politics and religion - a few random thoughts
i read in USA today about this group of ministers in ohio who are banding together in order to promote “value voters”, in other words, people who vote based on moral reasoning. i felt like responding a bit to this.
United States Constitution, Bill of Rights, Article One:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
This is the basis for the idea of separation of church and state. There is a reason that this was included in the Bill of Rights. It is to keep the government from establishing a state religion, and thereby suppressing any other religions. Many religions do, and more should see this as a great victory for religious freedom and the ability to worship according to the dictates of one’s conscience. For example, early Christians would not have been persecuted by the pagan Roman empire had such a right existed.
To me, the separation of church and state is inspired and one of the greatest accomplishments of modern times. So what is up with all of this mixing of religion and government crap lately? We re-elected a president over things like gay marriage, which apparently is a lot more important than stopping multiple wars where many lives, including Americans and civilians, are being lost. That really confuses me to tell the truth. It seems to me that the phrase “love one another” or some variation of it occurs a lot more times in the Bible than the few condemnations of homosexuality. And anyway, doesn’t the government exist to establish and maintain our basic liberties and freedoms, not dictate the morals of a nation?
I feel as if some “conservatives” (I’m not sure I can call them actual conservative, because they are not politically and economically conservative in many ways in the historical sense, but morally) have been breaking the second commandment, namely “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.” This commandment refers to acting in the name of God with improper motives. For example, being a Christian merely for the social aspects, without actually living by the tenets of the faith. And as a second example, trying to win a political victory by using God to sway voters.
God has decided to not become involved in politics right now. I mean, if He wanted a theocracy, couldn’t he very easily create one? It’s been done in the past. But it certainly appears to me the He would rather keep religion and state separated right now.
Another reason using God to gain a political office is breaking the commandment is those politicians often are going into office with a much different agenda than merely forcing their own morals on the population. The Republican party used to be synonymous with little government, big business. That is starting to no longer be the case. Republicans now appear to be all for big government, especially when the corporations that pay for their campaigns want it. Not to say that Democrats are much better. But at least they aren’t trying to hide behind the face of religion.
The government is increasingly coming under the control of money and corporations. Recent rulings by the Supreme Court to allow the seizing of private property for economic development are just examples. I wonder how the average American would feel if they really understood some of the bills Congress passes, and just what kinds of freedom they are losing, all because of corporate lobbying. Did you know that we are getting closer and closer to copyrights being extended indefinitely? (thank you Disney) This hardly can be said to be for the continuation of the arts (wanna have to pay every time you listen to a song?) and sciences (forget about science being to help humanity…if you want scientific info, you gotta fork over the cash) as copyright was originally intended to.
But I digress. My point is, religion and morals appear to be a mere facade for the types of things really going on in politics. Hence, using the Lord’s name in vain. The government exists to maintain our liberties and freedom, so to say that it must not take part in any issues that are related to “morals” would be silly. For example, though abortion is a moral issue, it also involves fundamental freedoms, of women and fetuses. Therefore, the government should be involved. On the other hand, homosexuality involves the private actions of two consenting adults, and while I am morally against it (maybe for another blog), I do not see any way I can be politically against it. Because of separation of church and state, “Because God said so” just doesn’t fly in politics. So why is this issue being put before wars, economy, environment, and education? It just seems as if we are losing way too much sleep over this moral issue, while people are dying, poverty and greed are increasing, the world is dying, and schools are turning into dumps. I thought “thou shalt not kill”, “love thy neighbor”, “replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth”, and “train up a child in the way he should go” were all pretty important Christian morals too. So why don’t we as Christians use the government to work on these important issues as it is meant to be, and leave the purely moral issues to to discussed in our churches and home, and to be decided by the individual.
Maybe these ministers in Ohio should use their freedom of religion to go out and try and convert other’s to their beliefs instead of getting into the government and forcing them. This blog has been really poorly thought out, because I’ve just kind of thrown out some thoughts I’ve had. Maybe someday I will actually write something a bit coherent on the subject. Comments, especially critical, are most welcome. Thanks.