Thursday, June 05, 2008

Political beliefs vs Religious beliefs

People always worry about religion influencing the laws of this nation. But one thing you never hear is how the laws of this nation can influence the beliefs of religions. Where there may have been a diversity of religious belief on any given issue there is a trend towards unity of belief as a result of a law written, meant not to effect religious attitude, but the attitude of the people. Science has already agreed that laws do effect the beliefs of people. When this happens religious belief naturally must also change. For if it did not people would be adhering to two sets of belief in regards to that particular issue.

Now, we as the people have a choice. Would we prefer that government, by its laws, influence religious beliefs or would we prefer that religious beliefs influence government and the laws it enacts? Some would bring up the issue of which religion if the latter was advocated but I do not see that as an issue.

The reason I do not see that as an issue is because of how the founding fathers have set up our government, a government of three independent branches. We also have the Constitution to protect against any attempt to force a singular religious belief system onto the people. That protection is not found in the first amendment but in the body of the Constitution itself. It is found in Article VI, section 3 of the Constitution.

“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.”

Within those few words are the indication of just how important religious belief was to the founders. It is the only right of individuals that was protected from the very beginning. And if understood by its intent we can understand what role religion was to play in governmental decisions. For it protected those elected officials who would vote out of religious conviction rather than secular conviction. In do so, protected religions themselves. Thus, we can see that the founding fathers understood that religion was to play an important part in governmental decisions. Tradition supports this viewpoint.

The very diversity of religions represented by elected officials assures that no one religion will dominate and enact laws according to a singular belief system. This is especially true in the legislative body of government where laws originate. The only branch of government where a single religion can be declared as represented is the branch of the Presidency. While he may influence legislation in regards to laws he cannot enact them on his own. He only has the power and authority to execute the laws as enacted by Congress.

Within those few words we see another problem exposed also. With the advocation of a secular government we have seen and heard people attempt to use a religious test upon those who sought office. We saw it used against John F. Kennedy when he ran for the office of the Presidency. We have seen it used against George Bush often when attempting to associate his presidency with the “Religious Right.” we have also seen it as an influence in the Presidential nomination of Mitt Romney this year.

Yet also while there is a fear of religious influence and that fear is justified by past events of history I cannot help but believe that the fear is deeper than justified. I also do not feel that the founding fathers set up a separation of church and state in such a manner as to pit a man's loyalty and duty to country against his religious beliefs as a man must do now on certain issues. I do know they never intended to create a situation where a man might be forced to choose between serving his country and practicing his religious beliefs as might happen now.

Lastly, I do not believe I would get much of an argument from anyone if I was to say that the founding fathers placed the Bible and what it teaches above the Constitution and what it teaches. They may all have disagreed with what the Bible taught but not in disagreement of its place in the life of people.

12 comments:

BB-Idaho said...

The consititution addresses the church/state relation as broadly and as well as it forsaw several
other situations. The founders were clever people who did pretty well at trying a new form of government. Considering a number of religions that were not existent
at the time, as well as a plethora
of modern technical and moral conundrums, doubt they could have done better. Some pecularities
of how 'we the people' view religion and the exec branch are to be found at http://pewforum.org/surveys/campaign08/ wherein we note that Romney was viewed as 'most religious' among the early candidates, yet
among those that stated that, 41%
of 'white evangelicals attending church weekly' would not vote for
him because he was mormon, the largest group, 16% of 'white mainline protestants found him
acceptable. Assume the former
hold some belief that mormonism is not christian, or at least not christian enough; at any rate it was a factor in his inablility to progress in the primaries. What is peculiar, IMHO, regarding 'while there is a fear of religious influence.." is that the fear is internecine in this as well as
a number of other instances....

The Griper said...

yup, as he smiles, very true also. another element to be considered as well, a two-edged sword. either way tis a religious test that we see though. but in this situation was it fear or contempt of religious belief?

Lista said...

What a mouthful!! The thing is, though, IMHO, Atheism is the bigger threat, because too often it carries with it a belief in relativity and thus a reluctance to impose any kind of morality or law on anyone. The result of that could be a move towards anarchy.

Karen said...

Great post as always, Griper! You're very right about laws affecting beliefs-- the law is an educator.

And re separation of church and state, this is not something specifically found in the Constitution; basically all the Constitution says is that there won't be an "official religion" of the country-- and the article you bring up that one must belong to to a particular religion to get a government position. Basically, it's freedom OF religion and not freedom FROM religion that is protected.

The Griper said...

karen,
"this is not something specifically found in the Constitution; basically all the Constitution says is that there won't be an "official religion" of the country--"

if we were to go by what the Constitution says, it doesn't say that either. all it says is thaat no laws can be written in respect to the religious establishment and that there is to be no religious test for those who serve as our public servants.

for there to be an official religion, all it would take is for the population to be of one religion by consensus. once that occurred then every law of that nation would be in compliance to the morals of that religion. for the legislative body of that nation or state would consist of persons of that religion.

it would be then that the true test of religious tolerance would be known.

The Griper said...

lista,

what's the difference between as secular idea and an atheist idea?

Lista said...

She sighs and shakes her head. You and your questions. I guess an atheistic idea is one that assumes that there is no God. A secular idea is a non-religious idea, but such could not involve morality because morality is religious, so this could imply relativity as well. I guess I could get out the dictionary, but I'm not in the mood, so I guess we'll just have to go with this for now.

The Griper said...

lista,
he smiles, sounds like the same thing, doesn't it?

Lista said...

Sure does. :)

Gayle said...

LOL! Sounds like the same thing to me!

Crian said...

Hey Griper, very well written, I wish I had read this before I wrote something similar a while ago. I disagree that morality is religious because morality like any other concept evolved over time in various cultures around the world. This morality is not universal but distinct and comprises of religion, culture and time. Morality in my book comes from societies evolution over time.

The Griper said...

thank you, Crian,
"I disagree that morality is religious because morality like any other concept evolved over time in various cultures around the world."

but remember, so has religion evolved over time in various cultures also. and whether it always was so or not when we think of the word "morality", religion is connected. ethics is the word used in a secular setting. they both have the same foundational basis, what is right and what is wrong.

in fact i would argue that your contention would apply more to the word ethics then it does the word morality.

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