There was a program on over the weekend on that very subject, but I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, and probably won’t for another week.
Suffice it to say, I guess I have trouble relating to the American situation. In Canada, if religion influences politics, nobody talks about it. Although the current conservative party does have religious undertones, they still have to have a non-religious justification for most of what they do. Mainstream religion here can mean a few different things, since at least one major Christian group up here (the United Church of Canada) is quite liberal in its views.
But I think the sad truth is that no matter what nation you live in, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. People will always try to manipulate the government into catering to their own agendas—be they financial / corporate, military, or religious.
People will always try to manipulate the government into catering to their own agendasâ€”be they financial / corporate, military, or religious
But here in the US we have an unusual situation — first, there’s an overweening “respect” for religious nonsense that it doesn’t deserve. I’m not talking about the “live-and-let-live” kind of respect, either. It goes beyond that. If somebody believes something for religious reasons, it’s become politically incorrect to say anything negative about it.
Add to that the unusual numbers of fundamentalist evangelicals we have, and you’ve got a situation where far too many people believe stupid nonsense.
We’ve also got a long history of rhetoric claiming that the US has a special place in the divine plan. Combine that with the rampant belief in religious fairy tales, and you get the dominionists — a group of religious folks who believe that it’s necessary for Christians to run the secular world to enable their god to return to the world.
They’re very active in government — it’s part of their beliefs that they must be. In order to accomplish their goals they have to destroy the separation of church and state. Again, they don’t put it in those terms — they use rhetoric like “the separation clause was to keep government out of religion, not to keep religion out of government”, and “freedom of religion was never meant to mean freedom from religion”.
Here’s a video advertisement (structured as if it’s a movie trailer) for a “discipleship program” that one of these groups runs.
How successful are they? You might recognize the name of the town where this particular group operates. Their former mayor, who attended this church, was the Republican Vice Presidential candidate in the last election.
In the US, religion means Christianity. All of the non-Christian religious denominations taken account for less than 7% of the population. Half of those are either Jews or Muslims. As much as we might like to say that religion means more than that, it doesn’t, really.
As you say, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. But watching isn’t the end of it — you have to warn others and take action. That’s what the so-called “culture wars” in the US really represent. It may not look like it on the surface — the dominionists are, frankly, liars for Jesus — but that’s what really drives it.
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