(Note: I was unsure, again, whether to post this under “Politics” or “Philosophy.” I posted it under “Philosophy” because it attempts to get at the heart of what “freedom of religion” actually implies. Apologies to anyone who may be offended. — MNW)
You know how here in the USA, we have “freedom of religion,” and how it says in the first amendment that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” and all?
I mean, people talk about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights all the time, then turn around and try to say this is a “Christian nation” and whatnot, when clearly it isn’t and was never intended to be.
Sure, the various denominations of Christianity make up the majority of the religious people in the USA. There’s no argument about that. But what many of these (I have to believe “well-meaning”) folks don’t realize is that by virtue of the establishment clause in the first amendment, that majority means precisely zilch in terms of how the law applies to citizens of the USA.
You can’t make a non-Christian be a Christian. You can’t force people who don’t share your religious beliefs to adhere to the tenets of your religion.
If you want to adhere to those tenets, great! Good for you! As long as your actions aren’t causing harm to anyone else or breaking any laws, by all means, adhere! Adhere to whichever tenets you want! It’s none of my or anyone else’s business what you do!
You say adhering to the tenets of your religion has had a positive effect on your life? Hey, that’s awesome! I am not being sarcastic at all, honestly, I am glad your life is better now than it was before.
You say you want others to benefit from your religion the way you did? Great! Tell them about it. Tell them how it changed your life for the better. Maybe they’ll follow your example. Maybe it will benefit them, too!
But here’s the thing…maybe it won’t. Maybe what worked for you won’t work for everyone. As a matter of fact, let me go ahead and break it to you: what worked for you is not — repeat: “is not” — going to work for everyone else.
You can suggest they follow your example, but you can’t force them to. And if you try to force them to, you are violating their freedom of religion.
And if they tell you, “Hey! I don’t care about your religion! I have my own religion!” or else “Hey! I don’t care about your religion! I think all religions are stupid!” then guess what?
They are exercising their own right to freedom of religion.
They are not violating your freedom of religion by refusing to participate in your religion. They are exercising their own rights!
But getting back to the point of this blog post — or, I suppose, finally getting around to the point of it — I would like to propose something that I think would be beneficial to the nation (and the world our nation is a part of) as a whole:
I would like to propose a new law. This law states that any politician — from a person running for city council to a Presidential candidate — will be disqualified from whichever political race she or he is running in, if she or he mentions her or his religious affiliation (or lack thereof) in the public sphere.
Hear me out! Don’t get mad at me just yet, I implore you!
I am not saying “all politicians should be prevented from going to the church/temple/mosque/whatever of their choice.” I am not saying that at all. Don’t put words in my mouth!
What I am saying is that if we truly have “freedom of religion” in this country, a person’s religious affiliation (or lack thereof) should have no bearing whatsoever on their prospects as a potential office holder.
It’s none of my business what religion you are. Why should I care what religion any political candidate is?
I shouldn’t care. And guess what? I don’t care! I do not give two rotten farts about what religion any political candidate is. I care about the things they want to do while in office. I care about whether those things will benefit my country and the world my country is a part of. I do not care what religion they are, and I do not care if they don’t have a religion at all.
To tell you the truth, the minute, nay, the second any politician starts talking about her or his religious beliefs (or lack thereof), I stop taking that politician seriously.
And no matter what religion you are or whether you’re an atheist or an agnostic or what, you should stop taking them seriously then, too.
How dare I say such a thing? Because the second a politician starts talking about how pious she or he is (or how they think religious people are bad, or whatever), that is when they begin pandering to you. They are not telling you the truth, they are trying to avoid telling you the truth.
I mentioned earlier that Christians make up a majority in the USA. The vast majority of politicians that brag about their own Christianity are Republicans.
If you look at the actual policies these Christian-pandering Republicans endorse, you will find that these policies only actually benefit one group of people: the very wealthy.
Tax cuts for wealthy people benefit wealthy people.
Cutting funding for education, welfare, food stamps, health services for the poor, health services for veterans — all things Republicans do consistently — all these things benefit wealthy people.
It lessens the tax burden on them, and it increases profits for private services they control. Government services ALWAYS cost more after they have been privatized. Always.
This does not benefit any group of people except for the very wealthy.
So why do so many poor and working-class people vote Republican?
Do I really need to point it out?
Are you going to get mad at me for pointing it out?
I suppose you’ll just have to get mad at me then. I apologize for upsetting you.
They vote Republican because they think Jesus wants them to. They vote Republican because very wealthy people who have no interest in anything other than being wealthy talk about how much they love Jesus and how much they love the Bible and God told them to do this and God told them to do that.
It’s horseshit! Every word of it! They are lying to you! They are pretending to share your sincerely-held religious beliefs so you will vote for them.
They take money out of your pocket, they take medicine out of your medicine cabinet, they take food off of your table, my fellow working-class Americans, and you keep voting them back into office!
Because someone told you this country is a “Christian nation.” It isn’t! It never was! And hopefully, it never will be.
Any time any religion gets hold of a government, terrible things happen. That was true at the time our country was being founded — that’s why we have the establishment clause — and it’s true today.
A religious government answers to no one. Why not? They believe their actions are sanctioned by God, or Allah, or Krishna, or Buddha, or whoever. People get oppressed, people get enslaved, people get slaughtered — and if you speak against the government, if you ask the government why this is happening, you are committing blasphemy!
Trust me, we DO NOT want the USA to turn into that.
So, getting back to my point, we should pass a law banning all political candidates from mentioning their religious affiliation (or lack thereof) in the public sphere.
The same goes after they are elected. The second they mention one religion (or the lack of religion) as being better or worse than another religion (or the lack of religion), at least in the public sphere, they should be booted out of office.
“But wait!” I can hear you saying. “What about their freedom of speech?”
To that, I say that my freedom of religion, as a private citizen, supercedes their freedom of speech as a public figure.
If I am a member of a minority religion, let’s say, and President Nimrod starts telling people his majority religion is best, and my minority religion is bad, by virtue of the fact that he is President, he has lessened my ability to express my religious beliefs freely.
He has, in effect, endorsed a state religion.
I argue that any time any elected official speaks of their religious beliefs (or lack thereof) they are, in effect, endorsing a state religion.
Why do I keep saying “(or lack thereof)”, you might be asking?
Because while atheism is not a “religion,” if an elected official stands up and denigrates religion in the public sphere, she or he has violated the freedom of religion of her or his constituency, also. She or he has designated “atheism” as the official religious stance of her or his constituency, and that puts religious people at a disadvantage.
It’s none of my business what any politician or elected official does or does not believe. And frankly, I do not give two rotten farts what any of them do or don’t believe.
And neither should you.
Thank you for reading.