Friday, February 28, 2014

Saturn Billboard Controversy

*This was a letter I sent to the editor of the South Jersey Times in December 2013.  You should have read the disgusting online comments made about my letter which proved to me that internet anonymity not only protects the gutless cowards who walk among us, but, that we have a very serious problem with literacy skills in America today!

In response over the recent brouhaha over the 'Saturn" billboard in Pitman, in order to understand why this otherwise pleasant southern New Jersey community is once again being targeted at Christmas, this time by a group called the Freedom From Religion Foundation, one must first understand Pitman's unique history as a Christian "Campmeeting Town" in the late 19th century.
In the years prior to the Civil War, there was a strong temperance movement throughout Gloucester County.  After the war, there came an intense need for another religious revival nationwide. In the 1870's, major camp meeting grounds were established in both Pitman and in Malaga.

For many years thereafter, people flocked to Pitman during the warm months of summer to hear the sermons of renown ministers of the day.  The men proclaiming the good news of the Gospel to the masses undoubtedly served to influence both the people and the shaping of the town of Pitman.  Today, the town remains a strong, tightly knit community and a nice place to live.  Pitman is certainly tolerant of her non-Christian residents as well.  In that way, she reflects America as a nation founded on the Judeo-Christian principles of the Holy Bible.  We are the most religiously tolerant nation on the face of the earth. 
The word, "religion" is defined as having to do with peoples' beliefs in God or perhaps the beliefs of the church they attend, however, religion can also mean your way of life.
The FFRF claims that because the town of Pitman posts a banner at Christmas proclaiming, "Keep Christ In Christmas" that the town is officially endorsing  Christianity.  I believe that this banner is simply a reminder to those who participate in the holiday to keep in mind the true meaning of Christmas. 
There is no mandate forcing everyone living in Pitman, or any place else in America to observe the holiday, or,  to become Christians for that matter.
However, I am puzzled as to why this group, which claims it does not endorse religion, would choose to endorse the Roman festival of Saturnalia? Could one of the reasons be that the human sacrifice of Christians was part of the ritual practices of Saturnalia?
In the book, "The Golden Bough" author J.G. Frazer retells the story of Saint Dasius, a Christian soldier who was killed after he refused to play the role of the King of Saturnalia.  Frazer wrote that role of the king was originally a "scapegoat victim" sacrificed to appease the god Saturn and thus mark the end of the festival.
The torture and death of the mock "King of Saturnalia" sounds very much like a mockery of the torture and death of the Lord Jesus Christ by the Roman soldiers before He was crucified.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation Co-President Dan Barker claims that the town of Pitman "...wants to control the content of speech".  But the question is, Who is really offending whom in this situation?

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