When it comes to religion and politics, those of us who do not believe in a deity and those who have a religious faith that they follow firmly but quietly have been suckered.
We’re paying dearly for our timidity and politeness.
All our lives, we’ve been told that religion is chief among topics that are not to be discussed in public. It has been drummed into us from childhood that we must be quiet and respectful when others talk about their "faith," that we are never to mock, challenge or argue. When others pray, we’re supposed to bow our heads and be silent.
Look what’s come of our silence: George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Tom DeLay, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, the drooling idiots of the evangelical right putting control of the United States government into the hands of thieves, blackmailers and worse – and doing so in the name of their god and "morality."
We have a press that refuses to do its job, at least partially because it’s afraid of the Bible thumpers. In some cases, as with my home town newspaper, the people in charge are
the Bible thumpers.
We have by far the most corrupt administration in the country’s history, and a Congressional leadership that is very near the most corrupt ever. We have people dying and being horribly maimed in an unnecessary war created to further enrich members of the financial aristocracy. (The sons and daughters of that aristocracy do not fight in such wars.) Pray for our soldiers, say the hypocrites.
We have an economy deliberately designed to transfer wealth from the average citizen and the poor to the already enormously wealthy, and to make most of the population a trembling, insecure pool of cheap labor. Pray for our political leaders.
Our land, water and air are choking on industrial filth. Pray for the captains of industry.
Our science and educational institutions are hobbled by flat-earth god-shouters, our freedoms are being sliced away by fanatic crusaders who demand that we all live by their interpretations of what is right, moral and godly. Pharmacists who belong to the religious right refuse to fill prescriptions. The nominal president prevents serious stem cell research. Industry (with government approval) works on "blending" sewage and drinking water supplies. The "homeland defense" fascists are pushing for a nationwide ID system (Paperssss, pleassse). A right winger is put in charge of the national public broadcasting system specifically to end solid reporting that reflects badly on the extreme right. Legislators insert themselves in the family feud over the physical death of a brain-dead woman. Pray for the leaders of the "intelligent design" movement.
Morality is defined by those who rule, and by those who gave them the scepter, almost entirely in terms of sexuality, which means to some extent that we’re still paying dearly for the perverted religious sensibilities of some of those who first came here from Europe. Pray for our evangelists.
One can be an ethical Quasimodo such as Tom DeLay and Dick Cheney and be adored as a saint by the religious right, so long as one votes to suppress sex in whatever form. (Yeah, yeah, the sex-obsessed Dobson crowd says it approves of intercourse – once a month, missionary position, during reproductive years – if it’s limited to married couples. But they don’t really; there’s always the chance that someone, insufficiently repressed, will enjoy it and begin to question their myriad strictures.)
I have said this before, but it needs saying again, and again and again: It is time to tell the religious fanatics and those amoral political opportunists who pretend to religion to sit down and shut the hell up.
It is necessary to speak up whenever anyone tries to trump a political debate by calling on some god. It is time to say, when it is true, that your beliefs are not the same as theirs, but yours are equally valid. It is past time to point out that many of the godless are demonstrably more "moral" than many of those who claim to know exactly the mind of whatever god they profess.
One may say, should say, that every citizen is free to believe what he or she chooses, but neither priest nor politician has the right to require others to live by his or her interpretation of what is godly. That is my unshakable belief.
Therefore, I intend to send the note below to all candidates for public office in any jurisdiction to which I am subject. I urge you to use it, too, or to devise one more to your liking and use that.