Back in the 70s, I was a pretty militant feminist. I can’t help but imagine how great it would have been to have had a weblog back then.
My militancy then was about choice, in the broadest and narrowest and most personal sense of the concept. I wanted the right to make — and have respected — all of those choices that enabled me to be who I was and wanted to become. Problems only arose when others tried to impose their choices on me. Or I, on them.
(Now, let me add a caveat to all of this militancy by saying that in a marriage and in a family, often choices have to be negotiated because it is very rare that everyone in a relationship can have everything they want at the same time.)
I am still militant about choice.
It’s understandable that people who choose the same ideas, ideals, beliefs, and faiths gravitate to one another, form affinity groups, clubs, societies, parishes. Problems arise when those affinity groups get militant about imposing their dogmas on others. That’s true of prostelitizing atheists and agnostics as well as religious fundamentalists. A respect for choice requires tolerance.
I am obsessing on this because a family member sent me an email extolling the virtues of comments supposedly made by Ben Stein on a recent CBS Sunday Morning Program.
Interestingly enough, the emailed text of his supposed commentary was really a compilation of things he had said on several occasions. It helps to check on www.snopes.com to verify stuff you get in emails.
Stein’s homey and (on-the-surface) seemingly caring comments lead the listener to dangerous conclusions. For example he asks the following question, which reminds me of the old “when did you stop beating your wife?” He asks:
and we aren’t allowed to worship God as we understand Him?
Do you get his manipulation? Of course lots of us are fed up with the media focusing on the likes of Nick and Jessica. But where in America are people not allowed to worship god as they understand him?? Putting those two statements together makes the second seem as true as the first. And the good sheep follow the misguided and misguiding shepherd.
The first settlers of America came here to escape intolerance. They came because they wanted to be able to choose how to live their lives and not be forced to accept a view of the universe espoused by those in power. They fled from a country where the Church and State were one and the same. Ironically enough, they wound up recreating in the government of their own communities what they ran from to begin with. That tendency might be a basic human flaw, and that might well be why the crafters of our Constitution made such an effort to separate Church and State.
Our Constitution protects choices made within the limits of law, with no preference given to those who believe in a god or who belong to any organized religion. With no preference given to the dogmas and tenets of any religious group. The spirit of our Constitution is rooted in lawful — not religious — personal choice.
Problems arise when a powerful religious organization imposes their Church laws on the State’s laws, when they forget their own biblical metaphorical admonition to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Problems also arise when the god-fearing draw erroneous conclusions from partial facts. While some of our Constitution’s framers were god-worshippers, there is no indication that they wanted to establish anything but a country that protected freedom of religion as well as freedom FROM religion.
If you want more documentation for this assertion, please check out my rant from just about three years ago, a post that received scholarly praise in an article no longer online, but quoted in one of my posts here.
There is a growing militancy among the god-less that needs to continue growing.
Choice and tolerance and respect.
Isn’t that why America was founded in the first place??