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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 11/2/12

American Religion. The Faith of Politics.

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Message Lee Burkett

Those of you who read my posts on a regular basis are familiar with a recurring theme: Politics is the American religion. To be honest I had been using it as a semi-derogatory short hand, a way to encapsulate the inability of most people to even contemplate alternatives to the corrupt system we currently have. My consistent stance has been that the never ending debate about which candidate or party is superior does nothing to address the larger question of the system itself, which is only perpetuated every four years, with minor differences in action and policy. It's a change in window dressing, while the brutality and inequities and insanities of American government remain unchecked. The point is- the political process is a mutually agreed to belief based activity. It is removed from real world concepts of cause and effect and empirical knowledge. Whatever differences there may be between the two parties are much more to do with faith than with truth. Minor differences in rhetoric are claimed to be major differences in fact. The Articles of Faith remain intact- there are minor differences in the way in which these Articles are applied to the real life running of the church. As an example, here's my most recent post about the politics/religion correlation:


"You need to understand that the political process has become the American Religion. Voting is it's primary ritual. Asking any true believer to think clearly is a fool's game. They will not abandon their faith, no matter how much evidence there is that it does nothing, bears no relationship to the real world and has become nothing more than a dog and pony show.

When I point out that a vote for any party or candidate only assures a continuation of illegal war, murder by drone, loss of civil liberties, more poor, hungry, homeless and needlessly sick, I'm pissing on their altar.

I am the apostate, the unclean, the damned in their eyes. I do not believe in their god.

No amount of intellectual argument, no amount of proof, will alter their faith.

But like all charitable faiths, they try to save me. They point out the ever more minimal differences between the approved choices. They point out that people have died to give me the right to vote, without even pausing to understand that people died to give me a vote that meant something, not to give me this pointless ritual.

It's time to move on. Let them cluster in their burning churches singing praises for this god. Let them pray at this unholy altar. I'll be outside the confines of that church." Well, I've reconsidered my position. It's not an analogy. It is an actual fact.We have the Enlightenment, the establishment of a new way to live: The American Revolution.  We have the Apostles: The Founding Fathers, who are literally the objects of adoration, and of whom we waste so much time and effort trying to understand what they really meant, what their real motives were, and how we can adhere to their principles. We have our Priests, and Our High Priest- Congress and The President, who are chosen by the ancient method of drawing lots from the small number of acolytes deemed worthy. We have our rituals, our tenets, our places of worship. We have two major sects, Democrats and Republicans, who do not question the Faith itself, both of whom believe they hold the truth, and quibble about differing understandings of the Sacred Texts. We also have various third parties,who have splintered from the body of the main church, some minor sects, cults really, who also never question the veracity of the belief, but are the equivalent of Luther and Calvin. Reformists who offer a closer, more personal relationship with the godhead.

We now see the transplantation of previous beliefs and minor gods into the new American faith. In the same way as the flood, the virgin birth, the story of Moses, the story of Christ- all parts of earlier religions were absorbed, rewritten, made new for the dominant faith of the era, so now we see the various sects claiming for themselves all sorts of beliefs that belong to neither but are hastily patched onto the continuing creation of myth- the teachings of Ayn Rand, Marx- outliers of mainstream belief, being forced into sort marriage of convenience.

All the contenders, both major and minor, produce the tenets of their faith to justify their own belief. Exactly the same way a believer will read to you from the Bible to prove the existence of God.Here's the truly amazing thing about this modern day religion. It is secular. It is sanitized from a specific belief in a literal God, in that it  relates to the worldly or temporal - the here and now.  While not overtly or specifically religious in the traditional sense , most of the various sects claim a morality derived from teachings of a literal god. The High Priest is sworn in with an oath while the hand is placed on a Bible. Think about that. The question is: Just what God is represented in this American Religion? I submit the contenders would be wealth, ownership, capitalism, profit, control of resource. And we never see it. We are too busy defending the faith and the church to actually contemplate the God behind it all. It is a system designed to perpetuate itself, because the underlying belief is NEVER addressed. The arguments are always about which interpretation is better, which priest more closely represents the original intent. The argument is never about the system itself, or the complete cultural acceptance of the system. It's a form of hysterical blindness.I submit that our inability to contemplate alternatives is that it would require a rejection of faith.

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Lee Burkett is a proud member of The Screen Actor's Guild and a writer/activist.
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