Friday, November 16, 2018

#320 / This Is Why

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I am a big fan of Pearls Before Swine, the comic strip authored by Stephan Pastis. This cartoonist also happens to be a lawyer, which is not an automatic strike against him in my book. 

Pastis' cartoon on Friday, November 2, 2018, shown above, ran on the same day that The New York Times carried a major feature story titled, "'God Is Going to Have to Forgive Me': Young Evangelicals speak out." 

The Times' article is about how young, dedicated evangelical Christians are attempting to separate themselves from a politics that has become infused, in some evangelical churches, with their religious beliefs, to the point that the politics is now more important than the religion. That is not the way it is supposed to be!

Presuming that there is good reason for suspecting that the Constitution of the United States of America is a pretty good model, or template, for organizing our common (and hence political) life, it is not a fluke that the very First Amendment to the Constitution says this:

Amendment I 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ...

Why is this the very first thing our Constitution says, after outlining the structure of our tripartite, federal system? Look at the list below, certainly only a partial list. Pastis has it right. All around the world, where religious beliefs have been allowed to become involved in politics, the result is death and disaster: 

  • Ireland
  • India / Pakistan / Bangladesh
  • Israel / Palestine
  • The Arab World 
  • China / Tibet
  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia

It is heartening to find young people in the United States learning this lesson, and putting into practice the "separation of church and state" that has, indeed, been one of "the blessings of liberty" that the Constitution has provided to "ourselves and our posterity." For any to whom these quotes are not immediately familiar, I am citing the Preamble to the Constitution.

Our Constitution is not a perfect document. It was built, after all, on a commitment to the institution of human slavery. We are still working to extricate this nation from the legacy of this horrible bargain. 

With respect to the role that religion should play in our civic life, however (none), the Constitution definitely got it right!

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1 comment:

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