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Religion & Politics: A Bad Mix

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October Sky, Good Harbor Beach MA
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Religion is what gives people hope in a world torn apart by religion - Jon Stewart

Our Constitution granted each and every one of us the freedom to believe or not believe as we decide. That protection applies to all of us, and when one group has decreed by some spiritual osmosis that their version of the unverifiable and occasionally insane has been decreed as the new Law, then it is up to the rest of us to put that crazy back where it belongs: away from public influence. It's done enough damage as it is.

Mankind offers a long history of reliance on others by religious believers with the former being no more intelligent or enlightened than the average man/woman on the street (often far less, if history--or current events--is our guide). Personal thought and introspection have accordingly been relinquished--then, and certainly now. Those presumably more enlightened individuals [bear with me] in turn define and explain their versions of truths, beliefs, and obligations--all in the context of a judging, to-be-feared-and-obeyed, person-like Entity.

No small measure of self-interest factors in to their assessments. Keeping ardent followers sufficiently agitated about some loving Deity's wrath [an oxymoron on a grand scale!] allows those professing a direct phone line to the One and Only all the time and opportunity they need to preserve their political and economic advantages without so much as a peep from those loyal supplicants. Hell of a racket....

The current crop of Its spokespeople earn kudos for the ways in which they have fashioned very creative takes on what they claim to be The One and Only Word.

Perhaps it's time that we all recognize and simply accept [assuming we accept any kind of theology to begin with] that one religious conviction is in fact no more rational--or irrational--than another. With so many contradictory beliefs, either there is some other unifying and overarching principle, or we will continue to sabotage ourselves and the future of generations to follow by fighting to assert we're right and everyone else is wrong. We own that choice.

By its very nature the Source of our Universe is unfathomable. We simply do not have the means or capabilities to define with certainty that great mystery--try as we do. So instead, a great many among us have fashioned a notion that some human-like-but-slightly-better-and-bigger-person-like God/Allah/Whatever created all. Furthermore--apparently--only some know just what It wants from us. That is so convenient, isn't it!

That also frees up some thinking time on the part of those same loyal followers. Why think if someone else is willing to do all of that hard work for us, Right?

Aside from that perk, this ceding of rational contemplation is a problem. Always has been. It will continue to be.

For all of us, that must change. Acquiescence--or silence--each carry consequences. Were they limited to those followers disinclined to ponder their marching orders, we would certainly have at least one less set of concerns on our plates. If only....

Any honest reading of American history does not suggest a Christian nation that has had secularism forced on it in recent years by liberal forces, but the opposite. Ours is a country that has always been basically secular but has always had to contend with a loud-mouthed minority of theocrats who periodically succeed at using government to push religion until the forces of secularism beat them back again. It's obvious why conservative Christians would like to believe otherwise. Believing they're an oppressed group being denied their birthright is a lot more fun than accepting that they are an oppressive group trying to steal basic freedoms from everyone else.

Ignorance, narrow-mindedness, self-serving behaviors, paranoia, fears, and the full range of irrational, fact-challenged nonsense do not manifest themselves inside a protective bubble. The more we collectively permit the subtle infiltration of curiously hypocritical mandates into policy-making, the more certain we can be that outcomes will benefit only very few.

Basic math skills tell us that when only a few "win," most lose. That's not a good place for us to be.

Adapted from a blog post of mine

 

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Looking Left and Right: Inspiring Different Ideas, Envisioning Better Tomorrows I remain a firm believer in late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone's observation that "We all do better when we all do better." That objective might be worth pursuing (more...)
 

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