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Radical Incline

TV or Not TV

Yes, Virginia, there is an 'off' switch.

1997 March 22

Editor, the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise
P.O. Box 1278
Bartlesville, Oklahoma 74005


The caller to Off the Cuff who likened a television broadcast to people fornicating in the middle of main street is the most profound, and pitiful, example of the hypnotic power of television. Or, more accurately, the weakness of some American minds. It was all the more poignant and pitiable that the caller was responding to a previous caller who had, wisely, noted that our televisions come equipped with a very important control called the "off" switch.

Our family has followed the uproar surrounding the broadcast of Schindler's List, and the comments of an Oklahoma representative, with considerable amusement. From the time our first-born was very young, television in our household has been tightly controlled. Their viewing habits were monitored and directed. Even Saturday morning cartoons were tape-recorded and they were early taught to use the fast-forward button to bypass the commercial announcements. This didn't prevent them from watching the ads they wanted to see, but they didn't have to sit through them repeatedly, and they soon learned that by fast-forwarding they could watch three half-hour shows in about one hour — learning to budget as well as control their own viewing.

When the kids were old enough to be granted more freedom, I noticed that their early training worked pretty well. The kids were able to distinguish between a quality program and junk. (So if they were watching junk, at least they knew it was junk.) When I'd catch them unawares, they'd be absorbing something from the Discovery channel. They've never yet seen any of the violent material most of their peers grew up on, and they never grew cynical about the better Disney productions.

Last year, for various reasons, we simply switched the tube off, and it's been mostly off ever since. The kids were forced to give up their cartoons, and Dad gave up his Star Trek and, with great regret, Babylon 5. We all miss Touched by an Angel. But, it's all on tape somewhere, I reminded them, it'll all be around for decades, in re-runs, and before long TV programs will be available like the computer files I get from CompuServe or the Internet — downloadable and watchable at our own time and convenience, not that of some advertising-motivated network program manager on the Coast. We cut the cable, quit the satellite subscription, and ignored the antenna. The VCRs, indeed, went into storage. We weren't even remotely threatened either by someone's idea of "entertainment" or by that most lurid and fictional of material called "the news."

The other night, I stopped at the video rental store, just to see if they knew when that movie Michael would be released. My daughter mentioned some other show we had thought to rent. We were all reminded that there are so many great movies, yes, and television shows, to watch. But we drove off empty-handed. I noted that we had been getting along pretty well, and had plenty to fill our lives, since we'd started doing without television, and to my surprise one of my wonderful offspring, indeed the one I felt had been most television-habituated, remarked, "That's for sure!" Gratifying!

So for that poor hapless victim of television addiction who called the paper, there is, for some of us at least, a monumental difference between what happens in the middle of main street and what we have the choice to view, or not view, broadcast into our homes. What you see on main street is unavoidable. What comes across the television you have to actually invite into your home, by purchasing the equipment, setting up the connections (antenna, cable, satellite dish), supplying the electricity, and turning it all on at certain times. A far more apt comparison than to main street would be whether you would permit a couple to come fornicate, or (more aptly) do violence to each other, in your living room while the kids were there. If you have your television on, it's your own choice. You have no one to blame but yourself.

Yes, Virginia, there is an "off" switch. It is effective. There is also self-discipline and parental discipline. But none of them work if you don't exercise them.

Another Mindful Webwork about mass media:
Mass Media News — Cause for Despair, or...? On the evolution, status, and future of news reportage and the public interest.
Mike the TV from Reboot

Radical Incline

Freedom to Marry

Does the State define marriage?

Defending Common-Law Marriage

Background: The Oklahoma House of Representatives has passed a bill which would destroy common-law marriage in the state. Immediately below is a letter to the Tulsa World defending the right of individuals to contract to marry one another without approval of church or state. Further below is a follow-up article.

In 1980, my spouse and I married each other. We were not married by the State. We were not married by a pastor or a justice of the peace. We were not married "by" anybody. We did not even seek our families' approval. As free people, we chose to marry one another, and quite intentionally chose to marry each other here because, despite so many other tyrannical notions, Oklahoma law permitted free people to marry one another (at least if they were heterosexual and monogamous). Representative Ray Vaughn of Edmond says common-law marriages are "an affront to legitimate marriage." Our marriage of seventeen years and three children, legal and recognized by the State of Oklahoma, he has just as much as called illegitimate! Rep. Vaughn, you owe us an apology.

I sympathize, a little, with the judges, that divorce or estate problems can arise from poorly-substantiated common-law marriages. It is important that if (as the law has been) a man and woman "hold themselves forth as married," and they have property or children, they must do so in some public fashion to establish the legitimacy of their marriage for legal, financial, and inheritance purposes. (Actually, it is my opinion that there are no illegitimate children, and that every birth signifies a kind of marriage, regardless of the legal marital status of the parents, and regardless of the effective "bigamy" that may sometimes result; the separation of "marriage" from family-creation is one of the greatest peculiarities of our age. But that's another matter.) In our marriage, substantiation took the form of re-writing my will to identify myself and my spouse as married, and we let our friends and family know we were subsequently to be regarded as married from 1980 February 5. People who marry one another by any means without proper thought to the legal ramifications are asking for "headaches," as the World article put it. The burden of proof should lie with the couple. For those who wish to do so, registration with the State is a convenient way of substantiating marriage. However, the convenience of the State is no excuse for obviating adult liberty to marry one another.

Marriage Liberty, not Marriage License

In response to the article above, a lawyer replied to Law Forum on CompuServe. My correspondent suggested that the traditional reasons for common-law permission were antiquated and reiterated the legal difficulties and fraud which may occur due to common-law arrangements and asked how a requirement for a marriage license would violate the right of free adults to marry. This is my reply, slightly edited.

As if state-approved marriage is not a frequent source of litigation? I noted the difficulties with freedom to marry, and I noted the importance of careful establishment of even a common-law marriage, and I protested that the convenience of the state or the occurrence of difficulties is not sufficient cause for regulation. If, after such statements, you can still ask me to "explain exactly how much of a hardship it would have been for you to obtain a license," I despair of doing so as much as I would in attempting to explain the benefits of a free-market system to an ardent communist.

The point is not that we would have found it "much of a hardship" to kowtow to State overcontrol of a private contract, but whether the State has the right to stick its fat Big Brotherly nose in our private marriage at all! You may perhaps gather something of my radical libertarianism if I point out that I in the same vein protest such laws as driver's licenses, and Social Security registration, both of which are on my mind especially this weekend as I have just obtained an Oklahoma driver's permit for my daughter (as evidenced by my fingernail gouges in the dashboard), and attempted to, at long last, and under protest, register my three offspring with the Socialist Insecurities Pyramid Scam office.

(Amusingly, the SS would not accept their birth certificates as sufficient, and required a second i.d. Since they are all home-schooled, we have no school i.d.s to offer, and we have had to ask our physician to provide some kind of identification that they are who their parents say they are, which was the only other form of i.d. the SS serf said was acceptable. With redoubled irony, I note that now that the birth certificate which the SS said was insufficient has been used to obtain a driver's permit for my daughter, she can turn around and use that permit as i.d. to register with the SS. Go figure that!)

That which it is unnecessary for the state to do should not be done. Mary Jo and I have been married for over twenty years, legally, without recourse to State or Church, and since such liberty is feasible, it is not our burden to suggest why it would be a "hardship" to register with the Gummint, but the Gummint's impossible burden to prove why private marriage contract should not be valid without State approval. That others attempt criminal abuse of liberty should no more be a cause for us to be regulated than the private consumption of a substance by sociopaths should impinge upon the rights of peaceful and non-trespassing individuals to acquire and consume as they will. But of course, we know where our Prohibitionist-mad nation stand on that!

Marriage liberty, not marriage license. [grin] The right of the State to approve marriage also, no matter how careful the wording of the legislation, ultimately gives the State the right to disapprove as well, and that includes the prohibition of forms of contract which, as with liberty of speech or press, you or I might not like for ourselves or our children, as polygamy or homosexual life-contracts, neither of which has approval in any state, yet, last I knew, although the latter was being softened up in some states.

Thanks for the opportunity to attempt expansion on this, even if I'm not all that effective in my attempt.

2015 Jun 10: Years later, the question is more pertinent than ever.
Alabama’s marriage license abolition would be a bureaucratic nightmare by Casey Given, Rare

…While leaving the complex matter of marriage up to two consenting adults and their community is undoubtedly the best option in a libertarian utopia, the unfortunate reality is that doing so in the American legal system today would put a couple at significant disadvantage. To be specific, the federal government has a number of tax and entitlement benefits earmarked specifically for married couples, and Alabama’s failure to recognize a couple’s nuptials — gay or straight — could lead to a bureaucratic headache.…

(h/t TJ Martinell, Tenth Amendment Center)

Radical Incline

Religion & Science: Conflict & Harmony

Each tends to attack the weak points of the other and dismiss the baby with the bathwater.

That religion is incorrect about scientific origins is as regrettable as that scientists presume to apply material knowledge to the realm of values. Science is adept at quantifying but it cannot determine quality. Religion is a combination of many elements, and to attack the false ones and dismiss the rest without investigation would be tantamount to looking at science prior to the enlightenment, in its alchemical days, or looking at some of science's more blundering goofs, and finding these paths false dismiss the rest of science as hocus-pocus.

So there is bad science, actually bad scientists, folks who cling to their pet theory in the face of all contrary evidence, folks who slant their testing results to get what they wanted, and folks who are just plain wrong in their application of the scientific method.

And there is bad religion, actually bad religionists, folks who cling to their pet superstitions in the face of all contrary evidence, folks who will acknowledge only the data which supports their beliefs, and folks who are just plain stubborn and dogmatic.

Science, however, being a materially-oriented and rational subject, is self-testing to remove the bad science — peer-review journals and standards of testing by which errors are eliminated and data confirmed or falsified, theories tested and fine-tuned or altered as needed. It's a slow process, sometimes. Good scientists never believe they have the final answers or "facts" at any time, but are always willing to be corrected, shown new and better understandings, and progress.

Religion, on the other hand, being values-oriented and subjective, is self-testing in different ways. There is peer review and there are standards of testing, but they are more complex and qualitative because there is no material standard for human values. Over time, we have tried and tested theories of religion, from the ghost-spirit superstitions to the tribal gods, to the polytheistic pantheons, to the monotheistic but still largely irrational king-God to a single personal parent of eternal salvation. Human values, evolving over time, reflect in our ideas of what a Deity would be like. In an age when slavery was acceptable, the highest teaching was that one should treat one's slaves well; in a more advanced age, we know that a God of love and mercy would not want us to enslave our fellow sentient. It's an excrutiatingly slow process. Good religionists never believe they have the final answers or "truth" at any time, either, but are always willing to be corrected, shown new and better understandings, and progress.

You may wonder why there are so many more good scientists than good religionists, then. Many reasons. We're in the scientific age, and I praise God that we are. Science learned how to be scientific a few centuries back, and that intelligence has gradually been taught to the world. Material reality, like a hot stove, provides a rapid feedback mechanism, and so science, once it was freed from the shackles of superstitious religious tyranny of the ages, took off like the space rockets it helped inspire. The feedback mechanisms of society's evolution of values is not as clean or quick as material feedback. Hard to put "treat each other fairly" under a microscope and show your neighbor the "proof" that it's better than "rip each other off."

Creationism, as an outgrowth of Biblical Fundamentalism attempting to reinforce its peculiar literalist interpretations of ancient creation myths, is a pitiful example of the worst of religion trying to do science. Unfortunately, some of those who respond to Creationism (and similar aberrances) go beyond making their good points about scientific realities, and stumble into the realm of theology, declaring there is no God. Note this well: Science cannot prove or disprove anything supermaterial. Never can, never will. Science is absolutely silent on the supermaterial because science deals exclusively with matter. If a religion says, the universe began in this way, and science indicates otherwise, that only proves that the particular myth was inaccurate, but it hardly obviates faith in a Creator to realize one's myth was inadequate. These scientists who stumble into theology generally know their science very well but tend to attack the "easiest targets," the most primitive and superstitious aspects of religion, and thus show they may know science but know next to nothing about advanced modern theology. That disproving Creationism disproves God would come as quite a surprise to the millions of faithful who acknowledge both evolutionary theory and the theories of the origins of the cosmos without any religious conflict.

Whatever we discover in matter, wherever we may venture in the realm of mind, however we experience values in our lives as we interact with our fellow personalities, faith simply says, this is God's creation. Faithful living is simple but not simplistic. If God has permitted "evil" in the world, we recognize what seems "evil" is simply the shifting of matter, the partiality of perpetual evolutionary transition, the residue nature of our animal ancestry, and the selfish choices of the unenlightened.

Far from destroying faith, evolution enlightens us to God's purposes in this life! Rather than explaining pain and suffering in this life by concocting stories of Pandora's Box or the Eve-bitten Apple (which metaphors are useful for teaching but hardly scientific), instead of seeing God as a capricious ruler, we can now appreciate the cosmos-spanning Master Artisan of Time and Space. If God wanted to create perfect beings, a perfect universe, eternal and existential, then God would. And did. However, certain elements are not possible in such a heaven: evolution, growth, conflict, all that which comes from partiality and imperfection and the striving toward greater unity, toward light, toward increasingly better use of energy. In order to have those elements, yes, we have to have some pain and suffering. And a universe full of time-space sentients — including you and me my sibling — are made possible only because God created the Void, the hole in Godself where something as un-Godlike-seeming as us could happen.

Science and religion are far from antithetical. Each can, and in more enlightened ages and peoples, does illuminate the other. Superstitions and dogmatism stood against science, but good religion stands against superstition and dogmatism. Materialism and skepticism stand against religiion, but good science eschews such philosophies as materialism and skepticism. There is a hierarchy: values are more important than meaning, meaning more important than fact. In biological evolution, the fact of life is succeeded by the meaning-discerning mind, and ultimately self-reflective and value-recognizing personality appears. Gods.

"Have I not said, you are gods?" — Jesus of Nazareth. Read Genesis, not again but anew, this time shucking off the foggy glasses of Fundamentalist interpretations, and see the words written in flame: And God said, let us make man in our image. This is not God's-like-us homocentrism. This is truth. We are made in the image of God. We have bodies. God's body is all that is (this is the body and the blood). We have meaning-discerning and reason-capable minds. God's mind is beyond, but also encompassing of, all the mindedness of all levels of reality: time-space, eternal-infinite, and all the transcendental levels. (Whoops... am I losing you? Hang on.) God's values — ah, you see, that's what we're discovering, uncovering, having unfold in us. Thus, when we discover material facts, we are discovering the body of God. When we discern meanings and abstract understandings, we are exploring and unfolding the potentials of the mind of God in time and space. When we interact with our universe as unique personalities, and interact with our fellows, we employ value-systems which are the crude reflection of the spiritual goodness which God wishes us to ultimately become for all future eternity, and that is true for each person individually and for each world.

Evolution can be either adaptive or progressive. Science cannot evaluate "progress," but it can measure efficiency and energy, and as I said before, there is increasing efficiency of energy utilization evident in the progression from unicellular to multicellular to higher organisms with specialized systems to central neural networks to the central processing brain units, from plant to animal, from stationary to mobile, from the murky and limited sea to the sunlit and variegated land environments, from simple mentation to highly adaptive behaviors to complex social organizations (obviously, I'm Reader's Digesting the progress of mind evolution) to the explosively varied and complex human civilization... and now we verge on the age when we must encompass one another completely — worldwide fellowship. Fortunately, science has been right along with us in this task, bestowing upon us in the wild and value-free evolution of its own (encouraged by warring tribes) the technological incentive of the potential for various types of planetary humanicide.

Adaptation is simply adaptation, but progress is real. Society's progression is just an extention of the patterns and processes by which unicellular became multicellular. Sciences, both material and social combined, may not say anything about God, but the trends they chart point toward a more progressive and fellowshipping civilization. Some have suggested that there is an ultimate social unity, a kind of "unified field theory" which could ultimately evolve, and they say "that's God" — someday in the eternal future, so to speak. A more encompassing theology acknowledges this but recognizes that the "final product" of time and space is also the same as the "original" of eternity — that God is source and destiny not only of the individual soul but of the entire universe.

Here's what we've got. A universe that's beautiful in its scientific perfection, minds which seem to have incredible potential for appreciation of this universe, and a sense of the divine — by which I mean we evaluate ourselves, our circumstances, and one another in our lives. Beauty, truth, and goodness are the ideals of the realms of science, philosophy, and religion. Fact, meaning, and value are the respective arenas of matter, mind, and spirit. We live on a threshhold, using our minds (the up-and-running software) to appreciate the world we receive through our material senses and brain (the hard... or in this case technically wet-ware) "beneath" us, and to appreciate the insight we receive through our superhuman senses from "above" us — "the still, small voice within."

That's the theory. Believing in this or any other theology is simply acknowledging that there are levels of understanding beyond us — God — which we seek to comprehend, and they don't yield to scientific testing. You have to wash feet, cook food, carry water, raise children, love and suffer and sweat and wonder and joy — all the while knowing that God is with you — even at death. That's how you test, not religion, but faith. The tenets of religions are usually nothing more than social trappings, dogmatic doctrine, tribal rituals and superstitious creeds, organizational chains, and poor social and scientific policies, and have nothing much spiritual or saving about them. Some truths stand eternal, though, and you'll find them on a side shelf in the closet of most religions: love God, love one another, strive toward perfection, find wisdom. These are truths, simply stated, but to understand them is hardly going to happen by just saying those few simple words.

How would someone who simply feels no use for God get to know God? Now, that's a funny one. Aren't there perfectly moral, surpassingly good people out there who don't seem to have any faith, even declare themselves atheist? I only conjecture that a worthy God would not give such an atheist any different treatment than any other of God's children, wouldn't you agree? That is to say, the consequences of one's behavior are the same, whether you have faith or no faith. "God causes the rain to fall upon the just and the unjust alike." Survival into whatever next life awaits should not be judged on something as arbitrary as belief but upon whether one has developed any human qualities of survival value.

In heart, we may be faithful, but in mind we must reason as agnostics. Let's be reasonable. If God is, then would you or I accept anything less than an ideal God? That is, God must be reasonable, too, and therefore just, and let's make God loving, too. Is that a more acceptable ideal than capricious, contrary, or fickle? Let us work with that ideal, then, as our theoretical basis. A just God would not condemn anyone simply for not believing in a God that has been presented badly in one's life. A reasonable Creator will present opportunities for creature correction for whatever we failed to get right in this life, and grant us understanding to satisfy our intellects if not recompense as balm for our souls for what we endure here. A loving Parent will provide mechanisms for our continuance beyond material death and for eternal life. If this theology is not satisfactory, what have you got that's better?

I also reason that if there is such an ideal God, and if this personable Parent truly shares my life almost as one with me, then there's just a chance, an outside chance, that God may have some clue and just might be worth getting to know, even if I don't yet understand why. That would just seem sorta reasonable to me.

God creates the Universe

How would you get to know God? Like anyone else, you get down on your knees (or sit in lotus position in your closet or — my favorite — take a walk in some private natural setting) and you say, all right, God, I'm here, and someone told me you are here, and I don't accept anything anybody says about you, but I'm willing to get to know you if you're real. Then you wait for an answer. If you hear voices, be very worried, and consider competent psychological help, because not for nothing is it called "the still, small voice within." Just keep alert. It's not that God is going to Come Calling Today. God's always been here. You're not "going to Heaven" ("Imagine there's no heaven... it's easy if you try...") or anyway this is all you get of heaven — the presence of God — right here and now. That breeze (is it from the woods or the factory)? It's the breath of God. That chorus of voices (is it the babble of children playing or a screaming mob at war?) is the voice of God. That face before you, that's God's face. That thought you had just now, that help you wanted to give someone the other day, those are God's thoughts, God's kindness. This life is what God is giving each of us as your commandment of the moment.

Volumes could be written about living faith as opposed to the mere mechanisms of belief systems. Volumes have, in fact, and I could suggest a few if you're interested. But volumes could be written just as easily in opposition, and all the volumes in the world don't make up for one moment of faithful service.

It was the last meal before they arrested and killed Jesus. A private spread had been laid out, and the servants were called off. While Jesus lagged, his twelve main men headed upstairs for the feast. When they walk in the dining room, there's the foot-laving supplies, but no servants. The servants are downstairs hanging out with Jesus! Well, who's going to wash our feet? They all look at each other. Then they look at the table, with its Chief Seat and the Seats of Honor. Judas, already intoxicated with his plans of betrayal for that evening, boldly takes the Right Hand Man slot. Peter decides to be Humble and takes the low seat, expecting he'll be called up. The rest grab positions. They're in a fine mood and still grousing when the big dude walks in and instantly scopes out the situation. Without a word, he doffs his toga, puts on the servant's wrap, and goes up to Peter. Peter can't believe his eyes. Here's the Son of God, about to play the meanest of servants. No way, says Pete a/k/a Rocky. Jesus looks up at him standing there and says, Rocky, if you don't let me do this then we might have to cancel your reservation on the halleluia express. Whoa! says Rocky, then Master, I'll let you wash me all over. (They were very close, but not like that, you know. Rocky was just babbling.) And Jesus proceeds to go around the table, washing the feet of every single one of those rascals. Look it up, and what he said.

God lives in a small mud-and-grass hut just outside the palace walls. The King leaves the palace one day and goes next door to the lowly hut to give God the deed to all the Kingdom. God receives the deed, smiles and says, thank you. Now you run it for me.

Newsgroup-appropriate closer: the realm of mind is affected by the substances we consume. Experience every aspect of your life as a prayer, a psalm of joy. Do what you do and dedicate it to God, says Krishna, and Jesus, and Radd Dadd, among many others. Make what you do holy. This gift of experience we share with God closer than a lover, as close as our own soul. Whether we are chopping wood and carrying water or tripping the astral plane, on earth or in a life to come, the commandment of love remains. Praise Jah, raise a mantra to Shiva and Krishna, thank the Almighty for the goods. Beware of poisoning the living temple of your spirit, the womb of your eternal soul, by self-destructive indulgence. Use and abuse are a fine line apart, as the priest drunk on the sacramental wine would tell you. As Ram Dass related, the object is to be high not to get high. Be joyous even if it's kinda hard to be sometimes during dry spells. Vaya con Dios, my siblings. Aloha and happy trails.

More Mindful Webworks regarding matters of faith
Best of Spirits

Radical Incline

Independent Religionist's Liberty

Are U.S. Constitutional religious rights refused non-aligned religionists?

Intersection of Church & State[*]High Times, June 1996 issue, Peter Gorman reports that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has "unanimously ruled that Rastafarians have the right to use a freedom-of-religion defense in marijuana-possession cases. The ruling, based on the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act...is the first of its kind with regard to marijuana use." Details of the case are given, not relevant here, and then the article notes, "The ruling does not suggest that Rastafarians have a right to smoke or possess marijuana, only that they have a right to raise their use of the herb, which they consider a sacrament, as a defense against possession charges."

In case you're not familiar with the act, the article notes that "the Religious Freedom Restoration Act [guarantees] protection of religious practices unless there is a 'compelling government interest' at stake and if prohibiting them is the 'least restrictive means' of achieving that compelling interest."

Now here is the crux of the matter, my reason for posting this, again from the article: "the court went to great pains to note that Rastafarianism is a recognized religion with a long history of marijuana use and that 'It is not enough in order to enjoy the protections of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to claim the name of a religion as a protective cloak."

Now, this stands in line with past decisions on religious freedoms, as I understand them (I am not a lawyer). Federal schools require children to have had certain vaccinations, unless those children are members of a "recognized religion" which has objections to such programs, e.g. the Jehovah's Witnesses. It is not enough to have an ethical, moral, or personal material (scientific) belief in the inefficacy or dangers of vaccinations, you must be a member of a "recognized religion" which has a standing religious objection to vaccinations. Similar rulings, so I understand, regard military conscription (recalling the furor and accusations when Muhammad Ali invoked his Islam beliefs to refuse to take up arms against his fellow human being).

But what about the individual believer? Like many devout members of "organized" and "recognized" religions, one might have a religious belief against military service, against vaccination, or for marijuana or peyote, but as a "non-aligned" individual of faith, THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT RECOGNIZE THAT RELIGION. In effect, individual religionists are penalized for their beliefs, their religious liberty denied. The government considers such individual believers to be "claiming the name of a religion as a protective cloak."

Such is my understanding. As an independent religionist, a cult of one (or at most a cult of my immediate family), with strong beliefs in the involvement of the Spirit at all levels of physical and mental activities, this is outrageous to me. If a Jehovah's Witness can claim religious objection to protect children against invasive government-ordained medical procedures, why cannot any religious individual who holds that the body is the temple of the spirit? If a Quaker can be exempted from military conscription, why cannot any religious individual who holds that individual conscientious choice dictates against forced military service? If a Rastafarian or a Peyote-using AmerInd is permitted to partake of their sacraments (and this is not, to my understanding, yet decided, due to the anti-"drug" hysteria which addles society's morality), then why cannot any individual believer rightfully partake of the bounty of God's spiritually-uplifting medicines?

In none of these cases, you will note, does an individual transgress against another. Thus, all such private individual behaviors or substance use abide by the Golden Rule of love of God and fellowship with one another upon which are supposed to hang all the laws, as Jesus taught. This is Principle, and religiously-held. But if you're not a Member of a State-recognized (and therefore State-sanctioned) organized religion, you're not "religious." The law, therefore, defines and establishes "religion," in violation of the First Amendment proscription on doing so. Even if religious defense were permitted, the burden of proof would not be upon the State to show that religion is only being invoked as a protective cloak, but upon the individual to prove that these are truly religious beliefs; without an "organized" religion with a "history" of beliefs in these regards, any such defense is likely to fail.

Until the individual religionist can rightfully claim to BE a religionist, and rightly point to such "unpopular" beliefs and find protection therefore, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, not to mention the First Amendment, are being violated.

Related Mindful Webworks:
Prohibition fuels gangsterism —It's not drugs but PROHIBITION which provides the fuel for the modern equivalent of rum-runner profits and Al Capones.
Repeal! / Repeal Heals — not only is the so-called war on drugs utterly unwinnable, it is in its very conception a perversion of the important purposes of good government. The way to personal or social health is positive.
The Golden Rule and Prohibition — Countering common erroneous arguments for prohibitionism and applying the Golden Rule
A run-in with Officer Green"WHAT'S THAT SMELL??" scowled Officer Green, and ordered me out of my car.
Head Shop — Cartoons, songs, and more regarding the appeal of indulgences and the consequences of desire.