Hell Hath No Fury
While I do not apologize for the content of my previous post on religion, I do recognize that the tone I chose to take was a bit more confrontational that perhaps was necessary and may have ended up being less productive that it otherwise would have been, had I taken greater care in making clear distinctions between Fundamentalism, Christian activism and Christianity as a whole. I usually try to be as specific as possible, but this time I was reacting to a general movement and shift I see happening in this country and I chose to use the same tone that is used against liberals and secularists by the religious right, in order to make a point. Perhaps it was self-indulgent to use their tactics against them, and instead of highlighting their hypocrisy, as was my intent, I managed only to leave myself open to charges of the same. I do believe in tolerance, especially of views that I find most abhorrent, but when those views turn into political action it is my duty as an American citizen to speak out against them.
Is Christianity destroying the fabric of our society? That is a debatable philosophical question. There is an argument to be made that religion of any kind is hindering our ability to evolve into a more enlightened species. Over the span of human history there have been many Gods created by people to help explain and order the world in a way that made nature understandable. Is the one God that Christians believe in or the one (different) God that Muslims worship any different? As a legal matter, it makes no difference what anyone thinks of God or religion, choosing to believe in God is a deeply personal choice and everyone, in this country at least, is free to make that choice for him or herself. Freedom of religion is a fundamental right granted by our Constitution and critical to the functioning of our democracy. Whether or not religion makes our country better is a whole other question, and certainly not a political one.
Are the worst and loudest purveyors of divisiveness and intolerance in this country right now, self-proclaimed Christians? In my opinion they are and that must be addressed. When United States Senators stand on the Senate floor and use the Bible as justification for amending our constitution to prohibit gay marriage, Christianity is brought into the political debate. When religious activists lobby school boards and state legislatures to force teachers to teach Creationism in our public schools, Christianity is brought into the political debate. When governing bodies use God’s words as justification for denying women sovereignty over their own bodies, Christianity is brought into the political debate. If the Bible is going to be cited as a basis for legislation, then the validity of what the Bible teaches becomes fair game in the debate. This is exactly why religion has no place in politics.
I think because the vast majority of people in this country self-identify as Christian, it makes it difficult to have a productive conversation about the role religion should play in public life. Because Christianity is practiced in so many different ways, it has become difficult to distinguish between the Christian activists with political agendas and Christians that quietly practice their faith with no desire to change our laws to reflect their religious views. I admit that in my previous post, I was a bit careless in not making those distinctions clear. Call it temporary blindness of rage brought on by watching three days worth of sermons delivered on the Senate floor by self-righteous hypocrites posing as lawmakers.
Our Constitution provides for the personal freedom to choose ones religion, but it also is designed to protect the government from becoming a religious institution. Passing laws based on religious doctrine tramples on that right. Maybe that is easily lost in the debate when we have the vast majority all belonging to one religion, but because we are so heavily tilted to one side, it is extra important to pay attention to that right and protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority when it comes to religion.