Sunday, November 23, 2008

The God problem

Call them “values voters” or “social conservatives” or “the Christian right” or whatever term may you may wish to use to refer to them, but I believe that that faction of the Republican Party is becoming a drag on the party and it is time their influence was lessened.

Ever since about 1979 when Jerry Falwell founded the Moral Majority, the religious right has been an important segment of the Republican Party. The party’s victories for the last thirty years would likely not have occurred without this faction. They consistently vote, contribute and volunteer. But, I now suspect that they drive more people away than they attract. The identity of the Republican Party as the party of prudes and religious fanatics is harming the party.

Now don’t get me wrong. I oppose gay marriage, I would like to see abortion restricted, and I respect tradition; so I guess to a certain extend, that makes me a “values voters” also. However, I am just not comfortable with a lot of the religious right. I do not want creationism taught as science. I think if science can be advanced by stem cell research using embryos that are to be discarded anyway, then we should do it. While I want my local schools to acknowledge Christmas and I think it is OK if a Christmas carol is sang at school or played by a high school marching band, I think we should try to keep Christmas primarily secular in the public square and not use it as a government sponsored opportunity to proselytize.

It is more than a disagreement over specific issues that make me uncomfortable with the religious right. I am just not comfortable with people who think God is on their side. I am OK with people who talk to God; people that God talks to concern me.

The religious right often appears angry, judgmental, intolerant, and self-righteous. Also, I fear that if they had their way they would like to do more than they now do to impose their morality. I suspect that they would drape all the art that featured the nude human form, they would mandate modesty, make all TV safe for their nine year-olds to watch, lock up homosexuals, ban co-habitation of unmarried people, close stores on Sunday, and ban the sale of alcohol. I bet most of those people who pressure politicians to “clean up the city” are religious Republicans.

Also, the religious right folks are just not a lot of fun. If I was a non-political young person and could attend either the Republican Convention or the Democratic Convention, which one would I choose to attend? Somehow, I just think the Democrats would be a lot more fun.

On election night the Republicans unexpectantly won both houses of the Tennessee State legislature. At the Williamson County Republican Party election night party, those attending joined hands and had a prayer of thanksgiving. I would rather be at a party where victory calls for breaking out the Champaign.

I suspect that there are people who are, or would be, economic conservatives, and national defense conservatives, and moderate social conservatives but who are not Republicans. These are people who are essentially secular and cannot feel at home at a gathering dominated by people who take their religion so seriously. Face it, there are a lot more secularist and people who take their religion with a grain of salt than there are devout Christians. If the Republican Party becomes the Christian Party, we will loose.

I don’t like the blending of the sacred and the political. I would prefer to let the Church concern itself with man’s eternal soul and my political party concern itself with this world and the hear and now. Recently there has developed a modest movement of a more liberal branch of evangelical Christians. I think this is a welcome development. We should welcome the separating of religious faith from political affiliation. It will be good for the Party if evangelicals are not automatically assumed to be Republicans. If a Bible-believing, teetotaler, praying-in-tongues person might also be a Democrat that is a good thing.

Now the Democrats get all or the hedonist and the Republicans get all of the real Christians. Let some to the Bible-thumpers become Democrats. I will trade you one Christians liberal for two hedonists who want to cut taxes.

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  1. If you don't like the blending of religion and politics, why do you have a problem with civil marriages for gays? I can understand your position on abortion - as much as I disagree with you, I can understand your objection more, as life is involved. But gays? Who have they hurt? They just keep getting hurt, by those that are fearful and judgmental of them.

  2. I respect tradition. I wish to maintain the definition of marriage that has served us down through the ages. I could possibly support some sort of mild domestic partnership act or civil union for two or more people, gay or not, who want the benefits of being considered a single unit. I would evaluate such a proposal after seeing it.

  3. You describe my position fairly well. A lifelong registered Democrat who from time to time votes Republican when I support a particular candidate. The religious right scares me as much as the radical left.

  4. It's a mistake to define "Christian" as a follower of the social conservative agenda. There are plenty of Christians in the Democratic party. There are some evangelicals, even. It's the Jerry Falwell/Pat Robertson political leadership that have ruined things, not Christians who also happen to be voters.

    But you're right about the parties. We Democrats have more fun. :)