Thursday, June 12, 2008


"Barack Obama discussed Darfur, the Iraq war, gay rights, abortion and other issues in a closed door meeting with Christian leaders, including conservatives who have been criticized for praising the Democratic presidential candidate."

"Mark DeMoss, a spokesman for the Rev. Franklin Graham, said Graham attended and asked Obama whether 'he thought Jesus was the way to God, or merely a way.' DeMoss declined to discuss Obama's response."

"[Rich] Kmiec, an abortion opponent who worked for the Reagan administration's Justice Department, was denied Communion in April at a Mass for Catholic business people because he had endorsed Obama. Church leaders later apologized, according to syndicated columnist E.J. Dionne." [Wasn't it nice and "Christian" of them to later apologize?]

"[Cizik] said he told Obama: "Religious Americans want to know why is it you love this country and what it stands for and how we can make it better." [As if atheists aren't also interested in making this country better, although atheists don't have the political clout as do these "Christian leaders."]

[For the full article, see here.]

I am an unapologetic Christian, and take the Bible very seriously, and I take God even more seriously. Believe me, I do fall short in so many ways, and I certainly fall short of what I know Jesus expects of me. My stating this fact has nothing to do with false modesty, but I'm merely stating a fact about myself!

Having said that, and viewing my attempt to follow Christ as best, albeit imperfectly, as I can, I'm outraged on a number of levels at the blatant enmeshment of the government with religion, and using one's religious persuasion as a criterion in the election to the highest office in the U.S. This enmeshment of religion and government has trumped the Constitution in many ways, not the least of which has been in the denial of basic civil rights to LGBT people.

And that enmeshment has to stop (Although I'm under no illusions that it will stop in the foreseeable future!) if the Church (Made up of those who put God first in their lives.) stops deferring to " religious leaders" and recognizes that we are to give unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar and give to God that which belongs to God.

Even though I'm a Christian, I have absolutely no desire to impose my relationship with God on anyone else. Of course, I can, and do, encourage all people to open their hearts and minds to the call of Christ on their lives, but that is to be absolutely no criterion for my relationships or for one's holding of elective office in a country that is obligated to live under the Constitution, and not live as a theocracy under the often slanted and prejudiced interpretation of the Bible that all too many "religious leaders" hold, particularly in regard to the acquisition of civil rights for assorted minority groups.

To even consider the answer to a politician's answer to the question, "Is Jesus the way to God, or merely a way," might be considered appropriate in a theological discussion, but has absolutely no place in our choice of one who aspires to elective office in the United States, be that office Alderman or President. The stupidity and arrogance of those who would even ask that question to be presumably a criterion for whether or not to support that candidate is absolutely remarkable to me.

Moreover, it highlights both how this country has veered from the path of the Constitutional issues involved in setting this country's priorities and policies, as well as showing the religious imperialism of a sizable segment of the institutional Church that seeks to continue being inextricably linked with government. A question such as this one signifies to me the desire for religious reactionary forces to continue their role in seeking to set the priorities in governmental agenda items, particularly those having to do with civil rights of any minority group with which the "Church leaders" disagree, and for which many of them have absolute disdain.

This disdain, that has taken the form of exclusion from the full benefits of citizenship in the U.S., has been taken as a benchmark upon which to build government policy, so that most "Church leaders" have provided seemingly biblical "justification" to historically (and in some cases, contemporarily) exclude women, African-Americans, and LGBT people from full civil rights and their protections in the name of God!

And politicians hustling for votes to be President, be they Republican or Democrat, are more than desirous of courting the religious right wing that comprises much, if not most, of the institutional Church. Hence, McCain gladly accepting John Hagee's endorsement (until it was no longer politically expedient for him to do so), and Obama renouncing his twenty year church affiliation with Trinity United Church of Christas well as renouncing his affiliation with his spiritual advisor and mentor of twenty years, the noted Jeremiah Wright, who has spoken uncomfortable truths over his many years of ministry that the average white voter couldn't, wouldn't, and would refuse to understand, particularly given the selected and skewed sound bites apart from context that the media aired to characterize this wonderful man of God.

This is not "one nation under God" (That phrase was added in 1954 to the Pledge of Allegiance.), as there are many citizens, also deserving of full and equal rights and representation who, at least at this time, do not believe in God. We are comprised of a plurality of people, diverse in all sorts of ways, not the least being one's conception of, and relationship with, God.

I view most "religious leaders" with great suspicion, as by seeking to apply their often distorted and twisted views of the Bible (Which all too many of them equate with God, and most of whom even elevate the Bible over and above the work of the Holy Spirit Who is at work in the world.), seek to influence governmental policy in accordance with their exclusionary mind-sets and prejudices that they seek to impose on the rest of us.

Clearly, I view Presidential candidates' courting, of these "religious leaders" (Most of whom are reactionary: witness the fact that such progressive clergy as Rev. Troy Perry, Bishop John Shelby Spong, Rev. Nancy Wilson, and Rev. Jeremiah Wright weren't given a seat at the table.), along with their gullible followers, to be very dangerous to this democratic republic!

It has been many such "Christian leaders" who have persuaded their followers to adopt the leaders' own prejudices and view of the Christian life, as they have persuaded their followers to justify prejudice and discrimination against their constructed enemies, (And do so in the name of God and the Prince of Peace.), and to vote accordingly.

We have come to a sorry state of affairs in this country when God is sold unto Caesar for the price of political conformity to reactionary religious values, and God is treated as a commodity to be bought and sold with the coin of religious biases and religious "leaders'" prejudices that go a long way in determining how their church members vote for President, and for the consequent future of the United States and, often, the future of most of the rest of the world.

With this enmeshing of largely reactionary religious forces with political decisions and fealty, and these forces' values used as political clout in all too often determining elective office, both the Constitutional mandate of "equality under the law" and the acquisition of full and equal civil rights for LGBT people is both up for grabs and doesn't look all that promising, unless there is coordinated grass roots activism in conjunction with a much more aggressive stance on the part of Gay rights organizations to agitate for full and equal civil rights.

Absent this activism and coordination, the reactionary "religious" and political forces are likely to prevail in the social and political arenas for the foreseeable future.
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