I haven’t written for a while but I recall that in a previous article I panned the President for being too appeasing to the right wing. I’ve since decided there are worse things than being too compromising.
The other evening the Rev. Dr. C Welton Gaddy made another appearance on MSNBC. Although he was limited to only three minutes, Rev. Gaddy did manage to make an important point. He said it is becoming necessary for public figures to wear a badge stating either ,”I am a politician,” or “I am a cleric.” We now are greeted on so many occasions with either one talking and behaving like the other . Welton Gaddy is a nice man. He is the President of the Interfaith Alliance and one of the very few clerics who are speaking out on the injurious policies of right wing politicians (and right wing clerics)in this country. Rev. Gaddy is from Louisiana and a Baptist. So much for stereotyping Southern white clerics!
Then yesterday an article on page one of the NY Times discussed how Mitt Romney’s religion influences his life and politics. Frankly, I found this frightening, and here’s why: Gov. Romney and his wife Ann pray a lot. Which is fine. But Romney also listens to what God wants him to do. This may not be so fine. History is littered with leaders(mostly white men) who listened to what God was telling them to do (think Herod, Julius Caesar, Caligula, Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin – OK, Amin was black) . You see my point.
Wouldn’t it be better to have someone in the office of President who had sound POLICIES for governing the country than someone depending on “God” to tell them what to do about health care, education, the economy, the rights of immigrants, women, minorities and so forth? Wouldn’t it?
Not to belabor the point, but many of Mitt Romney’s policies actually contradict what one would expect from a “Christian” leader. He has called for eliminating Planned Parenthood. This would cut one out of six women out of basic health care such as mammograms and pap smears. Romney has aligned himself with a handful of conservative clerics in this country who cry that their “religious freedom” is being violated by being forced to provide contraceptive services to employees in their public –serving institutions –hospitals, colleges and universities. (How is this not an issue of the EMPLOYEES’ religious freedom?) Yes, Romney has. He said an employer should not be forced to provide a service he doesn’t “believe in.”
In addition, at least earlier in his career, Mitt Romney supported the idea of a church official having to be called on to make a couple’s or a woman’s decision whether to have an abortion. (The official in the Mormon Church would I think likely be a man). So now we need more name tags, I suppose. Clerics are impersonating doctors. Fine for clergy to be in hospital rooms comforting the sick and dying – but making medical decisions? I don’t think so. And neither, as a matter of fact, do most Protestants, agnostics or atheists think so. I’m not sure where other major religions stand on the notion that their clergy have some special “pipeline to the deity,” as my Irish grandmother would have phrased it. And with that “pipeline,” comes the entitlement to make their adherents’ decisions for them. And even make decisions for people not of their faith!.
So now we have come around to the notion of “religious liberty”.—a notion which is enshrined in the First Amendment—isn’t it? “Congress shall make no law establishing a religion, nor prohibit the free exercise thereof.” Jefferson, Adams and others were very careful to stipulate that what we absolutely don’t want in this New World is a theocracy. Centuries of wars in Europe fueled by religious zealotry had convinced them to try something new and different, a government of tolerance – and , yes, of individual liberty.
So , dear readers,–what values do you want in your next President –the Christian values of helping the poor and needy (This happens to also be a core value of both Islam and Judaism), providing health care for all who need it… or the supposed Christian values of a few who assert intolerance and presume dominance over other people’s lives ? I’ve studied the Bible on several occasions. I do not recall either Jesus or God asserting the dominance of men (yes, the Bible would say “men” ) over other men’s (again!) lives. God rules. Jesus is Lord.
I’m fully dressed now. I checked myself in the mirror. And I just put on my nametag. It says “American Citizen” So do have a nice day. And in November, remember to vote—intelligently. Namaste.