Religion and Politics

As we approach the political season here in the United States, we need to reflect on what role religion should play in evaluating whether or not a particular candidate should receive our vote. The short answer is **none at all**. Religion should persuade with Truth, not coerce through Law.

Religious institutions all over the country are asking their members to vote for candidates that believe the sames things that their religion preaches, so that more laws can be passed that would enforce the fundementals of their faith. Should we as citizens of the United States listen to them?

I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will fight to the death your right to say it!

— Voltaire

I think Voltaire had it right, as far as he went, but I think it should read more like:

I may not agree with your way of life, but I will fight to the death for your right to live it!

— Mike Carney

##The Job of Religion

The job of a religion is to provide a moral framework for its followers to help them along their way to a better understanding of God.

There are many religions in the world today, and all of them have as a central tenet that it is their vision of the universe that is the Truth. For Chrisitains, the Truth is that the way to God is through faith in Jesus. For Buddhists the Truth, and therefore divinity, is found within oneself. For Jews, the Truth is that they are the chosen people of God and they keep their special status by keeping the Law. For Hindus, the Truth is that the universe is an illusion, and that we are all God, if only we can see past the veil. For Muslims, the Truth is that Allah gave them the Truth in the Koran, and only strict adherance to its tenets will lead you to paradise and God.

(The above list comes from my memory of a comparative religion course in college, not from any recent research. If I got anything wrong, I’m sorry. The specifics are not important to this essay, but rather the idea behind the specifics).

However, the Truth of the matter is that while all of these faiths contain *some” Truth, none of them are ”the* Truth.

So, which one should define how a society functions? **None of them!**

##The Job of Government

The job of government, at least as it was conceived by the founding fathers, is to protect the rights of the individual from the power of government (i.e. society), and from repression by other individuals.

So, are those that take peyote as a way to commune with God right? Or (after reading the great novel The Davinci Code), is sexual extasy from the union of male and female the path to God? Or, must you honor the Sabbath and keep it holy? Or is the communion wafer taken in a Catholic service truly the transubstantiated Body of Christ? Or, must one follow The True Way outlined by Guantamo Sidhartha (Buddha) the way to elightenment?

Who knows.

The important question is not whether they are right, but rather do any of these practices infringe on the rights of another. If not, then *who cares*!

As long as society does not stop you from following the practices of your faith, it should not matter what others do.

##What Happens When the Two Meet?


And the founding fathers knew this. The clause in the first amendment:

Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion.

was put there specifically for this reason.

###The Crusades

The Catholic Church decided that the Holy Land should be retaken from the infidels that controlled it and waged war killing innocent people to take it back.

###The Inquisition

The Catholic Church decided that everyone should think exactly like them, and so they authorized the torture and execution of people who would not profess belief in the divinity of Jesus. If a Jew or a Muslim would not convert to Christianity, they were killed.

###The World Trade Center

Muslim extremists believe that the entire world should be Muslim, and anyone who isn’t is evil. The greatest threat they have to the spread of their faith is the freedom we enjoy here in the United States. They therefore launch attacks against The Great Satan and kill thousands of innocents.

##A Higher Calling

We the people of the United States of America are called by our history to vote in such a way that the rights of all are not hindered. The very concept of our constitution is that we must protect the rights of the minority from the tyranny of the majority. In other words, laws should not be enacted that restrict freedom just because the majority agree with those laws.

In this particular case, it means that we must not vote for politicians who vote based on their religious beliefs. For instance, the following issues are debated based on religious doctrine rather than civics:

* Gay Marriage
* Abortion
* Euthanasia
* etc.

And this is wrong. Your faith is your own, and nobody can take it away from you. Don’t let your own religious beliefs persuade you that you should take away others’ right to have their own beliefs.

You wouldn’t want that done to you.