Three particular issues arouse passions like no other. These litmus test subjects (and I feel very confident asserting this) are God, Guns and Gays. Given the emails that I get when I write on any of these topics, they evoke more unreasoned emotion than anything else.
"God, Guns and Gays", which I also think was my prom theme, can cause family rifts, chasms in relationships and outright irrational behavior in humans.
Other writers have suggested that if I want to be liked I shouldn't go near God, Guns or Gays. But my thinking is that I have never been liked, so why start trying so late in the game? Moreover, there are 300 million people in the USA (180 million of them here legally) and it is a fool's game to try to please them all, so here goes.
First about God: When this subject comes up, people are usually referring to their own particular deity, and therein lies the problem. Almost any action can be justified by someone's religion, most of which are based on books written more than 1,000 years ago, and open to all sorts of interpretations. We must remember, moreover, that only 30% of the world's population is Christian and that those 2.1 billion Christians belong to upwards of 15 different denominations that slice and dice the Bible in their own way. We are in a war now because a certain sect takes a jihadist view of The Koran. All of this, if you read history, never ends well.
The Pilgrims came to the United States to flee religious persecution and to worship as they chose. With that in mind, our Founding Fathers made the separation of Church and State one of the fundamental tenets of our democracy. They were clear; they wanted a democracy, not at theocracy.
So, when it emerges that upwards of 150 young graduates of the late Jerry Falwell's Liberty University are holding down important jobs in the Bush Administration, it starts to concern me. And when one of the most senior staffers in the office of Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, one staffer recently resigned under pressure and took the 5th amendment, turns out to be a graduate of Falwell's fourth tier law school it is clear that mixing religion and law seems to be the objective. Many of these zealots do not recognize the separation of church and state, much in the same way that they do not recognize fellow parishioners in the liquor store.
In the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy, Guns have become topical again. And again, like all matters of importance, less government intrusion in the matter is best. Liberals like Rosie O'Donnell spend much of their air time on shows like The View preaching more gun control laws. And if you think guns make people criminals, then spoons are what make Rosie fat; therefore we should really outlaw spoons. And if government regulates our spoons, could forks and knifes be far behind?
Remember, three of the Fort Dix terrorist suspects had been in our country illegally for about 20 years. Between them, they had 75 arrests and citations over that time, and our crack government agents failed to investigate their illegal status. Put no faith in government's ability to effectively police anything.
Homosexuality, as we all know through televangelists, is a learned behavior. Much like those with cerebral palsy and red hair, folks that are gay "chose" it. All a gay guy has to do is close his mind to Brad Pitt and pray a lot and he will be fine. Not as fine as Brad Pitt, but ok. And what better way to make amends for the way you are than to spend your life in constant denial of the way you are so that you can please the pious people who hate you in the name of religion?
If the real reason that those who condemn gay marriage do so because they do not want gays having sex, my suggestion is quite the opposite. As most married folks have found, there is no better way reduce the incidence of sex than to get married. The Religious Right may want to rethink that one.
In conclusion, Bush and the neo-cons seem to want us to fight for our God, with Guns and without Gays of course, to preserve the American way of life as they see it against Muslim terrorists. Given his popularity numbers, I am not sure we are with him in this semi-religious war.
Life is really short, so spending too much time pushing our views about these personal matters on others is a waste of time. Live a good life; be an example for others, and then you will find that that is the best way of encouraging people see things your way.
Ron Hart is a columnist and investor in Atlanta. He worked for Goldman Sachs and was appointed to The Tennessee Board of Regents by Lamar Alexander.
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