Friday, September 30, 2016
Banks are criminal enterprises. US government involved in dozens of wars globally. Police gone berserk. Children slaughtered in Syria. A world going insane. One man, one ministry confronting the madness, standing against war, social or economic injustice, crooked banks and every kind of corruption. Help us help America win this fight while standing up unashamedly for Jesus Christ. With a recurring monthly donation starting at only $10.00, you can help keep us on the Internet, fund some office expenses, help us buy a new or used van, and cover the monthly expenses of buying double cheese sandwiches and fries for the multitudes of homeless individuals and families in and around greater Atlanta. Please help Progressive Christian Ministries of Greater Atlanta, Inc. (State of Georgia control # 15066742) by becoming a monthly partner today! http://www.pcmatl.org/donations-and-partners
Sunday, September 25, 2016
Wells Fargo, the Problem With Capitalism, and the Bible
by Rev. Paul J. Bern
I was alive and kicking back in 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell, and in the ensuing years when Communism imploded all across Russia, and Red China soon after. The American political and military leadership smugly congratulated one another when Communism fell. “Well, looks like we won the Cold War”, they said among themselves. What nobody realized at the time was that America was going to be next. It's just that it's taking a lot longer for that to play out over here. America has an 'ace in the hole' that the USSR never had – free enterprise. I'm strongly in favor of free enterprise and private ownership. I always have been, so I'm no communist or socialist, but what I disapprove of is when our economic system gets abused by people whose greed is out of control. These are a set of financial predators who are in need of arrest and restraint!
As a result of these occurrences, the capitalist economic system is ripe for a collapse reminiscent of Communism's collapse a quarter century ago. Interest on America's national debt is accruing faster than than the principal can be paid down. Our country is buried under a mountain of debt from which it is impossible to extricate ourselves. The fault for this lies with the so-called 'Federal Reserve', which in fact is neither. The Constitution of the United States says in Article 1, Section 8, “The Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes, …. coin money and regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin....”. Nowhere does it say “print money”, nor does it say anything about a Federal Reserve. Real money must be coined, not printed, and only Congress is authorized to coin money by the Constitution. The very existence of the Federal Reserve is unconstitutional! The so-called 'national debt' is a scam, a fraud, a federal crime and an assault on the freedom of all Americans everywhere! The Federal Reserve is something that clearly needs to be stopped, and preferably nationalized. Fortunately, “we the people” probably won't need to stage a revolt to make this occur. Like Soviet Russia, capitalism will collapse on its own. It won't need any help. I can sum up the reason why in one little word – debt.
Not only is debt and the accompanying compounded interest reaching a point of no return, America is faced with the indisputable fact that the super-power era is at its end as far as world history is concerned. Nations in other parts of the world, particularly in emerging economies, have started to figure out that mutual cooperation for profit is in everyone's best interests. Unfortunately, my country, the venerable USA, has yet to get the message. The US refuses to abandon its war-based and debt-based economy, because if it does, it would be tantamount to voluntary relinquishing America's role as the sole remaining super power. The nail in the coffin of American 'supremacy' will be the forcible replacement of the US dollar as the world's standard currency. Russia and Red China have already signed the trade and economic treaties to accomplish this, it's a done deal. It's only a matter of time as to how long this will take to play out.
But the war is also being waged right here at home, a fact that millions of Americans are just now beginning to wake up to. People's bank accounts are being raided by the very banks that purport to serve them as loyal customers. The most notable example of this was this past week's disclosure by the US Department of Justice of Wells Fargo Bank opening multiple accounts in its customers' names, unbeknownst to those customers, and getting commissions and bonuses as a result of this nefarious and fraudulent financial activity. In an article posted Wednesday Sept 21, 2016 on CNN.com written by Walter Einenkel, he wrote:
“A couple of weeks ago, Wells Fargo agreed to pay $185 million in penalties for perpetrating a massive fraud on customers. Wells Fargo executives boasted that they had fired 5,300 workers involved in improprieties, but not a single executive was punished. In fact, executives that literally oversaw the departments where the gargantuan fraud was committed were very well compensated, and lauded. Yesterday, Wells Fargo CEO — and blame-game champion — John Stumpf went in front of a Senate Banking Committee where he was rightfully castigated by Senator Elizabeth Warren for his “gutless leadership.” Part of Stumpf’s “apology” was to say that Wells Fargo didn’t do this as much as bad apples did it. It’s a similar defense used by people who murder citizens.”
“Now CNN Money is hearing from former Wells Fargo (WFC) workers around the country who tried to put a stop to these illegal tactics. Almost half a dozen workers who spoke with us say they paid dearly for trying to do the right thing: they were fired. "They ruined my life," Bill Bado, a former Wells Fargo banker in Pennsylvania, told CNN Money. Bado not only refused orders to open phony bank and credit accounts. The New Jersey man called an ethics hot-line and sent an email to human resources in September 2013, flagging unethical sales activities he was being instructed to do.”
“Eight days after that email, a copy of which CNN Money obtained, Bado was terminated. The stated reason? Tardiness.... Retaliating against whistle blowers is a major breach of trust. Ethics hot-lines are exactly the kind of safeguards put in place to prevent illegal activity from taking place and provide refuge to employees from dangerous work environments....”
“Another six former Wells Fargo employees told CNN Money they witnessed similar behavior at Wells Fargo -- even though the company has a policy in place that is supposed to prevent retaliation against whistle blowers. CNN Money has taken steps to confirm that the workers who spoke anonymously did work at Wells Fargo and in some cases interviewed colleagues who corroborated their reports. It's possible Wells Fargo could face legal consequences for any retaliation that occurred against employees who called the ethics line .... It is clearly against the law for any company (or executives of such companies) to try to suppress whistle blowing," Harvey Pitt, former chairman of the SEC, told CNN Money in an email...”.
As you can clearly see, America's financial system is making all the money it can, every way they possibly can, because they know this collapse is coming. That's why stuff like the shenanigans over at Wells Fargo is going on behind the scenes. The whole stinking system is corrupt from top to bottom, and people are figuring it out in growing numbers. Whatever you do, if you have an account with Wells Fargo, move your money to a credit union. Unlike banks, credit unions are non-profits, and they're far more personalized than banks. But it's not just a violation of our laws that our financial system is a criminal enterprise, it's a violation of God's laws too. And not just the criminal and civil violations mentioned above, either. Let me take you to the Book of Exodus in the Old Testament, chapter 22, beginning at verse 22:
“Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless. If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not be like a moneylender; charge him no interest. If you take your neighbor's cloak as a pledge, return it to him by sunset, because his cloak is the only covering he has for his body. What else will he sleep in? When he cries out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.”
As you can clearly see, it is immoral in the sight of God to charge interest beyond the borrower's ability to pay. It is also wrong for lenders to take everything but the clothes off their customer's back, which happens with disturbing frequency. Yet this is exactly the situation the entire world is currently faced with. We have the Federal Reserve in the US, the British “Royal Family” in the UK, and the Rothschilds in Europe who basically control the world's flow of money and liquid assets. Just beneath them in the economic pecking order are the elite rich, government and corporate leadership, and religious denominations of various kinds. But the remainder of us, “the 99%”, have little or nothing. Economic inequality has become like a ticking time bomb across the globe. There are simply so many angry, frustrated, disenfranchised and often disenchanted individuals like ourselves who are hungry and thirsty for real change that the fuse on this socioeconomic time bomb has already been lit. Our entire capitalist, debt-based economic system is based on something the Bible said was a great sin nearly 3,500 years ago. The Bible does not change, and neither does God! By incurring a debt that currently stands at $17 or $18 trillion, America is reaping what it has sown. God says to America, “You want debt, do ya? Well all right, then, I'm going to give you a trainload of it!” Is it any wonder we are in the shape we are in? We are bankrupt, we have been for a very long time, and it's our own fault. Although the US government has been concealing the true extent of this indebtedness from its citizens, the people are catching on quickly. Our government has declared war on its own citizens, and the soldiers are none other than police offers who are sworn to protect and serve. Instead, they harass and intimidate all they come into contact with, and they routinely kill unarmed citizens just because they can. This cannot continue indefinitely, and the standoff between the police and the rest of the country continues to escalate. The fuse has been lit. And there is a very large powder keg at the end of it.
Sunday, September 18, 2016
It's finally here!! The latest offering from Rev. Paul J. Bern; “Cannabis Legalization and the Bible: Compatible Or Not?” Reveals the “war on drugs” for the race-based, legislated criminal enterprise that it really is, shatters the myths about the allegedly addictive properties of marijuana, exposes America's prison-for-profit prison and court systems. Goes into great detail about the huge economic benefits of legalizing marijuana and its sister plant, hemp. Written by a nondenominational Christian minister and blogger, this book uses the Bible to provide a simple explanation for why marijuana criminalization is a sin against God. This book shoots the “War On Drugs” right out of the sky while proving conclusively that the 'drug war' is actually an all-out war on the American people. Our time to rise up has come!! Making its debut at only $19.95; buy it now at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00J1X7802 or at http://www.pcmatl.org/#!books-and-donations/c17et
My Open Letter to All Offended “Christians”
by Rev. Paul J. Bern
Dear Offended Christians,
All of my regular weekly readers know by now that I can – and have – posted commentaries on my blogs, my website, and social media that has been sharply critical of the mainstream churches – both Protestant and Catholic – here in the US. While I have received praise from many of my readers for these postings, I have also been on the receiving end of no small amount of vehement condemnation from numerous 'religious' individuals, combined with weathering criticism from many (but not all) atheists. I've been told I'm going to hell when I die, I've been accused of voluntary stupidity, I've been verbally assaulted and abused on social media, and I've even had my personal safety threatened. So far, nobody has made good on any of those threats, which doesn't surprise me at all. Still in all, I’m terribly sorry that I hurt your feelings. None of us likes to be criticized, so I totally get it. I feel badly about that. I know I’ve said some pretty hard words to many of you “Christian” folks, and maybe I’ve been somewhat less than gentle in my delivery, but that happens when you’re tired. And I am really freaking tired! Allow me to list all of the ways I am fed up to here with the hypocrisy shown by so many 'religious' people!
 You wrap yourselves up in the cross, your piety is second to none, and yet you have seemingly forgotten to read the Book you proclaim to set your moral compass to. I’m tired of hearing you telling gay people that they can’t simultaneously be both gay and followers of Christ. You quote Romans chapter 1, verses 26-27 and Levitical law when you condemn gay people, but you forget the counsel of the apostle James when he wrote: “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!” (James 2: 12-13) Instead of judging gay people, why not show them some mercy and compassion? Moreover, I’m tired of you regularly dispensing damnation on the queer community, and then offering empty “thoughts and prayers” before resuming your normal schedule.
 I’m tired of arrogant pulpit bullies who believe they’re entitled to tell people where they can pee, who they can marry, and whether they really love Jesus or not. I'm particularly tired of your demands for 10% of my income. You're not going to get one stinking penny from me! After all, you preachers spend much of your churches' proceeds on yourselves and your wicked and vain desires. You buy luxury cars for yourselves and your wives and live in extravagant homes while people sleep in their cars as they and their children go hungry. Rest assured that your punishment is coming, and it will be most severe!!
 I’m tired of you being more outraged by red coffee cups at Starbucks, or school and department store restrooms, than by poverty, racism and America's crumbling school systems. Ditto for the hypocrisy of your homophobia, all that institutionalized racism, and the anti-science sentiments of many Christian groups. God gave you a brain! Try using the damn thing once in a while! You'd be surprised at how well it works. Thinking with your emotions instead of your brain always ends badly for you anyway. If you were using your head, you would be able to remember that.
 I am thoroughly exasperated with your simultaneous condemnation of abortion while you beat your war drums. The US military has killed 2 million people in the Vietnam War and 1 million more innocent civilians in Iraq. The fact that all those dead Iraqis were Muslim is besides the point. Have you forgotten what Jesus said at the Sermon On the Mount, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God”? (Matt. 5: 9) Yes, it's true, there are roughly 50,000 abortions performed each year in the US alone, not counting the rest of the world. While I am by no means pro-abortion, I refuse to condemn those women who have abortions for the same reasons as #1 above. Why? Because there are two main reasons why women are having abortions. First, the last time I checked, a month's supply of birth control pills costs many hundreds of dollars here in America thanks to our greed-based medical care system. Second, if America's employers paid a living wage, a lot more women could afford to use birth control, hence fewer abortions. Oh that's right – America doesn't have any more jobs that pay a living wage because our brilliant leaders outsourced all the good-paying jobs overseas for pennies on the dollar so they could make a whole lot more money!!
Please excuse me, I just realized I probably hurt your feelings yet again, Mr. and Mrs. Churchperson. So I really do get that your feelings are hurt. I understand that you’re offended, and that’s not my intention. The thing is, if you’re going to tell an entire segment of the population that they’re going to Hell simply for existing, and if you’re going to continually target those people through the Church and the Law and your social media accounts, don’t get angry with me when I tell you you’re being hateful and judgmental and ignorant. It could be worse. At least I’m not damning you for all eternity. You know, like you do to others every day of the year?
A Very Tired Christian
Sunday, September 11, 2016
Five Hundred Dead Cannot Be Ignored
by Rev. Paul J. Bern
The United States of America, together with the city of Chicago, has passed a gruesome and heinous milestone this past week. As of this past Friday, September 9th, 2016, 500 people have been shot to death in Chicago so far this year, and we have just over three and a half months to go before the end of the year. This damnable statistic is a scathing indictment of American “society” in general, and the city of Chicago in particular. As of this writing I do not know anyone who has relocated, or who has plans to relocate, to Chicago for the foreseeable future. It doesn't take a blooming genius to figure out why – the average citizen living in Chicago has a greater chance of being shot than US military personnel do in Afghanistan or Iraq. Only Syria would be a scarier place to live right now, and that's nothing for Chicago to brag about. But it's not just Chicago, as I wrote above. These shooting deaths are an absolutely horrific portrait of American society.
There are many who say the proliferation of guns and the gun culture in America that accompanies it is the culprit. Take all the guns off the streets, they say, and the problem of excessive gun violence will be solved. To me, quite frankly, this 'solution' is laughable for its naivety and ignorance of the Constitution. You might say, “What do you mean, naive?” Simply put, I find it astonishingly naive that anyone would assume that outlawing guns would solve the gun violence problem. You see, the people doing all the shooting are exhibiting criminal behavior. Criminals don't obey laws to begin with, so the net effect of outlawing gun ownership would be that only outlaws and the police would be armed. The remainder of us, the other 98%, would be reduced to moving targets. If there is anyone out there who thinks the police shootings would stop, or that gun violence would cease, if the general public were to be disarmed, they had better think twice – and very carefully too! Moreover, with a disarmed population robberies, sex crimes, and domestic terrorism would increase exponentially since only outlaws would have weapons. A disarmed public would only embolden all the predators out there, not to mention all the trigger-crazy police. Moreover, an infamous man once famously said, “The first step to taking over a country is to disarm its citizens”. That infamous man was Adolf Hitler. Josef Stalin did the same thing in Russia from the mid-1920's to the early 1930's. Look it up.
Then there is the problem with the US Constitution, or more accurately the interpretation thereof. The Second Amendment to the US Constitution reads as follows: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”. There it is in black and white, folks, from our supreme law of the land, the Constitution of the United States. So now we can see that the only way for the government – law enforcement in this case – to legally take away our primary means of self-protection would be to change the Constitution. That would mean calling for a Constitutional convention consisting of Congress and representatives of the President and his Cabinet, something not likely to happen without a citizen's revolt. Yet by the same token, a revolution is exactly what America needs for such reforms to take place. While I personally do not own any firearms – something I've been rethinking lately – I am very much a pro-2nd-amendment kind of guy.
I can see two main reasons for all the gun violence. The first I can sum up in two words – anger management, or more accurately the lack thereof on the part of all too many Americans of all races, enthnicities and complexions. Too many people are using their emotions instead of their minds for processing thoughts and feelings. The second I can sum up in one word – greed! There are too many people trying to shake down too many others for a quick, easy profit. The fact that much of this stems from the lack of economic opportunity, combined with wages that are on par with the 1960's, changes nothing. Allow me to share a few examples of what the Bible says about this. “My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them. If they say, “Come along with us; let's lie in wait for someone's blood, let's waylay some harmless soul; let's swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot with us, and we will share a common purse” – my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths; for their feet rush into sin, and they are swift to shed blood.” (Proverbs chapter 1, verses 8-16) These verses remind me of the gang problem here in the US, which is substantial to be sure. As you know, youth plus a sense of belonging, minus any positive role models at home, and minus any real chance at economic or educational opportunities, equals future gang members. If our youth can't find the love, acceptance and guidance they need from home and church, they will go and get it somewhere else.
But there is more to America's anger management issues. Much of the gun violence Chicago and other American cities are experiencing is due to hot-tempered individuals – those who don't stop and think before they act. Once again, as a Web minister and Christian blogger, I consider it my duty as well as being part of my job description to point out what the Bible has to say about this. Rather than pontificate about this, I will let the Word of God speak for me. “Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver, and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who embrace it; those who lay hold of her will be blessed.” (Proverbs chapter 3, verses 13-18) People react emotionally instead of thoughtfully because they allow evil things like greed, pride and a bad temper to rule over them, as it is written: “A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct, but a man of understanding delights in wisdom.” (Proverbs 10: 23) But isn't there more to it than just that, you ask? You're right, it's more than just a lack of understanding. Some people need to grow up and learn to control their tempers, and to cease provoking others. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”. (Proverbs 15: 1) And again it is written in that same Book of Proverbs: “A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.” (Proverbs 15: 18)
But at the end of the day, the reasons for gun violence have one common denominator – a lack of love. Hatred has replaced love in a world that can't stop hating because it doesn't know how. The reason some people don't know how to stop hating nor how to start loving is because they refuse to take the Bible and its teachings seriously. Moreover, there is no love because there is no trust due to fear – people are afraid to trust one another because they're afraid if they do they might miss out on something beneficial, having forgotten that mutual trust is itself beneficial, as is mutual love. The apostle John put it best when he wrote: “This is the message you have heard from the beginning: that we should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know no murderer has eternal life in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” (1st John chapter 3, verses 11-16) But Jesus said it best of all. “'Teacher, what is the greatest commandment of the Law?' Jesus replied, 'Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second one is like it; love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.'” (Matthew chapter 22, verses 36-40)
So this is how we can stop all the gun violence in Chicago and all across the country. Love your neighbor as yourself, a commandment from Christ that should be taken to heart, but sadly it is not for a disturbingly large cross-section of the population. Read the Bible and start taking it seriously! Follow Jesus instead of the desires of your belly, your sex drive, and your emotions. Use your brain for thinking, not your heart. And may the peace of Christ that surpasses all understanding be with you all!
Friday, September 9, 2016
Thursday, September 8, 2016
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Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Sunday, September 4, 2016
The Star Spangled Banner, Colin Kaepernick,
and the Christian Anti-patriot Movement
by Rev. Paul J. Bern
Colin Kaepernick's refusal to stand during the National Anthem this past week – twice so far as of this writing, and I'm observing others who are starting to join him – is something that bears careful thought and quiet contemplation on the part of all Americans. Kaepernick has enraged many, but there are even more people who are saying, “It's about time” with regard to his actions. Since the feelings and reasons run deep on both sides, so do my own. Like the vast majority of other Americans, I truly love my country. The US is and always will be the land of opportunity where free enterprise and private ownership reign supreme. But I am profoundly ashamed of my government. Let me count the reasons why.
 One million dead Iraqi civilians. Since 1991, the US military – or the American Empire, as I call it – has “accidentally” killed a million Iraqi civilians. That's twice as many people as there are within the city limits of Atlanta where I live and work. If another country were to so much as attempt to do the same to a million US civilians, we'd be at war!
 25%. That's the number of American school children who go to bed hungry each night. For a country that is allegedly the greatest country in the world, that is simply inexcusable!
 One out of five. That's the number of US military personnel who return home after their tour of duty who suffer from permanent psychiatric disabilities as a result of the performance of their duties. Everybody is dancing around the question that needs to be asked – WHY?? Why do 20% of those who go off to fight the American Empire's wars come home with their minds permanently broken and their souls shattered?? Maybe it's from killing people. Ever think of that? What if I'm right, and I think I am in at least some of the cases? There would be one good way to end all that, to put it to a stop permanently. Stop all the wars. End all the bloodshed. Besides, we Americans need those troops here at home to help protect us from the federal government.
 Nine Hundred Eighty Six. That's the number of unarmed civilians that were killed by the police in 2015 (source: Washington Post). This has been going on for decades, but the Lame Stream Media had been deliberately suppressing these stories until they became so numerous it was no longer possible to do so. When we add up the number of unarmed persons shot, 'tasered' and killed by the police over the last three decades, the numbers run well into the tens of thousands.
 America excels at incarceration. There are more people in jails or prisons here in the United States than there are in the rest of the world combined! To say this is nothing to be proud of would be a gross understatement. Moreover, 56% of all those incarcerated are there for nonviolent drug offenses. The 'war on drugs' is a farce, it can't be won, and it is based on racism and prison for profit, not 'law and order'. As such, the Drug War deserves to fail.
So what do we do to turn all these ugly facts into past history? End all the wars and covert meddling (which the CIA seems to be addicted to) and bring home whatever troops we can. Close entire military bases whenever possible. Shut down and disband NATO, since it no longer serves any purpose (unless, of course, you're part of the top 1% of the economic class). Raise the minimum wage to get our children fed, to lift people out of poverty, and to empty the welfare and SNAP benefits rosters. End the drug war – legalize, regulate and tax cannabis for medical and personal use (although several currently illegal drugs should stay that way, such as heroin). There are so many things we can do differently for the betterment of ourselves and our country. But how do we approach it on a personal level? What's the starting point? Allow me to elaborate on a couple examples.
Mennonite Worker Communities in places like Minnesota, Pennsylvania and others hold worship services and a picnic every Fourth of July. But, instead of extolling the virtues of America, they called attention to its faults. Singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” is out. Reflecting on the contradictions between the Gospel of Christ and the American Dream are in. “We thank you, O God, for the good things we enjoy in our lives," reads a prayer the Mennonite community recites each year, "but lament that our abundance has brought destitution to sisters and brothers throughout the Earth.” These people are, basically, Christian Anti-patriots. Their movement, which has grown more vocal in recent years, is simply an honest way to read – and live out – Jesus' teachings on nonviolence. But it's hard to look at groups like The Mennonite Community and not see an implicit criticism of God-and-country cheer-leading by mainstream Christians and ripples of centuries-old church-state tensions. Some anti-patriots come from pacifist Anabaptist traditions, such as the Mennonite Church. Others come from evangelical backgrounds but have rejected their counterparts' often unreserved patriotism and embraced liberal-leaning communities like Red Letter Christians and JesusRadicals.com. They may differ on theological details, but they hold at least two beliefs in common: You cannot serve both God and country, and you cannot serve both God and money.
Anabaptists such as Mennonites and the Amish were persecuted by state churches in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries, and their descendants bear a lasting suspicion of human authorities. Many an Amish and Mennonite home keeps a copy of "The Martyr's Mirror," a book thick with testimonies of Anabaptists burned at the stake of orthodoxy. The book's subtitle refers to the martyrs as "defenseless Christians," a nod to Anabaptists' belief that when Jesus called on Christians to turn the other cheek, he was quite serious. None of the Anabaptist groups are anti-American. They are typically grateful for the religious freedom permitted in the United States. Still, in 2011, Goshen College, a Mennonite school in Indiana, banned the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at sporting events because, according to the college’s president, the lyrics were too violent. It may be difficult for some Americans to understand why their countrymen would disassociate themselves from patriotism. What’s the harm in celebrating Independence Day, anyway?
It is easy to judge Islam for the actions of a relative few 'jihadists'. Yet when millions of Americans — a vast majority of them claiming the Christian faith — were complicit with slavery, indigenous genocide, and continued economic exploitation, we suddenly see them as separate from our faith. Jesus called his followers to Christian service and humility, which are the opposite of nationalistic rituals performed on the Fourth of July. A heightened devotion to the nation can cause a lot of confusion abroad when people see claims of a Christian America alongside a long American history of slavery, economic inequality and overheated Hollywood sexuality and violence. I have received quite a few comments about how I should leave this country if I ‘hate’ it so much, even to the point of calling me a 'traitor'. And yet I love America, but I’m not willing to compromise my values as a servant of my only King, the nonviolent revolutionary — Christ Jesus. My train of thought on patriotic things would be: A love for the people of our country is not a bad thing, but why should we stop at America's border?
There have been some other non-patriotic gatherings in major cities, such as the Los Angeles Catholic Worker’s “Mourn on the Fourth of July” peace march in 2008. Still, the non-patriot movement remains small. Everyone knows that other folks think like them, but it isn’t like there are a lot of congregations that self-identify as being non-patriotic. That’s especially true for evangelicals, who lead the country in patriotic fervor. More than 80% of white evangelicals believe that God has granted the United States a "special role" in history, according to a survey released June 27 of this year by the Public Religion Research Institute. More than two-thirds of white evangelicals say they are "very proud" to be an American, outstripping every other religious group polled. So it's not surprising that some conservative Christians find the alliance of progressive evangelicals and non-patriotic Americans troubling, or even dangerous.
But, I disagree with the 'conservative', patriotic Christians on US military force, which they insist is required to maintain order worldwide. Non-patriot Christians, they point out, are naive not to consider the ill effects should the United States abdicate its military power. They would argue, “What would the alternatives be if the USA didn’t exist or withdrew from the world stage? Almost certainly a more dangerous, more anarchic, more repressive, less prosperous world with less opportunity for the poor to escape poverty”. Do I agree with every major policy of our government? No way! Jesus’ identification with the poor, the sick, his teaching, “Love your enemies”, and his refusal to take power when he was here on earth the first time are incompatible with the utterly corrupt political and economic system of the United States. Let’s face it — the Sermon on the Mount makes for lousy foreign or public policy. We can’t have it both ways. That's why I too choose the ways of peace while standing against war and its inherent immorality. We are all faced with the choice of taking sides with Christ, or of annihilation. Just like Colin Kaepernick chose to stand on the side of justice.