Religion And Politics Shouldn’t Mix
A few weeks ago I was flipping the channels on TV and discovered something disturbing. In fact, I think it took me this long to cool down before I could write about it. Apparently, I discovered “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” quite accidentally. I’ve heard that if a preacher in the pulpit talks about politics, his or her church can lose its tax-exempt status. This always seemed to me to be a way to separate church and state.
Considering that most of the Founding Fathers, as is well documented elsewhere, were mostly Deists or Unitarians and some were on a road barrelling toward atheism, as well as the large number of people who came to the colonies for religious freedom, this has always made cosmic sense. Apparently, people were given free rein to talk about politics in the pulpit from 1788 (ratification of the U.S. Constitution) until the Johnson Amendment in 1954, which a bunch of Christian lawyers feel is unconstitutional, because it is an abridgment of Freedom of Speech.
It seems to me that the IRS can confer or remove the right to be taxed.
So what is wrong with this picture? A couple of things.
First, America could not be farther from the Jeffersonian ideal of an enlightened public that does not tolerate extreme and potentially dangerous ideas. We are, instead, a country that loves simple and emotional ideas, loud yelping, and seeing everything as good or bad, left and right.
We invite other people to think for us, taking nobody as seriously as we do religious leaders. I know plenty of people who would take the simplistic moral judgment of some pastor over a person’s political acumen. This is going to get us simple-minded political leaders who listen to pastors (and arguably already has).
Even if the above were not correct, having the freedom to do something does not mean it is the best thing to do. Napoleon Hill established about a century ago that the (then only) men who were the highest achievers in business and government seemed also to be “highly sexed.”
Plenty of people in government historically would not have passed the kind of “moral” judgment that churches dish out. From Benjamin Franklin, to Grover Cleveland to Bill Clinton, plenty of people who seem to have had some serious political accomplishments would have been excluded if they had been subject to churchy judgements.
An enlightened country like France knows presidents tend to have mistresses and let them keep on trucking. What in the world are we trying to do? Who the heck said that the more moral people are, the better they are at their jobs? It may be exactly the opposite.
Even after so many scandals from evangelists and politicians, the public has
never caught on to the fact that those who proclaim moral judgments the loudest are usually the ones most likely to be transgressors.
If I trusted people to be well informed, the way Jefferson did, I would not worry so much about this. But since I am watching the nation that I put on a military uniform to defend move from a democracy of sorts to a Christian theocracy, I am very concerned.
I am not one of America’s Christian sheep. I use my freedom of speech on this blog.
I want people to end our economic mess.
I want people to end our inaccessible (and simply “bad”) medical care.
I would rather my politicians be permitted to screw individuals they love for the pleasure than to screw thousands — maybe millions — of people out of jobs and medical care.