Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Glenn Beck’s God has a Lot of Catching Up to Do

“This is the day we can start the hearts of Americans again, and it has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with God,” Glenn Beck told the crowd at the Restoring Honor rally in Washington D.C. on August 28. ”America today begins to turn back to God. For too long, this country has wandered in darkness."

If Mr. Beck wants to bring his God into a powerful position of bucking the trends of America, Sunday was probably none too early to start. In reality, Mr. Beck’s God probably should have been picking up steam a long time ago.

It’s no wonder Mr. Beck’s God is a little behind. Mr. Beck might tell his followers that they are man made in the image of God, but actually Mr. Beck’s God is made in the image of a man on top of a hierarchy – one that doles out judgments about rank and privilege based on religious affiliation, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or whatever other criteria fits the conservative hierarchical agenda of the day.

Mr. Beck’s God is claimed to be the one and only God, and hence, God is on Mr. Beck’s side. We've had centuries of other hierarchy-conservators ("Hi-Cons") who have also claimed to be acting in the image of their one and only deity. Time after time, the deity du jour perfectly matches the conservative hierarchical agenda du jour – examples being segregation, indigenous genocide, subjugation of women, military aggression, or condemnation of same-sex partnerships.

In moving forward toward the U.S. founder's dream, we have continued to watch entrenched hierarchies crumble. Mr. Beck’s God is swimming upstream and may never be able to ever stem the tide.

While the followers of Mr. Beck's God have “wandered in darkness,” bounties for dead bodies or body parts of American Indians are no longer offered. Legalized slavery has been abolished. The age of legal consent for sexual relations was raised from seven years old. People of color can take an oath and testify in court. American Indian children are not forcibly sent hundreds of miles away from their families to white-run boarding schools. Men of color and women have the legal right to vote. Same-sex couples receive healthcare benefits in many workplaces.

Over the past fifty years, the civil rights movement, peace demonstrations, the women’s movement, farm workers’ boycotts, labor unions, and support for a healthy environment and family planning have made significant impacts on the United States. National organizations such as those promoting the rights of people with disabilities, American Indians, non-heterosexuals, and animals are making important inroads toward establishing equality and fairness.

In our wonderful land of the United States, Liberty and Justice for All is moving along at such a pace that Mr. Beck’s God will likely never be able to catch up.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Crosses Don't Represent Everyone

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against 12-foot-high cross displays honoring fallen members of the Utah Highway Patrol (UHP). The court ruled that the 13 crosses, most on public land each bearing the name and badge number of deceased officers, sent a religious message to motorists on the state’s highways. According to the opinion: “We hold that these memorials have the impermissible effect of conveying to the reasonable observer the message that the State prefers or otherwise endorses a certain religion.”

We agree that crosses in public places indicate who is on top of our religious hierarchy.

Consistent and Predictable - The Top Represents Everyone

In any hierarchy, the attributes and roles of higher people are acceptable and appropriate for all. As Christianity is on top of our religious hierarchy in the United States:

The exclusive use of crosses in military cemeteries or at places where several people died assumes that a Christian symbol is appropriate to memorialize people of any religion.

If a symbol for a non-Christian religion is used, we assume the person honored followed that particular religion.

If a Jewish symbol were used, we would assume the person to be Jewish, even though we might not assume everyone honored by a cross to be Christian.

Attributes associated with lower people are considered appropriate for only that group of people. Characteristics associated with the lower group of people are often assumed to be inappropriate, even disgusting, for the higher group of people.

If a Christian were memorialized with a Muslim symbol, his or her family would likely protest, even though the same people might think that crosses are fine for all, believing a cross to be a universal symbol.

The Top Represents Everyone - more examples in other hierarchies

In our gender hierarchy, what is appropriate for males is also appropriate for females, but not vice-versa.

Female servers in fancy restaurants wear tuxedo-style uniforms even though it is unacceptable in those restaurants for male servers to wear evening dresses. It’s fine for a woman to wear overalls or business suit with a necktie a man would wear, but how about a man in lace and bows? How many baby boys wear pink?

In our schools, we teach the history of our dominant group telling our children this represents American History.

The “American History” traditionally taught to every student centers around the stories of wealthy able-bodied white males, the military, and wars. There are “special” separate classes for people who want to learn about anyone else — “African American History,” “History of American Indians,” or “Women’s History. ” If we take “Hispanic American History,” we don’t expect to learn “Asian American History.”

Role Reversals Help to Uncover Hierarchies

Role reversals are effective tools for uncovering elusive hierarchies that go undetected behind our assumptions about what's normal and natural. The higher group takes on the role of the lower, while the lower group plays the part usually played by the higher. We imagine the same scene played over again, however this time with roles switched.

In the state of Utah, a Buddist symbol was used to represent the places where state troopers had fallen. Since Buddism is on top of the religious hierarchy in the United States, it is consider to represent everyone.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Set Up the Top

Our friend Anne forwarded us an email that provides an opportunity to use the technique, "Set Them Up," from the Take Action - Clueless Top webpage. Here's the email Anne received:

Hi Anne,

I send a Facebook request to all twins so I am sending you one. How is your brother Alan? If you don't want to accept my request, I will understand since I don't agree with your lifestyle (that is my opinion but wouldn't let that stop me from being your friend). :) Is Alan on Facebook? If so, I would like to send him a friend request also. I sure have enjoyed being a twin for you always have a best friend. Love your profile photo!


We respond to Becky's comment about lesbians, by using her rhetoric at face value, and then substituting a scenario based on what it would look like if Becky were not supporting a sexual orientation hierarchy:

Hi Becky,

Thank you for your invitation. Yes, it is fun being a twin. It appears from your email that it is important to you that we write about whether or not we agree with each other's lifestyles. I would like to honor your criteria. It's been 40 years since we went to high school together, but I don't know anything about you now. If you send me some information about your lifestyle, I'll be glad to comment. Thanks. :)