Obama As A Terrorist (again)

God corrupts politics and politics corrupt God.

This is the fundamental reason why I am so terribly opposed to theological influences in government and politics.  It is not because I’m anti-Christian, or anti-Muslim, or against most religions, but instead because if our history throughout the world has proven anything, it is that religion hardly ever provides a positive influence to the way people are governed.

For example, let’s take the topic of abortion.  Look, not a whole lot of women enjoy getting abortions.  In fact, from what I know, getting an abortion is one of the least pleasant experiences out there, and I think you will find that people on all sides of the debate believe that abortion is not a good thing.  However, it exists, and in our society is also a necessity for a variety of reasons.

But the thing about religion being in the mix is that it completely and totally distorts the debate and even the scope of the problem at hand.  It skews the dialogue by turning it into a question of whether abortion is good or evil, which is absurd given the fact that abortion is a dreadful procedure no matter which side of the debate you are on.

Also, there is a pragmatic failing that occurs as a result of religious influences on the debate.  Because of the supposed moral stance religiously charged political activists have taken, abortion becomes a matter of whether it should be legal, or illegal.  Unfortunately, this is, to use the medical idiom, treating the symptom and not the illness.

And it doesn’t even do so particularly well.

Making abortion illegal still leaves many questions unanswered.  Who are we to charge with what crime?  Doctors or mothers?  And how harsh should the punishment be?  Finally, the greatest question, will making abortion illegal actually stop people from getting them?

The answer to this last question is of course abortions won’t stop if you make them illegal.  Abortions will still occur, whether in foreign medical offices or in back alleys.

What religion does in the instance of abortion is blind people to the broader scope of the problem, preventing them from seeing abortion as a symptom of a number of other social failings in America as opposed to the moral hot button that exists as today.  As I’ve argued at least several times in the past, reducing abortion is a goal that people on both sides of the debate could get behind if only they were to look at the bigger picture, focus on those aspects that ultimately result in abortions, and fix them.

Making the economy stronger for the middle class and lower class, offering better paying jobs and making sure more people have the kind of employment that allows them to support a family will, I think, greatly reduce the number of abortions that occur as a result of the mother or parents involved wishing to terminate a pregnancy they are not financially prepared for.

Engaging in a comprehensive sex education program as well as increasing the availability of contraceptives, meanwhile, will greatly reduce the amount of unwanted pregnancies that result from those who practice casual sex.

Finishing up this example, focusing on crime, increasing police numbers, etc. could be used to reduce rapes which themselves cause unwanted pregnancies.

But impairing debate on sensitive issues is not the only place in which religion throws a monkey wrench in politics and governance.  One must also take into account the highly divisive nature practiced particularly by the more radical element, but also seeps into the more mainstream parts of society.

This too has hampered our ability to progress together as a society, and extends back as far as anyone is willing to look.  While religions will often share running themes, they also tend to run antithetical to each other, often demonizing outside faiths, or the lack of faith as it may be.

It is interesting to recall that after fleeing England for religious persecution, those who settled here looking for a sactuary for the practice of their own faith would find themselves doing the exact same thing to the Catholics back when this nation was much younger, resulting in warring in the streets over such arguments as to which bible should be used in public schools, or if Catholics who did not prescribe to the King James Bible would be allowed to sit out daily readings.

This tendency exists today, and just a few days ago we heard an interesting story from one of the Republican frontrunners.  Mitt Romney who himself has had to suffer from religious discrimination because of his Mormonism, had mentioned in an interview that he would not appoint to the Cabinet a Muslim.  While that episode itself stands in contention, that was not the only time that Romney made such remarks.

The comments only underline the state of American opinion to those who practice the Islamic faith, and wades in the shallow waters between two different sentiments.  The first plays upon the attribution of actions and beliefs of a radical branch of the Islamic faith to all muslims; implying that all Muslims must be terrorists, while the second sentiment is that Islam is not good because it is not Christian.

Rarely do you hear these words spoken by the major politicians.  Polite society keeps these thoughts from reaching the lips of many in mixed company.  But anti-Islamic rage exists, and continues to bubble under the surface despite so few (outside the hot air windtunnel of the right side of the blogosphere and punditry) letting it reach the light of day.

And this is the exact opposite of how this country is supposed to work.  The whole premise, intrinsically embedded in our way of life from the structure of our government to that amendment guaranteeing free speech and expression that was so important that the framers made it the first, that we would welcome all opinions, all people, to form a more perfect union suffers because of the religious animosity that not only exists but is allowed to fester and in some cases is encouraged in the political sphere.

Another example is the kind of adversity that Barack Obama has had to suffer as a result of not only having a funny name (the worst of which being his middle.  Some folks just won’t let you forget that Mr. Obama’s middle name is Hussein), but also having the kind of upbringing that brought him in close proximity to Islam abroad.

From the moment that he entered the race for the presidency, Obama has had to face accusations of secretly being a Muslim, and while I thought that meme had gone the way of the dodo, it turns out I was very very wrong.

Page A01 of the Washington Post (not the conservative Times, mind you) decided to fan the flames that Obama is secretly a Muslim, and is running in order to establish Muslim rule over the United States.

The failure here becomes twofold.  Of course, while Obama did have ties to Islam throughout his youth, and his grandfather is a Muslim, the man himself is Christian.  But worse is the subtext in which it would not be okay for a Muslim to try to run for the presidency.

It is an incredible time for our democracy in one aspect.  Never before have we had both a woman and a black man running for the Oval Office and be credible contenders for the presidency.  For the first time, though we as a society still harbor a great many gender and racial tensions, those tensions are being overcome, and not only are the woman and black man strong candidates, but they are being judged on their stances on the issues  and those attributes that are actually significant to the topic of whether they could serve as president.

But on the other hand, when it comes to religion, such breakthroughs are a very long way off.  While I’m confident that there is at least a respectable, if not good, chance that our next president will be a woman or black, I can say with no uncertainty that we will not see a president of the Islamic faith, the Buddhist faith, the Jewish faith, or of no faith at all for a very long time.

Faith in God and Christ is not needed to be moral.  Nor does such faith make one inherently good.  But we don’t look at that.  We don’t even entertain the idea that someone can be a good person, or a good president despite their faith, but must instead be so because of their faith.

The ugliest bit about the Washington Post piece is not that Obama is getting smeared as an Islamic Terrorist (though that is ugly), but instead the undercurrent that no Muslim can be fit to occupy the Oval Office.

We as Americans put too little weight on a candidates qualifications, in other words, and too much weight on which God they pray to.

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