Commentary by James Turnage
Politicians talk a great deal about freedom; but do they know what freedom is? They do, because they are members of the wealthy class. They lack the understanding of the common man who works hard to survive, and is on the job more than 100 days a year. For the sole reason of seeking political support, our federal officials are siding with Christians in their attempt to control the nation and remove more of our freedoms.
I was raised a Catholic. My grandfather and uncle guided me during my younger years after my father deserted us. I went to Catholic school for 10 years. As I grew I was afraid of my normal urges; I would certainly go to hell if I gave into them. When I had problems with my curriculum in high school, my mother allowed me to attend public school for my final two years.
Not being harassed every day by priests, nuns, and orders of brothers, the brainwashing I experienced for over 16 years began to fade. I always had questions, but they were never answered; I was told to have ‘faith.’ Slowly I began to question the fairy tales I was told in my youth. Eventually I abandoned religion, relying on my own sense of morality and a belief that being a spiritual person made more sense than what I heard from the pulpit. I renounced all religions, understanding that I did not have the need to be told how to live my life.
I am not an atheist; I am closer to being an agnostic. However, I do believe in good vs. evil, and I believe in freedom of thought and expression.
What is evil? For far too many of our nation’s people it is anything they do not believe in. Hatred is fine, as long as it is aimed at something your religion tells you is against God’s law.
Tacoma, Washington has a single strip club. Whatever your opinion is about these establishments, they are legal and the employers and employees deserve equal protection under the law. Recently this small city of 800,000 people and its only gentlemen’s club have been in the national news. The establishment is not unique in any manner. What has put them in the spotlight is an act by a single individual. A man by the name of David Van Vleet filed a request to see the business licenses of the dancers. The documents contain their legal names, stage names, dates of birth, and any distinguishing marks.
This action by the ‘cowboy hat wearing’ man has caused outrage among exotic dancers in Washington State and elsewhere. Van Vleet, a self-proclaimed devout Christian, claims he only wanted their names so he could pray for them.
One dancer stated the fact that when she applied for her license she was fingerprinted, and that the requirement to list all tattoos or scars was a means to allow law enforcement to ‘identify the body’ in the future.
This has opened up a first amendment discussion across the nation.
Strip clubs have been attacked by religious organizations for decades, but for all the wrong reasons. The morality of these establishments must be decided by individuals, not by religious zealots. No one is forced to walk through the doors, and the women who choose to work in them are not slaves. However, they are exploited by management, and any group claiming morality as its goal should be more concerned with that fact than something they decide is lurid and improper.
Religions are judgmental, and the judgments they make are attached to the claim that they are what God wants. They somehow believe they are a George W. Bush and their God talks to them directly.
If you are truly religious and practice the teachings of Christ such as forgiveness, love, and understanding, I applaud you. God is the only entity who is allowed to judge human beings. This is a nation which was founded because of religious persecution. Our founding fathers escaped the Anglican Church and its control over their lives. We must not allow our country to devolve into a nation similar to the United Kingdom in the 1700’s.
Although it was never a specific statement, the intention of those who drafted the Constitution was to separate Church and State.
By James Turnage
Al Jazeera America