YatPundit's excellent diary on Catholicism reminded me of a diary that needed to be written, which is based on a remark that fell out of my mouth at lunch at work the other day...
I had been discussing the Republican debate, and the bizarre behavior of Alan Keyes.
toldhe-was-conservative who hadn't heard of Keyes, asked whether Keyes was a "religious conservative." I responded, - to apparent shock I suspect - that the term "religious conservative" is an oxymoron, a contradiction.
I didn't take the opportunity to expand on this, but indeed, "religious conservative" is a lie, and it's been a convenient lie - an invented fiction -told and adopted for years for a variety of reasons. Among them:
- The media showcasing the identification of "conservative" with "religious" helps distract people from obscene profits by media companies and their advertisers and their CEOs.
- By attempting to confine "religious" to "conservative" media and their financiers that those pesky MLKs, Berrigans, and others are replaced with the Mother Teresas, whose beneficence and charity depends on the necessity of there being poor people. Sort of like the way "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" was the broadcast version of what would have been Public Enemy in an honest world.
- Finally, and most importantly, and comprehensively, the identification of "conservative" with "religious" enables avoidance of a true, authentic, individual position one takes on the metaphysical questions, on ethics, and on morality.
It is this last item that to me is the crux of what is wrong - and let's call a spade a spade here - what is false about conservative religious positions, whether it's conservative Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Hindutva or whatever.
By attempting to subsume the individual experience and the individual's responsibility toward one's conscience, the conservative religious position throws itself in the way, sets itself up as a an arbitrary standard, sets itself in the way of honest encounter with the Sacred or with the Void.
It cannot be said often enough: conservative [Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, ...] are a false religions precisely because they attempt to coerce behavior as opposed to being an invitation to a free association with the promise of liberation of some sort.
There is no liberation in "conservative religions," indeed, the very notion of "liberation theology" is seen as heretical to the so-called "conservative religious."
I think many adherents of "conservative religions" in this country are sincere, well meaning people, who unfortunately have been sold a bill of goods by their ministers, their clergy, and their media. Having said that, though, we should not, in the name of religious tolerance, not decry fundamentalisms when they are harmful to society, and we should not, I think treat conservative religious positions with kid glove, we're-all-the-same-religion-anyway kind of treatment.
We're not all the same. And many of the folks on the other side would equate my son with a zygote, would teach him lies about the origins of the universe and humanity, and would cheerfully see people impoverished so there would be an opportunity to provide the hapless souls with "charity."
And these are the fruits of conservative religious people, and they should be opposed, because these are not in anybody's book moral and ethical positions.