Growing up, my family drilled two unquestionable truths into my head: that Jesus died for our sins, and that Democrats wanted to destroy America.
As you may have guessed, the second one didn’t stick too well.
Whether you’re the staunchest, most Bible-thumping Republican out there or the most radical atheist Democrat, you’ve probably jumped to some sort of conclusions about me already. You might, like many people, think that Christianity doesn’t support my political beliefs or vice-versa. But I’m not here to discuss my religion.
I’m not here to discuss my religion because this is a political column, and theology has no place in it. Contrary to what Billy Graham, Rick Santorum and the Tea Party may argue, religious principles should in no way influence social policy.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “separation of church and state” thrown around quite a bit when discussing these matters. Though that specific wording actually appears nowhere in any official government document, our Constitution hints at it, guaranteeing free practice of religion.
In fact, some people have begun to take the “free” practice of religion too literally. Though many churches respect the wall between the political and religious arenas, some have shamelessly intertwined the two. While freedom of speech is wonderful and people should have the right to endorse whichever candidate they choose, organizations advocating political candidates or otherwise supporting campaigns are required to pay taxes.
Churches are tax-exempt organizations, which means that, by law, they cannot urge their members to vote for certain candidates. But this does not always stop them.
In 1993, the IRS found that Reverend Jerry Falwell had illegally donated money to political action committees which, in turn, funded numerous Republican campaigns. The law aside, one should quickly recognize this as immoral. Falwell, one of the most beloved Christian icons of our time, took donations from people who thought they were doing a charitable deed and threw them at conservative politicians who were by no means sick or needy. No wonder so many legislators believe in “traditional” values — it makes you wonder if these stances come from their hearts or their lobbyists’ wallets.
This is not to mention the absurdity of their proposals. Zealots argue that, by allowing gay couples to marry and women to have abortions, the government somehow infringes upon their religion. Anyone with common sense knows that this argument holds no weight at all; no one is forcing you to have an abortion and no one is making you or your kids gay.
Let’s say, hypothetically, that my religion not only allows for gays to get married but mandates it. The government, by not allowing them to marry, now infringes upon my religion.
Of course, you’re allowed to protest my religion. The same First Amendment that allows me to practice my religion allows you to protest it. But it doesn’t allow Congress to draft policies that prevent me from practicing it.
If we did base our legislation on the Holy Bible (which, of course, we should not), we should at least base it on the good verses, like James 2:15 to 16 (“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well-fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?”) or Ezekiel 16:49 (“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy”)
Hell, look at Jesus himself. I’m far from the first to point this out, but the way the Western world portrays him, Jesus was a radical, long-haired, anti-war hippie who went around challenging established religious doctrine and handing out free health care. The Jesus I grew up with was more John Lennon than Joel Osteen.
Still, I don’t go around saying that you should vote Democrat because it’s the Christian thing to do. I don’t care what you believe, and you shouldn’t care what I believe. Whether you believe in God, Brahman, the Flying Spaghetti Monster or nothing at all, I won’t look at you any differently, and I expect my government to do the same. If people could accept that religion has no place in politics, we could stop focusing on trivial issues and move on to things that have a real effect our country.
If you were disappointed that ZACH MOORE didn’t take a jab at Reagan this week, email him at email@example.com.