Monday, October 24, 2011
Of course we respect the right of religious freedom...
I had to comment on something that I heard in the Republican debate the other day (yeah, I know, discussing the debates is getting old, but this is touching upon another topic). In his closing argument, Texas Governor Rick Perry said that we in this country need to get back to religious freedom and moral values - meaning that he wants the country to stop embracing religous freedom of non-christian religions, and instead adopt strict Christian moral principles.
This seems to be a long-running, but seldom spoken, open hypocrisy within the conservative ideology, that reveals an intolerance on the part of many conservatives, even going into a presidential primary.
I'm not so naive to believe that we have a complete freedom of religion in this country. I'll even concede that there is a certain amount of religious speak within the formative documents of our country and that many of our founding fathers were representing some form of religious moral values in creating the laws from the outset and moving forward. However, the founding fathers, regardless of their personal religious perspectives, explicitly wanted to create a separation between church and state, and create a freedom of religion. A freedom of religion means the express right to practice freely whichever religion or lack thereof that one might choose; and separation between church and state being the unequivocal declaration that no specific religion should dictate the positions of our politicians or policies. The specific documents that these ideas were included in are moot, but the fact that the founding fathers had such foresight in creating them is not in dispute.
But over the past 30+ years, conservatives have begun to define religious freedom specifically as protecting Christians against the gross infringment of other religions and beliefs upon their precious moral values (too snarky?). While it's true that around 75% of Americans consider themselves Christians, we are still a country of laws, and not a theocracy. Therefore, while we decry Saudi Arabia and other countries around the world who have theocratic regimes, the moral majority, Christian conservative right, still push harder and harder to make Christian moral values the values of our whole country, even going as far as changing laws to comply with Christian morality.
Either conservative Christians don't understand or don't care that their denigration of minority religions in this country, along their religious laws, morals and customs, is simple hypocrisy, and specifically antithetical to the Christ-principled creation of their religion. But I suppose all of this is nothing new...