“Faith, Moral Values and the secularized Government often collide on the American Political Scene and the question becomes, “Either or Both?”
It had not been so much of a problem before the era of the 1960s and 70s when we witnessed the first bold incursions by the generally “Fundamentalist-Evangelical-Style” faith groups making a concerted push for a greater voice in public affairs through the mechanism of the so-called “Charismatic Movement.”
Prior to that time, the affairs of Government and God were more or less kept separate and the nation hummed along very efficiently, maintaining a growing position of worldly influence while, at the same time, maintaining the traditional values of a well-churched People, stable home groups and most of the “Sins” of Mankind either rarely discussed or conveniently swept under one rug or the other.
The one common factor between Conservatives in General and Liberals in particular has been the propensity of both to use their governmental influence to affect a program of prohibiting certain things and laying punishment onto other things.
Conservatives, in general, seem to have become so vocal about the “Prohibition” side of their genre that they have, in recent times, become known in some circles as “The party of No.” I personally like to add the further nomenclatures of “Nothing and Nonsense to the “No.” Thus, in my estimation, Conservative-oriented groups and political entities have become simply, The parties of “No, Nothing and Nonsense.” But, like all things written in this blog, that too is my personal opinion.
I do have to make the following justification for my observation however: My “Opinion” has been formed from several years of watching the operation of all these factors and from the hard experiences of colliding with them head on and having them exercise direct influence on my daily existence.
There is no more chance of escaping what I consider to be the abject evils of Conservatism than there are in encountering the benefits brought by a Liberal point of view. Keep in mind that I am a Liberal and I write with a Liberal spin on things. (The correct spin on things, by the way. America has been more Liberal than Conservative for Her entire History. To me that is irrefutable evidence that America prefers the governance of the Liberal side to the other side.
And there is some current good news about this as well. Since the Conservatives have shown themselves to be obstructionists in the most recent spate of budget crisis talks, the mood of the country is once more shifting leftward according to every available source except, of course, the fantasy-spinning Far Right Media circus.
Liberals seem to want to prohibit poverty and the rise of a generation of helpless elderly people trough their various and sundry Social Safety Net programs such as Social Security, Welfare, Food Stamps and what have you– Unemployment Insurance Compensation…you name it.
Conservatives, on the other hand, seem to want to prohibit anything that gets in the way of their obviously very well established habit of supporting the aims and ambitions of the greed-mongering rich; the so-called upper 1% of American Citizenry.
Social injustices seem to be the targets of the Liberal side of the equation and the means to justify individual moral trespasses seems to be the motivating factor on the Conservative side. But that is seen through the considerably amateur lens of my own interpretation, so don’t lay any stock by it unless you are like-minded on the issue. (Gotta be fair and balanced here.)
All this moral turpitude finds its voice in every debate that has ever been raised in either House of Government and, many times on the streets and in the individual homes of the People as well.
I am not sure there is ever going to be a mutually-satisfactory resolution to the questions raised by the clashes between the characteristics of the religious and the secular in America,,but I do know the battle seems to both dominate and energize everything that goes on in Washington these days.
I sometimes think it is most unfortunate that the question of Religion wed to Government has crept into the public discourse with such force in the past few years because the “Back and Forth” over these issues has often distracted mightily from other things; things of potentially more substance and value.
An example of this kind of thing would be the Maintenance of a position on the world stage. Another example would be the state of the Economy and the preservation or destruction of our Industrial/Military Complex by outsourcing everything and leaving a poverty-stricken citizenry in the wake so that a few can enjoy the benefits of their millions or their billions of dollars.
The views are different and the approaches are different and the temperaments are becoming more different as the days go by.
There was a time in America when the predominant two political factions could sit down at a table and hammer out solutions to problems.
In the current climate of mistrust, there seems to have grown an almost militaristic attitude of resistance so that Partisanship has been crowned the new sovereign of debate and discussion and I personally blame the Far Right Wing Radical Religious Extremists for this sad state of affairs. Oh by the way, so does most of the rest of the world according to every known statistic, poll and report.
There is no doubt that the American Social Paradigm has shifted considerably in the last few years. Whole conceptualizations have been completely re-done.
Crime, punishment, racism, tolerance, education and the means of delivering it, employment and the means of enhancing it– all these things have done almost complete turnabouts because of the injection of religious considerations into politics. Again, this is my view exclusively but I am encouraged to find that it is held by many others also.
Who in America are the “Underprivileged” of note today? Are they the billionaires who may have to pay a few more dollars in taxes in order to sustain their lifestyles, given the pressures on Society that have been generated by circumstances?
I think it would be safe to say that a billionaire might feel underprivileged is he or she felt they were “Forced” by government to kick in a little more to help hold the whole fabric of the Social Order together.
I can see that! A kid who has Two Hundred licorice sticks will certainly feel deprived if Mother comes along and insists that the kid share the licorice sticks by giving one to little sister, perhaps. That would be occasion for a tantrum of resistance much the same as we witness in the Halls of Congress today.
Maybe the “Underprivileged” might be more accurately defined by the circumstances that have been foisted onto the “Average Citizen” (The one who is not rich by any standard) by the willingness of the Millionaires and Billionaires to invade their space and manipulate the Banking and Lending industries to the point where it would be nearly impossible to ever pay off a mortgage, for example.
Perhaps “Underprivileged” America are those whose means of living have been stolen from them by the upper crust and sent abroad so that those already wallowing in the obscene lap of luxury can have even more to stuff their endlessly greedy guts with.
Is that why the “Occupy Wall Street” People have risen from the dust and chaos of recent History to begin the long and arduous march toward some semblance of Justice and equity once more?
The System is definitely broken and no one seems to have any concrete answers about how to fix things. Those who do propose their own versions of solutions seem to have fixated on their own comfort zones, their own positions and their own power to the exclusion of any consideration about what might be good for the people who elected them to office in the first place.
Maybe the Occupy Wall Street People are simply showing us that it is time to clean the House of Government or, in the worst case scenario, to make dramatic changes to it so that these horrible disparities can never again threaten generations of miserably poverty-stricken people whose only purpose in life becomes serving their rich masters.
I don’t know if anyone has ever studied the situation carefully, but I have found those Puritans to be sometimes more cruel and callous in their dealings with others than typically “Christian” in demeanor.
Did you know, for example, that it was the Conservative Puritans who actually invented water boarding? They had this device that looked like a wooden see-saw. They tied the offender to one end, upside down and then dunked the accused into a lake or river, totally bound and unable to move or escape until such time as drowning became a distinct possibility and a confession was more easily extracted from fear of repeating the process.
Religion and politics were never meant to mix in America; they were meant to co-exist. Most of The Founders were either Deist or Atheist and if you take the time to examine whatever writings they left behind (The ones that haven’t fallen into the hands of Conservative Revisionists yet) you soon discover this fact. American Government was always intended to be more secular than religious.
The whole idea of Religion in Politics is ludicrous anyway because most of what transpires in governmental circles is so far removed from Christian or religious principle as to be laughable.
For example, if moral considerations over rode all others,we would surely have a universal health care plan by now simply because it is the right thing to do. If religion were the driving force of American Politics we wouldn’t have the Conservatives eternally engaged in the business of trying to eradicate any help programs for the neediest among our Citizens.
Then there is the question of immigration. I understand that ,many people in government are hard put to consider allowing more immigrants into the country.
There are talks about building walls and enacting laws to limit the number and, unfortunately, even the kinds of people who will be permitted to immigrate to America.
I am sure the more religiously inclined of our governmental “Leaders” are fully aware that their own ancestors were immigrants to these shores and there were no walls back then, were there?
In History one can quickly determine that more people have suffered and died because of Religion that for almost any other cause–famine and disease included.
If that is the case then in my opinion, that is case enough to keep Politics and Religion separate in American governmental discourse.
This, of course is my personal opinion.
Photo Credit – Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division