Elvis, Beer, Breasts, and Nudity.
(Printed in the Towanda Daily Review on May 24, 1998; the Sayre Evening Times on May 30, 1998.)

In the 1992 elections, I didn't want George Bush re-elected, and I wasn't particularly impressed with Bill Clinton either. So I voted for Ross Perot not in protest, not out of despair, but for the entertainment factor. Reasoning that we usually get shafted regardless of who gets elected, I at least wanted to laugh during the process.

With the proposed Istook amendment looming, another potentially dangerous but wildly entertaining situation exists. It has the potential to be so entertaining that I may be willing to let religious freedom as we know it be destroyed. The Istook amendment will modify our First Amendment with, " the people's right to pray and to recognize their religious beliefs, heritage or traditions on public property, including schools, shall not be infringed."

Our Pennsylvania Congressmen, Jim Lynch and Matt Baker, plan to support a PA resolution (HR417) urging the U.S. Congress to pass the Istook amendment. Lynch wrote (Review, June 15) that this amendment will allow student initiated prayer, prayer at graduation ceremonies, religious symbols on public property during holidays, and posting of the Ten Commandments on public property.

What they don't realize is that there are many other religious "freedoms" that it will also allow. "Allow" is not quite correct "Constitutionally protect" is better. This is where that magnificent entertainment potential arises, because all religions will be protected, not only the Christian one as I suspect our Congressmen intend. (My guess is that our Congressmen don't care one way or the other about religious freedom. As the saying goes, "It's for the votes, stupid.")

One religion of many is The First Presleyterian Church of Elvis the Divine which claims, "He has a hunka-hunka burnin' love for whosoever believeth in Him." Presleyterians are required to face Las Vegas daily and make a pilgrimage to Graceland at least once during their lives. Maybe they'll visit our courthouse or high school during graduation ceremonies. Maybe I'll join them for a day, dress up as Elvis, and show up during graduation. The visit will be Constitutionally protected and entertaining because I am a guitarist.

Next, The Church of Bevis Christ has its own Ten Commandments, two of which are: "Thou shalt not kick a dog off a couch unless thou wishes to use the affore mentioned couch to view the idiot box," and "Thou shalt never eat round bacon." I personally will see that these Commandments are proudly posted next to those other Ten Commandments.

Then, Our Lady of Malted Barley & Hops. An internet acquaintance of mine started this religion, and he proclaims that, "We are chosen to be servants and witnesses to our life in the quest for the ultimate brew." In an e-mail correspondence, he said that, "Everyone needs to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer." This religion could make a graduation ceremony much more enjoyable. Tossing back a few cold ones during the National Day of Prayer ceremonies at the courthouse would heighten the spirituality of and participation in the event.

The Church of the Blind Chihuahua describes itself as, "A sacred place in cyberspace named in honor of a little old dog with cataracts, who barked sideways at strangers, because he couldn't see where they were." This is a very progressive religion with very liberal ideas about abortion and the legal status of marijuana. They should lead the prayers and give sermons at graduations.

Then there's my favorite, The Church of the Profit$, because I started it. Its main tenet is, "You give me money, and I keep it," similar to the Christian Coalition, except I'm honest about it. It also has a few sacred ceremonies, one of which is orb worship similar to volleyball played while nude. My sacred symbol is the female breast. (You can worship your religious symbol, I'll worship mine.) Thus, in the courthouse right next to the Ten Commandments and the crucifix that the Istook amendment will allow, I want a massive set of hooters my religious symbol. Let's face it, Christ had to have been breastfed, so why not worship breasts. I can hardly wait to express my religious freedom at the high school or on the courthouse lawn with some sacred orb worshipping ceremonies.

The examples above are but a sample of the small yet legally valid and Constitutionally protected religions. With the other major religions -- Baha'i Faith, Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, and Taoism -- our courthouses and public schools will be a riot. It gets even better when you consider the numerous smaller religions, a few of which are: Caodaism, Druidism, Eckankar, Gnosticism, Hare Krishna, Lukumi, Macumba, Mowahhidoon, Native Spirituality, New Age Spirituality, Santeria, Satanism, Scientology, Thelema, Voodoo, and Zoroastrianism. It will be better than watching television.

Note that I am in no way criticizing any religion mentioned above (except the Christian Coalition), but I do hope that you can see the entertainment potential of this amendment. Elvis, beer, breasts, and full frontal nudity coming soon to a courthouse and public school near you. And all to be Constitutionally protected thanks in part to Istook, Baker and Lynch. God bless them everyone.

John L. Ferri

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