Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Theocracy? What Theocracy?

Perhaps it is the wafting of the late summer breeze, cooling into autumn, that has brought the religious fundamentalists out in force this week. By now, everyone knows about Pat Robertson wanting Hugo Chavez bumped off; the entire mainstream media and approximately 99.99% of all blogs have now covered it to some degree or another. I'll pass on that one and pick on a slightly less visible member of the "moral minority": Indiana Republican Representative John Hostettler.

From the Evansville Courier and Press, via The Stakeholder:

"...divorce on demand is as dangerous as gay marriage..."


"The picture of marriage is the picture of Christian salvation," said Hostettler, who describes his elected office as a ministry. "Any diminishing of that notion - whether homosexual marriage or any other degradation of marriage - is something we must fight in public policy."

Hostettler is so backward on marriage issues, it's almost hard to know where to begin critiquing him.

First and foremost, the need for divorce on demand was born out of the economic and social inequality between men and women in the civic contract of marriage. At one time, a majority of women spent their lives in the home, raising children and rarely, if ever, working in careers outside the home. This made divorce an incredibly risky proposition for most women; an equality which many unscrupulous men were only too happy to exploit. "Divorce on demand" was an improvement in the structure of marriage and a great step forward for women in general. The concept helped to level the playing field between the sexes in the civic (not the religious) contract that constitutes marriage in the individual states.

Further, the spiritual side of marriage has nothing to do with the right of folks to file for divorce in the United States. Marriage, in the spiritual sense, is as personal and private as any other spiritual belief. Marriage, in the civic sense, is a legally-binding agreement between two individuals and has nothing whatsoever to do with "Christian salvation". Hostettler is blurring the lines between the religious sacrament and the civic institution in yet another blatant attempt by a Christian Fundamentalist to side-step the Establishment Clause.

Hostettler also, in true conservative wingnut fashion, takes yet another poke at the gay marriage issue. I have yet to meet a single conservative Christian that can, in any way, explain how two homosexuals marrying has any impact on any other marriage or the institution of marriage in general. It's just a meaningless talking point that Republican politicians and Evangelical Christian leaders use to keep their supporters distracted from any substantive issues. Look here, conservative Christians: you cannot have it both ways. You cannot claim that homosexuality is wrong because it is a "promiscuous" or "hedonistic" lifestyle and in the next breath condemn two homosexuals who want to live in a monogamous relationship with each other. That's intellectually dishonest.

The last thing of note from the Hostettler article is his purported belief that his elected office is a Christian ministry. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Representative Hostettler is not a religious leader, he's a democratically-elected official of the U.S. government. He was given the privilege of serving the needs of the people within his district, not given a taxpayer-financed platform to advocate for his personal religious views. Whether John Hostettler likes it or not, we are a pluralistic nation made up of many beliefs, be they Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, secular humanist, etc., and while Hostettler may feel free to govern his own behavior according to Christian principals he has no right to use his office to legislate his beliefs onto others.

It's un-Constitutional and un-American. Just ask Mr. Jefferson (below).


DadOBot said...

A friend's wife opposes gay marriage because "all they want is the medical benefits, and why should we pay out to people who are so much more likely to be diseased?"

I was so dumbfounded at her cold prejudice that my jaw dropped and I had nothing to say. I guess I'm just tired of arguing with the "homosexuals are bad" crowd because I never seem to get anywhere with them. It's less painful to bang my head on concrete until I need stitches.

Anyhow, back on topic, doesn't anyone remember how bad things can go wrong when people aren't free to worship or not worship any way they please? I mean, it wasn't that long ago in America that Puritans were burned at the stake, just because they were Puritans! Are people learning nothing more in history class than names and dates?!?

Samurai Sam said...

Are people learning nothing more in history class than names and dates?!?

I think the problem comes in when you start discussing it in terms of the "One True Faith". I'm betting that many Christians would say the government of Iran is bad, not because it's a theocracy but because it's an Islamic theocracy. Many of them, Hostettler included, would likely have no problem living in a sort of Biblical theocracy/democracy hybrid, where we have our democracy constrained within an Evangelical interpretation of the Bible. Kind of the idea from the Christian perspective that "if my faith is the One True Faith, then I'm really doing everyone a favor by making them follow it". Not all Christians are that way, of course. It just seems to be the ones that make it into public office.

DadOBot said...

I think the problem comes in when you start discussing it in terms of the "One True Faith"...

The idea that Christianity was the "one true faith" is exactly what got me to start questioning my (former) Christinaity. A good friend was talking with someone else and said "Wouldn't you like to be sure that your religion is the right one?"

The gears started turning and I thought, "How does anyone know?" My answer was that no one does. Who is to say that God hasn't appeared in many different ways to all people? Only man decides that this belief or that belief will send you to hell. In my mind, if there is a God she certainly doesn't operate the way organized religion says she does.

That path led to my ultimate conclusion which is much in line with Jefferson's Deism.

Samurai Sam said...

You and I have much in common, dadobot!

DadOBot said...

I got that feeling when I first noticed your posts on a certain forum. :)