It probably won’t surprise anyone to hear that people are trying to pray Obama out of office. At least, it doesn’t surprise me. When it comes to anything pertaining to current use of religion, I am generally nonplussed, but never really surprised by anything I see. I look at it this way – religion is a rock. You can stand on it and proselytize, sit on it to rest, brandish it as a threat, or throw it as a weapon. But it is, in all circumstances, still a rock. The only differences are how and by whom it is being used.
Christianity may be a majority religion in this country, but I am under no obligation whatsoever to be or even feign being christian. I am not religious and I never have been. I am not even a vague non-observant christian. I was raised in a religion-free household and, to my memory, at least one of my parents was an atheist, however impermanently.
Times change, however, and times can change people. Today, both of my parents are religious – to the point that occasionally makes me personally uncomfortable. I don’t mean in any way that they should change what they do or that I think they are wrong. In fact, I think religion and involvement with the Church has been a good move for them. They are much more involved in community and more social than I have ever seen them be. But it is strange to hear them talk about religion and church as if it has always been a central player in their lives. The first time I got an email from my Dad with the sign off ‘God Bless’ it really through me for a loop. But, like I said, even though I personally do not believe that organized religion is unequivocally good in general (or good at all for me as an individual), I think it fills a need for many people.
So, when I hear about people trying to pray Obama out of office, I am not shocked or outraged. I neither like nor agree with the message that (1) they are an organized group and (2) they have God on our side. I don’t like it when I feel like people are threatening me with religion, but I don’t exactly feel threatened, either. Seems to me like any god worth his or her salt would be pretty happy with Obama, but then again (1) I am happy with Obama and (2) everything I know about Jesus comes from Jesus Christ Superstar, so my view is clearly tilted.
Which brings me to another point: who owns Christianity? Who owns Jesus? Lately, there has been a lot of disagreement over what it means to be a “Christian” — to the point that some feel the need to rewrite the Bible to reflect their opinions. It appears that many conservatives do not like the idea of a ‘love and peace’ Jesus and would like to get back to the whole fire and brimstone style, apparently because the peace and love style is at odds with a conservative sociopolitical agenda. Which seems a little hypocritical to me. People have been using religion as a justification for eons; but now, when religion is used to counter their arguments, they insist that their religion has been co-opted and perverted by their opponents. To the point that they have to rewrite the Bible?
Why bother? Why not just form your own opinion? Or do you have to have religion on your side? Are we still stuck on the concept of the righteous fight? Does the ‘moral majority’ need God/the Bible on their side in order to keep going? Do you not know what is right and what is wrong unless you can find a passage in the Bible that can be interpreted (or manipulated) to support your feelings and opinions? Some may think I am doomed to hell, but I cannot imagine being so bound to something that I can make no move, physically, emotionally, or intellectually, until I have received its imprimatur.
The idea of using God/religion/church/faith/prayer as a weapon or tool is as old as religion, it is true, but using religion as the primary focus of a political agenda is, at least for the U.S., fairly new. And clearly is causing a very unnavigable rift in the Republican party. And now the same group that insists it is their right to define the Republican party is now also insisting that it is their right to define evangelical christianity. If I had a dog in either fight, I would be pretty damn riled up.