Note: I have once again chosen to participate in the blogswarm against theocracy. The "theme" this time is "separation of church and state is patriotic". Below is my humble attempt to make my case for why I believe it is our patriotic duty to fight for separation of church and state, but from a decidedly different angle than others will probably be coming from: that of a Seething Mom who has a gay son.
Yes, I believe in God. And learning I had a gay son did not shake my belief in God, but it certainly destroyed my faith in organized religion, and (being a Catholic) Catholicism in particular. It made me realize that no matter what a Pope or any charismatic church leader wants to claim with astoundingly arrogant absolutism, they are just as human as I am ---- and just as capable of being wrong. Horribly, sinfully wrong.
As I've mentioned before, there were some serious cracks in my Catholic faith, none of which were big enough that I couldn’t just ignore or treat them as minor irritants, but when I learned my son was gay ---- I could no longer turn a blind eye to the Church’s teachings. Coming face to face with the fact that the only Church I’d ever known considered my son “intrinsically evil” and “objectively disordered” because of who he might choose to love left me no choice but to leave. I could no longer ignore a Church that was all too willing to single out my son as evil and spread that belief in the name of Jesus.
But what happens when religious dogma starts spilling out into politics and government? Should we be alarmed? Should we fight tooth and nail to preserve the separation of Church and State that our forefathers so adamantly believed in and insisted upon? Is it our patriotic duty to fight the melding of Church and State?
In a word:
Let me start by asking a question first posed by Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D. in an article in the Atlantic Free Press:
[W]hat is it about the dogma of organized religion that compels so many otherwise sane, humanistic people to abandon reason and common sense and embrace hate and discrimination at the bidding of “religious leaders”?
This is a question that really resonates with me, especially in light of the religious (and political) persecution of gays and lesbians going on today. But as the author points out, there isn’t any one easy answer. Perhaps one reason might be because:
… humanity has not yet evolved beyond the schadenfreude need to hate someone or some group. The dogma of organized religion not only fuels but also justifies that need.
And this is what frightens me most about the hatred and homophobia which has been emanating from many of our churches and oozing into our government like a dreaded disease:
Organized religion and the dogma its spawns are based on “us vs. them” thinking: believers vs. non-believers. Add to that the fact fanatical believers convince themselves that they – and they alone – know “God’s will” and crimes against humanity are sure to follow, ad majorem gloriam Dei. History is replete with examples of how religion in the hands evil men can corrupt governments and justify denying basic human and civil rights. From the Holy Inquisition, through the Third Reich to the Taliban and
Now I am not drawing parallels between the Third Reich and the
And let us be clear here, it is not just government that is harmed when we allow religion into politics. There is great harm done to both religion and politics by allowing the two to meld:
The partnership of religion and the state is an equation for tragedy not just for enemies of the state but for the religion that is the state's partner.
Domestically, when the federal government funds religious organizations to do social service, they become arms of the state. They give up their independence and compromise their ability to fulfill their specific charitable missions.
When foreign actions are sanctioned, however subtly, on the dubious idea that a liberal democracy is a gift from God and that somehow the
should be an instrument of that gift, where will our gift-giving end? Who will end it? Religion says that God is in charge; democracies say that the people rule. Who will adjudicate this debate? United States
Bush proclaimed after 9/11 that it is the
's calling, led by his sense of moral leadership, to rid the world of evil. How can we decide who and what is evil? Moreover, what makes us think that we can rid the world of evil? This injection of black-white thinking into the international sphere has created more enemies than it has overcome and alienated friends as well. U.S.
Again, where does Bush get his calling? It seems he gains it from his own prophetic sense of authority. This kind of religious charisma trumps normal political debate and veers toward the very mixture of state and religious power our Founding Fathers tried to prevent.
It is our patriotic duty to fight to maintain the separation of state and religious power. It is a toxic combination which only succeeds in making a mockery of both, while giving religious leaders and political leaders a convenient way to “…feed into and exploit the dark side of the human condition for their own self-interests.”
Today it is my son who has an exclusive membership in the “them” part of the “us vs. them” dynamic, tomorrow it could be someone else’s child. This is just the kind of thing our founding fathers wanted to prevent when they insisted upon a very clear Separation of Church and State.
One more note: If you are as concerned as I am about the infiltration of religion into politics and visa versa, please go to First Freedom First and sign the petition. They are also a central clearinghouse of information on Separation of Church and State issues. Just click on "resources" to find articles, book recommendations, and other useful information on this very important subject.