I have come to tolerate and, in some instances, respect religion. (This despite the fact that I believe morality is universal and that the tribalism inherent in religion too often increases the likelihood of immoral action, be it war, murder, or theft.) I am friends with several religious people and we are able to have thoughtful, warm debates without resorting to name-calling. In fact, my views on religion have undergone a dramatic, positive transformation in the last eight years.
This morning's news, though, makes me unsure whether the reconciliation was altogether warranted. Maybe I should still be dressing in black, listening to angst rock, and proclaiming God dead? At eighteen years of age, that seemed the appropriate response to religion and Christianity's authortarian rule. Maybe I should adopt such a posture again?
But I sometimes forget that the secular/fundamentalist divide is not a Christian issue alone. The three sibling religions, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, all suffer from similar cancers; the growths accompany the maturation of any religion in contemporary society. (An article in the New York Times today touches on book banning in Jerusalem. Rabbi Nosson Slifkin, an accomplished young Orthodox thinker who seeks to "reconcile" religious texts with contemporary natural history, is being publicly denounced as a heretic.)
The Schiavo case is uniquely American, though, because the "religious" pressure is coming from the executive level, not from a minority of the public. The legislation being passed is unprecedented. (See the NY Times article , excerpted below.) I do not consider myself affiliated with either of our major political parties and, on some issues, I trend center-right, so to see the Republican party turned into a mockery of it's former self is more than discouraging. It's criminal.
"Republicans have traditionally championed respect for the delicate balance the founders created. But in the Schiavo case, and in the battle to stop the Democratic filibusters of judicial nominations, President Bush and his Congressional allies have begun to enunciate a new principle: the rules of government are worth respecting only if they produce the result we want. It may be a formula for short-term political success, but it is no way to preserve and protect a great republic."