Where’s Canute?

No thanks, no more religious politics, we’ve had more than enough, in fact we’re likely to be sick on the carpet any minute now.

Michael Kazin cites the historian D.G. Hart’s argument that religion is “inherently useful in solving social problems because it yields moral guidelines that inevitably generate both a concern for justice and the welfare of all people.”

Susan Jacoby takes that ludicrous remark down, but I want to do some taking down too. Religion yields moral guidelines that inevitably generate a concern for the welfare of all people? Meaning a concern for the welfare of all people here on this earth as opposed to in God’s pretty summerhouse? How does that explain the caste system then? Or persecution of witches? Or the institutionalized inequality of the middle ages and well after? Or does concern for the welfare just mean a worried look and a furrowed brow now and then, and nothing else?

The limited, and often conflicting, definitions of welfare promulgated by various religions were very much on the minds of the framers of the Constitution when they deliberately omitted any mention of God from the document and instead ceded supreme authority to “We the People.” The framers did not write, as they might have, “we the people under God” – a phrase that would have prevented angry debates in state ratifying conventions over the Constitution’s unprecedented failure to acknowledge a divinity as the source of governmental power.

They didn’t write that, but you’d never know it to hear a lot of people talk now. And it keeps getting worse.

Americans have always been a predominantly Christian people (overwhelmingly so at the time the Constitution was written), but the founders established a secular central government. Today, religious conservatives are wreaking havoc with that glorious paradox, and they are aided by liberals intimidated by the vilification of secularists over the past twenty-five years. Still worse, many liberals have thrown in the towel and accepted the right-wing premise that there can be no morality, and no exposition of moral issues in the public square, without reference to religion.

They’ve thrown in the towel and the bathmat and the shower curtain and the bathroom door. They have surrendered, man. I’m getting way impatient waiting for the tide to turn.

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