I was raised Catholic. I attended private Catholic school from K-3 and high school. Over time, I have strayed from religion as I continued to discover paradoxes in Catholicism. I explored some other religions (Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism in particular) through reading about them and being around people who practiced those faiths. I have grown to realize that our faith/religion/spirituality/non-religious identity is a construct to explain what we struggle to understand.
As I have matured and become more educated, I have also realized that a system that is supposed to be based on separation of church and state is so tightly aligned with religious rhetoric. Texas is an interesting example. We will do enough to uphold Roe v. Wade from a federal standpoint, but alter our laws so that obtaining abortions in our state (where we educate based on abstinence mind you [another religious implication]) are difficult for those with less means. When this law passed, a friend mentioned the chapter in Freakonomics which made me chuckle a bit. I can’t help think that this is a law masked in religious beliefs.
The inability to teach evolution in schools is another prime example of the church impacting the state in just ridiculous ways. The theory of evolution is a cornerstone in biological science. Can it be proven without a shadow of a doubt? Of course not. Neither can the theory of relativity, but that is still able to be taught in schools.
The ideology of evolution is in direct conflict with creationism therefore it must be wrong for many people. It often becomes a “clash of two absolute necessities” (Bohm, 2001). Bohm described the reconciliation process as (1) starting with an emotional charge, (2) then asking the question “Is it absolutely necessary?”, and concluding with (3) “What is necessary?” For many, the inability to reconcile absolute necessities leads to the vast issues we see in our country and the world.
Let’s look back in history a few decades. Kennedy was the first Catholic to be elected president and even then there was concern that his religious affiliation would mean he was subservient to the Papacy and its decisions. So much for “faith” in separation of church and state. That worked out in the end, oh right.
Simply the phrase, “God bless America” defeats the purpose of separation of church and state. What if I don’t believe in God or more particular your God? Can and should individuals be allowed to practice their faith/religion/spirituality/non-religious identity? Yes. This just needs to stay out of the political decisions that create laws. I do not want your religious beliefs making decisions for me. I want your logic, mutual understanding, and rational thought to be doing that.
Our morality is a construct that has roots in our religious/non-religious beliefs. Inevitably, our decisions are impacted by these beliefs. The problem is that they are typically chosen for us. We inherit the belief structure of our parents/guardians/community. Usually, we are not offered the opportunity to choose until later in life. I would also argue that those who do choose a different religion from what they were raised are well-educated and privileged individuals who have enough sociopolitical capital to do so.
I am not sure where I lie on the religious/non-religious/spiritual/faith spectrum anymore. Deep down, I want to believe that there is something out there but my head often conflicts with my heart. Maybe just maybe, there should be more politicians out there who have that same issue.