Thursday, April 01, 2004

As I have said in the past, I prefer a government that will allow me to decide when and how to worship and a government that will take care of the roads, libraries, schools, police departments, water, etc. A thread in political discourse has been more and more noticeable: religion. In fact, it is assumed that one of the needs of both sides in this presidential election is the support of religious right.

In discussions, press conferences, speeches and interviews, thoughts such as Teddy Roosevelt’s words are beginning to tint the meanings of what is being said. For example, “If I must choose between righteousness and peace, I choose righteousness.” I think few of us would favor anything other than “righteousness.” The problem for the United States is severe. We have a very wide range of folk who live here and they don’t always believe the same things. What is righteous to one may not be to another. When one religion appears to be getting unfair support from government, we can expect trouble in the future. When one religion appears to be attacking another there will be problems.

We can see how that works by looking at Iraq in the news right now. The Sunni Triangle has become a deadly spot in these “after-war times.” Sunni Islam is different from Shiite Islam. Under Saddam Hussein's former government, the Sunni were favored, and since the war have lost position, power and money. They’re angry. The Shiites, on the other hand, are more accustomed to being oppressed and things appear to them to be more hopeful since the Hussein government has been overthrown. This is an example of what can happen when one group is favored over another, because of religion.

It seems that today we use the word “righteous” to mean correct, right and proper, as opposed to wrong-headed thinking. Further, if there is a disagreement and you suggest that we might approach our current problems from a broader base, it turns out you are “unrighteous.” I get the uncomfortable feeling that our right to freely disagree and freely discuss those things that are important to us is in danger. It almost seems there is a feeling when disagreement happens that those who disagree are thought to be “evil.” Allowing religion and religious nuances to enter the political discussion adds a force that can lead to your religion uniting with your government against you.

No comments: