The Role of Religion in Politics
This November’s elections should be about some very important topics. Things like the economy, health care, energy policy, foreign policy—these things and others like them should be the main issues people are thinking about when they choose their candidates—from local to President. My concern is that these issues will be placed on the back burner. What would replace them? To me, they will be replaced by social agendas. These will include subjects like same-sex marriage, women’s equality, the HHS mandate, and the role of religion in the public sphere. These issues are important—to be sure. This is troublesome to me for one reason. The topics of the social agenda should not be the powerful issues they are today. Each of them is driven to a large extent by the power and money of Christian groups in this country. If we remove religion from each of those agendas the vitriol and controversies collapse.
I was reading the Catholic News Agency this morning and came across this article: Democrats Leave Party over Marriage, Religious Freedom Concerns. There was no way I could bypass that article. It is worth a read. It more or less highlights about a dozen or so politicians in the South who switched parties in light of the Dems embracing same-sex marriage and the HHS mandate. What the article does not discuss is this same exodus among non-politicians. I think it fair to assume that the same is happening on that scale as well. Religion, specifically Christianity is driving this election. I want to look briefly at each topic above with and without religion.
No one can doubt that the driving force against same-sex marriage is religious in nature. The main objections we see are based on the bible and on the Christian concept of family. We have assclowns such as Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association who say things like this:
“I would go so far as to say we cannot have gay marriage and the First Amendment. We can’t have homosexuality and the First Amendment. If homosexuality is embraced and normalized, that’s the end of the First Amendment. It’s gone; it’s out of here, shredded beyond recognition, a worthless piece of paper.” (Andrew Rosenthal, NY Times)
What an outrageous statement. There are so many things wrong with those two sentences one hardly knows where to begin criticizing. For the purpose of this blog, I do not need to do so. Suffice it to say that Christian rhetoric is a driving force behind the anti-marriage movement.
I propose that if we removed any and all forms of religious argument from this debate, we would be left with a non-issue. The arguments against homosexuality that do not cite religious reasons are absurd. Most people would recognize and support same-sex marriage. Surely, there will still be those who dissent. However, they would then be the fringe the minority. They would be bigots, akin to racists today. Very few people consider the term bigot or racist to be complimentary. Religion is a major force in the lives of many Christians. This topic is one of the most important to Christian leaders. It is not much of a stretch to conclude that without religion, this would be a non-issue.
The same argument we used above is applicable here. Christianity has an atrocious record towards women. They are, without a doubt, second class citizens. The Catholic Church is currently in a battle with its own Nuns. They are claiming the Nuns need to be reeled in, by men, for promoting radical feminism. Let me clarify, the term “radical feminism” is code word for misogynists saying women’s equality. Period. When you get down to it, that is all that “radical feminist’s” want.
Many forms of Christianity, and certainly the most powerful (Catholics and evangelicals) believe that a woman’s primary role is to be producing children and raising them. This is not really up for debate. If you disagree, please pull your head out of the sand.
Many Evangelical Christians and Catholics do not support women as clergy members. They do not believe that women should be in positions of power. Women are always subject to men I these religions.
Again, if we remove religion from the equation this issue collapses to a large extent. To be fair, it would not cease to be an issue in the same manner that homosexuality would. There will still be misogynists out there. The sad reality is that we need to undo millennia of social cultures that place women as second class citizens. Some men would continue to treat women as such. As recent discussions in the Atheist community have highlighted, misogyny is not unique to religions. However, there can be little this idea is driven in large part by Christianity. If we remove Christianity from the debate, the issue shrinks considerably.
HHS Mandate/Birth Control
There really is not much to talk about here. Without Catholicism, there is nothing to talk about. This is an issue that is being driven to the forefront of American politics by the Catholic Church. This makes it the easiest to critique. If the Catholic Church drops its objection to the HHS Mandate nobody will talk about this issue.
I would like to digress for a brief moment and discuss the abhorrent nature of the Church’s position. The Church’s refusal to recognize the importance of birth control has led to an enormous amount of suffering worldwide. Disease and Death have spread like wildfire through third world nations because of the Catholic Church. Poverty, through overpopulation and underemployed women, has been propagated in the third world because of the Catholic Church. The Church’s position on this matter is not only flagrantly stupid; it is harmful to the world. We cannot allow the Church to spread its idiocy on birth control in this country. The effects would be devastating.
The Role of Religion in the Public Sphere
This topic has been gaining strength for the better part of forty years. It has rapidly picked up speed in the last decade. Christian groups are trying desperately to run roughshod over our Constitution. They are seeking to impose Dominionism. There is a mass campaign to mis-educate the American citizenry regarding the foundations of our country. There is a mass campaign to redefine the First Amendment. We are not and have never been a Christian Nation. Our founding fathers were largely deists and certainly not Christians. Many of the most prominent among them Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Adams detested Christianity. If you disagree, start reading your history.
Religion cannot be separated from a voter’s conscience. I understand that. When we enter the voting booth, each of us takes all of our beliefs with us. This does not mean that religion needs to play a large part in public life. In many areas of the South, this is a large battle. It should not even be an issue. Why is it? Because religions need to spread—all forms of Christianity have policies of evangelization. Christian leaders need to spread the word. It is natural that they attempt to do this publicly. The problems arise when we see how this is manifested. Public religious displays often come at the expense of other religions or atheism and those groups are often discriminated against in the process. Christians are free to practice their religion; however, that freedom does not extend to imposing it on others. It cannot be allowed to happen. That is not what this country was founded on.
The last comment I wish to make on this topic regards the absurdity of this entire conversation. As an atheist, I cannot fail to point out that there is zero basis for believing in any religion. Christianity is gaining in power and influence in this country and that is sad. While the rest of the developed world is realizing that Christianity belongs to the infancy of our species, is outdated, and is just plain nonsense, we in America are going the opposite direction. We are allowing something as “real” as unicorns to dominate much of the political discussion. That is nothing short of gross ignorance.
I would love to see people vote this November in a way that best serves their personal economic and health care issues. I would love to see people vote in a manner that best serves the world when it comes to energy and foreign policies. I would love to see people vote to support social justice and social causes because it is the right thing to do. I am afraid that people will vote in a way that best serves what their pastors and priests tell them. One method of voting will serve to move us forward into the 21st century. The other will lead us backwards. Which are you going to choose?
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