No Religious Test for Office

Separation of church and state is intended to keep each from interfering in the workings of the other.

Separation of church and state isn’t just ensuring that government leaves religious groups alone – but that the religious groups also do not interfere with government. No lobbying from the pulpit, no interference with voting.

In fact, any charity that receives monies or tax consideration is generally not permitted to lobby the government. It’s a conflict of interest.

In the current Republican candidate race, Mitt Romney, Mormon, raises all the specters that John F. Kennedy did when he rans for and became the first Catholic president.

It’s something that I didn’t really understand as a teen in the 1980’s and not seeing that Christians view Catholic as a separate religion.

It’s curious, since all Christian sects have basically sheared off of the Catholic Church, being the oldest and longest continuous sect. After all, isn’t one of the commandments about respecting your parents?

In any event, while the concerns and objections to JFK was that the Pope would be the de facto President; the concerns about Mitt Romney and Mormonism are entirely different.

The Catholic Church is generally characterized as an out of touch, non-relevant, corrupt and systemically abusive, it is viewed by Christians as a religion whereas the Mormon Church is usually deemed to be a cult.

As an outsider, I honestly can’t see any meaningful difference between the Catholic Church, Christians (Evangelical, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Baptist, Methodist, Anglican, etc) and Mormons.

They include the same stories, with Mormons going an extra testament, the same cast of characters and pretty much the same gender roles and behavioral norms and a lot of the same beleifs, social attitudes and bigotry.

Truly, is there really a difference if a person believes that Armageddon will happen someday vs a given particular day?

Separation of church and state isn’t just a guide for how government and religious groups interact and relate to each other – but also a guide for how citizens are meant to interact with each.

Which means, you are supposed to vote for the person or party you beleive best qualified for office – not who you’d be happiest to share your pew with.

Politicians used to shake hands and kiss babies, now they have to trot out their religious beliefs as if these are qualifications for office – which is precisely what the Founding Fathers of America sought to avoid. No religious test for office.

That doesn’t mean that a politician can’t be religious, but rather that what they do in office must arise from the law of the land – not handed down from on high.

The idea of a president who believes that they have a direct line to God and the ability to destroy the earth multiple times by launching nuclear weapons, should be terrifying to any thinking person – no matter what their religious or not beleifs are.

I worry far less about disorganized terrorist groups with nukes, bio or other mass destruction weapons – than about a government led by a religious zealot who is no different than the disenfranchised terrorist.

Nations need to be lead by facts on the ground, reality, science.

We cannot have governments who do nothing post disaster because extreme bad weather is punishment for immoral behaviour.

There is a place for religion in people’s lives and communities; humans haven’t evolved beyond religion yet, but it’s not in the highest office of the land or in the policy room. Religion, being so widely varied, is not a solid or rational basis for policy or good governance.

Things To Never Talk About

Mortality.

Sure, intellectually, we all know that we will each die; but that’s decades away and nothing to concern ourselves with.

That people who know and love will die. Again, it’s tempting to wave it away as being long off, but often, it’s not. It could be as direct as a vehicular accident or as sudden as discovering end stage cancers.

In many ways, a quick, sudden and unexpected death is the best – you have the sudden shock and the aftermath to deal with.

No watching a person waste away for months or years, dying slowly and being removed from life activities by degree – limited by energy, stamina, lucidity. Worse, not even a steady decline, but a rollercoaster of being unwell, stabalizing, getting worse and that becoming the new normal.

Always in denial, always with a smile, pretending as if the new normal is here to stay. Until it doesn’t.

It is a difficult situation, coming to grips with death.

The news is full of brave people fighting and losing battles with failing health, and while good for them, I have to wonder, what’s the option? What is the alternative to being brave and fiercely cheerful, ready to battle to the bitter end, to face the dark night, to take the dirt nap unafraid.

Attitude doesn’t change the outcome, but it might impact the quality of the journey. To feel like you’ve not left any unfinished business; to ensure that no one you love has unfinished business with you.

That’s the rub. Do you talk over the past, no matter how painful? To make sure there was no misunderstanding, to apologize, to justify, to make amends.

Worse, what if there is no memory of the events that haunt you on the part of the other family or friends. Can you let it go? Remind them?

Perhaps death is the perspective needed to remind us of how unimportant that conflict, separation, differences, even long standing family arguments and battles really are.

Which begs the question, when faced with the loss of a loved one – immediate or more slowly, is there a point to rehash the past or should you just get on with the facts on the ground of the present and future?