This post might be a bit naïve, but a lot of people are skirting around it, not quite coming out and saying it. I feel like it needs to be said. Loudly. I don’t have the megaphone that some have. Since all I have is 20 or so regular readers and a computer with a free blog, this is the best I can do.
Is anyone else disturbed by how present religion is in American politics? It seems to be particularly bad on the Republican side as candidates try to outdo each other with how devout and pious they are. There is a de facto contest, especially in presidential politics, to outdo each other religiously. And it seems to me that it’s gotten worse in recent years. Ronald Reagan didn’t wear his religion on his sleeve like this. Heck, George W. Bush didn’t either.
Rick Perry had a prayer rally. Michele Bachmann is from a fundamentalist Lutheran sect. Newt Gingrich converted to Catholicism. Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are Mormons. All that’s fine; it’s completely fine to have a religion. I’m reasonably religious myself; it’s impossible not to be when you’ve converted to Judaism, as I did almost a year ago. But I don’t let my religion override my common sense in questioning what I see in the world. (In fact, questioning is encouraged in Judaism.)
The rise of religion in politics is disturbing to me. Religion is used to demagogue gays, science, really anything that can be remotely called progressive. That bothers me, because at the same time we’re seeing the rise of religion, we’re seeing the decline of intellectualism on the right. I’m not saying that right-wing politicians aren’t intelligent (although it’s clear that some of them are lightweights), but no one is thinking any more. It’s all about the ideology. I agreed with almost nothing he said, but I miss William F. Buckley. There was a right-wing intellectual. There are none like him now. That’s a real pity.
It’s scary how much the Republican presidential candidates seem to be letting religion rule them. I don’t mean privately; that’s perfectly fine. I mean publicly, where it shouldn’t matter. Religion may be the opiate of the masses, but when it’s this public it scares me. People – people who write better than me – need to be talking and writing about it. And voters need to call a halt to it, too. Only then will this end.