Sunday, May 13, 2007

Religious Differences

It’s never said enough, but the Republican takeover of religion really has had a weird effect on religious people. Because the Republicans don’t really give a damn about religion and just use it entirely to gain easy votes. And so they pump-out empty feelgood rhetoric designed to apply to all Christians regardless of what they actually believe. Sure, history has shown us that there are some fairly large divisions between the various Christian sects, but to Republicans, it’s all just one big happy voter block.

And that’s become such a common concept of Christians that it has now become noteworthy when heavily religious people say bigoted things about the other Christian religions. But why should that be? These religious divisions have caused severe strife for hundreds of years. Hell, our country wouldn’t be what it is today, were it not for Christian-on-Christian persecution. But because the GOP has worked so hard to depict the battle as Christians vs. Atheist Liberals, these divisions suddenly seem weird.

And I was thinking about this while reading Carpetbagger’s latest update from The God Machine. Here’s a summary of the three stories:

1. Christian Preacher thinks a vote for Mormon Romney is a vote for Satan.

2. Jewish Navy veteran in VA hospital constantly harassed by Christian Chaplains.

3. The Vatican altered Pope Ratzinger’s comments regarding the excommunication of pro-choice politicians to make him look less irrelevant.

But there should be nothing surprising about this, especially not the first two. Republican rhetoric aside, Christian extremists often don’t like other Christians. And many of the more fundamentalist Christians don’t consider Mormons to be Christian at all. They consider it to be a weird corruption of Christianity, and as such, they don’t like it one bit.

As for the second guy, if Christian evangelicals are correct, then the worst thing someone could do to a Jew is to allow him to remain a Jew. By harassing him all the time and denying him a kosher meal, they were just doing him a favor and to say otherwise is anti-Christian bigotry. Who knows, they may have saved him a trip to Hell. But then again, I suppose having to listen to Christian evangelicals while trapped in a hospital might easily be considered a form of Hell, so perhaps he got screwed-over in any case.

As for the third item, I really don’t understand the logic of this issue. Sure, I can understand a Catholic politician getting in trouble for having an abortion. But how could it possibly be immoral for a politician to allow non-Catholics to disobey Catholic beliefs? I was raised Catholic and went to Sunday School for much too long, but I don’t remember anyone saying that Catholics had to force non-Catholics to obey the Pope. That’s just a no-brainer.

Perhaps Ratzinger really wants non-Catholics to think that Catholic politicians take their orders from Rome, but I somehow don’t think that will do him a whole lot of good in the voting booth. And frankly, if a Catholic politician really does think they need to obey the Pope over their own constituents, then we really can’t have them in office. That’s downright undemocratic. That’s not to say I have a problem with voting for religious people, as I absolutely don’t. But at the end of the day, I need to know that I’m voting for someone who represents my interests. That’s just how this is supposed to work.

And so it’s really no surprise that the Vatican backed down from Ratzinger’s remarks. Because they’re pretty dumb and outdated. Who really gives a rat’s ass about excommunication? That kind of thing made sense back when the Pope was the only action in town. But these days, there are more religions than you can shake a stick at. And perhaps the Pope would like it if all the Catholic politicians switched to a less intrusive religion, but I doubt it. As for myself, I’d welcome excommunication. That way, I’d have a better excuse for ducking church whenever I visit my folks.

That’s not to say that they should start permitting Catholic politicians to start breaking all the important rules, but as I said, this is a pretty dumb one. Sure, you can oppose abortion. But when you start forcing Catholic politicians to use a country’s government to enforce Church doctrine, you’ve gone too far. But that’s not just for the Catholics, but for all religious people. It’s supposed to be about obeying God’s Will and that’s as far as it should go. As soon as you start using the government to enforce religion, you’ve completely tossed-out the Freewill aspect of belief and ruined God’s whole game. And that’s got to be the surest way to piss him off.

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