Religion and Politics | Courthouse News Service
Saturday, December 2, 2023
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Religion and Politics

If you'd call yourself left of center -- for want of a better term -- don't you wonder how Christian conservatives or the religious right get to their political positions? Especially on questions like: Who gets to live? Who deserves to die? Whose lives can be put at risk? How about war?

A bunch would probably tell you they believe every word of the Bible, like most literalist Muslims would say of the Koran. But think about it. There's "Thou shalt not kill" and then there's "Go into that land and kill every man, woman and child, bird, beast and creeping thing." Even the birds!

Obviously people who read that library -- the Bible -- pick out the things they like. I am intrigued by the story of a jealous Cain, who has slain his brother Abel, but, when questioned, asks God, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Apparently he is, for Cain is exiled, but God in his mercy spares his life, even protecting him.

The quality of mercy is attributed to the Almighty in the Torah, the New Testament and in the Koran, but does it seem to be a quality reflected in far right Jews, Christian or Muslims? Not so much.

Liberal leaning Muslims (and that's not an oxymoron) may think jihad is getting rid of one's own flaws, fighting them rather than blowing up the innocent. So in Islam as in all religions, believers run the whole gamut.

Doesn't every belief system seem to have its two wings, with left and right wing extremities tipped by screwy wing-nuts?

The left-leaning on life and death matters will tend to question the death penalty, war, denying access to good health care -- which of course could mean death -- and lax enforcement of gun laws, leading naturally to the same.

The right, on the contrary, tend to support the death penalty, all wars we get involved in, health care as it is pretty much, gun rights and a really free market, tending to make the poor poorer here and elsewhere, some so poor they die as a result. Protective regulations are anathema.

There's a story in the Gospel where Christ says he will judge future nations, telling those who do not look after the sick, the hungry and the destitute: "Depart from me... I never knew you." But here I show my bias.

Of course there are conservatives who are generosity and kindness itself in their personal lives if not their politics. But my guess that it's the extreme right in the three major monotheisms we have the most to fear from. Why? Maybe because they are so sure they're right. God's on their side: the suffering of others is scarcely considered.

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