Thomas Paine said, "As happy as she please; she hath a blank sheet to write upon," in answer to the question of whether America could be happy under a government of her own.
That notion - of a slate wiped clean of historical encumbrances, of entrenched class hostilities, of religious bigotry, of racial oppression and conflict, of conventions about gender roles... - was heady, exhilarating, and filled with latent dynamite... Millennialist preachers, enslaved Africans, frontier mystics, dockside tars, German speaking privates in Washington's army, mixed-and full blooded Indians, urban craftsmen, indentured servants, agricultural workers, ascetic Quakes, disgruntled women, born-again men and women calling themselves Christ's poor-all became caught up in the inner dynamics of the Revolution.
Today we have the Pope posing in the White House with Bush, later "temper[ing] his praise for American religious tolerance on Wednesday with a warning that U.S. society can quietly undermine Catholicism by reducing all faiths to a lowest common denominator."
"Pope says U.S. society can undermine Catholic faith," that's the title of the piece of the above quote, towhich I say, amen you tired old crone. But given the craven and cloying religiosity this country has embraced, I'd would temper that concern with the parochialism that underlies Bennie's concerns.
The founding fathers wanted Papery out of their business, out of their affairs, out of their governance, in whatever form or version it took, and rightly so. The corrupting, dehumanizing, cowardly impact that religion engenders when it intrudes into the affairs of Men can be seen clearly in the fall from reason and decency that America has taken. Look at what we do, as a nation.
We bombed Vietnam indescriminately, used weapons of mass destruction, (Agent Orange is a chemical warfare weapon and meets the definition of NBC-nuclear, Biological, Chemical), razed villages, killed millions of Vietnamese, then left them to sort things out for themselves, creating an incomprehensible genocide in Cambodia as a drive-by consequence of our policies. We unleashed Death Squads in Central America to battle "Communism" when we really were fighting for a small handful of US Corporations, turned our backs on Rwanda's insanity, started a horrific war between Iran and our creature Iraq, then started two wars against Iraq, the last completely unjustified by any rational and legal means, all to maintain some sort of control over Middle Eastern Oil, we've allowed our once sympathetic ally Israel to succumb to the worst of their fears and wage a brutal counter insurgency type of war against the hapless Palestinians (tactically with plenty of "help" from the Palestinians) and other Arabs, and, then, of course, there is our war, The Great War on Terrorism.
Now we torture rights deprived people, men, children, women. Torture them, with the acknowledgement and justification from the President on down the roster of presidential succession. We spy on our selves, we threaten those who choose to exercise their enumerated and implied rights, we allow religious zealots to manage the affairs of the state, we demand some sort of religious litmus test, unannounced or proclaimed, yet demanded by the media mouthparts from our political herd; and like broken dogs we bow and scrape to their alters
The Pope in the White House. We have failed our founders so prophetically that I cannot imagine a way out. Jefferson and Adams would have rather seen George III in the White House than Pope Ratzenberger, the waving little fascist who managed to find fault with some of the actions of the church, but certainly not with the leaders of the church or their precious Codas and Communiques and Bishops. No, rest assured, my fallen American friends, the fault for the Child Molesting Priests lies with us, not the church. Their ravenous institution takes precedent over their people, for it is their institution that sustains them, that bleeds the people so that they might live to feed off of our earthly shells.
Where we once swore to protect the Constitution because the Constitution was the instrument and guarantor of those rights enobled by the hand of Thomas Jefferson in our Declaration of Independence, now we have become like the popes, destroying and torturing and killing to maintain the facade of Rights, even while plainly, clearly, our government has abandoned any belief in those concepts.
So maybe all of those jesus lovers who swear up and down how a life without Christ is Hell, or whatever clever little catchphrase they choose to demean and belittle the un-persuaded, have got it backwards. Maybe life without their crap would be a better thing all around. No humiliation on your knees, kissing rings, whatever; no giving up your responsibility to gods will; no, just a firmer grasp that YOUR actions have meaning and impact; that what YOU do is what matters, not what lip service you pay to give yourself cover and license to do as you choose regardless of the harm.
Do you really think that the choices of George W Bush and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell and Condi Rice and John Yoo and Doug Feith and Ari Fleisher and Monica Goodling and Rachel Pelouse and all the other myriad pack of charlatans and sychophants granted to us by Sandra Day O'Connor are following the precepts they so loudly proclaim as Christs and so holy? Would Christ tolerate Abu Ghraib? A war against Afghanist and and Iraq when a vigorous police action might have rounded up bin Laden 7 years ago? The Patriot Act?
No, i don't hink so. No, I think, when you look at the evidnece, we'd be a lot better off without the religion, a whole lot better off. The evidence is hard to refute.