More seriously, we became nonviolent activists. We revered Gandhi, who taught us satyagraha, non-violent resistance to tyrannical authority. We marched, sat in, picketed. We joined Martin Luther King, Jr. in getting jailed, beaten, water-hosed, even killed in order to gain full citizenship for the descendants of African slaves. With time and patience, we ended the Vietnam war.
Our heritage as peacemakers was two-fold. We honored Native American wisdom, and learned much from our Indian brothers and sisters- about making the planet good for the seventh generation down the line, about sitting in a circle and giving everyone a turn, about using sacred plants and herbs, such as peyote and marijuana, to gain deeper wisdom and insight.
We also honored the Prince of Peace. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Christian preacher, and gave full credit to Jesus for inspiring his leadership. Some of us believe that Jesus reappeared on this continent as Deganawidah, the Peacemaker, who gave the Great Law of Peace to the Iroquois, on which our Constitution is partially based.
We were eclectic in our spirituality, but whether it was from preachers, swamis, medicine men, rock stars or our own hearts, we were full of spirit. We took great risks and made personal sacrifices for the good of all.
What happened to that outpouring? George Lakoff explains it in "Don't Think of an Elephant". In the late 70's and early 80's. a long range plan was formulated by well-funded right-wing think-tanks and put into effect. The plan was to use the fundamentalist churches to take over the Republican party and gain control of the US government. Using the "hot-button" issues of abortion and homosexuality, along with "rapture theology", which promises salvation to the elect and a fiery end in nuclear war to everyone else, the plan succeeded. George W. Bush's eight disastrous years in the White House was the direct outcome of their planning.
Right wing Christian theology is exclusive and divisive. It encourages authoritarianism and religion based on the fear of punishment. It cheapens Jesus by essentially using Him as a logo, a sales device. It preaches hatred and intolerance. It distorts the Bible, which never mentions abortion or same-sex marriage.
In the process, millions of Americans have been alienated from Christian churches, andthence from the Bible, from Jesus, from God. An antagonism to anything spiritual has developed among peace-loving goodhearted people because of the hypocrisy of right wing Christianswho usetheology and religion to gain wealth, power and control. It's easy to show that they have turned the teachings of Jesus upside down. What happened to "love your enemy", "turn the other cheek", "it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven", and all the rest?
Jesus himself explained how it works in one of his polemics against the Pharisees of his day- who were similar to our right wing Christians in that they used religion to gain status and political power and control the people. Here's what He said:
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
Similarly, we have lost the sense of spirituality in politics. Many people who are working hard to save the Constitution and to restore some sort of ecological sanity, good people who care about people in other countries, of other colors, have lost faith in a universal, benevolent God. How could such a Being allow His name to be used to shred the Constitution, kill a million Iraqis, enrich greedy corporations at the expense of consumers, workers, the environment, etc? How can the Bible be used to support tax breaks for the rich, lying at all levels of government, aggressive wars against nonbelligerent nations, torture, and all other horrors of our day?
Yet we cannot afford to lose our belief in a higher power. This is what enables us to agree on the values which are named in all the major religions and belief systems- truth, justice, fairness, kindness, subordination of ego to higher causes, universal brotherhood and love, stewardship of the environment. Religions are intended to help us realize our oneness so that we can cooperate for the good of all. But most of the major religions have been usurped by Pharisees and used to divide and conquer, and to justify conquest.
Is there a remedy? Yes, there is.
The scriptures of each major religion recognizes the validity of the others. They all recognize that a good person not of that religion, one having "the requirements of the law written on his heart" (Romans 2:15) is acceptable to God.