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February 02, 2005

"Paul Harvey": Christians Have Rights, Too!

Update 3/1/09: Paul Harvey, sadly, passed on last night (2/28/09) at the age of 90. The page you have reached deals with an internet hoax which sought to exploit Mr. Harvey's fine reputation. I briefly mentioned his passing on my active website. I cannot properly eulogize him, but I have no doubt that he touched your life as he did mine, and we will all lament his passing.

I've made a couple of exceptions to my SOP for this particular chain letter. I did not send my reply up the letter chain. I received it before I began this project. At the time, my knee-jerk response was to reply that Paul Harvey did not say the words attributed to him in the e-mail. The evidence I presented for my claim was that Paul Harvey was not a complete moron. I was challenged on my claim. The fellow seemed to believe that I didn't know better than (Paul Harvey?) who had composed those words. That sent me on a search through the usual suspects, and at I discovered that the actual author of those words was Nick Gholson, who apparently is a moron. In any case, I debated for a while with my e-mail buddies on the matter, and dropped it.

After I began this project, I asked if it could be re-forwarded to me, because I wanted to include it here. One of my friends obliged. Today, I went to look for that second copy that was re-sent to me, and I discovered I had misplaced it again. So I used Google to see if I could find a copy of it posted on the internet. It turns out there are numerous copies out there, but I picked this one to copy the message from, for two reasons.

1) Editor Gary King put his name at the top of a column and filled it with someone else's pseudo-pious words and a one sentence introduction, yet he has a copyright notice at the bottom of the page:

Content copyright © 2001-2005 by Gary King. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Gary King. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Gary King for details.

Needless to say, I did not write Gary King for his permission to reprint an e-mail chain letter that he did not compose.
2) He didn't bother to find out who really wrote the e-mail before claiming to have "picked up" on a Paul Harvey broadcast. He didn't pick up on a Paul Harvey broadcast: he received an internet chain letter, or found the text verbatim on someone else's web-site. In short, I'm saying he doesn't have enough integrity to say, "I copied and pasted the following from (such & such) a source." Is it hypocritical to exhibit so little integrity while preaching to the world about how much better treatment ones' religion deserves? I don't know. You judge. Anyway, here's the text of the chain letter, copied from King's "editorial", and you'll find the response I would have sent if this had come across today instead of a month ago, below the fold:

Paul Harvey says:

"I don't believe in Santa Claus, but I'm not going to sue somebody for singing a Ho-Ho-Ho song in December. I don't agree with Darwin, but I didn't go out and hire a lawyer when my high school teacher taught his theory of evolution.

Life, liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered because someone says a 30-second prayer before a football game. So what's the big deal? It's not like somebody is up there reading the entire book of Acts. They're just talking to a God they believe in and asking Him to grant safety to the players on the field and the fans going home from the game.

"But it's a Christian prayer," some will argue. Yes, and this is the United States of America, a country founded on Christian principles. According to our very own phone book, Christian churches out number all others better than 200-to-1. So what would you expect--somebody chanting Hare Krishna?

If I went to a football game in Jerusalem, I would expect to hear a Jewish prayer. If I went to a soccer game in Baghdad, I would expect to hear a Muslim prayer. If I went to a ping pong match in China, I would expect to hear someone pray to Buddha. And I wouldn't be offended. It wouldn't bother me one bit. When in Rome....

"But what about the atheists?" is another argument. What about them? Nobody is asking them to be baptized. We're not going to pass the collection plate. Just humor us for 30 seconds. If that's asking too much, bring a Walkman or a pair of ear plugs. Go to the bathroom. Visit the concession stand. Call your lawyer! Unfortunately, one or two will make that call.
One or two will tell thousands what they can and cannot do. I don't think a short prayer at a football game is going to shake the world's foundations.

Christians are sick and tired of turning the other cheek while our courts strip us of all our rights. Our parents and grandparents taught us to pray before eating, to pray before we go to sleep. Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. Now a handfull of people and their lawyers are telling us to cease praying. God, help us. And if that last sentence offends you, well.....just sue me!

The silent majority has been silent too's time we let that one or two who scream loud enough to be heard, that the vast majority don't care what they want. It is time the majority rules! It's time we tell them, you don't have to pray, you don't have to say the Pledge of Allegiance, you don't have to believe in God or attend services that honor Him. That is your right, and we will honor your right....but by golly, you are no longer going to take our rights away....we are fighting back....and we WILL WIN!

God bless one and all, especially those who denounce Him. God bless America. Despite all her faults, she is still the greatest nation of all.

God bless our service men and women who are fighting to protect our right to pray and worship God....

May 2005 be the year the silent majority is heard and we put God back as the foundation of our families and institutions.

Keep looking up......In God WE Trust!

This is the reply I wish I'd sent. It really wouldn't make sense now, but next time I get this particular item in my inbox, I'll be ready!

I don't believe in God, but I'm not going to sue anyone for singing Amazing Grace any time of the year. The idea that I might is a myth.

I do, generally, agree with Isaac Newton, but I'll take the government to court if they ask my children to pray to him.

I don't disagree with Darwin any more than I disagree with Einstein, or any other scientist whose theories are supported by scientists because of the evidence, and whose work I only understand at about a high-school level. That would be arrogant and stupid. However, a lot of folks who disagree with Darwin are busy every day of the year trying to find ways to outlaw the teaching of evolution in school, or to mandate the teaching of Christian religous traditions in science class. That's not cool.

Life, liberty, or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered because someone says a 30-second prayer before a football game. And they are welcome to. There's no law in the books nor decision in the courts that outlaws praying before football. However, my children attend a public school. They are required to attend by the government, and they should be able to attend any school function without being asked to pray by someone acting on behalf of the government. I should not have to let the Government decide what prayers my children will be led in, nor what religion they should be praying to. That doesn't endanger my life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness but it does endanger my first amendment right to religious freedom. And my childrens'.

Of course, if the kids gathering in the stands at this football game wish to say a prayer for the safety of the players, they have every right to. I'm glad they are concerned with the players' safety. And if a group of folks organizes a sandlot football game, they have every right to decide to "officially" open the game with a prayer. And to be honest, I don't care if they do. I'll even referee the game. I trust kids more than I trust the government.

And the government, by the way, is secular. The founding fathers - that mix of people religious and irreligious who framed the constitution and gave us this great country - saw that both freedom and religion suffered when church and state were mixed. They wrote a constituion founded on a lot of principles, including separation of church and state.

Of course, if I go to a professional football game, I don't care if the organizers want to lead the crowd in a prayer - and if I don't like it, I'll stay home. If I do go, I may not close my eyes or pray along, but I'll be quiet and still and respectful until they are finished; whether it's a Baptist prayer in Oklahoma, a Catholic prayer in Boston, an Episcopalian prayer in California, a Jewish prayer in Israel, or a Muslim prayer in Mecca.

Christians do have some special rights. They can sell their religious services at outrageous prices, and yet pay nor collect a penny in taxes. The working calendar is uniquely structured around Christian holidays. And everybody knows that, even though the Constitution guarantees there will be no religious test to hold office in America, an atheist can't even be elected dog catcher here. But really, nobody is working to strip Christians of those special rights. Of course they have some advantages the rest of us lack - but we aren't too worried about that. All we worry about is the attempts of a few of them to turn our teachers into preachers and our goverment into their Vatican. It is they who spread e-mails like the one that I am responding to now, in hopes of deceiving and agitating the Christians in the U.S. and of using their popular majority status to gain political power for their religion. Please don't let that work.

I don't believe in a God, but I join anyone who hopes for Providence to bless the U.S. - but not because we are the greatest nation of all. Simply because we aspire to goodness, and because we need those blessings - especially among our poor. May that same Providence and/or the rest of humanity, forgive us our failings when we miss our mark.

Another eloquent response can be found here, along with this question addressed to Christians: "Would Christ have said ' turn the other cheek until you are sick and tired of doing so' ?" It seems this person found the same screed mis-attributed to yet another individual.

I'd love to see more responses posted to the comments. I'd also like to see more submissions of new chain letters to the project.

Posted by smijer at 03:00 PM | Comments (3)