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.
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.
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.)