Running Christ for President

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Whenever the Democrats run for President in this country, they’re facing two opponents with each election: the Republican challenger, and Jesus Christ.

It’s not that there aren’t Christian Democrats, or Jewish Republicans for that matter. But every four years, we have to play this little song and dance to skirt around issues that might get people to dig in their religious heels; because of this we keep coming back to the same issues again and again and again. This year though, I don’t think the same old song and dance is going to work. We have a President who has decided to attach Jesus Christ–a Political Christ–as his running mate, whether Christ would approve or not. And pretending we can’t see this act for what it is, a deliberate breakdown between Church and State, isn’t going to make it go away.

We have to confront the Political Christ in this year’s election, and I don’t mean by going to see a propaganda movie created by a famous actor undergoing a religious rebirth. We have to stop shying away from issues just because we’re afraid that we’re going to offend someone’s religious sensibilities, and lose a vote.

Gay rights and gay marriage, creationism versus evolution, racial equality, book banning and burnings, school prayer, religious artifacts in public spaces, faith-based initiatives, abortion, equal rights for women, birth control, AIDs treatments, the environment, freedom of speech, the Pledge of Allegience, our currency, war, and even the Constitution–none of these, no matter how seemingly secular, is ever completely free of the shadow cast by the Political Christ.

We keep looking in fear at the children of Mohammed, but it’s the children of Christ that scare me more.

Pem provided a link to an truly excellent article in MSNBC that talks about this issue. In particular the following quote has to stand out:

The connection between politics and religion for me lies in the motto of Cornelia Connelly, the Philadelphia wife and mother who founded the order of nuns by whom I was lucky enough to be educated. Actions, not words. Touch the sick, the poor, the children, the powerless, as Christ did, and never mind quoting Leviticus.

Unfortunately, though, this isn’t facing the problem, it’s just pretending that if we ignore the religious right long enough, they’ll go away. But they aren’t going away.

This little uncomfortable writing of mine was inspired by a new Missouri House Bill, HB911, which is attempting to insert the teaching of creationism in our schools, through the concept known as Intelligent Design. The response to this bill from the educational community was compelling, intelligent, seemingly impossible to deny, and it does look as if the bill is not progressing at this point. The thing, though, is that it will appear again. And again. And again. And eventually, if we’re not paying close enough attention, it will succeed at some time because our politics are influenced by the Political Christ, no matter how much we want to deny this.

(Read more about pending legislation of this nature in other states. Be sure to check out the story about the mother suing to have a book on horses removed from the school library because it has two pages in it about the evolution of horses. Thanks to Rev Matt for pointing the Missouri Bill out.)

I have all my life believed that we should not talk about religion in regards to our politics. I have said so more than once in these pages–that we should focus on tax or war or any number of other seemingly government-related issues.

But behind all of these issues, yes even taxes, is the shadow of the Political Christ. And I have no doubts, none whatsoever, that the same is true in a lot of other countries with predominate Christian communities.

In her article, Quindlen describes the Political Christ as being about religiosity, not about faith, and I agree. She also calls it a wedge issue, and I also agree. Where I don’t agree with her is that we should ignore it and carry on. We have done so, and the concept has not gone away. If anything, this year the impact of religion on government is going to be stronger than at any other time in our past.

Now is the time to confront Political Christ. And in her own way, by writing this particular article, I think Quindlen agrees with me.

Second Update 

Pharyngula has a rundown on creation science fairs, part of the new move to introduce Christian theology into the classroom as part of the science education. One site is a hugely funny spoof site, but when you compare it with the real thing, frankly, it sends chills down your back.

Thanks to Joseph Duemer for the link.)


Getting personal

A new story just came out that Multnomah County in Oregon will be issuing marriage licenses for gays tomorrow. For the first time since the first license was issued in San Francisco, the gay marriage issue has hit close to home. And I am so pleased.

There is one couple, let’s call them Jamie and Barbara, who I’ve known for years. We knew each other in Seattle, and Jamie and I also worked together in Portland. In fact, it was thanks to Jamie that I found my first job in Portland, when my Seattle company closed its doors.

They have two children, biologically by Barbara with donated sperm, and adopted by Jamie. They have struggled for years with the handicaps associated with being a lesbian couple who couldn’t marry in the eyes of the law. This ranged from the extra hassles associated with the adoption, to having to purchase individual medical insurance for Barbara because she couldn’t be covered under Jamie’s company-provided insurance.

I remember one Sunday having brunch together at our house, with another couple. I said something about my husband, and the other wife agreed about her husband, and then Jamie laughed and said that she felt the same way about her wife.

I remember the event as if it was yesterday. It was a warm day and Barbara was wearing a white T-shirt and jeans, and Jamie was in a cotton shirt and khaki and the second child hadn’t come along yet, but their first, a boy, was chasing our poor cat around. When Jamie made her comment about, “…her wife”, it tripped my world up. Between one moment and the next, all the old stereotypes about relationships and marriage and being straight and being gay came crashing in on me. Even though we had been friends for a long time, and had been at each other’s homes, I hadn’t internalized for myself what it means when two women love each other.

It means two women who fall in love and commit to each other for life. One woman’s family is open and loving and accepting, the other less so, and they have to live with this. They have a ceremony and rings and a party to celebrate this commitment, but no license because the law won’t allow it. When they move, they have to be careful where they move to, because of who they are. Every change has to be considered in light of who they are, and what they can or cannot do under the law. They plan for and have a kid, who has a ‘mama’ and a ‘mama Jamie” who love him very much. Luckily they’re in one of the states that allows gay adoption, but it takes them over a year of ‘home visits’ before the adoption is approved.

That’s what it means when two women love each other, but aren’t allowed to legally marry. It also means one woman calling another woman, “wife”, legalities be damned.

Wife. Huh. Well, okay.

And in the next moment, I went in to get more coffee, and Barbara ran to rescue our cat from her and Jamie’s son, and Rob laughed at something someone said, and then we all sat down to eat.

Jamie and Barbara–this one’s for you.