I get it: it’s a free country, and people are allowed to congregate and practice religion wherever they want, and by golly, even CNN is allowed to film it. But I can still have my opinion, and in my gesamtkunstwerk, having a major policy debate for the American presidency at a evangelical Baptist megachurch is Complete Fucking Bullshit. I don’t care that 80% of Americans say they’re some form of Christian. I don’t care that no actual laws were broken. I am sick of my home country being held theological hostage by people who happen to believe in stories that I do not.
Here’s where the chorus comes in: “yes, but these Christians are sick of what they perceive as moral and ethical decay in their home country” – sure, whatever, but their so-called moral authority comes from a belief system that was explicitly separated from government by our founding fathers. No matter what statistics you’ve got, the United States IS NOT and WAS NEVER SUPPOSED TO BE a Christian nation. Our brilliance, now tarnished and faded almost beyond recognition, was always rooted in the firmament of secularism.
Besides, if history has left us any clues, Christianity and power do not mix. Any religion combining with power becomes toxic. The religion-power cocktail robs all drinkers of their ability to appreciate any culture other than their own; it turns otherwise-empathetic people into drunk triumphalists. No, I’m not talking about your hometown church with its supportive community and edifying brotherhood. The problem is not with the trees, it’s with the forest.
When America exploded the atom bomb in 1945, the rules of humanity changed, and the idea of a country being unduly influenced (or controlled) by religion suddenly stopped being funny. That means us, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, India – it doesn’t matter. For my daughters’ sake, for your kids’ sake, you had all better hope cooler heads prevail for the next 500 years. I’m not so optimistic.
In the meantime, there’s a few things the agnostics among us would like. At the very least, a mega-church like Saddleback, or any congregation that tries to influence elections because of a religious agenda needs to lose their tax-exempt status. It’s one thing to whisper in the future President’s ear about the death penalty, about denying rights to homosexuals, about how God gave the environment to Man to do with as he pleases, about womens’ right to choose… but it’s quite another to make me pay for it.