They just don’t know what to do with all us religious folks. We tend to be toward the same side of the political spectrum as they are, so they put up with us, but they look at us like the crazy old uncle come to dinner. You have to put up with him, but you don’t have to like it! So whenever a libertarian writes about religion I find it somewhat amusing.
Cathy Young, who writes for the libertarian bible, Reason Magazine, has an article in The Boston Globe called “The Religious Divide.” She argues that behind our country’s political divide is a religious divide, which few would deny. The two sides in this conflict are “between those who see religious faith as society’s foundation and those who see it as society’s bane.”
I think that is a good and concise way to phrase it. The problem I have with Ms. Young is that she sees both of these groups as two sides of the same coin (my guess is that libertarians see themselves as above it all, although their antipathy to religion is obvious). As she says:
Both sides in the debate traffic in simplistic stereotypes. Anti- religionists . . . assert that religion is dangerous because it has historically promoted violence and oppression . . . Equally misguided, however, is the claim made by many champions of religion that secularists lack the will to combat evil because they are moral relativists who don't believe in good and evil anyway. . . . A religion, like any other set of beliefs, can be used for good or bad. . . . Any passionately held belief, whether or not it includes God, can make some people intolerant, closed-minded, unwilling to look at facts that contradict their dogma, and hateful toward those who disagree.
Fair enough. But then she displays her bias with this sentence: “It doesn't help that religion has become intertwined with politics.” Ah, I see. The secularist, atheist can “intertwine” his faith with politics because his faith isn’t a “religion”.
Here she says it another way, and gives us a warning of the danger to come: “The new vogue for wearing one's faith on one's political sleeve is a prescription for religious strife.” So if I am a Christian, let’s say, then I have to keep my faith locked up tightly in a closet, let it out maybe on Sunday and in private conversations. If I happen to see that my faith applies to all of life and reality, even politics and how our nation is governed, then religious strife is sure to follow.
It is amazing how creative libertarians can be in trying to shut up people of religious faith, and we all know they are talking about Christians, be they the Catholic or Protestant kind. I guess atheists who attempt to impose their worldviews on us never contribute to this strife.
Her last few paragraphs again relativize the two, but make no mistake, everything would be fine and there would be no strife if religious people would just shut up!