An Apparent Correspondence Between Religion In Government And Gridlock

This might be one of the problems they sought to avoid when they wrote the First Amendment.

Image for post
Image for post
This photo headlined an article on The Christian Post. I turned it into a meme.

There are 400 bills passed by the United States House of Representatives and waiting for consideration and debate in the Senate. That logjam of legislation is what has accumulated since President Trump took office, most of it since the “do-nothing” Democrats gained a majority in the House.

At the same time, Trump has nominated and the Senate has confirmed a record number of 161 judges for federal and appellate courts. Even with confirmations, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell invoked the “nuclear option” to lower the number of votes required to achieve confirmation for judges. And according to Roll Call, 1 in 15 of Trump's nominations were renominations of Obama nominees from the previous administration. That’s supposed to be an olive branch to the Democrats for next year. But without that nuclear option, the numbers would be much, much lower.

So why are so many bills bottled up in the Senate? On one hand, McConnell says he won’t bring bills to the floor unless they have Trump’s support. In my survey of articles on this topic, McConnell is quite literally saying that unless Trump says he’ll sign it, he won’t bring a bill to the floor of the Senate for a vote. It seems to me that McConnell can read Trump’s mind.

On the other hand, McConnell says that he’s blocking House bills to prevent the Democrats’ “socialist” vision of America from becoming a reality. He seems genuinely concerned that if Democrats had their way, America would look a lot more like France or Germany. I guess it’s really hard for McConnell to make up his mind.

But there is something else, something that has been bugging me for some time now. Since taking office, Trump has become this sort of political demigod in American politics. Take note of the meme I created above. Now follow the link I put under the caption where I point to the source of the picture, an article on The Christian Post website. The headline of that article?

Pastors Pray Against ‘Concentrated Satanic Attack’ Being Waged Against ‘God’s Choice’ Donald Trump

So we have more mind-reading here. Someone there is claiming to know what God is thinking. Huh. Imagine that. I know that people can’t read each other minds. Believe me, I’ve tried and failed every time to read my wife’s mind. And I know her pretty well. But I doubt *anyone* can read God’s mind. And that assumes a healthy dose of optimism (or not), that there really is a god to pray to, much less to read his mind.

Now review that quote of Barry Goldwater that I put on the meme. He expressed real concern that “preachers” might get a hold of the Republican Party. Donald Trump is now the leader of the Republican Party. And in that picture, we see that Christian leaders are “laying hands” on President Trump. The preachers appear to have rather effective control of the Republican Party.

According to the Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life, 88% of Congress is Christian. And in the Senate, they report that 83 members disclosed a Christian affiliation. Some of them are quite open about it, some not so much.

I think that the partisanship and the polarization of our country all contribute to gridlock in Congress. But when I look at how much GOP solidarity there is in the Senate, how they simply refuse to act on more than 400 bills waiting for their consideration, I keep thinking of that quote from Mr. Goldwater. And I see a group of people believing that they’re being principled, that they’re doing God’s will when they have no way to know for sure if they are.

I’ve seen videos of the invocation in the Senate and the House. The LA Times did a pretty good analysis of the prayers said at the start of a Congressional business day here. They try to keep it clean, but every once in awhile sectarianism creeps in. And some members of Congress get it. They know the religion can get in the way of The People’s work.

But Trump? With a word, Trump could have the senate reviewing every one of those bills. Republicans in Congress who see Trump as some sort of deity would do his will in a heartbeat. And I’m betting McConnell is one of them.

You know, in at least one holy book, God has quoted to have said something like this, “There shall be no other gods before me.” I think that would include Trump. You can’t put Trump before God and still be faithful to the one, the only. Can you?

But there was something. Jesus said to follow me. He didn’t say that his followers should take up high office in government and command others to follow him. He didn’t say to recruit as many people as possible into your downline with God’s MLM. He really did say to just follow him. Nothing else. He led the example. He led the way.

This demonstration of inaction and uncooperativeness on display in the Senate is probably not what Jesus had in mind. I can’t say for sure, since I can’t read His mind, but I’m pretty sure that those Senators don’t know for sure, either.

I think there is a definite correspondence between religion and gridlock in Congress. And I think the Framers of the Constitution were right about the 1st Amendment when they tacked it on to the Constitution. They were right to keep church and state separate. But I think they were more concerned with religious persecution than gridlock in Congress.

Write on.

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