Sunday, October 7, 2012

Religion and politics in the United States

Although I'm not an American, I find the political situation of the Unites States quite interesting. In a morbid way. Not because of presidential elections or anything like that, but on a larger scale.

The political landscape in the United States has changed radically during the past 10 years or so, specifically in relation to religion.

You see, 20-30 years ago it would have been a political suicide for a politician to refer to his or her own religion in the United States. Making a reference to being, for example, a pentecostal or a baptist would have driven away all the voters of other denominations. ("Oh, he's a catholic. I'm certainly not voting for him! They are the church of Satan!" "Oh, she's a baptist. They are nutjobs! Vade retro!")

This has turned completely on its head: Nowadays it would be a political suicide to not make references to the (Christian) religion and to not profess one's religion. What was more or less a practical taboo something like 20 years ago is now a practical requirement if one wants to get even a slight chance of getting elected. Nowadays it doesn't really matter if you are a catholic, a baptist or a mormon (no matter how wildly different and conflicting those denominations are.) As long as you talk about "God" (always in a vague sense, of course) and how the United States is a religious country, it doesn't really matter which particular denomination you belong to. What was once a show-stopper is now a non-issue, as long as you profess "God" (without going too much into specifics.)

During the last decade or so, the war on science, secularism and even education has escalated to incredible proportions in the United States. The biggest enemy of the country was once the "communists", but today they have been replaced by "atheists". They are the source of all that's wrong with the country and the entire world. They are the modern-day witches. It's actually amazing how ridiculous the conspiracy theories about atheism can be there, and how seriously many people believe them.

There has also been a really strong historic revisionist movement in the country. That is, they are trying to rewrite the history of the country to be almost the exact opposite of what it was. It's a well-known fact that a significant incentive of making the United States independent from England was to escape religious persecution of the church, and to create a nation where there is religious freedom and nobody is forced to belong to any specific religion, or any religion at all what that matter. The government shall not make any law imposing any kind of religion, there shall not be any religion-based requirements for elected officials, all citizens have the right to freely have and express any opinions, and so on and so forth.

There are serious attempts to turn this on its head, attempts to rewrite history books to make the country a theocracy, founded on religious principles, and basically defile the entire idea that the founding fathers of the United States worked so hard to achieve.

The situation has escalated more and more during the last years. I have been wondering: Why now?

Maybe it's all the terrorism and extremism? The economic recession? Scary environmental prospects promising a grim future? A combination of all of them?

It's probably a form of scapegoat mentality. People feel insecure and unsafe, and they want to find a culprit. If they just could find the culprit and get rid of it, everything will become good and well once again, like it was in the golden era of the 1950's. The communists aren't really that big of a threat anymore, so there must be some other culprit. Who are the witches that must be hunt down in order to get the country rid of this curse?

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