"Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest." ~ John Stuart Mill
The Riddles of Religiosity
Someone help me understand. I'm very confused. Most humans I encounter who proclaim to be Christian don't go off spouting about their beliefs unless someone directly asks them to. Even then they are a little uncomfortable disparaging something that is very private for them. They identify with those who don't want to be badgered about why they believe what they do. It's really no one else's business.
However, there is a growing segment of Christianity that is becoming disturbingly loud and abusive. They don't take 'no' for an answer. They implore absolutist thinking into everything. They proclaim that everyone is immoral, excluding themselves, of course. Normally, this wouldn't do anymore than irk me a little bit, but their influence is increasingly draining to liberty as they clamor for more and more government control. I can't help but become livid with their bullying.
This is why I'm so confused. On the one hand, they assure us that God is all-knowing and in control at all times. So if God truly is in control, wouldn't our human interventions seem rather benign? If God is in control, God is in control and no one can change this.
The fundamentalists seem to think that it is their duty to gain control themselves, though. In the process, they proclaim that their mission IS what God wants. Growing up with a Catholic upbringing, I was taught that trusting God meant doing your best in life and leaving the rest up to Him. It meant not worrying about the things that one cannot control. Most Christians are brought up in a comparable atmosphere.
Some fundamentalists see otherwise and want everything Christianized for the Lord. They ignore cause and effect and don't care what their invasive rhetoric or lobbying actually does to people. They don't see the irony in quoting the Bible verse about giving unto Caesar what is Caesar's and giving unto God what is His and then turning around to build immense lobbying factions that carry out their power-mongering agendas.
This is why they like the Bushes, the Rumsfelds, and the Ashcrofts of the world: They have very similar plans for America and the rest of the heathens on planet Earth. Bush especially uses the spotlight to portray his heartfelt faith in God using a gentle, grandfatherly tone. Never mind that he did everything necessary to see to it that Iraq was bombed deliberately during evening hours on national TV. This way, families could be home to witness his imperial designs and marvel at his dictatorship. But, hey, what would Jesus do, right?
The contradictions are endless, not to mention corrupt to the core. The fundamentalists guarantee that the State cannot meet the needs of the people; this is what God is for, they say. So why all of the lobbyists, then? Why all the Alliance Defense Funds, Focus on the Families, and American Family Associations? If the State cannot meet the people's needs, why are the fundamentalists so dependent upon it?!
The State is not God, they assert, but they want it to get rid of pornography, convert the Middle East into a Christian-friendly democracy, and force public schools to acknowledge our Judeo-Christian roots. God is in control, though. Trust them.
Sounds like force to me. And it's all dressed up in a holy cross and a whole lot of stars-and-stripes patriotism. It makes a disgusting mockery of the majority of Christians who mind their own business and want to live in peace like the rest of us. It takes the focus off those Christians who are genuinely kind and see war as a last resort to protect their families and their properties.
Iraq and Afghanistan is anything but a domestic defense of our rights. Our Fundamentalist Administration in Washington didn't 'turn the other cheek' and admit that they were irresponsible and wrong for everything leading up to 9/11. They went, instead, for the eye-for-an-eye philosophy with little to no proof that warranted an attack. Bush, in his arrogant piety, even proclaimed that God told him to spread democracy to Iraq with compassionate sanctions, bombs, and gut-wrenching abuse. The Golden Rule was tossed out for strong religious feelings and State-sponsored coercion and killing. How that differs from what the Islamic authoritarians do to their own people is beyond me.
Fervent religiosity is dangerous, period. It's fine to be passionate about something, but when support is granted from the State to progress one's slanted agenda, we're all in trouble. Even religiosity for the non-religious in the form of the Brights and the American Atheists bodes poorly for liberty. They, too, depend on government force that intends to oppose the State-sponsored force of the religious. It merely feeds off itself. Force is infamous for doing this.
We're simply not getting it. Force is the foundation of the State. This is what lobbying and voting for a President supports. The more we depend on Uncle Sam, the more dangerous and intrusive he gets. Likewise, we have become more violent and coercive in the process. It's a vicious cycle that we can surely live without. Religious or not, we need to start walking the walk and talking the talk. If the State cannot meet our requirements (which it most assuredly cannot), then we need to depend on God and our pastoral leaders if we are religious. If we are not religious, we need to depend on our faculties to reason and form strong relationships with our fellow man. Either way, the State is NOT God and fails miserably in fulfilling our greatest human needs.