The Christian Assault on Freedom and Christianity
By Steve Consilvio
Our nation was settled by those who sought to be free to express their religious views. Freedom of speech serves as the mechanism to allow each person to express his moral opinion primarily, and his political opinion secondarily. Our rich American history, and our Revolution, are best understood by recognizing the effect of separating church from state.
Since we do not have a state religion, we trust the political process to adjudicate a solution to opposing moral views. This process does not always work properly because one group or another can popularize an idea successfully that is in contrast to the rights of the individual.
Many citizens find that the Homeland Security Act oversteps that magical line. In the context of a nation at war, protective measures are common in history. Under the shadow of these difficult times, some seek to advance a separate moral agenda. Our biggest current threat is not from terrorists who destroy life and property, but from conservative Christian moralists who are willing to destroy our democracy to expand their moral interpretation into our laws.
Christianity, freedom and democracy all recognize the individual as paramount. In Christianity, it is the individual's relationship with God. In Freedom, it is the individual's relationship with others. In Democracy, it is the individual's relationship with the state. In all three cases, the individual is free to evolve and is only constrained by actions that have direct consequences on another person. Crime is defined as a public affair, as an action by one individual against another freedom-loving individual. We are innocent of this crime until found guilty by a jury of our peers. We are not guilty of a crime simply because we are accused of one, or because an action is personally sinful.
Some Christians interpret our freedom to affect laws as a right and a self-imposed duty to enforce a moral opinion through those laws. This view is anathema to America and the concept of freedom. The genius of our political system is not to enforce any personal view of morality, but rather to control the effects of every individual's immorality.
The tyranny that our nations founders feared was from those who, in claiming to be their brother's keeper, would assume the role as their brother's master. The conservative view against drinking, drugs, gays, and abortion all fall into this confused political interpretation. Moral certainty, as expressed politically, is neither Christian, nor American. Both freedom and Christianity requires that the individual be free to pursue his own path on his own timetable. Those who would rush others to reach a conclusion of faulty political wisdom and pure moral behavior have committed a crime against freedom-loving individuals.
The consequences and the toll caused by these self-righteous Christian crusades on our society is clear. In the attempt to stop the perceived immoral actions of a few, we have all suffered. By creating a new definition of criminal behavior, we have become a population under siege and at war. We are imprisoned, attacked, hated, and pressured by a moral debate and interpretation that is against the rights of man and is tyrannical. It is a devil in sheep's clothing, and defines morality with the same moral certainty and superstition as the Taliban in Afghanistan. The desires to ban books, music, and movies (or install 10 Commandment monuments) are part of the same interpretation, just like the cleric commands against flying kites, owning dogs and wearing western clothing. These moral soldiers present themselves as serving God or Allah, when their actions serve neither God nor man. It is an unconscious lust for power, the hallmark of tyranny and evil. The prime commands of Christianity are to love one another (including your enemies,) and to not judge others. Many Christians violate both of these teachings in their political positions on various issues. They fail Christ and destroy democracy in the same action.
Our society has been damaged by Prohibition, the war on drugs, anti-gay bashing, and the pressure against abortion. The individual's acts of drinking, getting high, terminating pregnancies and having sex are all private acts, however tragic, and have no ill effect on society at large. By criminalizing personal failings, we create a government of tyranny. A person is guilty for living, and not for the consequences of his actions toward others. There is a presumption of consequence and guilt, and those who defend the rights of the individual are then accused of being immoral or promoting destructive behaviors. Moral certainty elevates the perceived rights of society above the rights of the individual. Criminalizing personal behaviors sets a standard that no society can ever hope to meet. Even with harsh and difficult punishments against certain behaviors, the "immoral" behaviors continue. It is not possible to legislate morality. The best that can be achieved is a system that accommodates and discourages immorality.
The war on drugs is a complete failure, and like Prohibition, the cure is far worse than the disease. Human sexuality is as old as time.
Alternative lifestyles and the fear of unwanted pregnancies will not be checked by laws or courts. The just power of moral certainty lies in the culture of taboo. By seeking to create laws against the individual, these moralists weaken the morality they hope to spread, and squander public resources that could be better directed to the ill effects of immoral behaviors.
The conservative moralist may mean well, but in casting stones against other's imperfections, he fails to recognize his own. The Bill of Rights is already a perfect moral political instrument. Thus, any expression of moral certainty is irresponsible, and destroys our democracy and our moral society. In being free to practice and preach the morality we choose, we must be willing to win converts without legal coercion. God does not need the help of the state. Those who would betray the Bill of Rights for religious reasons betray both God and country.
Steve Consilvio www.behappyandfree.com is a small business owner with a history degree. He is also co-owner of a start-up software developer www.augursoftware.com developers of eCalculator. A MacIntosh aficionado, and, as yet, unpublished author of political philosophy, he wants to change the world with a Constitutional Convention. His body roams Massachusetts, but his mind is years away. He can be reached at email@example.com Yes, he knows he is a hypocrite.