Also, a few items have been obscured for privacy reasons.
I hope you don't take this personally. I mean this in good faith and I hope you don't take this an attack. I realize you weren't the author of the text and I can see how, on an initial reading, much of it would be compelling -- particularly to a Christian.
I have to admit that while the expression of my personal beliefs has changed over the years, the beliefs themselves have not. I will grant that, yes, there has been much good to come out of a belief in God. There has also been much evil. In fact, from what I see today, much of the intolerance and hatred that I see in this country stems from the religious right (they've successfully eviscerated the Republican party) and from many who use religion for their own ends (Christian Identity, extremists Muslims, etc.). The foul things that Jerry Falwell and his ilk utter on the airwaves are so disgusting it's no wonder their followers are intolerant.
I think a fair question about our shift in morality would be, what are we trying to accomplish? From my perspective, it's an acceptance of others. Heck, *******************, a number of my friends are Wiccans or Pagans (neither of which I really understand) and I can guarantee that some of my friends have personal lives that I cannot even *begin* to understand. However, they're consenting adults and they have made these choices of their own free will. How could I be so arrogant as to presume a right to judge?
The email raises many interesting points, but some are good and some are bad and some are simply abhorrent in their implications.
Yes, we've been trying to get God out of our schools because if we're to be an enlightened society, we have to realize how terrible it is for a child who has been raised with different beliefs to face the horrifying peer pressure involved with such things are school prayer. I still remember getting rocks thrown at me and getting assaulted in the bathroom in high school because I was not a Christian. You know how kids are.
Even those who go to church regularly are often bullies. If we try to put God back in the classroom this will only serve to further ostracize the children like myself who are already different. This will reinforce discrimination and draw a sharper distinction between "normal" and "different" children. If a child's parents want to raise the child as a pagan, what right do we have to force this child to endure prayer which he or she does not agree with? This would be immoral and offensive. If this child came to seek out mainstream religious beliefs of his or her own free will, that would be fine. Can you possibly see any benefit in forcibly ostracizing the child?
> > Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they
> >misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might
> >damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). We said an
> >expert should know what he's talking about. And we said OK.
Uh, is this person arguing that we *should* spank our children? While I don't think there's necessarily a problem with spanking (and the comment out his son was a cheap emotional shot -- fitting with the rest of this email), it seems a bit odd that there's an implication that we *must* spank our children. That's very unsettling.
And for the record, I was spanked as a child. Viciously. I don't talk to my mother any more. In a loving home, I doubt there's much need for more than a light swat on the bottom. Causing our children pain is unnecessary and a dangerous precedent.
> > Then someone said teachers and principals better not discipline our
> >children when they misbehave. The school administrators said no faculty
> >member in this school better touch a student when they misbehave because we
> >don't want any bad publicity, and we surely don't want to be sued (there's
> >a big difference between disciplining, touching, beating, smacking,
> >humiliating, kicking, etc.). And we said OK.
Whoa, Nelly! Where did that come from? Since when does discipline automatically mean spanking? I wonder why the original author seems to have such a keen interest in physical punishment. That's creepy.
And I was spanked in school, too. I remember our middle school principle taking a paddle with holes drilled in it, wrapped in tape, and beating the hell out of me. Why did he spank me? Because, as the coach testified, another student jumped me and beat me up. Before the punishment, even the coach was demanding to know why I was going to be spanked. The only lesson I learned is that authority is often abused. Until we can figure out a way to oversee each and every person who would be allowed to wield such authority, such abuses should not be allowed to happen, but the original author seems to have a "let's beat the little hellions into submission" attitude.
> > Then some wise school board member said, since boys will be boys and
> >they're going to do it anyway, let's give our sons all the condoms they
> >want so they can have all the fun they desire, and we won't have to tell
> >their parents they got them at school. And we said OK.
No. Once again, we have someone speaking from their personal prejudices and ignoring the truth. No one is going around teaching children that condoms are a license to have sex. (and girls will be girls, too -- but I suspect the author is reflecting a biased upbringing where "women just don't think of such things").
With even a cursory bit of research, the author would have discovered that abstinence programs are of questionable effectiveness (though curiously, I find plenty of contrary studies that have been paid for by religious groups). In the real world, giving students honest information in sex-ed classes combined with the availability of condoms has done wonders for not only reducing teen pregnancy and STDs, but also in reducing teen sex. When you can talk about a situation openly and honestly, the illicit appeal drops. This, incidentally, is part of the reason why the Netherlands has a lower per capita usage of marijuana and cocaine despite these drugs being freely available.
> > Then some of our top elected officials said it doesn't matter what we
> >do in private as long as we do our jobs. Agreeing with them, we said it
> >doesn't matter to me what anyone, including the President, does in private
> >as long as I have a job and the economy is good.
No. It doesn't matter what people do in private so long as everyone participating is a consenting adult. To say that people are not freely allowed to love and be loved reeks of bigotry and has led to terrible discrimination in this country. Who cares if two men are in love and choose to live together? If you don't like it, don't do it.
(I skipped the portions on nudity because there's a lot of gray areas there and a short answer wouldn't do it justice. Suffice it to say that I was in agreement on some of it, but as usual, the author decided to present only a very narrow viewpoint).
> > Then the entertainment industry said, let's make TV shows and movies
> >that promote profanity, violence, and illicit sex. Let's record music that
> >encourages rape, drugs, murder, suicide, and satanic themes. And we said
> >it's just entertainment, it has no adverse effect, nobody takes it
> >seriously anyway, so go right ahead.
Okay, finally something I can agree on. I'm fairly disturbed by much of what the media chooses to present to us, but I don't know of a clear way to respond to the problem without making arbitrary decisions about right and wrong.
> > Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why
> >they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill
> >strangers, their classmates, and themselves.
Teaching our children that's it's perfectly fine to accept people for who they are is a way to break out of the vicious teachings of discrimination that they have held with them for so long. If you want to stop children from killing one another, perhaps instead of telling children they're not allowed to be different, we should be telling children that they're not allowed to be mean. Read about Kip Kinkel, the Columbine boys and other school shooters and a very obvious pattern quickly emerges: these children were different, other children tormented them for it and school officials did nothing about it. Finally, the children snapped. This is not intended to excuse them from their crimes, but why do we excuse a society who teaches that intolerance must be made the rule of law? Why do we excuse a society that oftimes believes in Jesus Uber Alles?
> > Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the
> >world's going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but
> >question what the Bible says.
Trash God? I don't hear people trashing God. I hear a lot about people trying to teach tolerance. I hear a lot about people trying to remind us of our Constitution which is supposed to guarantee a separation of church and state. We read editorials decrying Muslim nations following Sharia, but so many people don't seem to realize that Christians imposing Christian laws are doing the same thing (oh, but *we're* right, aren't we?).
> > Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many
> >on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what
> >they WILL think of you for sending it. Funny how we can be more worried
> >about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.
Yeah, it's really fun having an email try to guilt me into sending it on. But then, so much of the Christian world is built on guilt instead of love.
I've personally met plenty of wonderful people who also happen to be Christian. Many of them are disturbed by what they see happening with today's militant Christians. Remember when Jesus said that we should love our neighbor as we love ourself? He also made it clear that he came to clarify the law, not destroy it. If that's truly the case, then we should take Jesus at his word. He didn't say "love our *Christian* neighbor". He didn't qualify it. Love was the overriding principle.
For a while, I remember considering the debate about whether or not the Ten Commandments were nailed to the Cross and thus no longer in effect. Then I remembered what Christ said about loving your neighbor as you love yourself and I realized that whether or not the Ten Commandments were still law was practically a moot point. If love is truly your guide, it's pretty darned hard to violate the Ten Commandments, regardless of whether or not they're still meaningful. Thus, much debate in the Christian community on this subject is a waste of time.