Thursday, May 12, 2005

Church and State, Part 2

So this preacher in North Carolina kicks out 9 people from his flock because they voted for John Kerry in the November election. Then he turns around and says it was all a big misunderstanding, and that he was just trying to express his passionately held beliefs against abortion; to impress upon his congregation how vitally important it was that they defend the lives of the unborn.

What he apprently failed to realize was that his congregation, including the 9 church members he so strongly condemned shared his passionate belief. What he didn't take into account, what he apparently couldn't comprehend was the idea that someone who was pro-life could possibly still vote for John Kerry. He isn't alone in this, a significant portion of voters in this country vote based on a single issue. And of course, I'll have more to say about that another time.

But in fact, the issue goes deeper here. Because the implied message behind the pastor's words and actions is that he believes it is not only acceptable, but imperative that the government of this country be based on his personal religious beliefs. In kicking 9 worshipers from his congregation he made it very clear that he believes that anyone who disagrees with this idea should be excluded from....from what? His church, his town, his state, his country, his world?

This is a really dangerous idea, but unfortunately it is an idea universal to religious fundamentalism. MY beliefs are correct and must be held universally. You disagree? Well then, DIE, heretic! There is no room for other beliefs and ideas - because GOD does now allow it. Fundamentalism can be used to excuse any behavior. Many of the most appalling atrocities in human history have been justified based on fundamentalism (racial supremacy is absolutely a fundamentalist idea). Fundamentalists want their government to be based on their beliefs and principles. And it was exactly this dangerous extremism that the founding fathers were attempting to avoid in establishing a separation between church and state.

To be continued...


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