Sep 08 2008
I have my political favorites but regardless of where I find my votes may go I will stay true to my belief that only through separation of religion and politics can we create an environment conducive to economic and intellectual progress as well as freedom and justice for all. I also believe societies should be inclusive, not exclusive if we are to achieve the most societal and economic health.
While I will not have the time to make a case here on how most except a few religions predominantly promote exclusionary and segregationist ideas (us vs them, black and white thinking, etc) I would like to point to how in the current political discourse Republicans (not surprisingly) and Democrats (somewhat surprisingly) are getting dangerously close to a church-like religion and politics blend, to the potential exclusion of 10-12% of the population who openly claim agnosticism and/or atheism (and those who don’t claim it because it’s not acceptable in the circle in which they live in).
Sally Quinn of the Washington Post illustrates this:
On Sunday, Tiernan attended the first event at the Democratic National Convention, an Interfaith Gathering attended by some 2,000 people at the Colorado Convention Center. Speaking were distinguished priests, rabbis, imams and religion scholars. “I sat through, I guess I’d have to call it, a service,” says Tiernan. “People were responding in unison. In the middle, Leah Daughtry (a pastor and CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee) spoke and said that despite what the media says, Democrats are people of faith.”
Tiernan says he couldn’t stand it any more. “I stood up and said, ‘I’m a democrat but I’m not a person of faith.’ I said, ‘This looks like a church service to me and I never thought I would see the Democrats doing something like this.” (…)
The Interfaith Gathering was the first of several interfaith events scheduled during the convention. The Secular Coalition of America had written to Daughtry to ask that atheists, agnostics and secular humanists be included in these events. The Associated Press reported that she received the request but never responded.
The Democrats are in a real bind this year. In recent elections, the Republicans have owned religion. The evangelical base has helped Republican presidential candidates win elections while the Democrats have stood by helplessly. This year, the Democrats are bound to show they are just as religious as Republicans, but at what cost? (…)
At various times in years past, women, blacks, Jews and gays were the political outcasts in one or both parties. Now it seems the only group of untouchables are the atheists.