Saturday, October 15, 2005

oh yeah
all right
take it easy baby

Okay, let's for a minute or so, forget about the Republican Party and the White House. Let's deal with what just may be the root cause of all the current madness in modern American life. Let's talk about Religion.
In America, we have a little thing called the Separation of Church and State. The Religious Right seems to think that this separation is due to the dreaded Humanism:
hu·man·ism: n. 1. A system of thought that centers on humans and their values, capacities, and worth. 2. Concern with the interests, needs, and welfare of humans. 3. Medicine The concept that concern for human interests, values, and dignity is of the utmost importance to the care of the sick. 4. The study of the humanities; learning in the liberal arts. 5. Humanism A cultural and intellectual movement of the Renaissance that emphasized secular concerns as a result of the rediscovery and study of the literature, art, and civilization of ancient Greece and Rome.
Sounds dangerous, right?
Good grief, no it's not.

Fundamentalists would have you believe that Humanism "is an ideological, political, and religious belief that denies the existence of God". This view is based on the idea that because Humanism makes People and the Study of People out to be an Important Thing, that this somehow diminishes the Importance of God. In America, where Religion is taken out of the context of the State, God is even further "diminished" because now "His Laws" are not the Laws of the Land. But, most important, it places a "god", that of the State, before Him. Some would say that thinking about anything before thinking about God is to place a "god" before Him: "there is another, less apparent, form of idolatry. This is the blind or excessive devotion to anything. The object of such devotion becomes a false god and the blind devotee becomes an idolater."
But how do you think about God all the time?

Why, by following his Rules all the time, by acting the Way He Wants, all the time. And how is that, pray tell? Well, that's where things get a little tricky, see. Everybody seems to think that the way they see God's rules is the Way It Ought To Be. Including myself.

Back to a wacko again:
If all humanity put the true God first, seeking His wisdom and guidance, then wrong or incomplete concepts in all areas of life would disappear. Over 99% of religion today is false, so there would be an immediate and dramatic change all over the earth. As the world came to know and fear the true God, it would learn that His system of government and culture—and every aspect of civilization—should be followed. Mankind would look sincerely into His Word to seek true wisdom and understanding—and God would grant them.
It's entirely possible that he's correct, but which 1% is the True One Per Cent.
Who Knows?
No one, but there are plenty of people out there arrogant enough to not only think they are right, but to force try to others to think that way also.

Let me put a scenario to you, then a question, and you think about your answer:

Scenario: Bob and Frank both live in a country with strict religion-based laws. Bob is a True Believer. He follows the Laws of the Land because they are the Laws of God. He follows them devotedly his whole life and hopes for his Reward when he dies. Frank is a True Citizen, but an atheist. He follows the Laws of God because they are the Laws of the Land. He follows them devotedly because he feels that good citizenship is its own reward, and makes the Land better for everyone.
Question: When Bob and Frank both are dead, will they both go to Heaven?

If your answer was "no", because Frank was an atheist and Bob believed, then I've got to ask this question: What was the point of making the Laws of the Land those of the God?
The First Amendment "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
There it is, right there, that's the source of all the trouble. No where there does it say the words "separation of Church and State", a phrase probably originating from a later Court Decision (no doubt by an activist judge), and is why the Religious Right is all hot and bothered about putting "their" judges being in that Court. No Separation means Integration, right:

The founding fathers did not include the First Amendment in the Constitution to disallow Christianity from influencing state-established institutions; on the contrary, America's founding fathers expected our nation to be (on the whole) Christian, and our government to reflect that bias.
This appears to be a reasonable understanding of the First Amendment - far more reasonable than asserting that it erected an impenetrable wall of separation. And it becomes even more reasonable when one considers the words and actions of America's settlers, founders and leaders.
Is it? To reflect that bias, perhaps, but in what sense? And in what sect? Christianity has a lot of different interpretions, each convinced of it's own Rightness.
The government of the United States of America is supposed to be a Representive one. So, if everyone is Catholic, then one would expect the laws to have a Catholic flavor to them. But America is a religious melting pot, which means the laws tend to have a more generic flavor to them (a kind of gumbo morality, perhaps). How about another definition of Humanism:

"Many humanists are religious, however, and see humanism as simply a mature expression of a common truth present in most religions"
And so back to things being just fine in America. Except for those who would like to see the Laws of God be the Laws of the State.
How would they answer my question?
Perhaps they'd say that they are trying to Remove Temptation and Guide the People on the Path of Righteousness. I'd respond by asking them this: if God placed us in the path of temptation to test our faith, what do they think they are doing rigging the test? What's that, you say Satan is cheating, making the world more tempting than God wanted it to be? Funny, I thought God was omnipotent, and anything the Devil does is a part of God's plan, right? Getting too complicated?
Let's go back to basics. To be Godly, you follow God's rules, right? If you need State rules to help you do that, how strong is your faith, and do you really think God will be unaware of that weakness? And if you are right, and the others are forced to act Godly, do you really think He wont know the difference, and who's he gonna be pissed with; them or you?

Whoa. This thing has gone waaay beyond where I'd intended it to go.
I was going to talk about the Latest Ridiculousness from the Conservatives in their never ending quest to make all Americans follow "God's Laws": attacking the "American Girl" series of books and toys. American Girl has made the terrible mistake of throwing some support to Girl's Inc., a national nonprofit organization which describes its mission as "inspiring girls to be strong, smart and bold."
In other words, Lesbian abortionists who urge young girls into promescuity! Aaugh! No more of those books for my kids!

That item led me to think that it was high time that moderately religious folk, who dont see Satan in everything they disagree with, started to speak out a little louder. American religious discussion these days is dominated by Fundamentalists and Evangelicals, but I find it hard to believe that their extreme viewpoints and rigid dogmas represent the way most Americans feel spiritually.
Perhaps the only reason that Extreme religion is what is heard in America is because no one else is talking. So talk, spill it, say it out loud. If you think that there is only one True Religion, and everyone else is condemned to Hell, well, I wont stop you from saying it, but dont expect me to buy into it, or allow you to force me follow it.
But if you believe in a gentler God, or that you have no idea what God wants and all you can do is follow your Faith as best you can, speak up! If you're a Muslim (or a Southern Baptist for that matter), and believe that killing in the name of religion is wrong, speak up! If you believe as a Human you have no idea of God's Plan, and remember the admonition to "judge not lest ye be judged", speak up! If you wouldnt join a religion that would have you as a member, speak up!

I keep thinking that surely the Religious Fundamentalists in this country will finally go to far, and people will finally say "enough is enough". Maybe that time is now. It was long ago for me.

Stop letting the Wackos dominate the discussion!

1 comment:

United We Lay said...

Yeah, I'm having a bit of a Christian problem lately as well. I think the problem is that we're trying to reson with people who believe with all their heart in a myth, and they're so centered on that belief that it overpowers everything they do. If you choose to live your life a certain way, fine, but you don't have the right to force anyone else to live that way.