Friday, July 27, 2012


What an interesting world we live in. You have the right to believe in whatever you want to. There is (at least in theory) in this country a freedom of religion that allows you to believe anything you want. No matter what crazy bat-shit thing you take into your head, it is theoretically your right to believe it.

Holding a somewhat Agnostic view of politics (unless a person’s religious views involve the slaughter of millions, disruption of the economy, and unemployment for me, personally – a person’s religion does not matter to me), I do find it interesting in the number of people who base their political decisions on their perceptions of a candidate’s religion.

According to a recent poll that was quoted this morning on a couple different newscasts, the president has a bit of work to do if he hopes to make it to the finish line with these people. Only about half the people in the polls believe that President Obama is Christian. Which is not necessarily good news for his opponent; similar numbers seem to understand that Mormonism is based on the same mythos.

The whole interplay of religion and politics bothers me for different reasons entirely. What religious background and beliefs a candidate espouses holds not interest to me. Provided the first amendment proscription on the establishment of religion is in place and honored, your personal beliefs are protected. But what bothers me is when churches start demanding that their belief structures be codified into law by practitioners who manage to get themselves elected. This is a dangerous path that leads to theocracy and that is specifically the point to the separation of church and state.

But ironically, the loudest critics of the theocracies in the Middle East are those who would seem to be the happiest about the establishment of a Christian theocracy here in the US. They seem to miss the corollary to “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander” as it applies to religion:

What’s bad for the Mullah is bad for the Minister!

Holding your beliefs is all well and good. I encourage you to believe whatever you so desire. Imposing those beliefs on others is not good and not admirable. It is wrong! Just as the Taliban has no right imposing their (extremist) view of Islam on the countries where they come to power, the religious right in the US has no right imposing their views on the rest of us. Even less so, in fact, as there is that pesky little thing that the framers of the constitution felt so important that they put it first in the Bill of Rights!

I think that the people who have proposed that religions who preach politics should lose their IRS Exemption are right. Either they are religious institutions or they are political ones. And having claimed the moral authority over their flocks, they should not be able to brow-beat their followers to vote in certain ways – at least and not have ME pay for it. If you are in the business of telling people how to vote, you’re not in the business of saving souls!

Wherever you are today I hope that you have the intellectual wherewithal to understand the distinction between religion and politics!

Don Bergquist – July 27 2012 – Kensington, Minnesota, USA

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Most or our early Presidents (after George Washington, Episcopal) avoided formal church membership until AFTER their terms in office. Furthermore, "In God We Trust" was added to our currency by Act of Congress in 1956 --largely as a result of McCarthyism; I'll bet most of us still think our official motto is E Pluribus Unum- From Many One." Our early decades as a country clearly recognized the separation of church and state. It is clear to see when we began to veer from that path. Separation does not mean non-belief. and