Most often, when we talk about ideology, we refer to religion and philosophy. All too often however, we forget about the “isms” that live in the realm of ideology. One of the most invasive and pervasive of these isms is nationalism. Make no mistake about it, nationalism is an ideological principle. Many people fail to see just how intrinsically religion and nationalism are tied together. These two ideologies, which should be competitive with one another, are in fact long-standing bedfellows that have been joined at the hip throughout the ages, and there are very few examples where religion has played no part in nationalism.
When Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire, he did so in a time when the Roman state government was facing a serious threat. You see, many various religions, including pagan religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism were becoming very prevalent in the region. With each of these religions came their own sets of guidelines or religious “laws”. So the adherents of these religions at times found themselves at odds with laws of the Roman Empire, as the empire had embraced a fairly secular style of governance. So, it can be asserted with some fair degree of certainty that Constantine’s embracing of Christianity was, at least in part, an act meant to unify and strengthen the Roman Empire under a single religious order.
This was certainly not the first time that this had been done however. It is a tradition that seems to go back to our earliest civilizations. When we look back at the tribal civilizations of our early history, we see societies that were built around both a tribal leader, and a “holy man” – or in some cases the “holy man” actually was the tribal leader. This relationship between religion and government is quite possibly one of the strongest foundations of civilization – but as we are slowly coming to see, it is a foundation of quicksand.
The Crumbling Firmament
History has a lot of lessons for us to learn. One of the big ones is that theocracies always fail. Sure, they may last for quite a while – but in the end they always crumble. The main reason for this is that they do not offer a fair and equal level of governance for the entire populous. The cold hard fact is that when religion is at work, there will always be some who are left in the lurch.
There are very pervasive ideas that religion has embraced that, when they come to play in governance and politics, lead to outright injustice and inequality. Chiefly among these ideas is male superiority. These religions were built by men and for men and they are meant to serve men. So when these male oriented religious beliefs sink into the governmental framework, it stands to reason that there will be no justice or equality for women. There was once a time when women sat quietly by and let this happen, but those days are long gone. Women today have found their voices and they are speaking up, and the world at large is taking notice.
If you need an example of just how much of a failure religion in government is, simply take a look at nations whose governments have embraced Sharia law. These nations have long been in turmoil and civil unrest. They’ve suffered from civil wars and multiple regime changes. However, what is most telling about these nations is that they must use force or the threat of violence in order to remain in control. Although they’ve seen time and again the failure of these systems, they keep coming back in some vain hope that this time it will work out better.
What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same shit over and over and over and over again, and expecting a different result. (That may also be the definition of stupidity.)
God and the Government Are Both Very Interested in Your Genitals
So now we get into sex – and I know that’s what you’ve all been waiting intently for.
I’ve read the doctrines of nearly all major religions, and with only a few exceptions, I find it very disturbing how concerned God seems to be with what folks do with their genitals. What makes it even more disturbing is that God seems far more preoccupied with what women are doing with their genitals as opposed to what men are doing with theirs. As you read through these doctrines it becomes self-evident that either God is a sexist pig – or men wrote tales of gods who embodied their own sexist and misogynistic view of the world. Now one of those ideas makes a lot of sense – but the other sounds pretty idiotic. Quite honestly, if you believe that an omnipotent extra-dimensional being is a sexist male voyeur who happens to only like watching “wholesome” pornography… you just might be mentally deficient.
The real problem with this is that religious people try to interject these outrageously stupid ideas into a political atmosphere and use them to dictate the sex lives of a general populous. Even here in the US, a nation supposedly built on the principles of secular governance, we see religious people who think that their ideology should dictate what others do with their own bodies. From homosexuality, to contraception, to abortion, the religious masses want to stick their noses in the affairs of others where they do not belong. Quite frankly, many people are fed up with this nonsense and we want religion out of government – period. After all, religion has had its chance with governance and has ultimately failed miserably.
A Greater Foundation
If you want to live your life based on some religious doctrine, by all means please do so. I have no interest in stopping anyone from doing so, and I think most people have no interest in stopping you either. However, when you tell me that I must also live my life based on your chosen doctrine, that’s when we’re going to have some problems. When you urge your elected officials to infringe on the freedoms of other citizens based on your religious beliefs, that’s when we’re going to have some problems. The fact is, if you try to shove your religion into government – “you’re gonna have a bad time.”
Only secular government offers a stable, equal foundation for all people. It offers fairness and equality for all citizens, and it is the only system of governance which does so. The reason for this is simple: as religious people are fond of saying, “You can’t serve two masters”. The man who has said they put God and fealty to their religion above all else can not possibly serve the best interests of mankind or society as a whole. They’ve chosen the master whom they serve and all else is merely a side-note or an after-thought. They will not serve in the best interests of all people, but rather will serve their own interests which just so happen to be the same interests that their God supposedly has.
If you are not able to put the good of humanity as a whole above your religious beliefs, then you have no business in politics. Until the world at large wakes up to this realization the turmoil and strife within nations and between nations will continue. Religion has had its chance – it’s time for a greater foundation.
Photo Credits: Karl and Ali