Mourning the Death of America
I just arrived back home after traveling through the deep south for the past two weeks. My posts have been sporadic during that time, but I hope to settle back into a more normal schedule in the next few days.
I wanted to comment on my observations on driving through rural countryside of Alabama and Mississippi. The thing that struck me the most was the prevalence of religious symbols, everywhere you go, everywhere you look. There were lots of churches, of course. I think there were more churches than houses. I saw at least a dozen of them along a single mile of road. There were signs saying "Jesus loves you". There were billboards, many of them advertising a church, but more often simply making a statement about the glory of God or the wages of sin. Some asked me where I want to spend eternity, and some even provided me with a stark multiple-choice answer. But never did they mention a possibility that some other reality might be true.
And there were pictures of Jesus, with his blue-eyed smiling face so child-like and innocent (and Caucasian). How could anyone not trust in someone who looks like that? I wondered how many of the people around there were aware that if Jesus actually existed, he probably looked Middle-Eastern. He probably looked like someone they wouldn't trust at all.
And there were crosses erected everywhere along the highways. Some were small and simple, and others were large and ornate. I saw displays of dozens of crosses stretched for miles along the road. I saw one display of three large crosses, with the largest one in the center, and as I got closer to it, I noticed a smaller cross mounted on the center of the largest of the three. It occurred to me that this ubiquitous religious symbol, the cross, was an instrument of torture and death. It was the means by which the Romans executed Jesus and many others, reserved for the lowliest criminals and enemies of the state. I wondered how Christians could look at a cross and see something happy, rather than the pain and suffering it inflicted.
I also wondered how anyone in this part of the country could grow up without being totally brainwashed. With religion and religious messages always in your face, is it possible to have thoughts that are not infused with religious ideology? This is the bible belt. This is the part of the country that produced the likes of Judge Roy Moore, who equates the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality to Nazi war crimes, and Kim Davis , who refuses to obey her sworn duty to uphold the law of the land because her religious bigotry.
And I'm sure that's the reason for the most startling of all the roadside displays I saw. In someone's yard, there was a shrine with crosses and flowers and a thirty-foot flagpole with the flag at half-staff, and a large sign that read "In Memory of America". Obviously, this guy agrees with Moore and Davis. I had to ask myself, what is it about Christianity that makes these people so filled with hate? Why can't they be happy without forcing other people to bend to their bigoted beliefs? What's wrong with live and let live? And let's get one thing straight - it isn't just gays who are the targets of their hatred. They hate other religions (and that goes for Catholics, too), they hate liberals, they hate minorities, they hate atheists, and anyone else who doesn't meet their standards for what a real American should be.
These people can't help being mindless religious robots. It's the way they were raised. It's the message that was drilled into them from the moment they were born. They never had a chance to learn what it means to think for themselves. Given that the ideals upon which our country was founded have been so degraded by religion, I think I'm the one who should be mourning the death of America.