More T-Shirt Controversy, This Time Among Adults Not Acting Like It

20 05 2010

A conservative Christian mom who’s been active in our state for many years in homeschool politics and done much good work, posted this on her Facebook page today, saying she was a little offended that the women couldn’t express their faith on t-shirts while volunteering for FEMA and that “everyone gets a voice but us”:

FEMA Apologizes After Volunteers Asked to Remove Faith Based T-Shirts for Video

I pointed out that according to the story she’d linked, the offending photographer had been officially apologized for by his agency’s top official Craig Fugate, and then promptly fired, all for having offended the two women volunteers with his request. I asked how getting someone fired for inadvertent offense, particularly in this economy, furthered the faith-based values at issue.

Her reply was that she didn’t know he was fired, but what he’d attempted was censorship pure and simple. So c’est la vie, let him eat cake, if he can afford it on his unemployment check? Faith-based loving your neighbor, yeah boy, we need some more selfless volunteer service like that, to make America a better place!

The thought flashed into my head that Corrie Ten Boom’s sister took the bible quite literally and would not lie even to the Nazis searching for Jews hidden under her kitchen table. She told them right where to look. It wouldn’t have been my choice but it makes sense within her belief system, that’s all I’m sayin’ . . .

So here is my next response:

What I can’t wrap my mind or heart around, is the idea that when Christians are offended by not being able to express who they are in the context of FEMA, it’s a firing offense for the man who so offends them — but in another branch of the federal government, the opposite is a firing offense. Express who you are and YOU get fired. [Don’t ask don’t tell, of course]

Christians are on one side and then the other, not consistently against offense OR censorship.

Never mind nice Christian ladies on Facebook talking among themselves as they certainly are free to do, but what about the Republican Baptist US Congressman sworn to uphold the Constitution and quoted in the story?

“I shared with him that we just didn’t want to have a situation where the government would take the position that volunteers from churches had to be something different from what they were . . .”

What does he really stand for, and is that stand more faithful to modern American legal principles or barbaric ancient middle-eastern mythologies?

What do y’all think about this one?

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37 responses

20 05 2010
JJ

Wonder what the response to this same story would be from these same folks, if the shirts suggested for removal so as not to be memorialized in federal volunteer video footage, had been pro-humanist or even pro-atheist? I’m thinking of some of Lynn’s graphic creations, or Meg’s favorite t-shirts. 😉

20 05 2010
JJ

Or overtly anti-choice in god’s name, or more overtly anti-gay.

Let’s just be blunt. The Salvation Army logo has intentionally tied itself to anti-gay discrimination, in the name of its form of Christianity:

The Salvation Army maintains that they were “not trying to get permission to discriminate against hiring gays and lesbians for the majority of its roughly 55,000 jobs and merely wanted a federal regulation that made clear that the charity did not have to ordain sexually active gay ministers and did not have to provide medical benefits to the same-sex partners of employees.”

So this is no stretch. The connection to the federal DADT censorship-on-pain-of-firing is direct in this case.

And directly offensive!

20 05 2010
Crimson Wife

Dumb ? but I’m drawing a blank on the “DADT” acronym. I went back on phase 1 of South Beach the other day after overindulging on my vacation and the lack of carbs is making my brain a little foggy…

20 05 2010
JJ

Sorry, I spelled it out somewhere — don’t ask don’t tell.

20 05 2010
Meg L.

I suspect they would have been shocked if someone even showed up in one of my shirts.

20 05 2010
Nance Confer

The t-shirts needed to be removed only for the photos? Was this a girls gone wild situation? 🙂 No, I thought not.

But if I were in need of FEMA help, as I have been, I would have peeked out the door at the Christ-emblazoned t-shirts and said “no thanks” as I do to all Bible-bearing types who come to my door. I would have said we are waiting for FEMA and been astounded and insulted if they had told me they were it and I had to put up with their t-shirt evangelism in order to receive FEMA’s help.

I think they should have had to take the shirts off for any time they were on the job. I also don’t think they should have worn anything for or against any other religion or religion itself. It is not the government’s job to send proselityzers to my door.

20 05 2010
JJ

Imagine how poor Haiti must’ve felt — some of those people were actually adopting the kids right out from under the rubble in the name of their religion . . .

20 05 2010
Lynn

…some of those people were actually adopting the kids right out from under the rubble in the name of their religion . . .

Adopting? How about kidnapping? 🙂 Which goes to your earlier point about Corrie Ten Boom’s sister: one can rationalize anything using “inerrant” holy books.

Gotta go drive carpool… I wonder what happened today. 🙂

20 05 2010
NanceConfer

But they were donating those nifty solar-powered Bibles. Just what they needed, I’m sure. . . http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/01/19/2796032.htm

20 05 2010
JJ

Wait, I thought god powered the sun, not the other way around?

20 05 2010
NanceConfer

Ah, the circle of letting other people die. . . it’s a wonder.

20 05 2010
JJ

Dale has a new post today about our sacred duty to hold nothing sacred — remember CrackerGate? — and it sounds like it should apply even on a t-shirt made by miracle:

Muhammad and the Middle

UPDATE: Dale following up as a real Thinking Citizen, realizing simple answers are wrong, even when free speech principles are at issue:
My Fundamentalism

“. . .Free expression has defined a large portion of my adult life. My college teaching career was ended as a direct result of a free expression issue. As a result of this and other experiences, I tend to see free speech issues in fairly black-and-white terms.”

20 05 2010
JJ

More from CrackerGate about the Sacred as Secular Bully:

. . .I am beginning to make some sense of of the whole story’s power, I think — this is all about Rules as the Sacred. Obedience to Mass Authority! Or you will be punished and a jury of your peers will make sure it sticks.

While we do as American citizens enjoy personal freedom and bear individual responsibility, to exercise it fully we might have to voluntarily exit or be expelled from every social network there is. That’s the punishment hanging over our heads every day in every way, because in a culture where we can’t be held against our will unless we’re convicted of actual crimes, what’s left to threaten us with, to control our “free” personal behavior and beliefs?
Shutting us out.

So despite life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we’re all still powerless against the Number One Rule of All Authorities, that any disruptive insiders who object to the rules and try to change them from within by breaking them on principle, will be Forced Out. Case closed.

Our only power is choosing to leave the Rules before they refuse to let us stay and stir up questions and dissent.Think about why your kids aren’t in School — because we don’t believe in that Authority and won’t follow it, right?

Well, what about all the OTHER Authorities controlling all of us, with so many overlapping spheres that we can’t keep them from coming into conflict, where it’s tough to tell which rules really rule our own “right” behavior through the day. Break the rules of the Authority and you are expelled, excommunicated, expatriated, exiled, or simply no longer employed here.

In this one news event, the Catholic Church as Authority started it — swallow and shut up — and it has spread to the political body of the student senate and to a national employer and two PUBLIC secular universities, one targeting a student for expulsion and the other targeting a professor for firing.

21 05 2010
nktrygg

it’s not that much of a mystery – believers want it their way all the time – and what they want is to express themselves, be free from criticism and questions and not allow anyone else the same.

they don’t see it as a contradiction.

living in reality where there is no evidence of supernatural and insisting that there is supernatural everywhere has primed the believer brains to ignore cognitive dissonance

nina
http://ntrygg.wordpress.com/

21 05 2010
Crimson Wife

But doesn’t personal freedom include the right of the individual to embrace authority if that’s what he/she desires? Some people see rules & rituals as overbearing and an “everything goes” mentality as liberating; others see the latter as anarchy while the former as comforting. Fortunately, we live in a society that accords each of us the right to choose for ourselves which path to follow (the civil statutes notwithstanding).

21 05 2010
NanceConfer

Embrace whatever thinking you want. Just don’t put it on a t-shirt when you are representing my government.

21 05 2010
JJ

CW does have a point; each of us does have the freedom to embrace or reject various Authority and rules. Nothing is “free” though, in the sense that everything has a price you choose to pay or not. And I don’t know any pure anarchists or any pure authority without coercion. Everybody I can think of has Authority and rules they embrace as well as those they reject. And every Authority I can think of including different versions of the divine, involves some coercion to follow those particular rules or pay a price.

That’s what I thought I said above, about the communion wafer story — you can embrace it or reject any Authority’s rules and judgments and communion, in church or school or on the job or in your community (virtual or otherwise), and then either way, you can work to reinforce or change that Authority’s rules and practices and effects on society (from inside or outside.) Those all are choices of individual freedom AND personal responsibility.

Each Authority has freedoms and responsibilities too, about how to treat individuals and affect society, and especially what to do in the face of conflicting authority. That goes for fraternities and sororities, government agencies and the military, the courts, political parties, corporations, condo associations, you name it. Parent rights that conflict with individual rights and other Authority, show rehearsals that conflict — what my kids wrestle with — and dress codes in different places including in uniform. I have Constitutional Authority to wear a t-shirt depicting Mohammad most places in America (except to a mosque or maybe on a FEMA video?) but another big-ass Authority may try to assassinate me for it. Is that real freedom from authority or just another compromised choice I have to make and then live or die by?

Snook’s power of story is so often about Authority overlap and conflict, isn’t it? Pulling the thread of one Authority here and watching another Authority unravel over there . . .

21 05 2010
JJ

Did y’all get the original connection I made about these t-shirts? They weren’t actually “Christ-emblazoned” or something vaguely governmental-sounding like “In God We Trust” — no, these t-shirts had the Salvation Army logo emblazoned on them, can you picture it in your head (I’ll add it to the post above to refresh your memory)

The issue there is (ta-da!) Authority Conflict! The Salvation Army of late has been rejecting our modern secular government’s basic civil rights guarantees, arguing just like Rand Paul, that they are private and will discriminate as they please because THEIR Authority is divine and can beat even a legitimate government, much less a socialist-communist one of dubious origin and authority.

Remember the Bill Cosby monologue about threatening his five misbehaving children, “I brought you into this world and I can take you out!” ? Same paternal rights as claimed by religious authorities, not just the Catholic Church but the Salvation Army too — we treat people any way Dad wants. Talk about Parent Rights. But that’s not the end. Next comes authority conflict between earthly parent and heavenly parent. I feel another post coming on . . . 😉

21 05 2010
JJ

Official SA mission statement:

The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.

“Without discrimination” is such an interesting phrase all by itself, given the political controversies about the SA (and the Catholic Church, see snook discussion) discriminating within their own ranks while going about god’s good works, but even more so with the phrase before it:

“meet human needs in His name”

So it’s not doing the good work and giving the help, period. You literally have to be wearing the shirt!

BTW, the Baptist Press story has a t-shirt twist, that after the women were invited to be interviewed on camera if they would change out of their faith-based shirts, guess what they changed to first? Another faith-based shirt! Then they were asked to change again, if they wanted to be interviewed for the video.

So either they weren’t telling the truth about the videographer saying “faith-based” was the reason for the change, or else they were defying him on purpose while seeming to comply, for whatever reason. Either way is more interesting and more human than the holy censorship storyline.

And was their primary motivation when they had to choose, obeying “meet the human needs” or more the “in His name” part of their mission, and were they resisting FEMA’s movie-maker authority on principle, or so wanting to get on camera as individuals that after playing out their hand, in the end they were willing to get on the video even in the name of sacred Southern Belles (who never helped with the work!)

Why can’t I find news coverage that answers what MY inquiring mind wants to know? Ah well, that’s what you guys are for. 😉

When a FEMA photographer approached them to request an interview, he made clear the logos were unacceptable.

“He said, ‘We would like to ask you to change your shirt because we don’t want anything faith-based,'” Lott recounted May 18.

Wedgeworth said the photographer hurt her feelings, especially since she was motivated by her faith to help people in need. But she and Lott changed their shirts and proceeded with the interview because they wanted to recruit other volunteers to help in the cause.

First the women changed into Crossgates Baptist T-shirts and were told to change again, WAPT-TV in Jackson reported. Finally they were allowed to wear Southern Belle shirts.

21 05 2010
nktrygg

If a person was doing work representing or on behalf of FEMA, then they shouldn’t have worn any message T-Shirt to start with – regardless of their being photos or videos.

FEMA is a government agency and as such is secular.

the believers need to understand that the US was not founded on xtian values – most of the founding fathers were anti-xtian and deists, not theists.

the US was founded on humanism ideals that have been hijacked by xtian twisting of separation of church and state

the pledge and the money did not originally have any reference to any deities.

21 05 2010
NanceConfer

Whatever it was founded on, they need to keep their Salvation to themselves at this point.

22 05 2010
Lynn

Interesting that the woman remarked, “I think that’s the reason we’re all here, is by faith.” I guess it’s what the Bible intends when it equates the good works of Christians with “filthy rags.” How much nicer that non-religious give because they actually give a cr*p, absent egocentric, ulterior motives.

nktrygg: FEMA is a government agency and as such is secular.

Which is why evangelical theocrats are in Texas, revising curriculum standards… the subject of JJ’s next post, I see. 🙂

24 05 2010
sam

In CW’s most recent comment she makes the statement, “Some people see rules & rituals as overbearing and an “everything goes” mentality as liberating.” And though I’m going a bit off topic I want to suggest this mentality as being part of the reason there is a divide, that we continue to have that us versus them sort of mentality. At the same time this suggestion is part of the reason the two women who did not in fact have to remove their shirts had to raise a stink. That’s right, they didn’t have to change shirts, but if they wanted to be a part of this video then they had to follow the rules.

What I see both in CW’s suggestion as has been mentioned above is the never ending desire to focus the conversation their way, to get to control the way language is used, to force everyone else to see them as victims.

Too often the victims aren’t the people hurting and in need of help after the storm. The victims aren’t the “different” kids at school, getting their heads smashed into lockers, spending a huge percentage of their time bearing the mockery and derision of their “peers.” The victims are not those soldiers who must serve and protect while living a lie every single second of their lives. No, the victims according to the xtians are other xtians who don’t get to wear a t-shirt that promotes their religion. The victims are those no longer allowed to discriminate.

The difference between people of faith and atheists/agnostics/homosexuals is not that faith means rules and those of us without faith run around doing whatever feels good and forcing the world to accept our nihilistic and anarchic ways. No matter how many times you suggest that doesn’t make it true.

I do follow rules and laws in my life. I even abide by some personal rules that are also found in the Bible, but I don’t need a mean ol’ grandaddy in the sky to tell me to try to be good and respectful, and I don’t live my life with an “everything goes” mentality.

24 05 2010
JJ

I see it much like Sam does, and I remembered a directly opposite example in which the Christian evangelicals twisted t-shirts they did NOT like to argue against free speech rather than for it, because in that case it was absolutely unacceptable for other people to exercise protected t-shirt speech during their common public enterprise, even though it was extracurricular and voluntary.

They didn’t literally burn the shirts in a bonfire (I don’t THINK) but they might as well have done . . .what principle they’d claim made their argument right in both opposite cases, only god knows!

So would CW categorize those folks as authority followers, freedom lovers or just hypocrites willing to twist t-shirts and logic six ways from Sunday?

No “evolution” shirts in marching band, we can’t have a high school associated with gasp, science! Though it was admittedly “not directly against the school’s dress code” and not reasonably construed as anti-bible, even unintentionally, a few offended parent/teachers nevertheless successfully demanded the band’s new shirts be collected, destroyed and replaced with school budget money.

25 05 2010
nktrygg

C’mon, when YOU’RE the VICTIM, you can’t leave room for others to be a victim, especially not one of your victims.

Don’t you find it funny that xtians today act like the Romans are still throwing them to the lions all the while expecting Jews to put the Holocaust behind them?

nina
http://ntrygg.wordpress.com

25 05 2010
NanceConfer

I’m pretty sure CW knows a hypocrite when she sees one. Even if that person is a Christian.

The problem is my tax dollars being entangled with religion. The inability or unwillingness of participants to understand that certain things are tax-dollar funded — FEMA, public schools — and therefore out of reach of religious rules — that’s the problem.

Why don’t we elect people who get that? Oh, right. We are busy electing people to rewrite textbooks to further erode our understanding of the separation of church and state.

Never mind.

25 05 2010
JJ

Yesterday afternoon the kids and I were out running around (getting stuff to tie-dye shirts for their HAIR musical number) so we had the car radio on and off through Sean Hannity’s show. It was a fear-mongering rant about mixing Church and State and rallying support to stop it at all costs! Huh?

Right down the line he said what Nance might say about the insidious intrusion of religious fundamentalism into our secular public systems — that women and girls, for example, can’t be made subject by law to some ancient wacko religion of patriarchal men who won’t let them be free, taking their marching orders from a vengeful god, etc etc. It would destroy America and be unconstitutional!

Oh, but I left out one little detail. The Church he’s so fearful of mixing into State isn’t his. And the State he’s trying to save from Church is the one he claims is a Christian nation.

25 05 2010
JJ

What is codified anti-gay discrimination but a westernized form of sharia law, and which side of its repeal would you guess Hannity’s FOX News is on? (No need to guess)

Trouble is, if it’s a question of discrimination, there’s little to debate. . . [therefore] Fox host Oliver North told Sean Hannity on February 4: “This isn’t about rights. This isn’t about fairness. . .”

Effort to Repeal ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ Picks Up Steam

There’s an opaquely named non-profit “educational” center opposing the repeal.

“I call it the strategy of ‘don’t wait, don’t think.’ Just vote for whatever,” said Elaine Donnelly, who heads the nonprofit Center for Military Readiness, which opposes gays in the military.

I gave you the (also civil rights-dismissive) Salvation Army mission with God’s name right in it, but this is a bit more subtle: “Supporting high standards and sound priorities for our military men and women”

High standards and sound priorities. Okay. My whole career was basically about the power of story in words. This group along with so many other cleverly obfuscating tax-favored political groups, works to entrench their religion’s standards and priorities as the law of the our secular land, despite — in outright defiance of — the Constitution they falsely claim to revere. They just do it without wearing the shirt.

25 05 2010
NanceConfer

Maybe we have this all wrong. Everyone should be required to wear t-shirts proclaiming their beliefs and intent toward others. You and your hippie bunch in tie-dye, others in cross-adorned t-shirts, etc. 🙂

26 05 2010
JJ

Looks like one proud identity t-shirt will finally be allowed for our military pretty soon, at least. Even conservatives are finally getting that the principle is the same, whichever way it cuts:

“In a military which values honesty and integrity, this policy encourages deceit,” [conservative senator Ben] Nelson said of the 17-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” law.

27 05 2010
JJ

More conservative/libertarian Christian hypocrisy, this time about private property rights for me but not for thee:

The home Joe McGinniss is renting used to be an Oxford House from 2005 until 2008. The tenants were men recently released from prison who were recovering addicts. What? No fence to protect sexy Sarah in her tank top? Dear God! Who was lurking in that house watching her children play?

The Palins themselves rented the home McGinnis is staying in for six months in 2009, but weren’t interested in purchasing it. They didn’t want to spend the money. Last October they were “done with the house”. During the election, the Secret Service guarded the Palin home from the backyard now occupied by Mr. McGinnis. Here’s a hint, Sarah – if you want to dictate who lives in the house, you should have probably bought it first.

It’s predictable Palin.

27 05 2010
JJ

Favorite Daughter in turn reminded me about Glenn Beck’s rich man’s fence exception; never mind his rants about immigrants as lawbreakers rather than people trying to do the best they can for their own families, damn the paperwork and bureacrats. Hypocrisy for everyone!

Glenn Beck has been milking his faux populism for ratings gold, but he’s walled off his $4.2 million estate behind a 6-foot barrier to keep the poors out. And we hear his neighbors aren’t happy.

Beck applied for a permit to build a six-foot wall around his New Canaan, Conn., home (pictured above and below) last year, citing security concerns and claiming that he had been “besieged by angry audiences.” Most homes in New Canaan are limited to four-foot fences.

But illegal Mexicans and faceless Illuminati assassins can easily hop four-foot barriers, so Beck asked the town for permission last year to completely encircle his home in a 6-foot wall, and he actually brought a security guard with him to the town meeting where his application was being considered because they are everywhere. Beck had begun construction of the wall prior to receiving permission from the town, a big no-no.

27 05 2010
NanceConfer

The evil-doers can scale a 4-foot fence but not a 6-foot fence? Well, this national security stuff may be easier than I thought.

27 05 2010
COD

i can totally understand beck wanting a wall between him and humanity. It’s not like he has any humanity after all.

27 05 2010
JJ

Wow, Palin’s fence is finished already and it puts the Beck fence to shame at FOURTEEN feet! Of course she used to be mayor of that town so I guess she didn’t need no steenkin’ permits . . .

See the ahem, border fence here.

27 05 2010
nktrygg

is it just me, or is there a huge gap underneath her fence?

Has anyone checked if it complies with local building regulations?

can she be so stupid as to think a fence around her property is comparable to any border fence?

if she wants the media to leave her alone, she just needs to stop jumping up and down to attract the spotlight.

nina
http://ntrygg.wordpress.com

17 12 2010
Ideas of 2010: Happy Thinking! « Cocking A Snook!

[…] of fashion constrained by public dress codes for example, as Snook often does over t-shirts, kilts and serious […]

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