The belief in God(s) and associated rituals has been a part of human cultures for all of recorded history. Among other things these religious beliefs have served as a ‘cultural glue’ that bound societies together with shared beliefs and practices. Religion has played a critical role in building community and ensuring stability. Today religious communities are characterized by mutual help and support. The common beliefs are a basis for communication and sharing – all good and critical for a healthy democracy.
This country was founded by pilgrims who were seeking, among other things, religious freedom. Religion was seen as a personal thing. There was tolerance for each individual to have his or her own beliefs. Early communities succeeded in large part because of the strength of their communities bound by religious beliefs and associated sense of sharing support for the common good. The constitution was conceived with an explicit tenet that church and state must be separate. Our country was open to people of of all beliefs.
In more recent history we have seen the rise of evangelical christians and most recently their transformation into a political movement. They have associated with the Republican Party and are a major influence in politics at all levels. They have put their religious and racial identities above all else. We now speak of a white evangelical movement. A movement whose objective is to impose their conservative Christian values on the Nation to the exclusion of all else. The are conservative to the extreme on abortion, immigration and sexual preference tolerance. In each of these areas they are intent on reversing the more liberal policies and laws of the last several decades. The historical role of building community among common believers has transformed to a crusade to impose their beliefs and values on others and, most concerning, exclude others from sharing the opportunities available in this democracy. We see ‘white nationalists’ on the rise. We see racial intolerance. We see women cast in historic roles as submissive and second class. This is the ‘Bad’.
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