Saturday, November 3, 2012

Separation of What?

In Orlando there are buses bringing folks to the election places called "Souls for Polls." Likewise there are a lot of ministers and lay people giving political information to their followers in a sort of intentionally (not) vague way, as to not actually endorse a specific candidate. For years the biggies, the Roman Catholics and the mainstream Baptists have not endorsed a specific candidate but have made it plain as paper that certain issues and one's support of them can be a one way ticket to H-E-double hockey sticks. Separating religion from politics in an election year is like parting conjoined twins without anesthesia.
That is not to imply that the left is any less affected. Neo Pagans and Wiccans have the not inconsiderable task of trying to find an empty spot on their bumper for another life-changing statement of who to support. Scaring the crap out of anyone with a vagina becomes a full time job, and threats of a mass exodus to Canada is repeated in chants in magic circles from Miami to Jacksonville. The anger at the right for pushing their political agenda from the pulpit, as valid as it is, does not reduce the irony of certain candidates names being burned on paper slips over cauldrons or used to raise cones of power.
We can't help it. Politics and religion have one thing in common. People don't choose the one they think is second best. One chooses their religion because they believe it is accurate and true. One chooses their representatives because they believe they are the same. No one says " I think Mr. X is the better candidate but I wanted something more mediocre." Similarly no one chooses to take Holy Communion if they think transubstantiation is cannibalism. People make a big show of being open minded, qualifying every word with " is just my humble opinion," and lots of "...I could be wrong,''s, but it is illogical to assume that they are choosing something that is less than their true and fervent belief.
The First Amendment is a bit of a sticky situation, really. The freedom of religion and the freedom of speech make for interesting bedfellows in an election year. Now, with the seeming acceptance of "Faith Based Initiatives" the waters are muddied even further. The government requests that churches offer help to those in need and provides to assist them in doing that. The caveat is usually that the Church has to use said funds to benefit all, regardless of religious affiliation, but it certainly begs the question of why a church is doing what the government is paying for? Isn't that a sort of tacit approval? 'an endorsement of the church being supported?
I know of only one legal Church that thumbs it's nose at such shenanigans. There may be more, I would welcome hearing that I am wrong, BUT, for now only The Church of Satan, refuses tax exemption, collects no subsidies, asks no tithes, and in no way hints, suggests, implies, authorizes, demands, or wants it's members to support a specific candidate or issue.
“As has been said many times before, one’s politics are up to each individual member, and most of our members are political pragmatists. They support political candidates and movements whose goals reflect their own practical needs and desires. Our members span an amazing political spectrum, which includes but is not limited to: Libertarians, Liberals, Conservatives, Republicans, Democrats, Reform Party members, Independents, Capitalists, Socialists, Communists, Stalinists, Leninists, Trotskyites, Maoists, Zionists, Monarchists, Fascists, Anarchists, and just about anything else you could possibly imagine. It is up to each member to apply Satanism and determine what political means will reach his/her ends, and they are each solely responsible for this decision. Freedom and responsibility—must be a novel concept for those who aren’t Satanists. We take it in stride. Members who demand conformity from other members to their particular political fetish are welcomed to depart.”
—High Priest Peter H. Gilmore,
from his essay “A Map for the Misdirected”
Is it really possible that the separation Jefferson wrote about in letter is echoed only in a Church that knows no gods, for a people who refuse to kneel? Can it really be that the most patriotic of us, during the election of our president are the most vilified of us all? History has shown us that it isn't just possible, it is the nature of America.

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