Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Politics and Religion Are Not Supposed to Mix

Let me repeat that title: Politics and religion are not supposed to mix. That's the basis on which our country was founded. Quite simply, that's what separation of Church and State is all about. In the UK, where I live, a Catholic cannot ascend to the throne. Any member of the Royal Family who marries a Catholic gives up his or her place in the succession. A Prime Minister of the United Kingdom cannot be a Catholic - in the Twenty-First Century. This resulted in the rather silly situation of Tony Blair, who was Prime Minister at the time and Ian Duncan Smith, the Leader of the Opposition, actually lying on oath as Privy Council Ministers, and pretending that they weren't Catholic converts.

Remind me, how long ago was the English Civil War? (Answer: about two hundred years before ours).

Yes, religion matters in the old countries. As secular as the French purport to be, they've itchingly uncomfortable with the fact that Sarkozy is Jewish, and that his parents are survivors of the camps. And, believe me, in Italy, the Pope still matters.

Yet the irony about all of those countries is that their secular laws are never questioned. The UK got as far as civil partnerships for same sex couples, but France allows same sex marriage; and abortion on demand is legal in all three.

And yet here comes the United States, trudging along, with its written Constitution which actually calls for religion to be separate from the realm of government, to have no part within it, for people to be free to practice whatever religion they choose or, indeed, no religion at all. All these white men who solidified our governmental processes in the Eighteenth Century were men of privilege, educated according to the rationale of the Age of Enlightenment. They were Deists, not Christians. The term "Creator" which appears in the Constitution is a generic term.

All of this is fact and substantiated. Yet we still continue to include high profiled ordained men of the cloth on political discussion programs in order to pontificate on matters political.

Yes, I'm talking about you, Franklin Graham.

As we would say in the South, this boy ain't his daddy (just like Willard). No need for this panel, the bulk of whom are, themselves, practicing Catholics, to press Franklin Graham on whether or not he will declare Barack Obama a Christian. (Hint: it really shouldn't matter). But the real truth behind Graham's bloviated can be pared down to the simple fact that the President might be a Christian because he says so, but Graham is certain that Rick Santorum is a member of the club. As in country club.

And now we know exactly why Graham doesn't question Santorum's Christianity, but remains subtly dubious about Barack Obama's. It's a question of skin tone.

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