Monday, January 30, 2006

Governor's Prayer Breakfast: Non-Xians Shut Up and Sit Down!

Last Tuesday, Kentucky governor Ernie Fletcher presided over the 43rd annual Governor's Prayer Breakfast in Frankfort. In past years, attempts were made to pay at least some lip service to non-Xian faiths, but not this year. This year, the speakers were all Christian. The program consisted of prayers (some naming Jesus), Bible readings, Gospel songs, and a call to convert!

The organizer of the Breakfast, Dale Ditto(head?), tried to spin this as courtesy to non-Christians:
"I consider the Jews my brothers and the Muslims, we're all descendants of Abraham," he said. "But I'm not going to ask them to pray in Jesus' name and they shouldn't ask me to pray in Allah's name."

As evidence of their ecumenical courtesy, the hosts pointed out that some of the Xian speakers had read from the Old Testament (don't everyone clap at once), and they had created a 'kosher' buffet line - serving breakfast bars instead of sausage. Even this Hellene knows there's more to 'kosher' food than being pork-free.

Dittohead explained why only Xians could lead the service:
"We wanted people that believe in the power of prayer and that would pray sincerely. We wanted people to sing who knew how to sing."

One attendee put it more baldly:
"I have been to tent revivals that were more secular. Pat Day's "speech" was a holy-roller full-on testimony including an actual call to come to Jesus and cards on the tables to fill out so church leaders could come browbeat you individually in the privacy of your own home.

It wasn't just Christian, it wasn't even just Protestant; it was no-holds-barred evangelical Southern Baptist only-the-saved-need-apply worship service."

All state employees were invited to this bash, along with several state officials. Non-Xians weren't barred from the event, but were expected to simply go along with the festivities. In other words, either pretend to be Xian for the morning, or, better, convert. I don't think it'd be hard to connect the dots here: If you want to participate in the leadership, be Christian. I suspect this philosophy isn't limited to breakfast.

And Fletcher's take on the hoo-hah?
"I certainly have utmost respect for different faiths," he said. "But I think most people knew when they were voting for me they were voting for somebody who held the Christian faith and I'm not going to be somebody different than who I am."

He did become something different when he was elected, though: the governor of Kentucky. And the governor is supposed to work for, and be answerable to, all the citizens in this state, especially when he hosts an official "Governor's" function on state property. What Fletcher does in his own church or at privately hosted functions is his own business. When he invokes his standing as governor, however, it calls him to a greater role, one that includes every person in the state of Kentucky. It's up to us, as citizens, to remind him of this.

Ways you can contact Ernie Fletcher:

Mailing Address:
Governor Ernie Fletcher
700 Capitol Avenue, Suite 100
Frankfort, KY 40601

Phone: (502) 564-2611
Fax: (502) 564-2517

On the Web:

Sarah G

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Focus on KY's 88th LD: Stupidity: Repeating a failed action to see if it'll work THIS time

My latest commentary, this time on local politics:

Focus on KY's 88th LD: Stupidity: Repeating a failed action to see if it'll work THIS time

Sarah G

Thursday, January 05, 2006

What is a Woman, really?

I'm always disappointed when I find Pagans who exhibit the same prejudices as Christian fundamentalists. A women's circle forming in Florida is only open to 'WOMB-yn', explained as 'woman born women'. M-to-F transgenders need not apply. I'm sure they could justify this as merely upholding Goddess-designated gender, but Pagan mythology - and worship - is full of people & gods who change gender. Tiresias and the 'effeminate' Dionysus come to this Hellene's mind immediately. The Gallae, worshippers of Cybele, castrated themselves to come closer to the Goddess. And Aphrodite Herself was created from tossing severed male genitalia into the sea! Now, that is a transgender-type image in and of itself!

This woman-born woman wonders what fears actually underlie such a specific exclusion. Are these 'wombyn' worried about men invading the group under the pretense of being transgendered? In that case, they might consider admitting post-surgery MtFs as people truly committed to becoming female. Are they worried about their own social conditioning to kowtow to men in conversation and group actions? Maybe they need this sort of challenge, then, to break free of that conditioning. Are they hoping to achieve a group with a truly feminine perspective? Think of what a MtF could learn about true womanhood from a group like that! Rather than exclude transgenders, why not admit MtFs as acolytes to womanhood? They could be restricted to merely asking questions for the first thirteen moons (a traditional cycle) so they can learn true feminity at the feet of the 'wombyn' around them.

This group can exclude whomever they wish, of course. It is their right as a private circle to do so. I do think, though, that their aversion to MtF women indicates a fear worth confronting. We, as modern Pagans, have no business marginalizing other people when we have so often been marginalized ourselves.

Sarah G