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The Sacred and Secular: The Shifting Landscape of U.S. Politics and Religion: Part I

Updated: Oct 4, 2023



Alright, it's been a while.


A lot has occurred since the last entry, from election results and position appointments – domestic and abroad – to new and continued geopolitical issues, each one easily deserving of an individual entry.


However, I want to briefly talk about a subject that ties in closely with the aim of this blog, a changing societal dynamic and – hopefully – a continued and hastened move in the right direction.


A national re-evaluation of religion and its place in society.


Recent events of a religious tone have catapulted into surely unwanted, yet well-deserved and needed criticism the concept of religiosity in society, particularly as it relates to Christianity, the predominant religion in the U.S.




Certain local and state legislatures are actively and vigorously abandoning the principles of the First Amendment – no less the U.S. Constitution itself – which, in conjunction with subsequent rulings, states, in part, that no law shall be made respecting the establishment of any religion or its practice. In the backdrop of this developing mess is the presence of ever-emboldening religious fundamentalists, Christian nationalists, aspiring authoritarians, fascism proponents, and other like-minded groups – the current Supreme Court more-or-less included – whose desire to scrap this country's foundation and destroy its future is seemingly unending.

The proposal of highly unpopular, intrusive, and unconstitutional legislation – enacted or not – is a clear indicator of the goals of many regressive politicians at the local, state, and federal level. To abandon reason, scapegoat and control, and "return" to a time that never existed; this is the endgame. They have chosen to rule, not represent.


Proper enforcement of the separation of church and state has always been – to some degree – blurred, to say the least. From public prayers and mentions by presidents of divine blessings to church services and unwarranted shows of religiosity for the support of the more "faithful" part of the American electorate, it has always been somewhat complicated.


That said, recent events, particularly in the political sphere, continue to make it clear that many religiously-inspired actions – done for the sake of appeasement or born of actual beliefs – tend to conflict with the preservation, promotion, and advancement of the human condition. One's personal faith should not limit another's rights. One’s religion – a personal matter – should remain a personal matter, not to find its way into stately affairs and, by extension, the lives of and decisions made by other individuals.


It has also been made clear that this period of brazen and destructive attempts to blur or eliminate the lines separating matters of the state and one’s personal beliefs must be countered and overcome by the general understanding that theocratic actions are not compatible with truly free societies.

Ironically, societies that promote secular values and legislation – regardless of the proclaimed religiosity of its citizens – tend to better promote freedom of religion and religious practice of all citizens, as they tend to guard against the interactions of state and religion and, by extension, group subjugation. This differs greatly from theocratic societies, which – often dictated by some form of dogma – tend to subjugate one or many groups of people.


This understanding appears to be manifesting itself in the form of minor, yet growing pushback throughout the country. However, for it to be truly effective, three elements are needed:


1. A recognition by all – religious and non-religious – that the current situation is detrimental to the functioning of a free society. The exploitation of those of any religious faith and use of religion in matters of the state is unacceptable.


2. A concerted intellectual and legislative effort to counter the affront, a counter headed by both religious and secular entities.


AND


3. A level of zeal that rivals that seen by theocratic movements.


The main point: There seems to be a minor reckoning occurring under the radar. Within the national conscience, the idea of religious faith in the face of its profession and use by zealots, bad actors, and other entities in perpetrating injustices may finally be approaching a real phase of public scrutiny. For many in this country, an opportunity exists to see and question what their faith truly means, particularly as those who engage in reprehensible acts – in the name of any divine being of their choice – loudly proclaim piety or goodness.


With any fortune, many will come to the following conclusions – among others – and act on them:


1. Morality is not divinely inspired, but innate and a function of group survival and social development.


2. Being a good person is not a matter of supernatural instruction or blessing, nor should one expect exclusively good deeds from those that claim any faith. We've seen time and time again that that is not the case.


AND


3. Doing good work and being a person of humanistic values is its own reward. The promise of a distant and unspecified reward should not be the impetus for kindness or compassion. Moreover, a profession of faith or belief in any deity should not be seen as justification for divisive actions...or as a sign of virtue.


There will be much more on this topic as various social and political events unfold, but the main point is a simple one:


Life is difficult enough; there's no need to make it harder for yourself or others by adopting and embracing rhetoric or teachings that divide people based on immutable characteristics; a person should be judged for what they do, not who they are.



Thanks.











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