Saturday, February 25, 2012

"Imagine No Religion" (in Politics)

In astrology, Jupiter-ruled Sagittarius and 9th House connect to religion, politics and philosophy. It's a great pity that ancient astrologers saw religion and politics as being so closely linked. I suppose that, at root, the mental and philosophical roots of religion and politics could be said to arise from similar ground, and this is why there are common astrological links. Sagittarius also links to ethics, foreign cultures, travel, international affairs, and how the individual relates to the "big picture", the world, and to a higher power, leading to its representation of belief systems and faith. Sagittarian optimism and idealism links to expansion, and progress, while its shadow side brings in a pompous preaching element, personified as a zealot trying to "save" or convert with his "truth".
(Illustration: The card Principle from Oracle of the Radiant Sun deck, the ninth card in the suit of Jupiter, The Suit of Gain.)

I, possibly mistakenly, see politics as more the province of Saturn and Capricorn. Laws, a major aspect of politics, are indeed the province of Saturn, but "The Church" as an institution, and "The State" as an entity connect to Capricorn, so the "terrible two" are entwined yet again.

Are religion and politics the same as church and state?

Religious belief, or lack of it, has nothing at all to do with the ability to run a country, which is, or ought to be, the prime aim of politics. We might as well be guided by the colour of someone's eyes, or whether they wear briefs, boxers or neither, as be guided by their religious persuasions. Religion, atheisim, or anything between is an intimate, purely personal matter which should have nothing whatsoever to do with politics. This applies in the USA, especially, because its Constitution allows freedom of religion -any religion, or indeed non-religion. Conversely there ought not to be any interference by religious bodies, of whatever persuasion, into politics.

The Establishment Clause is the first of several pronouncements in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, stating:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion

This is supplemented by Article 6 of the Constitution that says:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

These two declarations indicate the direction in which the country should travel. Separation, setting religion and government apart, supposedly guaranteeing fair and equal treatment to all citizens, whatever their religious beliefs or lack of them.

It's not working though.

In the USA religious establishments are allowed to function as tax free entities. Public money goes to schools run by religious organisations, and as loans to pay for students (who are not schooled well in the sciences)to attend colleges run by religious organisations. God is on USA money, and part of the Pledge of Allegiance; Oaths in courts of law are taken on a Holy book; there are prayers at the inauguration of a president; "God bless America" is intoned after every State of the Union address. Why?

And what about "The Family" and the "C Street House"? (See Wikipedia HERE).
Also an article at Salon: Sex and Power Inside "The C Street House". A clip from that piece follows:

But Family men are more than hypocritical. They’re followers of a political religion that embraces elitism, disdains democracy, and pursues power for its members the better to “advance the Kingdom.” They say they’re working for Jesus, but their Christ is a power-hungry, inside-the-Beltway savior not many churchgoers would recognize. Sexual peccadilloes aside, the Family acts today like the most powerful lobby in America that isn’t registered as a lobby — and is thus immune from the scrutiny attending the other powerful organizations like Big Pharma and Big Insurance that exert pressure on public policy.

The Family likes to call itself a “Christian Mafia,” but it began 74 years ago as an anti-New Deal coalition of businessmen convinced that organized labor was under the sway of Satan. The Great Depression, they believed, was a punishment from God for what they viewed as FDR’s socialism. The Family’s goal was the “consecration” of America to God, first through the repeal of New Deal reforms, then through the aggressive expansion of American power during the Cold War. They called this a “Worldwide Spiritual Offensive,” but in Washington, it amounted to the nation’s first fundamentalist lobby.

In both presidential election campaigns I've experienced religion has been touted again and again by candidates - on both sides of the (in my opinion fictional) divide. Religious views, it should be noted, of one religious faction only, are becoming increasingly, and aggressively, forced into political debate and argument.

If the Constitution were working it'd be equally possible for a Christian, Muslim, Pagan or atheist to be president of the USA, and to wield political power in lesser positions too. In theory it is possible. In practice not so much. Maybe it will work in practice, eventually - in say another 500 or so years if, in the meantime, we don't blow ourselves to smithereens or cause the Earth to dispose of us dramatically, as the parasites we have become.

From what I've gleaned, by reading and talking to my husband, things were not always this bad in the US. Perhaps 9/11, then the so-called "War on Terror" against Islamic factions, and several years of a general feeling of financial insecurity have all fired up more intense levels of religiosity among Christian fundamentalists in the US.

I wasn't a fan of the late Christopher Hitchens, but I do hope he rests in peace. He was right in this quote of his:
“How dismal it is to see present day Americans yearning for the very orthodoxy that their country was founded to escape.”


Anonymous said...

GP: Religion and it's derivative, politics (the way I see it and Marx had well understood), are made to "keep in check the masses". As simple as that.

Plato (in his Republic) opens some means to understand a way of idealistic politics - res publica - in the common interest of the people) which however we forget to be just an ideal, and so high it can never be achieved.

Religious leaders, mostly those pretending to represent "God's will to be done on earth", naturally profit from Plato's "idealistic impossibilities". But one tends to underestimte the hand the Devil has in all that: all he needs in order to achieve his goals, is "human imperfection". Be it by the politicians, by the religious leaders and foremost by those candid believers (on both sides) whose mass is increasing as fast as probably never before.

If humans had only the humility to admit failure and very meekly asked Mr. Devil to take entirely charge of earthern affairs, who knows, the bagger may come up with some surprisingly good solutions. And if there is a price to pay, it may not turn out more expensive than what humans now for centuries have been bleeding to their politicians or churches.

PS. Could not comment recently as I lost both of my computers due to some fraud. But Now I am back, for better or worse...

R J Adams said...

Good article, Twilight, and right on the nose. Though non-Christians do make Congress occasionally (André Carson of Indiana and Keith Ellison of Minnesota are both Muslims) only one true atheist has ever made it (Pete Stark of California). Needless to say, they're all democrats! We need many more. So-called Christian clerics are always bleating about the 'persecution of the church' but it's a total sham. They have the US government in their pocket.

Diane L said...

One can only hope . . . :-D

Wisewebwoman said...

I saw first hand the havoc/destruction religion caused in Ireland paricularly in the absolute authority given them in matters educational and medical, etc. - and here in Newfoundland too.
I see us all as hopelessly regressive and am appalled at the fundamentalist men (all men!!) debating female autonomy in the USA.

Twilight said...

Anonymous/Gian Paul ~~

Control - and money-making - is common to both, yes.

LOL! That's a rather avant garde idea you have, GP - let The Devil take the reins, and we'd be no worse off. :-D
I'll chew on than one.

Sorry to hear about your computers- but glad it was nothing worse - wondered if maybe you'd hurt that knee again.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~~ Thanks RJ. It was "from the heart" ;-)

Yes, there's a scant handful of non-Christian congress-critters, but out of - what - 435 representatives and 100 senators...a dismal showing.

Twilight said...

Diane L ~~~ It springs eternal!

Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~~ Yes, there's a thought - Ireland's pattern is likely imprinted here, in slightly different guises (non-RC) even though many Irish immigrants probably came here to avoid it.

I'm half-way through The Handmaid's Tale at present. I'm seeing Rick Santorum as The Commander with Michelle Bachman as his wife. LOL! It's a bit too close for comfort!

libramoon said...

The codified law, the institution of the State, are Saturn/Capricorn. Politics, the game, the philosophies, the campaigns' widespread of platform rhetoric, these are 9th House/Sag.

Twilight said...

libramoon ~~~ Thanks, yes, agreed.
And the church as an institution (and business, as many really are these days) will also come under Capricorn I think.
So there are astro links both ways. :-)

James Higham said...

I wasn't a fan of the late Christopher Hitchens, but I do hope he rests in peace.

Think he might be scheduled for a hot time actually.

Vanilla Rose said...

I have never had to give evidence in court. I once came near to it, but the case was dismissed before the defence witnesses were needed. I intended to affirm rather than swear on the Bible. Is that option available in the US?

Twilight said...

James Higham ~~ Ya think? I think he had his "hot time" while among the living.

Twilight said...

Vanilla Rose ~~ Wiki answers tells us

Forcefully requiring a person to swear upon the bible in the court oath is illegal and and has been deemed unconstitutional because it is promoting Christianity above all other religions in government,and in effect is forcing that person to profess to be of certain religion which they may not be...

Some US courts still use the bible and the term "so help you god" however if the person in court objects to the use of the bible and/or the term "so help you god"
The court is required by law to give them the basic oath which is widely used today which is:
"Do you swear or affirm to the best of your knowledge that the statements you are about to give will be the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth"

So yes, the option is available here in the US, as in the UK.

I do wonder, if in courts in the Bible Belt, whether a witness affirming rather than swearing on the Bible would be given as much credence. Just a thought.