An Evangelical man named Hober Sanovitch — likely a fake name and email address — sent me the following email (all spelling and grammar in the original):
Bruce – I’ve read your denials of Christ and, as a military vet defending our U.S. values, and I applaud your using your God-Given rights to do so.
There is no wall of separation of church & state. We do not have to agree with people but we need to defend against speech that espouses destruction of what America has stood for since 1776. Example: Congress House of Rep censure of Tlib & Omar (Islam Reps (D-Michigan).
It’s entertaining watching people & governments trying to outwit God … and to what end?
What are U.S. values? Who decides which values are American? Hober says he is a military vet who defends these unnamed values. Does anyone seriously believe that the military defends U.S. values, whatever they might be? I am sixty-six years old. From my chair on my front lawn, I see a well-trained military whose primary objective is to advance and protect America’s political agenda and protect the properties and profits of U.S. corporations. It seems to me that the powers that be use the military to “protect” America’s colonial and imperial ambitions. The United States has over 1,000 military installations across the globe. Why so many military bases? What “values” are these bases protecting?
The only “values” all Americans should hold in common are those found in the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Military personnel swear under oath to protect and defend the Constitution, as do our politicians and law enforcement professionals. When is the last time our military has been called on to actually defend and protect the Constitution?
Hober says that I have God-given rights. I assume he is talking about the rights delineated in the Bill of Rights. However, whatever rights I may have were not given to me by the Christian God. The rights granted by the Bill of Rights do not come from God, they come from amendments enshrined into law (and later interpreted) by American men and women. God is not mentioned one time in the U.S. Constitution. Not one time. So enough of this nonsense about the United States being a Christian nation with laws given to them by Jesus (who is God). Wealthy white men wrote the Constitution — not God.
Hober goes on to say that “there is no wall of separation of church & state.” This is, of course, patently untrue. Are Republicans trying to topple the Wall? Absolutely. They cannot reach their theocratic goals as long as there is a wall between church and state. That’s why we must fight back every time theocrats even think about taking a brick out of the Wall.
Hober is not a believer in free speech. He supports freedom of some speech — that which aligns with his peculiar worldview. While there’s no such thing as absolute free speech, generally people should be free to say whatever they want (and to suffer the consequences of said speech). I despise street preachers, but I defend their right to stand on a public sidewalk and scream at passersby about sin and getting saved. I defend Donald Trump’s right to spew bullshit every time he opens his mouth. I defend the right of Palestinian-American congresspeople to show their support for the Palestinian people. We live in a pluralistic country. The U.S. is a secular state. We are a free people, although I suspect we are not as “free” as we think we are. The Bill of Rights guarantees the right to free speech. Hober evidently interprets that to mean “only speech that conforms to my white, heterosexual, Christian worldview.”
I would love to ask Hober what, exactly, “America has stood for since 1776.” Personally, I don’t care what our founding fathers “stood for.” Surely, we should know and reflect upon our nation’s 260-year history, but we live in a different day and time, so we must, with one eye on the past, forge our own way.
Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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