Monday, August 01, 2005

"People of Faith," "Moral Majority" and "Rhetorical Bullshit"

Something has been bothering me for a few weeks. There was a caller on the Ed Schultz show a few weeks ago who was working the phrase “people of faith” and, at the same time, trying to get Schultz to agree that most issues in the world are simply of a black and white nature, meaning absolutely right and absolutely wrong. *sigh* First, let’s examine the “people of faith” phrase . . . . or, as I like to refer to its current usage, the “people of hate” phrase. Somehow, we have allowed this phrase to dominate much of our political and metaphysical ideology and rhetoric. As a phrase, standing alone, there is nothing wrong--as an ideology, there is a great deal wrong. Somehow the phrase “people of faith” has been narrowed in usage to pinpoint only those people who hold onto a very specific type of Christianity. This a type of Christianity, although not defined perfectly with a label such as Baptists, etc., has now been associated with the other phrase that pisses me off as late, such as: Moral Majority. And both these phrases has been linked to political ideology, seem mostly on the Right but, as I have heard of late, people on the left would like to get in on some of this action. The problem is not the fact that people hold to faith, the problem is the assumption and illusion that there can be only one type of faith—only one valid form—which links to our second issue that the world is “black and white” where there are absolute perimeters for “right and wrong.” Kate Hawley in “Justice Revisited” (26 April 2005) examines this idea of “people of faith” in connection with Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist’s (R-Tenn) “Justice Sunday:” “the Church telecast starring Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) that sought to end the use of a filibuster to block judicial nominees” (Hawley).
Asserting that Democrats' efforts to block conservative judges through a filibuster amounts to discrimination against "people of faith" is contradictory, even, some argued, hypocritical. For one thing, cloaking one's own highly politicized religious group with such a broad moniker as "people of faith" looks like a bit of a stretcher. The press, often baffled by religious language and behavior, at last had something to jump on. Hypocrisy is familiar territory to any muckraking journalist, and so is speaking truth to power (in this case, conservative Christians angling for more political power). For that matter, so is the charge of discrimination, which makes the gray penumbra of theology and belief more manageable. (Hawley)
By linking political agenda to “people of faith” and the “moral majority,” political figures are working to create a certain identity, aided by the media who loves sound bite phrases, which speaks loudly and clearly: “Join our bandwagon or be left out in the dust with those other ungodly people who support terrorism and are against this country. If you are moral, you are an American.” Yet, faith and morality are widely encompassing words definitionally and rhetorically speaking. For example, Muslim extremists are people of faith and, in some places, constitute the “moral majority.” This is not to say that I applauded their tactics or agree with their particular faith, yet, when examining the words “faith” and “morality” one must admit that the scope is considerably wider than proposed in our culture today. When we link our politics to a certain ideological and religious frame, we exclude large numbers of the population, who, whether you (and I mean this not as a specific you, the reader, but the general “you guys out there who disagree with me” usage—must be clear on definitions) like them or not, are American too. That’s right. Those of us who sees the grays, see the multifaceted, multifaithed, diverse in our world and specific society are also Americans and wish to participate in the discussions at hand. I propose that we redefine or reframe the phrase “people of faith” to include everyone, including atheists, who also hold a type of faith. Furthermore, I propose dislocating “moral” from the phrase “moral majority” and instead utilizing the word “principles” which, at least currently, has no religious connotation and can be applied not only to spiritually inclined individuals but also secularists, humanists and atheists. Finally, although your religion sways your political beliefs and votes and activities, I wish to remind everyone that our founding fathers separated church and state for a reason (notable several reasons)! One of which was their enlightened realization that states which endorsed only one religion practiced exclusion on a grand scale to those citizens who did not hold with the specific doctrine. Such exclusion nurtured hate, violence, genocide and persecution. So, if you wish to mix politics and religious doctrine on a practical and action orientated level, join a church and, you know, get down with your bad self. Otherwise, when it comes to governing this nation: “control thy hatred.” I have been raised as a spiritual mutt: Pagan, Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist and Secular doctrines and practices. I too am a person of “faith” so get off my multifaceted, multifaithed, multivisioned ass. --a booga booga

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