08 December, 2007

Religious Freedom

[Note: this is in response to Joe Conason's Op-Ed regarding the religiosity of Republican Candidates for President over at Salon.com]

It is interesting that of the three supposed forerunners on the Democrat side of the 2008 race to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, in order, the top to bottom, their pronouncements of faith are less and less disingenuous: Hillary Clinton, who no doubt is as religious as I am a Black-Asian Lesbian Amputee from Mars, to Barack Obama, who I am sure feels some affinity for a generic Church and form of worship, but whose real idols are secular progressive pursuits and their real-life embodiments in the Civil and Human Rights campaigns of the last century and Edwards, whose good works bely his Southern religious values of which I feel he genuinely and deeply believes (and, going through what his family is going through regarding Elizabeth Edwards, I'm sure that it is for him a source of strength and stability -- the only real purpose of spiritual belief in this supposedly rational age of Chemotherapy, MRIs and echo-cardiograms).

To accuse the left as a whole of not examining the role of religiosity in their own political backyard is an unfair, and untrue assumption. For me Senator Clinton's unseemly disingenuous embracing of religion, as well as any number of other genres, means that primary or not I cannot in good consciousness bring myself to vote for her. I fear that Obama may be tempted to fall into this trap, and as disdainful and unfair Clinton and others' criticisms of him are on the basis that he is young and inexperienced, that he would fall into the trap of trying to please everyone and in the end pleasing no one is a result of not knowing better -- being young and inexperienced affords him a certain degree of flexibility of thought, just enough to be flexible enough to fail. John Edwards will do himself, his family and the world a great service when, like Albert Gore Junior, he leaves politics and makes his mark on the world. Mark my words, in less than 20 years he will be invited to Sweden to receive an award from the King.

Dennis Kucinich holds what common Beltway conventional wisdom regards to be the looniest of views. But Kucinich neither runs away from them nor shoves them in your face. Unlike "serious" candidates, Kucinich really has no fear to state his views exactly as he holds them without parsing or affected speech (a common speech disorder of politicians is to make unclear what any sane or rational person would see as cut and dry). 'Anyone who would not grant the right to marry to gays,' to paraphrase Kucinich, 'does not believe in equality for all people.' Bra-vo, Dennis, bravo. That is exactly right, and that is a more righteous stance than any supposedly pious mouthpiece in the field, Democrat or Republican, has managed to articulate in any debate before or since. So, we must quickly change the subject on Kucinich to his belief in UFOs (which is like saying you believe in pasta -- both things exist, spaghetti and objects, which while in flight, that cannot be identified). Salon.com, to its great discredit, has engaged in this hypnotic lack of discourse by citing that example. Who cares? You know what, I saw that same UFO, and so did all of my friends, and hundreds of other people, if not thousands. But somehow it is crazier to say I saw something flying and glowing that I couldn't identify than to say that I believe in a cosmic Jewish zombie who is his own father?

Which person sounds like a lunatic? But because these ideas of religiosity are attached to authority of consensus does not alter their real face value. Going to war because God told you to do it is a bad idea, whether that God is Allah, Yaweh, Jesus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. And if your God tells you that two adults in love cannot be married because their plumbing is the same, then you are against freedom for all people. Period. End of discussion. Maybe people resist considering Kucinich because to consider him valid, one has to consider his ideas valid, and to consider his ideas valid, one has to consider their own to be suspect, and worse, to make the difficult choices required to divorce oneself from the status quo. That is why Kucinich faces an uphill, but worthwhile battle. And if Jesus came back today, I'm sure he'd be Kucinich's running mate.

If Jesus ever actually existed anyway. But that's not for my Government to decide, and you would think that they made that pretty clear when they wrote the US Constitution. Sadly, that seems not to be the case.

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