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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Bryan Kennedy defends religious principles

I want to thank Jay for allowing me the opportunity to respond to harsh and hateful attacks from religious zealots. It is interesting that MU Warrior and Boots and Sabers bloggers have taken my post completely out of context and attributed to me many things that I DID NOT say. (They must be in training for a talk radio future.)

First and foremost: I am a practicing Christian, a Sunday School teacher, and I gave two years of my life to religious service in a developing country. I am married and the father of three small children, ages 6, 4 and 2. My two year old already knows how to pray, and she learned it from me and my wife. My missionary service in Portugal and subsequent research among the poorest of the poor in Brazil should remove ALL DOUBTS about my Christian principles and moral values.

Next: Allow me to define AGENCY by quoting the 11th Article of Faith of the LDS Church, "We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, and what they may." (See http://scriptures.lds.org/a_of_f/1)

Finally: As for the lies, misquotes and misappropriations in
MU Warrior and Boots and Sabers, allow me to respond to the worst of these:

MYTH: I am a liberal. TRUTH: I was raised in a Conservative Christian Republican family. My parents and my brothers are still Republicans. I left the Republican party to work for a conservative, pro-life Democrat from Utah--Congressman Bill Orton. I am a political moderate, and far more independent-minded than McAdams and Owen give me credit for. I am a civil libertarian, I fear big government that spies on its citizens, I despise taxes that are squandered on pork barrel projects, I loathe deficit-spending, and I could never support the theocratic direction of the current leadership. I believe in agency and allow all religious (and areligious) people to believe what they want to believe. The problem is that a small but powerful group of conservative religious ideologues have tried to hijack the political process and legislate their religion for other people to live. That goes against my concept of agency, and DEFINITELY goes against the libertarian-leaning Republican Party of my youth.

My father often said that big government controls people's lives and we should always be wary of government having too much power. In 1991, he also made two prescient observations. (At the time, we were both Republicans, although I switched parties shortly thereafter.) He said that he was concerned about the religious elements of the Republican Party that appeared to be gaining too much power in the party and he feared that they would eventually take over and push their agenda on others. The other thing he said was that he feared that we would someday be willing as a people to give up many of our freedoms to a government that promised to "keep us safe." (Coincidentally, he said that he thought it would be a Democratic president who would seize more government control. He admitted while visiting us at Christmastime that he was wrong. He voted for Bush II both times, but admits that this past year has been alarming to him.)

I am a middle class family man who has worked for everything he has. I am a MODERATE and I see good and bad in both political parties. I am NOT a partisan ideologue and have regularly split my ticket when voting (with the exception of 2002 and 2004). I think a balanced system with both parties being forced to reach consensus and govern from the middle is far healthier for a representative democracy.

MYTH: I said that all Republicans are religious zealots. TRUTH: I believe that most Republicans are not religious zealots. The Republican Party of my youth has been taken over by a small group of people who wish to force their religious view of the world on the rest of us.

MYTH: I am a partisan ideologue. TRUTH: I believe that there are Republicans AND Democrats who should not be in Congress because they only serve themselves and prop up their position. I support major reforms to the political process and a return to a representative democracy. Right now, we have elected representatives choosing their voters through gerrymandered redistricting, instead of voters choosing their representatives in competitive elections. The problem is a corrupt Washington system that cares more for itself than the American people. Jack Abramoff is a perfect example of what is wrong with Washington, and his tentacles of influence reach out to members in BOTH parties.

MYTH: I support government welfare and big government. TRUTH: I believe in a social safety net, but I also believe that people should be responsible for taking care of themselves. I believe that, in times of trouble, individuals should call on family first, their religious community second (if they are a part of a religious organization), and the government third. NOTHING IS MORE POWERFUL OR MORE LIBERATING FOR THE SOUL THAN HARD WORK.

We have seen much disparity between rich and poor in our country. Many Americans do not receive a liveable wage. Government's limited involvement in insuring that the business sector is doing its part in paying a liveable wage does NOT mean that I am anti-business or that I favor extensive government regulation. I DO NOT. My health care proposal is VERY pro-business and was crafted with the assistance of a number of CEOs who are both Democrats and Republicans. I want to make it easier for business to compete on a global scale and to be able to provide good, family-sustaining jobs to Americans. Achieving that would be a win-win for our country. That is not liberal or conservative--it is COMMON SENSE.

CONCLUSION: I have a strong and abiding faith in Christ, nurtured by my Catholic upbringing and reinforced by my later conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I believe that good people and good (but limited) government can do good things. That is what I will fight for--taking care of people when they need it and strengthening the economy so that people need help less often. It is in the best interest of everyone that all Americans work in good family-sustaining jobs, have adequate access to healthcare, get a good education to prepare them for the future, and are free to live according to the dictates of their own conscience.

These are my values and they govern and direct my life. I made the original post on this blog because I rarely see in the news media moderate religious values--you're either a Conservative Christian or a secular humanist. I am neither, and I feel that the polarization of religion harms our society as a whole.

This is what I believe and I take FULL RESPONSIBILITY for what I actually say (but will deny and decry misquotes, misappropriations, half-truths and lies).

Bryan Kennedy
www.bk2006.org

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