Wednesday, October 29, 2003

If God is the Answer, what the Hell was the Question?
I haven't discussed religion very much in this blog because I have a firm rule not to talk about anything I don't know much about. I exited the official precincts of the Catholic Church before I was born, courtesy of a father who was a freemason, which, according to some readings of the papal excommunication bull, made not only him but his descendants into hell-fodder. Later, when courtesy of a mother who was an active member of the local Catholic Women's group, I was accepted into Catechism class, I did not last long. Legend has it that the priest himself returned me home after three sessions, proclaiming she's as bad as her father, and she's only six!

These days, though, one kind of religion is much on my mind: the religion some of my fellow citizens seem to want to impose on the rest of us.

I learned about the separation of Church and State in America from a certain Mr. James Madison. Mr. Madison had, shall we say, a jaundiced view of human nature in relationship to power:

In a free government the security for civil rights must be the same as that for religious rights. It consists in the one case in the multiplicity of interests, and in the other in the multiplicity of sects. The degree of security in both cases will depend on the number of interests and sects; and this may be presumed to depend on the extent of country and number of people comprehended under the same government....(Federalist Papers #51)

If it needs to be made clearer, Mr. Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance in opposition to a bill introduced in the general assembly of Virginia to provide funds for teachers of religion spells it out:

What influence in fact have ecclesiastical establishments had on Civil Society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the Civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny: in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty, may have found an established Clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just Government instituted to secure & perpetuate it needs them not. Such a Government will be best supported by protecting every Citizen in the enjoyment of his Religion with the same equal hand which protects his person and his property; by neither invading the equal rights of any Sect, nor suffering any Sect to invade those of another.

Look, it's very simple: the American Constitution guarantees all of us the right to practice our own religion. I have no objection to anyone praying to whatever God(s) they please; I just don't want to be forced to pray with them. The silly "oppressed Christians" routine is at best delusional and at worst hypocritical. Nobody wants to oppose the fundamentalists' religion; it's only its intrusion into politics that the rest of us resent and resist.

Which leads me to the question at the beginning of this post. The dividing line between the Christian Right and the Right Christians (thank you, Al Sharpton!) is not how much they love God; it's how much they fear Him. A God of Love needs no priests to browbeat people into following Him and no soldiers to enforce His teachings. It's the God of Fear, He Who Must Be Placated, who requires absolute unthinking obedience.

If that's how you want to live your life, the Constitution guarantees your right to do so. But I don't want to live like that, and neither does the majority of American citizens. So go in peace and LEAVE THE REST OF US THE HELL ALONE.

For Crying Out Loud
I disappear into the photo lab for two days--TWO DAYS--and come out to find some strange person is trying to sue Atrios for quoting him. Oh, and because the mean, nasty posters hurt his soft little feelings.

I'll confess right here I don't read NRO, for the same reason I don't read Instapaundit or Kaus or LGF. But on the basic principle: Heat. Kitchen. You know?