The Devil and Knoxville

I don’t know why my religious beliefs are any of your business…but considering the nature of this post, I will tell you: pushed into this corner (and I do feel a bit pushed for several reasons), I would say I am a deist who believes in the teachings of Christ (mainly: love thy neighbor, Golden Rule stuff). Many of my friends are atheists. While I defend their right to believe in anything (or nothing), as they will (probably with far more honesty than they would defend my right), I think atheism is a religion that pretends not to be, made up of people who can’t wait to explain why they’re right. Kind of like vegans. Except that I respect vegans more. Vegans have faith; atheists have a chip on their shoulders about faith. I’d much rather you say you were an agnostic. Saying you can prove there is no God (or gods) is just as silly as a minister’s arguments about proving God real. The fact is, no one knows what is right or wrong. Go with faith.

Then you bring a government like ours into it. On one side, conservatives will swear the FOUNDING FATHERS (tech department: put some reverb on that, please) were all Christians and that this nation (like almost every nation before it, according to the leaders) is blessed by the hand of God. On the other side, moderates and liberals will generally point out that many of our FOUNDING FATHERS (tech: a wee bit less ‘verb) were in fact not Christians. I won’t bore you with Ben Franklin and the Hellfire Club. I won’t point out the writings of Thomas Paine (if just for their humanist values). But surely you didn’t forget that this nation was in fact founded on religious freedom, diversity, and the ability to practice (or not) that diversity. After all, barely a hundred years –give or take–before the Constitution was penned, they were still burning women (and some men) for basically learning what herbs helped cure fevers and eased childbirth. Like a doctor today, if one of your patients dies, they strip your medical license and burn you at the stake. Okay, well, maybe today you just get hit with a lawsuit. So over the centuries We The People have decided to keep religion and government sort of separate.

When I’m in Knoxville, I listen to 98.7 FM. They are billed as a “talk radio” format station. Hereabouts, that is code for “conservative right-wing talk radio.” I listen to it whenever I am not enjoying one of the songs the infinitely better University of Tennessee student radio station plays. Why don’t I just listen to Modest Mouse for the 300th time this month? Because I believe you should know thy enemy. And Rush Limbaugh (amongst others) is definitely my enemy.

This morning talk radio all over Knoxville was buzzing with the news that a Satanist (from what I gather, of the La Vey stripe) had insisted on his right to say his infernal prayer as is tradition before every city council/county council meeting. Since, before this took place, the city and county of Knoxville had taken turns, allowing various faiths and denominations to say their peace, as it were.

But then the Devil came to town.

After much debate, the powers-that-be (well, the earthly ones) decided to let the Prayer to Lucifer (or whatever it is officially known as, I don’t claim to be an expert, just a troublemaker) go ahead. The radio station played a recording, calling it “creepy” and insisting that it made (the female host) tell God she was sorry. Maybe they were joking…a little bit. After all, when no one but your expected crazies responded, this crazy decided to take matters of religious freedom into my own hands.

I looked up the number to the station and, for a wonder, I got through. I explained my point to the call screener, and then told him I understood he probably wouldn’t let me say my piece.

Boy, was I surprised. As the only person in Knoxville that thought it was rude to loudly yell the Lord’s Prayer and “Amen” over the Prayer to Lucifer (or the only person who decided to speak up), I became a minor celebrity/figure of hate. The radio station even played Motley Crue’s “Shout at the Devil” during my defensive argument and the back-pedalling by the hosts when I brought up how the First Amendment only seemed to apply to white, Republican Christians. It was kind of cool, I won’t lie. I remember as a teenager, my little clique of punk/metal heads would rock to that song. And I felt like I was making a fair point: if you are going to SAY that you are for diversity, be prepared to back up diverse things. Things you might not like.

And Shout. Shout at the Devil.

 

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