Christianity and Politics in the U.S.
As many of my loyal readers know, I have only been at this blogging thing since late January. I am going to be away for a few days and will not be posting. However, I am happy to announce that reason-being is going to be thriving during that time. I have invited some other bloggers to guest post here. Grundy (Deity Shmeity), Emily Dietle (Emily Has Books), Andrew Hall (Laughing in Purgatory), Martin S Pribble (Martin S Pribble) and a few others will provide posts for the rest of this week. I am excited and honored that these fine bloggers agreed to post.
When I am out of town I usually post something that is reflective. For this post I wanted to talk about my concerns and goals. As many of you who stop by regularly will know, I am very concerned about religion and politics—particularly in the U.S. It is not that I am unconcerned or uninterested in the interplay between religion and politics in other countries, but rather, I do not feel that I know enough to comment much. In fact, I greatly enjoy when folks from other countries comment on my blog—it is usually a learning experience for me.
My concerns with religion and politics lead me to comment most on Christianity. I have some serious reservations about Islam and Orthodox Judaism as well but they are not actively threatening to leave a large footprint on the government of U.S. The rise of the Christian Right over the last several decades and the increased politicization of the Catholic Church under the stewardship of Pope Benedict trouble me greatly.
One of my chief concerns is that most of my fellow citizens appear to be clueless that this is happening. I include most moderate Christians/Catholics, as well as, other atheists, and some fundamental Christians/Catholics. Please allow me to explain. Most of the people that I encounter daily, be it online or in the real world are theists and they are concerned with real world problems—like the economy. I do not believe that they realize the depth to which religion has penetrated every topic of political conversation.
This ignorance is by design. The leaders of the Christian Right and Catholic Church do not often discuss their ulterior motives with their congregations. They do not discuss how much money they spend on political campaigns. They do not discuss the deep issues of theology. They do not discuss their cherry picking from the bible. When, for example, I have a real life discussion with a theist who is opposed to same-sex marriage, they often cite the bible. When I point out some of the other things that the bible advocates, a la Dan Savage (but in friendlier tones) I often get a stunned look. They have no idea what the bible says, they are basing all of their knowledge on what they hear on Sundays. This ignorance is designed and permeates just about every subject. Victor Stenger does a great job of illustrating this in his new book “God and The Folly of Faith”—I highly recommend it to you.
This is a troubling trend to me…very troubling. The leaders of Christianity purposefully manipulate their constituencies into believing only what is beneficial to the Church. Stenger does a great job of explaining how it is that fundamentalist Christians (and now Catholics) are seeking to impose a theocracy in the U.S. It is frightening to see how close they are coming in some areas. Christopher Hitchens said it best in my opinion:
“Many religions now come before us with ingratiating smirks and outspread hands, like an unctuous merchant in a bazaar. They offer consolation and solidarity and uplift, competing as they do in a marketplace. But we have a right to remember how barbarically they behaved when they were strong and were making an offer that people could not refuse.”
Religions in the U.S. are still comparably weak compared to the power they wielded in previous centuries. They claim to reject much of the barbarism of the past and of the bible. The question to be asked is: do they really mean that? I would posit that they do not.
A few issues have gotten away from them and have become bad public relations. Some of the most striking recent examples are same-sex marriage, the anti-science movement, and birth control/women rights. Their stances on these issues have hurt them and will continue to do so. However, they cannot back down. It is difficult to do so when claiming that the bible is the word of god, or is inspired by god, or the Pope is infallible on certain matters, etc. When we look at the level of intolerance demonstrated by fundamentalist Christians on these matters is it difficult to speculate what our society would look like if they actually gain control? This is what I think the moderate Christians and non political/activist atheists are ignorant of.
The Religious Right often uses the word “battle”. They are correct to do so. They have framed these “culture wars” as a battle and someone needs to stand up and fight for the other side. I count among those people the many atheist and other secular activists. It is why I decided to start this blog. It is why I continue to write and comment on other blogs. It is of great importance to me that the word is spread about what is really happening.
Is the economy important? You bet it is. What would our economy look like if science is shunned? What would our economy look like if climate change is dismissed? What would our economy look like if more corporations fall under the influence of the Christian Right? It would not look good. Do not forget that it is the Christian Right who preach the false “prosperity gospel” and “biblical capitalism”—these were founding principles of the Christian Coalition. They cite passages from the bible stating slaves should obey their masters and have interpreted that to mean that some humans are subjects to the wealthy and powerful. This is the same argument that allowed the religious atrocities of the past to occur—and it is being preached again in the U.S. Religion, particularly Christianity has invaded every topic of political discussion.
It is time that we stand up and fight against this type of bigotry. It is time we stand up and defend the secular Constitution that is so important to our freedom. If we do not, who will? If you are not a blogger or activist there are little things that you can do. You can submit your favorite blogs and articles to social media. If you were referred to a site from a social media outlet, click the like button. Social media is a powerful tool—look at the Arab Spring. Atheists can do a better job of using this outlet. The more information that gets out the better—the more “likes” something has, the more it is read. Get the word out—I don’t care how you do it, but please do it.
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