Using emotional fear, artificial righteousness and hate as human currency to bend the will of government, industry and every day citizens is more dangerous to us as Americans than 100 black plagues combined. The manner in which several major Christian religions in the U.S. manipulate the notion of God to gain power and promote prejudiced agendas has reached a fever pitch so substantial that it threatens our united way of life.
U.S. Religious Capitalism, humbly defined, is the buying and selling of American souls for the purposes of gaining political and economic power. The society-threatening byproducts of these heinous, godless actions include inequality, mass manipulation and insatiable emotional, political and fiscal greed. Disguising the thirst of churches for power as some kind of religious right is, according to the book of Matthew, sin filled.
If we've learned anything about the notion of capital, you have to have it to spend it. Judging by the actions of GOP presidential candidates, it seems religious capital is priceless. Rather than reinforce the separation of church and state, candidates are battling each other to claim the moniker of "most religious." And why? So that they can rally Christian conservative leaders and their followers on election day. Even Newt Gingrich, a serial adulterer and all-around not so nice guy, is touting his newfound personal affiliation with his evangelical Lord and Savior.
The U.S. Christian faith, of which I'm a member in God standing, has never posed more of a threat to the American way of life than it does today. Claiming that God gives them the authority, organizations are fighting to take away the civil rights of law-abiding compatriots to live their lives. Does affording gays the right to marry change how I live my life? No. But as a rallying cry, it can pull haters and homophobes and good God-fearing people mislead by their leaders off of the couch and into the voting box in the name of Jesus. The result? Powerful Christian groups that can use their voting currency to foot bind the nation to their way of thinking.
U.S. Catholic bishops, leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention and a host of other dominating denominations don't need to hold the country's highest office to assert their authority over our government. Instead, they spend their human voting capital to get concessions and blood oaths from candidates. When you're a presidential hopeful whose sole/soul focus is the most powerful job in the world, you might fool yourself into believing that some of the constitution provisions such as equal rights under the law aren't all that important. You might make excuses for changing your mind on choice, gay marriage or even the constitution, believing that "whatever means necessary" justifies the end of our democracy, bedrocked in the notion of equality for all.
Grand Old Party campaign stops have morphed into politicostal tent revivals, carelessly excluding Americans of differing faiths. Mormon Mitt Romney, afraid of backlash because of his faith, attempts to rationalize his beliefs so that his campaign can score support of the religious right. Gone are the days of JFK, who had to promise the American people that his Catholicism wouldn't enter into the decisions he made as president.
To understand the grievous behavior of the politically and powerfully motivated religious right, we need only look to the Son of God Himself. Jesus wore a dress and hung out with a prostitute. He didn't have any capital, other than His Godliness. He showed Himself on Earth as a Man of little means, not one in an ivory tower. He warned us in the Good Book not to lord over each other, but to act out of kindness. A man with no weapons, little money and no soldiers was hated and feared for His love, as it was more powerful a force than all of the world's armies combined. He believed we should not judge our fellow men and women, but serve them humbly as He did. And He believed everyone was someone, worthy of love and respect.
Raised a Catholic, I distanced myself from the Church when it started to weigh in on politics and politicians. I was taught in church that God gave us free will so that we'd have to choose how to live. Would we sin, or would we be of service? Well, that was up to us. Attempting to change and/or enact laws to take away Americans' personal rights isn't in keeping with the Christian God of my Catholic understanding.
There is no humility or love in trying to leverage the name of Jesus, or any other deity or "rallying cry" to promote prejudice, exclusion and fear mongering to win an election. And there is no humility or love shown by religious leaders who use their flocks to beat their agendas into candidates' platforms.
Our Founding Fathers knew how wildly important the separation of church and state is to a united society of equals, as it would help guarantee religious freedom. They put protections in our governmental structure not because they didn't believe, but because they did.
Sarah O'Leary is a author, public speaker and brand marketing consultant. Her books are available on Amazon.com, and wherever fine books are sold. You may reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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