My Gripe with the Tea Party: My Town Responds

Last week, as you remember, I wrote a letter to the editor of The Dodge County News regarding the T.E.A. Party tax rally held by some private organizers and citizens of Eastman, GA. That letter can be found in it’s entirety Here along with various comments from locals and my internet friends.. The Dodge County News runs weekly, every Wednesday and when I got my paper yesterday I was delighted to see that there was nearly a full page in total dedicated to answering my letter. I am going to post these answers and reply to them here rather than write another letter to the editor because I simply do not want to continue monopolizing the space of the paper, but I do want the Dodge County News to know that I am eternally grateful for their inclusion of my letter and it’s responses – the media is so often either a lame duck or a slanted medium to push policies and opinions of it’s editors that I find it very refreshing that even in my small conservative town a voice of dissent (and in my opinion a voice of reason) is not silenced despite the pressures that the editor may receive from various parties. It means a LOT to me that they allowed my voice to be heard and that tells me that this paper is one of integrity – Dodge County is lucky to have it.

I am breaking this up into two separate posts because this entry will be over 5000 words if I do not, the two shorter responses will be on this post and a very long response from the pastor that was a target of my original TEA Party letter will be on another post.

July Fourth – Religious Holiday?

The first response I would like to reply to is one that comes from a misunderstanding of the writer, and evidently a few other folks. While at the TEA party there was an individual standing outside the grounds at which the rally was being held that started yelling at Rev. Hicks, the speaker that I spent most of my letter complaining about, things that were pretty well in agreement with what I said in my letter. The individual yelled something to the effect of, “What the hell does this have to do with taxes?” among other things that I couldn’t quite make out. Though I agree with the general sentiment of the heckler (as I will call him henceforth), that heckler was not I nor was it anyone within my company at the time. The most protesting I did whilst at the rally was shaking my head at some of the things the speakers were saying, but I did not yell or interrupt the speakers at any point. The letter is as follows:

Editor, There was a letter in the paper July 8,2009 addressing the contents of the T.E.A. party held on July 4, 2009. The person that wrote the article would, by his actions, like to silence the tone on born again Christians.
The 4th of July holiday was picked by those that planned the gathering with the intention of giving a Christian tone, because the 4th of July is a holiday that is celebrated across our nation thanking God for the privilege of assemble. I was one of the people that was in the planning, paying my money and time to have the right to select the speakers that we wanted and giving the right to even an atheist the privilege to attend. Take notice that we did advertise that we would have barbecue, yet this intruder elected not to participate. He brought his own and stayed out of the venue that had been reserved for the TEA Party. By his actions, his purpose was not to come and listen, but was to cause trouble. The 4th of July is a holiday that was selected for Christians to assemble, and if the atheist that wrote the article really wants to organize something for his cause, he should locate and rent an old phone booth and invite all that wants to hear him. He could hold this gathering on the atheist holiday, which is April 1. At least he wouldn’t be bothered by any born again Christians to heckle him. In closing, Mr. Oxley has the right to be wrong. JW (Initials for privacy)
Click MORE to keep reading
As I have already stated, I was not the individual heckling at the rally. I was standing smack dab in the middle of the rally area listening as dutifully as the individuals around me would allow – though I came alone there was a lady there with her friends and family that got into a conversation with me. This lady was an evangelical Christian and she herself expressed her distaste for the religious nature of the speeches and the rally in general calling it, “Too much” and “not the right way to go about it.”
You are correct about me not eating any of the barbecue that was available, I did want some but I had no money with me and my in-laws had a supper planned for that night. This was the only reason that I did not partake. Therefore my intent was to listen and participate, yes I did fear that the rally would be highly religious but I wanted to give the respect of doubting my intuition to the organizers and speakers – sadly the test was failed. I caused no trouble whatsoever until I got home and decided to write the original letter.
I am disturbed by your implication that July 4th is at all a religious holiday or that it has anything at all to do with thanking god for anything. It disturbs me because I would expect an organizer of a protest rally to have a basic working knowledge of our government and it’s history. July 4th is celebrated in America as Independence Day marking the date in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress marking our freedom from the Kingdom of Great Britain. It was not and never has been a religious holiday and there is no reason for anyone to think that a TEA party being held on that day would be overtly Christian in nature.
Regarding “Atheists Day” being the same as April Fools day, I have already dealt with this insulting accusation twice on this website:
The truth still remains, you may have advertised barbecue, but you did not advertise the rally as a Theocratic promotion in any way whatsoever.

“In God We Trust” and Lying Lips

The second letter that appeared in the July 15th edition of the Dodge County News follows:

Dear Editor, I would like to reply to Mr. Oxley’s opinion.

To start off, I would like to pray for you. I am so sorry that your soul is lost and you don’t know God. You pass judgment on the preacher of Solid Rock Church. You are wrong. He is a very godly man. If you would take the time to read the Bible, you would know that the Lord detests lying lips but he delights in men who are truthful. A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself but the heart of fools blurts out folly. To end this, please look on a dollar bill. It tells you “in God we trust.” Eastman, we need God back so continue praying and coming together as God’s people. We can win. P.S. Come and join us at Solid Rock Church of God. Thank you, LP Source

Never, at any point, have I called Rev. Hicks “ungodly” – I have no doubt in my mind that he is a man of integrity and one having the best of intentions. I don’t see at any point that I passed judgment on the man himself but rather on the speech that he gave and its contents. I have a problem with the focus of a tax rally being a return to Christian morals, as if this country was founded upon that in the first place. I have read the Bible, many times from cover to cover,  done countless word studies, spent countless hours defining and defending “cardinal” “sound” “orthodox’ doctrine. I would say that the Bible is the single most destructive thing to Christianity for more reasons than I can list. There is a website that lists quite a few good reasons though, The Skeptics Annotated Bible. Give that a ponder and see why I don’t really cato a more religious state of mind even then it was only found on some coinage. The dollar bill did not receive the slogan until the 1950’s, just a few years before the Gold Standard was discontinued and Federal Reserve Notes became the dominant currency. These notes are only backed by a promise from the Federal Reserve Bank and the motto that those banking heads trust in god. Coincidentally the value of the dollar has been plummeting quickly since these events occurred. Perhaps we should trust less in God and more in gold, silver, platinum, and copper; all being tangible things of real value. In response to your invitation to visit the church, I may just do that some day. I have been once before many years ago when I was searching for a church that was congruent with my former Full Gospel, Charismatic, and strictly orthodox beliefs. Thank you for your response and your well intentioned prayer.

in the next post you will read the Pastor’s response to my letter, and my responses to him.

Please comment, tweet, digg, stumble, and reddit these posts.

Keep reading: My Gripe with the TEA Party: The Pastor Responds

  • ray

    Hmm, not as rabid as I thought. They still miss the point – you weren't attacking or protesting religion, you were protesting the fact that a political rally about taxation was turned into a religious rally.

    Having read several atheist blogs, this is the pattern we see – rational post about a subject (maybe not religion), irrational responses about attacks on Christianity.

  • I am not shocked that they completely misunderstood you, saddened, but not shocked.

  • TypeUserNameHere

    I am completely at a loss for words that someone would think July 4th is a religious holiday.

  • JBI

    Argh, are these people who replied to the editor completely dense? I find it funny how Christians start quoting bible verses whenever they come up against an atheist instead of actually replying to what was said. It reminds me of the horror movies where the clergy hold the cross and chant some ridiculous nonsense from the bible to make the 'demon' go away.

    Another thing that is funny is while your post was mostly polite, the replies outright insult you and call you a liar. Well looks like it takes god to make morally normal people say and do wicked things.

    Go atheism !

    JBI

  • If only these people would just take off their christian-tinted glasses and REALLY read your original letter, we wouldn't have to read these silly replies from them.

    I wish there were more people who would try to UNDERSTAND the other party first before immediately REACTING and drawing their own conclusions.

  • Teri Hinkle

    I am new to Eastman, not quite a year now having moved from Michigan to be near my kids who are residing here. I am a staunch patriot, history fanatic, love my country and am very active in an effort to educate others on “who we are” and “what it means to be Americans.” It is sad to see that so many do not even know that. July 4th is indeed a celebration of our Nations Independence and the founding of our Republic. We are not a democracy as so many have been led to believe. I was so very pleased and excited to learn that there would be a TEA Party rally here in Eastman and I attended both of them. At first I too was disappointed and a little concerned with the strong religious overtones lent to a political issue such as taxes. But then I thought well this is the culture here and when in Rome as they say, I decided it didn’t matter how the people come together, only that they do. What matters is that we recognize what is happening to us, our children and our country. It matters that we see our constitution being shredded and our liberties eroded and that “We The People” do something about it. So today when I was searching to find out when the next Tea Party will be held I came upon this thread and for the first time saw that what the powers that be (those designing the fall of this country) so fervently hope will happen to the movement of the people is happening right here in this small place to these loving, sharing, caring people I have moved amongst. Division. United We Stand, Divided We Fall and they are counting on it. By allowing this movement to become a name calling fest between the people over religious doctrine, personal beliefs or any other issue we play directly into their hands and insure that the progressive socialist agenda will succeed because we are too busy condemning each other to see the true enemy to our freedom. All people are spiritual in some way. Not all are Christians, not all consider themselves to be of any organized doctrine but one thing is clear. We are Americans and we are the last Bastian of freedom in the world. If we fall there is no brick wall left, no opposition to the greed of the few for power over the peoples of the world. Please, hold your faith close, let it be your foundation, judge not the faith of others nor condemn them for not sharing yours. But do remember the Tea Party Movement is about taking our Republic back for ALL the people and standing against those who would TRANSFORM it into something else and change us forever from a Free People to a slave nation like all other nations which are not The United States of America.

    TLH