People accused of witchcraft were almost always a threat to the community in some other way—either financial or social. Liberals often forget that religion wasn’t the reason for witchcraft “outbreaks;” it was an excuse. Religions have used government to do their dirty work, yes, but far more common are politicians who use religion to justify immoral beliefs and policies. These men are not clergy becoming involved in politics, they are politicians disguising themselves as clergy.
Jerry Falwell, for instance, was in favor of segregation in the 50s and 60s, but now seems just fine with sharing the sidewalk with a Darkie. Did God flip-flop, or is Falwell just a scumbag politician who used religion to justify social injustice? Falwell’s more offensive comments and patently still-evident racism are funny, but he at least, seems to mean well. Remember that when paired with “politician,” the word “scumbag” is barely an insult.
Pat Robertson is often quoted as having called feminism a, “Socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” And here, I just thought it was a belief in equal rights and opportunities for both sexes.
Repeatedly throughout the Presidential campaign, I found myself wondering why it was seen as a contradiction for John Kerry to be a pro-choice Catholic, but nobody raised issue with George W. Bush being a pro-war, anti-poor Methodist. The Methodist Church is relatively liberal, while the same cannot be said for our President. You’d never know it by Bush’s rhetoric, but the United Methodist Church has been debating gay rights since 1972. The Church’s current slogan is “The United Methodist Church: Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.” I think the Bush Administration policy is, "Open heart? Open mind? Hit the door."
Throughout history, we find that whenever the Church becomes a political power, it ceases to be a religious body and becomes a political one with far too much power. The church becomes a branch of government, and is, in essence, lost. Religion is a great way to keep simple people in line, and politicians know that.
The head of state becomes the head of church, and their whims become those of God. Catherine the Great was the head of the Russian Church, and even though she was considered a liberal leader at the beginning of her reign, she gave ex-lovers serfs by the thousands. “Sorry things didn’t work out, babe. Have seven thousand human beings.” God’s work? (The only sovereign who springs to mind as having doled out government posts to more male ex-lovers than Catherine was James I. You might recognize his name from the cover of your Bible.) When it was suggested that she tax the incredibly wealthy Church, the proposition couldn’t be taken seriously. The clergy was more powerful than the Czarina.
Much of this is facilitated by the fact that human beings have a megalomaniacally arrogant tendency to assume that their personal and cultural values are shared by God. There are people in this country, for instance, who equate a pure form capitalism with Christianity, in spite of the fact that one in nine verses of the New Testament is devoted to the responsibilities of the rich to the poor.
You see, any person who believes Jesus Christ to be the savior of their own soul, and of those of the world, probably took notice of the fact that he was executed on religious grounds, for political reasons. And the moral, all at once, boys and girls, is… When you mix politics and religion, very bad things happen. I could go on and on about Crusades and Holy Wars, but if your Savior being whipped and nailed to a cross isn't enough to drive the point home, I can't imagine what is. But religion generally isn’t the reason; It’s merely a means.
Later, many came to realize that when religion becomes a tool of the government, its true purpose is lost. There are many churches in America who understand this. They just don’t lobby for it, because… well, that would be mixing politics and religion.
When someone laid a bit of a trap, encouraging Christ to speak out about taxes, he replied that one should, “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." In doing so, Christ temporarily avoided being drawn into the politics of the day. Smart guy, that Jesus. Hope he has a happy birthday, and a long chat with everyone in the religious right.
I felt the writer didn't go into the taxation of religion quite enough, but all in all a good article.
The main point, that government uses religion as a tool, is particularly germane to the current mis-administration of our country.
If the political religionists want a voice in government, they should pay taxes like the rest of us. They have been getting a free ride for too long using God's name in the pursuit of power and wealth. Some of these guys, no, make that a lot of these guys, have amassed empires of income and real property over the years absolutely tax-free. They won't give up the perks without a fight that no American politician has the guts to pursue, so I know I'm shoveling shit against the tide, but I have felt this way for a long time. My tinfoil hat is getting a little warm.
I understand that many churches use their wealth for good purposes, and that could be a deduction, fine and dandy. Normal expenses and overhead, too, like any business, which is what this is all about.
Hit the bastards in the wallet and maybe some of 'em will shut the fuck up about matters that don't concern them, like how you or I should live our lives.