Scottsdale, Arizona, United States
March 04
Rancho Laurena Rustic Arts
A wanton young lady of Wimley, Reproached for not acting more primly, Answered, "Heavens above! I know sex isn't love, But it's such an attractive facsimile."


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AUGUST 23, 2008 4:19PM

Church and State in Bed Together or I Hate My Neighbors…

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To comment is human, to rate, divine. 




…most of them


I live outside Scottsdale, AZ in an unincorporated area of Maricopa County, the land of Sherriff Joe and his tent cities, chain gangs, and pink boxers, the land of immigrant bashing (that is unless they are cleaning houses or mucking out horse stalls), the land of McCain and Republicans and unapologetic/unhidden bigotry and close-mindedness.  I live five miles from the city limits and eight miles from the closest stores, a Walgreens and a Shell Gas Station. The women around here don’t get out much and, if married, tend to parrot their husbands’ political views when forced to speak of them.  They mostly keep their mouths shut.


One exception is a woman named Adriana Friel.  I met Ms. Friel through my work with Four Peaks Animal Rescue.  When spending time with abandoned and abused dogs, cats, horses, goats, and even tortoises, one tends not to enter political discussions.  The mind is too outraged at the callousness and cruelty of humans and trying to heal the wounds they caused that the rest of one’s mind shuts down for self-preservation.  My acquaintance with Ms. Friel was limited and unrevealing.  What has followed in her email correspondence has been anything but.


This morning’s email finally released my keep-my-mouth-shut button.  It read as follows:



Here's your chance to let the media know where the people stand on our

faith in God, as a nation. NBC is taking a poll on 'In God We Trust' to

stay on our American currency. Please send this to every Christian you

know so they can vote on this important subject. Please do it right

away, before NBC takes this off the web page.

Poll is still open so you can vote.

This is not sent for discussion, if you agree forward it, if

you don't, delete it.

By me forwarding it, you know how I feel. I'll bet this

was a surprise to NBC.



Not sent for discussion my ass.  No one, especially some Evangelical with a warped knowledge of history, tells me to shut up.  I replied with the following letter:



In God We Trust was not added to the dollar until FDR’s time.  Because our founding fathers were passionate about keeping our country a secular state, and the separation of church and state is of utmost importance to the United States and its constitution, I will not sign such a petition and frankly find it pandering and abysmal.  Go to church, honor your God, but keep him out of our politics.




Lauren Dillon, a Christian Who Believes in Our Constitution and the Foundation on Which Our Country Was Built


The original email was sent to a list numbering 34 people (I counted them).  The woman apparently does not understand email privacy and/or how to withhold recipients email.  This does not surprise me.  What does surprise me is, since I hit the “reply all” button when I sent my response, the lack of replies I have received, as in one meek email addressed only to me that reads as thus:



Please remove me from your mailing list.   Thank you.



This, my friends and desired neighbors, is why we have had Bush and his cronies for two terms as president, an ignorant, bigoted, close-minded population loathe to argue with opposing viewpoints, satisfied that their way is the only way.  Go to church, do as you’re told, support your president no matter what, God and Country all the way.  Sure, we see the Republican pundits on television arguing their skewed viewpoint but they are a minority of the party.  The majority live in heavily conservative states promulgating their way of life to future generations and viewing liberals, homosexuals, and non-whites as pariahs of society that should be avoided at all cost.  Never mind that getting to know these “fringe elements” would foster understanding and maybe, just maybe open a verbal discourse and spark somewhat intelligent discussion.  I’d love to see this happen but I won’t hold my breath.


My only regret in this email correspondence?  Not adding a “Go Obama/Biden 2008” entreaty to the end but that would blur the lines between church and state and I’m not willing to do that for my own selfish means. 


***photo of coin downloaded from here

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I got that exact same email this morning. I deleted it. I should have done what you did. I do on occasion hit "reply all" and let everyone know exactly how I feel about the issue. On occasion I have gotten a response from someone grateful that I had challenged the crap.

But the larger issue, as you note, is that it is part of the stupidity that brought us an 8-year disaster known as the Bush II administration (among other things). I have no idea how to get people to pay attention, think, learn a few facts...
Cheers. We need more person-next-door sort of analysis you've provided here. It's befuddling that our voting populace provided a stamp of approval by re-electing the present administration four years prior, and it is going to take more sensible authors such as yourself to effect a shift in policy in the executive branch.
I await the same email, as I am sure my mother will forward it to me.

I hit "reply all" once to one of her forwards, and got a series of angry, all caps, WHAT HAS THE ACLU EVER DONE FOR YOU! NOTHING! replies from one her friends.

Which I actually found rather amusing, as she hit "reply all" as well, and came off quite the crazy person.

Now I generally let my mom know if it's a verified hoax (they often are), otherwise I hit delete. I know it's depressing, but I hold out hope that those emails are only an influence on a small portion of the population.
Unfortunately, bly, I'm afraid these emails are extremely viral and spread like the plague. We have to speak up if we are ever going to make a difference to our country (though I do understand it is complicated when one's mother is involved).

I have my first Democratic open house, volunteer sing-up next Saturday and am very ecited to get involved. Our future depends on it.
*Please send this to every Christian you know so they can vote on this important subject. *

No matter what crap this is--and it is, thanks for exposing it--I want to know why this woman believes the God on our currency is solely Christian. Good Lord, so to speak, anti-Semitic Christians go on and on about the Jews having so much money, what, they don't think God is part of that equation?

Your neighbor really is a great, big horses ass. Jeez.
Great post, Lauren. Your story reminded me of a little encounter on the day of the last presidential election. I went grocery shopping, and on the way back to the car I talked to the 20-something bag-girl who was helping me out with my groceries. She hadn't voted yet, and I encouraged her to talk to her boss about leaving early so she could get to the polls in time. I told her that every vote counted, assuming she would be voting for Kerry.

Oh, she said brightly, I'm not voting but if I was I would be voting for Bush.

But why, I sputtered. Do you know about the impact he can have on your life with who he appoints to the Supreme Court? What about Abu Gharaib?

Oh, she said, I would have voted how my pastor tells me.

My heart sank. There, in a nutshell, in my neighborhood, was Everything that was Wrong with Our Country. Non-thinking citizens who have had the world handed to them on a sliver platter, turning off the capacity for critical thinking and turning it over to their church, who should lose their non-profit status for endorsing from the pulpit anyway.

How many of them are there? Are they the fringe, or the majority? I don't know and I'm kindof afraid to find out. Anyway, good on 'ya for responding to the email, and hosting the event. We cannot cannot cede them our country, and we cannot give up.
I agree, Sally. When did the God on currency become equated with a Christian god (personally, I think that no matter how we divide ourselves up here on Earth, we all get the same god or spiritual being/layer or whatever). Still, it is extremely narcissistic and selfish to co-opt the "currency god" as a Christian one. You Jews have all the money anyway, right?! ;-)
"...not a scientific survey." And damn proud to partake in it, GE Universal. Geesh.
Looking at the issue from the standpoint of an Iraqi boy who may have lost his father, uncle, mother, aunt, brother, or sister to an American air strike, or whose neighbor has disappeared into the bowells of Abu Ghraib, a little child barely avoiding malnutrition due to food shortages caused by over 5 years of war, I'm not too sure the slogan "In God We Trust" on American coinage is going to give him a favorable opinion of the God of the Americans. Frankly, I find it rather offensive, since it implies we act in the name of God. Since our nation clearly does not, such sloganeering borders on heresy.
So I just checked the survery. The question was, "Should the motto "In God We Trust" be removed from U.S. currency? "
An incredible 78% said, "No. The motto has historical and patriotic significance and does nothing to establish a state religion" with a paltry 22% said, "Yes. It's a violation of the principle of separation of church and state." We're sunk unless we act now.

I love my country but lately, and yes it disturbs even me, I'm thinking the Toronto area might be nice.
Forwarded from a clay forum:

Hey Elizabeth,
You certainly have been busy. Good work.
I also read Pretend Farmer`s blurb. I`m
on enough forums, so don`t want to be a
member of can`t post her myself. If
it`s convenient sometime, I`d like you to pass on
to her we have the same situation here in southern
Alberta..Just adiffrent face to the Conservative-Republican.
I`m absolutley agree, with furvour, though I do not
consider myself Christian or anything else along that line.
People around here who call themselves religious believe they
have God`s blessing to bigot, judge, and condem.
Maybe the story of the Good Samaritan isn`t in style
ANyhoo, she wrote a great piece.
Ah, the valley. Land of the mega-church and other fun un-christian sites of worship. I'm trying to place your geographic location. My head tells me Fountain Hills, but I'm pretty sure that's incorporated Maricopa. You must be somewhere between Scottsdale and Rio Verde.

Anyway, hello, from another valley resident.
Yes, between Scottsdale and Rio Verde, 160th and Dynamite basically. They call our area Rio Verde Foothills.
Donna Sandstrom, your story made me a very unhappy American. What rubbish. :-(

pretend_farmer, I fled as far away as possible. You don't know how oddly fulfilling it feels to be away from the religion-laced politics of the States.
RC, as appalling as the story is, the good news is, it's not over. And we are part of writing the next chapter. I have come to think of democracy as a living gift, that has to be wrested back from the forces who would destroy it, by every generation that inherits it. In our time, one of those key threats is fundamentalism. Ultimately, I am hopeful.
Farmer, Darlin' I'm so happy to see you all fired up and digging in to participate and make the change possible. This was the best post I've seen out of you in some time and I can't tell you how pleased I am to think this election season could bring about some great changes for you personally, too.

Right on, sister!
I'm only comforted by the knowledge that anyone who clicks on a christianist chain email will click on anything leading to computer viral infestation meltdowns and yet another trip to Wal-Mart for more Good Old American Products.
If wishes were fishes, we could all cast nets. Lonnie, Honey Child, I miss you and want to meet Lofton and your lovely wife. We'll figure it out somehow. In the meantime, I'm going to set the volunteering standard. It means my world to me.
WWJD? Well, I doubt he would plaster G-d all over money and bumperstickers, t-shirts, and ashtrays. Just from what I've posted on OS I've received some spectacular mail. My favorite was a slide show featuring the crucifixion. I wrote back and said, I'm a Jew, but thanks for the movie. Other than that, I don't hope for intelligent discourse, I just hope that if I can settle people down a little maybe I won't get punched. I mean, kids are dying over here.
Yes, the co-option of God by evangelical Christians does honk me off. And one wonders: if Jews control the world, how is it we're not able to take "In God We Trust" off of currency? Just, ya know, wonderin'.

It reminds me of a joke:

Schwartz and Bergman are on the subway. Schwartz is reading the Wall Street Journal; Bergman the Forward. Bergman says, "Nu, Schwartz! How can you read that, with all the anti-Semitic trash it has in it?"

Bergman gestures at Schwartz's Forward, "What do you read in there? Pogroms, genocide, troubles with the Palestinians, bombings in the West Bank?" He slaps the WSJ. "In here, we're in charge of the whole world!"
Ha! Well, as soon as we get our big dividend checks out of the bank conspiracy we're up to, maybe we can change the way money looks.
you wrote: "Unfortunately, bly, I'm afraid these emails are extremely viral and spread like the plague. We have to speak up if we are ever going to make a difference to our country."

Oh, I spend a good deal of time speaking up, and I did not mean to suggest that you shouldn't.

I know the viral nature of these things is damaging (ever looked on Snopes' top 20 page? Obama emails are right up at the top), and I would never discourage anyone from getting involved in the process, from speaking up and out.

One does need to pick one's battles, though, and forums, too. When a particular forum is too poisonous (like my mom's email list), best to wait- wait for an opportunity that'll count.

I do think that your neighbor's email warranted a response, and a "reply all" at that.

I also think that's important to keep in mind that most voters are neither high on facts or crazy allegations. They're going to make decisions on more nebulous things- gut feelings or party loyalties, whatever. Those are the people we most need to be speaking to.
Bly, I am first to realize we have to pick our own battles. I have, gulp, teenagers. Picking one's battles is a skill my mother never realized, in fact, leading her to punish me for the smallest infractions and forcing me to tune her out.
Wow! Thanks for expressing the frustration so many of us are feeling. I agree that herd-mentality and its underlying fears are causing many otherwise amazing American citizens to vote for candidates whose policies cause and continue the situations that they fear.

I am saddened, though, by your cardboard-cutout characterization of these misguided voters. I imagine that your statement below wells up from your frustration.

"This, my friends and desired neighbors, is why we have had Bush and his cronies for two terms as president, an ignorant, bigoted, close-minded population loathe to argue with opposing viewpoints, satisfied that their way is the only way. Go to church, do as you’re told, support your president no matter what, God and Country all the way."

I would urge you to reconsider this statement, and post instead an entreaty to these people to take a small step outside their boundaries and see what they find.

Yes, I am almost unbearably tired of the stupid, short-sighted, disastrous policies of Bush & Co, but I am also tired of the polarization of the American people by rhetoric on both sides of the political debate.

That is why I acknowledge your anger, sadness, and frustration, recognize those feelings as in sync with my own, and also ask you to extend words of encouragement and entreaty to those who are living and acting from fear of what lies beyond their boundaries.
Thanks for sharing this!
Great post and I have to agree with Sally...your neighbor really is a great big horses ass!!!
It was probably Jerry Falwell who steered fundamentalist Christianity into politics into and sucked up to the neocons. Do you remember 'conservatism'? It existed about 30 years ago. Barry Goldwater was just about the last one. He said this:

"We have succeeded for 205 years in keeping the affairs of state separate from the uncompromising idealism of religious groups and we mustn't stop now. To retreat from that separation would violate the principles of conservatism and the values upon which the framers built this democratic republic."

--Barry Goldwater, "Mr. Conservative"

This Bush/Cheney/McCain crowd are no more conservatives than Karl Marx and Mao.
Earle, I completely agree with you. My mother was a Goldwater Girl and I started out life as a conservative, but a true conservative, fiscal responsibility, small government, respect for the constitution, and, in particular, as you noted on that wonderful quote, separation of church and state. The Republican party has wandered so far from its roots. It's damned criminal. I suppose this is why I consider myself a Libertarian now but typically vote Democrat.

FromtheCoast, I agree with the principal of what you are saying but believe me, I have tried. I belong to the neighborhood organization, the RVHA or Rio Verde Horsemen's Association. We have two dinner dances a year and I inevitably try to open some minds but end up agreeing to disagree.

Margiek, thanks. Since I see many horses' asses everyday living here in ranch country though, I have to say the majority of my neighbors are worse. Horses asses are rather pretty, especially on a Quarter Horse.
A modest revision: I pledge allegiance to the republic.
Unfotunately PP, I have a hard time pledging complete allegiance to anyone or thing. I have quite the rep for questioning authority.
I don't get too much of this kind of traffic, because I pretty much mined the harbors concerning this line of bull. I got one awhile back that was overtly racist, and I eventually chose to write back and pretty bluntly ask my friend that no more such like be sent to me. She hasn't replied.

I believe you did the right thing, by the way. That's funny about the near silence after your letter. :)
A second modest revision: I pledge allegiance to the republic. And will watch it like a hawk.> (I only made pretend anarchist back in my youth.)
I know Rich! I thought I'd at least get more than one response. It's indicative of a population generally loather to ruffle feathers and if there has been any point in my lifetime where we need to ruffle feathers, it is now. I hope at least I gave them a brief history lesson.
Pundit, I like your revision. I pledge allegiance to the republic but only if it holds up its constitution and prosecutes its members who do not.
To be honest, while I appreciate that the symbolism of these words on currency is not really great, I tend to feel that polls like the one referred to are a bit of a distraction from more serious church/state issues. It is somewhat like the flag-burning issue (or the flag lapel pin issue) - it creates a situation where those who are very attached to the flag or the words "in god we trust" wind up thinking, "geez, these liberals are really nutty if they get that worked up in favour of flag-burning, or if they really think a few words on coins undermine the Constitution! They must really hate the flag and god!"

So on that basis I feel that debating the point may actually mean you've been caught in a bit of a trap and you are letting the church-state issue be defined in terms of a triviality. When you consider the many serious ways that church-state blurring is screwing up policy, I can't help thinking that a better response is, "hey neighbour, while we're on the topic of the church-state divide, are you sure you're comfortable with a cure for cancer being held up by a few televangelists who have the ear of the President?"

That way when people think "church-state divide", they won't think it is just about the symbolism words on coins. They will realise it is about good, vital things being left undone for no good reason.

Just my thoughts.
You go, Lauren!

I had the same reaction--and response--to an email a few years ago, about Gcd in the pledge of allegiance. First of all, how does it serve our country to force schoolchildren to recite a loyalty oath each day? Patriotism, like religion, is fine. But when it creates nationalism and bigotry, count me out, thanks. (Or, as your neighbor might say, "Please remove me from your mailing list." :-D) Ugh.
We need a change we can live with on our currency. Evangelicals cry out to the heavens change, change " IN PALIN WE TRUST
We need a change we can live with on our currency. Evangelicals cry out to the heavens change, change " IN PALIN WE TRUST