View Full Version : Us against them.

02-03-2005, 01:50 AM
I was a little taken aback by something I read in an E-newsletter: “God bless you.” I wasn’t offended by this, just surprised that someone would make a statement in something going out to thousands of people, with a good chance that some subscribers don’t believe in God. My philosophy is to keep things neutral so I don’t offend anyone (even though if I’m asked, I’m not afraid to stand up for my belief in the Almighty). But this has me thinking: Where do we draw the line with this kind of thing?

It’s the same dilemma I faced when I was sending out Christmas cards. Do I send religious-themed cards? Cards celebrating Christmas? Or “happy holiday” cards since I wasn’t 100% sure if some people on my list (my publishers included) celebrate Christmas? In the end, I sent out both, but only because I had soooo many people to send cards to and there weren’t that many good “Merry Christmas” cards I saw at the store. I didn’t get blasted for this but I really think that, if you believe in something or if you celebrate something, it makes more sense to show this in your personal dealings with people.

But, again, where do we draw the line as far as a public forum goes?

In my own E-zine, I end my notes with the word “hugs.” I do this because I strongly believe in the healing power of a hug, they seem more friendly and “human” than “warm wishes” and it’s shows I’m willing to offer a hug if someone needs one. There’s nothing wrong with this, right? Are there people offended by getting a hug? Or are they paranoid of huggers? I know some people are not crazy about giving hugs but I’m just the type of person who’s not afraid to offer one.

I know this pales in comparison to religious beliefs. But the whole thing just has me thinking.


02-03-2005, 02:39 AM
You're thinking too much, Dawn.

Betty W01
02-03-2005, 05:24 AM
I say "God bless you" or "I'll pray for you" a lot, and I usually don't worry too much about whether the person believes as I do or not. After all, I'm not offended by folks who offer me good thoughts or positive vibrations, since I know they mean to be kind and thoughtful by saying that, even if I don't think vibes or thoughts do anything concrete (as some think about prayer). If a person doesn't believe in God, they shouldn't be offended anyway, IMHO. I mean, how can someone be offended by someone else saying (in effect) "may goodness touch your life, sent by something that doesn't even exist"? If God doesn't exist, what harm is it doing to ask His blessing on someone?

And I'm not telling them, I think you have to believe the way I do. A friend of my daughter's donated money to Greenpeace, NOT one of my favorite charities, in her honor, another one gave to Norman Vincent Peale's organization, and a third bought a perpetual mass in her honor. If any of the three had asked me what to do in her honor, I'd have said, give it to the crisis pregnancy center in town that we put down in lieu of flowers, since that was a cause Lisa fervently supported. But, hey, they were showing their love in the way they knew best, and how could that offend me?

Rich may be on to something - I say, do what is on your heart to do, and don't worry about how folks take it. That's their decision.

02-03-2005, 05:54 AM
I don't worry about offending people either.
I will be more likely to say "God Bless" to someone who I know has those beliefs but I have been known to say it to anyone. If they are offended, I'd say they are overreacting a little.

As for Christmas, it is a religious Holiday, therefore I wouldn't think twice about sending out religious cards to those who celebrate it. I am a stickler for people remembering what the Holidays are about anyway.

Totally off topic, but I've been noticing that people don't seem to be doing Christmas cards anymore. We're at the bf's family's party exchanging gifts and I was the ONLY one who had taken the time to make out a card for each family, with a personal note. Is this common or just something I'm experiencing?

02-03-2005, 06:33 AM
I always had Einstein on my Hanukkah list. He used to send me a xmas card with a cute picture of the universe with the words E=MC2.

Odd dude.

02-03-2005, 09:51 AM
This is a tricky topic.

I have noticed that religious greeting card line editors I've worked with sign their emails and letters with things like:

"May the Spirit move you to great works of writing"


"God's love, peace and inspiration to you all."

Of course you could argue that, after all, it's a religious line of cards. But the funny thing with writers is that we are not necessarily religious just because we're submitting religious copy. I write risque greeting card verses as well as solemn, religious verses. I keep my own beliefs out of it; I just try to give them the kind of writing they want.

As for Christmas cards to editors and such: This is tricky because you may not be sure about their religion or lack of one. I send season's greeting cards to editors usually. When it comes to family or friends, I go by the individual person.

And yes, April, I've noticed a decrease in the amount of Christmas cards I receive. It could be because of the increase in the price of stamps or maybe a lot of people are sending e-cards. Or maybe some people just simply think greeting cards themselves are too expensive now. Not really good things for greeting card writers!!

02-04-2005, 09:21 AM
Yeah I know what you mean. I prefer something like "Happy Holidays!" Then it's not presumptuous, at least to me.

Wow, you think too much and I can relate to that.

02-04-2005, 04:50 PM
Dawn, you're better off not sending religious cards to publishers unless their product line is religious. I've received cards in December from publishers when I was a regular contributor, in former years for copy editing and now for puzzle writing. Those cards are always nonsectarian. The publishers don't know the beliefs of members of their contributor pools, which are diverse.

In fact, you might offend by sending anyone a narrowly Christian-themed card unless you know the recipient is Christian. You can send a Christmas card, though, or a general one ("Season's Greetings," etc.). Christmas and New Year's are national holidays, and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa fall around the same time. There's also the winter solstice.

02-04-2005, 05:23 PM
Perhaps its an age thing, but I'm getting increasingly irritated by all this PC s**t.

It's wonderful that western nations are no longer monocultures and embrace, or at least tolerate, other worldviews, be they political, cultural or religious. But if it's traditional in our culture to say things like 'God bless you', I can see no reason at all to change.

If someone says to me 'May Allah be with you', or 'Let the five-headed animist gods of the fourteenth coming rain down their benign providence on you', I can't find it in me to be offended. They are generic statements of goodwill among men (and women, of course) that transcend cultures and beliefs. We are rightly expected to live with the practices of those who have different traditions, so it's not unreasonable to expect them to do the same and 'cop it sweet' as we say in Oz.

IMO, anyone who is offended by well-meant goodwill is an insufferable prig and deserves to be ignored.

02-04-2005, 10:55 PM
I see two sides of the issue.

On one hand, I think you can't live your life worrying about who you're going to offend. Send out your cards out of good will. And if someone is offended, then it's their problem. I can't see how I can get upset over a card that says "May Allah Bless You" or "May Buddha Enlighten."

On the other hand, not everyone celebrates Christmas. Some take their religions very seriously and do not appreciate a card of another religion. For example, sending a Christian card to a Muslim would be considered a no-no. Not everyone is tolerant. Especially in a business setting (when you consider publishers, editors, agents, publicist, etc.), it's probably better to stay neutural.

It's important to know who we are and not bogged down by PCness. At the same time, I think we need to be careful about business relations and you don't want to make enemies without even knowing it. Friends may forgive, but colleagues may not.

For me, if I don't know the religious beliefs (or the lack of) of someone, I'd only send a "Seasons Greetings" to them. That can mean just about anything, and it means "I'm thinking of you." Nice and safe.

02-05-2005, 12:34 AM
Actually, my observance of Christmas is not as a religious holiday. My culture (American) has a huge celebration then, so I do too. But for me it's about giving, bringing light to darkness, the miracle of life and love and family, trees in the house, sparkly things, and candy.

I think that religious tolerance is one of the most wonderful important heroic honorable and really really good things about the USA. Sometimes I have to remind myself that we need to include the dominant religion as one of the ones we tolerate.


Betty W01
02-05-2005, 11:16 AM
I think that religious tolerance is one of the most wonderful important heroic honorable and really really good things about the USA. Sometimes I have to remind myself that we need to include the dominant religion as one of the ones we tolerate.

Pink, this is so true. It sometimes seems as though Christians are the only group left that is "safe" (nay, even encouraged) to mock, ignore, bad mouth, and actively interfere with. Sad, really, that a religion based on love can attract so much hatred.

02-05-2005, 10:29 PM
Betty, I think it's because so many people also use that religion about love to attack and destroy others. The squeaky wheel gets the oil -- the Christian Rights are the ones making all the noises. They're the ones who are calling Sponge Bob and Barney and the Teletubbies gay and dispensing false information on sex to promote abstinence. They're by no means the true representatives of Christians but they're all we see everywhere. I think in this case we can say a few bad apples really do spoil the barrel, and many people have an aversion to organized religion to begin with. So when they see bad behaviors, they associate that with everyone believing in that religion.

02-05-2005, 11:25 PM
Still, you can't put down a religion because of a few bad apples. It's sad that sometimes those "bad apples" tend to be more than a few, but I truly think one should keep in mind the basic principles promoted by a religion. I was outraged to receive spam along the lines of "if you are truly a servant of God then you will extend your large hands to help our small ones" but then I didn't conclude every "true servant of God" would be trying to bilk people via E-mail.

Reph, I did know that these publishers celebrate Christmas. One of them is a Catholic. However, I think that in future, if I don't know their religion, I'll go with the safe standby of "Season's Greetings."

And, yeah, I'm gonna say "God bless you" only because I believe in God, but only if one side says it first. Not so much to offend people, mind you, but only because I'll know that kind of sentiment is acceptable.

02-06-2005, 12:04 AM
Religion is a touchy subject. Not to dwell on this, but I think part of the problem is that *some* Christians, even when they're good Christians, do not speak out against the bad apples. They don't tell their colleagues or parishioners that what those people are doing is wrong, non-Christian, and hateful, against everything that Christ taught us... I think that's why some people are frustrated with Christians in general for that reason, that many churches, for example, seem to "condone" those bad behaviors (prejudice, exclusivity, etc.) by not speaking up against them. I'm not trying to generalize here. I've gone to great churches with great people who are truly amazing Christians, and I appreciate them. I just all Christians are like that. It frustrates me to see a person who calls himself a Christian but have no idea what Christianity really means. It also frustrates me when a church is mum on things such as prejudice and bigotry.

02-06-2005, 02:00 AM
And Muslims have the same problem, times 1000. Those folks blowing up themselves and everyone in the vicinity do not represent the millions of people who practice Islam and believe and live that it is a source of peace and forgiveness. And those baddies who beat and mutilate women don't represent the people who follow Muslim customs in the spirit of honoring and protecting women. But the peaceful and honorable don't get a lot of press.

I reckon when you're practicing a religion because it speaks to your soul you just don't garner as much attention as when you are using it to further a social/political agenda.


Betty W01
02-06-2005, 05:52 AM
Maestro and Pink, you're both sooooo right. Being godly and righteous doesn't get much press unless you're Billy Graham or someone like that. But let one flaming idiot blow up an abortion clinic "because God told me to" and everyone puts it on the front page. I'm sorry, but whatever voice the bomber heard, it wasn't God. I'm pro-life, don't get me wrong, but that is NOT the godly way to handle that particular belief.

(What is? Among the ways I try: support a local crisis pregnancy center, help raise money for a friend to adopt a baby, do what I can to assist young girls I know who've gotten themselves into crisis pregnancies.)

Every time I see a sign that says, "God hates fags!", I want to choke someone. (OK, not a godly response... <grin>) God hates sin, but He loves sinners of all kinds. And let us not forget that sin is sin and it also includes things like lying on your income tax return, speeding, sleeping with someone you're not married to, taking home supplies from the office, and making food (or TV or playing poker) into an idol in your life (something that takes a major place in your life, before everything else).

Next time I see such a sign, I think I'll make my own sign and go join them: "God loves fags. He hates sin. Are you sinless? I didn't think so..."


02-06-2005, 06:13 AM
Truly well said, Betty.

And I know you practice what you preach, 'coz I'm a born-again agnostic and you love me!




02-06-2005, 06:51 AM
Bravo, Betty.

Let those who haven't sinned cast the first stone...

Betty W01
02-06-2005, 11:20 AM
CC, agnostic or not, you're da bomb. (Oh, wait, not that kind of bomb!!) ;)

Maestro, I won't be casting stones any time soon. Too busy asking for forgiveness for today's screw-ups, bad choices, and downright sinful actions. I may be a Christian, but I sure ain't perfect.

02-08-2005, 01:04 PM
I think it's because so many people also use that religion about love to attack and destroy others.

Weighing in uninvited...

I don't think it's that simple. There are people in every group who attack and destroy others. So why are Christians fair targets (in the U.S., at least)?

Because they're in power.

How long has it been since a candidate for the President of the U.S. was anything but a devout Christian? How many biology teachers across the country skip over evolution because they don't want the hassle? How many atheists are in senate seats across the country? How about governor's offices?

It's fun to take swipes at the strong, and unseemly to take digs at the weak. Christians are going to have to actually fall from power before people start treating them like the victims they claim to be.

02-08-2005, 01:46 PM
I don't see that Christians are being victimized. In ancient Rome, yes; in current America, no.

02-08-2005, 11:03 PM
I reminds me of a similar argument the angry white men had: "Caucasian men are the only group left that people feel free to be prejudiced against..." or something like that.

02-09-2005, 12:52 AM
I see the Christian/white guy similiarity too. It's hard to accept that all that power don't come free.

It's also hard to recognize that you have all that power when it's always just been there, you've never not known it. If you grow up as a straight Christian white guy in Indianna, there have probably not been too many opportunities in your life for you to be the disenfranchised minority. And if there are any, like, maybe you go to beauty school and take an ethnic styling class, you know that they are isolated experiences. And you could easily end up Dean of the whole place.

Also, never living without that social advantage makes it kinda like air. You can start to believe that if you don't have it, you'll be nothing. And then you might do some crazy things to hang on to it.

Hmmm. I'm making this up as I type, but it's kinda making sense to me.


02-09-2005, 01:24 AM
I personally know of a Christian straight white guy (okay, not from Indiana -- he's from PA) who went to Asia for two years... imagine his shock and discomfort. His belief system basically crumbled. For once in his life he became the minority (okay, so he's still a straight male, so he's not totally in the minority) as far as race and religion were concerned. It was an eye opener for him.

Now? He loves Asia.

Betty W01
02-09-2005, 04:34 AM
I'm sorry, there are lots of Christians who are not white straight males (I can think of three Koreans, seven Kenyans, one Jamaican and two Chinese people I know in our church, right off the top of my head). And I stand by my comment.

OK, in the US Christians aren't being dragged out and shot (unless you're African-American and live in certain areas, perhaps), but it's gotten to where it seems like every time I watch a sitcom (rarely, I admit, not enough time to waste like that), they are bashing Christians, making them look like fools, hypocrites, or loonies.

If a show was put on the air that bashed - oh, say, Hindus or Jews or Mormons - to the extent that Christians are bashed, the FCC would be flooded with protest letters, stations that ran it would probably lose community support, and advertisers would flee in droves. That would be non-PC. :rolleyes

Oh, well, never mind, I'm done. Personally, I wouldn't watch a Hindu or Mormon or Jew-bashing show, either, so... IMHO, TV overall pretty much sucks. I just get tired of knowing that many people who know I'm a Christian when they meet me are already making sweeping assumptions about me and the way I believe, often based solely on what they've seen on TV or read in the newspaper, before I've even opened my mouth. Normal, Bible-believing Christians who try to live kind, thoughtful, generous, accepting lives are just not news-worthy - but it doesn't mean they don't exist.

<jumping down from soapbox and hoping I don't sprain something>

02-09-2005, 04:51 AM
Betty, I think every group goes through the same thing, but it's true that people feel like they can "bash" Christianity more because, well, like some others have said, Christians are in power, at least in the Western societies. It's not to say it's right. But what you're feeling is like what I felt when I first came here -- somehow, being a foreigner and someone who's not white made me a target of ridicule, like I was some kind of freaks. Not everyone did that to me, to be sure. It's non-PC, but it didn't stop people from doing it.

Imagine what it feels like for the Muslims in the US? Especially after 9/11. I have heard stories, in one of which the poor kid actually had to change his name (his first name is Osama) just to survive.

I think every type of prejudice is wrong. It doesn't matter what race, religion, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, etc. That's why I am appalled by any kind of government censured bigotry. It's bad for business.

02-09-2005, 05:06 AM
Oh, sorry. I didn't mean to say that all Christians are white -- I meant that being Christian in this society is comparable to being white in this society...it can give one an advantage that one might not even perceive one has.

But that's neither here nor there.

What's totally way cool is that we've thoughtfully, frankly discussed religion on the internet and we've all been civil the whole time!! I'll bet this is a first. Ever.

Self-congratulations all around!


02-09-2005, 10:16 AM
I'm sorry, there are lots of Christians who are not white straight males

Of course. No one has said otherwise. At least, not that I've noticed.

You do sign your posts "Betty," after all.

... it's gotten to where it seems like every time I watch a sitcom (rarely, I admit, not enough time to waste like that), they are bashing Christians, making them look like fools, hypocrites, or loonies.

So you rarely watch sitcoms but when you do, you see Christian-bashing?

Why do I find that so dubious?

I know there is *some* Christian-bashing on TV. I've seen it, just like everyone else. But it's not nearly as widespread as you're trying to portray.

If a show was put on the air that bashed - oh, say, Hindus or Jews or Mormons - to the extent that Christians are bashed....

Here's a general guideline: Christians should not ask for the same gentle treatment the Jews have gotten. They might get their wish.

... the FCC would be flooded with protest letters...

Like the kind Focus on the Family orchestrates?

I just get tired of knowing that many people who know I'm a Christian when they meet me are already making sweeping assumptions about me...

If you find a way to keep people from making sweeping generalizations about others, let me know.

... often based solely on what they've seen on TV or read in the newspaper...

Right! Those Christians! I saw one on TV once. Never met any in the flesh, though. /sarcasm

Now, truth be told, I do have sympathy for Betty's position, even though you could examine my last posts with an electron microscope and not find any evidence of it. It's not easy being a member of the dominant cultural force when you aren't seeing the benefits. You get all of the snickering but none of the White House luncheons, guest editorials or appearances on The O'Reilly Factor. Still, all those people eating lunch, writing editorials and listening to Falafel Bill say "Shut up!" share your agenda.

So let's not confuse the annoying barbs that come with sitting in a seat of power with actual *persecution.*

02-09-2005, 12:50 PM
Betty, I don't currently watch any sitcoms, so I have no idea what kind of Christian-bashing you're talking about. Are Christian characters portrayed as stupid, evil, or what? Do actors speak lines like "You did a pretty good job there – for a Methodist"?

02-09-2005, 01:01 PM
Sitcoms bash everyone. They're not very PC to begin with. I wouldn't use them as our cultural barometer...

Let's see...

Asians - check!
Blacks - check! check!
Women - check! check! check!
Blondes - check!
Jews - check! check! check!
Hindus - check!
Latinos - check!
Gays - check! check!
Muslims - check!
Christians - check!
Poor people - check!
Rich people - check!
Politicians - check!
Smart people - check!
Stupid people - check!

At least we're not calling SpongeBob and Barney the Purple Dinosaur gay and immoral.

Prejudice is bad. Plain and simple. I see sitcoms as a way for us to laugh at how stupid we all are.

02-09-2005, 05:14 PM
It's a pity when any group is 'bashed' by any other, and I'm not sure I agree with Betty's assertion that Christian bashing is widespread in the media.

But there is some. For instance, the Catholic church doesn't come out too well in The DaVinci Code, and that appears to be a significant factor in its success. A conspiracy theory coupled with revelations about the Church's liberal interpretation of the so-called 'Truth' over the centuries obviously appealed to a wide cross section of the population, no matter how poorly written. (I swear, that book has more book-throwing triggers per page than any I've read in years.)

As a non-believer I hold no brief for any Church or creed, but what I find remarkable about Christianity, and the political milieu in which it largely operates, is that it is tolerant enough to withstand criticism and cheap shots.

Compare this with British writer Salman Rushdie's ostracism when his 'Satanic Verses' was published. The poor sod was virtually a closeted refugee for years, simply because someone drew a long bow when reading a particular passage and concluded that it was insulting to the Prophet Mohammed. His life was in danger, and probably still is.

In many places in the world it's still possible to get stoned (in the unpleasant, rocky way) for uttering a word out of place.

So take heart, Christians. You can take it, and that makes your religion stronger in a way, because it allows freedom of thought and speech.

02-10-2005, 05:52 AM
Been away from this one for a bit, just caught up.

I think folks are sensitive to certain things, somewhat like when you buy a new car, all of a sudden you start noticing just how many cars on the road are the same make and model. That's not the best analogy, I know. What I'm getting at is that someone who is Christian, for example, is bound to be a little more predisposed to notice Christian-bashing in the media.

I'm pretty short. That was my difference that got me picked on in school. Subsequently, I grew up with a sensitivity to being "vertically challenged", if you will. When Randy Newman's song "Short People" came out way back when, I immediately got my back up, and it took me more than a few listens to realize what he was really saying. I discovered that I had become a person in a perpetual state of "readiness to take offense." I was scrutinizing everything I read or saw on TV in an effort to ascertain whether or not I should feel slighted in any way.

Not a good way to live. Fortunately, I have also been endowed with a generous helping of self-deprecation, so I was able to move past that "the world hates me" phase and realize that not everyone was deliberately trying to hurt my feelings. I truly believe that the ability to laugh at yourself is a vital part of life.

Besides, I'm one of the last people to get wet when it rains, so there. :b

Betty W01
02-12-2005, 11:56 PM
[I thought this was important enough to move over here from the other board]


Sitcoms bash everyone. They're not very PC to begin with. I wouldn't use them as our cultural barometer...

Sadly, they probably are...

Quote: At least we're not calling SpongeBob and Barney the Purple Dinosaur gay and immoral.

Nope. Unbelievably strange, maybe. Ubiquitous, to the point that the colors yellow and purple make me tense up now? Oh, yeah...

I tend to notice bashing of all types, actually. For example, whenever I hear certain pro-life people going on and on in disparaging terms about women who get abortions, I wince, knowing that this kind of sweeping statement is not only unkind, but it may very well be kicking someone in your audience right in the teeth, even though you may never know it.

And when 9-11 happened, many of the churches in our area called the local mosque and volunteered to send over escorts for Muslim women who were afraid to go to the store alone or to even do the shopping for them, if they didn't want to leave the house. The Moslem family who owns several restaurants at our mall had people stopping every day to tell them they were being prayed for, that people hoped they were OK, that if they needed anything, to just ask.

And after some maniac drove up to the mosque during school hours (when there were kids inside at the Moslem school) and started cursing and throwing rocks through the mosque windows, a local Christian radio station rallied Christians to respond to that heinous act by requesting permission to gather in the parking lot of the mosque, where they held hands with the Moslems who turned up (out of a mixture of fear and curiosity, they later said) and encircled the building with a ring of prayer for the local Moslems' safety and well-being (and everyone was warned ahead of time that it was to be a time of prayer, not proselytizing, in case anyone had other ideas.) There was quite a crowd!

Quote: Sitcoms bash everyone.

And there you have probably the main reason I don't watch them. (Well, that and the fact that most of them are too dumb for words!)

Empress of the Cyberworld
Betty W01
NSL Board Diva