It's time to lose the faith talk in politics

electWe’ve got to find a way to take the conservative symbolic message of faith talk out of American politics.  First let me state what I believe in as far as religion; I believe religion is a very personal thing, and I feel it should be that way for everyone. This goes a long way in understanding my disdain for so called ‘faith-based politics’, examples of which have been in abundance this campaign season. Now, before you jump on me, I am talking about ‘both’ (anyone find a viable 3rd party candidate that can raise 100 bazillion dollars to go the dance? I wish we could…but that’s another post ;)) parties, Democrats and Republicans. When you hear any of them kowtowing to the evangelicals (who have been the sweet target these past few months), you know they’re deliberately targeting those people, and those people only. The fact that so many have been called out to ‘prove’ their conviction is the true one, and in line with the vote heavy evangelicals, is a sad commentary on how people vote. Now politicians trying to relate to their audience is the oldest and most used tactic in history. Everyone is the ‘Washington outsider’ without lobbyist ties, that are going to get the job done for Barry Bluecollar; anytime you see them don a construction helmet and protective goggles at a plant is a great example (makes me think of Ducacus in that tank…), but the fact that they are forced to spell out their religious stances always leads to the same thing; they have the same ones as the majority of the voters do. We know they’re not being honest, remember John Kerry running? He started going to church all the time, causing church leaders to say they wouldn’t serve him the Eucharist since he wasn’t going all the time and being a ‘good Catholic’ because of his abortion stance.  Which leads me to the other point, it’s not just that I think religion should have no basis in how someone votes, but when politicians spell out that they’re one of the flock, it is disingenuous and condescending. That this works is testimony to, again, people not voting for the candidate they think will do the best job for the country, but just the best for their niche (however large). Remember united we stand? Anyone? So Alternet covered this with a great article titled, What Religion’s Blind Stranglehold on America Is Doing to Our Democracy. They talk about a candidate stating religious ideas and assuming that from then on the candidate will hold those ideals as objective truths one which by definition couldn’t be changed or questioned.

…faith talk often has little to do with candidates’ stands on the issues [,,,] Randall Balmer, a leading scholar of evangelical Christianity, points out that it’s offered not so much “issues” to mobilize around as “an unambiguous morality in an age of moral and ethical uncertainty.

So first it’s a false hope, the emperor has no clothes, or ‘pay no attention to that man behind the curtain’ type of deception, but then combined with the ‘truth’ that we all believe in ‘God’ - how will anyone with that mindset be able to bring our country together?

“_Mitt Romney was courting the evangelical-swinging-toward-Huckabee vote when he, too, went out of his way to link religion with moral absolutes in his big Iowa speech on faith. Our “…common creed of moral convictions? the firm ground on which Americans of different faiths meet” turned out, utterly unsurprisingly, to be none other than religious soil: “We believe that every single human being is a child of God, [that] liberty is a gift of God.” _

Ok, so no doubts allowed here!  So that they’re being disingenuous is bad, the fact that these truths are presented as something that cannot be argued about gets to the heart of the matter.

So, when it comes to religion and politics, here’s the most critical question: Should we turn the political arena into a stage to dramatize our quest for moral certainty? The simple answer is no – for lots of reasons. For starters, it’s a direct threat to democracy. The essence of our system is that we, the people, get to choose our values. We don’t discover them inscribed in the cosmos. So everything must be open to question, to debate, and therefore to change. In a democracy, there should be no fixed truth except that everyone has the right to offer a new view – and to change his or her mind. It’s a process whose outcome should never be predictable, a process without end. A claim to absolute truth – any absolute truth – stops that process.”

And Bingo!  This is the crux of why I think, na, BELIEVE, that religion has no place in politics.  A few months ago I got some comments from a relative who learned from a forwarded email that Barack Obama was a ‘radical Muslim’, who ‘will not recite the Pledge of Allegiance’ and that he ‘took his oath on a Koran instead of the Bible’.  Of course there’s plenty of facts to respond to this kind of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) in many Snopes articles debunking Obama mis-information, but notice it all focuses on religion, and how Obama’s ideals would attack _their _religion. Maybe it’s this reverse psychology that tells us why the candidates must come out and present themselves as the ‘most holy’. In the beginning, and even now, Mitt Romney’s faith as a Mormon has been a hot topic. The point is, it shouldn’t matter, we need to vote for the person we think will do the best not only for our country, but for the world. Anything short of that is self serving that will only further divide our country, and further alienate us from the rest of the world.

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