Senator Bernie Sanders made headlines this week for challenging a statement made by cabinet nominee Russell Vought that “Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology. They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ, His Son, and they stand condemned.”
There was a swift response denouncing Sanders’ supposition that this kind of comment disqualifies a candidate for public office. Article VI of the Constitution mandates that “no religious test” shall ever be required as a requisite for a candidate’s qualification for office. Mr. Sanders’ official rebuttal was that Mr. Vought’s religious conviction is “a bigotry that runs counter to what America is about.”
Those who found Senator Sanders’ charge inflammatory shifted the meaning of his words to fan the flames of religious xenophobia. Liz Wheeler on her show Tipping Point was typical of the rhetoric that emerged: “People like you, Senator Sanders, would deny us to worship the God we choose. Who are you to sit there and tell us what to believe?” Turning up the heat, Ms. Wheeler proceeded: “That means as Christians we can’t believe what we believe. Senator Sanders you are asking us to reject Jesus Christ.”
Setting aside the politics of the debate, Bernie Sanders placed into the forefront a crucial point about religious freedom for public dialogue, and Ms. Wheeler’s rhetoric is evidence of how important it is to challenge the basis of religious dogma.
Bernie Sanders is not attacking anyone’s freedom to worship the God they choose. He is pulling the alarm on the fervency of religions that claim their way, and only their way, is truth and the rest of humanity be damned.
What Ms. Wheeler and many others of her co-religionists forget is that in prior times such attitudes led to murdering people who did not accept Jesus Christ as their savior. Sadly, we still are plagued by some humans who deem it their moral responsibility to murder in the name of their God—but even those who would not murder, cling onto the righteousness of their dogmatic, exclusionary beliefs.
The alarm Bernie Sanders is alerting us to is that beliefs, such as those articulated by Mr. Vought, matter for a humanity that strives for religious freedom. In a pluralistic society, you are granted the freedom to choose whichever God to worship. When you say that only your religion is right or true you have transformed the light and warmth of your religion and God into a fire that at best is inflammatory and at worst hellish.
E Pluribus Unum, in America, also refers to the religions or non-religions of all who attempt, however challenging, to form the one from the many. May Bernie Sanders’ words burn brightly and forge a more perfect union of religious freedom and freedom from religious dogma.
Lura Williams · June 18, 2017 at 10:35 pm
Amen, and again I say Amen!!
PS I’m still getting two of every Emails sent. Kudos if it can be fixed.
Robert Leonard · August 18, 2017 at 10:21 pm
“When you say that only your religion is right or true you have transformed the light and warmth of your religion and God into a fire that at best is inflammatory and at worst hellish.”
True, but an equally true statement would be: “When you say that only your religion is right or true you take your faith seriously.” If you believe that salvation is only possible through believing in the human sacrifice of a rabbi some two thousand years ago, you must also believe every other religion is false, as they promise salvation through other avenues. You must also think these false preachings are evil, as they are leading people away from salvation and God’s grace.
People who take their faith seriously say things like: ‘I will not rest until I have converted the world, so they can know God’, or ‘I will kill myself if I have to, as long as I kill as many infidels as I can as the Quran commands me to’ or ‘The Bible says we were created, therefore evolutionists are doing the work of Satan and must be silenced and kept out of schools.’ It seems the only religious people tolerated by our secular society, or by those who chose to not subscribe to dogmatic nonsense, are those who do not take their faith seriously. Are those who say things like ‘Sure, the Bible says to kill someone who wears two different types of fabrics, or someone who has lost their ‘virgin’ status before marriage, but I chose to ignore that passage, or interpret it in some way that it means something other than what it says, or invent some context that forgives the evil.’
So here lies the problem in religion. Should we show respect to beliefs in ancient books that are filled with evil and immorality (and sure some nice passages here and there), as current social norms dictate we should? Should we extend religious freedom and tolerance to a religion that calls for the torture and murder of nonbelievers? (Something all three monotheisms do.) Mr. Sanders places his compassion above his intellectual integrity, just as Ms. Wheeler places her dogma and faith above her compassion. (It is clear she gave up her intellectual integrity long ago, after all, can a thinking person really believe a virgin can give birth?) But are either concessions forgivable?
Should we not instead devote ourselves to secularism, and reason, and rationality, and truth, and turn away from bronze age myths that comforted people in a time when disease was ‘known’ to be caused by witchcraft (or jews) and not bacteria, and an earthquake was the result of God’s wrath and not the shifting of tectonic plates?
Or should we continue to rpeted that the people who take their religion the least seriously are the only ones that understand the true spirit of their faith?
Well, who cares if the world ends in a nuclear hellfire fueled by differing notions of the nonexistent, as long as we don’t hurt anyones’ feelings.
Anita Khaldy Kehmeier · November 2, 2018 at 1:25 pm
Follow the money…I have always followed the money to get to the bottom of things…
Monarchical,Communistic and Fascist systems always created political paralysis’s, as the governments were not able to respond in rational ways through the rights, desires,and needs of the majority of its citizens.
Plus severe economic mismanagement of resources and peoples, opened the doors for the fertile ground for demigods to seize power.
The christian right comprises of many people who have retreated into the embrace of magical thinking, as their real life stories are so very tragic.
They can’t take it ,so they retreat into the embrace of magic Jesus.
Dobson preyed on peoples despair and became very wealthy because of that.
Trump is also characteristic of the figures,who lead the christian right movement.
The Mega pastors can’t be questioned, they are narcissistic, and you can’t rationalize them out of their world views.
Tim Lahay – came out with a series of fictional books on the RAPTURE, that was made into a movie…with the theme and focal stage of destruction,being centered in Israel,where the anti christ has a blood offering, on the newly built temple in Jerusalem,and the Apocalypse -the complete and final destruction of the world is unleashed .The SAINTS in Christ will RAPTURE out into the skies,( this is not even in the bible) while damage on an awasome and catastrophic scale will be fall the unbelievers…
The eyes of unbelievers will pop out and their blood will boil…
I could not stand the movie,as I could see the exhilaration of the people in the room who were beckoning the end of days to come soon, so they may be saved from the current state of affairs they can’t tolerate and survive.
Not a happy tale what so ever.
The Mega church leaders are multimillionaires, with private jets and mega mansions, all from funds they received from the multitudes of believers who watch them on TV and attend services and programs 3-5 days a week.
I have been to these churches and they offer programs every day of the week to keep people coming back. It comes at a great cost to the members own personal,educational,financal solvency and family development.
The church then takes the place of family,and close knit families are no match for the high level of targeted group hypnosis and manipulation that occur in these very cult like establishments.
I have also seen videos on the Creation museum in Kentucky, where you see Adam and Eve with a T-rex in a diorama…really?
You also can’t talk them out of believing that the world was created in 6 days.
There is also a paranoia among believers, that all forms of government are corrupt and suspect, and hence one is to arm one self, as the world out there is in the hands of Satan.
The drive to put Kavanaugh on the supreme court came from the christian right.
The ideological void out there,is quickly being filled by christian false ideology.
We had no business going into Iraq,but Dick Chaney was an ideologue who believed in the AXIS of evil. And Iraq was part of that long crusade to democratize the Middle East for their own good. Christianity and democracy go hand in hand.
Trump and company,have built fertile ground for scape coating,demonizing,violence and american style fascism.
So what is the current lay of the land? Through out the ages people have been plagued with rage,hatred and trauma has been and continues to be the epicenter of human experience.
Eugene O’Neil states – There is no present or future, only the past, happening over and over again.
Memories are made of this…
What are we going to focus on…our secret transgressions? or a Spacious way of being? A welcoming spiritual journey.
What if we dismantle our own military industrial complex, with its 250 military bases around the world…
What If we did not spend 60 cents of every $1 sucked out from our GDP,for the military industrial complex,the greatest enemy of democracy…
We get control of our government and funnel our resources into a modern economy built on green technology and away from an economy built on fossil fuels.
The new economy has wide room for granting good paying jobs to our citizens, and hence that brings more breathing room in peoples lives, wallets.
Communities will be more conducive to building peoples happiness quotients…
We need to get away from narrow mind and cold war thinking. We definitely can’t leave the climate to jungle economy.
The money is in the hands of the oligarchs and there is a squeeze in the money that is trickling down. The pain that is being felt by the little man is real and great.
The shattered pieces of our economy and politics need to be repaired so self empowerment, self compassion and dignity are restored.
So magical thinking is not our escape valve into irrationality and intolerance,in the face of old hierarchical notions of power.
Create a just world for all our relations. From the many one.
Anita Khaldy Kehmeier · November 3, 2018 at 7:53 pm
They attacked liberalism because it seemed to them the principal premise of modern society; everything they dreaded seemed to spring from it: the bourgeois life, Manchesterism, materialism, parliament and the parties, the lack of political leadership. Even more, they sensed in liberalism the source of all their inner sufferings. Theirs was a resentment of loneliness; their one desire was for a new faith, a new community of believers, a world with fixed standards and no doubts, a new national religion that would bind all Germans together. All this, liberalism denied. Hence, they hated liberalism, blamed it for making outcasts of them, for uprooting them from their imaginary past, and from their faith.
—Fritz Stern, The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology
Anita Khaldy Kehmeier · December 5, 2018 at 5:56 pm
The movie – In God We Trump – is an in-depth documentary on the relationship between Trump and Evangelical Christians, featuring prominent interviews with writers, clergy and voices from the Christian Left.