Politics and religion. I can think of no better definition of eternal incompatibility. Dive into our history at any point – world history, for that matter – and you’ll find the friction of one against the other. So, for your contemporary reading, let’s dive into the shallow end of the history pool – current events – to find more examples. Ah, and classic they are.
The first is a recent sampling of Americans and their feelings about religion in today’s culture – findings which resulted in a complete contradiction. Especially in the evangelical community.
The study was conducted by the Barna Group, a respected California think tank known for studies of American religion and culture.
When 1,008 people in the general population were asked if our religious liberties are threatened, 29% of said “yes.” But – faced with the same question – 71% of evangelicals said “yes.” Asked what they see as the threat, 97% of that group said others are trying to move society away from “traditional Christian values.” 97%! Groups they identified most? Gays and lesbians were named by more than 72%.for trying to remove “traditional Christian values” from the country.
“Where’s the conflict,” you ask? Well, the same responders said their Judeo-Christian beliefs should dominate our culture. They live in a multi-faith nation but want their beliefs supreme to all others. And the others are the ones they blame for attacks on their values. “The belief system is under attack.” “Our belief system should be the standard.” Harder to find a more direct conflict in a single group espousing religion than that.
For the second political-religious conundrum, we turn to our Catholic brothers and sisters. Specifically Lori and Jeremy Stodghill of Canon City, Colorado. This one’s a doozy!
Lori, pregnant with seven-month-old twins, was rushed to a Catholic hospital on New Year’s Day, 2006. Massive heart attack. Ironically, her obstetrician was on-call that night but didn’t answer his page. Hospital staff wanted him to save the fetuses by caesarian even as Lori was dying. He didn’t come. All died. In a Catholic hospital. Jeremy sued for wrongful death of all three. The born and the unborn, so to speak.
Responding, hospital lawyers literally turned Catholic church directives upside down in defense – directives for all Catholics but especially Catholic hospitals – that claim the unborn are “persons.” They argued Colorado law protects doctors from liability concerning unborn fetuses on grounds those fetuses are NOT persons with legal rights. Attorney Jason Langley argued Colorado courts define “person” under its Wrongful Death Act to include “only those born alive.” Therefore, Plaintiffs cannot maintain wrongful death claims based on two unborn fetuses. “Not alive,” the Catholic defenders claimed.
The case is now in the Colorado State Supreme Court. And Catholic Health Initiatives – running 170 health facilities in 17 states – is still pressing that argument. The Catholic Church may say a fetus is a “person.” But trying to defend a multi-million-dollar legal action, that same church is saying that “person” has no legal right to life.
Contradiction here? You bet. Politics? Big time! This little case from Canon City, Colorado, is being followed very, very closely by the Church, abortion activists, the anti-abortion folks and politicians of all stripes.
As if all this isn’t enough, the New Mexico legislature has a bill in committee today that – if it became law – would send rape victims to jail – rape victims – if they became pregnant by the rapist and had an abortion. The charge? Tampering with evidence. While we’re all entitled to think about this in our own ways, my verdict is that author State Rep. Cathrynn Brown is one sick puppy. Politics? You bet. Religion, too.
We’re a nation of rights. Your rights. My rights. We’re a nation that’s historically prided itself for being a “melting pot” of different nationalities, customs, languages. Guided by our founding principle of religious freedom, a nation where each citizen could follow whatever religious path he/she desired. Without interference.
But we’re now beset by people trying to trash those “melting pot” and “religious freedoms” concepts/rights in the name of God. Their God. And I don’t mean gays and lesbians. The trashers deem “rights” a concept so long as it’s their “rights.” Using religion as a political wedge, they’ve filled our courts with frivolous legal challenges, attacked our public education system, tried to undermine our national health laws, suppressed minorities, openly attempted voter intimidation and filled our state and national seats of government with ideological sycophants intent on reshaping our national rights to look more like their “rights.”
If you dig deeply into state and national political divides in our country, you will consistently find intolerance of the religion of others. You’ll uncover repeated attempts to replace the religion of most with the religion of some. You’ll find efforts to justify discrimination and racism in the name of someone’s – or some groups – “religious” beliefs.
All of this is not a new phenomenon. It’s been around the centuries. But our electronic interconnectedness now gives equal voice to both the wise and the unwise. Our unfettered freedoms work both for and against us. The strengths of the many are under siege by the few. It’s become increasingly difficult to tell the wheat from the chaff.
Politics and religion. We may not have yet harkened back to the Crusades. But the divisions are getting more pronounced. And more onerous.Share on Facebook