Religion and democracy and blogging

Why does religion matter in a secular society?  First of all, I am thrilled this is a secular democracy, even when the democracy part isn’t working very well.  That means that there is not an official state religion and those governing are expected to separate their religious views from their governance.  In other words, clergy (of any religion) do not have the right to approve government action.

I don’t want a state religion because it will inevitably be a religion I don’t like; also, because it’s not fair.  Remember how we learned about what’s fair by either having siblings or getting to kindergarten?  Well, democracy should be fair.  It’s not fair to impose your religion on someone else.  I really think that is a kindergarten-simple value.

The vast majority of folks in these United States believe there is a God.  (Feel free to e-mail me if you want citations, I have several.)  We are increasingly a pluralistic society, with practitioners of many different religions in close proximity to each other (learn more in A New Religious America by Diana L. Eck).  The majority (over 70 percent) of religious people in this country claim to be part of some kind of Christianity.  That is the rub: how to manage undue influence by the majority religion.  That is a secular issue.  That is a subject that should matter to everyone, especially the non-religious and those in minority religions.  It matters to Christians who disagree with each other.  It matters in society and it matters in how religion is covered by the press.  And that, my friends, is why I write.

I have been writing this blog since April 2010 and the views are nearly at 3,000 now.  This particular column is intended to provide new readers with some general information on how and why these blogs are posted.  In high school, one of my favorite English teachers, Murphy, told me you can’t be a good writer if you’re not a good reader.  It was one of the smartest things he ever taught me.  I do not ever write a blog without research and some general reading.  Though I quite enjoy musing and an occasional rant, the actual writing is the result of research and reflection and is not just reactionary.  Honest.

I recently completed a master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania.  In order to graduate from Penn I had to be able to read, write and be competent at doing primary research.  My master’s research was a content analysis of the Philadelphia Inquirer in contrast with the Wichita Eagle (Kansas) and Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly (public television).  Sparing you tedious (and perhaps sleep-inducing) findings in this column, I will summarize by saying that I entered the research with low expectations and was still amazed at how poorly religion is covered by most of the press.

The reason religion in the news matters is because even if you are not religious, most of your neighbors have some religious orientation that may influence how they vote, and how they vote has impact on your life.  Sadly, intelligence in not required for voting, so when politicians trot out religious-related rhetoric, most people are ill-prepared (or disinclined) to understand the real implications of that propaganda.  (See my April 1, 2011 column “Newt the Nightmare” for a specific example.)

If you read a number of my columns you may conclude I am more critical of Christianity than other religions.  That is intentional.  The majority religion takes looking after.  Constant reminders are required to challenge the influence of the majority religion and the interpretations by its practitioners.  I have appointed myself to this watch-dog role.

I have a favorite animal communicator, Anita Curtis, who does amazing work.  She said that most of our domestic animal family (my words, not hers) have a perception of what their role is, or what their “job” is.  My cat, Sunny, has appointed herself to watch birds.  (Unlike my other cat Zoey who stalks bugs.)  It is very important to her to be able to go from window to window keeping an eye on those rascals.  She is quite serious about this job and seems to find satisfaction in keeping watch on behalf of the household.  Well, I have appointed myself to be the watchdog of religious rascals, and perhaps to no greater end than my cat watching birds.  I hope you find some measure of interest in reading my blogs as I find in watching Sunny watch birds.  –J.B.

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Comments

  • Uncle Tree  On September 23, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Quite interesting, J.B.

    Good luck to you! And peace, UT :)

  • Becky  On September 23, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Nice post. I think that religion is not the only topic which is mishandled by the press. This is because the press has stopped being investigative; instead they only report. The press has abdicated it’s reponibility which is why the internet and blogs like yours have become so important.

    • allthingsreligious  On September 24, 2011 at 5:52 am

      The other big problem with the press is that they think every position they cover has to have a response by the opposition. I blame this style for the prominence of the Tea Party. They got more press than they deserved for a marginalized racist group. Sometimes the story is more honest and accurate – and even balanced – without talking about the opposition. A prominent scholar called it “he said she said journalism.”
      Thanks for reading Becky! -J.B.

  • Jabelah  On September 23, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    Nice Blog
    Please drop by on my blog site http://jabelah.wordpress.com/
    Thanks!

    • allthingsreligious  On September 24, 2011 at 5:55 am

      I did visit your site this morning. Your writing is lovely. Best wishes on your continued posts! -J.B.

  • Willy Brickman  On October 5, 2011 at 9:45 am

    After study a couple of of the blog posts on your website now, and I actually like your manner of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark web site list and shall be checking back soon. Pls check out my website as effectively and let me know what you think.

    • allthingsreligious  On October 18, 2011 at 10:30 am

      Willy-Thank you for reading and commenting. It is my intention to present a somewhat secular view about religion and how it affects everyone. If you have a blog, or see one you think I should read, just send me the link. Thanks again. Peace, J.B.

  • Melody Massar  On October 15, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    It?s onerous to seek out knowledgeable individuals on this matter, however you sound like you understand what you?re talking about! Thanks

    • allthingsreligious  On October 18, 2011 at 10:28 am

      Melody,
      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. If you are writing as well, send me the link and I will return the favor. Peace, J.B.

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