Religion Makes Room for Politics, or Vice Versa

Politics has completely eclipsed religion on the pages of newspapers and the Internet these days, and all other factors being equal, I think that’s a good thing. There has been a relentless attack on Christianity from the primitive evangelical community, who decided to rewrite the Faith Once Given and foist it off on the American people by threatening them with damnation if they don’t submit. But finally the presidential primaries seem to have eclipsed the religious obsession.

I will defend to the death the right of anyone to believe anything, as long as their faith-based behavior does not violate civil law. There are ignorant people who have nothing to draw on when “missionaries” come to their door with a Bible in one hand and a tract in the other. There are fearful, angry people who want someone to sanction their targets and tell them that they can hate and rage all they want. There are stupid people who do not know how to analyze a proposition, religious or otherwise. There are people who simply do not think to consult their pastor or priest before they begin attending services in another congregation.

It is no coincidence that the people who harass and condemn my gay friends have abandoned the faith they grew up in. They became evangelicals or “Christians,” as they call themselves, and learned that they could go right ahead and hate their family members who are not evangelical as well. Fortunately, most people react to this kind of treatment by protesting, whether they are straight or gay, that the behavior that the un-Christian relatives display is indefensible. I saw two of my gay friends deal with this more or less successfully, even though it has played out over a number of years.

My friend Daisy tortured herself for years, submitting to an evangelical congregation that promised to pray away her gay. She grew her hair out, stopped her social life, eschewed the Internet and attended services more than once a week. It did not help. She doubled down. Now and then she would give up and return to the Episcopal Church in Tucson for a short time, but her “friends” in the evangelical conversation would pester her back into her attempt to be acceptable to them. She is back with us now, and I hope that she will stay away from anyone who wants to make her over into an acceptable version of herself.

My friend Peter spent years worrying about being gay; he developed some physical symptoms such as depression and high blood pressure as he struggled with himself. When he finally entered into a stable relationship, he found the strength to accept himself as he is. But that was only the beginning of dealing with his family. Just lately he has taken the final step of telling these people that if they cannot accept him as he is, they can stay away (and he will do the same). Not unpredictably, some of them are quite frustrated because they were having a good time “witnessing” to him, and now he has taken away their audience.

Even so, American politicians consented to pay for the endorsements of major figures in our evangelical movement (and don’t you think for one minute that they didn’t). And now the tail is wagging the dog. In politics now, we see where the Religious Right has usurped control of a large faction within the Republican Party, which is now dying of that particular infection. It is no secret that their corporate sponsors are holding onto what power they have by pure intimidation: “Step out of line and we’ll primary you out of office.”

You can’t destroy America by blowing up buildings, so instead of violence, the stupid wing of the Republican Party thinks to destroy America by reducing our government to an ineffectual group of people with no money to spend…with the exception of salaries for the Senate and the House, of course. But this is not going to happen.

Don’t think for one minute that President Barack Obama, a Constitutional scholar, does not know what he can and cannot do under our laws. Taking extreme measures ought to be reserved for extreme situations; Obama is obviously waiting, hoping that the Republican Party as a whole will get a grip and put itself in order. I think that their purple prose will finally break down. Most people have seen through the conservative talking heads by now, anyway. It may take one hard slap in the face to send them spinning wildly off into nowhere. I mean, they won’t actually have to spin all that far; they are almost at Nowhere right now.

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