The War On Religion Does Not Exist

Ok, I thought that this week I would start turning my attention to patriarchy in religion, let’s be honest I could create a whole blog just on patriarchy and politics, but the article below has enticed me to keep on the subject for at least another day or two – or at least sporadically, especially in the run up to the U.S. Presidential elections.

I am saddened at “christians” that choose to divide instead of unite this nation. Rev. Dr. C. (that’s a lot of abbreviations, which means he probably knows a thing or two) says it so succinctly in his article in the Huffington Post today which I have reposted below.

A side note – I received a response to my comments I mentioned in my previous post. What was funny, however, was to really see how the young man couldn’t really grasp my fundamental issues and inconsistencies within his article. I watched as he immediately responded – and then watched how he “updated” his comments so as not to be so angry and harsh. It is astonishing to me the lack of ability that young indoctrinated men have to engage in healthy debate (especially when it is a woman debating). I have known this approach much of my life – these men don’t have the ability to ask questions, instead they regurgitate what they’ve been spoon fed and stick their hands to their ears not wanting to hear anything else. It has made me angry, but more and more I am becoming saddened – they are so sadly misinformed, their belief structures can’t handle questioning and engaging (perhaps much like Mr Rick Santorum, mentioned in the article below.)

The War On Religion Does Not Exist

Written by Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy

Apparently, attempts are underway to open a new front in the supposed “war on religion” in my home state of Louisiana as it takes center stage in the presidential primary season. Truth be told, from what I have seen lately, those claiming there is a war on religion are the ones most guilty of waging that assault.

With sadness and disbelief, last weekend I watched as Greenwell Springs Baptist Church pastor Dennis Terry introduced presidential candidate Rick Santorum at his church. Terry believes — incorrectly — that America was founded as a Christian nation and that those who don’t agree with him should “get out.” I have been a Baptist my entire life, and I have been a minister for more than 50 years — the last 20 in a church in Monroe, LA. I can tell you without question that Pastor Terry’s perspective is not authentic to the historic Baptist tradition. Indeed, I fail to see how it is consistent with the teachings of Jesus who invited all people into his presence.

The reality is that Pastor Terry’s perspective, though terribly troubling, is not unique to him. Unfortunately, such vicious and exclusionary rhetoric has become widespread across the more conservative branches of Christianity. Equally disturbing is the fact that a candidate seeking the Republican presidential nomination would embrace this point of view. No doubt Rick Santorum is a conservative Republican who relies much more on religious rhetoric than I would like any candidate for public office to do, but until now I had not seen him associate himself with a perspective that tells people who do not hold his view on religion to “get out” of the country. Whether or not Mr. Santorum knew what message Pastor Terry would convey in his introduction, he in the end provided a platform for a discriminatory and close-minded perspective inappropriate for anyone wanting to serve as president for all Americans.

The Republican Party has long claimed to be a big-tent party with room for all and an appreciation for different points of view. It is an idea that many have been suspicious of for a while, for good reason. But this week I was reminded of what none other than Senator Barry Goldwater had to say in 1981: “I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in A,B,C, and D. Just who do they think they are?”

No one will ever confuse Goldwater with a liberal. He was, in many ways, the father of the modern conservative movement, and yet he understood the danger of applying a religious test to public office. Where are the leaders of today who are willing to stand up and say: “I am a person of faith, but I will not dictate what yours should be. I am a national leader, but I will not use my office to codify my religious doctrine and further divide this nation.”

I have learned by personal experience lessons that motivated the founders of our nation to make a provision of religious freedom a part of the United States Constitution. Historically, institutional entanglements between religion and government have hurt both, though religion typically has been hurt much more than government. Religious people do not need the government telling them how to manage their faith any more than governments need religious people attempting to use the machinery of democracy to advance their particular sectarian theology or morality.

Let’s move past the idea that opposing the imposition of one set of religious doctrines on the rest of society is a war on religion. Let’s move past the idea that asking people to follow the laws of our democratically elected government is somehow a challenge to religious freedom. Let’s move past the idea that the fact that a majority of Americans are Christians somehow makes this a Christian nation. Instead, let’s celebrate the diverse nature of faith in this country that has thrived in large part because of the religious freedom guarantees in the First Amendment.

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