When was it that some people…

When was it that some people in this country began to feel they had a right to make their religious beliefs public policy for the rest of us – – engage in a cabal against the rights of others in the name of their particular views? How did the private decision-making process become a matter to be raked over in media discussions by people who know little about the circumstances of or the consequences for the parties involved?
It would seem that complying with one’s religious beliefs on a personal basis would be enough for most practitioners of whatever persuasion. Instead they preach constantly from their narrow perspective or smarmy political advocates who want to sway elections proclaim they hold the moral high ground. No matter how unlawful, unethical or sexually perverse congressional representatives show themselves to be, lines are repeatedly drawn on the basis of issues that are pivotal for a segment of voters who feel strongly about gay rights, abortion and embryonic stem-cell research.
Still, the preaching would be acceptable if it weren’t for its emphasis on changing laws and attacking the views of others with vitriolic, condemnatory language. The fire-and-brimstone pitch may be appropriate for those who endure it willingly from the pulpits of their various houses of worship. It becomes ugly and un-American when it explodes from right-wing media as a means of promoting public policy or for simply attacking political opponents. Instead of the school-playground approach of nah, nah, nah the adult version suggests “I’m more moral than you are” – – more sophisticated language but the same infantile approach in a grown-up world.
To all those who proselytize about their holier-than-thou positions why don’t you mind your own business? If you do not agree that abortion is ever permissible, don’t have one; make sure your children understand how you feel; support your church in getting the word out. But don’t stick your nose into other people’s lives and bolster your opinions with dubious scientific data that fails to address the real problems people face in their daily lives. Quite possibly the most immoral act of all may be that of bringing unwanted, soon-to-be-uncared-for children into the world, especially when government does so little to provide them with health care and a decent education.
It is worth noting that the New Testament deals most often with feeding and giving shelter to the poor, healing and ministering to the sick – – reaching out to desperate people of all descriptions. For anyone who accepts the Bible as a teaching tool, outreach tends to trump condemnation. And significantly, when followers questioned Jesus about why they should pay taxes to the Romans Jesus replied “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s” making him the original proponent of the separation of church and state. Today’s religious advocates want to blur that all-important line which has kept our country on an even keel all these years.
The first response to the Michael J. Fox political commercial supporting embryonic-stem-cell research came in the repugnant comments by Oxycontin specialist Rush Limbaugh. To assuage his pain Limbaugh became addicted to painkillers and engaged in underhanded tactics to obtain them. Is he a reliable source for meaningful discussion about how a debilitating condition like Parkinson’s should be handled or how someone afflicted with such a disease might go about supporting efforts to find a cure, or is his just that familiar voice of a puffed-up political hack pursuing his usual partisan line?
A subsequent follow-up to the Fox commercial is a TV spot by three public figures wishing to influence the course of scientific research. Jim Caviezel, the cinematic Jesus in “Passion of the Christ” has his say; it is unclear in what language. Then Patricia Heaten of “Everybody loves Raymond” fame who said, when questioned by Bill O’Reilly in a previous interview, that she would vote to ban abortion if she were on the Supreme Court, comments curiously about the issue in general. And in the hurry-up mode of our political season and concomitant media hype Jeff Suppan, St. Louis Cardinal Pitcher now competing in the World Series, adds his voice to the negative response mechanism being generated by Republican strategists. The commercial will air during TV coverage of the World Series for maximum impact.
The right to free speech provides these folks with a forum, but that doesn’t mean their narrow perspectives should prevail for the nation as a whole. What may not be the right course of action for them does not mean they should set the agenda for everyone else. They may not wish their tax dollars to be spent for things they consider immoral. But many anti-war activists feel similarly about contributing to weaponry, yet they must comply with what is considered the greater good of national defense.
The self-proclaimed moralists in our society should follow the dictates of their religion without inflicting the rest of us with smug preachments that attempt to promote sectarian views but lack compassion for the human condition.