Friday, February 26, 2016

Is the Lost City of Atlantis a Myth or a Reality? With the Use of New Science and Technology, We May Soon Find Out!

There is a video that is the latest, and most credible, documentary about the search for the Lost City of Atlantis. It is a 2011 National Geographic documentary, entitled "Finding Atlantis" that places the location of the lost city in the Doñana Wetlands National Preserve in southwestern Spain, just outside the Straits of Gibraltar, aka the "Pillars of Hercules." It was later re-aired by the BBC.

"But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea." - Plato

        First, right out of the gate, anyone who is skeptical about the story of Atlantis is rightfully so. The unbelievable stories that have been dreamed up over time have been extremely extravagant in their use of fantasy and imagination. From stories of a Utopian society, free from strife and all forms of discrimination to a city built hundreds of thousands of years ago to serve as a base for aliens that came to earth to harvest our resources and created humanity as slave labor, the stories stretch the boundaries of possibility to the breaking point. From a place that gave rise to our stories of gods and mythical heroes to a place that people say they have connected with psychically and claim ancient spiritual heritage there, people have built upon the myth, layer after layer, causing it to be taken less seriously and to become more and more unbelievable. The location of the lost city has also been cause for wild speculation. Its has been placed on what people have attempted to pass off as a sunken continent in the Indian Ocean, another story places it on a sunken continent in Polynesia, while another places it on a sunken continent in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. There are further stories that have placed it at the center of the Earth, while others have made it a massive city floating on the sea, an airship floating in the sky, or even an underwater city inhabited by the ever elusive Merpeople. Undoubtedly, all of these stories are dramatic over representations, but that does not mean that the stories should be dismissed as outright blubbery.

        If we do dismiss these stories as outright blubbery, then we reject one of the oldest traditions in human history, story telling. This craft does not play the same role in modernity that it did in antiquity. In the present day, when we know that a story is being told, we expect it to be fiction or an embellished representation of reality. However, before the dawn of civilization and at times when civilization had collapsed, story telling was all that we had available to us to pass on the heritage of our peoples. In the present, we get our history from highly trained professionals that spend their lives doing the rigorous scientific exploration, the sometimes tedious historical research, and the endless writing down and reporting of the hard evidence that is needed to tell the true history of humanity. In the past, when such methods were not available, the story was the only way that anything would get passed on. Now, this does not mean that those stories were not embellished also. However, in those times, it was more likely to be done to impart an allegorical lesson of some sort, or to encourage young people to remember and honor their ancestors. In the History profession this is called Oral Tradition, or Oral History, and in the last thirty years or so, it has begun to take hold as in important part of telling the story of humanity's history. Institutional memory can be a powerful thing, we just have to keep ourselves grounded in the possible when we explore the stories and myths that are of critical importance to the understanding of our culture.

        Now, let us review some of the stories in antiquity that mention a powerful and advanced civilization that vanished into the seas. Tarshish occurs in the Hebrew Bible with several uncertain meanings, most frequently as a place, probably a large city or region, far across the sea from the Land of Israel. Tarshish was said to have supplied vast quantities of important metals to Israel and Phoenicia. The same place name occurs in the Akkadian inscriptions of Esarhaddon, an Assyrian King in the Seventh Century BCE, and also, on the Phoenician inscription on the Nora Stone, indicating that it was a real place; its precise location was never commonly known, and was eventually lost in antiquity. Legends grew up around it over time so that its identity has been the subject of scholarly research and commentary for more than two thousand years. Its importance stems in part from the fact that biblical passages tend to understand Tarshish as a source of King Solomon's great wealth in metals, especially silver, but also gold, tin and iron. This mention comes in the twenty seventh chapter of the book of Ezekiel. It is also mentioned in the Book of Chronicles and the book of Psalms.
        The Greeks were fascinated by the notion of a mythical and fabulously wealthy kingdom in the far west beyond the Pillars of Hercules. It was a rich emporium of valuable and precious metals and the luxurious lives led by its inhabitants linked it in their minds to the legends of Atlantis and Hesperides, the Isles of the Blessed, which were located in the same direction and were maybe even in the same place. They called it Tartessos. Strabo, 58 BC-25 CE, who described it in his  work, Geography, was drawing very largely on Herodotos, 484 BCE - 420 BCE, who described in detail the immense wealth and generosity of the Tartessans and particularly of their King Arganthonios, referred to as The Silver One. This included the story of a Greek sailor called Koliaos whose ship was blown off course and landed in Tartessos. After being royally entertained for some months, his ship was loaded up with silver and he was sent home. The story is also told of the Tartessans, in the 6th century BCE, giving the Phocaean Greeks 1 1/2 tons of silver to pay for a defensive wall around their city to keep out the Persians. And yet apart from a few fragments of trade goods in Andalusia in Southern Spain there is neither sign of a Tartessan civilization, nor any indication where the capital city might have been. Not only was Tartessos a legendary place, but also their ships were legendary, and apparently, capable of crossing the Indian Ocean. This civilization was also mentioned by the Egyptians.

        Plato, the famous Greek philosopher, mention such a city, as well. He called it Atlantis. His account is probably the most famous. He described in a discourse, Timaeus, a Socratic dialogue, written in about 360 B.C. Many great and wonderful deeds are recorded of your state in our histories. But one of them exceeds all the rest in greatness and valor. For these histories tell of a mighty power which unprovoked made an expedition against the whole of Europe and Asia, and to which your city put an end. This power came forth out of the Atlantic Ocean, for in those days the Atlantic was navigable; and there was an island situated in front of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Heracles; the island was larger than Libya and Asia put together, and was the way to other islands, and from these you might pass to the whole of the opposite continent which surrounded the true ocean; for this sea which is within the Straits of Heracles is only a harbor, having a narrow entrance, but that other is a real sea, and the surrounding land may be most truly called a boundless continent. Now in this island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole island and several others, and over parts of the continent, and, furthermore, the men of Atlantis had subjected the parts of Libya within the columns of Heracles as far as Egypt, and of Europe as far as Tyrrhenia. This vast power, gathered into one, endeavored to subdue at a blow our country and yours and the whole of the region within the straits; and then, Solon, your country shone forth, in the excellence of her virtue and strength, among all mankind. She was pre-eminent in courage and military skill, and was the leader of the Hellenes. And when the rest fell off from her, being compelled to stand alone, after having undergone the very extremity of danger, she defeated and triumphed over the invaders, and preserved from slavery those who were not yet subjugated, and generously liberated all the rest of us who dwell within the pillars. But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea. For which reason the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in the way; and this was caused by the subsidence of the island.
        There are further mentions of an advanced city like Atlantis, in the writings of the Romans, the Hindi, and even the Persian make a mention of such a city to the west, beyond their reaches. The Carthaginians even had a similar myth that followed them from Phoenicia. The common denominators in all of these stories are that the 'Atlanteans' were a highly advanced people, they had trade influence that covered distances and went to locations that were beyond the known world, which some argued was backed up by a vast empire, and one day, as if out of the blue, the whole city was lost to the depths of the sea in a single catastrophic event. They mention earthquakes, volcanoes, and massive walls of water, now referred to as Tsunamis. The possibility presented in the video at the beginning of this piece follows these stories as closely as it can, using them as a tour guide of sorts, and it has resulted in, potentially, the greatest archaeological and historical find in modern Western history. They use satellite technology, in ground sonar, naval sonar, aerial photography, and core sample drilling, among other techniques to locate a city that was potentially the progenitor of Western Civilization. Now, admittedly, there does seem to be a few flaws in the documentaries assumptions. The most glaring of which is the fact that Dr. Freund makes a lot of broad assumptions, as he seeks to connect the site with the myth of Atlantis. I will give him credit; though, he does qualify his assumptions with maybes, possibles, and potentials. 
          Has the site of the Lost City of Atlantis finally been found, finally laying to rest probably the most controversial myth in Western Civilization? Perhaps, it has, perhaps it has not. Only time will tell, but the potential of such a discovery is so far reaching in its effect that one might find themselves hoping that this is the place. What lies beneath the Doñana Wetlands National Preserve in the southwestern region of Spain, known as Andalusia? If it is Atlantis, and archaeological digs reveal a city that predates any other known Mediterranean civilization, the Western world will have to completely change its understanding of its history. How old will this civilization be? Will they have arisen before or after the Mesopotamian cultures? What was their writing like? How much did they influence the writing and culture of Europe, now that their language can be understood? Did the Atlanteans have a far reaching global trade empire, stretching into regions of the world that place Europeans in the Western Hemisphere anywhere from two to four thousand years before what has been previously assumed? If they did, how did they affect the cultures of the Americas, and are there traces of their presence in the Americas that we were previously unable to recognize, due to a lack of evidence and understanding? Did they trade, by sea, with the Far East, long before the Portuguese ever turned past the Cape of Good Hope at the southern most tip of the African continent?

      How will we have to change our understanding of discoveries that have long since been explained? How will we have to change our understanding of the evolution of our own present culture? If you are still skeptical, I do not blame you. The story has been blown so far out of proportion from the actual historical references to such a place that the mere mention of Atlantis makes most people scream conspiracy theory, and until I watched the documentary, "Finding Atlantis," I too screamed conspiracy most of the time. However, this is a legitimate attempt to use science to discover a lost part of our history. If you do not think it is possible to uncover long lost mythical places, consider the fact that the Ionic city of Troy was considered an allegorical myth, right up until Heinrich Schliemann dug it out of the ground in 1870. The same thing was said about the Assyrian city of Nineveh, right up until it was first rediscovered by Carsten Niebuhr in 1761. The rediscovery of the real Atlantis may never happen, but it seems that we might be on the very cusp of doing so. If it is rediscovered, I am sure that the sensationalized myths will continue to draw people's attention. However, at least, for those of us who like to keep ourselves grounded in the facts, a long and hotly debated issue will finally be put to rest, and we can begin to tie up a lot of the loose ends about our distant pass that have continued to stump even our greatest scholars. This may even give us the motivation that we need to finally change our future.....

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Stop Funding Unnecessary Sports Venues and Feed the Hungry, House the Homeless, Give Work to the Jobless, and Rebuild Our Roads

“The few own the many because they possess the means of livelihood of all ... The country is governed for the richest, for the corporations, the bankers, the land speculators, and for the exploiters of labor. The majority of mankind are working people. So long as their fair demands, the ownership and control of their livelihoods, are set at naught, we can have neither men's rights nor women's rights. The majority of mankind is ground down by industrial oppression in order that the small remnant may live in ease.”  - Helen Keller

       When considering how the poorest of people are treated in a country that has generated more wealth since its creation than anyone could ever have possibly imagined, a sense of disgust moves over my head like a dark cloud. I remember all of the crap that we are fed about the 'Land of Opportunity,' the 'American Dream,' and the 'Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave;' among others, and I can no longer see those things as being even remotely true, at least not for everyone. I am more inclined to believe that we actually live in the 'Land of Oppression,' where we live the 'American Nightmare,' and are forced to accept our role in the 'Land of the Rich and the Home of the Wealthy,' while we are being forced each day to engage in back breaking labor for a pittance, if there is any work for us at all. All the while, the rich sit up in their fancy palaces and laugh while we fight for the scraps from their tables. What is worse is that the rich blame the whole situation on the poor, calling them lazy, stupid, and greedy. Excuse me? Who is it that made this situation the way it is in the first place, you steaming pile of mastodon dung? Yes, that is correct, it is you the rich, the uber wealthy, and the criminal element that sits at the top of our society bleeding the rest of us dry. I am speaking to you directly. If you do not get your house in order soon, your wage slaves are going to begin to turn on you.
        Now that I have gotten my ranting out of the way, let us look at the numbers. The National Football League is the most profitable of all of the sports leagues in the United States. In 2014, alone, the NFL netted $1 billion dollars in profits of off $10.5 billion dollars in revenues. This profit was not made without assistance. In the United States, government subsidies provided to sports teams for new stadiums run in the billions, annually. The federal government, alone, is on the docket for an average of $146 million dollars annually, usually dispensed through federal income tax breaks. The rest is made up by state governments, county governments, and municipal governments. The NFL gets discounts on the cost of property sales and taxes. They receive tax exemptions. They receive land allotments at the expense of residents already living in the area. They receive discounts on public services like gas, electricity, water, trash pickup and police and fire protection. They also get relief from state and local sales taxes. The NFL, in particular, which continues to exist and operate as a Non-Profit Organization, is exempt from federal taxes altogether. They are able to do so because the money they make is distributed amongst the teams, rather than being stored in a single account. The biggest kicker is that all of their expenses, in the full amount, not accounting for their discounts, tax breaks, and cost relief, are tax deductible at both the state and federal levels. 


        Good nutrition, particularly in the first three years of life, is important for establishing a good foundation that has implications for a child’s future physical and mental health, academic achievement, and economic productivity. Unfortunately, food insecurity is an obstacle that threatens that critical foundation. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 15.3 million children under 18 in the United States live in households where they are unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life. Although food insecurity is harmful to any individual, it can be particularly devastating among children due to their increased vulnerability and the potential for long-term consequences. Twenty percent or more of the child population in 38 states and D.C. lived in food-insecure households in 2013, according to the most recent data available. The District of Columbia (31%) and Mississippi (29%) had the highest rates of children in households without consistent access to food. In 2013, the top five states with the highest rate of food-insecure children under 18 were D.C., Mississippi, Arkansas, New Mexico, and Georgia. Twelve million children are estimated to be served by Feeding America, over 3.5 million of which are ages 5 and under. While almost all (94%) of client households with school-aged children (ages 5-18) report participating in the National School Lunch Program, only 46 percent report participating in the School Breakfast Program. Nearly one in four (24%) client households with children report participation in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). In 2014, 15.5 million or approximately 21 percent of children in the U.S. lived in poverty. In fiscal year 2013, 44 percent of all SNAP participants were children under age 18. During the 2014 federal fiscal year, more than 21.5 million low-income children received free or reduced-price meals daily through the National School Lunch Program. Unfortunately, in 2014 fewer than 2.7 million children participated daily in the Summer Food Service Program.

        On any given night, there are approximately 643,067 people experiencing homelessness in America. 238,110 of those people are in families. 25% suffer from mental illness, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression, 17% are considered chronically homeless, 13% are fleeing domestic violence, and approximately 12% are veterans. The face of homelessness is changing. Though veterans, people with disabilities, and single parent families have always been at high-risk for homelessness, today, more and more of our country’s working poor are struggling with or at risk of homelessness. People recently released from prison and young adults who have recently been emancipated (or aged-out) from the foster care system are also at increased risk of homelessness. And, in Central Texas, the fastest growing homeless population is women and children. A "chronically homeless" person is defined as an unaccompanied homeless individual with a disabling condition who has either been continuously homeless for a year or more, or has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years. No matter if you are mentally ill, suffering from an addiction, or physically disabled: low incomes and high housing costs are the root causes of homelessness. In fact, recent study shows that nowhere in the United States can someone who works 40 hours a week at minimum wage afford a one bedroom apartment at fair market rent. In Central Texas, a person needs to work 88/week earning minimum wage to afford a one-bedroom apartment at fair market rent.

        The United States determines the official poverty rate using poverty thresholds that are issued each year by the Census Bureau. The thresholds represent the annual amount of cash income minimally required to support families of various sizes. The methodology for calculating the thresholds was established in the mid-1960s and has not changed in the intervening years.  The thresholds are updated annually to account for inflation. A family is counted as poor if its pretax money income is below its poverty threshold. Money income does not include non cash benefits such as public housing, Medicaid, employer-provided health insurance and food stamps. In 2010, 15.1 percent of all persons lived in poverty. The poverty rate in 2010 was the highest poverty rate since 1993. Between 1993 and 2000, the poverty rate fell each year, reaching 11.3 percent in 2000. In the late 1950s, the poverty rate for all Americans was 22.4 percent, or 39.5 million individuals. These numbers declined steadily throughout the 1960s, reaching a low of 11.1 percent, or 22.9 million individuals, in 1973. Over the next decade, the poverty rate fluctuated between 11.1 and 12.6 percent, but it began to rise steadily again in 1980. By 1983, the number of poor individuals had risen to 35.3 million individuals, or 15.2 percent. For the next ten years, the poverty rate remained above 12.8 percent, increasing to 15.1 percent, or 39.3 million individuals, by 1993. The rate declined for the remainder of the decade, to 11.3 percent by 2000. From 2000 to 2004 it rose each year to 12.7 in 2004.

        The poverty rate for all persons masks considerable variation between racial/ethnic subgroups. Poverty rates for blacks and Hispanics greatly exceed the national average. In 2010, 27.4 percent of blacks and 26.6 percent of Hispanics were poor, compared to 9.9 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 12.1 percent of Asians. Poverty rates are highest for families headed by single women, particularly if they are black or Hispanic. In 2010, 31.6 percent of households headed by single women were poor, while 15.8 percent of households headed by single men and 6.2 percent of married-couple households lived in poverty. There are also differences between native-born and foreign-born residents. In 2010, 19.9 percent of foreign-born residents lived in poverty, compared to 14.4 percent of residents born in the United States. Foreign-born, non-citizens had an even higher incidence of poverty, at a rate of 26.7 percent. Children represent a disproportionate share of the poor in the United States; they are 24 percent of the total population, but 36 percent of the poor population. In 2010, 16.4 million children, or 22.0 percent, were poor. The only group of people that has seen a significant and consistent decline in the rates of homelessness, malnutrition, and poverty in their population is the elderly. Elderly poverty in the U.S. decreased dramatically during the twentieth century. Between 1960 and 1995, the official poverty rate of those aged 65 and above fell from 35 percent to 10 percent, and research has documented similarly steep declines dating back to at least 1939. While poverty was once far more prevalent among the elderly than among other age groups, today's elderly have a poverty rate similar to that of working-age adults and much lower than that of children.

        I offer a hearty thanks to the United States Government for the provision of all of these statistics! This is all absolutely ridiculous!!!!! Further, this all says nothing for the absolutely dreadful state of the United States' infrastructure, as the last three photographs can attest to. Nor does it account for the ridiculous nature of the American healthcare system, where more people die of preventable diseases than any other post industrial nation in the world. This crap has got to change. I mean, I like to watch sporting events just as much as any American in this country, but for Mother Gaia's sake, our enjoyment should not be paid for by the suffering of our fellow American citizens or anyone, for that matter!  Are we so locked up in the distractions that we have been provided with that we cannot see what is going on? If so, each of us needs to take a second and get a clue! Our government is not serving its people. It is serving its financial backers. This country cannot call itself the greatest nation on Earth and then turn around and take a fat steaming dump on its own people. Not only does it make the whole nation look bad internationally, it also makes it look bad to the people that it is supposed to being serving, but is instead, dumping on. It is up to us to make this change. We have to do something if we do not want to be made complicit in these crimes against humanity. If we do nothing but stand idly by and watch it continue, we are just as guilty as the people in our government and business sectors that are committing these crimes. If we do not act, it is our hands that will be stained with the blood of the innocent, not theirs!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Separation of Church and State is the Law: Read Your Constitution!

"Religious factions will go on imposing their will on others unless the decent people connected to them realize that religion has no place in public policy." - Barry Goldwater

         The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of RightsThe Free Exercise Clause is the accompanying clause with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause together read, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Article VI of the United States Constitution establishes that senators and representatives, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support the Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust in the United States. These, of course, are just the regulations in the US Constitution. Just for everyone's information right up front. The Founders were not Christians in the modern sense. They were Deists. They believed that a god created the natural and scientific mechanisms that make the universe operate the way that they do and then stepped out of the equation to give we humans the chance to make a way for ourselves.

The United States Supreme Court has had its say, as well: 

Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1879)

Court finds that federal anti-bigamy statutes do not violate the First Amendment's guarantee of the free exercise of religion.

Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947)

Court finds that a New Jersey law which included students of Catholic schools in reimbursements to parents who sent their children to school on buses operated by the public transportation system does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

McCollum v. Board of Education Dist. 71, 333 U.S. 203 (1948)

Court finds religious instruction in public schools a violation of the establishment clause and therefore unconstitutional.

Burstyn v. Wilson, 72 S. Ct. 777 (1952)

Government may not censor a motion picture because it is offensive to religious beliefs.

Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488 (1961)

Court holds that the state of Maryland cannot require applicants for public office to swear that they believed in the existence of God. The court unanimously rules that a religious test violates the Establishment Clause.

Engel v. Vitale, 82 S. Ct. 1261 (1962)

Any kind of prayer, composed by public school districts, even nondenominational prayer, is unconstitutional government sponsorship of religion.

Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963)

Court finds Bible reading over school intercom unconstitutional.

Murray v. Curlett, 374 U.S. 203 (1963) 

Court finds forcing a child to participate in Bible reading and prayer unconstitutional.

Epperson v. Arkansas, 89 S. Ct. 266 (1968)

State statue banning teaching of evolution is unconstitutional. A state cannot alter any element in a course of study in order to promote a religious point of view. A state's attempt to hide behind a nonreligious motivation will not be given credence unless that state can show a secular reason as the foundation for its actions.

Lemon v. Kurtzman, 91 S. Ct. 2105 (1971)

Established the three part test for determining if an action of government violates First Amendment's separation of church and state: 

Wallace v. Jaffree, 105 S. Ct. 2479 (1985)

State's moment of silence at public school statute is unconstitutional where legislative record reveals that motivation for statute was the encouragement of prayer. Court majority silent on whether "pure" moment of silence scheme, with no bias in favor of prayer or any other mental process, would be constitutional.

Edwards v. Aquillard, 107 S. Ct. 2573 (1987)

Unconstitutional for state to require teaching of "creation science" in all instances in which evolution is taught. Statute had a clear religious motivation.

Allegheny County v. ACLU, 492 U.S. 573 (1989)

Court finds that a nativity scene displayed inside a government building violates the Establishment Clause.

Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649 (1992)

Unconstitutional for a school district to provide any clergy to perform nondenominational prayer at elementary or secondary school graduation. It involves government sponsorship of worship. Court majority was particularly concerned about psychological coercion to which children, as opposed to adults, would be subjected, by having prayers that may violate their beliefs recited at their graduation ceremonies.

Church of Lukumi Babalu Ave., Inc. v. Hialeah, 113 S. Ct. 2217 (1993)

City's ban on killing animals for religious sacrifices, while allowing sport killing and hunting, was unconstitutional discrimination against the Santeria religion.
1) the government action must have a secular purpose; 
2) its primary purpose must not be to inhibit or to advance religion; 
3) there must be no excessive entanglement between government and religion.

        So, what does this all basically mean? It means, essentially, this. I, the person who believes organized religion to be nothing more than the most effective form of social control in human history, cannot, by Constitutional Provision, walk into your place of worship and tell you who or what you can or cannot worship. However, this also means that you, who believes that I and people like me are nothing but godless heathens cannot, by Constitutional Provision, force me in any way to worship in your religion if I do not choose to do so of my own free will. Essentially, we are both legally protected from being forced to endure each other's endless ranting and uncensored  swill if we do not choose to listen to it. This means that it is illegal for me to come for your bibles, and it is illegal for you to silence me because you think I am seeking to destroy your faith. At least for once, please understand that I could care less what you believe. If you want to believe in the preeminent, yet invisible, space daddy in the sky, who makes special appearances to condemn and spank people who do not believe in him, you can do that. I am a respecter of the Constitution. I will uphold that arrangement, so long, as you hold up your end of the bargain and leave me the heck alone. This is the personal essence of these laws.

        Now, why might the Founders have placed such provisions in the US Constitution? One can only imagine. Maybe, its because the Founders, while they were certainly far from perfect, had a firm grasp of history. They were very aware of what religion can become when it is given the powers of state. The Romans, before their conversion, were notorious for burning alive, feeding to hungry animals, executing in the arena, and using as a scapegoat for tragedy, any Christian that happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Interestingly enough, during the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church, which held absolute power over the souls of all Europe for nearly a millenium, did the same thing to people. They tortured and murdered Jews, Muslims, and any Catholic who spoke out against the Church. The would put people on the rack, in the Iron Maiden, they would hang people, they would burn them alive, they would rip their guts out, and they would gouge out their eyes or cut out their tongues, among other things. In fact, a member of the clergy wrote a handbook on how to identify a witch or warlock and what to do with them once they had been caught. The text was known as the Malleus Maleficarum, or the Witches' Hammer. The most ignorant of all the lines in the text is this. To test a woman for a witch, place in her in a vat of water with a weight around her neck. If she floats, she is a witch. If she sinks and drowns, she is innocent. How ignorant and lopsided is that? The most real and common reason for such a test was actually so that the church could confiscate the properties of women whose husband's had died without an heir or men whose wives had died and had no heir. It was nothing more than an early case of Real Estate Fraud.

        There is also an experience much closer to home that helped the Founders to come to the decision to write the Separation of Church and State into the Constitution and the Supreme Court to defend it. Can you guess what it might be? It should not be difficult. It was an affair domestic to this continent, and while it occurred before the United States was even a gleam in the Founders eye's, it left a historical impression upon them that they did not want to ever see realized in their new nation. Look back to the 1620s to 1630s in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and its surrounding areas. What happened in this time period that could so worry the Founders that they made sure to put the restrictions on religion in government that they did? Might it have to do with the Salem Witchcraft Trials and other similar occurrences? I say other similar occurrences because the trials at Salem were not the only farcical charades of the day committed against people who simply understood god differently than the political powers of the day. They were just the most famous. It most certainly has everything to do with it! The hysteria caused by these occurrences was ridiculous. Innocent people were killed, entire communities were disrupted, and memories of European Inquisitions were reignited. Imagine what it would be like if something like this occurred on a national scale in 1776, let alone, now? The result would be a disastrous waste of life. 

        This was all made possible because Salem and the surrounding cities were ruled by colonial governments that were based on biblical law. They were known as Theocracies, and they based their entire system on how pious you and your fellow citizens were. Deviance was not accepted, and as can be seen from Salem, many times it was punishable by death. It was chaotic, and it was contrary to human liberty. The Founders knew this and made sure that the laws of their new country would prevent such hysteria from occurring in the United States. Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am writing this because I am truly worried that something like this could very well happen in the United States now. I keep hearing people say that they believe that the bible should be law. They think that the Affordable Healthcare Act is bad because people should rely on churches, or they say that they believe that church attendance should mandatory for all citizens. They also believe that deviance form their norm should be punishable by law. Let them try and come at me with that mess! People that believe this crap are either so demented that they are beyond mental reparation or they are ignorant of this country's own history and the history of Europe. Either way, they are a threat to American democracy and should never be allowed to realize their goals. Never!

        They have intentionally attempted to deprive citizens of legal services because they did not agree with their lifestyle, they have attempted to justify enslaving or misusing people through the manipulation of biblical scripture, they have justified persecution and beatings of people from different religions, and they, among countless other violations, have held up needed legislation meant to help the American people live better lives, simply because their beliefs or lifestyles were not in accordance with their book about the invisible space daddy in the sky that was written by the hands of men. Worse, they try to call it the divine word of God! I know of no God in this world that would be okay with murdering people because they look, feel, or believe differently than their followers. The only such gods that justify such actions are those created in the heads of people overcome by fear and xenophobia. So, here is what I propose. Leave your religion out of the government, and I will spend my entire life fighting, and dying if I have to, to ensure that you are able to believe your swill. The First Amendment also affords you that right. All I ask is that as fellow citizens, you afford me the same respect. If you are unable to do that and you come after me with some ridiculous charge that you say is justified by some god you believe in with the intent of using death to punish me, I will fight you to my last breadth with everything that I can muster, and I will show you as little mercy as was shown to our own ancestors who were burned at the stake for questioning the power and authority of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. There will be no quarter given. I am not sure that you are truly ready for that though, and in all honesty, no one ever should be.