Religion and Politics II, Domestic Policy
Original post made by Tom Cushing on Aug 24, 2011
So, I come to this week's topic with a dubious predisposition, but an honest desire to understand how readers' religious faiths inform their politics in the domestic policy arena (absent any Jovian thunderbolts, we'll examine foreign policy issues next week -- thus completing this bloggy trinity, err, trilogy). So you know whence I come to these issues, I was raised a Protestant Christian and later found a spiritual home as a UU and while I recall many a Biblical verse, I am not a serious student of them. I know less about the precepts of other faiths. Help me out, here!
Social Policies: the safety net, women's movement.
In this conception, the safety net includes government transfer payments occasioned by old age, disability and unemployment and you can throw-in the Coming of ObamaCare (a term you may not find expressed Biblically). Is there something holy in being keepers of our brethren? Does Jesus' call for feeding and clothing the least among us resonate for you? And does it matter whether the support is provided in an organized way, by the community or is it to be all private charity (in which case, is it really a generally available net?). Conversely, if you lost Everything (as many Americans have), where would you expect to turn for help?
Regarding women in the political world, there has been a recent flap over one presidential candidate's belief about 'submitting' to her husband. Are women distinct-but-equal in your religious conception, or is there a hierarchy (formal or informal) that gives men primacy as leaders? Is there a woman's place in the White Home?
The Economy: Tax Policy.
Jesus was no fan of money changers or tax collectors, and I seem to recall another verse about camels, needles and the difficulties of the rich in achieving the Pearly Gates. Do these suggest support for a strongly progressive tax system, at least for those who make their money with money (as opposed to the more honorable job-creationists)? Or is it enough that the Lord helps those who help themselves and boy, have they?! Or does it argue for fewer taxes, period? Does the Bible, Koran or some other sacred text offer guidance here (other than to avoid the consequences of evasion by timely rendering unto Caesar)?
The Environment: Climate Change/Industrial Agriculture.
This may seem an odd policy combination, but I recall Old Testament grants of dominion over the earth and its other creatures, and a call to go forth and multiply. Is this an unrestricted conveyance, such that humans may confidently ply the planet's resources without fear of climatic consequences? And does the "dominion" grant excuse the routinely brutal treatment of food animals in today's agricultural economy or is there a stewardship obligation that accompanies it: to act responsibly in our reproduction, humanely toward other species and cautiously in our depletion of the earth's abundance? Are there other learnings that inform your views on environmental issues? And which candidates' positions are most in keeping with your interpretations?
Constitutional issues: abortion, punishment, same-sex marriage.
'Reproductive rights' is the hardy perennial of American politics. While there appears to be a surface division between churched and unchurched, there are surely many among the former group who favor 'Choice.' How does that choice square with your faith? Do life's rights begin with conception? On the other end of the life cycle, is it ever morally acceptable to kill another person, even a murderer an eye for an eye, or is there another religious justification for capital punishment?
And finally, I've placed gay marriage among the Constitutional issues both because I think minority rights are fundamentally so, and because I predict that the Supremes will resolve it that way (Judge Walker got it right, in my secular view). There are fierce Old Testament injunctions against homosexuality in general, and marriage was surely then seen as a union of a man and some number of women greater than zero. But are the joys (and let us not forget those trials) of marital bliss to be reserved exclusively to one group, albeit large? Would the author of the Sermon on the Mount really agree? Was Jesus not talking about oppressed minorities in his blessings for such as the meek or the poor-in-spirit? Would he advocate for anything less than full equality among the communities of humankind? What Would Jesus, or Buddha or Mohammed really Do on this point?
There are, obviously, many other political issues than the ones I've chosen. Please feel free to hold forth on any of your choosing. After all, this confessional -- while public -- remains fully, safely anonymous.
on Aug 24, 2011 at 12:47 pm
I too am a Lutheran, apparently subversive. As a Christian I can't support capital punishment as an individual I think that human life begins when said human enters the world at birth. Too many babies are born to parents who cannot responsibly raise them . I think this is a tragedy. Abortion is painted by conservatives as a choice women take lightly, I don't buy it. Jesus had women disciples as well as male, the fact that they are often described in the Bible as the women rather than by name speaks to the times in which the Bible was written...and re-written, not I think the view of Christ.Jesus never said women should "submit" to men ...or vice versa. I do in fact think we were given "dominion" over other forms of life. My understanding of this however is not that that means we are to run roughshod over all, rather dominion is in the sense of a benevolent monarch, RESPONSIBLE for the welfare of all. As a Christian, I think we are called to see Jesus in every face we see. Gay, straight, able-bodied or not, all races. We are specifically instructed not to judge. As to taxes...absolutely , Christ on earth was a social activist and the Bible reports it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to be saved....Did I leave anything out ? :)
on Aug 24, 2011 at 12:49 pm
Dear Tom and Editor,
Thank you for asking very important questions.
So, to get things rolling, here are my answers:
Social Policies are governed by the reality that USAmerica's wealth belongs to all its citizens and we provide government to insure such equality of opportunity and support.
Our obligation to each other as USAmericans must be equal to our income in our tax policies without obligation on those that have no resources to pay a share of such tax.
Beyond Milankovitch climate cycles we have impacted our climate and environment and we share an obligation to preserve our world going forward.
No man or other woman has the right to decide the right of abortion and it remains the singular right of a woman to decide. No people or its government has the right to take a life unless in dire defense of other lives. No people or its government has the right to decide marriage beyond the laws of such contractual partnerships.
No belief exceeds the rights of individuals or should restrict the people's government. Thus, George Carlin's edit of the Ten Commandments covers such beliefs, "Keep thy religion to thyself!"
Let the wild rumpus start!
Of Ralph remembering MAX
on Aug 25, 2011 at 8:20 am
Tom, in worrying about how the opinions and actions of people are influenced by holy scripture I think you may be overestimating the influence of the Good Book on how they think. Christians of all denominations, at least, seem perfectly happy to pick what they like from the Bible and ignore the other parts. No one worries about the rich man and the camel in the eye of the needle, or about turning the other cheek. Paul's teachings about sex are happily disregarded by modern Christians, and daughters of our best Christian families get pregnant before marriage. The many atrocities sanctioned or commanded by god mainly in the old testament are also, thank god(!), ignored, at least by Christians. The long list of "crimes" punishable by death is forgotten. The many crazy laws designed to keep the minds of the faithful on their religion 24 hours a day are disregarded.
The truth of the matter seems to be that the teachings of their holy scriptures are pretty much irrelevant to what the faithful think and do. Good people select the good teachings in the Bible as a guide, and nasty people have no problem at all finding the nasty stuff to justify their inclinations.