Keep Religion Personal Not Political

This is a very well written article.

FINDING A VOICE by Ann Davidow

People really have to stop referring to this country as a Christian nation. The founders took great pains to avoid incorporating religious references into the Constitution, even going so far as to state plainly that no religious test should ever be considered a prerequisite for holding office. Somewhere along the line things have gone way off track, as conservative groups assume they have a right to define the country's core values and to dictate acceptable behavior for everyone else. Religious factions of various sorts share some of the same imperious notions, but the loudest voices insist the country was founded upon Christian principles as defined by latter-day disciples.

It is a strangely discordant view in this day and age that persons of one belief feel they are not only qualified but entitled to decide how others should conduct their lives. What earthly difference should it make to anyone if someone else is gay or wants to choose a life-time mate of the same sex? If that is repellent to some folks they need not commit to that life-style, nor is anyone forced to have an abortion when that choice is available to others. And why, in any case, should such matters be offered as propositions in election years to be voted up or down at the polls? Can voters ever vote yea or nay about going to war or using "enhanced interrogation methods" - - matters of far greater import one might argue than the personal decisions individuals make.

Who, after all, should speak for the nation with respect to religious and secular beliefs? If it becomes a function of government we run the risk of becoming a mirror image of regimes around the world where the state acts in brutal disregard for individual rights and, particularly, the dignity of women. The use of fear and intimidation and attempts to micro-manage people's lives to conform to a set of ‘values' are often not so much faith-based as they are a cynical pursuit of political power for its own sake.

In the November election voters in California, Florida, Arizona and Arkansas passed anti-gay marriage propositions, but what was the reasoning behind such bans? Even if the consensus is that marriage should be between a man and a woman what does it actually mean to anyone but those directly involved? And the bans often went further to deny the right of gays to adopt or serve as foster parents. For so-called values voters to prefer leaving abandoned or abused youngsters without a loving home because of an adoptive couple's sexual preference is a bizarre departure from any notion of Christian charity.

As the glow of Obama's victory on Tuesday fades ever so slightly while he wrestles with the formidable task of establishing a viable governing instrument, religious fanatics remind the rest of us they are out there fulminating about the dangers of having elected a baby-killing-Muslim-Socialist who is just waiting to do us all in. In the great tradition of tortured thinking one such Christian advocate began a rant on air by saying Obama was a Muslim and, when corrected by the moderator, replied "well that's your opinion". He then criticized Obama for staying twenty years in the Unity Church in Chicago. Asked why he called Obama a Muslim but attacked him for staying in a Christian church, he said Obama was just pretending to be a Christian. Apparently when there is no basis for an absurdist mindset you just make stuff up.

At the risk of seeming close-minded about the belief systems of certain core political constituencies I freely admit there is no room in my way of thinking for religious fanaticism - - not as a thing in itself and most certainly not as a factor in the workings of our political system. A Muslim in the House of Representatives seems to be quietly doing the job he was elected to do, presumably without plotting the demise of his colleagues or constituents. So far so good.

At one congressional session during the year, an Indian prelate was offering up the opening prayer only to be drowned out by a few of ‘the faithful' in the gallery proclaiming that Christ was the only true God. These are not the cries of the righteous, and we need to be careful as a nation not to embrace one faith over another in our political discourse, lest we destroy that inclusive form of government our founders intended and upon which our ideals depend.

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Comment by Buffy on February 1, 2009 at 10:26pm
Hear, hear!
Comment by Atheist Insurgency on February 1, 2009 at 9:06pm
The primary ingredient in fear is belief.
Comment by Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM on February 1, 2009 at 1:45pm



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