After reviewing date from a new Pew poll that says Americans are largely in support of putting the ten commandments in public buildings, both Matthew Yglesias and Kevin Drum argue that Democrats would be well advised to abandon this particular fight in favor of ones that matter -- namely, reproductive and gay rights, economic issues and foreign policy. Now, if I thought trading off one would guarantee the other, I might buy it. But consider:
Of Americans polled,
. Less than 50% can name the first book of the Bible (Genesis)
. More than a third think Billy Graham delivered the Sermon on the Mount
. 25% don't know why Easter is celebrated
. 12% think Noah's wife was Joan of Arc
. 80% of born-again Christians (including GWB) think it is the Bible that says "God helps them that help themselves" (it was Benjamin Franklin)
. 64% say they are too busy to read the bible
. 80% say the bible is confusing
Holy crap! How disturbing is that!
She goes on to say:
I'm just not convinced that sacrificing an important principle like separation of church and state by pandering to Bill and Ted is a good idea -- I don't believe Americans hold this particular belief that deeply. The founding fathers sought to keep the government from becoming a theocracy not because they had contempt for religion, but quite the opposite -- they thought that the best way to protect religion was to keep it from becoming appropriated by politicians to further their own ends. We are an incredibly ethnically and religiously diverse nation. Attempting to turn back the clock in nostalgia for an era that never was may win a few votes for Democrats in the short term but it is no way to construct a powerful and lasting ideology that will carry us into the future.
And I totally agree.
In comments to her post, I wrote:
I, too completely agree. As someone who consider's himself vaguely Xian, as well as perhaps Deist, with a dose of Zen thrown in, I think we NEED to be respectful of people's genuinely held religious beliefs.
Having said that, I don't mean listening to, and giving credence to fuckwits.
Like James Dobson, who truly needs to be held accountable for his vile beliefs.
Like Fred read God Hates Fags Phelps.
Like Joey "Tomorrow belongs to me" Ratz.
Like Pat "Let me tell you about my best friend Charles Taylor" Robertson.
Like David Koresh...
Like Jim Jones...
We need to firmly explain to the rubes how ANY support for religion has the possibility of undermining EVERY other religion.
And lest anyone think any of my examples are outside the mainstream, well, please explain to me how any of them commands(ed) the support of a large group of disciples, while being so crazy.
Read "Elmer Gantry". Read "Helter Skelter." (Yeah, Bugliosi is a dick, and has made a career from prosecuting the easiest guy to convict ever.) Read anything about the Crusades.
Then tell me it can't happen here.
So in dealing with religious zealots, patiently explain that protecting everyone's rights is the American Dream, endorsing one group's rights is Totalitarianism.
If they still don't get it, sock them in the nose.
Now come on, I really don't condone any kind of violence. In fact, violets are my favorite flowers. But I get so damn mad when any belief or faith tradition tries to gain supremacy over the whole game board.
Of course, many of the most strident simply don't see it that way. They believe that they are entitled to respect, while denying any shred of respect to any other belief. What crap!
Years ago, on "Mash," Fr. Mulcahy said "There's more than one way to skin a spirit." That simple piece of TV dialog stuck with me because it made so much sense. Religion is outside the realm of what is "provable." It's FAITH!
I have faith that the Sun will rise tomorrow. A great deal of scientific research and empirical observation backs this up.
I have faith that food I eat will eventually make its way out. Again, research, etc.
But the afterlife? I (mostly) believe that something awaits us out there. But is there any proof, research, verifiable evidence? Not so much.
So I will continue to believe in what I believe, and, as long as you don't really piss me off, I will let you do the same. But don't try and pass any laws that constrain my thought/faith.
'Cause if you do, I'll sock you in the nose.