Monday, July 15, 2013

Religion and Politics

     When discussing the history and the founding of our great nation many point to the radical idea of our founders to give every human unalienable rights no matter their class distinction.  This point is also often geared toward our nation being founded on religious values because the founders established these rights being given to man by his Creator.  Our country was first colonized by those fleeing their sovereigns to escape religious persecution.  There is a fair argument that our nation was founded on the values of religion given the original European colonists and the first amendment to the Constitution.  However, religion has posed a major problem in today’s political sphere and there is a reason for the Supreme Court’s adoption of a separation between church and state.
     When discussing religion or politics the key similarity is choice.  Humans are not born into a religion just as humans are not born into a political party.  Humans are raised to believe in certain values and ultimately it is up to them to act on those values.  Many times individuals decide to change political parties such as former Florida Governor Charlie Crist (changed from a Republican to an Independent after losing to Marco Rubio in the Senate primary race) or Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chaffee (changed from a Republican, to an Independent, to a Democrat).  It is also common for individuals to convert from one religion to another.  Ideologies change over time and individuals become exposed to different experiences and situations.
     In the modern American politics, religion has too strong an influence on legislators.  A prime example being abortion and the recent and unrelenting assault on abortion clinics and women’s abortion rights.  Republicans side with their religious ideology which dictates that abortions are immoral and the life of an unborn child must be protected.  This hard ideological line has inserted itself directly into society and has affected a woman’s Constitutional right to choose.  Republican lawmakers morally disagree with abortion so they feel it is their responsibility to do all they can to eliminate it from society contrary to our laws.  It is ironic that on one hand, Republicans want to base our laws on Christian tenets and on the other hand, they want to ban Sharia Law which is based on Islamic tenets.
     The arguments for and against abortion could best be seen during the 2012 Vice Presidential debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Representative Paul Ryan.  Ryan states that he is proud of his pro-life record and feels strongly that abortions, under any circumstance, should be banned.  Vice President Joe Biden (a devout Catholic) stated that he believes it is not right to subject his views on to others.  One of the chief arguments against abortion clinics is the indictment of a Philadelphia abortion clinic doctor who was responsible for the deaths of patients.   Republicans point to this as a prime example of the “poor” conditions of clinics despite the majority of clinics being very safe and sanitary.  The key distinction here again is choice.  While religion looks unfavorably on abortion, a compromise would be to give people a choice.  A common misconception between pro-life and pro-choice ideologies is that if one is pro-choice, they are for abortions.  Joe Biden makes the case that this is simply not true.  Ironically, Republicans, who are typically pro-life, have a record of supporting capital punishment.  In the Bible, God gives humans free will.  It seems free will is lost in translation by denying a women the right to terminate a pregnancy.
     Many religions also ban same-sex-marriage.  Opponents of same-sex-marriage say that it undermines traditional marriage – a marriage between on man and one woman.  Republicans are dead set against affording the same rights of homosexuals due to religious fervor.  Republicans feel it is unfair to call them bigoted in their way of thinking because their religion is rooted in these marriage principles.  Denying rights to those who, under the Declaration of Independent are created equal, is not only immoral but it is counterintuitive to our government and undermines our fundamentals as a democracy.  The fourteenth amendment affords equal protection under the law except if one’s religious views differ from the “traditional.”
     The right’s refusal to encompass science as a means of formidable data is also strongly based in religious ideology.  Climate change and global warming has been studied for more than a decade but as Georgia Republican Congressman Paul Broun states, “all that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell.”  Virginia Attorney General and current gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli had launched an investigation into the University of Virginia’s research regarding climate change.  Cuccinelli subpoenaed the files conducted by the professor on the basis of fraud.  Evidently, there was no issue of fraud in the case.  Republican’s refusal to take seriously data on relevant issues facing or nation and planet are irresponsible and frankly, ignorant.
     Republicans have even stretched the Constitution stating that the right to bear arms is a “God-given” right.  While I believe in the second amendment, it should not be interpreted as a means for a private citizen to own a bazooka.  During the recent debates on Capitol Hill regarding gun reform, Republicans argued gun reform of any kind meant taking guns away from Americans who have a “God-given” right to own them.  The error in their thinking lies in the fact that a gun is meant for one thing – to kill – despite having recreational uses.  I’m sure church leaders would not think kindly on a broad interpretation of the second amendment.  Given the amount of needless deaths on a daily basis from illegally obtained firearms, there is most definitely a need for gun reform.
     Ironically, many were fearful of the inauguration of our nation’s only Catholic president John F. Kennedy as they believed the Pope would have a direct hand in American legislation yet it seems religion has a more of a hold today than ever.
     Choice is the fundamental issue in this discussion.  Republicans become very angry when subjected to someone else’s views however that is exactly what they are doing with abortions, and same-sex-marriage.  As the Bible does, it is important to provide people with a choice, but create a safe environment for that choice to be made.  Republicans are restricting the rights of women and homosexuals in the name of their own religious beliefs.  As Abraham Lincoln said, “those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” 

1 comment:

  1. Mike from SeekonkJuly 19, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    Catholics who share Vice President Biden's view on "choice" are often classified as "Cafeteria Catholics" by their more orthodox brethren meaning that they pick and choose the aspects of Catholicism that align with their own opinions. I agree than supporting a woman's right to choose does not automatically categorize one as being a supporter of abortion. I agree with the sentiment that abortion should be "...available, safe and RARE."

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