Friday, November 21, 2008

Giving Kansas and Christianity a bad name

This just in: America is afraid of Islam.

A Kansas minister recently posted a sign outside his church informing passers by that, apparently, president-elect Barack Obama is a Muslim.

"America we have a Muslim president this is a sin against the Lord! Ex. 20:3."

Click here to see the CNN video.

In the video the minister explains to the CNN reporter that because Obama believes in "many paths to the same place," or universalism, he is therefore a Muslim. The pastor doesn't, however, explain why he thinks Obama is a Muslim and not a member of any other faith.

It seems the pastor simply picked the faith which with he is the least familiar. If the pastor really knew what he was talking about, he would know Islam is a monotheistic faith. It speaks against false idols and polytheism just as strongly as Christianity does. So... if Obama were really a Muslim, he wouldn't believe in universalism.

The reporter properly brought up the age-old struggle over "separation between church and state," the phrase derived from the first sentence in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." James Madison, an anti-federalist (meaning he liked small government), pushed for the Bill of Rights to counteract the strong federalism of the Constitution (meaning it supported big government).

The purpose of the Bill of Rights was, and is, to make sure the government doesn't abuse its power to manipulate the people. In case the of the separation of church and state, the "Founding Fathers" wrote that part of the amendment to ensure the government couldn't control any religious institution. The motivation behind the amendment was the British government's control over the Church of England, which even today the Queen of England heads up. At several points in time the Church of England outlawed other forms of Protestantism (recall the reason for the Pilgrim voyage) and Catholicism. Obviously the FF's had good reason to protect religious institutions aginst the soon-to-be American government.

What does that brief history reminder have to do with the Kansas minister and his illogical and unintelligent sign? Even if Obama were a Muslim, the First Amendment prevents him from legislating his faith. Even if Obama were a Muslim, he couldn't funnel money only to mosques, he couldn't outlaw other faiths and he couldn't order a genocide against Christians. That's all to say even if those acts were on his to-do list. You don't see George Bush requiring Bibles in schools and replacing the Pledge of Allegiance with the Our Father.

So why did the minister declare Obama to be a Muslim? Because he's scared of Islam, along with most of the country. He's scared that evangelicals will lose their grip on the country just because its future president isn't a cookie-cutter Protestant. Obama's faith is foreign to the minister, so he took advantage of Obama's Muslim heritage and Arab name, found an Old Testament verse to support his thinking, and slapped it up on a sign. And he knew people would buy it, because that's all gullable Christians need to attack another faith-- a random Bible verse and fear.

The pastor didn't say Obama's Jewish, which Americans would accept because our culture is predominiantly Judeo-Christian. He picked a religion he knows Americans at large either disapprove of or just plain hate.

Obama may not read the King James Version and hear fire-and-brimstone sermons, but that doesn't mean he's not a Christian. No human in this world can know the heart of anyone else, including that of Obama. If the country held open season on McCain's faith, I would have the same opinion.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Christmas Tree Lighting 2008

Campbell's second annual Christmas tree lighting took place tonight on Fellowship Commons. Traditionally (if something is a tradition in its second year) the event is in memory of a member of the Campbell community. This year the lighting was dedicated to Dr. Lewis Fetterman Jr., a pharmacy professor who passed last year in a car accident.

Everyone loves a nice Christmas tree, myself included. The Christmas tree is a symbol of the holiday season, accompanied by unity, togetherness, and all-around warm fuzzies. I think the tree lighting event and the tree in general are great ideas. The presence of the tree (and it's cute fake presents) remind students that hope lies a couple short weeks away when Christmas break begins. It also unites the university community for one cause-- to celebrate the Christmas season, which is especially prevalent at Campbell. And, of course, the free commemorative t-shirt and holiday-themed snacks don't hurt either.

Having stated my support for the event itself, there are strings attached. I do feel the need to criticize the Student Government Association's (SGA) role in it. My opinion is simple: the purpose of SGA is to act as a representative middleman between the student body and the decision-making adminstration. Any event not related to that purpose is, in my opinion, a deviation of SGA's mission and therefore unecessary for SGA to be a part of.

The biggest flaw I see in the tree lighting event is the cost: the tree, shipped from Shoals (where the White House also buys its Christmas tree and is the hometown of SGA Vice President Eric Paul Hardy) cost about $2,000. A member of SGA told me the entire event, including man hours to put the tree up and dress it with who knows how many lights, brought the grand total to a little under $7,000. Number crunch: SGA's semester budget is barely over $30,000, meaning the cost of the tree lighting event is slightly less than one-quarter the entire semester budget (23% to be exact).

The student body elects SGA representatives to act on their behalf before the administration-- to be a voice among our elders. Over-spending on a pretty tree we'll enjoy for two weeks doesn't seem to be an adequate way to represent the student body. Like I said, I love the tree idea. But if it's going to be a community event, I don't see any reason why it can't be the administration's responsibility. At the very least SGA could invest in a quality artificial tree that won't have to be shipped in from Shoals (132 miles from Campbell according to Google Maps) ever year. Obviously my opinion won't move mountains (or mole hills), but if SGA has established that it will be in charge of the annual tree from now on, a sensible decision would be to get the aforementioned artificial tree, and I would have no problem with that.

Whenever citizens think the government spent money frivolously, we make a list of several hundred things the money could have been used for instead. In the case of the tree, SGA could have funneled the money toward the numerous poor families in Harnett County. I think sponsoring a family's happier-than-normal Christmas is a great way to represent the school. I doubt the student body would speak against a project like that, even if it cost $7,000.

And so my first real post comes to a close, along with my opinion of tonight's lovely, though pricey, Christmas event. At least the shirts are cool.

Here goes nothing

This is my inaugural post as a blogger. I have no idea how many people will read this besides my mom and boyfriend, but hey-- it's worth a shot.

I created this blog for two purposes: 1. To express my opinions of the goings-on at Campbell; and 2. To hopefully offer the school's student body and organizations a unique perspective-- fresh off the mind of an actual student and former member of SGA, CAB, and the Campbell Times.

I just spent two semesters as editor-in-chief of the Campbell Times, the university's student-run biweekly newspaper. Being editor, among other things, meant keeping my opinions secret from readers in order to prevent any doubt as to the objectivity of the newspaper. Now that my time as editor has come to and end, I have returned to the life of a normal student: ranting and raving at will.

Okay, "ranting and raving" is an exaggeration. My blog will be an intelligent and eloquent expression of thought, not an illogical upchuck of anger and disdain.

Here goes nothing!