God may not be a registered Republican and may not even be a US citizen but He seems to be the most powerful lobbyist and power broker in American politics.
Apparently, He wants old white men who are Catholic Bishops and Republicans to dictate to women what they will and won’t be allowed to do with their own bodies, He told Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry to run for President (He can be a bit of a practical joker at times), He is both supporting and opposed to Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon, He doesn’t want gay people to marry (did he create LGBT folks in His own image), He does wanty dead people to be baptized as Mormons, He is on the defensive against President Obama’s war against him and in general, He wants Republicans to take over the country and take it back in time and out of reality, to a fictional 1950’s when no one except married people had sex and women, blacks and others in minority races and religions knew their place, subservient to the Great White Male.
Man…God must be a real dick, right?
Well fortunately, as I text with God quite often, I can tell you that He is not in fact behind any of these things and is considering suing many of these people for slander and copyright infringement.
Even so, it is undeniable that despite The Founders’ best attempts to keep a separation between them, religion is very entwined with our democracy.
It’s ironic that America as a country technically began from a group of religious people who came here because they were oppressed by those in the majority religion who ruled their country…and their literal or figurative descendents are dedicated to taking power so they can oppress those not in their religion(s) which is now represents the majority.
It’s basically the rule of, “When anyone who isn’t me abuses their power to affect the lives of others saying “It’s for the greater good”, it’s a moral outrage. When I do it, it’s for the greater good.”
In 2008, Obama’s religion was a massive issue and it almost derailed his campaign. “Reverend Wright” was turned into a pejorative, like “commie” and “terrorist” though the Repubs still used those classic hits in referring to Obama. At the same time that he was attacked for belonging to Wright’s Christian church, he was simultaneously attacked for being a secret Muslim who would, if elected, follow up his inauguration with the time honored Muslim tradition of beheading white people along Pennsylvania Avenue.
Today, Obama remains accused of being secretly Muslim, a corrupt Christian programmed by the radical Reverend Wright and an anti-religion secularist who wants to kill God with an abortion tool.
The ability to to carry multiple conflicting hatreds or fears simultaneously in most other countries would be referred to as “schizophrenic” but in America it’s called “The Core of the Republican Party”.
And in the rationalization tool chest of the Right Wing, there is no tool more powerful than religion. If it can be sold to the base that a hateful position has a religious underpinning, their deflector shield against reason can be expanded to encompass it.
There’s a saying I’ve adopted, “If people didn’t use reason to arrive at an opinion, you can’t use reason to convince them out of it.” As frustrating as it is to those of reason, that there must be some way to convince those who are part of the Religious Right of reality and out of believing Republican falsehoods, you can lead a sheep to water but you can’t make him brush aside the wool that’s been pulled over his eyes so he can see the water and drink.
Which is one big reason why the GOP relies on religion so strongly to rally their base and win elections. Religion is all about faith and faith means believing in something without regard to provable fact. Faith can and has been invaluable to so many fantastic accomplishments by individuals and groups as it has been the cause of some of the worst atrocities in human history.
So faith in itself is not a good or bad thing, it’s how it’s used that makes for good or bad things. Faith in the hands of the 9/11 hijackers was horrible, faith in the hands of Obama voters in 2008 was a great and historic thing (even emoprogs have to admit that a President McCain and VP Palin would have brought the Mayan prophecy of the world’s destruction in 2012 to fruition).
In most other democracies such as those in Europe, the idea that someone running for the top leadership position in a nation would bring their religion in as a reason to support them, would be offensive. After all, when one is running to be President of all people of all religions in a country, the issue that matters is the expertise, vision and the fitness of that person to run the country, not their fidelity to a particular religion nor their commitment to enforcing their religious beliefs on those who have different beliefs.
The hypocrisy of the religious politician is almost comical. Rick Santorum blabbers on and on about the contraception issue as being heinous because it infringes on the beliefs of others while declaring that his religious beliefs about contraceptives should be the law of the land, taking away the freedoms of all who don’t subscribe to his religious beliefs. In other words, “Freedom is when I’m free to do what I want and when you’re free to do what I want.”
Is the GOP really so outraged about contraception? Of course not, it’s just a way to whip up their ignorant base who blindly trust their sincerity. In actuality, it’s just a BS back door to trying to undermine the Affordable Care Act (so-called “Obamacare”) so that their insurance company contributors can be less regulated and regain more power over dictating to Americans what care they can have, if any…which will translate into bigger profits and bigger political contributions.
Mitt Romney’s religion has been a meaningful factor in his candidacy. A poll from late last year stated that 22% of Americans say they won’t vote for a Mormon for President. Romney has worked hard to avoid talking about being a Mormon, mostly referring to himself publicly as a Christian. Though there are a number of reasons to have issues with the Mormon religion (such as baptizing dead people who were never Mormons, without prior consent from the deceased or a family member), how exactly would Romney’s being a Mormon make him any crazier as President than Santorum, a Christian, who declares that God told him to run for President and is rooting for The End of Days to come ASAP (though Romney is rooting for End Times too)?
I would make the case that those who don’t make religion a reason to vote for them are far more spiritually centered than those who would be so superficial about their religious beliefs to cheaply exploit them just to get elected. Would a Christian who truly sees his/her beliefs as sacred and personal, publicly prostitute them?
However, we can’t criticize the religious hypocrites out there for ignoring reality and do it ourselves. We must accept that for a majority of Americans, religion is unfortunately intertwined with their political decision making. Nearly half of Americans state that they would not vote for an atheist. So consider that someone who is a member of a right wing faction of a religion that would seek to oppress half of the population (women) and in fact, 99% of the population in serving the top 1%…has a better chance of getting elected in America than an atheist who supports the rights of women and bringing the 99% economic justice. Is that really what Jesus would do?
It’s part of the grand hypocrisy that the Right Wing religious zealots running for office and involved with the Tea Party, pound their fists about being Constitutionalists and going back to running the country just as the Constitution says…er…except for the sections that conflict with their religious beliefs (in those cases, the Constitution is an outrage that needs to be changed).
Progress and religion are not always compatible. Sure, you had Ancient Greece and the Renaissance and many other periods in world history where religion fostered creativity and progress yet coming from the more fundamentalist religious groups, there is often oppression of progress because the permanence of their religious dogma is threatened by the changes that progress presents.
Better understanding astronomy undermined the concept that stars were the light of Heaven shining through the canopy of the night sky. Better understanding the planet we live on undermined the concept that Hell was a physical place beneath the Earth’s surface (at least for many). The examples go on and on, the more progress that is made by humankind, the more that beliefs created thousands of years ago, before there was real understanding of much of existence, fall away as allegory instead of standing as truth.
So naturally, to those fundamentalists with petrified religious views that their religious text is 100% literally true in all instances, there is a built in resistance to progress out of fear it will continue to disassemble their religious beliefs. To those with progressive religious views, progress can open one’s mind up and actually deepen one’s belief in God and one’s religion. This seems to be why we see such a difference between those who are religious in the middle and Left who seek and welcome progress and those who are religious on the Right who battle against it.
Choicelady is a marvelous advocate for the Progressive Faith community, which is far less recognized in this country than the Religious Right but it is important to consider that there are many millions of Americans with deep and strong faith who support and fight for progress every day. To these folks, the religion of a candidate is less important than their conscience. So religion in itself is not necessarily an enemy of progress but in the wrong hands, it could be.
Which brings us back to why having religion so marbled through our politics hobbles our ability to make progress on many crucial issues.
The Republican Party is run by the wealthy, for the wealthy. They represent less than 1% of Americans and voters. How could they win elections all by themselves? So, after Lyndon Johnson alienated the Religious Right when they were Democrats, by passing the Civil Rights Act, the GOP, especially under Nixon, came up with the Southern Strategy.
The Southern Strategy is the only way Republicans can ever accomplish national victories in elections. It is premised solely on pandering to the Religious Right in the South which entails whipping up racism and religious victimization to get these “rubes” to vote Republican under the scam that Republicans actually care about religion and the plight of poor white people.
In actuality, the last thing the GOP would want is for Roe v. Wade to be overturned and for the illegal immigration problem to be solved. That’s almost all the buttons they have left to manipulate the lower class to vote for empowering and enriching the top 1%.
The ignorance of voting against one’s own interests comes from such overpowering issues of race and religion. Why are poor, unemployed white people in the South and midwest voting for a party which is dedicated to blocking jobs bills that would give them paychecks and taking away their unemployment checks, Social Security and Medicare? How could such issues as gay marriage, abortion and birth control, none of which negatively impact their lives directly, get them to vote for having their only income cut off and being evicted from their homes?
It does seem crazy, voting for those who openly declare they will prevent you from getting money to pay your bills and feed your family. However, the GOP has become quite adept at hitting the religious/racist override button in these people’s brains and they react like trained seals, lining up to support the frauds wearing the robes of religion during elections…only to discard them as usual after they win.
Unfortunately, this trend seems to only be growing, religion is so often and openly mixed into our politics that there isn’t much surprise or push back to it anymore. Perhaps the positive thing is that through the insincere overuse of religion to manipulate voters, there may come a time when it loses its effectiveness precisely because of its overuse.
Until then, as happened with the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s religious attack on Planned Parenthood and the support for Obama on the contraception coverage issue, those on the Progressive side and in the middle, religious or not, who believe in America progressing and becoming a better place for future generations, will have to stand up against those manipulated by their religious beliefs to be The Army of the Wealthy.
At least that’s what God told me after urging me to run for President (at least I knew he was joking!).