Religion Has Destroyed our Political System

Religion Has Destroyed our Political System

Washington : DC : USA | Apr 27, 2012 at 7:41 PM PDT
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Two major parties dominate the political system in the U.S. The Republicans are conservative (preserve) and the Democrats are liberal (change). Major arguments between the political parties occur when it comes to issues that are important to either side. The biggest arguments surround government intervention, gun control and abortion rights.

When it comes to the marketplace, conservatives want a free market economy. A free market economy is an economic market with no governmental intervention. Very few free markets actually exist in the World, but this is the goal of conservatives. A belief in an economic system that allows the market to determine winners and losers drives this political philosophy. Liberals believe in the need for governmental intervention and the need to implement laws to protect employee safety and the environment.

Gun control is something the conservative philosophy holds dear. Their interpretation of the Constitution guarantees their right to bear arms. Many law enforcement officers and military members are members of the conservative party. Liberals believe that gun control measures can reduce the number of guns on the streets and make society safer.

Abortion rights is another issue that generates a lot of heated political discussions. Conservatives do not believe in abortions and take a very strong stand against tax dollars paying for services they go against their beliefs. Liberals see abortions as a medical procedure that should be between a woman and her doctor. They believe that a woman has a right to choose what happens to her body and low income women should not be denied access by denying tax dollars for these procedures.

On the surface the differences are very apparent. But once you take a much closer look, there is an issue that immediately becomes very overbearing in the arguments between conservatives and liberals. Religious beliefs dominate most arguments. Conservative philosophy is driven by the far right, or extreme conservatives in their religious beliefs that an abortion is killing an unborn child. They believe that life begins at the moment of conception, which is when the egg is fertilized. Birth control pills will prevent the fertilized eggs from attaching to the wall of the uterus, which is perceived as killing an unborn child. Liberals believe life begins at conception, which is when the fertilized egg attaches to the wall of the uterus. They also belief that there is no right to life until a fetus is viable, or able to survive outside the womb.

It quickly becomes evident why this issue is such a big one in the political arena. Conservatives have allowed their religious beliefs to drive their political views. However, the Constitution clearly calls for separation between religion and politics. The First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” And thus the problems begin.

Historians and political theorists have argued this issue for years. Some quote Thomas Jefferson from a letter written in 1802 to the Danbury Baptists: “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their "legislature" should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.” It is said that this clearly establishes the intention of the founding fathers to maintain a separation of church and state. Jefferson would not issue proclamations for Thanksgiving during his presidency, further upholding his position in the separation of church and state. (Thanksgiving was a religious holiday when it was first established: Lincoln proclaimed a national holiday as "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens")

James Madison, on the other hand issued four religious proclamations during his presidency. However, he is also quoted stating his feeling about the separation: “Nothwithstanding the general progress made within the two last centuries in favour of this branch of liberty, & the full establishment of it, in some parts of our Country, there remains in others a strong bias towards the old error, that without some sort of alliance or coalition between Gov' & Religion neither can be duly supported: Such indeed is the tendency to such a coalition, and such its corrupting influence on both the parties, that the danger cannot be too carefully guarded agst.. And in a Gov' of opinion, like ours, the only effectual guard must be found in the soundness and stability of the general opinion on the subject. Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Gov will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together; [James Madison, Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822, The Writings of James Madison, Gaillard Hunt]”

This brings to the forefront the effect religion has had on politics. It is obvious that the Founding Fathers did not want the two to mix. Religious extremism has created an environment of anger and aggression, both of which go against the core of Christian belief. Jesus fed the starving children and clothed the poor. The beliefs pushed by the extreme right seem to go against these actions on every level. To say that religion could cause such a catastrophic chasm to exist today is something previously unfathomable. The fact remains, however, that the impact religion has had led to even further separation between the political parties and the American people have paid a terrible price for these differences.

So finally getting down to the solution to this far-reaching problem it seems very logical to make a simple, basic statement: Take religion out of politics.

If you like writing about U.S. politics and the 2012 campaign, enter "The American Pundit" competition. Allvoices is awarding four $250 prizes each month between now and November. These monthly winners earn eligibility for the $5,000 grand prize, to be awarded after the November election.

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Religion Has Destroyed our Political System
Amee Ellsworth is based in Bennett, Colorado, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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