For several decades, the Republican party in America has become increasingly entwined with conservative forms of Christianity. Both are corrupt, but it’s hard to say which one corrupted the other. Some Christians (according to a PPP poll, at least 57% of them) want to make Christianity the official national religion and institute their opinions as law, and the GOP gives them a way to do that. On the other side, the GOP panders to the significant portion of America that claims Christianity, as that’s where their votes come from. Perhaps this is typical of a two-party system; the party and the voters develop a symbiotic relationship for their mutual benefit…and screw everyone else.
In order to get the religious voters riled up, the people in power merely have to sensationalize an issue on which their followers will agree. Media and politicians help to manufacture “culture wars”, and the people follow right along, teaching it as pastors, regurgitating what they heard from their pastor, latching onto minor issues so strongly that they divide us into two factions that cannot work together on anything. And then for the politicians it becomes a game of appeasing enough voters on their side to keep the majority.
If someone comes along who values important things like the well-being of all Americans, eliminating poverty, reducing the national debt, establishing effective and affordable healthcare, providing high quality education, giving everyone the opportunity to work for a living wage…everyone says they’ll never win an election. Why? Because those aren’t the issues that have the entire country at each other’s throats. Rather than deal with what we could all agree are serious problems, conservative Christianity and the Republican party focus on things like gay marriage, drug use, abortion, and where transgender people urinate. The furor surrounding such issues has gotten so big that the “other side” gets drawn into the same sort of situation. We end up fighting over symptoms (or total non-issues) while ignoring the cause of the disease that’s damaging our country.
And that’s why the two party system isn’t working. The conservative Christian voting base for the Republican party has made a priority of preventing gay people from having a piece of paper that says they’re legally married. I have friends who refuse to vote for any political candidate who doesn’t intend to ban abortion nationwide. These same people tend to oppose any government action to solve the problems that cause a need for abortion in the first place. One person, in a conversation on a friend’s status on Facebook, told me that in order for everyone to peacefully coexist with different religious systems, “one religion has to dominate the legal system.” Of course, the person was Christian and thought that Christianity should be the dominant religion. The problem is that a lot of other people also want their religion to be the dominant one, so even if Christianity gained power, there would be no peace because everyone whose beliefs are incompatible with following Christian laws would fight for their freedom against it.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? The history of Europe is a long story of tyrannical Christianity in various forms, wars between opposing religions, and bloody battles for freedom. Right-wing extremists can glorify violence all they want, I still don’t think I’d like to return to that sort of world.
If people lived by the Golden Rule, pure democracy would work. Pure socialism would work. Just about any major form of government could work, and I’m sure anarchy could as well. The only reason we need government is because people are selfish, and in order to make it work we need democracy to keep the government in line and socialism to keep the mob in line. That’s why I think democratic socialism is high on the list of possibly successful methods of government. In a world where a large number of people are motivated by greed, a vaguely republican oligarchy (specifically, plutocracy) like ours is perhaps one of the most destructive ways of governing a free nation. It may look good on the surface, and it may seem to work for a while, but it cannot be sustained in the long term.
Similarly, religious freedom cannot be maintained if one religion dominates the legal system. Those who would abuse power are the ones who rise to the top, and over time it would become more and more corrupt. We don’t even have to speculate about this, we have thousands of years of history to tell us exactly what happens.
A secular institution, having no religious bias, is the best qualified to maintain an impartial government that offers religious freedom to everyone. We aren’t quite there; we still need to remove all forms of worship from government. The worship of money, of gods, of anything else, has no place in the administration of a nation. The only things that should form the foundation of a government’s policies are 1) the will of the people, 2) logic, and 3) the principle of inherent human rights and freedom. Government’s purpose is to protect the well-being and freedom of its people, and there are much more important things to address than whether or not a gay couple can get a marriage license.