Saturday, April 11, 2009

Religion and Politics

You wouldn't know it from listening to the Fundo Xian talking heads, mouth breathers and other assorted moronic fairy-tale believers on the right wing, but the United States Constitution mentions religion exactly twice:

Article. VI. - Debts, Supremacy, Oaths
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. [Emphasis added]
Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
And that's it. Christian nation, my ass.

So why is it that the major Dems are falling all over themselves to prove who's the better Xian?
"I'm more religious than you are!"
"No, you're not. I'm more religious!"
"Are not!"
"Am too!"
What is this, the fifth grade playground?

Well, the answer is that this article and amendment, like most of the Constitution under the present regime, have been rendered "quaint". That and that 28% or so of people who identify themselves as Evangelical have an untoward influence on the political scene that is completely out of proportion to their actual numbers.

Just once I'd like to hear a candidate for president say, in answer to some dickhead media asshole asking about his/her religion, "I believe that one's religion is a deeply personal matter, and the constitution states that there shall be no religious test for holding office, so I respectfully decline to answer, but thank you for your question."

Yeah, like that's ever gonna happen.

Oh and that part about "oath or affirmation"? It means this: If you do not believe in god, you do not have to swear an oath. Instead you make an affirmation that what you are saying is true.

When I was an investigator for the state, I had to testify on numerous occasions. In the early days I was asked to hold up my right hand and swear that what I was about to say was the truth, blah blah blah, so help me god. Inevitably, since I thought that it would be hypocritical to swear to a god I didn't believe in, I'd have to interrupt the proceedings and inform the court or the administrative law judge that I would not swear an oath, but rather would affirm to the truthfulness of my testimony, under penalty of perjury.

So after several years of this nonsense, they finally "got it" and in the later years they streamlined it to "I do solemnly swear or affirm" etc., and left off the god part at the end.

A welcome change, if you ask me. And I often wondered how many people in my position just went along with it, swearing an oath to a god they didn't believe in, just because they didn't want to "make waves". Probably a lot.

[Originally published Tuesday, October 16, 2007]