As is the style in our United States, conversations about religion, religious values and how that qualifies or disqualifies a candidate for political office is part of the election season.
The People for The American Way has gone to a great deal of trouble to write a coherent informational guide to discussing religion in politics rationally. It’s called 12 Rules for Mixing Religion and Politics. Please read the entire document, it’s amazing.
The points that apply to me in this season are 8, 9, 11 and 12.
8. Political discourse should respect religious pluralism
9. Political figures and the media should not treat religious constituencies as monolithic; political and religious leaders should not claim to speak for an entire religious community on public policy issues.
As pagans, neo-pagans, energy workers, spirit workers, diviners, magicians, counselors, healers, etc., we have diverse religious communities . Despite those human interest pieces around Halloween, most of us are very careful about not using our definition of faith, deity or practice to imply that we speak for every pagan out there. There is always room for improvement, but we usually maintain that all other religions, and the right to practice those religions, is worthy of respect.
The opposition to anti-bullying legislation for GLBTQ children, teens and adults based in conservative Christian belief bothers me. The opposition to a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have a child based in conservative Christian belief bothers me. But I don’t assume that every conservative, Christian, or conservative Christian holds the same view.
11. Religious and political leaders should not “cry wolf” about religious persecution.
12. Religion should not be used as a political club.
It is unfortunately too common during the election season when I have a religious/political discussion and I disagree with something the other person said, the default reaction is to either cry religious persecution or suggest that his/her religion or lack thereof is “better” than mine.
We are very often given pre-packaged “parties” with “party lines” and asked to choose. One of my colleagues noted recently that while she believed in the rights of GLBTQ and women, she felt as though that same party wanted to tax her to death.
While my worldview is based in a certain set of beliefs, it is what I do that matters. That is a key component. If I don’t agree with the practices of a particular politician, I vote against him/her. If I don’t agree with the practices of a particular religious organization, I don’t go there or donate money there.
But I have to research those politicians and religious organizations. It is my responsibility as a citizen to do the homework.
Your mileage will most certainly vary.