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Friday, April 03, 2009

Politics and Religion, Poisoning the National Debate

"During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution........

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.” James Madison, the Federalist papers.

I have tried, and generally succeeded at staying clear of religious debate within political discussions. But lately, an ugly trend has appeared in ‘conservative’ circles. A lot of good ‘conservative’ right wingers are bashing Mormons very much like Atheists bash all Christianity. My observation over several decades and many churches is that there are two kinds of people you find in any church...saints and sinners. Many of these over zealous ‘Christians’ just can’t admit which category they fall into. won’t find a handful of ‘Saints’ in all of them and I certainly don’t fall into that category.

Those who would force upon us their ‘true religion’ do not notice that the borders are open to terrorism, that a socialist is in the white house, that our economic system is gone. They only want a cure for Mormonism! At a time when our only success can be unity, they seek to divide us further.

I have little doubt that scripturally and historically the case for some sects being the ‘true church’ rather than the Mormon religion can be made. That is not what concerns me or what concerned the founding fathers when this nation was formed. I will not argue dogma or scripture because there is no end to it and it is irrelevant in a constitutional republic. Those discussion should be outside the political arena.

Bill of Rights, Amendment 1
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

In this republic, the founding fathers took the issue of religion out of all policy making except to expressly provide for each of us to worship as we chose and for the government to stay out of it. If a church is no immediate threat to me or my country, it is simply none of my business. I want patriots, men of good will toward one another. I’ve found them in ALL religions and races. More often than not, I find them from the Mormon Church......not preaching dogma, but proudly standing beside a sinner like me in defense of our nation. I was disappointed that some of them supported Mitt Romney simply because he is Mormon. I found more of them supporting other candidates who were not. There is plenty reason for no conservative to support Romney, but his religious leaning should not be one of them. This only represents the reverse side of the same bigoted coin. We saw it when John Kennedy was maligned for being ‘Catholic’.

Still, many insist on voting for representatives of our government based solely on ethnicity or religion, based solely on their own emotional attachment or revulsion to a particular sect. This is how tyrants are born. This is how we elect ‘rock stars’ instead of statesmen.

Divide and conquer. The oldest tactic on earth, and still the masses fall for it every time. Don’t we see enough division in our government over race, gender, etc? Must religion be included in this after the founding fathers warned us repeatedly of such a danger?

Divide and conquer. We’ve pushed that silly notion so far that atheism and environmentalism have been given religious status. Secularism has
surpassed the faithful in numbers. And why not? The Catholics and Baptists hate the Mormons. The extreme right evangelicals hate the Jews.
And the Muslims? Well, they hate us all!

Ben Franklin said, “ We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately. ...”

And he is STILL right!

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