Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Maybe They'll Go The Way Of Latin And Die

The first fifteen minutes of the work day belong to you. even when I was in the Navy I never had a memo sent to me that was time-stamped "9:01". Or "0901" as it were. Those first fifteen minutes belong to you- you get coffee, gossip around the water cooler, have a smoke, maybe a quickie in a broom closet.

It's happened.

Anyway, my fifteen minutes are spent speed-reading the newspaper while waiting for beer and liquor salespeople with their hands out or a new product to sample. Sometimes I come across an article that further nudges me along the slippery slope to atheism like this one. It frightens me not just because it would further blur the already muddied line that separates church and state if Benedict XVI is indeed granted immunity as a head of state, but also allows the Vatican to police allegations of sexual abuse as it sees fit.

We already know how well that's been working.

I also fear that granting the Pope recognition as a head-of-state would further embolden the Catholic church to exert its political influence on like-minded, sympathetic governments- like the current Republican majority in Congress. Furthermore, would granting the Vatican status as an official state therefore raise every Roman Catholic archdiocese around the world to the status of embassiies and consulates? This is murky water, indeed, and I fear the President may use his "hotline to God" and grant Benedict XVI the diplomatic recognition he seeks. It more than likely would be overturned in the courts, but that's never stopped Bush from interfering whenever the name of God is involved, as evidenced by his actions during the Terri Schiavo denouement this spring.

No sooner had Benedict XVI decided to seek diplomatic regognition than he reflected on the state of Christianity in the West. It behooves the organized religions of the world to focus on developing nations to increase their flocks, since developing nations are on a long road to secular enlightenment: an educated population; fair and equal treatment for all peoples; respect for human rights and civil liberties; opportunities for all people to live a richer, freer life; and even (knockonwood) government charters with clear guidelines that lessen the influence of organized religions on how governments actually govern, like our once-unique spearation of church and state.

Protestant religions recognized this decades ago and tailored their rhetoric accordingly. Witness in this country the stranglehold a small number of religious zealots have on the political party that was once defined by its ability to be inclusive and socially progressive. It is nothing short of religious persecution: it's subtle to the point of seeming nonexistent, but persecution nonetheless. The opportunity to worship God without fear of government reprisal was one of the catalysts that brought the early settlers to the Americas from colonial Europe. With no new worlds to flee toward we have no choice but to stand our ground and defend what the Forefathers stood for.

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