In Alabama, where I live, if one doesn't claim to be a religious fundamentalist, one is a social pariah. Religion is what a person has to pretend to have to survive here. So I made up my own.
I believe religion has value and is a vital part of our civilization. I just don't believe that there is only one way to practice religion, so naturally I resent any religious group who seeks to impose their religious laws on others, especially if they want their religious views enacted into civil law or government policy.
I admire any religion that brings out the best in people. People who have the inner dialogue I like to call religion (the squeamish or non-Southern call it spirituality) seem to be happier than people who have a lot of inner cussing. These people seem happier, are nicer, and seem to derive a health benefit from their religious (okay, spiritual) life.
Cults are a different thing. They demand conformity, blind allegiance, unquestioning submission to authority, elimination of outside influences, and money. Groups I consider to be cults are the Moonies, the Scientologists, David Koresh's group, Jim Jones' Jonestown group and the original Mormons. I expect most modern Mormons don't believe their denomination's myths are the literal truth.
Religion is all powerful in Alabama politics. Our Christians won't vote for someone who doesn't believe in the same God they believe in. In his inaugural address, Governor Robert Bentley said that those of us who are not "born again" are not his brothers. Anyone who disagrees can go to hell.
I wish I believed in hell. I'd like to see people who use religion to advance themselves go there. That marketing major who built a mega-church and writes best sellers. The television preacher with gold plated bathroom fixtures at his cathedral. The "pro-family" preacher whose wife was five months pregnant before he married her. Most especially, the preacher-politicians who use religion to get rich and accrue power.
God's Chosen One of the month is Gov. Huckabee. Mike Huckabee talks like a Baptist preacher, thinks like a politician, and works for the Republican media. Facebook devotees put money in his collection plate, HuckPAC. Recently Huckabee proved his value to the Republican Party by persuading the fundies to stand in line to spend their money (fried chicken with a side of righteous indignation, please). By this display of political power, Huckabee has gotten an invitation to speak to the Republican Convention.
Barring an act of God, Willard Mitt Romney will fulfill his earthly mission by getting the Republican nomination for president. Another Republican will try to succeed where his father failed! Alleluia. I don't care that Romney is a Mormon. I care that he is a highly placed Mormon. Not only was he a Mormon bishop, at some point he had the title of "state president."
A writer on AL.com (Alabama's sad excuse of an online newspaper) quipped this morning that a Mormon president was better than Obama, who sat on a church pew for 365.25 days a year for twenty years, listening to Rev. Jeremiah Wright. I listened to the entire sermon that the FOX NOISE clip was cut from four years ago. I was not shocked to find that he preaches in the cadences of a black preacher, which I think is what terrified white America. What I heard was Wright speaking of how the national sin of slavery had harmed this nation. The former Marine said that God had "damned America." Not "Goddamn America."
Why is Sean Hannity calling President Obama a Muslim now? Bless his heart.