be panic in the pews! Tens of thousands of Minnesotans would head for the Canadian border rather than go back to their first spouses! They’d rather face hell than live with their first spouses again!

It seems to me that if fundamentalists Christians want to be taken seriously as defenders of the sanctity of marriage, they’d start by cleaning up the chronic divorce problem in their own community (instead of pursuing an amendment that makes marriage impossible for homosexuals). Fundamentalists should start their “Defense of Marriage” scheme by proposing an amendment that would make divorce impossible for heterosexuals. Then I’ll believe that their politicking is really about “Defense of Marriage,” and not just the latest example of pseudo-religious anti-homosexual bigotry.

Fundamentalist Christians can’t have it both ways; either the rules in the Bible can be modified, or they can’t. If the Christians of today have the right to divorce (despite thousands of years of “no divorce” tradition and the words of Jesus Himself) then surely gays have a right to marry (despite thousands of years of anti-gay bigotry).

And by the way—What makes you fundamentalists think that you’re the only kind of Christians who can decide which Biblical prohibitions count and which don’t, anymore? Who died and left you boss over the rest of the Christians, and the rest of us? It certainly wasn’t Jesus, if your pseudo-Christian hypocrisy and moral relativism are anything to go by. And what was that other thing Jesus said, about the mote in some other guy’s eye, and the plank in your own eye?

William Prendergast is the author of the crime thriller “Forbidden Hollywood” and uses the “Good Samaritan” standard to determine who is righteous in the eyes of the Lord.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Bachmann Caught Lying About Story Retraction

What the heck happened to Stillwater while I was gone? I go away for three months to bring in bin Laden and when I come back, the whole town’s falling apart!

Looking over the last few months’ worth of Gazettes, trying catch up on local events, I received shock after shock. Representative Eric Lipman is going to retire? Why? Did it have anything to do with that bill he proposed, the one that would have guaranteed a household pet’s right to have a trust fund? How can Lipman in good conscience return to private life, when (despite his best efforts) the state law code still prevents a citizen from making a will in favor of his Doberman Pinscher?

There was news about Senator LeClair, too, but I can’t remember what it was. For some reason, even when my editor deems his doings newsworthy I find the man eminently forgettable. But that might actually be one of his political strengths, given his record. I do remember that he once used this editorial page to announce that he was passionate about reforming government spending and about keeping local taxes low. He doesn’t seem to have said much about it since then; he may be “keeping his head down” on the tax-cutting issue now that we are laying off public employees and teachers.

Still, congratulations are due Senator LeClair. His prediction of last year—that no member of the Oak Park Heights City Council would be gunned down by one of his licensed gun-toting constituents—is still holding true! (Unlicensed Minnesota school shootings, courthouse shootings, and pistol threats directed at owners of icehouses on the frozen St. Croix river were not encompassed in LeClair’s prediction; his one-year guarantee of ballistic non-violence was strictly limited to the gunfire directed at members of the Oak Park Heights City Council by licensed gun permit holders.)

So far, so good! We’re nearly there, folks, so let’s keep our fingers crossed and our pieces in their holsters. That way, we will all get a big piece out of this summer’s anniversary cake: “One Year—No Council Members Shot By Licensed Gun Permit Holders!” Let’s hope the Senator’s “LeClairvoyance” continues to hold true. And congratulations again, “Swami Brian!”

As for Senator Bachmann, I really thought that by now she would have gotten her hand out from under her chin and done something about getting creation science included on our public school science curriculum. I couldn’t find anything in the Gazette indicating that she was still fighting the good fight. That’s too bad, because with Lipman retiring, she’s the only staunch creation science fan that we locals can rely on in the state capitol. Senator LeClair is lukewarm at best on creation science, as far as I can make out. He said he discussed evolution and creationism when he was in school, but he never told us what he concluded, one way or the other.

Since first speaking out on the issue, Bachmann and LeClair have both kept mum. They never answered the questions I submitted to them long months ago; their answers would have clarified their views about the proposed science curriculum submitted to the legislature. Bachmann’s current silence is especially disappointing to me, since she was happy to discuss the subject in public until the Gazette called her views to the attention of its readers. (Too bad Lipman is retiring. He declared that acquainting our students with the tenets and outlines of creation science was as important as teaching them about the theories of Galileo and Copernicus. I miss him already.)

By the way: an Internet account reports that Senator Bachmann circulated a letter claiming that the Gazette retracted its original story about her and her views on creationism. This is untrue. In a letter to the Gazette complaining about the story, Bachmann did not dispute the accuracy of the quotes attributed to her. The Gazette did not retract its story; it retracted only the headline that ran above that story. The story itself was deemed accurate and has never been retracted.

If Bachmann did indeed circulate a letter stating that the Gazette retracted its story, that statement was false and misleading and the Senator owes the Gazette and its staff an apology.

Apparently, Bachmann’s current enthusiasm is her “Defense of Marriage” scheme. By proposed amendment to the state constitution, Bachmann is attempting to permanently enshrine the current popular prejudice against gay marriage. A fine example of the tyranny of the majority! If successful, her plan would effectively prevent future state courts and even future state legislatures from recognizing that gay folks have a right to marry.

I see problems ahead for Senator Bachmann and fundamentalist Christian supporters of this measure. When promoting it, they claim to be defenders of the institution of marriage. I respectfully suggest that these people may not have the requisite moral authority to act as champions of the sanctity of marriage.

I will explain why in next week’s column—but for the present, here are two questions that will set the table for the discussion.

Question 1) Which represents the greater threat to the institution of marriage: a) The possibility that gays may one day be allowed to marry each other, or b) the institution of divorce, as currently practiced?

Question 2) Which of the major religions has the highest rate of divorce?

William Prendergast is the author of the crime thriller Forbidden Hollywood and has never been divorced, although many women have rejected him.