By Chuck Porter
No longer is there a need to go to a house of worship on whatever appointed day is appropriate. A growing number of us simply open a social media account and kneel before the God that is political affiliation.
We have replaced holy books with the Twitter accounts of politicians, pundits, and journalists that share in our political ideology. Gone are crosses, stars, and crescents, all replaced with virtual idolatry. We have conflated holy scripture; however you decide to define it, with stump speeches and talking heads. We live in a nation that constitutionally demands that the state shall not officially recognize any one religion over another, so the state has become the religion.
How easily can we replace president with preacher, senator with deacon, congress with congregation? Protestant, Baptist, Southern Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Church of God, Episcopalian. Republican, TEA Party, Freedom Caucus, Tuesday Morning, Libertarian, Moderate, Conservative. All ordained, all the same but different enough to cast aspersions on the others.
Agnostics and Atheists alike paying their tithes, flagellating at the altar of political power. No dissenting belief is to be tolerated. In fact, it is to be met with jihad. An all-out, wholesale slaughter of those of differing opinion, sometimes metaphorically, sometimes quite literally. No one side is immune or above reproach. Republicans and Democrats alike promise reformation, nailing bills to the door of the Capitol building like the Ninety-Five Theses and the collective buy-in is based solely on faith.
Faith in the deities both elected and appointed and their generosity towards we, the unwashed masses. It is clear and acceptable that an individual’s political leanings are often dictated by their religious beliefs, or lack thereof. One set of social mores almost necessarily transfers between the two as they define a person’s world view and what they determine to be socially and morally acceptable.
Some would say that traditional religion is more of a danger to any society than politics, or politicians. But what is the danger to that same society when traditional religion is replaced by the outright worship of political ideology or individual politicians? Where is the danger in defending, or proliferating a political ideology through the oppression of its heretics or punishment of “non-believers”? Is the Spanish Inquisition more shocking to the conscience than the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge?
One is no less egregious than the other. From the beginning of recorded history organized religions in most every civilization has been responsible for countless human atrocities. And to what end? Power and control over the lives of those that exist within that civilization.
Does the same hold true for political ideology? Of course, it does. One promises reward in the afterlife in exchange for living a virtuous life according to the tenets of a religious philosophy, the other promises reward in the here and now. All one has to do is pay strict adherence to the political tenets as set forth by the controlling party to ensure that the rewards keep coming. It’s a symbiotic relationship, one feeding from the other.
The overarching commonality between politics and religion is the willingness of the individual to submit to what they perceive to be a higher authority in return for some form of compensation. Compensation can come in many forms; financial, theological, or even something as simple as revenge, or what we now call “social justice”. A society, a civilization get what it wants by submitting to those that can deliver it. The danger lies in that submission becoming involuntary like it has so many times in the past, whether it be at the end of a gun or by the word on a page.
Politics is meant to be the business of running the business that is our nation. When we start exalting our elected officials with the same reverence usually bestowed to gods, do they not become one in the same? Is there any discernable difference in giving yourself over wholly to a higher power in a house of worship or a voting booth? And those that demand a separation between church and state need to ensure that the state hasn’t become the church.