The censorship of religion’s real role in politics

Sam Smith

The clearest indication that we have not adequately separated religion and state is that we are not supposed to talk about the former during a political campaign. This allows the two to become surreptitiously blended and for us, during what is supposed to be a secular activity, to support or oppose issues whose heart is deeply religious such as abortion or gay marriage, or a deadly collection of religious wars.

The best rule of thumb is that religion is absolutely fair territory for political debate when it leaves in its wake war, a crusade against another religion, ethnic cleansing, the destruction of constitutional government, or the endangerment of domestic tranquility.

Besides, if Pope Benedict XVI talked about Jews the way he talks about gays or treated blacks the way he treats women, what would we call him? Why are we not allowed to talk about this?

The ultimate irony of conservative politicians is that they pretend to be a bastion of Christian politics when, in fact, they are comprised in no small part of despoilers, usurers, war-mongers, hypocrites, idolaters and groupies of false prophets – all of whom are frowned upon by the book they pretend to follow. And their opponents, who are more faithful to the words the conservatives only quote, are often such good Christians that they never say a mumblin’ word about it all.

Most recently, the issue has arisen concerning Mitt Romney and once again the message from the establishment media is that we are to respect his faith and not question it.

While, in this land, everyone is theoretically free to practice their beliefs the beliefs one freely practices must include one’s conviction that someone else’s beliefs are full of shit.

Thus, it would be perfectly fair for citizens or the media to question Romney or such matters as speaking in tongues, the prevalence of visions, or the idea that the New Jerusalem will be built in America. Governor, in what American locale will Zion arise?

Of more immediate concern is the Mormon position on homosexuality, described by the site, What Mormons Belive, this way:

|||| The Mormon Church is firm on its position condemning homosexuality as sinful behavior…. Frequently, a gay or lesbian who has been raised a Mormon will disassociate themselves from the Church because of Mormon doctrines, but a gay Mormon community is growing. There are also many gay Mormons who wish to overcome their same-sex attraction in order to have a successful eternal marriage and gain all the blessings promised by the Lord. It is a long and difficult struggle to change one’s sexual orientation, but despite the denial of many pro-gay groups and psychologists, there are many formerly gay Mormons that have done it.

The Mormon Church will not bow to popular opinion that asserts because ‘they were born that way’, gays and lesbians should be permitted to live a homosexual lifestyle. The Mormon Church does not accept biological determination for same-sex attraction.

The tendency toward homosexuality is sometimes unfairly stigmatized but in Mormon doctrine is not treated any different than adultery, fornication, or any other sinful act. The natural tendency toward sin is no excuse. ||||

This is pretty slimy stuff for someone running for president to be involved with and certainly worth discussing.

Many religions – especially those favored by the American right – have similar dirty pockets of belief or childish fantasies. But being president is not a fantasy; it is real. And, if because of these beliefs and fantasies, we find ourselves, for example, in an endless war in the Middle East, than not speaking of these matters is not only unwise, it could be suicidal.

The issue is not whether one is entitled to one’s beliefs; the issue is whether, as result of the beliefs of our president and majority party, we are dragged into policies that force their beliefs upon us. And a campaign is the best time to start discussing this. After the election may be too late.

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