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.
As the great Baptist preacher George W. Truett once pointed out, the church and the state have different functions, and James Madison, one of our nation’s founders, wrote, ‘Religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.’
Citizenship and Christianity are not the same thing, and, while, of course, people bring their religious convictions to the voting booth, the goal of Christians should not be to use the state to advance the goals of religion. Citizenship belongs to all Americans, and the government is responsible for ensuring conditions for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans. Our shared values are around citizenship, not religion, although one of those shared values of citizenship is religious liberty — which includes both freedom of religion and freedom from religion.
The urgency with which extremist Christians pursue their curious, fact-free directives to convert we heathens—burdened as we are by a need for evidence and truth, rather than the magic they seemingly rely upon—is puzzling, amusing, and disturbing. More often than not, it’s all three at the same time.
Among the many questions we have (none of which can be answered by those fervent loyalists to the power of magical thinking unless we first make a leap into “Huh?” by way of preparation) is to wonder about the urgency itself. Why such a relentless insistence on doing it their way?
If they are being faithful to the guidelines of both Invisible Beings and charlatans profiting from the dissemination of fears and anxieties, shouldn’t that be enough to get them past Go and through the Pearly Gates? If we heathen disbelievers are determined to stand our ground unless we have even a modicum of proof first [in other words, a bit more than “because God said so,” which gets us nowhere other than to keep circling the same pool of crazy], then shouldn’t that be our problem and not their concern?
Why wouldn’t their magical Super Person be thrilled at how faithful they are to the faith, and reward them twice over? We’re willing to take our chances, shouldn’t they rest their weary bones with the satisfaction of having done their super-duper best?
And why wouldn’t their Super Guy Up There not just grow weary of our heathen disbelief and just smite us all at once? After all, Its best and brightest aren’t having any success outside their cozy little cluster of the faithful singularly untroubled by any need for facts, proof, logic, or any other pesky requirements. Either get better reps to do Its bidding, or do The Job Itself.
If society is going to destroy itself by dealing with facts; accepting the private and personal differences of others which is no one else’s business; tending to the less fortunate; calling out lies and hypocrisy; challenging knuckleheads whose only expertise is an impressive ability to con the gullible; cooperate and compromise where necessary to benefit the many rather than the few … well, then let us suffer the consequences of our own open-minded, nonjudgmental, empathetic tolerance….That’s a risk we have consciously assumed.
Isn’t that an essential component upon which our wonderful nation was founded: the freedom to believe or not? How is it that so many of us missed the class on Getting To Heaven By Tactics Founded Upon Nonsense And Mean-Spiritedness? How can we continue to misunderstand Jesus’ actions and words, insisting that compassion for others is what He tried to communicate when obviously—judging by the actions of His Most Faithful Faithful Ones—it’s apparently just the opposite?
Silly us … thinking that the opening phrase of our very own Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” meant that our elected officials had no authority whatsoever to impose any religious mandates of any kind upon anyone! We sure missed that one!
Crazy as we obviously are, however, we’re probably going to keep on thinking this until we’re actually smited in some Cosmic Way and thus obliged to accept edicts issued by others we’re supposed to believe just because….We’re stubborn that way.
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Note to readers: In addition to my other blogs and writings here [see the Links above] and at Peak Oil Matters, I invite you to enjoy some brief excepts from my eBook political thriller:
The Tretiak Agenda
They began [here] on June 15, and will conclude later this summer
~ My Photo: Twilight at Good Harbor Beach, MA – 07.02.16
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Concerted efforts by Christian Right extremists to weave their highly questionable beliefs into the fabric of public policy must be challenged–vigorously so. The routine demonstrations of hypocrisy which serves to pervert the commonly understood tenets of that faith, and fact-averse denunciations of science or other evidence clearly at odds with the nonsense, imposed anxieties, and promoted fears, have no place in the problem-solving arena of the 21st Century.
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.
I was raised as a Catholic. For eight years in elementary school, and four more in high school, I learned what [mostly] priests and nuns taught me. Several decades ago, I fell madly, deeply in love with a wondrous and dazzling born-again Christian who ultimately broke my heart into a million little pieces. The magic, and sorrow, of youthful thinking. That didn’t prevent me from future relationships with devout but less extreme Catholic women. [Not that I am complaining or offering regrets, since I am married to the best person I’ve ever known!]
So I come to this later stage of my life having had a full dosage of less overt but still impactful indoctrination into the ways of God as defined by more overt Christians. My departure from those experiences has come by way of many life events and a great deal of study and introspection.
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.