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LM: "At Issue..." May, 2000
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Religion in Politics

Religion has been intertwined with politics since before the rule of Kings and Queens. It has often been used as government to spread it's influence. Wars most often are waged over religious beliefs or over the right not to follow (Civil Wars) the moral lead being forced upon the whole. The United States was colonized by many fleeing British imposed religion, by those wanting freedom to worship as they pleased. Yet, Puritanical dogma seems to believe it has the right of decision over American citizens today. Since the founding of this Country, there has been favor in legislation and government towards this group. And a battle between them and others- each gaining and losing rights for all. Are we free to practice as we believe or is their religious freedom?

Don't get me wrong, I love Christians. They have every right to believe in deity and what that means to them- as I do. The problem occurs in government when any group is allowed political influence over another. When this happens there really isn't freedom for everyone. It's just an empty shell, endangering even those it seems to favor. Once government is given this power, it can and will be used for and against those who asked for the favor. The Constitution outlined a government where this wasn't to happen. The Bill of Rights ensured that there be no misconception over individual and States rights. Yet, even the founders had their faults (not worth claiming as Christian Heritage), and didn't live up to the ideals they expressed in the Declaration of Independance and the Bill of Rights. Blacks were not counted as fully human, women and children were not full citizens. In fact anyone not Male, White ,Anglo Saxon, Protestant, Land Owners were seen as less than deserving of equal rights. Religion has had a presence since the start, in ceremony and in law via government.

Let me be even more clear about religions. I believe you should be allowed to believe anything you want. I believe the govenment gets in the way of that. I also believe religious persons wrongfully use government to impose their choices on others. I find it horrible that recently two public school children had their Bibles thrown into the trash by a teacher. I find it wrong that if any group can organize on a campus, that Christians are denied Prayer or Bible Club meetings. I hate zoning laws that tax and restrict setting up private churches or close them down and steal their land over greed for the property, etc... I hate any government subsidy (my money) of abortion... for now it's a spiritual matter (and at this point I believe a wrong choice). I hate any goverment subsidy of something I don't agree with. It's just not their place to make law regarding personal matters. I don't believe in censorship. If any private citizen wants to express their beliefs- they have that right- be it in what they read, where they wish to worship, what they may say, etc... It's just not government's place to interfere in peaceful, voluntary worship.

But the door was opened to interference by the same people making governments enforce religious doctrine. The differentiation in morals is between Civil Society and it's ethics (those ideals all could agree are to our benefit regardless of religion) versus Religious doctrine or dogma (specific personal beliefs relating to God provided by their specific spiritual belief system). This country has crossed the line from day one, opening those thinking they had protection up to regulation. All this, in my opinion, is contrary to the beliefs and system outlined from the Declaration to the Bill of Rights. As America became more diverse, the close knit Christian communities still expected it's tax payers to fund Public holiday displays for them, teach doctrine in *public* schools, ban private behavior they don't like... basically act via law as if all we part of their Congregations and belief systems. This has nothing to do with government. Majority/Mob rule serves to create even worse situations. It is already creating more distastefull situations (to Christians and others) via larger govt. ,controlling more individual rights. If you believe everything is open to majority rule, you risk losing the rights to practice your own religion, to behave as you wish to do, to pay for what you believe is right- and you are succeeding.

We've come a long way in trying to correct the inequities we started with. More like two steps forward, one step back... or is is it three? Because we continue to give government the power to supercede our personal lives and rights, including World/Globalist organizations via the United Nations, World Bank, World Court, IMF, etc... From continuing to pay for a religious figures to pray in Congress, to non-profit status for Churches, to Christian dogma ruling our laws in personal choices and other favoritism. I say all this not to offend believers in Christianity, nor deny their equal rights- but to make the point that all is not equal for them nor anyone else. Government has no place in recognizing the religious ceremony known as Marriage, who is qualified for it, nor granting special rights to it. Government has no right in setting quotas in nor approving of life choices or any private matter related to your body, home or business. Some groups are receiving priviledge and equal rights robbed from others. They win and lose just as much as other groups, and that things should not be this way for any of us. The only change needed is to the Constitution saying "Every citizen is granted equal protection under the law". This would end the special rights movements and fights between various groups.

I've been told by some Christians that they were the ones who framed the Constitution- that the morals/ethics contained therein are theirs. From this assertation I've taken they feel that (given it were true) it gives them the further right to demand additional rules on other's behavior in line with their own spiritual beliefs. Yet that assumption is far from the truth. The ideals written in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, and the intentions of the founders, is far from this- and aren't being lived up to by Christians. The ideals and morals were not invented by Christians, but merely socially adopted and would exist by any means in civil society. Lau-tsu was one of the first libertarian thinkers, who espoused ideals of individual freedom. The Romans actually had the first Republic, upon which our system is based. These were not Christians- yet infamous for their persecution. But, the Roman Empire surely did fall once government grew too large by catering to special interests -those with the most political power- thereby reducing the freedoms of those not in favor. Our government was to protect against this via the Bill of Rights. The Magna Carta was intrumental in the laws and rules set forth for us, as were the writtings of John Locke. These were not Christian organizations but individuals working for individual rights... not one view, but freedom to pursue your own happiness without taking from another. Therefore, I say if Christians want truely equal rights, they must protect those of others around them. And I'll fight with them on that road, as long as it's not a one way street.

Many of the writters involved in the Independance Movement in America were Christian. They seemed to understand that they were not creating a theocracy. It just wouldn't make sense, as they were fighting against being dictated what to believe and do by the British Crown. They knew that the power to tax and legislate at will was wrong. We have the same problem today... asking the governments to act as King over private lives. The long ago forged ethical & moral laws regarding force or fraud against another, our general welfare (our equal rights being protected- not a socialistic forced distribution program)... are being subverted by a Nanny State. A State wherein no one can be trusted to self responsibility or accountability- just laws affecting the fruits of our labor, our most private lives and loves, our own property and security. Our problem is government is larger and more intrusive than ever envisioned.

For the record, there used to be a distriction between public and private. Morally and legally where ever tax dollars pay the bill, no one has the right to discriminate against another. They shouldn't anyway, but the fact is in private life we have the right to act as we please with our persons and property (trusted to learn, fail, grow, fail again, learn some more, succeed, and over...). Christians and many, many, many other groups have jumped on the government gravy train to get their way of seeing things to be the official recognized law of the country. If you don't like the government giving special favors to others, stop asking for them yourselves. If you don't like having to pay for complete fairness in so-called "public" programs (schools or other tax dollar subsidized programs), make sure government is cut down to size and out of them, instead of calling for more. Stop taking grants or hand-outs so there is no confusion whether you are in a *public* or *private context. In your private life and with little government you may freely act upon any of your own beliefs, require your Congregation or family behave as you wish. You may in private support only the groups and programs you believe are right and helpful to others with your hard earned and over taxed income. Anything you find offensive you have the right not to participate in. But, big government and it's many supporters have gone quite far in requiring everyone to do the bidding of every group to gain access to more power *over* others, and without their conscent. When it comes to equal protection under the law, no group has any right to decide on inclusion or exclusion- this diminishes all of our rights

If you want to live like many other countries over the centuries (and today) where Religion rules the private lives of everyone- we are on the right track. If you want to choose your own destiny, pursue your own happiness... then you'll let people live and grow as they choose. I think that Jesus taught the very same thing. He didn't advocate that people be forced to live by his words under human government, but choose to come to him of our own will. Without the choice, he wouldn't have had to come to us would he? Belief just can't be legislated, it just divides. He just could have set up a supreme governmental commander to dictate to us and leave choice out of the picture. That's not the message he left to us. And it's not the message of any other spiritual leader. Mankind sure has spoiled the message of being an example in your life and a witness to God. Loving enough not to force others to your thinking, in persuasion over force and allowing growth and change to occur. What a mess we've made of things.

If you like the division and hatred that forcing one world view on others creates, then I'm afraid we are on the road to tyranny and serfdom again. Fighting each other- encouraging the govenment to deepen the division and hatred between Gays, Straights, Judeo-Christians, Pagans, Families, Single Persons, Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and on keeps us for fighting for each other. Want to change someone's mind on how to live their life? Talk to them, if they wish it, but don't legislate them. Everybody's God (Gods/Goddesses) seem to have different messages on achieving final rest with them (and atheists have their rights to non-belief as well). Force is not a message of your God(s)(and I believe all religions are refering to the same power of creation), it was that we love one another.

I find it ironic that many fundamentalists and Christians recognize how governments have grown out of control, and even see the New World Order happening... yet continue to attack and divide, via government, the very groups who would support their equal rights and less intrusion. As I've said, they've opened the door for this to happen, and continue to encourage it. I personally believe that by pursuing such an adjenda, instead of restoring a Constitutional Republic of Individual Rights, will be our undoing- and it began with religious divisiveness from the start. It's a worldwide theme. One that will not end well for us if it continues. I'm not against religion, I'm against religion taking over government or the government supporting any one view or any view at all. I'm against trashing the rights of others to impose anything the should be private choice.

My favorite themes in religons are: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and "An Ye harm none, do as Ye wilt"... translations vary, but the message remains the same... LIVE AND LET LIVE! Because, in the end I will fight for your choice to live as you wish and I hope you'd do the same for me.

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