Friday, February 8, 2013

Confession of Ben Stein: He's a dunce

I received an email today by the title of "Remarks on CBS on Sunday morning". The content was a supposed commentary by Ben Stein. Before I dissect the content of the email, let me just mention that I am aware that parts of it were said by Stein years ago, and have been wandering around the internet for a while now. This newest email recycles those parts and has other content appended to it to make it more current. I am unaware if the additions are Stein's words as well, but I shall respond as if they are...

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.

My confession:

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat...
It doesn't take long for the absurdity to start. Right off the bat, we are faced with a hell of a doozy. Christians being pushed around for being Christians? That's a new one to me. Last I checked 78.4% of Americans are Christians. If there is any mass movement of pushing Christians around, it must be both inept and top secret because I'm failing to think of a single example. As for Jew's being pushed around... I'd say that antisemitism is far more prevalent, but even that isn't as far reaching as Stein makes his claims to sound. Furthermore, who ever claimed that America was an explicitly atheist country. Again, I've never heard such a claim made. It would be a silly claim anyway, since atheists only make up to somewhere around 4+% of the US population. But I have a feeling I know where you're coming from. Since Christianity is not allowed to be the de facto religion forced on all, you jump to the absurdly exaggerated conclusion that if the Judeo-Christian worldview can't be forced on all that means that the lack of religion shall be forced. Wrong! This is an absurd exaggeration and overreaction. Funny you should mention the Constitution, because it states:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

No law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof... This is Jefferson's famous 'wall of separation between church and state'. As you see, the US is not and can not be an 'explicitly atheist country', just as it can't be an 'explicitly Jewish country', or an 'explicitly Christian country'. To be as such would violate the constitution. Again, not being explicitly Judeo-Christian doesn't even come close to 'explicitly atheist'. The Constitution actually guarantees that the US is a country of all faiths, and lack thereof. So Mr. Stein, you might want to take a look, because you're persecution complex is showing.
Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went .
Okay, I will admit that some people are way to obsessed with celebrities... Maybe it's because technology has us so much better connected. That's not the 'interesting' part of this excerpt though... You claim that people are 'not allowed to worship God'?! You have to be joking! Remember those 78% of American's that are Christian? Well, 83.1% of Americans are one type of theist or another. For 'not being allowed to worship', there sure is a lot of it going around. I know I haven't seen any police breaking down the doors of churches and dragging the congregations away to prison. And remember the First Amendment. Let me remind you again that is guarantees the right to worship and practice the religion of your choosing. Lets press forward and see if we can find something somewhat less absurd...
In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking.
In light of recent events... terrorists attacks, school shootings, etc.. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school... The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.

Sorry Mr. Stein, but you are spinning half truths here to spin your own agenda. Contrary to what you and others claim, prayer wasn't fully eradicated in schools. Remember the free exercise clause? Because of that, students are free to pray to whichever being they worship (so long as they aren't disrupting class). Prayer was 'removed' in the sense related to the establishment clause. The form of prayer not allowed is prayer that is lead by the staff of the school. Forcing the students to partake in a lead prayer from the administration is a clear violation of the Constitution and was rightly disallowed. We have a similar situation with the Bible. It is true that the Bible can not be taught as a historical text, as it would again violate the establishment clause. However, the Bible can be used as an example of literature in an English class. As for what the Bible says... yes, it does say not to kill and to love you're neighbor. But it contradicts itself so often that it also says to hate your mother, father, spouse, children and siblings (Luke 14:26), as well as to tear open pregnant women and dash their children on rocks (Hoesea 13:16). Should we also read that in the Bible and say 'OK' Mr. Stein? How about we just try to not be deceptive about reporting the facts like you have thus far, and also take responsibility into our own hands rather than deferring to an old dusty book.
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 okay..

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.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with 'WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.'
Finally, something somewhat rational! I will wholeheartedly agree that kids get away with far to much these days. When I was young and did something I knew I wasn't supposed to do, I would get a spanking. I can tell you that I learned my lesson and never committed the same transgression twice. That said, we do have to draw a line between discipline and abuse. A simple spanking is not abuse in my opinion. However if you are spanking so hard that you leave a bruise, or are using a leather belt, that would cross the line into abuse for me. I don't thing this lax discipline is the only factor as you claim though. In fact, I think that less and less involved parenting is a greater factor. A third would be this absurd 'no losers' mentality that is set up for kids.
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. Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Are you laughing yet?

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.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that people tend to believe what the newspaper says because it is current and can be verified fairly easily. Personally, I take a good part of the news with a grain of salt as well, but what about the Bible? Well, the Bible is all to easy to criticize. So much of it is outdated, unverifiable, wrong, and shockingly ghastly. Sure, there's good bits... but one could also argue that Hitler was a good painter. As for the proportion of religious emails to joke emails... My inbox actually gets far more religious emails sent to it than joke emails. But what should it be a surprise if funny emails are sent more than overtly religious ones? Joke emails are more widely enjoyed by all, so it's easy to send them to everyone you know. You likely know their sense of humor or think they'd enjoy it. But with religious emails, you might not send them to people you know wouldn't want them, or you may not know a friends feeling of religion or how strongly religious they are, so to avoid potential conflict, you only send it to those you know will like it... Though that doesn't stop people I know from assuming I'm deeply Christian and sending them to me anyway.
Spoiler alert... I'm not Christian at all. Not sending the email around is not necessarily worrying about what people think about us, buy it more akin to being polite. Does anyone like it when the Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, or Baptists come knocking on your door way too early on a Saturday morning? Think of the email the same way. Unless you think the person is interested, don't pass it on to them and let them be. And why would you worry about what God will think of you for not sending along an email? If anything, you should worry what he thinks if you do send it along. After all, Matthew 6:6 says "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." And one final reason not to send this email in particular... It was commposed entirely in the font call Papyrus! Papyrus should never be used as body copy, and seeing that font used in that way made by eyes want to bleed! But lets finish up by talking about public discussion about being suppressed in school and the workplace... First of all, it's not suppressed in school. Staff can't preach to students, but students can talk religion all they want before school, after school, between classes and at lunch. As for religion at the office... well, that really depends on the office. In some, religion is spoken about freely. But in your everyday office a lot of topics are 'taboo'. Religion, politics, sensitive subjects... These are off limits to avoid possible arguments and to promote productivity, not to oppress those that believe in whichever god they believe in.

Pass it on if you think it has merit.

If not, then just discard it... no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

My Best Regards, Honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein
Merit? Don't make me laugh! If you've read this far, you are aware that Mr. Stein has remained dishonest, ignorant, disingenuous throughout this statement attributed to him. So rather than sending this along, I am replying to set the facts straight. He said his message was to make you think. Well, I hope that this reply will make you (and him) think, and also learn.


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