Jack Dalton: 'Religion and politics and how to corrupt them both'
Wednesday, December 22 @ 09:57:13 EST
By Jack Dalton
There are certain things in life that just do not go together -- peanut butter and tuna fish come to mind. There's nothing wrong with either one but I don't recommend mixing them together or you'll end up with a really bad taste in your mouth. The same can be said of mixing religion and politics. There is no possible way to merge the two without them mutually polluting each other.
Based on some of the emails I receive some folks are convinced that I despise religion and am just another Godless liberal who cannot see the righteousness of George W. Bush or the likes of Jerry Falwell. They'd be wrong on the first count and correct on the second. My religious views are where I think they should be -- personal.
My failure to see anything Christian or righteous regarding Bush, Falwell and the "religious right" is because I feel those characteristics require a bit more than just lip service. Recently the "good" Rev. Falwell proclaimed that "we should just keep bombing them all in the name of the Lord." Riiiiight! That will solve everything won't it? This is the kind of thinking that has invaded way too many of America's pulpits.
The unfortunate thing about organized religion -- all religions -- is the fundamentalists within it who won't be satisfied until all people accept their way of life and worship; and they are willing to go to violent extremes to achieve that goal. When this "religious" element's "moral values" become the basis for governmental involvement and the policies which follow, the innocents of the world community ends up suffering, and that includes us in the U.S.
The Bush administration may insist that this war that has been unleashed is not a war on Islam, but try explaining that to the Arab and Muslim nations of the world. They see the television reports on the "fundamentalist take-over" here in the U.S. after this last "election" (and I use that term loosely). They hear the hateful, pompous and arrogant words of blow-hards like Jerry Falwell and others who are just like him.
Those that are a part of this radical movement, that have the audacity to call themselves "Christians," state over and over again that they are in no way like the Taliban or al-Queda because they are not as vicious or as brutal. There are upwards of 100,000 dead Iraqi's that would beg to differ; there are mangled children in Fallujah who would also beg to differ; the over 500,000 Iraqi children that died as a result of ten years of U.S. sanctions would also beg to differ.
Then there is the destructive image given to Christianity, as a whole, by this group of "Cherry Pickin' Christians." These are the people that have given Christianity a serious black-eye by such outspoken and all too visible "religious leaders" who think God supports invasions and torture, just as long as it's done in "His name."
The world is full of people of faith who show they are at peace with their religion as seen thru their good works. They are building homes through Habitat for Humanity; they are feeding the hungry and reaching out to those in need -- with no strings attached. These are the people who have taken the words they hear when they worship and put them into action to give to people -- not take away. These are the people who are outraged -- myself included -- that the image of our faith has been hijacked by a "radical movement" of self-styled religious fundamentalist fanatics -- an American Taliban.
The seed of fundamentalism in conservative politics has taken root and is seriously endangering the American political landscape. Unrestricted free-market capitalism, freedom, democracy, military might and religion have been merged by this revolutionary movement of evangelical fundamentalists to now mean one and the same thing. With people like Tom DeLay (among others) stating "we will now be about the business of creating a Bible based government." And who can forget Gen. Boykin telling everyone "our God is bigger than your God."
This revolutionary movement is using the Constitution to take away guaranteed rights for certain groups of American citizens for the first time in the nation's history. It has moved into our public schools and is working overtime to discredit science in order to implement the "reality of Creationism." This movement wants to "shield" us from the evils of intellectualism and then try and rob us of our free thinking. It wants to reverse course and remove rights from women and, most of all, it (they) wants to rid the nation of the "scourge" that hates them for their "moral values" and their "freedoms."
Lynn Cheney causing the "burning" of 300,000 history texts through the Department of Education because she didn't think there was enough emphasis on our "religious heritage." Department of Education in Texas having Health textbooks rewritten to include only "abstinence" as the only form of birth control -- further dumbing
The "scourge" they are out to do away with is anyone and everyone that stands in open disagreement with what they, that make up this revolutionary movement, want to impose upon us, the nation and the rest of the world. And in the process more bombs will be dropped, more people will die, more prisons will be built (as if we don't have enough now), the poor will get poorer, and health care will continue to be the domain of the rich and wealthy as they are the only ones that can afford it.
Jihad has been declared in America by them. They have planted the seeds. We will become like our Arab counterparts who have been at Holy War with each other for centuries. I find it rather disconcerting that of the dozens of so-called Christian denominations they all have different doctrinal statements and openly condemn those that do not stand in agreement with "them." Something like the wedge that separates the various warring factions of Islam. When man brings his "thoughts" to God's table everything gets screwed up royally.
In order to preserve that which is good in each, religion and politics must be separated. They must divorce themselves from each other or they will become mutually dysfunctional -- more than they already are.
This in no way implies that a religious person cannot be, nor have a role, in politics. What it does mean is that religion cannot be stated political policy as what is being attempted today. That spells Theocracy, pure and simple and then both fail -- religion and politics.
I'll be writing on this in more detail at a later time but for now, this is a good place to point out that there has not been a mass murderer that has not claimed that God was on their side, including Hitler: "The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life." Adolph Hitler, My New World Order, Proclamation to the German Nation at Berlin, February 1, 1933.
Does that sound familiar to anyone? God is always being "used" by those that desire to control the citizens of their nations and to "move" them in the desired direction -- it has never worked and is doomed to failure here in America -- but what will be the cost?; To us as a people, to the nation, to the rest of the world that we, to the apparent chagrin of the powers that be, are a part of and are dependent to a very large degree on.
The cost so far has been a rise in xenophobic nationalism at a level I didn't see during the McCarthy era of the 50's or during the protests during the Vietnam War when protestors were being killed by the "authorities" in the streets. And all in God's name -- how ludicrous.
Galations 5:22, 23: ...but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Jack Dalton is a disabled Vietnam veteran and co-editor of the Project for the Old American Century web publication. His articles and op/eds are widely published on the internet. His current email address is firstname.lastname@example.org