I got an email from my daughter with a forwarded message containing some comments that Ben Stein made, apparently on CBS, NBC or something like that.  I’ll post the message but I’m less concerned about the veracity of who said what and when, and placing more emphasis on my own response:

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

My Best Regards, Honestly and respectfully,

My confession:

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.

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees..I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are: Christmas trees.

It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, Merry Christmas to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it it shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu .If people want a crïeche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

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.

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 to. 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.

Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her, ‘How could God let something like this happen? ‘(regarding Katrina) Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, ‘I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?’

In light of recent events… terrorists attack, 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.

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.

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 ‘

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 we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.

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.

I love Ben Stein and I love HIS message! Unfortunately, though, the parts in red ARE NOT BY BEN STEIN! Somewhere along the way, they were added by some pseudo-“Christian” who, like many so-called “Christians” can’t see beyond their own wants, needs and desires.

But I think that where people have lost their sense of understanding is in seeking to be understood rather than to understand.

Our country guarantees freedom OF religion but that necessarily translates to freedom FROM religion as well.

Christians feel like they are being attacked these days because some of them have been attacking others, camouflaging their hateful statements and actions as “in God’s name.”  One needs look no farther than the likes of Jerry Falwell, Fred Phelps, Jimmy Swaggart or James Dobson to see what the face of “Christianity” has become.

Jerry Falwell said that the tidal wave that claimed thousands of lives in Indonesia was God’s “punishment” for that country’s tolerance of gays.  One of these pillars of Christianity also said the same thing about Katrina, that it was God’s “punishment” for New Orleans’ debauchery where Mardi Gras and all things gay were concerned.  The problem, as I see it, is that God’s aim must be pretty bad because while most of New Orleans was flooded and is still uninhabitable, the French Quarter (where most of the Mardi Gras and gay festivals occur) was virtually untouched.

Jimmy Swaggart told a congregation in Canada that  if a gay man “…looked at me that way, I’d kill him and tell God he died.”  This so-called “Christian” man was advocating violence, even murder, against another of God’s children, based solely on the way he would be LOOKED at by that gay man.  And then, to add insult to injury, he says he’d LIE to GOD about what happened!  It’s not that we took religion out of our schools that’s the problem, it’s that we have “Christian” leaders advocating hate, violence and sin against their fellow man!

In my mind, there’s nothing wrong with prayer in school — God knows that some kids need a little reassurance from whatever higher power they believe in before they take that final exam that’s going to make or break their dream of graduation.  But what many so-called “Christians” have lost sight of is that there are kids in these schools that belong to religions that are not what WE recognize as “Christianity.”

When a teacher leads a CHRISTIAN prayer, it marginalizes the Jewish or Muslim child in that classroom.  Were a Jewish teacher to lead a JEWISH prayer, you can bet your ass that Christian parents would be screaming in outrage.

While I realize that you are Republican/Conservative in your political leanings, I think that the fact that SOME conservative “Christians” have spread a vicious lie that Barack Obama is a Muslim is proof that “Christianity” has taken a beating in the credibility department.  Even if he were Muslim, that doesn’t make him a terrorist or any less of a human being yet these so-called “Christians” seek to dehumanize him based on a perception they have of the man’s MIDDLE NAME!

Some large “Christian” organizations and churches now call on their members to enact laws and effect constitutional changes in order to promote THEIR OWN so-called values and beliefs.  Yet, in doing so, they forget the simple principles of “land of opportunity” and “individual freedoms” that this country was founded on.  Even the founding fathers were smart enough to know that there could be no mention of Christianity in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution — Indeed, contrary to popular belief, they were not all Christians, at least inasmuch as we understand “Christianity” today.  While there is still much discussion concerning who may have been atheist or Christian or Deist, the point is that they knew that they could not insert Christianity into the Constitution.  They knew it would be dangerous.

The laws in our country, and in most other countries throughout the world, are based loosely in some ways on some of the ten commandments.  But it is interesting to point out that only two of three commandments are actually entered into law in this country.  Stealing, killing, and committing adultery.  And, sadly, we don’t prosecute adultery even though the laws are still on the books.  All you have to do is look at some prominent politicians to see an excellent example of that — one of them is running for President on the Republican ticket.

And let’s look at just one of those “Christian” organizations — just one.  The Alliance Defense Fund, led by James Dobson of Focus on the Family has spent millions upon millions of dollars — no exaggeration, MILLIONS of dollars — to marginalize and dehumanize people who they don’t approve of, to the extent that they have financed constitutional amendments which permanently etch discrimination into our nation’s legacy.  Yet, with schools underfunded and important programs terminated for lack of funding, our children go without services that they desperately need.  There are children starving in this country, without hope or help because there just isn’t any money to help them.  There are people suffering from cancers, leaving small children behind as they say their last goodbyes because scientists cannot get the funding they need to find treatments or cures for these insidious diseases.  Tens of millions of Americans live without the safety net of health insurance.  The $50 or $75 fee for the doctor’s office visit keeps them from taking a very sick baby for medical attention.  And yet, this “Christian” organization cannot see their way clear to using their vast financial resources for GOOD instead of for hate.

“Christians” need to stop and take a good, long, hard look at themselves.  They have lost God’s spirit and, in its place, they have found and nurtured hatred and selfishness.

Christianity isn’t being attacked — people within the “Christian” faith have made a mockery of it.

Soapbox going back into storage now…