God and Campaign 2012

 

Cover of "God and Politics"

Cover of God and Politics

 

 

 

10-0: the number of times Republicans mentioned God in their platform versus Democrats’ references to the Deity—until Fox News noticed the discrepancy. Which means Republicans are faithful to God, while the Democrats are guided by—Satan, I guess. Republicans, of course, know who God is and exactly what God wants us all to believe: that stewardship of the environment is unrelated to faith, that women lack the moral fiber to make decisions about their own bodies, that homosexuality is a sin. Since Republicans know with certainty what God wants, they’d surely govern according to God’s rules. Therefore, God-fearing people should vote Republican.

 

It’s name dropping, so many references to God, not all that different from my trying to gain your confidence by frequently mentioning my close friendship with Laura Bush or Oprah (neither of whom I, in fact, have ever met).

 

Nowadays people with money contribute a lot to political campaigns. Anonymously. Of course their wealth is the result of having worked hard, very hard. (Apparently the mechanic who’s been fixing cars for decades, older waitresses in our local restaurants, and nurses’ aides in their fifties haven’t worked hard enough. Or they’d be rich too.)

 

We admire the wealthy. On TV we look enviously at their houses. We want the kinds of cars they drive, the clothes they wear. Trying to be like them we give them power to influence us. We come to believe their words that what’s good for them is also good for us and that they know what’s best for the country.

 

To gain our confidence they rely heavily on name dropping: God this and God that. TV commercials costing PACS millions of dollars affirm our core values, tying God to patriotism and freedom. Wealthy supporters pay consultants big bucks to manipulate us into liking what they want us to like, hating what they want us to hate. We’re against welfare queens though we have no first-hand knowledge of them. Though few cases have been documented, we’re upset about voter fraud and support a candidate favoring rules to make voting more difficult. We don’t pause to ask who really benefits from such positions. Who is harmed?

 

May we not someday wake up to discover we’ve been hoodwinked and that our country has paid a great price. Because we believed them when powerful people said God this and God that.

 

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God and the right to marry

People of faith have a history of denying certain groups of people the right to marry.

Mildred and Richard Loving

Mildred and Richard Loving (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not all that long ago, in 1958, Virginia authorities arrested Mildred and Richard Loving and banished them from the state. Their crime: she was black; he was white. “Almighty God,” the judge said, “created races white, black, yellow, malay, and red, and he placed them on separate continents….The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

The first law preventing marriage between races was established in 1664 by the Maryland colony, which was concerned about the number of white servant women marrying slave men. Would their offspring be slave or free? Over time forty states banned some form of interracial marriage. Lower courts upheld these antimiscegenation decrees on grounds that making laws about marriage is a prerogative of the state; natural law dictates that the races not intermarry; non-whites are physically and mentally inferior; and marriage between people of different races threatens the order and peace of the community.

Not until 1967, in Loving v. Virginia, did the Supreme Court strike down (unanimously) these statutes. “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men,” the court opinion stated.

Today few Americans oppose interracial marriage on the basis of God’s disapproval. Did we decide that God is more tolerant than we thought? Or did we misunderstand God’s intent?

Now the target is gays and lesbians. Scriptures against homosexuality are not as clear as many claim. I’ll let theologians argue that point and hope they cite other scriptures, such as ones saying we are to stone rebellious sons to death (Deut. 21:18-21).

For those of us who are straight, our lives daily intersect with gay women and men. They are our sons, our daughters, our colleagues, our neighbors, our friends. We know them to be active citizens, hard workers, conscientious parents, devout Christians. Many in long-term loving relationships want not just the legitimacy of their relationship to be recognized by the state but also the same legal protections heterosexuals take for granted. These include property rights, inheritance, insurance coverage, parenting rights, and life and death decisions.

It is time to grant our fellow citizens full legal rights. Including the right to marry.

 

Nancy Werking Poling is author of Had Eve Come First and Jonah Been a Woman. Currently she is seeking a publisher for Before it was Legal: a black-white marriage, 1945-1986.