Prayer at the Obama Rally

Yesterday I attended the Obama rally at Metro Park here in Jacksonville, Florida. It was the first campaign rally I've ever attended, so I didn't know exactly what to expect, but I was greatly disappointed by how it began: the very first speaker was a Christian minister who delivered a public prayer! What's more, it was explicitly Christian and partisan because he prayed “in Christ's name” and asked for blessings specifically for Obama and not the other candidates. I immediately wanted to boo to express my objection to this religious invocation at a supposedly secular political event, but I was afraid of the consequences of such vocal opposition, so I just kept my head raised, crossed my arms, frowned and looked around for others who shared my disapproval. I found some who didn't seem to be participating, and later a friend of mine told me she also had problems with the prayer. I know we weren't alone in our discomfort with it. Perhaps I will contact the Obama campaign today to register a complaint.

For me, the prayer put a damper on the entire event, though not enough to ruin the full experience. I got see and hear Obama in person as well as Senator Bill Nelson and few other political figures. The rally was certainly a success in terms of turnout: there were approximately twelve thousand people in attendance and another eight thousand who were turned away because there was no more room in the park! I just wish the Democratic Party would stick to the issues rather than pandering to the religious and sacrificing their commitment to secularism.



Reverse Stupidity

Yesterday I was driving down the road when I saw a red billboard with the outline of a horned head, a clawed hand and a pointed tail sticking beyond the basic rectangular shape. As I got closer, I realized it was an advertisement for a fundamentalist Christian church, one which combines reverse psychology and ancient scare tactics into a lethally idiotic mixture. It read, “Boycott New Life Fellowship” with “-Satan” in the lower right and the church's website address in the lower left. (I don't have a photograph and the image I found online is presumably a variant.) Beyond the absurd theology, the entire set-up raises several questions: If the devil wants you to know his feelings about the church, then why is he hiding behind the sign? Why doesn't he know how to use proper capitalization and punctuation? Why did he let the church deface his sign with their website address? Why did he hack their website but fail to remove their content and simply add graffiti? If on the other hand he doesn't want you to know his feelings, then why did he put his message on a billboard in the first place? All of this suggests the devil is highly incompetent and poses no threat to anyone with half a brain, but I suppose that's not the church's target audience.


Florida Supreme Court to the Rescue

In my last entry, I discussed a pair of destructive amendments to the state constitution on the November ballot here in Florida. This morning I heard some good news: the Florida Supreme Court has removed three education-related amendments to the state constitution, including one that I mentioned! Amendments 5, 7 and 9 have been removed because the texts on the ballot weren't clear enough for the voters to properly understand. Amendment 5 concerned property taxes and school funding, amendment 7 would have allowed the state to distribute money to religious institutions – including schools – and amendment 9 would have directly reversed a legal precedent against vouchers. It's good to see these issues off the table for now. I only wish they could remove amendment 2, which would ban same-sex marriage and civil unions, on the same grounds, but the language of its text is unfortunately crystal-clear.

The Florida Supreme Court is an admirable group of judges. Remember that if their decision hadn't been overturned by the federal Supreme Court, the recount in 2000 would have continued, Gore would have become president and the world would have been spared eight years of Bush!