The Left

Religion as Politics

Lucy Pinder
Lucy Pinder
Lucy Katherine Pinder, born December 20, 1983, is an English model and a dedicated conservative. There’s no evidence, however, that she believes in heaven or angels or the Bible or God. But then, there’s no evidence to say she doesn’t. There’s just nothing. | Photo: Loaded | Lucy Pinder, Model, Religion, Cross, Sexy, Breast, England,

If you play the game, expect to be tackled

Religiously-driven politicians and political activists often talk about how brutally they're persecuted.

It's so unfair, how they suffer. They're doing what God mandates, fighting unchaste women, birth control or homosexuality, and yet people condemn them. How can that be just?

I'm not talking about celebrities, star or employees who express political views, but people who are politically active, dedicated to pushing for policies that based on their religious views.

For instance, former would-be president Rick Santorum, is quite open about wanting to impose his religious beliefs ' anti-gay, anti-birth control, anti-abortion ' on everyone of every faith. He bemoaned in a 2012 column that he was being attacked just for following his faith ' oh, how hard it is to be Catholic in public life!

Anti-gay activist Orson Scott Card has called for tolerance'not for gays, but for his poor, persecuted self. Billy Graham's son Franklin, a right-wing activist, has complained of persecution, as has religious activist Matt Barber.

The truth is, 'religious persecution' does not mean what Santorum, Card and other conservatives fantasize it does.

First off, nobody gets a pass from criticism because their views are shaped by religion rather than secular reasons. Bad policy is bad policy. Bigotry is bigotry. That's doubly true for politicians and activists.

As JFK once put it, it's perfectly reasonable to ask someone involved in politics how their faith affects their views and their political positions policies. If you like the positions but oppose the person because of their faith ' Muslim, Catholic, Jewish, atheist, whatever' that's when it becomes bigotry. To which I'd add that if you're working to deny them their rights because of their faith, then we're dealing with oppression.

But that's not what these guys are dealing with. Nobody denies Santorum the right to fight what he thinks is the good fight. And the flak he gets isn't because he's Catholic, it's because he believes states should be able to ban birth control and shouldn't be able to approve gay marriage (among other positions). He's under fire because he wants to force those positions on everyone else, whether or not they share his religious views.

Likewise, people who called for a boycott of Ender's Game last year because it's written by Card didn't do so because he's a Mormon. They did it because he's an outspoken anti-gay activist and member (or former member according to some reports) of the National Organization on Marriage. On top of which, he's accused Obama of organizing black thugs into an army of storm troopers.

Barber believes homosexuality should be outlawed, just like murder. He objects to insurance plans being required to cover birth control, as that's just an excuse for women to get slutty.

Rick Santorum
Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum, one of the candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential primaries. | Photo: |
What they're getting criticized for isn't the personal beliefs they embrace, it's the public policies they advocate. If Santorum wants his religion to be the basis for American law, his religious views are as subject to criticism as any other political position. They've become politics, not faith.

And lets not forget, many on the religious right have no qualms about condemning other people's religion. Rick Santorum, for instance, has said no liberals can be real Christians, but he doesn't seem to feel he's persecuting Christian liberals. Graham apparently felt fine condemning the Christian charity World Vision as un-Christian when it announced it was willing to hire gay employees.

Nobody has the right to be immune from criticism for their views, religious or secular. People involved in politics should have even less immunity than that.

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Updated May 10, 2017 9:56 AM EDT | More details

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