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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 12/1/16

Religion & Politics: Why Their Way?

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October Sky, Good Harbor Beach MA
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As the great Baptist preacher George W. Truett once pointed out, the church and the state have different functions, and James Madison, one of our nation's founders, wrote, 'Religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.'
Citizenship and Christianity are not the same thing, and, while, of course, people bring their religious convictions to the voting booth, the goal of Christians should not be to use the state to advance the goals of religion. Citizenship belongs to all Americans, and the government is responsible for ensuring conditions for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans. Our shared values are around citizenship, not religion, although one of those shared values of citizenship is religious liberty -- which includes both freedom of religion and freedom from religion.

The urgency with which extremist Christians pursue their curious, fact-free directives to convert we heathens--burdened as we are by a need for evidence and truth, rather than the magic they seemingly rely upon--is puzzling, amusing, and disturbing. More often than not, it's all three at the same time. Rarer are times when "amusing" is a consideration. Donald Trump's ugly campaign and uglier personality [such as it is] opened the door to much more ignorance and intolerance than we should permit in public conversations.

Among the many questions we progressive heathens have (none of which can be answered by those fervent loyalists beholden to the power of magical thinking unless we first make a leap into "WTF are they talking about?" by way of preparation) is to wonder about the urgency itself. Why such a relentless insistence on doing it their way?

Shouldn't even a smidgen of evidence and proof be available for our review beyond "because that's what God says/wants/demands"?

If they are being faithful to the guidelines of both Invisible Beings--curiously incapable of making Their Presence crystal-clear to us low-life doubters and disbelievers--and charlatans profiting from the dissemination of fears and anxieties, shouldn't that be enough to get them past Go and through the Pearly Gates? If the rest of us are determined to stand our ground unless we have even a modicum of proof first [in other words, a bit more than their aforementioned skimpy "because God..." reasonings, which gets us nowhere other than to keep circling the same pool of crazy], then shouldn't that be our problem and not their concern?

Why wouldn't the Christian Right's magical, condemning, disapproving Super Person be thrilled at how faithful they are to the faith, and reward them twice over? We're willing to take our chances of disappointing Her/Him/It/Whatever, so shouldn't Her/His/Its/Whatever's fervent faithful rest their weary bones with the satisfaction of having done their super-duper best?

And why wouldn't their Super Guy Up There not just grow weary of our heathen disbelief and just smite us all at once? After all, Its best and brightest aren't having any success outside their cozy little cluster of the faithful singularly untroubled by any need for facts, proof, logic, or any other pesky requirements. Either get better reps to do Its bidding, or do The Job Itself.

If society is going to destroy itself by dealing with facts; accepting the private and personal differences of others which is no one else's business; tending to the less fortunate; calling out lies and hypocrisy; challenging knuckleheads whose only expertise is an impressive ability to con the gullible; cooperate and compromise where necessary to benefit the many rather than the few ... well, then let us suffer the consequences of our own open-minded, nonjudgmental, empathetic tolerance....

That's a risk we have consciously assumed.

Isn't that an essential component upon which our wonderful nation was founded: the freedom to believe or not? How is it that so many of us missed the class on Getting To Heaven By Tactics Founded Upon Nonsense And Mean-Spiritedness? How can we continue to misunderstand Jesus' actions and words, insisting that compassion for others is what He tried to communicate when obviously--judging by the actions of His Most Faithful Faithful Ones--it's apparently just the opposite?

Silly us ... thinking that the opening phrase of our very own Constitution: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" meant that our elected officials had no authority whatsoever to impose any religious mandates of any kind upon anyone! We sure missed that one!

Crazy as we obviously are, however, we're probably going to keep on thinking this until we're actually smited in some Cosmic Way and thus obliged to accept edicts issued by others we're supposed to believe just because....We're stubborn that way.

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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