Saturday, November 25, 2006

"Christian Nation"

I tuned in to a bit of Brit Hume garbage on the Fox News channel today about religion and national politics. As you might expect it was all cast in term of ACLU-bad and "christians"-good. It makes me sick. These people that believe the lie that this country was founded on religious principles are so grievously misguided. The fact of the matter is that our nation was founded on essentially anti-religious principles. The American Revolution and framers of our nation and our constitution was in large part about overthrowing the hold of religion on public life. It was religion that taught that God had established the aristocracy to rule over people like God ruled His Kingdom in heaven. The Declaration of Independence was a direct attack on organized religion. By proclaiming that "all men are created equal" it was directly challenging the religious teaching of the day that God had created the classes of organized society on a heavenly model and that men who challenged the class structure did so in violation of divine law. That's the real truth.

One could almost admire the religionists in their faithfulness if they actually conducted themselves with a modicum of integrity but they don't. On one hand they claim they are fighting for religious freedom but God help you if you are a Wiccan,...or a Muslim. They get all in a dither about the death of a fetus but are first to line up to push the button on capital punishment. And why is it these champions of "freedom" are so interested in what goes on in the bedrooms of consenting adults?

I say that those who would forcefully subvert the government to their own desire for power are the real enemies of democracy and it's past time to name them for what they really are.

This is not to say that there should be no influence of of religion in government. But the influence should be invitational not dictatorial. When the interests of true religion, the needs of the people, and government reinforce each other, great things can be done. Principles such as justice, mercy, integrity, and the worth of all persons are embodied in civil action it is always a good thing. But the best role for religious people is an example, a demonstration of the value of the virtues they talk about.

It strikes me that religious folk don't really have that much faith in the things they teach. They don't have the courage and patience to allow their principles to play themselves out in real life. They must resort to force. Instead of just trusting that Christian virtues make good sense they must legislate morality. They are so dense that they can't see the difference between carrying a baby to term out of respect for the life of the child and carrying a baby to term because it is against the law to abort it. It is in that denseness they show that power is their real goal, not morality.

We should not be giving ear to these folks who are so power hungry that they so easily subvert religious integrity to the desire for raw power.

1 comment:

Gordon said...

You are correct about the founding fathers and their principles about religion. Many of the principle participants in the framing of the constitution were Deists. And this fact should be pointed out to anybody who actively waves the "we are a christian nation" banner around. The problem is that word Christian is far too abstract and often is meant to imply very specific things in an imprecise way. The god of the Deists was based on reason and nature. Different from the god of the fundamentalists today.

I wish I had a better understanding of the historical roots of fundamentalist christianity in this country. I think something shifted in the mid 19th century with the revivalist movements and charismatic religions. There is probably a whole thing there with manifest destiny, open frontier and isolated pioneer communities. These were the kind of people that Mark Twain warns us about:

"If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not be -- a Christian."
~ Mark Twain, Notebook

I think the problem with many fundamentalists and somewhat naive participants in the charismatic christianity movements of today is too much is taken on faith. Not just the big questions, god, creation, etc. But many of the little ones as well. When someone asserts that we were founded as a "christian nation" very often this is simply taken as an article of faith. Little to no interrogation of the facts or critical thinking of the meaning and substance of a statement like this. These are the same people who say "we must trust Bush on Iraq because he holds more information than we do". Faith is asserted in place of ignorance about the facts and when the fraility of actual arguments is apparent. The whole appeal to secrecy of the Bush administration seems geared towards promoting this attitude. Which of course is utter garbage and distinctly against what Thomas Jefferson envisioned as a functional democracy. As Jefferson once said:

"Information is the currency of democracy."

Anyway, nice post.