Sunday, January 30, 2005

Topic of the Week - The Christian Right on Public Forum

This week's topic is intended to raise initial discussion and awareness on The Christian Right's agenda on promoting their values and religion in public forums & places funded primarily by tax dollars; schools, libraries, court houses, etc.

Some very hot, contested issues are taking place all over the country:

1. Whether the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional based on the reference to "under God" which calls into question the separation of Church & State.
2. Whether the Ten Commandments should be displayed in court houses and other public places funded primarily by tax dollars.
3. Whether references to the Christian God is appropriate by our Political leaders in public speeches specific to policy issues.
4. And many, many more contested issues between the separation of church & state in public forum ...

Our country is at one of the most critical turning points in history (my opinion) in heading down a path where our policy issues are attempting to be reformed to reflect a conservative foundation. Within this conservative foundation is an incredible, organized effort to unify Church & State by attempting to leverage our Constitution as a basis that our country was founded as a Christian country.

The Christian Right has used this strategy brilliantly - I have to give them credit for this. They have taken a secular document and have pulled piece after piece out of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and re-interpret and promote a stance to reinforce their position. In addition, they have defined secularism as humanism and humanism as a religion ... and thus, use Christian principles and ethics established by our founding fathers as a way to "fight" and support their position that Christianity (in their form) should be incorporated into public policy, public education and public place because Christianity is the true basis of our government, not the "religion" of secularism/humanism.

Herein lies the distinction(s):

- All religions (or almost all) have an underpinning belief of an afterlife - defined simply as life after death. Secularism is not humanism. And secularism in our government doctrine is focused on human life as we know it on this earth, within our country. The Christian Right tries to classify secularism as humanism and humanism as a religion. This is not so.
- In addition, with religion based on striving for an afterlife, most religions, especially the Christian Right's religion, defines the afterlife as either heaven or hell. Thus, this then leads to a tendency to tap into people's highest fears and anxieties - whether or not they will go to heaven or hell.
- What the Religious Right doesn't tell people, and what tragically many Amer­icans apparently don't know, is that when it comes to determining what the laws of the United States mean, the only document that matters is the Consti­tution. The Constitution, a completely secular document, contains no references to God, Jesus or Christianity. It says absolutely nothing about the United States being officially Christian. The Religious Right's constant appeals to documents like the Declaration of Independence, which contains a deistic reference to "the Creator," and preceded the Constitution by nine years, cloud the issue and make some people believe their rights spring from these other documents.
- Many governments believe in the union of church & state and one could strongly argue these governments (i.e. Saudi Arabia) do not support civil liberties, personal choice and freedom of speech and press.

So, lets go back to the hotly contested issues of the Pledge of Allegiance, Ten Commandments, political leaders referencing a Christian God in speeches (and policies). I would be most interested to hear people's opinions on all contested issues. What do you think?


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