Religious Right Represents One Small Part of Spectrum

Ken AshfordAssisited Suicide/Schiavo, GodstuffLeave a Comment

Barbara O’Brien has a must-read over at The American Street.  To quote the best parts is an injustice to the whole thing, but I reluctantly will selectively quote and summarize anyhow:

Right now Michael Schiavo and his supporters are hoping an autopsy of Terri Schiavo’s brain will eventually settle the matter of her persistent vegetative state beyond a shadow of a doubt. It would, in a rational world. But we know what’s really going to happen, don’t we? Release of the autopsy results will just touch off a new round of conspiracy theories. The coronor might as well not bother.

2004_dd_religiousright Barbara then takes on the false premise of Edward Feser, who wrote the following into his essay "How to Mix Religion and Politics": The question is whether religious arguments should have the same standing in public life as secular arguments, and the answer is that there is no good reason they should not.

This is a dishonest framing of the debate, Barbara argues, adding:

[T]he implication is that liberals want religion to be kept so entirely private it is never seen in public, and that opinions influenced by religion may not be considered in debates on public policy. And this is a lie.

However, I am not inclined to have my religious practices enshrined in law so that everyone in America is forced to practice them, nor do I think decisions such as the disposition of Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube be made based on my understanding of life and death. I don’t feel an urge to march around demanding that everyone in America accept my religious beliefs as the only legitmate religious beliefs.

Exactly.  And then she delivers the coup de grace:

I have no problem at all with religious people, members of the clergy, even, coming forward to advocate changes in law and public policy. But their arguments have to stand or fall on their own merits. If their argument consists of waving a Bible in my face and yelling about what God wants, I am not persuaded. I respect any rational, factually based arguments about public policy, including religious ones. The problem is that these days religious people in the public sphere rarely make rational, factually based arguments. Too often they’re not even making good theologically based arguments.

The emphasis in the last paragraph is mine.

It’s an excellant post, especially for those in the Religious Right who want to understand, rather than beat down, those who feel and believe differently than them.  And there are many many many.  As Barbara says:

There are many sects and denominations in this nation whose doctrines and practices differ a great deal from that of the Religious Right. Unitarians, Quakers, Reformed Jews, Eastern Orthodox, etc. etc. etc. all have long and deep roots in American history, yet they are often out of agreement with the Religious Right. And I am personally aquainted with politically liberal evangelicals. However, these days liberal evangelicals are keeping their heads down and not speaking out much, lest they draw the tender concern of their politically conservative brethren, which is getting dangerous these days.

It’s time for the Religious Right to let go of their stranglehold on Jesus, and it’s time for these other religions, and people who adhere to them, to stop being bullied.

Maybe now that Falwell’s voice will be silenced soon….