Thursday, June 23, 2005

How Many Christians Are Left?

"Nothing could be more dangerous to the existence of this Republic than to introduce religion into politics" Robert Green Ingersoll

Unless you've been living in a cave, you know that religion is the Republicans' ace in the hole. The heart of the party's power base. Their raison d'être.

It started with Ronald Reagan, a man not even known for devout piety. Somehow, under his presidency, a message became a trend became an absolute -- equating Christian Values with the Republican party.

We had a few years of sanity before and after Reagan. Both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton are openly, deeply religious men. Yet neither used his personal beliefs to promote Democratic party or Presidential agendas.

But the Radical Christian Right has taken over Congress. And the White House. And the country. White evangelical Christians were the decisive force in the last two Presidential elections, handing George W. Bush the presidency on a silver bible.

Christianity has become the driving force in American politics, from global power plays to judicial nominations to states' rights to personal freedoms. God told George Bush to wage war in Iraq. Jesus guided Tom DeLay's and Bill Frist's misguided efforts to save Terri Schaivo. Forget the Constitution or the Supreme Court, the bible says abortion and gay marriage are evil. And on and on and on.

The Right has come to embody True Belief -- the Left, Godlessness. Religious rhetoric has replaced reality. Blind faith has overridden insightful debate. Labels have blotted out issues. And hate has sown its own agenda.

You have to ask yourself, would Jesus approve? Is this the way God-or Buddha or Mohammed or Yehovah-would have wanted it? Heavens no. And you must also ask, are there no people of devotion and faith in the Democratic party? Is the entire Left made up of heathens and nonbelievers? Hell no.

In theory, religious belief should represent personal conviction, not partisan politics. In practice, if only. Democrats need to find a way to stop letting the radical religious tail wag the political dog. Their latest effort is the Christian Alliance for Progress, a group of Christian democrats on the left, whose mission is to convince America that progressive values can also be found in the teachings of the gospel. Oy vey! They're fighting fire and brimstone with a match light.

Although I have to say the quote from an unidentified woman on their website packs some oomph. And gives me some hope. "I feel embarrassed and angry that Christianity has been used to divide our country and to promote bigotry and war." She says. "I joined this movement to stand up for compassion and justice."

At least they're trying. But let's remember, folks, the bible isn't just the New Testament. There's the Old Testament too. It came first, in fact. And in it, Jews and Muslims play decisive roles, have a legitimate claim to a seat at the table too.

More important, let's please not forget that nowhere in the bible will you find The Gospel According to Republicans.

And most essential of all, let's hang on to this inalienable truth, stated by none other than George Washington: "The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion."



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