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Gender: Male
Hometown: Orlando
Home country: USA
Current location: Holistically detecting
Member since: Wed Jan 27, 2010, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 12,151

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I'll bite. Pronouncements of religious faith in American politics are primarily disingenuous.

Obama is far from the worst example, but he famously invited a full-blown RW Christian extremist to speak. His other comments on his faith, while doubtless true in a general sense, absolutely require a large grain of salt in the context of a fanatically extremist conservative American movement, gathered under the banner of Christianity, that welcomed him with immediate accusations of being a Muslim, and the unspoken suggestion that no Muslim would ever be fit to be President. He, and every other political leader in the country, is constantly under pressure to prove he is sufficiently Christian, goes to church enough, puts the right picture on his Christmas card, doesn't commit the sin of referring to the Christmas season or the (pagan) tree decoration with the overly inclusive term "holidays," etc., etc. etc.

Respectfully, I hope this OP is not an attempt to conflate criticism of religion, which more relevant than ever now, with the tidal wave of religiously justified attacks on women and gay people, with an attack on Obama, and thus to bring it under the umbrella of things not permitted on DU. That would be both sad and incredibly silly.

Back to the point though, it's well past time for more full-throated critique of the role of, in particular, the Christian religion in American culture, and politics. We have developed this very strange, inherently contradictory game, in which anyone who would hold office is put under tremendous pressure to claim devotion to philosophical traditions which, if taken literally -- would be insane.

Why is that okay?

If we were to remove the protective cloak of tradition, and consider the qualifications for national political office -- or even, say, dogcatcher -- of someone who believed the entire world was created by, is in the control of, and has every iota of ethical behavior defined by, some OTHER otherworldly being besides Yahweh / Allah, the conversation would be brief, defined by uncomfortable laughter, and likely followed with a psychological exam.

What we insist on is lip service. No one wants a leader who really believes in virgin births or mystical healing, or prancing devils waiting in the afterlife to torture unbelievers with fire.

No sane person would vote for anyone who genuinely believes our lives should be dictated by 2,000 year-old stories of magical beings who enjoy sacrificial bulls, murder thousands of children when angry, order that women should be subservient to men, or that moral conduct includes what foods a person eats, what clothes they wear, or how or with which other consenting adults they choose to have sex. NO ONE.

It's the Lie Agreed Upon. I don't mean religion itself. There are sincere believers who lead sincere lives and sincerely try to do good, all centered around their faith. I don't agree with critics who would deny that. Normal Christianity, practiced the way normal, secularly minded people practice it, does not require or even deserve ridicule.

None of this is to say incivility toward DUers or any other typical people of faith -- the ones that don't define their beliefs as simply a justification to humiliate or destroy anyone or anything they find culturally distasteful -- is okay. There is plenty of room for any number of beliefs.

But those beliefs are not immune to criticism, including the criticism that they are fully nonsensical.

Not when they are used as a cudgel, over and over and over again, to attack and destroy people and support every heinous political agenda from homophobia to forced vaginal ultrasounds. For Christ's sake.

So long as the public discussion of Christianity in American politics and culture is dominated by the Santorums and Popes of the world, yes, vitriol, satire, and derision are going to be part of the conversation. It's necessary, decent, and more than fully deserved. If it offends normal churchgoers who aren't screaming at the top their lungs about zygotes being people, or gays and Muslims NOT being people, then they just aren't paying enough attention.

I think everyone understands that President Obama is one of many public figures who seem unable to disentangle themselves from this hypocrisy. It is enough, for now, if he will simply oppose as any decent person would, the indecent things continually proposed in the name of Christianity in this country.

It can, however, be done. JFK seemed to have had a pretty good handle on the way religion and politics should work in a sane, secular society. I question whether Obama or any national political figure say this now, given that "separation of church and state" has become another in the growing list flat-out denials of reality embraced by American "Christian Conservatives:"

"I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him."

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