The Bible as Token

The Bible as Token

The political rhetoric has reached the lowest levels in recent memory, even lower than when President Obama ran for office the first time.  Why do so many of us persist in believing that the person who is using the most crass language and showing the least amount of respect is the best person for the highest office in the land?   Perhaps, we church people should employ the same technique to inflame the other members of our faith communities to condemn, vilify and disrespect people who are not like us or don’t agree with us.  No, wait, we already have at least one candidate that uses his faith to justify his unseemly words and promises for the days after he is elected…if he is elected.  Politics is not a field of interest for me and certainly not Presidential politics as it is currently being showcased.

Of more concern to me are the actions of state and local governments in recent weeks.  The states of Mississippi and North Carolina have passed laws similar to the one passed in Indiana a while back that is, according to the writers of the bill, aimed at protecting us Christians from…from people who do not hold the same beliefs as we do.  In my entire lifetime, I have never been denied the right to pray.  I have also never prayed at a public event as though my faith tradition trumps someone else’s or as though my prayer is better than theirs.  The framers of the Constitution of the United States were very clear that no religious tradition or organization could become the “official” one for the country.  Religious persecution is the reason many of the early settlers in America came here in the first place including: the Pilgrims, the Quakers, the Baptists, some Catholics, the Reformed churches, and some Presbyterians, not to mention Mennonites, Amish, Brethren, Huguenots and Hutterites, etc.

Tennessee tried to do the other states one better by presenting a bill naming the Bible as the “official” book of Tennessee. Really, they did. The Bible would join the “official” state tree, bird, flower, mascot, fruit and rifle.  It passed.  Really, it did.  They managed to reduce the Bible to the equivalent of a token of their state.  The Governor vetoed it after an unexpected backlash from all sorts of folks including Christians.  The State Senate was unable to override the veto, so it will have to wait until next year to be proposed again.  This flies in the face of the Constitution, of respect for others’ faith, of the tolerance that the nation was founded upon and serves only to inflame some of the worst attributes of people. 

Christianity is in danger of being destroyed from within, I’m afraid.  Next thing you know there’ll be a move to begin another Inquisition, this time here in the United States rather than Spain, Italy, France or England.  Places from which many of our families fled to find religious freedom here in America.  Let us remain their defenders and those who follow in their path.  It is a part of the fabric of our great society and culture that all people are free to believe and worship as they see fit, but not to require that the rest of us believe and worship just like them.