stone spacestone space's Journal
Earlier this year I wrote a piece on why Christians might want to abstain from reciting the pledge of allegiance which generated some good conversation, but also received a bit of push-back as well. My arguments against saying the pledge of allegiance are essentially two-fold: Jesus taught his disciples to not take any oaths but instead said to let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no. In addition, Jesus invites us to follow him and reminds us that no person can serve two masters, which means that its functionally impossible to give our allegiance both to Christ and to America we must pick one or the other, but one cannot be equally loyal to both since they are different entities.
Still, even with the biblical arguments that I feel are straight forward (I pledge allegiance to the flag vs but I tell you, do not take a pledge), some Christians are hesitant to let go of this tradition that as children we were indoctrinated to engage in and I understand that. When youve had nationalism and tradition drilled into your head for years on end it can be hard to step back and realize that maybe weve been wrong thats how indoctrination works and why its so hard to break free from it. We grow up being taught that America is the greatest nation that has ever existed, that we are exceptional compared to others, that we are a Christian nation, and that whatever we do is good, right, and justified. And so, pledging to give our allegiance to such an entity is an easy sell, as the narrative we are given doesnt seem on the surface to conflict with some basic understandings of following Jesus.
However, the release of the now infamous CIA Torture Report should be the final blow that closes the case on Christians reciting the pledge of allegiance. From reading the report, it should now be crystal clear to anyone who has read the teachings of Jesus as found in scripture that one cannot swear their allegiance to America while simultaneously giving our allegiance to the alternate way of Jesus. Absolutely, positively, impossible.
The contents of the report reveal what the US has done, and what has been done is anti-Christ pure, absolute evil.
How a Jesus person could continue to swear allegiance to an entity that engages in behaviors that are so unarguably anti-Christ, sins against God, and crimes against humanity, is beyond me.
Should we be good citizens? Well, of course though the Bible actually invites us not to live as citizens but to live as immigrants and exiles who are in a foreign land.
My prayer for Christians in America is that we would be people who are radical, subversive culture changers not people who throw our undying loyalty and complicity to culture. You see, this was always the invitation of Jesus it was an invitation to live differently than the rest of the world. To be in it, but not of it. To be salt and light, a city on a hill, and people who point the rest of culture to his alternative way of living.
The way of Jesus is different than anything culture teaches regardless of the culture or nation one finds themselves in. It is the way of a radical, inexplicable love that is found no where else and we should be the people who give the whole of our allegiance to this different way of living and interacting with the rest of the world.
Personally, I can think of no more of a compelling reason to close the case on Christians reciting the pledge of allegiance: we can pledge our allegiance to Jesus and his way of enemy love (which he said was a requirement to become Gods children), or we can pledge our allegiance to the empire who tortures and kills its enemies (the opposite of what Christ tells us to do, thus being an anti-Christ nation). But, I dont see how one could do both, as they are complete opposites. As much as I hate lines, I dont see how this isnt one: we can follow Jesus, or follow America, but we cannot follow both Jesus and America at the same time as they are busy doing opposite things.
The calling of a Christ-follower is so all-encompassing, so overwhelming (in a good way) that theres just no room or time left for competing allegiances. Certainly, theres no room for us to give our allegiance to an entity who engages in horrific torture because that stands in opposition to everything Jesus taught.
If youre a Christian who still covers their heart and pledges their allegiance to the nation for which it stands, please read the torture report for yourself. As you read it, I pray that youll ask yourself where you are placing your allegiance: is it in the radically different way of Jesus, or is it in the American way?
Unfortunately, theyre not the same so youve gotta pick one of the two.
Why I Represent the New Orleans Immigrant Workers Who Committed Civil Disobedience
by Bill Quigley
In the thirty six-years I have been a lawyer, I have seen many people take brave moral actions. I have represented hundreds in Louisiana and across our country who have been arrested for protesting for peace, civil rights, economic justice, and human rights for all. It is amazing to see people put their freedom on the line when they risk jail for justice.
None are braver than the seventeen immigrant workers arrested in New Orleans at the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). These mothers and fathers, members of the Congress of Day Laborers at the New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice, are standing up for justice and risking being deported from the U.S. They risk being separated from their children, many of whom are U.S. citizens.
Another is Jimmy Barraza, who lives with his wife and stepson Carlos. One night, while Jimmy and his wife were unloading groceries in their apartment parking lot, ICE agents surrounded them, guns drawn. They immediately handcuffed Jimmy and questioned his wife. When Carlos came out of the house, hoping to translate for his parents, ICE agents pinned him against a wall, cuffed him, and threw him to the ground in front of his mother. For Gods sake, let him go, his mother said.
An ICE agent answered: There is no God here. Im the only one in charge here.
Immigrant workers and family members like these live in constant fear. If they leave their homes to walk their children to school, if they go to the laundromat or the barber shop or the grocery store, they will be targeted for nothing more than looking Latino, and their families will never see them again.
Stories like Irmas and Jimmys, and there are hundreds of them in New Orleans alone, are the reason that we need an end to the raids and comprehensive immigration reform with strong worker protections. Until we do, people like these will have to continue standing up for justice: immigrants, people of faith, civil and labor rights leaders, and ordinary people from all walks of life who believe in that all workers deserve dignity and all families belong together.
I volunteered to represent these mothers and fathers because they are struggling for human dignity, human rights, and for social justice for their children and for others. I am a Catholic social justice lawyer. How could I not stand in solidarity with these mothers and fathers? I am inspired by their courage and passion for justice. It is an honor to defend them.
If only the police had been called and their guns confiscated when they toted them around in public, these two people might very well be alive today.
A woman charged with shooting and killing her ex-husband and stepdaughter has strong connections to groups advocating for expanding open carry gun laws in Texas.
Local news outlets on Wednesday reported that Veronica Dunnachie was arrested and charged with shooting and killing her ex-husband and step daughter.
Buried in some of the initial reporting on the arrest of Dunnachie seems to have been an active participant in open carry groups in Texas. The local ABC affiliate, WFAA, noted that Dunnachie's Facebook page is photos of her engaged in open carry firearm advocacy activities. WFAA also noted that one of her profile pictures included the text "Sometimes removing some people out of your life makes room for better people."
Veronica and Russell Dunnachie were going through a divorce, according to court records.
Photo from Dunnachie's Facebook.
Reached by TPM on Thursday, Arlington, Texas police pointed to Dunnachie's Facebook page and the photos on there showing her involved in Open Carry Tarrant County and pictures of Open Carry Texas.
"We aren't in a position to give someone's affiliation to a group or organization but if you go to her Facebook page, it's pretty clear," Arlington Police Department Officer Tiara Richard told TPM, referring to Open Carry Tarrant County.
Those two groups, Open Carry Tarrant County and Open Carry Texas, are Second Amendment rights groups that want to expand Texas law to allow carrying all weapons openly. Right now Texas law just allows for carrying guns openly.
"We're comfortable with the charge of capital murder that she intentionally killed more than one person," Arlington Police Department Sgt. Jeffrey Houston told TPM.
What is the policy here for memorial threads for gun victims?
I started a memorial thread in honor of John Lennon yesterday, on the anniversary of his assassination, but the thread was ruled off-topic and locked.
Five days from now, on December 14, I expect to start another memorial thread for some more gun victims, this time in Connecticut.
Will that memorial thread be snuffed out, also?
The Wichita Eagle 12/05/2014 7:08 AM | Updated: 12/05/2014 11:43 AM
A Wichita minister says she has received death threats for performing same-sex weddings after the states ban on same-sex marriage was struck down by a federal judge last month.
The Rev. Jackie Carter, pastor of the First Metropolitan Community Church, said the church has been getting at least one phone call a day threatening to kill her or to perform acts of violence against her congregation.
The church belongs to a denomination that embraces the gay and lesbian community.
Carter said that she had received threats before the ruling, but they have escalated since she performed a wedding ceremony for 15 same-sex couples on the steps of the Sedgwick County Courthouse on Nov. 17.
Monday was probably the most scary time for me, Carter said. The phone rang and I went to answer the phone and it was just somebody heavy breathing on it. Then somebody rang the door bell and then somebody started throwing rocks at the windows.
Some callers tell her to repent so I dont have to suffer inhumane death at the hands of Satan. Others have threatened specific acts of violence. Before the group wedding ceremony last month, two callers threatened to chop off her head and put it on a stake.
Honestly, Im beginning to get more scared every day that this goes on, she said. Ive kind of talked myself into trying to be more calm about it and realizing that there are more people out there that are supporting us than threatening harm to us.
She said the church has instructed people to leave the building in pairs, especially at night, for safety. Carter said that she has reported some of the threats to the Wichita Police, but that the departments ability to investigate is limited because the callers have been anonymous and no number shows up on the churchs caller ID.
Carter said that she and the Metropolitan Community Church, a denomination with 300 churches worldwide, believes that Christs message is to embrace groups not accepted by all of society, such as the LGBT community. She said she was turning to her faith as a way to cope with the threats.
My faith informs me that this is exactly the message that Christ came to bring, that we were to include all people. And look what the world did when they heard that message to the bringer of the message? Carter said. I dont think were called to suffer, but I do believe if we bring the actual message of Christ we will anger people who dont want to include all people.
...holding cops accountable for murder.
By Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain
The National Security Agency and FBI have covertly monitored the emails of prominent Muslim-Americansincluding a political candidate and several civil rights activists, academics, and lawyersunder secretive procedures intended to target terrorists and foreign spies.
According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the list of Americans monitored by their own government includes:
Faisal Gill, a longtime Republican Party operative and one-time candidate for public office who held a top-secret security clearance and served in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush;
Asim Ghafoor, a prominent attorney who has represented clients in terrorism-related cases;
Hooshang Amirahmadi, an Iranian-American professor of international relations at Rutgers University;
Agha Saeed, a former political science professor at California State University who champions Muslim civil liberties and Palestinian rights;
Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country.
In one 2005 document, intelligence community personnel are instructed how to properly format internal memos to justify FISA surveillance. In the place where the targets real name would go, the memo offers a fake name as a placeholder: Mohammed Raghead.
Ghafoor with President George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton (photos courtesy Asim Ghafoor)
Agha Saeed (Julie Plasencia/San Francisco Chronicle/Corbis)
Hooshang Amirahmadi (Julia Cortez/AP)
By Noah Shachtman and Spencer Ackerman 05.10.12
The U.S. military taught its future leaders that a total war against the worlds 1.4 billion Muslims would be necessary to protect America from Islamic terrorists, according to documents obtained by Danger Room. Among the options considered for that conflict: using the lessons of Hiroshima to wipe out whole cities at once, targeting the civilian population wherever necessary.
The course, first reported by Danger Room last month and held at the Defense Departments Joint Forces Staff College, has since been canceled by the Pentagon brass. Its only now, however, that the details of the class have come to light. Danger Room received hundreds of pages of course material and reference documents from a source familiar with the contents of the class.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff recently ordered the entire U.S. military to scour its training material to make sure it doesnt contain similarly hateful material, a process that is still ongoing. But the officer who delivered the lectures, Army Lt. Col. Matthew A. Dooley, still maintains his position at the Norfolk, Virginia college, pending an investigation. The commanders, lieutenant colonels, captains and colonels who sat in Dooleys classroom, listening to the inflammatory material week after week, have now moved into higher-level assignments throughout the U.S. military.
For the better part of the last decade, a small cabal of self-anointed counterterrorism experts has been working its way through the U.S. military, intelligence and law enforcement communities, trying to convince whoever it could that Americas real terrorist enemy wasnt al-Qaida but the Islamic faith itself. In his course, Dooley brought in these anti-Muslim demagogues as guest lecturers. And he took their argument to its final, ugly conclusion.
We have now come to understand that there is no such thing as moderate Islam,' Dooley noted in a July 2011 presentation (.pdf), which concluded with a suggested manifesto to Americas enemies. It is therefore time for the United States to make our true intentions clear. This barbaric ideology will no longer be tolerated. Islam must change or we will facilitate its self-destruction.
Dooley could not be reached for comment. Joint Forces Staff College spokesman Steven Williams declined to discuss Dooleys presentation or his status at the school. But when asked if Dooley was responsible for the course material, he responded, I dont know if I would classify him [Dooley] as responsible. That would be the commandant of the school, Maj. Gen. Joseph Ward.
That makes the two-star general culpable for rather shocking material. In the same presentation, Dooley lays out a possible four-phase war plan to carry out a forced transformation of the Islam religion. Phase three includes possible outcomes like Islam reduced to a cult status and Saudi Arabia threatened with starvation. (Its an especially ironic suggestion, in light of todays news that Saudi intelligence broke up the most recent al-Qaida bombing plot.)
International laws protecting civilians in wartime are no longer relevant, Dooley continues. And that opens the possibility of applying the historical precedents of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki to Islams holiest cities, and bringing about Mecca and Medina['s] destruction.
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