Religion And Policy
In the "introduction" post to this Blog I make it clear that religion and politics should not be mixed. What is meant by that assertion is that No religious organization should produce any doctrines that are used as or to make laws. In the same respect the government should not make laws that are directly meant to hinder the freedoms of a religious movement or its patrons. No national religion or religious practices should be endorsed or forcibly imposed upon the citizens. Like all other post, many topics will be touched upon that really deserve more in-depth discussion. However, this time religion as it related to forming policy in a functional democracy is the focus. Organized religion, my personal take on theology, atheism, and agnosticism and their function of being human will have to wait. This post is already going to be way outside most reader’s attention span.
To begin, "a religion" is an organized and indoctrinated set of beliefs. We all have a belief system. Even an atheist has a belief system. The atheist’s beliefs are just void of any concern of what happens after he dies. Even those who belong to a faith have encounter issues that are not address or not clearly addressed by their church’s doctrine. For instance, it is against the law to drink and drive, but there is no reference in the bible to address this issue. As a matter of fact the bible often promotes the consumption of alcohol. Jesus is known for turning water into wine, not the other way around. So in these instances a person must do what he/ she believes is right. We all must have these protocols in place to make it through everyday life. This system is made up of prejudices and formulas we use to make every waking decision.
When you vote for somebody and that person ends up in office, you voted in that person and their belief system that have attached to it. Hopefully you voted for somebody who had similar beliefs on subjects you consider important. Many people in this country have religious based belief systems. You can’t tell them not to bring those beliefs to the table. What you can do is develop policy with a directive that says, "if there is no logical provable evidence for a law, then it can not be a law." As an example, if a sufficient enough group of Hindus say get elected to a city government. They would not be allowed to make a law in that city that you could not eat cows. It would be unconstitutional.
First of all it would be a law that would limit a freedom. When freedoms are limited a diagnostic policy must be implemented. This is generally the role of the Supreme Court to ask, " Why limit this freedom?" The only acceptable answers are that they endanger the safety of the physical body of against the choice the citizens. (Because adults should be allowed to choose the way the live AND die). Reason two is that the law governs an activity where one citizen’s desires infringe upon another citizens right to choice or solitude. Secondly, the drive would be solely contrived from a religious belief. Using our "no cow meat" example, the only drive could be the desire to impose a religious doctrine on the general public. Oh sure you could use some statistics to show eating cow meat is unhealthy, but really you couldn’t rectify its dangers compared to other forms of food.
To understand why the founding fathers wanted to include the concept of separation of church and state into the constitution, one must simply understand what was going on during the creation of the United States. Many of the people left their home land, and many their alliances, in search of religious freedom. Puritans, Pilgrims, and even Catholics were compelled to find a place where they could practice their belief system with out interference from the government. The constitution was written by either these religious refugees themselves, or the sons and grand sons of the original "pilgrim". It was so important that it made it to the first amendment. While today we worry more about the government being controlled by the religious minorities, back then they worried that the government would control the religions and their followers, as it had happened back in England.
So why does the separation of church and state still hold water as good policy? Let’s face it slavery was considered a good idea for a long history of our country. We have to look no further then the Middle East to witness the result of religion driven government. It is evident on both sides of the argument. (This is a rare occurrence in politics that both sides have everything to loose by a change in policy.) The religious leaders control the government. There freedom to hold separate belief systems is not only intolerable, but also deadly. Only the concerns and freedoms of the few are considered important. In fact that virginity checks, arranged marriages, and honor killings might not be in the best interest of all the citizens. These governments’ economy and tranquility remain weak because of its incestuous relationship with the religion. Its ability to adapt with the times is hindered.
People are a resource. To limit your access to only wealthy religiously affiliated males limits your country’s ability to evolve. Imagine you owned a budding business. You wanted to hire the best accountant to manage your delicate finances. If you limit yourself by saying we are not going to hire women you already took half of the culture out of your options. It is because of our original willingness to accept all walks of life that we evolved to be the greatest nation. It is in light of the recent influence of the evangelicals, "moral majority", and the fundamentalist that frightens me about that continued status. They seek to discount and ignore the opinions on policy solely based on religious affiliation.
Here are a few things that are not good policy. You can not fund religious study and call it science. You can not fund science study as only a theology. You can’t make a law saying, "it is not OK to participate in this activity on Sunday because it is a sacred day." I should be able to go and buy myself a 5th of JD any day of the week any hour of the day. I work a swing shift and sometimes my only day off is on a Sunday. I get off at 2400 Saturday night and got to be back at work at 0800 Monday morning let me have my Jack!! There should be no federally sponsored holidays that are of religious orientation. Look you are not fooling anybody by calling Dec. 25th a "winter holiday". Simply pick a number like 4 and say every working person is guaranteed 4 floating days off per year where they can use for religious reasons if they want. If they want they can use it to take off Lammas a satanic holiday. If you want to use a day to take Christmas day off, then good. The government won’t even care if your child knows more about Satan Clause, Rudolf, and frosty, then he does about the father, the son, and the Holy Ghost. Anything that regulates "morality" is a threat to Americanism. These are example of poor policy.
On the other hand, you snot nosed brat is not going to get his freedom violated simply having to stand while his classmates say, "one nation under god". Listening to a prayer in school is also not going to alter your child’s life. Being a good parent, you can use the opportunity when they come and talk to you about it. You can explain your own creed and beliefs and those that run your family environment. It is completely acceptable for a judge and/ or a community to display the doctrines that drive their thought process. It is not a violation of your rights if the judge displays the 10 commandments on his bench. If anything it should be useful information. I don’t care if your "god" doesn’t like frustrated financially irresponsible men to rub against naked women and throw their money away on slots and Texas hold ‘em. This is their freedom. They might find that awful choir music you sing morally reprehensible. "God" is a generic term. We all worship something. That is our "God". Close your eyes and picture money, giant boobs, or a "dog" if you are dyslectic when you say it. No symbols or sayings are going to sway or brainwash you into believing in something.
Organized religion has been at the very least a major component that was necessary to every major war in modern history. It is imperative for the educated voter to understand that too much of a religion in their government is dangerous. That is true even if it is your own religious doctrine that has gained influence over the process. The strength of the United States comes from the input of all its citizens.
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