Saturday, May 06, 2006

Wouldn't That Apply To You, Too?

Here we go again with the "keep your religion out of politics" rant!

Donald Clegg writes a once-every-three-weeks column for the Spokesman-Review (the Spokane, WA daily newspaper) which appears on the "Faith & Values" page. Clegg is a humanist who rotates with a retired pastor who's a mainline liberal and an evangelical pastor. In this week's column, Clegg echoes the claim that religion and religious beliefs have no part in politics. We should just check our values, beliefs, and convictions at the door of the polling place, evidently.

Point to ponder, Mr. Clegg: If those with religious convictions are not supposed to be guided by those religious convictions when they vote, lobby, or attempt to persuade in the public arena, then does that apply to your religious beliefs and convictions, too? If you're going to be consistent, the answer has to be yes. You should keep your religion out of politics, Mr. Clegg.

"Keep your religion out of politics" means "I don't want to hear an opinion that is different from mine. If I don't like your opinion, you should be quiet." This kind of charge is usually levied against conservative and evangelical Christians (the "religious right" - cue the scary music) by those who hold different and competing religious convictions and values. If their thinking is carried to it's logical conclusion, a member of the "religious left" may promote their ideas which are motivated by religious beliefs, but a member of the "religious right" may not promote their ideas which are motivated by religious belief. Curious, not to mention non-sensical.

Here's are some questions for Mr. Clegg (and people who repeat this statement): Do you think conservative and evangelical Christians have the right to freedom of speech and freedom of thought in our society? Should conservative and evangelical Christians be able to promote and support their beliefs in the public arena - as any other person or group can? Does freedom of speech and thought apply only to those who agree with your viewpoint or hold your religious beliefs? Have you considered the fact that you are promoting your own beliefs in a manner that, evidently, you would deny to others? "Free speech for me, but not for you," doesn't have a very good ring to it, does it?

We need to know how to respond when someone we know (or don't know) makes a statement like Mr. Clegg's.


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