Saturday, September 8, 2012

Finally - politics without religion [well almost]

    In the home of my childhood there were always two topics not discussed at the dinner table – politics and religion. My parents believed that those issues were of such a nature that honest discussion was impossible unless the speakers spoke with triteness or disrespect!
    Religion was very important in my parent’s personal lives. They were active members of their Lutheran parish – serving as teachers, ushers, trustees, guild members as well as hosting bible studies in our home. They made certain that my sister and I attended regularly so that as adults we could make informed decisions as to our future involvement!
     Politics was certainly important as to make voting mandatory! But my sister and I had to look for clues as to how they thought about specific issues. An occasional joke voiced when one would ask how they voted [my memory says it came more from my Mother] was that more often than not “Our votes cancelled each other out!” But to this day I really couldn’t state who the Democrat was and who the Republican! I could make a reasoned argument giving such a label to each of them over varied issues.
    Since the 1980s, however, religion has increasingly been inserted into politics. The efforts of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed and others to organize the “Religious Right” into a solid voting bloc for the Republican Party have truly been game changing! Increasingly such efforts have identified in great detail the position that should be supported if voting as a “religious Person”!
    The negative consequences are well documented. Even the ancients knew there was danger in saying out loud the name of god. Our theologies have become poorer; our understanding of scripture has deteriorated; cooperation among varied clergy and parish groups is less; and, an increasing number of young adults have opted for what Bishop Spong has referred to as “The Christian Alumni Association”.
It was a pleasant surprise for me to read/hear that for the first time in decades the Democratic Party would: a] Not mention god in their platform; and, b] Not indicate that Jerusalem should be accepted as the capital of Israel!
    Unfortunately, by late Wednesday the party platform had re-inserted both of those items.
    Wow – wow!
    We appear to forget – our ancestors fled to these shores to escape governments significantly entangled with religions.
    We seem eager to forget that at times “religion” was used to support the denial of freedom to persons of color and persons of the female gender – and even to impose the death penalty on persons deemed to be witches!
    We appear unwilling to accept that we live in a pluralistic society in which there is no universal agreement re: god.
    And we especially strive to forget that the holy, sacred writings of all religions place a strong burden upon those who “have” to care for those who “have not”!

Oh well – maybe by 2016?