Why Religion Needs to Stay Out of Politics

I identify as an agnostic atheist. Essentially, therefore, I live according to an absence of faith, rejecting the idea that God or another divine being exists or has ever existed. I do, however, simultaneously understand that nothing is known beyond what science says, and am open to the possibility that something, potentially, could be responsible for all creation. In the wise words of Ricky Gervais, a fellow agnostic atheist, since there are “about 3,000 of them (religions) to choose from,” and if a Christian or other faith follower doesn’t “believe in 2,999 gods,” he explains, “I don’t believe in just one more.” That being said, I find religion fascinating and completely respect anyone’s right or choice to worship one. If living your life according to the principles of a certain belief system is your thing, I am all for it, even if I do not partake myself.

However, I do believe that religion, although it certainly can be beneficial to some, often does more harm than good. When privatized within a family or church, religion is relatively harmless. People are able to believe what and how they want, alongside others who feel the same way. Absolutely no harm done. Yet, once religion moves outside of a church or family unit and into politics, especially when said religion promotes prejudice, is radicalized or selectively worshipped to the point of hypocrisy, that is when things get a bit tricky. My theory is this; if a religion has become all-consuming to the point where it is actively influencing how an entire nation of people is run, then that religion has no business anywhere near a political ideology.

For example, in the current political atmosphere where everything is more privilege-centered (privilege, here, meaning white, straight, Christian men over the age of 45 making $100k+ per year) than normal, a religion-based government is incredibly dangerous. It has the potential to be especially harmful since every religion other than Christianity is considered a minority in the United States, and it is overwhelmingly Christian men who are in power. Such a notion would not be an issue if those in power kept their beliefs and work as two separate entities. However, as both Donald Trump and his vice president, Mike Pence, have both identified with Christianity and acted according to their Christian beliefs, they do not accurately represent the American people. Thus, the idea that one religion, when United States citizens are a melting pot of different backgrounds, ethnicities, identities, etc., can be a foundational belief system for all of its people, is horribly exclusive and inconsiderate.

Although I completely recognize that both Donald J. Trump’s personality and presidential platform do not align with traditional, good-Christian ideals, (and are, likewise, not representative of the majority of Christians whatsoever) he and his administration overwhelmingly promote dangerous beliefs stemming from the darkest parts of the Christian faith. Not only that, but many supposed “good Christians” follow Trump’s lead, seemingly using a selective and twisted version of Christianity as justification for their racist, xenophobic, homophobic, sexist or anti-science ideals. Once again, I realize that most Christians do not condone any of the horrid actions taken by the Trump administration. Additionally, I understand his version of Christianity is grotesquely backward and an unfair representation of both the Christian faith and its followers. However, anyone who voted for Trump simply because he “represents more Christian values than his opponent” and still honestly believes that he is a good, Christian man, is sadly blinded. I am sorry, but voting according to religious belief, therefore failing to separate church and state, and thus inadvertently condoning the prejudiced and discriminatory ideals that are tearing apart our country and potentially ruining life as we know it, are inexcusable.  

Religion has the potential to be a beautiful, inspiring and worthwhile phenomenon. In most cases, in fact, it is. Yet, when religious ideals are used to justify the alienation and marginalization of minority groups, thus jeopardizing their safety and well-being, it is a dangerous weapon.

Please, I beg you, check your privilege. If you can clearly see that the religion you practice is oppressive or is being unjustly used for oppressive behavior, please, do something about it. If powerful leaders are manipulating your faith into something that you do not agree with, speak up. If you can recognize that you, yourself, are playing into the marginalization of another person or group, do not be silent. Your silence is the problem. Using your privilege for prejudice or, simply being ignorant toward your privilege, is condemning members of your community. To those Christians who do not condone any such behavior, I am sorry that you are getting the brunt and blame. If you are as sick and tired of all of this nonsense and hatred as I am, be thankful that you have the opportunity to share your voice. I promise, people will listen to you.

Wake up, religious America. The ball is in your court.

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