Nel's New Day

November 25, 2012

Religion Struggling with Its Government Takeover

I find religion to be a peculiar belief because it rules most of the world, including parts of the United States, and yet people have such vast diversity in beliefs. People don’t even know how often they attend a religious institution. According to a new study from the Pew Research Center, 79 percent of Americans identify with an organized faith group, making the people in this nation more deeply religious than in many other countries including those in Europe. But are people in the U.S. as religious as they say? NPR’s science correspondent Shankar Vedantam looked into this theory.

Although 45 percent of the people say that they regularly attend a church or other religious service, Philip Brenner’s study of their activities through a self-reported diary indicates that only 24 percent of the people actually do this. Perhaps they want to represent themselves as religious. This almost double over-reporting of regular attendance is in sharp contrast to very little over-reporting among people in Western Europe.

Perhaps because they want to look religious, many people in the United States tolerate the intrusion of religion into government matters, similar to the stocks in Puritan New England. States that diligently pass laws preventing the Sharia, the Islam moral code, in their law, are comfortable using Christianity in laws preventing abortion and marriage equality and in sentencing convicted felons.

Judge Mike Norman (Muskogee County, OK) sentenced 17-year-old Tyler Alred to church attendance for ten years—nothing more. Alred was convicted of manslaughter after he killed the passenger in his car when it collided with a tree. Although Alred’s blood alcohol level was under the legal limit, by law he was driving under the influence because he was a minor.

Circuit Court Judge Michael Nettles (Rock Hill, SC) did send Cassandra Tolley to prison after her conviction, but he added a provision to the eight-year sentence: mandatory bible study and a summary of the Book of Job. Tolley drove down the wrong side of a road and hit a car head on, seriously injuring two men. Her blood alcohol content was over four times the legal limit.

Fortunately, Gordon Klingenschmitt is no longer a Navy chaplain, especially after “don’t ask, don’t tell” was repealed. His claim is that that people who vote to support same-sex marriage are like those who wanted to crucify Jesus Christ. When asked if the election shows a movement toward “enlightenment” and that Jesus might approve of marriage equality, the chaplain responded that the interviewer confused “the Holy Spirit with a demonic spirit.”

In quoting Romans 1:32, Klingenschmitt said, “‘Knowing the judgment of God that those who commit such things, homosexual acts, for example, are not only worthy of death, not only for those who do them, but for those who have pleasure in those who do them.’” None of the 18 most common versions of this verse mentions homosexuality. In fact, that word does not appear in the bible.

The former chaplain also practices exorcism and has a new book—self-published—called The Demons of Barack H. Obama. When reminded that people in the military are supposed to support elections and democracy, Klingenschmitt said, “The only election in the New Testament was the election to crucify Jesus and let Barnabas go.”

With the winter holidays bearing down on us, the fundamentalist Christians are again lamenting the loss of Christmas. Pat Robertson got a head start when he said, “Christmas all over again. The Grinch is trying to steal our holiday. It’s been so beautiful. The nation comes together. We sing Christmas carols, we give gifts to each other. We have lighted trees and it’s just a beautiful thing. Atheists don’t like our happiness, they don’t want you to be happy, they want you to be miserable. They’re miserable so they want you to be miserable.”

Like Karl Rove, Robertson was stunned when President Obama won re-election. Last January he said that God had told him who the winner would be, but there seemed to be static in that communication. In talking about his confusion, Robertson said, “So many of us miss God, I won’t get into great detail about elections but I sure did miss it, I thought I heard from God, I thought I had heard clearly from God, what happened? You ask God, how did I miss it? Well, we all do and I have a lot of practice.”

The fundamentalist Christians have had a hard year. First they couldn’t get the candidate they wanted. Texas Gov. Rick Perry looked good back in the summer when he participated in a big rally in his state, but his odd behavior led them to conservative Catholic Rick Santorum who equally alienated most people. Mitt Romney survived only because he said very little and shifted with the wind.

The fundamentalists also failed to get any of the Catholics except the bishops riled after the free contraception kerfuffle. The “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign against President Obama was overshadowed by the “Nuns on the Bus” that showed the hypocrisy of Paul Ryan and the bishop leadership. In the end, 50 percent of Catholics voted for President Obama over the 48 percent that chose Romney.

During the crucial last month, fundamentalist candidates openly and frequently showed their ignorance. Senate Republican candidates Richard Mourdock (IN) and Rep. Todd  Akin (R-MO) helped people understand how extreme the conservative radical theology is. The candidates not only lost but most likely took others down with them.

In addition, fundamentalist Christians failed to turn out for this election, possibly because of the confident rhetoric from conservative pundits on Fox and other stations proclaiming Mitt Romney as a shoe-in for the presidency. Despite Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition that sent illegal voter guides to Ohio churches, the president improved his standing by three points with white evangelicals in that state over the 71 percent to 27 percent margin John McCain won four years ago.

The final blows for fundamentalist Christians were the loss of the presidency and the Senate and the wins for marriage equality in three states. Minnesota was a fourth state that refused to further legitimize bigotry. Even the massive “Vote Biblical Values” ad campaign from famed evangelist Billy Graham failed to stop the groundswells of support among other religious groups for marriage equality.

Far-right religious figures had earlier understood that they were losing the war against marriage equality. Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, reiterated this position when he said that the Religious Right should focus less on abortion and gay marriage and more on issues such as immigration reform, poverty, and increasing adoptions and foster care opportunities. We’ll wait to see if they go so far as to allow same-sex couples to participate in their grand schemes.

Meanwhile, the Church of England is having trouble with its own war on women after its laity rejected women bishops. Although the action was approved by the synod’s houses of bishops and clergy, only 324 synod members in the House of Laity voted to approve the ordination of women bishops, six short of the required two-thirds majority. As Williams said, “We have, to put it bluntly, a lot of explaining to do.” The next vote will probably not come until 2015.

 

Civil Rights Advocacy

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Daily 60 Second News

Transformational News; What Works For Seven Future Generations Without Causing Harm?

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

GLBT News

Official news outlet for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of ALA

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Central Oregon Coast NOW

The Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: