This bit, from ultra-right preacher Jim Garlow, I think serves as a nice little object lesson on why religion and politics should not be allowed to dance together too closely. An occasional hoedown is probably fine, but if they stay together too long, or aren't chaperoned closely as the long night wears on, things lead to things and after a while you've got a whole bunch of little Official State Religion Jesus-Law babies crawling all over the place, getting into everything. Yes, I know that metaphor went a bit off the rails there. I don't care. All I know is that religion is very, very promiscuous, and politics doesn't always think decisions through.
All right, so go ahead and watch that tape up there, and let's go through it and add some commentary to noted homophobe Dr. Jim Garlow's little speech as we go:
What would happen if we stop saying right versus left, as if they're moral equivalents, and start talking about right versus wrong that are not moral equivalents, in the pulpits of the day.Why the hell are you talking about right versus left at all, in the pulpits of today? Are you saying it would be nice to switch things up and start preaching about right versus wrong, but you're just too consumed with talk about the political right and left and so there's just no time for the right versus wrong stuff? Then give up your damn tax exemptions, at the very least.
If 350,000 pulpits stood, would have stood for the last fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty years. We wouldn't have a debt of sixteen trillion in unfunded liabilities that can cause us to economically self-destruct.So Jesus is, apparently, deeply against deficit spending and unfunded liabilities? I entirely missed that part of the Bible; I guess it must have been in the long-lost Gospel According to Paul Ryan. And Lo, for Jesus visited that guy in the wilds of Wisconsin, and told him that economic downturns should always be met with severe government austerity or the poor people wouldn't learn the proper lesson.
It wouldn't have happened. You know why? Because pulpits would have said thou shalt not steal from future generations. It's morally wrong. It's obscene. And people would have gone into voting booths with that riveting in their heart and would affected, and shaken, the kind of legislation that would take place in this great city.I imagine it's less wrong to promise someone social insurance benefits after they've paid a lifetime of taxes, then cheat them back out of it because you've decided you want to spend their money on some spiffy new (insert war here), but nobody ever talks about that one. For that matter, the pulpits are damn quiet about the (insert war here) part, because Jesus said smite those guys, they probably have it coming. Me, I say Jesus says thou shalt have a decent transportation infrastructure, so thou dost not get thy economic ass kicked by other countries more willing to invest in themselves. Oh, and Jesus says pollution makes God cry, and he's going to smite the tar outta you if you keep pumping it up there into his backyard. The angels have to breathe that crap, you jerks.
If we'd had 350,000 pulpits across America understanding the potential of a holocaust that up to this point has cost us 55 million of our citizens there would have been declaration, the tearing up babies in the womb is a wrong thing and it needs to be stopped now, and it would have never happened,Translation: If we lived under religious law, things would be different. Namely, the rest of you would do what our particular religion says and believe what our personal sect believes. And we believe all sorts of stuff that the rest of you disagree with, which for some reason means we should have been trying harder to force you to do what we say anyway. The rest of you don't get your own religious law, though—we're going to pass laws forbidding that. It's just ours.
if we had pulpits in America that would understand the dimension of the catastrophic price when you mess with the definition of the most fundamental institution there is, one man, one woman, in marriage. It would have been declared from every pulpit, and we wouldn't have the discussions going on we have going on today.Yes, yes, it's the end of the world. Marriage is properly between one man and one woman's father, who is allowed to sell his daughter off to the highest bidder or in order to further his political or business ambitions. How dare you take that away from us.
I don't particularly care what Jim Garlow has to say on anything. It is, though, a nice instructive little reminder of how in general it is good to keep a nice little moat between the laws we all have to follow and what people like Jim Garlow have to say about anything. Having a political opinion is fine. Dressing your opinion up in the trappings of What God Wants is not fine, especially if your opinion is that the world needs to treat women, poor people, homosexuals, and the vast majority of everyone else much worse, just because your own invented morality says so.
This is probably why Americans are still not sold on the whole church-state blender idea, according to a recent Pew poll:
A majority of Americans (54%) say that churches and other houses of worship should keep out of political matters, while 40% say they should express their views on social and political questions. After a decade in which the balance of opinion tilted in the opposite direction, this is the third consecutive survey in the past four years in which more people say churches should keep out of politics than say churches should express their views on social and political issues.Personally, I'm fine with churches expressing opinions on social questions. Have at it! Political questions, too, so long as you're willing to toss the tax exemptions aside and be honest about it. But there's still a difference between expressing an opinion and demanding the United States government write their laws in order to codify your opinion as the only valid one. People like Garlow don't understand the difference, and think that their mission in life is not just to tell their own followers how to live their lives, but to make damn sure the rest of us have to as well.