Typically, I do not wade into the depths of politics, religion or other polarizing social stigmas in these posts. Well, this weekend isn’t typical so why not break a little tradition here and hop on my own little soap box pulpit.
I ask, nay, I implore politicians and pundits to please stop evoking God. Really, please, I am begging.
Personally, I dislike being preached to in general and I hate being evangelized for several reasons but let’s not focus on my beliefs and religious ideas as much as the premise that God just shouldn’t be a cornerstone of the political conversation.
First, our founding fathers recognized that religious identity was of utmost importance to many and that the freedom to forge one’s own outside the context of government was imperative in order to maintain the success of the nation. It was made abundantly clear through their writings and in the US Constitution that there should be no state sponsored religion and religious entities should be kept separate of state affairs. It also mandated that not only should government never sponsor any religious entity or belief it should also, nor should it’s citizens ever impede upon any religious activity. By evoking God the way some political entities do they are both attempt to combine elements of “church & state” and become divisive to those who might not agree or even understand their references to “God” in the first place.
The defense to this policy usually comes from references to god (a non denominational entity) that were made in the broadest and most inclusive sense understanding the roots of many of the new society’s beliefs predominantly revolved around similar groundwork. It was done consciously and extremely carefully by the forefathers to help establish a connection with the constituents that mainly believed in similar things to one another in terms of religious identity. Attempting to annex this 200 year old representation of 13 newly formed states with the occasional use of ‘god’ in literature as a way to push religious belief on a now extraordinary diverse 50 states is divisive and undermines everything the forefather’s were trying to do in bringing people together. Sure, it will bring together small groups of people that want to throw around the word “God” like a rag doll but considering the diversity in this nation now which includes nearly every faction of Judeo-Christian values, some of which didn’t even exist here back then, along with substantial populations in all variants of Buddhist, Islamic, Hindu, Wicken, Atheist and Agnostic to name but a few of the more referenced ones how can any reference to “God” actually bring people together who don’t even acknowledge “god” in the same way? And, that isn’t even getting into the differences within the Jewish and Christian sects that still don’t always agree…
Of course, that’s no matter because it is just the belief that is enough, not the truth behind it. Typically however, religious truth is masted by those who study it. They understand the history of and philosophy behind the word by not only reading the word but all the related texts to it in order to become closer to the spiritual meaning. They are granted degrees conferring they are knowledgable the same as a businessman, lawyer or doctor would earn theirs. Yet, these flouting politicians quoting versus or sanctifying “God” in politics have typically the minimal amount of study to gain a most basic understanding of what they are trying to say. Simply being touched by the spirit isn’t enough even for many of the greatest prophets in any religion, they had an intellectual savvy that led to a firm understanding of what they were preaching, unlike the vague explanations and veiled usually given.
And what of this political evangelizing? Dare I start quoting the bible now? No, because that would be hypocritical considering my above chastising of under-educated mis-representation. Rather I’ll just note… I cannot speak for the Protestant belief system or any of its many derivatives and off-shoots but I do recollect from my Catholic studies of the bible many of these politio-preachers are pounding for the good word actually has Jesus telling stories about living by example and not by shouting at the pulpit and not making a display out of your relationship with God but living your life with God and your actions and deeds speaking to the Love rather than your mouth. But, the word be damned if it can be used for some grander scheme such as re-election.
Religion is a tool and it is easily manipulated and abused by ruling entities or those who seek rule. In general, historically, wielding religious beliefs became an excuse for doing all sorts of ills in the world and every major religious movement has its roots in this in some way, shape or form by some ill-inspired follower. Some, we know to be single minded extremists, others full fledged movements by large groups of followers, some patently wrong, some only questionably depending on the context and framing of history. But essentially none escape the fact that there was some perceived political gain in sabre-rattling in the name of religion. Despite the vast human history proving this point about government in the name of god, there are still some who even today chose to censor that part of the past in favor of their own gain (and subsequently as history repeats itself, destruction).
Granted, if religion were eradicated, man would still war. Some other element would cause a rift just as it has in the absence of religion in many a revolution and historical event. The presence of religion though creates quicker polarizations and deeper chasms allowing movements to exceed the type of damage that would probably be done without such a divisive driver. Evoking it is usually self-serving, and, in some cases, the people who evoked it in the past did not even necessarily believe, but rather used it strictly as a weapon in their arsenal to rally the masses to their cause for no other reason that success at any price including lies and deception.
So, again, I ask of our current and future leaders and pundits to please refrain from this act. Do not push your beliefs (or lies, whichever be the case) on me and my fellow believers in something different by evangalizing some god. Do not use god as a tool to rally supporters for reelection or greater ratings (and therefore advertising dollars, which is your true god anyway, money) and especially not at the expense of those who believe something different thus demonizing everyone else’s beliefs, ostracizing them from their own nation and causing seeds of disdain and eventually hatred through religiously inspired bigotry. And do not confuse the foundation of this nation with your own agenda by placing god and government together in general.
Thanks, you may go back to celebrating your own beliefs now.