Religion reared its ugly head in Brussels on Tuesday. 31 dead to my knowledge, a great many more injured physically and mentally. It’s a tragedy. So many lives needlessly cut short and/or altered forever because a lunatic with a belief in the imaginary had a bomb.
And by imaginary, I mean a divine warrant. The terrorists in Brussels believed they had such, and that’s one of the most dangerous things about religion. To have such certainty in the face of all evidence and reason leads people to do bad things when taken to the extreme. Nobel Prize winning physicist Steven Weinberg said, “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, it takes religion.”
And let’s not forget Pascal who—in addition to suggesting his famous wager—said, “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.” The three men from that photo in the airport of Brussels look ordinary enough, look like they’re out for a holiday, and were it not for their faith, it could have been so.
All religions do this to some degree or have in the past. Islam seems to have the most extreme elements these days, but Christianity was there before. It’s possible it would go there again. In the face of such terror, the Christian elements of society could go all the way back to the Old Testament where God commanded the slaughter and genocide of all those who were not of the chosen tribe. The rhetoric is already there in some elements today.
In November, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz visited the anti-gay National Religious Liberties Conference where the main speaker, a raving lunatic named Kevin Swanson, called for the death of homosexuals. And he wasn’t subtle. Watch the video.
What did Ted Cruz do? Nothing. He went on stage and was interviewed by said raving lunatic and when asked how important it is for the president of the United States to fear God, he said, “Any president who doesn’t begin every day on his knees isn’t fit to be Commander in Chief of this country.” He made no mention of or any challenge to Mr. Swanson’s call to slaughter homosexuals by the thousands.
One might say he was just pandering to the religious right for votes, but I say it’s more than that. I say he agrees, but as a politician, he knows he can’t come right out and say so. But it’s there in his words. He’s more subtle than Kevin Swanson, but it’s impossible to miss. Take these statements of his:
“I’m a Christian first, American second…”
“Nothing is more important in the next 18 months than that the body of Christ rise up and that Christians stand up…”
“I stand with Kim Davis.”
Should someone like that get elected, it isn’t too far off where Christian “morals” creep into law. It isn’t too far off where law enforcement monitors and harasses those who don’t belong to the tribe, those whose skin color or God is different. It isn’t too far off where discrimination becomes legal under the guise of religious freedom. And it isn’t hard to imagine a person like that waking up one late rainy night after a supposed divinely inspired dream and while praising Jesus and shouting hallelujah press the button to launch missiles that would destroy those who believe in other Gods, or those who simply have the misfortune to have been born elsewhere.
Don’t be so sure it couldn’t happen. That’s the road of the divine warrant. To quote from Christopher Hitchens in God Is Not Great, “The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species.” Infancy is absolutely the correct choice of words. It’s because such a person has abandoned reason and critical thinking. Faith cannot be reconciled with such adult things.
And that’s why Cruz scares me. Mr. Trump (Drumpf) is dangerous. He a wildcard who would wreak havoc, but he’s too much of an egomaniac to claim divine warrant for anything. He is his own advisor, his own counsel, probably his own god. Cruz is different though. He would be the beginning of the slippery slope that could well lead to the start of the Christian equivalent of Sharia law. Christian “morals” would be imposed and then enforced. And then Kim Davis and her ilk would become truly frightening.
We cannot let this happen.
Kasich is just as dangerous by the way, but he lacks Trump’s (Drumpf’s) bravado and Cruz’s divine warrant. Don’t kid yourself, though, he’d do all the same stuff.
The answer is obvious then. Bernie.
The next president must be the secular Jew, which might seem ironic considering the anti-religious sentiment of this post, but he’s the one candidate whose faith seems a secondary matter. It doesn’t define him. He doesn’t use it for the basis of decision and judgement or for the proposal of law. He understands the principles of separation of church and state and does not begin each morning on his knees as Ted Cruz would ask of anyone who would run for president.
Why not Hillary? Well, there are many reasons, but to stay on topic, in one of the town hall debates she said, “I get a scripture lesson every morning from a minister that I have a really close personal relationship with. And, you know, it just gets me grounded. He gets up really early to send it to me. So, you know, there it is in my in box at 5:00 a.m..”
And so there she is following the Cruz example.
I say no. I say Bernie. I say the Secular Jew.
Next January 20, Hillary and the republicans—candidates and voters—will wake up feeling a little warm. They’ll pray and read emails from their ministers, but the heat will not go away. They’ll open the windows, but it will still be there. They’ll sweat, but it will not be from hellfire , they’ll just be feeling the Bern.