Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Holy Trinity of The Religious Right

The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost? No, that is not even close.  Modern Conservative Christian in America are beholden to 3 major ideas: Legislation, money and perceived persecution.  Churches flaunt their politics, push their ideal laws, participate in influencing elections heavily all under the guise of being a spiritual, charity based, tax exempt organization.

 When these influential men and women use their positions, their institutions and their tax free resources in ways not spelled out in their status as charitable organizations, we must remove their access to the status.  They are more than allowed to voice their opinions and use their power to influence elections and laws.. but not as tax exempt entities.

Throughout the Nation we have State legislatures pushing "religious liberty" laws. These laws create a privileged class of citizen that are exempt from laws that are applied to all other groups in the Nation.  These laws allow for discrimination as a feature of the First amendment rights of the righteous.  We have special exemptions in the ACA to allow for the deeply held beliefs of pieces of paper; Corporations, Organizations, Churches are not people. The Catholic Church, last week, was denied their request to not have to pay restitution to their child rape victims.... because the money HAD to be spent on maintaining cemeteries because of their "deeply held religious beliefs".  The fund did not exist before the settlement was reached, it was made as a way to hide funds for the victims.  This is one of many examples of why "religious liberty" cannot be allowed to become a part of our law.

ALEC, the Koch Corporation, the API, the Moral foundation for Law all exert insane amounts of influence in my home State of Alabama.  ALEC is funded by the Koch Brother. Johnson Center for Political Economy was founded at Troy University after the school received 3.6 million dollars from the Koch Foundation. It is now a mouth piece for the API, also funded by the Koch's. API recently was granted special status before the Alabama Supreme Court in a case created to allow the court to declare themselves above Federal Law. ALEC pushed the charter school bill through the Legislature last year.

They do these things because the overwhelming support of the local citizens. Our under-educated, misinformed, extremely religious citizenry. Where Fox News is your disinformation source of choice. Where Churches tell you whom to vote for, when to call your local legislator to support or oppose each law.  Where instances of demands for equality are twisted into martyr stories of standing for Jesus.  Where the reduction of their privilege is seen as an attack on their religion. Where asking for equal treatment is a reduction in their freedoms.

This isn't happening just in Alabama. There is a reason that all these identical laws are showing up in State Houses across the country. This is a concerted effort, through grassroots church organizing, misinformation from the news makers at Faux News,  Breitbart, the Blaze, and monetary resources from institutions like the Koch Foundation, bogus studies from the API, and the Johnson Center, and the simple gullibility of so many Americans. They are raised to trust the church and the churches have become something far removed from their causes.

Churches now push for reductions in healthcare, reductions in food security, reductions in education spending, reductions in housing subsidies, reductions in equality through discriminatory laws, voter suppression laws, immigration actions... through their vocal support of far right wing politicians. They have so deformed the original message of Christianity that it has lost all its meaning. "Love thy neighbor", "Do unto others", "turn the other cheek", all lost to the dogma of control. They use their power as the holders to the keys of heaven to dictate whom their congregations must vote for. This is coming from the person tasked with the security of your eternal place in heaven... that is an enormous amount of power to wield. Not to mention the Wealth preachers who suck their congregations funds like a wolf devouring the marrow.

Churches need to go back to their actual tasks of charity, spiritual education and ceremony.  They have no place in the machinations of public policy, and they definitely have no place in the kingmaker business.  We need an educated electorate, informed on the issues and free from the influence of hate peddlers that take advantage of the less knowledgeable.

No matter your political affiliation, your religion, your gender, race, creed, sexual affirmation, or any other position; We all must work toward equality.  It benefits us all. The majority cannot be allowed to change the rules for themselves, that is the path to fascism. Nor can the amount of wealth you attain allow you to become overwhelmingly influential in our policies through purchasing access, defining issues, restructuring voting districts, writing laws, or subjugating workers.  When "deeply held belief" becomes a legal reason for any one thing, it become the legal reason for any thing.  When the government is tasked with determining the truth of magical claims, it will fail every-time.  There is no means to test how deeply, truly, actually you hold any belief. But it is very clear that it can be used to justify ANY action, look at the case of child rape above... and these laws aren't in force yet.

We have to push back. We have to speak out against these laws. We must demand equality, and if these laws pass we must overwhelm the courts with our claims of deeply held beliefs.  Silly things, absurd things, offensive things. But never violent things, those will come on their own, sadly.  One of the most indisputable things that religions bring is violence and the absolute certainty that it was right and just and, indeed, commanded.  Take all the stories you hear of children's fatalities due to denial of basic medical care.  Think of the justifications used by the Klan for their violence and hatred. That is the most terrifying part of these laws, when does religious liberty over rule someone else's right to live? How long before that is a reality?