Sunday, 16 December 2007

The Bible tells me so

I don’t see what all the fuss is about if Mike Huckabee wants to know whether the Latter Day Saints believe Jesus and the devil are brothers. It’s seems like a valid question to me if you’re going to base public policy on the Voice of God trumpeted either through Pat Robertson or a huddle of Mormon prophets.

The early centuries of Christianity were replete with wars over whether JC was human, divine or a little of both. Huckabee got pulled into exactly that terrain with his not-so-innocent query, and if true, it’s one of the least bizarre Mormon beliefs out there. In Paradise Lost Milton placed Lucifer in heaven as a top angel who got thrown out for rebelliousness. I’m sure theologians can work out whether that makes JC and Old Scratch siblings or second cousins, once removed.

Now that the Bible-thumpers have had their day in the halls of state stretching over the last 25 years, we can now view the effects of forcing theology down the throat of the body politic. I think it’s just grand that Romney has to throw himself naked onto the floor before the assembled elders and parse his spiritual well-being for them—that’s what you get for pushing our polity towards theocratic rule.

The spectacle is exactly what the founding fathers tried to spare us when they decided to separate church and state and keep dangerously potent religious beliefs as far from the business of state as possible.

I sometimes perversely hope that the injection of religious sects (like Baptists) into politics deepens and undermines religious belief entirely. Our evangelicals ought to pay some attention to what has happened in Iran after three decades of clerical rule where political and religious dissidence are officially equivalent because the mullahs are the tax collectors and vice versa. Iranian youth are fed up with religion and increasingly secularized. We should live so long.

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