Branson's Christmas Debate - Brief Commentary
After the following statement was made during Branson Missouri's City Council public comment, I received a mixed response. One pastor told me of a study which revealed 30% of Branson residents claim religious affiliation. Another pastor wanted me to consider the good works happening in the Branson area - which are plenty. In my opinion, its important that we have open dialogue so truth can rise above the chatter, here are the comments I made to the board:
Mayor, ……board of Alderman, thank you for your hard work, service and continuing commitment to open governance. When you fall short I’ll be happy to let you know. It’s part of how I make my money – please don’t kill the messenger.
I’d like to especially thank Ward 3 Alderman Stephen Marshall for admitting in a planning session last week that I’m better looking than him – It was the most honest thing I’ve heard from a politician in my life.
Mr. Marshall You’ve been blessed with a wonderful family and I can only hope I become equally blessed when if I’m lucky enough to grow as old as you.
The text was carefully crafted to narrowly avoid a lawsuit.
It was specifically crafted to avoid a potential lawsuit – after all – Ozark Mountain Christmas is a marketing tool not a religious affirmation
Right? (Alderman Shake heads in agreement)
But it’s the spirit it was created in that causes me concern. There is no doubt in my mind that the text was drafted to set precedence of one religion over another. Much of the criticism of Branson by the national press isn’t over the city fathers acting Christian but rather declaring their Christianity when actions taken by members of the community often tell a different story.
Two weeks ago, I briefly elaborated on my cultural heritage. It was a dangerous act because people all over the world have attempted to kill my ancestors because of it. Hate speech crafted by politicians rarely fail to include my family lineage – a lineage which also has religious affiliations.
My grandmother was born in Stuttgart Germany and fled to the United States to avoid religious persecution. Prior to Hitlers regime – which demanded citizens of the states be given a death sentence because of their family line and religious beliefs an author by the name of Karl Marx wrote a pamphlet called “The problem of the Jew and the German State”. In it Marx argues that a Jewish man cannot be considered a German because people of Jewish descent considered Jews from neighboring countries their brothers before they considered the German next door their brother.
Interestingly, the birth of Jesus Christ was marked with the slaughter of Jewish people by King Herod mirroring the conditions which Moses before him was born into.
The actions of these politicians proved the validity of the Good Book itself. It promises that part of my family line, the line of Abraham, will forever endure. The prophecy is true, I’m living proof.
Each time politicians came and decided it was ok to kill my family because of their religious affiliations their numbers grew – martyrdom often paves the way for church growth. Missouri is no different as relatives of mine escaped the hands of neighbors because they didn’t believe another had a right to practice his faith. They didn’t believe that God could whisper one thing to one man and another to his neighbor.
As Mormon’s in the visitor’s center in Jackson County Missouri recount the story – it was the mormon’s policy towards slavery which resulted in the anti-mormon sentiment not their disbelief that God saves through grace alone. They weren’t allowed to vote in their designated precincts and when they did - the Governor of Missouri granted state Citizens the right to rape mormon women and kill the church leaders.
My personal religious affiliation is of the modern Baptist variety so the text being drafted for vote isn’t offensive to me from a religious perspective. From a moral and political perspective its highly offensive. The timing – the first day of Hanukah – appeared to shun members of the community that have differing beliefs than you and I. Though another judge is charged with weighing hearts – I’ll assume for the sake of argument that you’re Christian. Your religious affiliations are the only topic that you’ll never have to ask me to go off the record with – they’re personal and not something to be shared without specific approval.
Another writer in the community who I’ve dubbed “The Vulture” boasts the proposed legislation comes from an article he wrote which mixes allusions to genetalia with an affirmation of a specific faith, The article was an opinion peace specifically exclusionary.
The existence of God is a prerequisite to the formation of the United States, the constitution and the bill of rights. The social contract was formed after text by John Locke declared man had certain unalienable rights. He argued since we are all heirs of Adam we deserve the right to life liberty and land. Jefferson later altered the text to “pursuit of happiness” – I suppose Jefferson believed happiness was a more readily available commodity than land – the rise of real estate prices in Branson do a fine job of proving his case.
The good thing about city council’s proposal is that the citizenry of Branson began to meditate and discuss our faiths. This is always a good thing and I hope the board of alderman determine today that profession of one’s beliefs are a good idea and help create what I’ve been asking the board of alderman to do for months – consider our spiritual economy.
I believe the simple statement, “ We the board of alderman affirm the right of citizens the God given ability to express their beliefs no matter what they are” to be a positive addition to the proposed language regarding the “Christmas Proposal”. I pray you’ll consider the addition.
I’d like to wish you a happy Hanukkah the holiday Jesus Christ would most likely be celebrating if he were here today and a Merry Christmas. Let’s remember the spirit of Christmas in our daily actions – it’s far more important than the word.
The debate at Branson's city hall last night was the most exciting exercise in democracy I've ever had the ability to witness firsthand.
Members of the community stood up and openly shared their beliefs and though the environment was heated - it was open - honest and indicative of a community open to hearing opposing viewpoints. This is what democracy is about and part of what makes Branson such a great place to live.
The city issued a press release which received media play all over the state. I was proud of being a citizen of Branson last night. I felt the spirit our forefathers must have felt when they drafted the sacred documents upon which our nations political structure was established.
Articles Published In Media Outlets Regarding Branson's Christmas Proposal