The Irony Of Conservative Christianity In Politics
The government is not a temple.
I want the freedom of religion and freedom from religion. I don’t mind if you’re Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist or Satanist. I really don’t. Practice whatever faith you have in your own home, your own temple. All religions can live together in peace. That’s one of the things that I like about this great experiment we have called, America. And so far, the experiment has gone well. We don’t look at all like Iran in 1979.
Regardless of your choice of religion, I want you to have that freedom of religion so that I can choose not to be religious. And that means you don’t get to use the government to prop up your religion. If you get the freedom of religion you desire, implicit in that freedom for you is freedom *from* religion for me.
I have read a few articles about religious discrimination at a few city halls where the invocation would always be a Christian prayer. Any other religion was out of luck. In one case, the Satanists showed up just to make an example of their city hall. And all of that was in vain for those who were not Christian.
Now I can appreciate the point of an invocation before starting a meeting where we make decisions about our collective fate. But all of us pay taxes and all of us are affected by the decisions a government makes. There is no reason to leave any non-Christian religion out of the mix of invocations. It’s good for us to hear different perspectives.
I have also noticed over the years, efforts on the part of Christians to sneak their religion into public education. They want us to believe that God made us. They seem to be fearful that their children might learn the wrong thing, and perhaps miss out on an opportunity to go to Heaven. They are beset with FOMO. So to be as innocuous as possible, they have introduced “intelligent design” as science, forgetting that there are perfectly good philosophy classes that can take up the subject.
In my own informal survey of religious influence in public schools, I have only seen one religion seeking to influence the curriculum. I have only seen one religion seeking to teach creationism as science in public schools. That religion would be Christianity.
Over the last few decades, I’ve seen a tumultuous civic and not so civic debate over a woman’s right to control her own body. More specifically, that debate, now a battle, is over the right of conception and birth. That battle is about birth control. That battle is also about whether or not a woman may have the right to abort her unborn child.
I’ve also noticed that in Judaism, they believe that life springs from the first breath. In Israel, the government pays for the vast majority of abortions performed there. The United States government sends about $3 billion a year to Israel, by far the biggest recipient of foreign aid from the United States. And yet, American Christians are curiously silent about Israel, almost like they’re showing respect for Jewish beliefs.
I have also seen a novel argument concerning abortion. No one is telling Christians to get an abortion. That would be an infringement of their religious beliefs. Contrarywise, when Christians in government use the power of the state to outlaw abortion, they are infringing on the religious rights of others.
It is conservative Christians that I hear screaming the loudest about their desire for a smaller government. Yet they are the same people who are telling us what sex we can be. They are the people telling us who we can have sex with. They are the same people telling us what beliefs may be taught in public schools. They are the same people who pose an existential quandary to women who choose not to carry a pregnancy to term. They are the same people who want to tell us who is allowed to give the invocation in the city hall.
Last time I checked, I confirmed that the government is not a temple.
And the government is not responsible for the fate of your religion, or any religion. They are only responsible for ensuring that people have a choice of religion. It is not the government’s job to ensure that Christianity will remain dominant in the United States for I have seen the trends. By 2040, Islam will be the second most popular religion in the United States. They are having a lot more babies than Christians are. Now I have to wonder whether the conservative Christians in this great nation have thought their plans through.
At this point, I’m reminded of a great quote attributed to Judge Learned Hand found in a speech he gave in 1944:
I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws, and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there, it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it.
I see the enormous push to nominate and seat conservative judges in the hopes that they will honor and protect the beliefs of American Christians. Maybe that’s not really happening, but that is my perception. You are welcome to have yours. I see in President Trump and his loyal base, what can best be described as an effort to make American a theocracy, a country run by a religious government. I see it already here in Utah. But as Judge Hand points out, the freedom to practice a religion or not requires a foundation that is in each of us.
I see conservative Christians talk a lot about smaller government. Then I see what they are asking the government to do in honor of their faith. And I wonder what it is that they are relying upon. Is it the government, or God?
A famous, all-knowing, all-seeing deity has been quoted once to say, “There shall be no other gods before me.” And when I see conservative Christians asking for a government that will give preference to their religion above all others, I see a group of people who have forgotten what their Good Book says.
In my opinion, for the conservative Christians of America, their best hope is not to rely upon the government for their religious freedom, but to rely upon a god of their own understanding. Their best hope is to rely upon their god with faith that He, not the government, will provide for their freedom of religion. And when they pray, perhaps they could replace the laundry list with a prayer for knowledge of God’s will for them, and the power to carry that out.