I have never been able to understand why Republican candidates feel they must pander to fundamentalist Christians – aka “evangelicals”, the “religious right”, and the Tea Party – in order to be perceived as a true conservative.
I also find it the height of hypocrisy that these so-called Christians continue to support and defend the most “un-Christian” President in our history.
It has always been my understanding that one of the basic tenets of conservatism is limited government – the belief that the government should intrude in one’s personal and business life as little as possible. The role of government should be to provide citizens with the freedom necessary to pursue their own goals; conservatism emphasizes empowerment of the individual to solve problems.
Another quote from Barry Goldwater, the politician most often credited with sparking the resurgence of the American conservative political movement in the 1960s –
“I am a conservative Republican, but I believe in democracy and the separation of church and state. The conservative movement is founded on the simple tenet that people have the right to live life as they please as long as they don't hurt anyone else in the process.”
Contrary to the belief in limited government, “evangelicals” want the government to tell citizens how to live their lives by forcing the specific religious beliefs of fundamentalist Christianity on them. The Republican Party has perverted conservative philosophy to include the tenets of extreme fundamentalist Christianity.
Religious belief is personal and individual. It should never be legislated, or used as the basis for legislation. One’s religious beliefs may cause a person to become involved in political activity as a way of helping society and one’s “fellow man”, but one religious group’s specific religious beliefs and interpretations should NEVER be made into law.
I agree with Susan B Anthony, who said, “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.”
Founding father Thomas Jefferson correctly observed, “Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law”.
Murder is not illegal because God said, "Thou Shall Not Kill". It is illegal because it takes away the victim's civil right to life as guaranteed by the Constitution.
If your religious beliefs instruct you that abortion is bad – then do not have an abortion. If your religious beliefs tell you that homosexuality and same-sex marriage is wrong - then don’t practice homosexuality or marry someone who is the same sex as you. But you cannot force your specific religious belief on your neighbor, regardless of any sincere desire to save him or her from the “fires of hell”.
Returning once again to Barry Goldwater, from decades ago -
"Today's so-called 'conservatives' don't even know what the word means. They think I've turned liberal because I believe a woman has a right to an abortion. That's a decision that's up to the pregnant woman, not up to the Pope or some do-gooders or the Religious Right. It's not a conservative issue at all."
The religious can certainly "preach the gospel" to those who will listen, but cannot make the government force non-believers to follow their perception or interpretation of the gospel.
America is NOT a “Christian country” - it is not a religious country, period. The idea of religious freedom and the separation of Church and State is a cornerstone of American democracy. It is one of the main reasons the first settlers came here. Separation of Church and State means that the government cannot tell a citizen how to worship or what to believe. It also guarantees the right of citizens NOT to worship and NOT to believe.
I remember seeing a sign at a diner may years ago that said –
THE LAST TIME WE MIXED POLITICS WITH RELIGION PEOPLE GOT BURNED AT THE STAKE.