The Republicans have the Democrats going up against God in the 2016 election. How is that a fair fight? They seem to be convinced that they have read the Book, they have studied the Book, and they know God’s will. In fact they are so confident that they are God’s messengers in America that they believe that anyone who argues with them is Godless, a nonbeliever.
We are astonished as we see Muslim nations trying to live out a literal interpretation of the Koran. We perceive the Koran as being out-of-step with a world that is populated by over 7 billion people. We cannot see how the people in 2015 could live by rules written in ancient times and for a desert people.
However, isn’t it true that Fundamentalists in America expect us to do the exact same thing? They expect us to live out a literal interpretation of the Bible, which was also written in ancient times and for a desert people. The Jewish people also, in orthodoxy, live as if the world is unchanged since well before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. (There is, in fact, no truly literal interpretation of any of the books that are sacred to any of these faiths. All contain passages that are open to more than one meaning and all have been studied by religious scholars for centuries.)
As the Evangelicals would have it America is on the path to losing its religion. Our moral fiber is being tested and we are definitely being found wanting (yes, I’m quoting A Knight’s Tale). The Bible tells us that homosexual love is wrong, they say; it tells us that gender differences are mistakes that one must battle in one’s soul. I’m not sure where the Bible says this, as many commenters say that the Bible does not address these issues directly, although in the Old Testament, God did wipe out Sodom and Gomorrah. Was it ever made clear what kinds of sins were being committed in these two places?
Perhaps Evangelicals can ignore science, but I (and many others) cannot. There is evidence in people’s genes that we are born as we are born. Do Evangelicals believe that birth is a gift from God? Do they believe that God makes mistakes? Does he have lots of “oops” moments? Evangelicals do not put their faith in science. So how do they explain the evidence before their eyes that some people cannot change to match a norm that we have perhaps outgrown. Will God wreak his vengeance on us because love won?
Can a culture be moral even though it decides to separate religion and government? Evangelicals seem to believe that it cannot. I don’t believe the true issue is necessarily about religion. It is really about freedom. Are we just as free to make bad choices as we are to make good ones? Should our love of freedom force us to tolerate things like hate speech? What if, at some future moment, people define ordinary speech as hateful? If we curtail freedom of speech to try to shut up negative messages will those laws turn around some day to deny us the right to say things we now perceive as positive speech? If we allow Evangelicals to decide what is moral and what is not, then what happens to our freedom? What happens to our equality?
Republicans are angry about many things that are not about religion also. But the issues around women’s health and those around gender and marriage freedom are the two issues where they invoke God and morality.
Morality has to do with how we treat each other. Isn’t it enough to follow The Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have others do unto you)? Do we require a religious moral leader at the helm of America making laws based on the Bible (or someone’s interpretation of the Bible)? In so many ways America is still a moral nation. We do strive to consider equality. We do strive to understand and respect differences. We do try to legislate fairness to the best of our abilities in any given moment.
Are there strains present in modern culture which test our moral behavior? Why are our children bullies in our schools? Why don’t children have more tolerance for our differences? Is it because they were just born and are therefore closer to knowing God’s will in these matters? Or is it just that they are little magnets who pick up on how those around them feel and then, because they have no filters yet, sometimes use what they have learned to hurt other children? Our children should not be teaching us; it is our job to teach them the values that help keep society civil.
Does killing people over and over in video game rooms inure our young people to killing or make them insensitive to the idea that when you die you are dead, forever, the end. Do young people have enough judgement, especially given the effect of video killings, to be trusted with guns? Should blind people have guns? The Bible doesn’t help us here; it does not clearly spell out who should own a gun, because there were no guns when the Bible was written.
Republicans want some religion back in our nation. They want us to declare ourselves a Christian nation and they believe this would be fine with our forefathers because everyone in America in colonial times belonged to a sect of Christianity. They want to legislate morality and they want to legislate genetics. Where do our ideals of freedom and equality fit into their view of America’s future? These changes in our culture are not necessarily easy for any of us, but they are consistent with what we believe as Americans and these beliefs are the very things we love most about America.
Republicans don’t want to take back America. They want to rule America and they are staking the claim that God is on their side. How far are we willing to let them go?
By Nancy Brisson