Religion in Public Life

Via Abnormal Interests comes this interesting commentary on religion in public life.

A snippet to tide you over:

All the state can do is hold on to secular values. It can encourage the moderate but it must not appease religion. The constitutional absurdity of an established church once seemed an irrelevance, but now it obliges similar privileges to all other faiths. There is still time – it may take a nonreligious leader – to stop this madness and separate the state and its schools from all religion. It won’t stop the bombing now but at least it would not encourage continued school segregation for generations to come. And it might clear the air of the clouds of hypocrisy, twisted thinking and circumlocution whenever a politician mentions religion.

Abnormal Interests had some interesting things to say about this article (stop by his site and read them) and I would like to put my two cents in. Here in the US a non-christian could not get elected dog catcher much less to the Senate or House (and forget about the presidency). If you are a atheist or agnostic forget about politics. Even local races require a refelxive profession of faith in Jesus. You see it all the time. I was watching a follow up story on the local news about an ovarian transplant (which was kind of a first) guess who got credit for the success of the surgery (the recipient was able to conceive and gave birth). It wasn’t the surgeons and nurses who spent years of their lives studying medicine and perfecting their craft. Worse yet, the reporter and local anchors weighed in with their own religious spin.

Reading the above paragraph a couple of things stand out.
“…encourage the moderate but it must not appease religion…” yet here in america the religious leaders that get encouraged are a bunch of lunatics like Falwell and Dobbs. Unfortunately, reliance on christian extremists has created a huge amount of political success for the Republican party and has created a runaway reaction that is pushing christianity further and further into extremism.

“And it might clear the air of the clouds of hypocrisy, twisted thinking and circumlocution whenever a politician mentions religion.” Unfortunately, most folks have become adapted to the hypocrisy and twisted thinking that characterizes current politics and couldn’t survive without it. Without these kind of props to their self esteem they would be left with nothing. Mosts athiests and agnostics are capable of creating their own meaning and value in their life and the lives of others. I guess another way to phrase it would be that non-believers can face the “existential question” without despair. For some people, however, the “existential question” is literally Hell and religion provides a means of escaping from it. You hear it all the time in criticisms of evolution. You know the litany: “evolution is amoral and teaches that peolple are animals so nothing is stopping us from behaving like animals, etc.” For some the thought that Jesus didn’t, in fact, die for their sins is a condemnation of their worth. “For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son…” take God’s love away and there is nothing to inform and give meaning to their lives. Which is kind of sad.

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2 Responses

  1. I will check out Abnormal Interests, because I like this post so much. This is going be a very important discussion in the coming years. I don’t know how we’ll all fare. I particularly like this line, Afarensis:
    Mosts athiests and agnostics are capable of creating their own meaning and value in their life and the lives of others.
    I could never understand how some people are incapable of creating meaning and finding value in their own lives.

  2. Yes,
    I think it will be a very important, probably one of the most important, discussion also. I’ve always thought it was fear of the unknown that causes people to close up and allow meaning to be assigned to their lives. One of the things I am always telling my daughters is that they should never allow people to define them, rather they should define themselves to others.
    One of the things that disturbs me, tho, is that the same people who are professing christian values turn around and justify Gitmo and Abu Gharib. There seems to be a perversion of christian values that isn’t being talked about much.
    I would check out the original article Abnormal Interests and I linked to, although it is mainly about what is going on in Britain it still has some interesting things to say that apply to the US.

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