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Religion and politics have worked throughout history hand in hand to control the populous and share power.  This has probably been true since the dawn of humans, religion and politics.  I will not go into the history of The Catholic, Protestant or Muslim church, but any such history would prove without a doubt that what I have said is true.  Religion is politics.

In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814
Time for the Church to admit they are not a charity, but a political action committee.

Don’t let anyone try to tell you otherwise.  

I would like to submit for your consideration (channeling Rod here) that religion is and always has been another force to divide the populous and pit them against each other much as sexuality, race and economic status have always been.  Catholics against Protestants.  Sunni against Shiite.  Men against women (sluts, witches).  Straights against gays. It takes the spotlight off what they are really doing, which is taking control of money and power.  Just as these issues divide Democrats and Republicans, so too do they religious factions.  There have been many articles here about the fundamentalists sects and their dangerous ideology.  One religion is not better than another in this respect.  The purpose and goal is the same, power.

I have read many comments by religious and church defenders on DK that the hierarchy is not the church.  Wrong.  They only have that power because of their membership, just as the two political parties can claim support because of people who register in the name of those parties.  By belonging to any of those religions you are tacitly if not explicitly giving them your support.

Armando, The encroachment of religion on our secular government, in his diaries says religion has a right to argue in the public square like any other group.  Your attendance is giving them the power to claim the right to do that.  Your donations, and past donations, and plunder give them the power to do that.

One of the most dangerous aspects of the Bush administration to me personally was a blatant declaration of giving public money for social programs to religious organizations, thereby giving them more power and support in the public sphere.  States have been doing the same thing by diverting more and more public tax dollars to private schools, many of them religious.  Money is power.  Power is control.  Membership is power and control.

Sept. 2 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. government released a list of charitable groups collecting contributions to help Hurricane Katrina victims that is dominated by religious organizations and excludes many secular and international relief groups.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency list was posted on the agency’s Web site and published in major newspapers yesterday. After the American Red Cross, which was named first, the next organization was Operation Blessing, a group based in Virginia Beach, Virginia and founded by televangelist and Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson.
“How in the heck did that happen?” said Richard Walden, president of Operation USA, a Los Angeles-based secular group that has been conducting disaster relief work since 1979 and was not on FEMA’s list. “That gives Pat Robertson millions of extra dollars.”

 I also believe this was one of the Constitutional framers objectives in freedom of religion, by allowing all, it would dilute any efforts of one religion to gain control.  I have read in some biographies of Jefferson, (though I can’t name them right off the top because it has been a long time since I read them), that this was exactly Jefferson’s purpose in regards to the freedom of religion amendment, although he was in France when it was written and passed.  He realized he could not do away with religion, so by opening it to all, none would be elevated to a state religion and they would fight and dilute any power they had. Smart man.

"But a short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer of the Jewish religion, before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants, and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandizing their oppressors in Church and State." -- Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1810. ME 12:345
But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782.
Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.
-Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom
Next to the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson took greatest pride in his authorship of the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, which, as his friend James Madison said, "extinguished forever the ambitious hope of making laws for the human mind."

Jefferson wrote this statute in 1777, when he had returned from the Continental Congress to begin a wholesale revision of Virginia's laws that would eradicate every trace of aristocratic privilege hidden in them. At the time, "the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience" was an established right in Virginia.

 Yet Jefferson's statute was bitterly opposed and led to what he later called "the severest contest in which I have ever been engaged."

The statute finally passed in 1786, thanks to the political skills of James Madison and only after the assembly had deleted significant portions of Jefferson's original law. Partly as a result of this victory, however, Jefferson gained a reputation as an enemy of religion. Thirty years later he wrote that "the priests indeed have...thought it proper to ascribe to me...anti-religious sentiments...They wished him to be thought atheist deist, or devil, who could advocate freedom from their religious dictations."

Why did Jefferson's defense of religious freedom backfire in this way? Read this excerpt from Jefferson's statute, which shows the main sections crossed out by the Virginia assembly in parentheses. Then try to answer the questions below.

Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom
(Well aware that the opinions and belief of men depend not on their own will, but follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to their minds; that) Almighty God hath created the mind free, (and manifested his supreme will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint;) that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments...tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do, (but to extend it by its influence on reason alone;) that the impious presumption of legislators...[who] have assumed dominion over the faith of others...hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world;...(that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction;)...and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself; that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate; errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.

And for a conservative opinion on the matter:

As Sen. Barry Goldwater told the U.S. Senate in 1981: "We have succeeded for 205 years in keeping the affairs of state separate from the uncompromising idealism of religious groups and we mustn't stop now. To retreat from that separation would violate the principles of conservatism and the values upon which the framers built this democratic republic."
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Richard Price, Jan. 8, 1789 (Richard Price had written to TJ on Oct. 26. about the harm done by religion and wrote "Would not Society be better without Such religions? Is Atheism less pernicious than Demonism?")
They [the clergy] believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion.

-Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Benjamin Rush, Sept. 23, 1800

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State.
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT., Jan. 1, 1802
If we did a good act merely from love of God and a belief that it is pleasing to Him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist? ...Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than the love of God.
-Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Thomas Law, June 13, 1814
Religion should not be given the presumptive exercise of First Amendment rights above all others by anyone when it involves the Constitutional rights of every citizen.  Religion under any name should not be given public money whether for social work, schools or hospitals.  Doing so is just giving them the power to exert their influence on the political sphere and their ideology on every citizen of the country.  We can all see how that is working out.  It is time to start rebuilding that wall of separation between church and state a little higher with some harder mortar.

Originally posted to notdarkyet on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 07:15 AM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  I would say there is no hierarchy (7+ / 0-)

    in religion, and no organization or structure external of the individual. Churches are essentially an external structure of individuals with some commonality of religious faith (usually incorporating hierarchy).  Freedom of religion should grant no consideration to churches, it refers to individuals only.

    "I took a walk around the world, To ease my troubled mind. I left my body laying somewhere In the sands of time" Kryptonite 3 doors Down

    by farmerchuck on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 07:25:26 AM PDT

  •  Mr rec is for separation of church and state (5+ / 0-)

    It does not imply criticism or approval of either

    What'd the devil give you for your soul, Tommy? He taught me to play this here guitar REAL good. Oh son, for that you traded your everlastin' soul? Well, I wuddn' usin' it.

    by ZedMont on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 07:29:24 AM PDT

  •  with each passing revolution of our tiny (6+ / 0-)

    rock, around a gigantic collection of ancient hydrogen and helium atoms, constantly spewing unimaginable amounts of energy and light, I am ever more convinced in the grandeur of the universe, as I am ever more convinced in the inherent fallacies in each and every organized religion.

    I will admit that a few good ideas have managed to come out of religious texts and teachings, but that good is easily overwhelmed by the bad, the evil, the abuse, and the blood shed because of faith.

    If you total up all the good and all the evil, religions are far more evil than good.

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 07:38:12 AM PDT

  •  this (7+ / 0-)
    I have read many comments by religious and church defenders on DK that the hierarchy is not the church.  Wrong.  They only have that power because of their membership, just as the two political parties can claim support because of people who register in the name of those parties.  By belonging to any of those religions you are tacitly if not implicitly giving them your support.

    Armando in his diaries says religion has a right to argue in the public square like any other group.  Your attendance is giving them the power to claim the right to do that.  Your donations, and past donations, and plunder give them the power to do that.

    one doesn't need church or organized religion to have a relationship with god or a rich spiritual life.  it's time for people to abandon churches in droves and deny them membership numbers.  Exodus II, if you will.

    homophobia.  war on women.  climate change/general science denialism: churches/religious ideology is actively causing harm at this point in time, as at so many others throughout history.  enough.  religion's had centuries and centuries with very little to recommend it.


    My goal is to make the world safe for anarchy. - 4Freedom

    by Cedwyn on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 07:59:44 AM PDT

  •  Religion is spirituality, without the spirituality (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    notdarkyet, farmerchuck

    Organized religion is politics with dogma mixed in.

    Progressive, Independent, Unitarian, Vermonter.

    by Opinionated Ed on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 08:34:51 AM PDT

  •  Long, but worth a read: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    notdarkyet, farmerchuck
    While people of color, the poor, youth, the middle class, the elderly, LGBT communities and women are being attacked, the Republican Party is supporting a campaign to collapse the boundaries between the church and state, and even liberal critics such as Frank Rich believe that the United States is on the verge of becoming a fundamentalist theocracy. Let me develop this further by examining four of the most serious fundamentalisms that now constitute the new authoritarianism in the United States.

    "That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State ..."- Vermont Constitution Chapter 1, Article 16

    by kestrel9000 on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 08:38:32 AM PDT

  •  I think you mean "populus" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    as the Latin referring to "the people" as used in "vox populi" ("populi" is the possessive form in Latin) rather than "populous" which means "having a large population (as in "New York is a very populous city").

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 09:58:38 AM PDT

  •  Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom (0+ / 0-)

    Thank you for this.  Wonderful Stuff.  Very Enlightening.

    I spent some time teasing apart the entire draft Thomas Jefferson submitted.  I've never had such a rough time with Jefferson.  I'll be publishing the format and notes that helped me with this.  

    They say there are strangers who threaten us, ... That those who know what's best for us | Must rise and save us from ourselves. "Witch Hunt" - Neil Ellwood Peart, Canadian lyricist with the band "RUSH".

    by Hualapai on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 08:32:00 PM PDT

  •  Well, I said it before and I'll say it again... (0+ / 0-)

    ...yours is, at best, a very limited and jaded understanding of religion.  I do appreciate the diary because it provides a better understanding of where you're coming from, but I disagree with much of what you say.  

    You claim "religion is politics," and there is some truth to that but religion is not solely politics, nor has it ever been that way.  By your definition, any organization, regardless of purpose, achieves political power to some degree based upon membership and money.  And there is some truth to that too.  But I don't judge an organization, especially a religion, solely by their political power or stance.  For example, organizations like Hamas and Hizbullah strike many non-Muslim Americans the wrong way due to their political stances and para-military activities.  But both of these organizations are also charities, heavily involved in providing social services to their communities because other organizations, such as government agencies, have failed to do so.  The same for churches and other religious institutions closer to home.  They are not simply political organizations or political action committees, and any claim that they are is naive.

    Nor do I have a problem with giving public funds to religious institutions if they meet the criteria which the government sets for the use of its money.  Each organization, whether secular or religious, has an ideology that it promotes, otherwise there is no purpose for the organization's existence.  But it's the government's responsibility to set the criteria for which the money is to be given out and to monitor how the funds are actually used, regardless of what the organization's ideology is.  Setting a blanket injunction against religious institutions from receiving public funds simply because they have an ideology (which all organizations have) is akin to cutting off one's nose to spite one's face.

    Muslims and tigers and bears, oh my!

    by JDsg on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 10:40:57 PM PDT

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