It is my feeling that each person in this nation should have the absolute right to participate in, create, join, or invent whatever belief system, or lack thereof, makes them happy, as long as this belief system brings no harm, or pain, or oppression, to other human beings. It isn’t a complex feeling so I always thought other Americans shared it. It is in the first amendment to the constitution though worded slightly different. Bottom line it has always struck me as worship as you see fit, do not bug others, we are not allowed to bug you.
Personally I might or might not find something of interest, even merit, in another’s belief system. It may intrigue me, it may just amuse me. Whatever the case, what another’s belief system should not do is inspire me to tell them to stop doing it, and, I reiterate, as long as this belief system brings no harm, or pain, or oppression, to other human beings, I shall never tell them to cease. First and foremost, I have no right to tell anyone to cease or change their belief system. Also, short of a need to prevent you from breaking the law, I have no desire to stop anyone from believing as they wish.
This is where things get sticky however. See, the concept of the separation of church and state is so very simple, so very integral to how America works, that I want to assume everyone agrees with the notion then watch the Red Wings playoff game sans distractions. Unfortunately, no one lets things remain simple any longer. There always seems to be some group, some party, some intrusive entity, that cannot leave well enough alone. In this case it is the people that call themselves conservative Christians, which would be a hoot were they not so insistent that everything be done their way. They have created a product they call Christianity, and they are intent to force it, and its tenets, upon America.
I mean, by definition, conservative means unwilling to, or not desirous of, change. It means they like things the way they are and want them to remain thus. Yet time and again the conservative christian movement wishes to run this nation by biblical law in spite of the fact that it has never run by biblical law. It was not, contrary to the conservative Christians desires, founded on biblical law. The founding fathers themselves said so repeatedly, and yes I could cut and paste myriad quotes proving it, but, most notably in the first amendment to the constitution, but also in the fact that God, Jesus, even Satan never make an appearance in the constitution or bill of rights. If we were founded on Christianity why leave it out of the very documents we swear an oath to when leading and protecting the nation?
When the president of the United States, whomever they may be, takes office, they swear an oath of office to uphold the constitution not someone’s bible, not anyone’s scripture, but a document created by the founding fathers purposely excluding mention of God. What they did include was the right for you to practice your faith in your time in your place sans interference by government or others. They wrote that in the constitution, which means it was important to them. Again though, they left out God.
Now we have a party of republicans, many of whom are christian conservatives, that feel the nation needs an influx of God, and Christianity specifically, to rescue it from something, somewhere, somehow. As to what this Christianity will rescue us from one cannot truly say as the rescuers change their story often. Suffice it to say God will somehow heal whatever the issue is. There are flaws all over this line of reasoning though. Flaws so huge, so very monstrous, I let my Red Wings game be interrupted.
Among the flaws here is the fact that there are many bibles. Among the bibles are various translations, iterations, versions, whatever term you would like to use. So many so that your head should spin a little. If you google this, and I did, it really depends on the link you click on as to the answer you get. Most of the pages I checked were honest enough to say there are many versions, the wiki page having somewhat of a list that I provide here, but the more directly related to a particular version of Christianity the page was the more willing the page seemed to dismiss various versions of said bible as incorrect and unworthy of inclusion. Which is part of the crux of the matter as I see it.
Which bible do these christian leaders wish the nation to bow down too? When was this decided upon? How come no one in the nation with the authority to make such a grandiose proclamation was at that meeting? I know the last answer. Because there is no one in the nation with the authority to make such a grandiose proclamation so, because they do not exist, they can’t attend meetings. But alas, another problem arises, existence is not a prerequisite to the christian faith. For starters, many in this nation do not agree that God exists at all. Others would merely say this particular God does not exist while embracing the existence of one, or many other deities. This brings us to the bible itself. What these conservative Christians espouse as the true word of God, or inspired by God, or whatever, does not ring true in the ears of everyone listening.
So, if we are playing along at home we now have a book we do not agree is truth, inspired by a deity we cannot agree exists, being adopted as the guiding principles of a nation in a meeting that didn’t happen, by a human that doesn’t exist, with powers to adopt such books that no one was ever granted. regardless of your current belief system this whole thing seems on shaky ground so it is about this time where it might help if George Burns showed up and said some inspiring stuff.
On the other hand, I have never once heard an American espouse a belief that the constitution does not exist. I have a feeling there are a few out there willing to do so living in the same trailer park as those denying the moon landing, and Elvis’s death. In spite of those hard core conspiracy people though the constitution as reality is pretty solid.
One cannot say the same for the content of the bible as fact. I for one do not believe the words to be divine in origin in any way. Reading the book is difficult at best as it lacks any viable characters, any flow, or quality of story telling. I cannot even tell you which of the versions I am part way through as that seems clouded in mystery as much as the reason for the popularity of this book. And having said that, I support your right to read it, believe it, follow it in your daily lives. I refuse to support anyone’s desire to make me follow it in any way, or acknowledge it as worthy of my attention.
I want so badly to be able to type here that – surely you must see my point, that your invisible man is not mine and therefore cannot be used to run a nation we both belong to – but I am not so silly. I know my lack of belief is one of two things to true believers. It is either a challenge to them to bring me to a place of light and understanding in the glowing presence of Christ the Lord or the much darker option where I am to be ostracized, or destroyed, in some barbaric biblical manner like stoning or burning at the stake.
The truth of the matter here is that my belief system allows for change and growth. My belief system allows for the acceptance and support of others. My belief system allows for thought and freedom of choice. It is the christian conservative that is told by their leaders what to think, when to think, how to think, and where to think, but never why to think. Your belief system, in this respect, is stagnant. Your belief system is limited to the leaders you follow. It is limited to their approval and disapproval of what is acceptable or not. I fully support this if this is what you want but, understand, I do not want this for me. Truthfully, I cannot want this as it is against everything dear to me. I am not alone.
Maybe an explanation is in order that Christians better understand the importance of separation of church and state and my staunch defense of it. I can assure you I did not wake up one day and say to myself that I will not believe in Christianity, or God, or the tenets of a particular faith. No such moment occurred. The faith was never in me. It was not there from the time I was a small child.
I was raised Catholic and taken to church regularly. I could look at the adults and children and see them mouth the words and participate in the rituals. I suppose they looked and sounded sincere. I was young so I cannot say precisely that I thought them to be part of a lie. I have no more right to speak for them than they me. I can say that, if they believed what they claimed to believe, then I was not like them. I never got faith, or was taken by the spirit, or whatever term you might use. I didn’t feel upset about this at all.
If any aspect of the previous paragraphs makes me different it is that last sentence. I think others felt as I did, but in an effort to appease the adults, and belong to the larger social unit, they adopted the conventions. I never did. I respected my parents and went to the church and church functions when told, or requested, to do so. I did this till 8th grade when my mother made me a bargain. If I did the required religious instruction and went through confirmation I could then choose for eternity whether to attend or not as I saw fit. It was close a few times but I accomplished this and thus disavowed Satan and became a Catholic, supposedly of my free will. I thought the Satan disavowing aspect over the top as, like God, I had no belief in him, nor had I ever avowed him if that is a word.
Regardless of all that, I have never been a Catholic, nor a believer, in any conventional way. Over the years I have grown spiritually in many ways. Over the years my beliefs have altered, at times significantly. Where once I would have gladly told you that we lived this life alone and pass to become worm food, I now firmly believe in an afterlife. My beliefs change when I have proof of a reality different than the one I currently embrace. For these reasons I support others beliefs in the hope that they also seek truth, and knowledge, but if they do not choose to do so my support remains.
It is because my faith, my spirituality, and beliefs, have changed, at times drastically, over the years, that I must fight any and all efforts to treat Beliefs, God, religion, and most important to me, spirituality, as a product. The conservative christian movement to instill their version of faith in our government, in our education, in our lifestyle, is the mass production of belief. Make no mistake. They have a version of God and life that they have packaged, and they are selling it door to door. I support their right to consume this product but never their right to make this product a government mandate.
To use their faith to legislate the actions of others is anti-American. I did not allow others beliefs as my own as a child and I certainly will not as an adult. Their faith stops at the tip of their nose, as does mine. The key difference is I am not trying to mandate anyone else’s beliefs, I am merely fighting for the freedom to have my own. If you allow these conservative Christians to change the past, to alter the present, then you allow a loss of freedom so basic, so important and integral to us all, that the patriot act will seem a minor inconvenience.
As I said, as a little boy I thought different. I came to my spirituality in time, in my way. I made mistakes probably, but they were mine to make and mine to live with. Let that next little boy have the same freedom to choose.
It is no mistake that in this day and age the christian conservative movement is louder and more intent on establishing its place in the fabric of this nation. It is no coincidence this is happening in the beginning of the information age where the grip of the church has weakened do to the access of information contrary to its teachings. If we let them have their way they will choose our thoughts, actions, and deeds. The little boy will never have a chance to grow and some dark option will rear its ugly head.
I preach not for my beliefs, nor do I preach against theirs except in that they would leave mine alone. I preach only that, as a nation, we allow the basic notion of live and let live to rule. It is among the wishes the founding fathers had in mind, in my opinion, when they separated church and state. let the affairs of the state be the states and the people be the people. Here is your playground. Enjoy.