Friday, August 15, 2008
God and Country?
As I was getting dressed this morning, I was undergoing my usual morning lobotomy: CNN, Fox News, Headline News. While on CNN I came across a commercial advertising that the presidential candidates were having yet another forum on faith. Again each candidate had to explain to the American people that they are faithier than their opponent and that their faithiness qualifies them to lead our country.
I often wonder why this isn't a more disturbing image to more people. People will often point out that our founding fathers were Christian and that Christianity is ingrained into our culture as Americans. They would be quick to pull out some form of currency and say "See, it says in GOD we trust!". And I wouldn't argue with them there. The founding fathers of this country were immensely Christian, and probably did view this country as one set on Christian beliefs. They also were elitist who's vision of America was from the reference of rich white men. Lest we forget the only people who originally could vote were land-owning white men, and they saw fit to call my great,great,great,great grandparents 3/5ths human, extending them a very christian reception to forced labor after that free cruise.
But I digress. The original settlers established this country in refuge from governmentally instituted religious intolerance. In establishing our government they sought to ensure that the same religious intolerance that plagued them in England would not follow them across the Atlantic. Drawing on their experiences with a government(the king) instituted religion, they chose to separate church and state in order to protect their freedom of religion. The fact that they were only truly concerned with protecting Protestant Christianity is moot because in separating church and state, despite any apparent hypocrisy I might point out in their beliefs, they were smarter than themselves. In the constitution church and state are deliberately separated to maintain the integrity of both institutions. So why now are we trying so hard as a society to integrate them into one entity?
Many people ask me,"Whats so bad about a candidate making decisions based on their personal moral compass or faith?". I say absolutely nothing. My problem isn't that people have deep religious views that they use to inform GOOD RATIONAL decisions. My problem is that the political climate today focuses more on rather the person has faith than the decision that faith is supposed to be helping them reach. The idea is if they are able to sell themselves as a person of high moral and religious value than people just assume they are making moral decisions in office without consideration of the actual issues of their campaign. My example of this is in 2004 on CNN a woman who lost her husband to, and had a wounded son returning from the Middle East conflict was interviewed. They asked her if she supported the war--no, If she felt the country was domestically better off --no, Would you vote for Bush again--yes, Why? "'cause he's a Christian."
Again, I am a Christian myself and this isn't a suggestion that people shouldn't be allowed to profess their faith, but it should not be the premise on which we choose our leadership or expect our government to base law. More war, pain and suffering has been caused in history by people professing to be religiously moral people. We should let their acts and testimonial speak to their morality not the other way around. It was silly when Kennedy had to defend being catholic, and it is silly now to hear candidates now having to proclaim their personal faith. If people have good ideas that are in line with the issues you care about than would it matter if they came from a Christian, Muslim or Atheist?
Makes Common sense to me.