Greetings to all!
This post comes at the end of the early spring holidays of both Easter and Passover, which I hope my Jewish and Christian readers enjoyed. Today, I argue why religion and politics should not mix in any way shape or form, and the problems associated with a government that has religious ties. It is a very prominent issue, of which I have very secular views.
As said before, religion and politics are not meant to go hand in hand. It’s well known how harsh things can get under theocracy, as evidenced by Iran. However, that is an extreme case that goes beyond any bar us as Americans are used to. We are fairly adapted to a system of governance which imposes no specific religion, but allows a myriad of freedoms for most religions. Unfortunately, most of America is Christian and therefore that religion typically has the most hold in society and is given prime treatment at the expense of other religions. Only in recent years have stores required employees to say happy holidays instead of merry Christmas in December. This was an excellent step forward in preventing a subtle yet annoying form of discrimination. However, this also created a firestorm on the right which decried the move as a “war on Christmas”, a term which apparently garners an entire website dedicated to preserving a holiday under “attack” as shown here: http://www.waronchristmas.com/. This is ridiculous. I’m sure I don’t need to explain that while people now wish happy holidays, there is still quite a bit of pro-Christmas propaganda out there. Stores hold Christmas sales. Malls have days where you can take your picture with Santa. Pretty much every show on television features a Christmas special, and very few shows feature anything about Hanukkah. I only know of one show that ever had a Kwanzaa special: the Rugrats. Therefore, essentially every show on television outside of the Rugrats is discriminatory in some way. But I digress.
Anyway, religion is often a strong factor in American politics and in the politics of multiple countries around the globe. But no matter what religion asserts dominance, it nearly always harms the citizenry. For example, in Saudi Arabia only Sunni Muslims are allowed to have widespread mosques and be fully open about their religion. Sh’ia Muslims are restricted severely, and other religions have even less freedom in the large Arabic kingdom. Non-Muslims may not visit the Kaaba, and women must wear a burka. Women can’t drive, and only recently have they been given some freedom in voting in elections for the Saudi governing body, the Majlis al-Shura. Obviously, these restrictions impede on the Saudi minorities for benefit of the majority, a fear which many people share including myself. You only need to look as far as medieval Europe to see how terrible majority Christian repression was. Yet we still encounter similar problems today.
A few weeks ago, there was significant controversy due to the requirement under Obamacare which forced leaders of religious institutions to provide birth control for female employees in their health care packages. Once again, the religious right was outraged. It seemed like a blatant attack on religious freedom. It is not. The belief in the “attack” stems from the falsehood that birth control is only used to prevent pregnancy after sex. However, birth control has significant benefits beyond preventing pregnancy (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/birth-control-pill/WO00098). This blows a large hole in the religious freedom argument, along with the fact that many health care packages from religious employers included Viagra (http://articles.latimes.com/2012/feb/15/nation/la-na-gop-contraceptives-20120216), a product designed to fix a condition which only impedes sex. With all of this came the idea that religious freedom comes before employee health. This idea is harsh and unreasonable. Why should the religion of an employer play a role in how the employees are treated? It damages a business, and can become very dangerous. Say I’m an employer, and I hire you. If my religion dictated that you can’t receive any medicine for any disease and you got tetanus, you wouldn’t be covered for an easily treatable disease. You could end up spending wildly more money to save your own life while the treatment could have easily been covered by a health care package from me. But apparently, that doesn’t matter as long as I have my religious freedom.
Yet this is one of the more moderate examples. Back during the 1950s and 1960s, many southern churches didn’t allow interracial marriages because it went against their religious beliefs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-miscegenation_laws). During the civil rights movement, many conservatives of the day complained that race mixing was communism (http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2009/10/10/race-mixing-is-communism/), a belief so wildly interspersed with hate and lies that I can’t even fathom what logic there was behind it. Nevertheless, these arguments were serious road bumps in the civil rights movement, showing just how powerful religion is in America despite the discrimination it provokes. This hatred inspired by “God” shows its ugly head even today, evidenced by the Westboro Baptist Church (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westboro_Baptist_Church), infamous for its “God hates fags” picket signs and tough stance against both homosexuals and Jews. This hatred harms society in an unimaginable way, and the fact that government allows this horror to go on unabated just proves that religion is strong no matter how terrible it becomes. And I need only look as far as my own world history class to know that many people view Christianity as the number one religion. You can also check out multiple websites which claim that America is a Christian nation, like in several comments here (http://www.opposingviews.com/questions/is-the-us-a-christian-nation). It is not, and the founders of the United States would attest to that fact, I assure you. The point of all of this is that we cannot allow any religion to impose restrictions on civil rights of any kind. I need not remind you that for a time the New York Police Department spied on Muslim students because they were “suspicious” (http://www.npr.org/2012/03/01/147729662/nypd-spies-on-muslims-stirs-national-outcry). We can’t let these impositions stand if we wish to remain a free and secular nation.
That is all for this week, and I hope I have provided an accurate analysis to the topic at hand. If you have questions or comments of any kind, I advise you leave them here so I may answer them. If you would prefer another medium, my Facebook and Twitter are active along with my Google+ account and email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And I am signing off.