One listens to the couple in Michigan, the man saying people might think them hypocrites, because they love the LGBT teens in their area, but their faith does not allow them to accept them; and wonders: in the years since the What Would Jesus Do bumperstickers proved that bumperstickers are a proof of a lack of philosophical conception, applied, one must also acknowledge the true answer to that question is far too often: Not just not what you’re doing, but almost everything you’re doing.
It is a conceptual failure to say, I love democracy, then, in the next breath say and do, whatever I deem against my faith should not be accepted or legal.
To claim one’s religious beliefs should be applied to all is the perfect bad example of bridging the gap between religion and government. And the utter death of one of the single most important parts of democracy: the right to choose for oneself what is the correct way to live. When the Founding Fathers wrote about the “pursuit of happiness”, they did not mean buying a pickup truck or having a 3,000 square foot castle, they meant individual choice for one’s destiny.
There is not, as you hear these ultraconservatives claim on Fox News, an attack on religion. An attack on religion would be anti-religious people trying to stop the religious from practicing their beliefs, from going to church, from teaching their own children about their religious beliefs, from requiring certain behaviors within their own homes.
In no way shape or form is that occurring, or has ever occurred in this country as a secular mean; indeed, except when one religious group bands together to attack another. And that has happened many times in our history when ultra conservative Christians have attacked both Christians and non-Christian groups, and the persecution by religious-based local and state government entities against the Mormons. But, the only time this has been a government sanctioned act is when religious groups controlled some section of the government with access to making laws.
But, to be clear of a few different things: the reason Jefferson, Paine and others wrote extensively about the need to have government separate from religion, and that a secular government will not infringe on a religion while a religious government will be unable to stop themselves; was due to the persecution, the coercion, they had felt at the hands of the British authority.
These Founders knew from their own history, from the forcing of the Church of England onto the Colonies, and the persecution they saw—and felt—in real time, that no threat was to be ignored when it came to religious entities and their motives. They did not strike back against a secular king, but a highly religious one that meant to enslave them within his personal religion.
What they may not have foreseen is that this distinct minority of voters might be the prime voters in any election, thus using democracy to subvert democratic ideals. How could they imagine these hard won freedoms they enshrined in a group of documents, that America would become, in real effect, a minority rule country, and the rulers would be wielding not secular, democratic laws, but Biblical ones.
And this has been only somewhat slow in coming.
Over the last 40 years, as anti-abortion groups have put their own candidates up for election, from local office to national; and won due to a lack of caring and involvement by almost all but the religious right who supported those candidates; religious-based extremism has increasingly driven the dialogue as well as legislation, culminating in the current spate of religion-based laws attacking abortion rights, and highly charged extremist rhetoric decrying attacks on religion that don’t exist.
What does exist now, however, are moderates pushing back on having religious doctrine forced on them. Call it, if you will, American Revolution III.
In our entire history the primary attacks on religion has mostly, if not almost entirely, been religious-group-on-religious-group bigotry, with the government sanctioning only when government officials were members of the attacking group. As we have now.
Muslims? Ignore that throughout America’s history, including recent history, most violent terrorism has been both homegrown and Christian-based, something easy to ignore by many when the perpetrators not only look like the Christian next door, but often believe only slightly to the right of oneself.
Abortion? The single issue most easily identified as the example of not religion under attack, but religious peoples attacking democratic ideals.
For the minority, religion is the catalyst to attack abortion as an act against their god; for the Majority, democracy is the protectant that allows them to make the choice and have a safe environment to carry out that choice. The difference between the two is simple and direct: the minority is passionate and votes in every election, the Majority has confused consumerism for democracy, and thinks the process protects them without their staying informed and voting. In every election.
It’s the classic chicken and egg analogy, and the Majority foolishly puts consumerism before democracy, which is clearly the wrong order for a more perfect union, as proved that as religious groups have pushed their way to the top and the Majority stays home on election day, the problems in America have increased, and democracy has suffered.
This Majority failing is even more acute when one considers the American embrace of organized religion is less than 20%, as measured by regular church attendance. And other polls show a clear majority see organized religion as untrustworthy and unrepresentative of their personal values.
The way, then, is clear: for the more perfect union so often cited, the Majority needs to stay informed and vote. In every election, local to national, voting is not just our duty to the democratic ideal, but to preserve—if not regain in a new and better way—that most perfect union.