If ever there was not a good reason to vote for a candidate, it is that that candidate does not share your religious beliefs. Catholic John F. Kennedy proved a president could separate religion from politics. Of course, JFK was president before Evangelicals began changing the paradigm in the wake of Goldwater’s defeat in 1964.
Because Evangelicals have done all in their power for the past forty-eight years to make religion and politics indistinguishable, another Catholic, Paul Ryan could tell Evangelical voters Sunday night that the path down which President Obama is taking the United States “restricts freedom and liberty,” and compromises “Judeo-Christian values.”
When you read things like this, you know there is a snake in the grass. And there is. As ABC News reports, “Evangelical leader Ralph Reed’s influential group, the Faith and Freedom Coalition hosted the call and Reed said “tens of thousands” of Evangelical Christians were listening in.”
Speaking of the president’s path, Ryan said,
“It’s a dangerous path. It’s a path that grows government, restricts freedom and liberty, and compromises those values, those Judeo-Christian, western civilization values that made us such a great an exceptional nation in the first place.”
The many lies here are obvious:
1) It is not Democratic administrations that grow government; it is Republican administrations that grow government. For example, the Republican agenda to ban access to abortion and birth control will grow government by requiring further levels of bureaucracy at the local, state, and federal level.
2) There is no such thing as Judeo-Christian anything. Judeo-Christian is an ideological construct designed to create a false link between Judaism and Christianity
3) The link between these non-existent Judeo-Christian values and Western civilization are imaginary. The basis for the United States government are the principles of the very secular European Enlightenment, an Enlightenment which was a response to and against the very principles Ryan and his cohorts stand in support of – namely, state-sponsored religion and all the evils it engenders.
He brings American Exceptionalism into play as well, without defining it, and there are many ways of defining what makes America an exceptional nation; by no means must a definition include Evangelical religious beliefs – or any religious beliefs.
The Founding Fathers, after all, managed to craft both a Declaration of Independence and a Constitution without appeal to the Bible or the Ten Commandments. The country created by the very secular U.S. Constitution has managed very well for the past two-and-a-quarter centuries.
In the call, Ryan was adamant in his opposition to women’s access to healthcare, and control over their own reproductive functions, insisting that only men acting on their patriarchal religious beliefs had the right to make those choices. He says Obamacare is anti-Christian:
“We should not have to sue the federal government to keep our constitutional freedoms,” Ryan said, referring to the Catholic Church’s lawsuit over the mandate.
“Imagine what he would do if he actually got reelected. It just puts a chill down my spine.”
I actually agree with Ryan here: we should not have to sue the federal government to keep our constitutional freedoms. The difference is, Ryan doesn’t want constitutional freedoms; he wants his Christian freedoms to ride roughshod over our religious freedoms and he wants the United States government to back him up: he wants what the Founders feared most: State Sponsored Religion.
You would think from the rhetoric that Ryan is afraid of being thrown to the lions, when in fact, Obamacare is not anti-Christian at all. the problem is not with Obamacare. The problem is in how Evangelicals and conservative pseudo-Catholics like Ryan frame women’s issues. They are health issues. Obamacare is a health mandate, not a religious mandate.
Paul Ryan thinks it perfectly reasonable for the rest of us to see our tax dollars go to supporting his religious beliefs, but thinks it wrong his tax dollars should be spent in ways he claims his religion does not support.
We aren’t the problem, we secularists, atheists, polytheists and others. The problem Paul Ryan is whining about is a self-created problem. We all see our tax dollars spent in ways we don’t approve. That’s just how things work. But nowhere in the Constitution does it give special exception to any particular religion to structure our governmental or economic system around its doctrines or dogma.
That is why we have the First Amendment. The First Amendment protects all religions. As self-created problems go, the conservative Christian belief that the First Amendment was written to protect their religion and worse, to champion it over all other religions, is a doozy. There is not much we can do to help them overcome this particular delusion.
If they are going to insist on reading this…
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Congress establishes Christianity as the official state religion of the United States
…then there is not much we can do for them, is there?
Ryan and his ilk want to overturn the First Amendment. They want it to say the exact opposite of what it does. They want the U.S. Constitution to make the laws of the land reflect their religious beliefs, and theirs alone.
Tough love, folks. We must be willing to show them how much we love them, and extend a stern rebuff in the polls. What they need is a metaphorical bucket of cold water in the face.
Tough love is the only way to reach these blinkered and delusional hearts, and set them on the right path, the path intended all along by our Founding Fathers, of a nation where all religious beliefs are welcomed, and have equal status before the law. A nation where, as Jefferson put it, you can worship twenty gods or none.
Christianity, or what passes for Christianity in Evangelical circles, can claim it is special and unique, but the Federal government? Not so much.
Tomorrow, let’s remind Ryan and his pseudo-Christian friends of exactly what the First Amendment says.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.