Our Constitution granted each and every one of us the freedom to believe or not believe as we decide. That protection applies to all of us. When one group has decided by some form of spiritual osmosis that their version of the unverifiable and occasionally insane has been decreed to be the new Law, and thus their political mission is to ensure that is so, then it is up to the rest of us to put that crazy back where it belongs: away from public influence.
So why then are we hearing all these people who live their lives attacking religious freedom complaining all the time that ‘religious freedom’ is under attack from liberals? Why does every religious-right publication and event echo the claim that right-wing Christians are somehow being stripped of the very right to religious freedom the right has worked tirelessly to take from everyone else for decades?
The simple answer is they’re lying. Claiming the mantle of victimhood is so politically potent that religious-right leaders are going to do it, no matter how untrue it is, because, to be blunt, they’re not held back by any moral interest in honesty.
It’s well-documented that one of the defining traits of the conservative personality is an aversion to change. Coupled with a need to avoid ambiguity in decision-making—with the resulting outcome of quick decisions on an either-or/yes-no/black-white scale—the complexities of most modern-day national challenges and changes [e.g., climate change; same-sex marriage] create no small measure of distress among most on the Right.
Relying upon the tried-and-true, Ozzie & Harriet America, women-at-home, gay-people-not-yet-invented life comfortably embraced in their own minds is hardly conducive to adaptation to life in the 21st Century. Feeling their tenuous grasp on that fondly-remembered but essentially fact-free life slipping away, they resort to whatever means are at hand to secure whatever they can in the midst of a nation which has already changed so much and is already so diverse in so many ways. Religious liberty and assorted complaints of persecution are one of those handy tactics used to control the pace of cultural change which has already largely passed them by.
They nonetheless insist on fighting those same battles because the imagery they’ve relied upon and which has been promised them by those they’ve granted authority to act and decide and think on their behalf is the only imagery they are comfortable with. Hoping for cultural miracles which they seem certain will arrive courtesy of a restoration of what they perceive to be traditional, God-inspired values is more often than not their only option.
So opposed are they to compromise and cooperation with those they hold responsible for these godless changes [i.e., those on the Left], choices to find better ways to achieve common ground and common purpose is essentially consorting with the enemies—or Satan himself. Tough standards! Unfortunately for them, they will at some point—soon—those on the father reaches of the Right in particular will have to come to terms with reality, and either contribute to building a future with their needs and values incorporated in some manner, or continue to fight losing battles on terms they are to date unable to appreciate. Life moves on….
All ideological, theological and political debates with the radical Christian right are useless. It cares nothing for rational thought and discussion. Its adherents are using the space within the open society to destroy the open society itself. Our naive attempts to placate a movement bent on our destruction, to prove to it that we too have ‘values,’ only strengthen its supposed legitimacy and increase our own weakness….
And in the pursuit of their truth they have no moral constraints.
Harsh assessment, to be sure. But the Right’s continued opposition to cultural changes already baked into the cake is increasingly pathetic. The stronger their opposition to what the majority has not only accepted but can’t even be bothered to reconsider, the farther behind they fall as progress marches on, with enduring conflict their only reward.
What magical reward is being promised in exchange for their demands that generations of followers must continue to abide by ignorance at the expense of growth, enlightenment, peaceful co-existence, and progress?
Faith is not justification, it is the suspension of all standards for justification. Faith declares that some beliefs – these important ones right at the center of my world-view that shape how I see many other things – need not be justified at all.
Imagine what kind of a world—political and cultural—we might create if insisting that others must abide by one’s unverifiable and occasional unbelievable beliefs and mandates were no longer part of the mix? No doubt there will remain a sizeable contingent of extremists and radicals unable to relinquish their tenuous grip on reality by relinquishing their firmer grip on the delusional and cruel. But the less prominence and attention we give to them, and the more efforts and commitments we extend toward better and more meaningful lives—however each of us chooses to measure that—the lesser role they’ll start to play in all our lives.
Idealistic to be sure, and no small amount of optimism added to the mix. But is doing more of the same a better option?
~ My Photo: Ana Nuevo State Park, CA © 09.15.04
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In 2014, I published an eBook entitled Life Will Answer. It’s an exploration of life, religion, and the tenuous connection one has with the other—at least as has been defined to date by the various theologies of past and present-day believers.
I don’t pretend to be a religious scholar. I am at best a casual observer of some religion-based behaviors, but given that I have also authored a book discussing those matters, perhaps that makes me more than a casual observer.
A fundamental point of the book is that Life has been established to honor and answer the choices each and all of us make—whatever they are and however they may be judged by the standards and guidelines we as a society have established. I do not accept the notion that there is a God or another Deity of choice offering wildly arbitrary thumbs-ups and thumbs-downs, or that this Deity has edicts we’re free to abide by or not (although if we don’t there will be hell to pay).
I wrote that book on the premise that there is more to this life than the narrow-minded, conflicting, and occasionally dangerous notions various religions offer. Given the large number of them each claiming passionate followers, it’s absurd for any collection of humans to insist that their Deity assures them It is the One and Only. Countless Peers and their own loyal adherents take issue with that.
Every day we are witness to the absurdities—and too often, the atrocities—committed in the name of some Deity or another by adherents convinced that they and they alone are privy to the guidance and dictates of that One and Only. There is little room, if any, for reason, logic, or rational thought. The absence of an intelligent component guiding their beliefs and conduct—replaced as it as by fears and justifications untethered from reality—carries its own set of consequences.
Are we really to believe that we’re all commanded or obliged to above all else obey and honor and worship one Supreme Being [among many]? How stultifying! This Magnificence is so needy and weak that It needs us to do things to satisfy It? Hello!? How did It manage to survive all those billions of years without us?!
Magical thinking is not a shield to the inevitable harm which results when irrational and mindless behaviors collide with reason and fact. We have some choices to make, and a future to concern ourselves with.
Re-establishing this blog is my own contribution to wiser problem-solving than what seems to be the norm. Too many are in position where their delusions carry heavy and needless consequences to all of us.