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April 25, 2005

Mixing the Faith (edited)

When one's religion becomes one's politics, a dangerous line is crossed. A great deal of choice is given up because to question a political leader who shares your faith becomes a question of the faith itself. To doubt any policy based on a belief is to doubt the belief itself. Machiavelli understood this when he said, "That the show of religion was helpful to the politician, but the reality of it hurtful and pernicious." Politicians want the unquestioned power of faith behind their pronouncements, but they often don't want to follow the more demanding tenets of that faith.

I won't bore you with the lessons from history, like Salem or the Inquisition, but ask yourself how free you feel to question a minister in front of others whenever they say something that you oppose. The good people of Salem allowed 17 innocent people to hang because they were afraid to confront the political forces steered by religious fervor, and tens of thousands of women, Jews, and other marginalized people in Europe were executed by Catholics who felt they were doing God's work. Most people knew it was wrong, but felt compelled by their trust in the church to go along.

The sublimity and dignity of religion is tainted when mixed with the banality and rhetoric of politics. Religion is supposed to be an inclusive experience of our common humanity, while politics is by definition an exclusive exercise of power. And, when faith is used as political justification, the path is open to question that faith as rhetoric, with condemnation the only retort available to those using faith as vindication for their actions. Don't like my reasoning? You're an infidel!

The only thing we all have in common is our reasoning ability. Is it too much to ask that our political decisions be based on this? Convince me, within the bounds of rationality and without the realm of superstition, that I should adhere to a political policy and I will follow. That's a democracy. Threaten me with eternal punishment if I don't think your way, and I'll resist until they start burning people at the stakes again. That's a theocracy.

EDIT: And so it begins. From KOS

Posted by tat at April 25, 2005 07:26 AM

I think it's quite clear that most groups that profess "faith" as Christians do not follow what Jesus preached. Remember, to be a Christian is, by definition, to be "Christ like". If you want to quickly and easily understand what Jesus was trying to teach and what it would require to be "Christ like", just take a look at the eight Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount. (this is a link to one site that describes them in the terms of the faithful, choose whatever reference you want: http://jesuschristsavior.net/Beatitudes.html ).

Please review the Beatitudes before proceeding.

Now, after that brief introduction, how many political leaders exhibit "Christian" qualities?? Be Honest. I'm not talking Republican/Democrat, liberal/conservative, I'm talking about the whole lot.

The sooner everyone realizes that the "faith" card is being played not because certain people in politics actually believe, but because they are trying to get votes, the sooner this country can get back on the road to being a country of legitimate morals and values.

I, for one, am tired of the politicians talking out of both sides of their mouth. "We must save Teri Schivo"/ "Let's kill tens of thousands of Iraqi's". "China is violating human rights" / "The leaders that let Abu Ghraib happen are innocent". "We are saving the environment"/ "Time to drill for the few drops of oil that are in ANWAR". Just a few years ago, those people would have been called HYPOCRITES!

Everyone, do yourself a favor, compare what Jesus actually taught (like the Beatitudes), to leading political figures (Bush, Cheney, Delay, Frist, Clinton, and the list goes on) and be honest as to how “faithful” their actions prove them to be.

I’ll get off my stump now.


Posted by: hareball at April 26, 2005 11:14 AM

Excellent post!!

Posted by: Deb Taranik at May 7, 2005 11:50 PM