Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Faith enterprises and the new political order

 Communities no longer boast the strength they once had. McCarthy and the Cold War can be blamed for our destructive suspicions of neighbor, friend, or congregation member. In exchanging our churches for a welfare state, we have designed a political system that is destined to fail. Not only is it important to criticize the religious right for its moral prophesy, it is also crucial to remember that we are just as guilty of denying the political pluralism.
"WalMart" box churches -- where we purchase salvation at wholesale prices -- are the worst perpetrators in the selective interpretation of the Bible. Those of us who have a cultural tie to religion but do not practice must remember that there is still a valuable ethic proposed by the Bible. In fact, every religion offers a moral code by definition. We must try to not scoff and dismiss those who speak of morals in secular government. But at the same time, we must be angry. We must overturn the tables in temple of the hypocrites and naysayers. Morality has a place... In reality, biblical morals (not those twisted to the agenda and profit goals of the evangelical leadership) have a beautiful place in this society.
Liberation philosophy is a small, and therefore usually overlooked, movement in the Catholic church. It takes the teachings of Jesus to heart. It aims to align political and social goals. It leaves faith to the individual, but demands social justice. For those at the megachurch rallies waving their pickets plastered with the false idols of aborted fetuses, they do not see the simple connection between the present and the two thousand year old message. According to the Christian doctrine, there are only two commands: to love your god and to love your neighbor.
Red Scare aside, it is time to seriously reflect on the latter. Religion in this sense has a very real place in the new political order. "Fags" and "baby killers," Muslims and the divorced; these are the enemies that Falwells and Robertsons erect to distract the religious masses from the true enemy of the pious. Poverty should be the church's enemy, abuse of the Lord's living temple should bring the holy to an angry chorus. Sure, churches have charities, but there is always some motive, whether to gain tax breaks or converts, there is always something in it for the religious leadership. But if you, the religious ones, believed in this conviction, you might find the rift between church and state might shrink. You might find that the nonobservant might be willing to discuss some of your political ideas, and we might begin to work together, because identifying a common goal is what  has been absent in the political dialogue between god fearing red states and 'hedonistic' blue states. Let's unite under the moral goal of ending suffering and let the church take the lead. Thus we solve two goals: we give a purpose to the religious in a secular political system and we eliminate the financially  burdensome and bureaucratic mess we call the welfare state.
 [28 JAN 08]

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