Church, State, and the Whole Crazy Thing

I seldom have debates with people about religion or politics.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life, it’s that those are arguments you can never win.

So instead, I’ll take the passive-aggressive route and write a blog post about religion and politics.

When it comes to my belief systems, I’m sort of purist.  I don’t have much patience for people who like to hand-pick things to believe in.  The Bible is a great example of this.  People like to pick out certain verses of scripture that go along with the things they want to believe.  They take that and run, while completely disregarding the whole message.

Our constitution is another good example of this.

Folks love to talk about freedom of speech and of religion, but usually they think it only applies to their speech and religion.  When someone offends them, suddenly their beliefs in freedoms get a little murkier.  Just lately, the whole “separation of church and state” thing seems to be of growing concern.

Here’s the thing: if you truly believe in separation of church and state, then it has to be all the time, not just when it’s convenient or easy.  Same-sex marriage is a real hot button issue, and to a lot of people it doesn’t have anything to do with church and state, but I think it has everything to do with it.  Who is opposed to same-sex marriage? The various religious communities who say that marriage is sanctified by God as the union of a man and woman.  Those religious communities have every right to believe that.  (Freedom of religion, remember?) So from my perspective, the government can’t come in and tell a church they have to allow same-sex marriage.  If a church doesn’t want to do that, then they don’t have to.  It shouldn’t be up to a vote or a town council whether it’s okay.

There’s a flip side, though.

If a government wants to allow a non-religious civil union between same-sex partners, then the church has no jurisdiction to stop it.  Right?  Separation of church and state.

Here’s another one that I find particularly outrageous: some Catholic-based institutions were recently mandated by the Department of Health and Human Resources to provide abortifacient drugs, contraception, and sterilization to their employees.  Then the government (aka the state) stepped in to determine if the Catholic Church’s protests to this mandate were valid.  Here’s a little lesson for those who don’t know–the Catholic Church does not believe in abortion at any stage, artificial contraception, or voluntary sterilization.  The government has no right to step in and make the Church violate those beliefs.

However, this country is strongly Protestant, and so most of have been brainwashed into thinking that the Catholic Church has waged a war on women and women’s rights.  In short, based on the public reaction, people think the government should be able to tell the Catholic Church what to believe, and how to practice those beliefs.  The Catholic Church has had these same beliefs for centuries, and millions of Catholic women believe in them just as strongly–no, correction, they believe in them even more strongly than the men, since it affects them personally.

How would we feel if the government suddenly stepped up and declared that Baptists having church on Sundays wasn’t appropriate anymore?  Maybe the government might decide to appoint ministers to make sure a fair and equal message was being spread to all.  Can you say “communism?”

So my point is this: separation of church and state means just that–separation.  Freedom of speech and religion applies to everyone, not just Baptists and people who share your opinion.  The government has no business sticking its nose in people’s religion.  I certainly don’t want them telling me what to believe.  I have a hard enough time figuring that out for myself.

What about you?  Do you need the government to guide your religion?  Do you want them telling you what you already believe is wrong?

I didn’t think so.

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Evangelical Lowe’s

God has been in the news a lot lately.

Well, maybe a more accurate statement would be to say that his representatives here on Earth have been in the news a lot lately.  I watch TV news shows in the morning, and browse different newspaper headlines from time to time, and oddly enough, two different God-related subjects caught my attention yesterday.

First of all, I was wonderfully amused by a newspaper headline which referred to Tim Tebow, the starting QB of the Denver Broncos and former Florida Gator, as God’s quarterback.  I giggled and snickered at random moments over that one all day long.  God’s quarterback?  I doubt if God cares much about football.  God prefers soccer.

Seriously, though, could we be taking this just a tad too far?  Tebow is a deeply religious man, raised by apparently deeply religious parents.  He was homeschooled in order to maintain the purity of their belief system, although he and his mother moved to an apartment in a different school district so he could play football for the local pagan high school.  Now Tebow is really shining as the QB of the Broncos, but most of the attention he’s getting is related to his religion.  Other athletes are imitating his prayer posture.  He is very vocal about thanking Jesus for all of his success (Tebow’s, not Jesus’.)

I can’t help but be suspicious, but I’m always suspicious of overtly religious people.  As I have said a thousand times over the years, hard-core Christians make me nervous.  I think if you are a truly good person, your actions will show me that–you don’t have to keep telling me.  I guess I’m too desensitized by other actors, musicians, and of course sports figures who always say, “I’d like to start by thanking God….”  These words are usually uttered by some of the most apparently Godless people who have ever been set down on the skin of the earth.  So when I see this media-induced frenzy about Tebow, naturally I’m skeptical.  I don’t know, maybe he really is that good of a person, but ultimately, what difference does it make?  Do we really believe that God is rooting for the Broncos?  My head hurts.

Speaking of headaches, the other God-related item which got my attention wasn’t nearly as amusing.

There’s a new reality show on TLC called “American Muslim.”  I haven’t watched it because the only reality TV I’m interested in is either paranormal or related to watching people try to sell their junk to pawn shops.  Anyway, Lowe’s ran some commercials during the program, and some Evangelical Christians got bent out of shape and said they were going to boycott Lowe’s if they didn’t pull the ads.  Even a couple of Senators got on the bandwagon.  So Lowe’s told them that this was America, and that they would continue to run the ads.

Yeah right.

What Lowe’s actually did was pull the ads.  I was disappointed.  Now, maybe I misinterpreted that whole “freedom of religion” thing, but I’m pretty sure that being a Muslim in the USA is perfectly okay.

I know everyone associates Muslims with the tragedy of 9/11.  Here’s the thing–those Muslims were extremists, and in fact, they persecute other Muslims who don’t believe as they do just as much as they persecute non-Muslims.  Another little tidbit–terrorists aren’t just Muslims.  Ever heard of a fellow named Timothy McVey?  He was responsible for the explosion that took place in Oklahoma City several years before 9/11.  Incidentally, he was as white as old Jeff Davis.

Shame on Lowe’s for giving in to this kind of closed-minded bullying.  I thought this country was about forty years past this type of prejudice?  Here’s the catch about the first amendment–it applies to everyone, not just people who think and believe like you do.

The best part of this whole thing to me is that most people who carry this type of bigotry in their hearts are the same ones who post all of those sayings like “freedom isn’t free”  on Facebook and Twitter on Veterans day and other such related holidays.  Those things are absolutely true, but all of the battles that have been fought weren’t just for Evangelical Christians.  They were fought, and won, so that this would be a free country.  It was so that people of all races, religions, and opinions could reside here in peace and free from persecution.

If the Evangelical Christians don’t want to watch the show about Muslims, fine.  That’s what the remote control is for.  If they don’t want to shop at Lowe’s, then they shouldn’t.  Lowe’s also has advertisements during evening TV, which is ripe with strong language, sexual innuendo, and homosexuality.  Lots of businesses and corporations do.  Maybe the best bet would be for those hard-core bible thumpers to just turn off the TV altogether, and then there won’t be any chance that they can be corrupted.  Maybe they’re worried if they continue to allow Lowe’s to place ads during a show about Muslims, pretty soon the whole country will convert to Islam.  (Maybe Lowe’s would start carrying a “build your own mosque” kit or something, I don’t know.)

Just as extremist Muslims give that religion a bad name, I think people like the hard-core Evangelical Christians give good, honest, Christians a bad name.  I happen to know several Christian people who are kind-hearted, open-minded, and just generally good people.  And guess what?  They didn’t even have to tell me.

I was able to figure it out all on my own.


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