The Political Jesus

Image source.

Image source.

I’ve been meaning to write something up about the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’s recent report about religious freedom and civil rights, but this story by Hemant Mehta over at The Friendly Atheist provided a good example of a closely related issue: politicized religion. It’s been a staple of the political scene here in the States for a while now, and it’s doing very ugly things to public discourse.

What’s going on.
In Florida, a group called “Abolish Abortion Florida” is circulating a petition to amend the Florida Constitution. The amendment itself is calling for abortion to be classified as a premeditated first degree murder, which would qualify the defendant for the death penalty (but not require it). Not only that, the amendment would broadly classify abortion to the point that any intentional destruction of a fertilized egg would qualify a person for this murder charge.

The Florida Constitution does allow for voters to propose an initiative to amend the constitution in this way (See Fla. Const. Art. XI, ยง 3). That said, proposing an amendment like this is a little complicated. The group needs signatures from at least 8% of the voters in at least half of the 27 congressional districts (14 to be specific). Additionally, the petition needs to have enough signatures to cover 8% of the people who voted in the last presidential election (after doing the math, that number is currently about 678,000). Although Floridians generally support the right to an abortion, there are enough people that could sign this to put it on the ballot in 2018. If that happens, 60% of the voters would need to vote in favor of it.

Despite not being likely to succeed, the amendment has other things going against it. The amendment violates the U.S. Constitution and other Federal law, which would make it unenforceable. It also might not be able to survive a challenge brought by other voters if it gets on the ballot. On top of that, the Florida Supreme Court would most likely void it ahead of time because of its conflict with Federal law.

This is just the latest in a long string of grandstanding for religious voters.
Abortion is a hot-button issue, an almost guaranteed way to get people who identify as evangelical to vote a particular way. The rhetoric and attempts to curtail a woman’s right to seek medical treatment get dialed back as soon as a Federal court can issue the order and get confirmed on appeal. Still, the damage often gets done for the sake of claiming that a candidate is fighting against baby-killing.

None of this would be possible if evangelicals didn’t fall for it every election. It looks like they’re going to fall for it again this election. They believe with complete confidence in the lie that the clock can get turned back on women determining their own medical care. That ship has sailed a long time ago, and it’s never coming back.

Seeing this happen every two years makes it hard to take Christianity seriously.
From threats of divine annihilation to rebuking society for vague reasons, politicized faith runs at odds with the moral superiority I see flaunted over heathen savages. Somehow it’s loving and moral to deny people access to medical care and birth control for nothing more than failing to abide by one particular interpretation of a text cobbled together 1800 years ago. Let’s ignore the fact that too many Christians can’t even agree on what the entire text fully means; let’s pretend that Jesus wants everyone to vote one particular way.

I cannot stress how disappointing it is to see initiatives like this getting championed by people who ignore veteran homelessness, fair wages for honest work, or even something so simple as educating people on how to effectively use birth control. All this money collected to do something truly pointless could have been put towards research to making childbirth safer or saving the lives of prematurely born infants. But no, we need to punish women for getting pregnant.

Because that’s what Jesus wants.

18 thoughts on “The Political Jesus

  1. I look at it two ways. It absolutely scares me that religious folk are using politics to push laws that suit their religion (while telling you it has nothing to do with religion).
    The other way I look at it and hope others do, is the religion right is forcing their views on others, hopefully even moderate religious folk will see this and reject this approach.

    It’s sad that people use “what Jesus wants” to promote their own beliefs ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I used to work with people in poverty and access to reproductive care is a moral issue, and I get so tired of pro-lifers claiming the high ground here when they are causing tremendous harm. From women who have have four or five children getting denied for tubals to woman desperate for birth control but lacking the gas money to drive two hours to the nearest Planned Parenthood to get it, all of whom live impoverished lives marked by abuse, it is just sickening. We have the technology and resources to make sure every child is a wanted child, but because people buy into something written 2000 years ago, it isn’t available.

    Further, global warming. Half of pregnancies are unintended. If we could drop the number of pregnancies by half and reduce the number of people growing their carbon footprints…

    Liked by 4 people

    • Roianna, I so wish pro-lifers would think beyond their bibles. The circumstances you describe are very real … but “believers” either can’t or refuse to acknowledge them.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Another part of the problem is that these same people try to chip away at the right that they don’t like, making it as hard as possible to get a legal service. They make it as difficult to run clinics and as costly as possible. Some people then claim that they are being reasonable because they are not trying to ban it out right. They normally claim to be worried about the woman’s health in the case of abortion, and religious freedom in the case of same sex marriage. One thing about the abortion laws that is horribly wrong is that in one state doctors are required to read a statement that is medically incorrect. Totally not the doctor’s opinion or advice. It was put into law by these lawmakers and governors who put their religion ahead of the rulings of higher courts and of the rights of individuals, and even the federal constitution. These religious groups are trying to do the same thing with same sex marriage. They want to delay people as much as possible from exercising their right to get married. They try to put as many roadblocks as possible to prevent people from using this right. They are proud of these actions. This is one reason I post the atheist stuff I do. I have no problem with anyone having a personal faith, no matter how kooky I may think it is. I do mind and get upset when people try to force their religion on others. When they try to mandate others live by their interpretation of God’s wishes. I refuse to simply let them add their god to our civilian laws, to add their biblical notions to our schools classrooms, or to deny people’s rights and status to simply give legal standing to their worship. It always seems it is their version they are trying to enshrine as laws and make people live by. They never want the respect they demand to be given, to also be given to anyone else’s religion. Here is how I try to explain my view. I claim there is a small dragon who comes over and visits my house and plays with my cats. I have no proof of this. I can’t show this dragon to anyone else, even though Ron and several of our friends have claimed to either see it or feel it. My belief is fine as long as I don’t insist they teach about my dragon in schools, put dragon rights in the laws, and make everyone do things for my type of dragons. As soon as I try to make my private dragon belief a public one I have crossed a line and should be stopped. Great post. Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh Jeezus. This amendment proposal is ridiculous!

    “All this money collected to do something truly pointless could have been put towards research to making childbirth safer or saving the lives of prematurely born infants.” Amen brother. This former doula agrees heartily. Hello! March of Dimes. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    • Quixie – you’re a former doula! Good for you; we have a daughter who’s a midwife. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Oh, and SB. I saw something on Noseybook the other day (or maybe it was something on Scottie’s site – can’t remember now) which suggested . . . “if only the Syrian refugees had stayed embryos”.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Just read this quote on FB and it reminded me of how your posts are mostly targeted at “Christians” but not really on God himself…. “If being hurt by the church causes you to lose faith in God, then your faith was in people not God”


    • Hey there!

      Since I’m an atheist, I don’t really address posts at the Christian deity because I don’t believe it exists anymore. Rather, I do level criticisms of the Christian faith, culture, and practices of its adherents. Here, I’m addressing politicized faith, a concerning phenomenon that’s happening in evangelical Christian circles. I’m not sure why you put quotation marks around the word, “Christians.” Are you suggesting that millions of these people are not truthful about their faith?

      Secondly, I’m not sure where you’re going with the FB quote. It seems to suggest that I never believed in the Christian deity, which would not be a fair and accurate depiction of my experience as a Christian. For many years, I believed that this deity gave me direction in life, answered prayers, and looked out for me. I felt sometimes that serendipitous experiences were part of a divine plan for me. This doesn’t even cover feelings of euphoria, dreams, and other phenomena I felt was really a supernatural being trying to communicate with me.

      I can say now with reasonable certainty that there was no deity doing all of this, but at the time I would have sworn otherwise. That I am in a different place now doesn’t negate my past or my experiences in life. It just means I have a new perspective.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Actually losing faith was not what she was saying. What she was trying to get across to all the christian wackos that if god did not intend for women to be able to decide for themselves then he would not have given them free will. These so called christians need to stop pushing their beliefs on others and live their own lives the way they please. Last time I checked our founding fathers distantly placed in our constitution freedom of religion .That means we have the right to believe what we want but we do not have the right to impose our beliefs on others.

      Liked by 1 person

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  7. I just read this today. The election is over and many evangelicals and related so called christians supported their guy with the moral compass and compassion of an alley cat. In their quest to make illegal, both a woman’s right to choose and the right to love who we choose, these people willingly supported Mr. Trump. If you believe in sin, then these individuals have a heavy debt to pay.

    Liked by 2 people

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