Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Partisanship Shows No Sign of Going Away

Congress has learned nothing from the months-long partisanship that brought the US to the brink of financial ruin with the debt-ceiling fiasco. Despite their calls for reduction of the deficit and debt, the GOP members of the US Senate are costing the government $30 Million PER DAY in uncollected taxes by not coming to agreement on the FAA shutdown. The Democrats aren't off the hook on this, either. They refuse to negotiate with the GOP on the matter.

At issue is the Republican demand that $16½ Million in subsidies for rural air service be cut and the Democratic refusal to cut any subsidy amount. Because of this stalemate the FAA's operating authority expired on 22 July which means airlines cannot collect $30 Million per day in ticket taxes. If, as they're saying, this is not resolved until September, the total loss to the federal government will top $1.2 billion. This is totally unacceptable.

When will the politicians in Washington realize the American people are sick to death of this partisanship? Neither side is willing to compromise, which is causing massive confusion as well as the loss of revenue and the wasting of billions of our tax dollars each month! I believe it's time we unite as a people and put an end to "party politics" and remind those whom we have elected that we sent them to Washington to protect us and to run our government in an efficient, yet powerful way. The idea that each party votes against anything the other party offers simply because it is being proposed by someone of a different political stripe is ludicrous. Whether Republican or Democrat, each and every member of the House of Representatives and the Senate were elected to represent the people of this nation, not their party. They might run on a party ticket, but once they're elected they are no longer Democrat or Republican, they are simply a representative of the people of their district, regardless of party affiliation or the lack thereof!

The 21st Century "Crusade"

Since the attacks in Norway, there has been more talk about the Muslim "threat" in our world, today. One thing that bothers me about this is that Christians are advocating such violence, intolerance and insensitivity. And the misinformation being spread is just plain wrong! The Koran (or Quran, if you will) does not teach what the radicalized Islamic right-wing nutjobs are professing: there's nothing in the Koran about killing unbelievers! In fact, Islam is a religion based on peace and has its foundation in the same roots as Judaism and Christianity. What we call the Pentateuch, and the Hebrews call the Torah, is the beginning of the Islamic scripture, as well.

But, what we fail to recall is that Muslims learned to kill those who are Christian beginning with the Crusades in the 11th to 13th Centuries when Christians slaughtered Muslims who refused to convert to Christianity. Christianity's history includes many such episodes: the annihilation of the Aztecs and the Mayans comes to mind. Today, we are experiencing a 21st Century "crusade" that is being perpetrated through politics and religion. Is it any wonder Muslims dislike, and fear, Christians? We simply have to look at the history of what Christians have done to Muslims over the past 10 centuries to understand their suspicion, hatred and fear.

I don't condone the attacks in Norway, nor do I condone the methods used by the radicalized Muslims who have perpetrated terrorist attacks around the globe, including the attacks of 9/11, but I do understand the motivations behind them.

As Christians we have somehow come to the conclusion that we must FORCE non-Christians to live by our beliefs and standards. Look at the United States, today: as Christians we work diligently to deny rights to anyone who doesn't conform to the behaviors we believe Christians should exhibit. If people do things contrary to our beliefs, we just remove their rights and criminalize their behaviors. There is no Biblical basis for doing so. In fact, the opposite is true: Jesus taught us that we are to share the Gospel with people and if they refuse to hear us, we are to walk away and leave them be. He did not say if they refuse to believe we should take away their rights or throw them into jail or bar them from participating in political life or prevent them from doing what they choose to do. We're trying to take away their free will, something we proudly declare as our gift from God: the right to choose!

By trying to force, or legislate, the behaviors of others to conform to our beliefs and standards, we are only driving them further from accepting the Good News of Christ and submitting to Him as Lord and Savior! In their eyes, we're no different than unbelievers or dictators! We have become the modern day equivalent of Herod or the Sanhedrin!

We need to come back to the basics: love God with all our heart, mind and soul. Live our lives according to the example Christ lived. Share our testimony and the Good News of Christ with everyone we come into contact with, remembering that our actions speak much louder than our words. Christ was condemned by the "religious" establishment of His day because He was friends with sinners. How many of us today can say that we are friend to sinners? Very few, because we isolate ourselves from them, refusing to socialize with them because they don't believe or conform to our philosophies. How then can they be saved, if they don't have the opportunity to see us live our lives in the manner of Christ? Beating them over the heads with the Bible is not going to bring them to the Cross! All it will do is give them a headache and give us the reputation of being hypocrites.