Thursday, July 1, 2010

Church and State

Full disclosure…….I am a devout Agnostic. I have not been hit over the head, had an epiphany, been saved or witnessed a miracle that could not be explained. I want there to be an afterlife, but blind faith removed from the above experiences just smacks of hedging ones bets. Rather shallow and transparent to a god. That being said, I have been exposed to and educate myself on matters of religion. And as such, I believe that religion based divisiveness is part of the current political problem in our nation. I fully support the right and freedom to worship as you please or not at all.....but government must be secular in order to administer fairly to all of her citizens. That doesn't mean that laws based on Judeo-Christian tenets are incompatible with secular law.....but theocracy is utterly incompatible with free will and liberty. The line must be found in the middle.

That is clearly not enough for many people. So my question is this: what tenet of secular law [the US Constitution] prohibits or restricts the right and ability to practice the worship of a faith? Is faith a deep personal relationship with ones creator...or is it a badge to wear, or recruitment contest?

My point being, I have zero problems with a deeply faithful person holding elected office, but it doesn't make me feel any more secure that the person in question holds themselves accountable to an invisible, unprovable deity. I believe it to be a sad state of affairs that no national candidate is likely to garner money or votes if they are not seen as sufficiently faithful, no matter how adept of a leader they may be.

An elected official should be held accountable to those who placed him/her in that office. Additionally, being of faith certainly hasn't kept those from committing the litany of ethical, moral or criminal transgressions.

The gist of my problem is the seemingly uncontrollable desire to codify and criminalize consensual acts between adults, based on theology [or rather man's interpretation of such]. Gambling, prostitution, sodomy, adultery, fornication, cohabitation, alcohol purchase on Sundays, abortion...[the list goes on]....can be debated fairly in regards to possible detriments to society; but to argue for or codify these based on biblical law, doesn't make any sense....unless we live in a theocracy. I cannot understand the need to rule others based on a personal religious belief, and still maintain that one stands for individual liberty and freedoms. They can intertwine, but are not always compatible.

Don't forget that much of what we thought throughout human history had to be attributed to god, because we simply didn't know any better. I believe that an intellectual evolution in this regard is an inevitable part of the process. As science explains the things on our world, faith is going to lose some adherents.

Morality is subjective; faith is not universal; and faith is not always compatible with individual rights and liberty. The simple illustration of that fact is that when speaking of Christian tenets, many people either desire or don't mind being governed by them. Replace Christian with XXXX religion and you get an entirely different paradigm. At the risk of sounding Vulcan, governing by a belief in something unprovable is illogical. The beauty of our secular system....the Constitution, is that nobody is forced to believe or disbelieve. Nobody is restricted in living their lives strictly by the religious tome of their choice, as long as they do not harm, steal or restrict the liberty of others.

Now, one may argue that mankind may be reduced to its lowest common denominator if not guided by a faith...I think that our ability to craft effective secular law refutes that. I think that one would have to admit that we have witnessed that lowest common denominator throughout history because of religion as much as because of a lack of it. If secular law prohibits and punishes for offenses that are also offenses against god, then we should be in agreement. If offenses are to be punished because they are against biblical law [or rather man's interpretation], but do no harm to other citizens, that is tyranny. Possibly tyranny of the majority, but tyranny nonetheless.

And there's the evil of governance based on religious morals. It's about control. In my experience, [and apologies if this shoe doesn't fit whomever is reading this] those who pursue dismantling the separation of religion and government [or church and state if you will] desire to impose their beliefs on the rest of society. It's not enough for them to live their lives as adherent to a religious tome as they see fit....they want to codify their morals, often based on nothing more than 'beliefs'.

Society should always have some regulation to insure the safety of its citizens. And secular law is not always perfectly applied, but it retains the opportunity to come closest to that goal. Religion based governance is inherently and invasive subjective. Coinciding with that is the fact that the scale of 'right and wrong' is vast and slippery compared with secular law. One can run the gamut from allowing Christian nativity scenes on the courthouse lawn to outlawing strip clubs, criminalizing oral sex and mandatory prayer in public school.

I summarize by contending that more faith in the citizenry isn't a bad thing, as long as it remains a personal relationship and not a political crusade. I did not think I had, nor did I ever intend to paint all believers with the same brush, but the offenders are out there, and are active in politics. This I believe aids the decline of critical thought and patriotic activism just as much as globalism, progressivism or other lemming-like attitudes of many of our brethren.

Tell me where I'm wrong.

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