Thursday, November 15, 2007

Secular Country Gone Wild

Religion seems to be stuck on American politics. In the first place, this is not supposed to be the case. With such a belief, most Americans are threatening their formally secular political institutions.

Speaking about religious exhibitionism, think about Keith Ellison who brought a Koran when he was sworn in last January in the House of Representatives. You also probably lost the count on the moments when president George W. Bush said that he's a born-again Christian. Besides, Republican candidate Mitt Romney doesn't hesitate to talk about his Mormon background.

So much noise in the media for laughable things!

Now, we hear about Republican candidate Fred Thompson who received an endorsement from the National Right To Life group two days ago. Obviously, this is due to Thompson's opposition to abortion. However, he doesn't think that the federal government should criminalize abortion. Indeed, Thompson said that it's the States' call.

Regardless of what some American politicians say, the inclusion of religious sentiments (I'm not talking about symbols) shouldn't impair their legislative judgement. If not, it will be a disrespect to the Amendment I of the U.S. Bill of Rights. According to it, the Congress can't make a law with a religious nature.

In the end, talking about one's opposition to abortion is a pure waste of time because of secularism and also because of the Supreme Court's judgement known as Roe vs. Wade.

This should remind us about former American president Thomas Jefferson famous phrase that there should be a "wall of separation" between the state and the church.

Globally speaking, most American citizens don't respect at all the secular nature of their government as American journalist Cathy Young pointed it out. We're not talking here about imposing a religion on people, that is politicians, but rather checking religious piety. All in all, you may have good ideas on public policies, but if you regard religion as a private matter, you're making a career suicide. Indeed, "in a 2000 Pew Research Center poll, 70 percent of Americans said that they wanted a presidential candidate to be religious" (C. Young, 2004).

Strange though it might sound, Americans, in general, cherish their Constitution. However, how many of them fully respect it? Not that much. In fact, the article VI of the U.S. Constitution clearly stipulates that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

With that said, the USA may be a formally and constitutionally a secular country unlike Canada. However, the behaviour of most American citizens constitutes a mockery to the Founding Fathers' heritage. Let's be very clear: a threat to secularism is also a threat to democracy, because religion and patriotism don't go together. The day when a secularist can run in politics without being lambasted is not likely to happen soon in the USA, unfortunately.

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