It's All About Freedom of Religion

In the State of the Union address (yes, I know that was so long ago), President Trump declared that he would fight for religious freedom and allow prayer in school. This goes right along with the Republican talking points of everything is wrong with the world because they took away prayer in school. God is the answer to all of the problems these days, at least that’s what they tell us.

But, which religion is he fighting to protect? Which God will be prayed to at school? Because Freedom of Religion doesn’t just mean “Freedom of Christianity”. In the speech, he distinctly said protections for “pastors and reverends”. What about rabbis? What about imams? What about agnostics or satanists, or those who pray to the Flying Spaghetti monster? Because right now, it only sounds like “Freedom of Christianity” that he’s going to fight for.

I remember, and this was so long ago so I could be wrong, that people came over to America for religious freedom. They didn’t want to practice the same religion that they were forced to where they were, so they came here. The founding fathers made it a point to protect religious freedoms, the freedom to practice religion as you want to. It didn’t say that you had to practice a form of Christianity to have a right to this freedom. It didn’t say that someone else’s religious beliefs can dictate how another lives their life. It said that people had the freedom to celebrate God as they choose to.

Forcing prayer in school is a slippery slope. There are so many different religions or non-religions that it seems impractical to make any laws about prayer in school. I’m of the belief that if you want your child to pray in school, send them to a religious school. Heck, since you want to push for-profit schools then this can be more reasonable. But to force it in public schools? I would tell my child to do what he felt was right for him and if he decided not to pray and got in trouble for it, they can come to me about it. Because he has the right to practice religion as he so chooses, even if he chooses not to.

I’d make some grand statement about how I don’t need God to be a good person because I’m not all that great. I’m morally questionable, at best. But that isn’t because I wasn’t raised in a religion; because I was raised Catholic. I’m just human, who has some great days and some not. But the idea of forcing religion on people will only make them run further away from it. Forcing prayer in school, especially on those who aren’t even Christian or religious, won’t help people find God. People need to find that on their own, on their own terms and in their own time. If they don’t, then they don’t need to. That doesn’t make them bad people. People should be more focused on one’s actions and less on judging them because they “believe in the wrong God”.

That New Teen Drama "SOTU" Was Really Great!

Oh.. that wasn’t a teen drama. Those were grown ass adults acting like children in the roles people elected them in: our government. It played out like an episode of (insert teen drama here). One person did something wrong. Another person did something wrong. Weird things happened that you didn’t get. You get that one heartwarming moment that makes you go “awww”. Then everything goes to hell. That’s how those teen dramas go and that’s apparently how the State of the Union went as well.

It started off as normal with all of the insane pomp and circumstance that we have grown accustomed to. One that is very… regal in nature. Yes. Regal. As in “royal”. As in they are treating every one of our presidents as if they were monarchs, deserving of celebrity status just because they are presidents. How dare you criticize the president! They are presidents because God declared it so. Just like the kings and queens who just happen to have the right bloodline.

Then it was the “non-handshake” heard around the world. Sure, was it awful of the president not to reciprocate the gesture? Absolutely. He should be held to the highest standard of civility and morality and everything else. Did she put out her hand knowing that the president was a petty child who doesn’t know how to behave when mommy and daddy tell him to dress up and be nice? Absolutely. This was a smart move that gave her some moral high ground.

A high ground that she managed to keep as she seemed to scold her party for acting up, like the grumpy grandmother who knew her kids were going to be stubborn brats but brought them along anyways. A high ground that she kept when she stood up and applauded at various parts during the SOTU. A high ground that she lost when she tore up her copy of the speech right behind the president for the cameras to see. To do it again, just to make sure people got the hint. It was spiteful, maybe deserving, but spiteful. She’s the distinguished speaker; she also should be held to a higher standard.

Sure there were some amazing moments there, albeit selfish strategies that were solely there for his campaign and not the morale of the country. The best of those moments is when the soldier came home from his deployment and surprised his family. That was the best moment of the night. It wasn’t the student he gave a scholarship to and discussed how he was going to orchestrate the downfall of public schools by giving money to for-profit schools that just want to make money and don’t care about their students. It wasn’t the moment he gave Rush Limbaugh a Presidential Medal of Freedom in the middle of the SOTU, when he could have done it before or the next day. Glorifying a man who spends most of his time spewing hateful untruths. It was this moment where a family were so happily reunited that will be the best moment of the night.

Did I believe anything he said? Of course not. Some things seemed factually impossible or half truths. Yes, the rich are doing much better since they are getting money back from taxes instead of having to actually pay them. I’m not doing any better since his election. His tax cuts give us a whole $10 extra a paycheck, which means we lose $2400 in refunds at the end of the year. I’d rather the extra money at the end of the year than have that extra $10 that means I can splurge on the fancy toilet paper. Nothing is better unless you’re rich enough to line the coffers of the party in charge.

Pelosi’s rationale was that she ripped up the speech because it was a “Manifest of lies”. It was. She’s not wrong. But the problem is that most people either don’t care because they so blindly follow this man without a care of facts or because they so blindly hate this man without a care of facts. He’s done nothing to make the country more united; but he has done an amazing job of making sure that we stay as divided as possible. People follow his lead, whether they support him or not, lacking any sort of civility or free thought. I was never really good at blindly following anyone. What I am good at is being rightfully cynical of everyone who represents our country right now, except Romney apparently.

It’s a high school drama that we have watched unfold for nearly a decade and it’s only getting more dramatic twists and turns every year. The problem is that we seem to be okay with that because we’re the ones casting this drama, not some overpaid casting director. We’re the ones that are okay with settling with the way things are when we should be rebelling and fighting to make things right.