Its funny how people talk about the separation of church and state. Wherever there are strong church ties, the state has never been separated in reality. Most every law on the books has it’s base within somebody’s interpretation of a holy book. This is the case in most major nations. One could argue that even communist places such as China and North Korea have their own versions of church and state when it comes to the worship they require to be given to their political leaders. I think the thought of church and state being intermingled are pretty acceptable to most.
The issue in this nation in particular where one of our founding principles is freedom of religion, is that often that the followers of one religion, (most of the time extreme forms of Christianity) tries to rule over another. This was particularly true when we look at the heavy right wing evangelical movement that helped produce two Bush administrations. Bush who claims to be a born again Christian rode that Jesus train hard for two terms.
I still recall a church service I attended before the 2004 election where the preacher said, “I can’t tell you who to vote for, but God would not have you vote for someone who’s for killing babies.”
After that I spoke to a congregation I used to belong to, and I talked about how there are essentially two Jesus’ in this country. One who is concerned about abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research, and the other one who cares about the poor, justice, and a person’s inward character. One Jesus who is concerned about all people and another concerned about Americans who believe in Christianity. One Jesus who was for bombing Iraq and one who was not. One Jesus who is for evengelism, and another for colonialism. One Jesus is poking his nose in the bedroom and the other doesn’t care how person gets off as long as it’s consensual between two adults. I was in one bible study where I heard a preacher tell a married couple that it as sinful for them to give one another oral sex. (They never returned.)
Who gets to speak for Jesus or God as you know him in these matters? I can tell you from personal observation, there is nothing in the bible confirming nor denying the ethicality of oral sex for instance. I can also tell you that there are many lessons to be learned from from a Ted Haggard, the infamous evangelical pastor who had to leave his post after he was discovered to be involved with drugs and a male prostitute. (mostly male prostitute) After three weeks of “intense counseling,” with four ministers, Haggard was said to be totally heterosexual. Just as a side note, Haggard himself has said to his congregation before he stepped down that he struggled with his sexuality for most of his life. Tim Ralph, the minister who said Haggard was delivered from homosexuality, said that it was just a short phase for Haggard. There was no word on whether the good reverend was delivered from drugs or not.
I find it particularly interesting that Haggard pastored a huge mega church all those years before, and that the congregation obviously found some benefit from being ministered to by a gay drug abuser. I am sure many people “accepted Jesus Christ” as their lord and savior. There were prayers given by Haggard to his parishioners, and I am sure some of those prayers were answered. And yet when this little secret came out, he was taken down. I mean where was God before the scandal broke loose and why did the church prosper if Haggard broke all of the moral laws? What sins are really bad and which ones are just ok?
Religion and politics are always intermingled. The key is how we treat one another who don’t believe as we do, and how we make these differences respectful and functional within society.