Tuesday, December 06, 2005

god in the hands of angry sinners

local publications are often littered with letters-to-the-editor concerning christianity and its role in our culture and government. considering the prevalence of catholicism in south louisiana it's not surprising that many make cases for an increased hand of christian principles in schools, legislation, and other publicly-financed organizations and operations.

many people believe that our country's progenitors intended to enmesh christian values in our government's practices and constitution, based on latters and essays they wrote expressing their religious views. i've read that jefferson, adams, washington et. al. were deists, not christians, but on this matter i'm indifferent. for the sake of argument i'll concede that they were christians.

if it is true, in fact, that our founders were devout practitioners of christianity and intended to form a christian society, why did they not explicitly say so in the declaration of independence or u.s. constitution? the latter does not mention "god" at all, and the former alludes to a "god" and a "creator" nonspecific to any one religious sect. it concludes, "with a firm reliance on the proteciton of divine providence" -- also a vague reference connoting nothing related to any particular religion.

why are those endeavoring to teach "intelligent design" (call it what it is -- junk science) in schools, place the ten commandments in front of courthouses, fund faith-based initiatives, and further involve christianity in government forced to parse and interpret and microscopically examine the phrasing of the constitution to further their opinions? wouldn't the language be clear enough had our founders intended a religious state?

of course it would. they were sublimely intellectual and, in my purview, incredibly empathetic. one has to imagine another person's perspective in order to avoid mistakes of past theocracies, whose state leaders were also church leaders.

why must american values be christian values? there exists plenty of overlap, but a plethera of people seem to operate under the misconception that before the existence of jesus morality did not exist, that he was the first to define compassionate values (for those who believe the earth is only 2000ish years old i guess it's rational to think so). is it impossible to be a moral person without being christian? can you be a christian without being moral (that's an easy one)?

what i am most opposed to is the use of tax dollars to fund religous-based symbols and language in our government. i'm not so sensitive as to believe the word "christmas" needs to be eviscerated from the public consciousness, or change "christmas tree" to "holiday tree", but i do believe that some things go too far.

for instance, why should a muslim family's tax dollars fund a school teaching junk science classes that their children then have to take? how do their children feel when the rest of the class recites the pledge of allegiance, "under god"? how does an atheist feel when forced to swear on the bible in a court of law?

religious empathy i guess is a tough thing. it's much easier to view everything in black and white, condemning all else. acknowledging that other views in the world are meritorious means you have to think (work) a little bit harder to rationalize your own philosophies/beliefs; and people are lazy.

i don't know to what end people champion christianity in government (i suspect they probably haven't completely thought it through either). the ultimate course would likely lead to a theocracy wouldn't it? is that what people want? if not, what is the purpose of all this grandstanding?

the only reason i can believe is that it's purely political. religious issues are wedge issues, and they bring voters to the polls. does anyone believe roe v. wade will ever be overturned? it won't. if it's not happening now, with the especially brazen republican president, congress, and supreme court, it's never going to happen.

republican (and democratic, to a lesser extent) politicians pander to a religious base only in order to win elecitons. meanwhile they incite unjust wars, let impoverished people drown, endorse state-sponsored executions, cut veteran's benefits and allow the elderley and disabled to go without health insurance, all while giving tax cuts to the wealthiest minority on the backs of the middle and lower classes.

somehow they never have to answer for these things during elections though; one advantage of a cognitively dissonant base, i guess.

and if i may get a little biblical, of the 30,000 or so verses in the bible, about 5,000 meantion poverty and the obligation of every capable person to help those less fortunate. how many mention gay marriage? how many mention pre-emptive war? does the bible say "turn the other cheek" or "an eye for an eye"? the hypocrisy of people who cherrypick verses from the bible to suit their own agenda (and that of the mindless sheep who follow them) is perplexing to me.

what christian value is it that allows pat robertson to justify calling for the assassination of hugo chavez? which chapter/verse says the love between a man and a man or a woman and a woman is sinful? how could ANY type of love be considered sinful?

personally i give whatever or whoever created this hodgepodge universe alot more credit than that. i believe that She/He/It has to be insulted when supposed followers display such narrow perspectives on existence and unbelieveably superficial understandings of human nature and each person's place in the world.

1 comment:

Ian McGibboney said...

The answer, of course, is that they aren't thinking at all.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter what the Founding Fathers were, because they didn't want that to be a factor. You're right to say they would have been obvious about the Christian undertones had they wished to be. I'd be very interested to see what a modern-day Constitution would look like. In theory. I wouldn't want to live under it!

And one minor pseudo-correction: there's supposedly a specific oath that atheists take in court. Wouldn't surprise me, though, if no one's ever thought to use it.