Tuesday, December 20, 2011
THOU SHALT NOT LEGISLATE RELIGIOUS BELIEFS
I recently heard somewhere, perhaps on a radio news report, about Newt Gingrich complaining that some legislation, current or proposed, gave the impression that America is not a religious country.
America is NOT a religious country. Or at least it SHOULD NOT be so considered. The separation of Church and State is one of the most important tenets of American democracy.
Religious belief is personal and individual. It should not be legislated, or used as the basis for legislature.
If your religious beliefs instruct you that abortion is bad – then do not have an abortion. You can certainly bring to the attention of those who might consider such an act the various other options available. But you cannot force your religious belief on your inconveniently pregnant neighbor, regardless of any sincere desire to save her from the “fires of hell”.
A good example of “best practice” in this area is the Amish. They have very distinct and unique religious beliefs that govern every aspect of their daily life – but they do not require that all others accept their beliefs, nor do they condemn those who do not believe as they do. It is a personal choice. I do believe (and correct me if I am wrong) that they allow their matured children the opportunity to choose for themselves.
Murder is not illegal because God says “Thou shalt not kill”. It is illegal because it denies one of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Is not the charge of murder on a federal level considered “violating civil rights”?
I was brought up a “northern” Methodist. My parents' entire social life, and much of mine in my early years, revolved around the church and congregation – but they were not in any way, shape or form religious fanatics, nor did they attempt in any way, shape or form to impose their individual religious beliefs on others. They practiced their religion by the way they conducted their lives and the way they treated others.
While I acknowledge that this upbringing, and the particular influence of a politically active minister, did have a positive effect on my life, when I reached “maturity” (there are those who would say that I have not even yet done so) I chose to reject organized religion. To be honest, I strongly believe that, historically, more evil than good has been done by organized religion, and that more evil than good has been done in the name of a “God”.
I do not consider myself an atheist – but more of an agnostic. I believe that if there is a God who is a “perfect” being then this Deity would not require his “creations” to worship him/her as an idol. You worship God by the way you treat and interact with his other “creations” (despite the fact that there are times when I may consider some or even many of his human creations undeserving).
I firmly believe that “man created God in his own image”, inflicting the Deity with human emotions, imperfections, and motivations. I also believe that humankind, by nature, wants to believe in a Deity, just as many people want to believe in ghosts, because such beliefs suggest the existence of life after death and allows us to better deal with the concept of death.
And it is very easy for many individuals to accept a strictly doctrinized organized religion – because the extreme protocol allows them to avoid the discomfort of individual thought and reasoning. “If the Bible says this is what we must do then this is what we must do.”
One’s religious beliefs may cause a person to become involved in political activity as a way of helping society and one’s “fellow man”, but one’s religious beliefs should NOT be made into law.
The bottom line – politicians who belong or pander to the “religious right” (and isn’t the Tea Party the latest incarnation of the religious right?) should NOT be elected to public office and be allowed to legislate religious beliefs.