Tin Shop Tartan - Randolph County Alabama's Own Snarky and Surly Scot Gets All Native

Blogging from the suburbs of the Tin Shop community, Captain Plaid brings Progressivism, and a share of Quixotic angst, to the ridges and hollows of Randolph County, Alabama. Hardly a booster yet rooted here enough to fight, Plaidsters can perhaps find like cause in trying to build local solutions to global concerns. Education, environment, economy, entertainment, engagement ... Trust the Tartan!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

My letter to Roanoke's First Baptist (Main) on Encouraging Church Members to Vote "Yes" on Amendment One

Here is the text, with I think corrections to a couple of typos that I realized slipped through, of a letter I dropped off this morning.
Dear Mr. Spec, Dr. Cobble, Brother Bill, Uncle xxxxxx (as my xxxx calls him) and …

As Mr. Spec and xxxx know, I’m bad to write letters and get my Scots up about politics and other matters. In fact one of my New Year’s resolutions was to be more of an “activist” in speaking out and trying to create change. With my blogging, which I started as a way of practicing the above, I’ve used Tin Shop Tartan to speak in the frame of “localism”. Just recently I gave a “tip of the tam” to FBC in y’all doing something progressive with downtown. I even used the line “The Lord works in mysterious ways” in the post.

Now I’m hardly traditional in my spirituality. I’m rather a universalist and even on the more spiritual than religious side of that label. I often joke that I’m a “recovering Southern Baptist” yet appreciate my roots and our music while disagreeing with a good bit of the doctrine. So I’ve rocked along, attending at times, wishing often that I could place aside the frustrations I have at times with the Southern Baptist Convention’s positions on “moral” and especially “political” matters. Mr. Spec knows I’m a flaming lefty Progressive. Not a Yellow Dog Democrat as my Dad was … yet mighty close. I am often furious with the Democrats national “leadership”, and at times so with Alabama’s, yet I think America has had about all the “conservatism” and “family values” we can stand these last twenty five years. Social issues wrapped up as “family values”, actually only one issue I guess, is the reason for this correspondence.

I was motivated to call the church office on Friday and asked Miss Linda to take me off the mailing list for The Bulletin. If I’m considered a member, I guess take me off that as well. I did this because of the endorsement of Amendment One. I looked on the Alabama Missions site and could not find this “encouragement” but trust Dr. Richard Land or one or more of his acolytes is behind this position. Dr. Land’s “For Faith & Family” is a ministry of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, which is the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. The URL http://erlc.com displays the same page as faithandfamily.com with either providing a visitor with plenty of the often radical and clearly political Dr. Land. While I could, if time and space allowed, give you book, chapter, and verse on this tool of the GOP and especially Bu$hCo, I’ll pass. I might blog on Land as time allows yet I invite you to simple Google about on your own.

Every major newspaper in Alabama has suggested a “No” vote on Amendment One. Reasons include that it is absolutely not necessary under current federal and state laws, certainly not so in Alabama. Auburn FBC’s James L. Evans has likewise done an op-ed saying the same thing. As written, by that wing nut Hank Erwin, #1 could endanger enforcement of domestic violence laws plus rights of and protections for opposite sex couples in common law and other non-traditional relationships. Marriage decisions of various faith communities remain theirs yet when the government or other entities confer benefits on the status of being married then our laws and traditions require fairness/justice. We need a new Constitution not another Amendment yet I know I recall that dreadfully crooked John Giles of the Alabama Christian Coalition railing against that possibility. ALFA and the ACC strike again! The ACC of course in no small part helped defeat in the fall of 2004 Amendment Two, a measure that would have taken "colored children" and segregated schools out of Alabama's Constitution. Back then it was an economics and politics rather than “moral” and ethical” yet the radical right gets to have it both ways it seems depending on their “need”. I’d surely love an audience with and look at the books of Mr. Giles and the ACC. I guarantee you some Big Mules are funding that operation!

Yet the bottom line for me is that Amendment One and much gay bashing is nothing more than political pandering to the evangelical “base” of the modern Republican Party. An example is the false “War of Christmas” that Faux News and other components of “The Mighty Wurlitzer” (allegedly some old CIA jargon for psychological operations to influence the thinking of a population) shill every fall. Many observers of politics accept that the GOP uses various “moral outrages” to keep their base in a state of rage and fear so they’ll continue to vote against their economic interests. “Reverend” Rick Scarborough, a close ally of the disgraced Tom DeLay (all Texans as is Dr. Land), held a recent conference on “The War on Christians” that was rightly ridiculed by any neutral observer. Long of puffery and short on substance, Reverend Rick is just one of many picking up the torch from Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

If you are interested in more on these mercenaries of intolerance and radicalism I’d be happy to supply. Tony Perkins, leading perhaps the most influential propaganda machine of the religious right, namely the Family Research Council, has enraged me over many things yet his attack of the courts has especially frightened me. In the old days these theocrats spoke in code yet Perkins outright wants to do away with courts it appears and shills the Mighty Wurlitzer’s “liberal activist judge” as smoothly as any from this American Taliban. I recall an “activist” Congress when the wing nuts radically intervened in the Terry Shiavo matter, even getting Dubyah to fly back from Crawford early to sign off on the legislation. Bu$h couldn’t come back early for Katrina yet he could for Dr. Bill Frist (who diagnosed her via video as not being in a persistent vegetative state – we know how that autopsy turned out Senator!) and “Hot Tub” Tom DeLay.

From the Dobsonites to Tim LaHaye’s “End Times Theology” to Gary Bauer to Phyllis Shaffly to D. James Kennedy to Beverly LaHaye’s “Concerned Women for America” to Ralph Reed to Senator Rick Santorum (the finest man of the 16th Century who is tied to scandal and doesn’t even live in PA!) to … Oh you get the picture I hope. Radicals! Scary! Well funded! Networked! Legitimate to unfortunately many people and churches. In perhaps some limited ways they are doing some good, at least what they think is correct. Yet they present a terrible danger to our democracy. This “culture war” is one that has proven very rewarding for the Big Mules that benefit from Republican policies yet I was most displeased to see the FBC Bulletin fire a salvo in this conflict. Amendment One will pass I’m sure. I’ll vote “No” and encourage you and others to join me in rejecting this constitutional amendment. I’ve lived just across from a lesbian couple in Auburn and they were amazing parents and citizens. Real research and common sense shows a person’s sexuality is generally something from God/nature. Yet just this next week Bu$hCo is going to encourage Congress to move toward a federal version of the same. Our Senate will balk, as some reasonable people remain there to stop this pandering. Yet, likely that is what Karl Rove and his operatives want for the fall mid-terms. A dose of tribalism? Machine politics on steroids as the modern GOP has been honing their messages for decades.

I don’t expect a reply yet I’d be happy to discuss my position further or hear what you think. I hope the Deacons might decide if/when/how FBC will engage in this “Culture War” in the future. While I pondered appearing in a pink suit or maybe even a dress to pass out flyers to the congregation, perhaps in the parking lot, I knew it would send my lovely sister xxxxxxx, and perhaps even a few others, to the hospital. xxxx and xxx, plus all my family, tolerates at best my politics and “thinking” so don’t blame them. Further, I don’t mean to fuss simply to let you hear an alternative view. My man Gandhi said you can only speak truth with love so that’s where I am with this letter. Also, I’m having to print on some “pretty” paper simply due to the fact that I’ve ran out of cheap copy paper. It might be a little hard to read, especially for you more “seasoned” men. Brother Bill, catch a big fish or two for me! You’ve done your time! Enjoy!

Heterosexually yours, xxxx xxxx
Some good writing on the issue in today's Anniston Star by Howard Bayless of Equality Alabama entitled "Hope not lost for gay Alabamians: Struggle for equality will continue after Tuesday" that is worth a visit. As an aside, I recalled my Dad coming home from services one day in a lather when the preacher was bragging on Reagan about something. Dad said he almost got up and walked out. Ralph simply loathed the Reagan White House and I'm sure he stewed over that praise for several days. Peace ... or War!

UPDATE - Evening of June 6, 2006 - Please notice the title of this post. This is not a "Letter to the Editor" and I also encourage the one or two folks that might actually drop by here to read the whole damned post before they take exceptions with certain segments. As I made clear, or seemingly so based on what is my apparently limited understanding of the King's English, politics and religion (You know I've taken several graduate level classes on these matter plus devoured tons of other work in these areas), blog protocol (Snark is encouraged - If you want literalism then read and use Leviticus like all the wing nuts do!), etc., I am of course writing as a free agent. I felt that I needed to say something and tried to craft a letter that was respectful but MOST OF ALL MAKING IT CLEAR (again I think crystal clear!) THAT I WAS DOING THIS OUTSIDE OF MY FAMILY! As unfortunately is a usual result, my best intentions seemed to have backfired. I do want them to be "happy" and certainly I'd never do anything to hurt them. That's why the last portion took me the longest. I know the facts yet finesse around the feelings seemed to have been for naught. I wind up offending when I bent over backwards to cover that contingency. I've done all the inner child work and the like that I have thought necessary yet I'll continue to work on me. I'm not trying to figure anybody out but myself yet on days like today I'm really wondering about much. I stand by what I wrote and did, again thinking that I threaded that needle rather well. I encourage anybody that wants to talk with me about anything I write to simply write a comment ... or better yet email or call me. And once again, reading the whole post seems like prerequisite to a discussion. Peace ... or War!

UPDATE - June 27, 2006 - I did get a call from one sister, speaking on her behalf plus her husband. They actually read the whole post the night before. I got an apology, sort of, and a request to not use family names in any shape, form, or fashion. I've amended the post as that is certainly a reasonably thing to demand. I sent the letter TO THE CHURCH (as it addressed!) so there's not much I can do about that. Again, the reason for mentioning them at all was to make sure anybody that read the thing would know I was speaking for myself. This is a controversial position, at least here in the rural Bible Belt, so I wanted to be clear. Also, I wanted those family members in the church to know that I had sent the thing just in case somebody asked them about my position. Again, I was operating in good faith and regret that once again my efforts did not measure up to their standards. I still think it was not reasonable to jump all over me with insults and misunderstandings and misrepresentations and the full court press and .... It would have been reasonable, and polite for certain, to simply express concerns or ask to talk with me. 1 out of 3 is a good start but I'm still waiting for ...