Please note, if you cannot openly discuss either topic without relying upon emotional hyperbole, feel free to stop reading right here! I will not allow any discussion that insults, denigrates, derides, or casts insults and aspersions on either topic. As a Republic, America must be able to openly discuss religion and politics in the public square openly, and the public square includes social media. I will not suffer snowflakes and idiots; take your emotional hyperactivity elsewhere. You have been sufficiently warned!
What is Religion?
I have written a post dedicated to supporting atheists, and after some consideration, I felt it was time to tackle theism. I discussed in the atheist article that the world is not split between atheists and theists; feel free to read that article for more information. We begin in the same place as we did with the atheists, defining religion properly. To understand a word, all the definitions and etiology (history) of the word are critical to grasp what is being discussed fully. According to Webster, religion has three accepted definitions:
As a Noun: “The belief in and worship of a superhuman or controlling power, especially a personal god, God or gods.”
“A particular system of faith and worship.”
“A pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.”
From Latin, Religare meaning “to bind,” and Religio meaning “obligation, bond, reverence.” From Old French, we have the emergence of the term Religion meaning “life under monastic vows.” Thus, a person may easily conclude that many things of supreme importance, where faith and worship are attached and is personal as a belief, can be considered a religion, including sports, food, atheists, a car, and so much more. Consider that neighbor who polishes his car every Sunday as a method of meditating; he can be considered to be worshiping. The same for that guy glued to the NFL all season, every season, and even between seasons, expressing a bond, an obligation, or a vow to express belief because the NFL is of supreme importance to that person.
Are the term and the method of use clear for the term religion; America has many religions and a lot of religious people who might not belong to what a person might consider “normal” religions. I have met beer worshipers, prostitutes worshiping at the church of the virgin who believe that when taking the sacrament, it returns them to a virgin state, and a lot more, including the church of a purple (Not Barney) dinosaur. We have the “Church of the Happy Spaghetti Monster,” where the high priest wears a colander on his head. Lots of religious beliefs, lots of supreme beings, lots of dedicated believers whose personal beliefs are of supreme importance to that individual.
I respect their beliefs and will honor their freedoms to believe as they choose. I will accept no denigration, aspersions, or insults to a person’s honestly held belief structures. If it is of supreme importance to you, that is your religion; I will support you as long as your beliefs do not infringe upon the life, property, and liberty of another person’s religious beliefs. I expect the same rights to be extended to me under the US Constitution as amended for the US Bill of Rights.
First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances [emphasis mine].
What is Politics?
Politics is too often a word with so much baggage; people become confused and stop listening after hearing the word politics. According to Webster:
As a Noun, “the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.”
“The activities of governments concerning the political relations between countries.”
“The academic study of government and the state.”
“Activities within an organization that is aimed at improving someone’s status or position and are typically considered to be devious or divisive.”
“A particular set of political beliefs or principles.”
“The assumptions or principles relating to or inherent in a sphere, theory, or thing, especially when concerned with power and status in a society.”
As a Verb, politic/s is derogatory and is defined as “engaging in political activities.”
From Old French Politique “political,” Latin from Greek Politikos, and Politẽs “citizen” and Polis “city.” Thus, we have described the term politics in all its glory and inhumanity. Is the term more understood? Politics is a descriptive tool used to identify certain human activities where power is sought, and devious means and divisive gestures are employed to obtain that power. Every action tied to securing power through devious means and divisive gestures is politics or political, which means derogatory. For those needing more, derogatory is “showing a critical or disrespectful attitude.”
Why are these topics important for open discussion?
I do not include the definitions to insult anyone’s intelligence! The definitions are required to place all of us on the same page of understanding to discuss what is happening and use the terms correctly. In our world, so many words have been plasticized to encourage tyranny through modular language.
The tyranny is witnessed in many different means and methods. The easiest way to see the tyranny is in the lawfare we witness every Christmas by the atheists demanding less Christ and other religions in the traditional winter holidays. Religion can be politics, and as such, this places your political beliefs into a sacred area. I will not tell you how to vote or express your political beliefs, nor your religious beliefs. I expect the same in return!
I demand the ability to discuss both topics openly without moderators, thought police, speech Nazis, trolls, and others giving way to emotion. Consider something, Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to Reverend Ezra Stiles and discussed his beliefs, asking Reverend Stiles, President of Yale College, to keep the letter confidential. Franklin said, “All sects here [in Philadelphia] have experienced my goodwill in assisting them with subscriptions for building their new places of worship; and as I have never [publicly] opposed any of their doctrines, I hope to go out of the world in peace with all” (p. 65). I agree with Mr. Franklin; my religious tenets are my own affairs, I do not push religion, and allow all men (and women) the ability to believe as they choose.
However, I understand precisely what President George Washington said in his final address to the nation about religion.
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.” Continuing, Pres. Washington called religion and morality “Pillars of human happiness, and the duty of citizens to uphold.” Concluding with, “Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation [and morality in society] desert the oaths? Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
Liberty and Freedom are Rooted in Politics and Religion!
As Pres. Thomas Jefferson claimed the French Revolution occurred because of “Kings, nobles, and priests.” The French Revolution, especially the influence of the church in state affairs, is one reason why President Jefferson was such a stickler for the “Rule of Law” and one of the most important reasons for supporting the First Amendment, which allowed America to keep Church and State separate. A town supporting a Christmas decoration does not intrude or imply a Christian breach into state affairs. A violation of church and state affairs, which would be unconstitutional, would be for Pres. Biden to invite the Pope to dictate laws for America. Is the distinction clear? The separation of church and state has been a legal quagmire since 1879 SCOTUS decision on Reynolds v. United States. Bad cases have made bad case law, and bad case law has left everyone scratching their heads and hostile!
President Thomas Jefferson wrote,
“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.”
Morality in society needs strong religious people who place supreme importance on living the tenets of their religion for liberty and freedom to grow and expand. The Greek philosophers have been so twisted and plasticized that morality through philosophy is impossible. Politics remains an ugly business, mainly due to the lack of morality lived by the individuals practicing political behavior. Pick a politician, and we find problems living a moral centered lifestyle—President Clinton, well known, zero moral center. President Obama had a pornography problem, among other less publicized moral issues. Rep. Anthony Weiner had a sex problem with young girls.
The problem we have here is not just the lack of moral center in the politicians; it is the twisting of ethics, morals, and politics into a cohesive behavior that is the exact opposite of morality and ethical conduct required for holding public office. Schools teach “Political Ethics,” “Moral and Political Philosophy,” and other twisted logic classes to excuse private indiscretions due to the politician’s public reputation. Are the reasons clearer for why the definitions were discussed first? I read a research report on ethics. The moral decline in understanding terms became painfully obvious when behavior can be excused in a public official that would be criminal in a private individual.
A “Liberty FIRST Culture” must understand this precious connection. Religion can be many things to many people. Politics cannot in any way, shape, or form exist without morally centered religious people. Liberty and freedom die with the citizen’s moral centeredness, not the politician, even though the politician plays a dynamic role as an example of proper ethical and moral conduct, publicly and privately.
Brookhiser, R. (2007). Chapter 4: God and Man. In What would the founders do? Our questions, their answers. New York, NY: Basic Books.
© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
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