Monday, August 27, 2012

G-d and Government ~ a scattered, and perhaps incoherent, post

I may be wrong about this ~ for that matter, I may be wrong about almost everything, but that's a discussion for another day. I may be wrong about this, but it seems to me that there's an interesting confluence of church and state in some corners of our USAmerican society. There are some folks who are quite vocal about their concern that G-d has been kicked out of our public life.

Stereotypically, these folks want to to have prayer in schools; they want talk about G-d to be pervasive in our governmental systems and structures; they want the world to acknowledge the (false) truth that the founding fathers were conservative and evangelical Christians.

And it seems to me that this group overlaps with the group who keeps resurrecting this continuing kerfluffle over whether President Obama is a Christian or a Muslim.

I don't mind passion for a cause. I don't even mind folks who are passionate about a cause with which I completely disagree. That's part of the beauty of our societal and governmental system ~ we are each entitled to our own opinion, and we have the right to voice our opinion (no matter how well- or ill-informed we are).

Part of what confuses me, though, is how some people read and interpret the constitution. A lot of people are quite familiar with our First Amendment rights. The First Amendment to the Constitution grants all people freedom of speech, freedom of the press, religious freedom, freedom of assembly, and right to petition. We are allowed to say what we want, to publish what we want, to worship (or not) as we wish, to gather together with others, and to bring grievances to the government in order to have conflicts resolved.

I'm no constitutional scholar, but the way I interpret this amendment is that everyone can say and believe what they want; further, no one is allowed to restrict the right of others to say and believe what they want.

So, it seems to me that there are quite a few Christians in this country who are concerned that their religious freedom is being taken away when they aren't allowed to lead public and all-inclusive, specifically Christian prayers in schools and other public venues. I've also heard these Christians complain that this is tantamount to religious oppression.

What seems to me to be more religiously oppressive is when someone leads a prayer on my behalf that I would never pray … and I'm Christian. I can't imagine how much more ostracized Jews and Muslims and Sikhs and everyone else must feel when Christian bullies impose their prayers on everyone.

It also seems to me that the folks who are worked up about prayer in schools are some of the same folks who are worked up because they believe President Obama is Muslim ~ and because they believe having a Muslim president is problematic. What's interesting is that they seem to be ignoring Article VI, Paragraph 3 of the Constitution (not an amendment, the Constitution), which states in part that “... no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office of public Trust under the United States.”

So, to those who are worked up about Mr. Obama being Muslim I say, “So What?” The constitution specifically and obviously states that it doesn't matter whether he is Christian or Muslim or Atheist or Satanist.

Those Christians who are so very vocal about valuing the religious freedom granted by the First Amendment for themselves don't seem to value religious freedom granted to others who aren't Christian.

It seems to me that we are left with two options: We can either be a pluralistic nation, embracing and embodying religious freedom for all; or, we can be a Christian nation. We have the government set up to be pluralistic. In order to be a Christian nation, we'd have to rescind significant portions of the Constitution … and I don't think there are many people who would be on board with that.


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