7/11/08

Secular Rule Benefits the Faithful, Too


I've often pointed out to my friends at Lucianne.com that in many ways secular values for governance is quite in tune with the teachings of Jesus Christ.
While the Mainstream Media, the Republican Party and the Nation has been under the delusion that being "Christian" somehow mandates Theocratic authoritarian governance, the truth is quite the opposite.

While there are many problems with the notion of Theocracy for a Liberal Democracy like America, our Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Dominionist Theocrats that form the extreme-right Republican "base" are in fact most un-Christian in indeological approach to government...... it is a manifest and insidious form of bigotry and intolerance they practice, and which they want to enshrine in law...... they want a particular type of christianity to prevail over all the other Christianities...... they want to succeed by law and governmental domination where they have failed in religious attraction.

These authoritarian Theocrats have dove-tailed well with the corporate authoritarians of the Republican Party to the degree that the modern Republican political ideology would culminate in a Corporate Plutocracy with heavy Theological overtones.

This is un-American and un-Christian...... the point is that the notion of Secular governance is a fruit of, rather than the anthithesis of Christianity.

Interestingly, most of the historic social advances in American society and government have been advocated by, and sometimes solely instigated by the "other" non-Republican forms of Christianity..... you know..... the real ones.

But think about it...... how one practice the Chritian value of tolerance and love for your neighbor....... all the varieties of Christianity, all the other religions and the non-religious, even atheistic citizens, unless the government itself establishes no laws regarding the impostion of a particular religion, or imposing on the individual's practice of religion? Why wouldn't secular government be accepted as a Christian-advocated value?

Here is an interesting article discussing that:


Published on Monday, July 7, 2008 by The Boston Globe

Last week, Barack Obama made front-page news by announcing he would expand so-called faith-based initiatives, channeling federal money into social services through religiously affiliated institutions. The move was seen as a wily appeal to conservative Christians. Liberals were skeptical. Under President Bush, “faith-based” is a fig-leaf for the naked removal of government from its role as social service provider. Bush has crassly exploited religion for partisan political purposes, even while drafting religion into the Republican war against “big government.” Was this Obama’s push-back?

A former community organizer, the Illinois senator and Democratic presidential candidate declared that struggles against poverty and disease require “all hands on deck,” as if acknowledging the limits of government. He may not be old enough to have enlisted in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty, but he surely knows that religiously affiliated institutions were one of its fronts. As anyone who remembers, say, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign, knows, “faith-based” can be code as much for progressive social change as for conservative reaction. Many of Obama’s predecessor community organizers were paid through congregations with grants from Johnson’s Great Society.

But the discussion of faith-based initiatives suggests that Obama’s religion problem goes deeper, even, than rumors about his being Muslim or the Jeremiah Wright controversy. The social liberalism that defines much of the Democratic Party, and, apparently, Obama, upholds an ideal of tolerance that transcends religious identity. It refuses to brand the irreligious, or even the antireligious, as somehow less human than those who worship God. Indeed, liberalism regards the openly secular character of the political realm to be an essential note of democracy — not a necessary evil, but a positive good. “Secular” is not a pejorative. Its tolerance tolerates even religious conservatives who are intolerant.

Such tolerance is a political virtue, but it can be a deeply religious virtue as well. Religion is mostly discussed, in the US political context, as if the main argument is between believers and nonbelievers. But the most important disagreement is between religious people who value the secular character of American politics and religious people who regard it as impious. The Republicans have benefited from this dispute because Democrats who are religious have failed to defend the liberal ideal of public religious neutrality as necessary not only for politics, but for authentic religion. It is not only atheists who need to be protected from the intrusions of a faith-defined government. So do the faithful.

The much-celebrated freedom that is the ground of the American consensus is, above all, freedom of mind and heart; freedom to think and believe as one chooses; freedom of conscience. Without that, there is no genuine democracy. But, more to our point, without that, there is no genuine religion. The only possible guarantor of such freedom, as the Founders understood, is a magistrate who acts with absolute religious neutrality. Religious people, that is, need the separation of church and state as much as atheists do. That separation, in fact, is why religion thrives in America.

But in recent years, as US politics was yoked to brands of conservative religion that wanted to blur the line between church and state, those religious believers for whom the secularity of liberal democracy is a value have been mute. In the public sphere, questions of religion have been treated as the province of the right wing, presided over by “values voters.” Thus “faith-based initiatives” have been put forward — and opposed — as if church basements have not been incubators of progressive social reform for generations. But religious liberals have feared that to make the argument for the expressly religious value of secularity in a democratic society is to offend nonreligious voters by even speaking of religion, and religious voters by affirming secularity. Lose, lose.

Obama seems ready to offend. He does not shy from the label “liberal.” He talks openly of religion’s meaning in his life. He has credentials as one who has long embraced faith-based social activism, even while affirming government’s central role as provider of services. Whether he will convincingly recast the shallow discussion of religion and politics that has defined the last American generation remains to be seen. But in this, as in much else, we can only wish him well.

18 comments:

Daisy said...

To me separation of church and state is imperative to our freedom. I am a Christian, but I don't want anyone forcing their beliefs on me via government policies any more than someone who isn't Christian would want me to force my beliefs upon them in the same manner. Well thought-out and well-written post, ghost dansing.

Ghost Dansing said...

thanks for dropping by Daisy..... i'm going to come by and check on the bunnies in a minute....

Michael said...

Very thoughtful essay.

Mary Ellen said...

Hiya ghostdansing!

What a great post, not sure if I was able to absorb all it, still working on my first cuppa.

I just read an article in the Chicago Tribune the other day that was about one of those religious groups that benefited from money received from Illinois tax payers, thanks to Senator Obama. The money was taken and suddenly disappeared...no programs were started as promised, no money went to the poor, and they refuse to give any information as to where the money went. This is why we cannot allow these faith based organizations to receive tax payer money. With government bureaucracy, you never know who is going to end up with this money or who will benefit from it.

Obama has been given the title "Community Organizer", but to be honest, he just joined up with a group that was already "organized", did a few hours of service (one of those who worked with him said he only showed up when the photographers were there...in his well-cut suit).

I am a Christian...but there should either be a separation of church and state, or if the government is going to step in and give them money, they need to be released of their tax-free status and start paying up.

Ghost Dansing said...

i agree ME..... Barack is misguided on that thing..... don't know what exactly he has in mind.

i know what a Republican has in mind with "faith based" stuff..... corruption.

Ghost Dansing said...

thanks for dropping by Michael from cannablog!

Agi said...

The funny thing about those theocratic Christians - they prefer the vengeful god of the Old Testament to the compassionate figure of Christ.

Nice digs by the way. I also enjoy being greeted by a cool Strokes tune.

Ghost Dansing said...

you know, you're right agi..... that is an astute observation.....

thanks for dropping by...

seventh sister said...

I think that funneling some anti-poverty funding through programs already set up to serve those who need them is a good idea. An example would be giving some funds to organizations that feed the homeless, a lot of which are run by churches. That makes more sense than a government run program that has to have offices and staff to do the same thing. Of course, any organization that accepts public funds has to show where the money goes.

I do get it that our government is heavily influenced by religious influences and that most of them are so called Christian dogma. There are a lot people out there seem to think that calling themselves Christians makes everything they do OK. That is where the problems often come in.

Utah Savage said...

Holy crap! Ghost you amaze me with your mighty powers of rational, intelligent thought and writing. I have been hiding out with my crazy self. But I'm back and making the rounds. So glad I dropped by here for a real taste of sanity.

Ghost Dansing said...

thanks for dropping by seventh sister..... some good points..... i guess i don't really trust the so called "christians" that say their "christianity" makes them vote for Republicans.

there is some difference between "christian" Pharisee-like mega-church evangelicals and some little inner-city or rural church running a soup kitchen.

slippery slope, but i get your point.

Ghost Dansing said...

always good to see you Utah..... good stuff at your site too..... i peep in at least once a day....

Anita said...

great post ghost (and hey, that rhymes!).

Mariamariacuchita said...

Thanks for dropping by. This gives me much to consider...

I do agree, it is in the highest interest of all to enforce separation of church and state, otherwise we live in a theocracy.

And whatever theocracy ends up as dominant will not be everyone's version of Christianity and those who practice other religions or none at all become the victims of discrimination.

S E E Quine said...

` LOL! I totally agree with you, Ghost! (I'm sorry I didn't read much of this post before!) I know, it's strange how some people think that you have to be their kind of Christian or there is a problem.
` And then, the whole Bush garnering all these fundamentalists to support him. I've known some of these people.
` You know, I don't think that Bush believed what he said when he said that God wanted him to go to war and all that stuff... I think he might actually not be Christian at all.
` I also think it's funny how some people insist that we should not be allowed to have free speech for anything that does not reflect their own religious views.
` Anyway, I think that since so many people are sick of Republican bull like this that they really do prefer Obama.

S E E Quine said...

` Oh, you know what else I think? I think your writing is superb!

Ghost Dansing said...

Maria Maria.... thanks for dropping by.... that is exactly the point, and even people who are expert about the founding fathers say that even though some were Christians, they were different denominations and they didn't want one to dominate over the other.

hi s e e quine..... i'm so glad you dropped by.... Dubya is an idiot and i doubt he has a spiritual or religious bone in his body.... all manipulation. the fundies are bad news and i wouldn't even consider them Christian.... not the political ones. how do you love your brother and be kind to everyone and give everyone respect without secular governance? secular governance is truly inspired.

S E E Quine said...

` Amen!