Can’t Get No Respect

A few days before Christmas, a far-right Christian group and a group of Native Americans ended up in a confrontation over the Christians’ desire to pray away the “dark energy” supposedly emanating from an ancient Native American burial mound in Adams County, Ohio. The cops ended up getting involved although no arrests were made. Dave Daubenmire (right) leads Pass the Salt Ministries out of Hebron, Ohio, about a two-hour drive from the snake-shaped mound which could have been built as long ago as 320 BC. The group planned to gather at the mound to “pray down” the dark energy they believe the site is releasing into the world (no clue why they believe such). Members of the American Indian Movement of Ohio, including the group’s executive director Philip Yenyo (left), heard about the plans for the event and met Daubenmire’s group in the parking lot. Like most Native American land, it was taken away years ago and is now considered public land although it’s still recognized as a Native American historic site. But since the American Indian Movement of Ohio does not own the land they had no real legal recourse to keep Daubenmire’s group away from the mound.

These were not your typical Christians (who are generally sensible, friendly folks). Daubenmire’s group is apparently a bunch of tongue-speaking holy rollers from what I could see. The scary part about people like this is that they regard their own weird beliefs as being perfectly plausible and well… believable. Their minds are so benumbed by their own bullshit that they don’t have a clue how far over the fence they’ve gone. They’ve become completely irrational and are willing to act upon irrational beliefs. And that makes them potentially dangerous. More and more, far-right Christian fundamentalists are coming to resemble those of Islam. There seems to be no law they won’t break, no rights they won’t violate. All in the name of their precious Jesus. All Yenyo and his group wanted was for the site to be respected. But Daubenmire’s people were actually climbing up onto the mound. No respect for the Native American sacred site.

Clearly, Daubenmire and his ilk would want their beliefs to be respected, so why are they unwilling to reciprocate? The answer is both simple and disturbing. Their belief that their brand of Christianity is the only legitimate religion prevents them from respecting the rights of others. If you’re not a Bible-toting fundie with a chip on your shoulder, then people like Daubenmire think you’re a Hell-bound sinner. People like these are often angry and butt-hurt. They think everyone is out to get them. Open the link to the MSN article below and watch the videos. I mean really pay attention. Listen to Daubenmire’s people. It becomes obvious pretty quickly that they’re nutty as a jar of Planters.

And it’s getting worse. While religious faith overall is declining in America, religious fundamentalism has been on the rise for several years. Why is that? I have a hypothesis. Christians are becoming more and more defensive. They’re circling their wagons and readying for an assault that no one is planning. All the secular community wants is a level playing field. But the country has been skewed in favor of Christianity for so long that Christians see such a leveling as out and out persecution. They think that the whole “Christian Nation” idea is just how stuff is supposed to be. Well no it isn’t. That isn’t what the Founding Fathers envisioned. If these people would actually read the Constitution, they’d know that.

Ouch.

But even the “nice” Christians can be disrespectful of others. Not many people knew about it, but on November 28th I damn near died from a massive heart attack. Ended up having open heart surgery and 5 – count’em – FIVE separate bypasses. I’m at home now and recovering reasonably well so it’s all good. But here’s my point: I very mildly and politely made it known on my Facebook page that I’d rather people did not pray for me. Sure it’s harmless but it makes me a bit uncomfortable if I think about all those people down on their knees babbling away for my supposed benefit. I did not insist or complain. I simply asked. And I was informed by a number of friends and family members that I was gonna get prayed for whether I liked it or not. In other words they all know better than I do what’s best for me. Again, no respect. And they likely don’t even realize it’s disrespectful. They earnestly believe that God might drop what He’s doing just to indulge their whim.

Prayer is rather like masturbation. It feels good when you do it but it accomplishes nothing for the person you’re obsessing over. Look at it this way: My surgery went well, so those who prayed for me will say that God healed me. But if I had died on the table, they’d say that God had decided to “bring me home.” Either way in their minds it’s all about God. It’s confirmation bias at its worst, and you can get the same possible results by praying to a fence post or a bowling ball. And unlike God, bowling balls actually exist.

The Native Americans aren’t out there knocking on doors or otherwise inflicting their spiritual beliefs on others. They’re not attacking Christian shrines or street preaching. But Christian fundamentalists push themselves on others without hesitation. And quite often it isn’t out of any desire to lead others to Christ. It’s more about living in a world that suits their prejudices. People like Daubenmire only consider constitutional rights when it benefits them. They have no desire to see the rights of others honored as well. And they continue to believe in their myths and superstition. They continue to ignore the amazing discoveries all around them. They are far too cowardly to consider that their assumptions, and even their holy book, might be wrong. And it is that cowardice that lies at the root of everything that drives them. Their ignorance is the result of being afraid to learn. Their arrogance is a cover for their fears that the world is leaving them behind in spite of their efforts to constrain the progress occurring around them. Ultimately they will fail. And then perhaps America can move forward unimpeded by the depredations of myth and superstition.

Sources and Related Reading

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