Republican Bill Sali got into a bit of hot water recently defending those that disrupted a Hindu prayer opening congress. He has responded to his critics, and attempted to explain his very bigoted remarks (more on those later), but it was less than convincing. Sali claims “Christian beliefs have been essential to our country's well-being”, as have many others before him. I wonder, what could be these beliefs be? Do unto others? That’s a universal value, found in cultures across the globe, Christian and non-Christian alike. That can be no more called a Christian belief any more than wearing pants can be called a Christian fashion statement. Ditto for the notion that laws against murder and theft are based on Christian beliefs. Every culture on the planet has such laws. For a belief to validate Sali’s claim, it would need to be some unique, defining Christian belief.
But have the trinity, Jesus’ resurrection, or resting on Sundays, been essential to our country’s well being? This appears clearly false, judging from the comparative well-being of nations that haven’t valued these things. There are, however, aspects of our system that I would grant wholeheartedly have been essential to our country’s well-being, such as the principles of democracy, a fair trial, private property, political checks and balances, judgement by one’s peers, individual rights, and capitalism, among others. None of these is in the slightest bit derivative of the Christian religion, and some appear to be directly contrary to it. Jesus was not a capitalist, nor was he enamoured with the idea of ownership of worldly things. Jesus said “judge not”, not “judge your peers”.
So this claim that America owes much to Christian beliefs, repeated like a mantra as if it were self-evident, is utter nonsense. I say with a straight sober face, and with not a trace of humor, that the people of Iran have far more to thank Christian beliefs for, than the average American does. Laws according to God, reverence for the holy book as a given in life, ignoring science when it treads on religious dogma, declaring all those that disagree as evil, these are the values of American society derived from Christian beliefs. Not a pretty sight, is it? It would be even uglier if the theocrats like Bill Sali, who have taken over the Republican party, got their way.
Sali claims his statements were taken out of context, but what context validates this:
"We have not only a Hindu prayer being offered in the Senate, we have a Muslim member of the House of Representatives now, Keith Ellison from Minnesota. Those are changes -- and they are not what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers..."
His attempts to explain reek of Archie Bunker:
"Others may argue just as strenuously that their particular religion - be it Hinduism or Buddhism, Islam or Vodooism - makes this country great, and they are free to do so. I won't agree with that assessment, but I will defend their right to practice their faith and share their opinion publicly. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion are pillars of our constitutional government."
Right Bill, and your choice of Voodoo as a comparison to those religions that disagree with yours was chosen out of love and an effort to find a good example of the other side. It is also comforting that the rights of those of us who don’t agree with your religious views will be defended by you, so long as we don’t run for congress. The founding fathers must be rolling over in their graves to be so misrepresented.
Bill Sali, like every American, has the right to hold whatever religious views he likes. He can think God’s providence has protected America if he likes. He can think the Hindu prayer was a load of meaningless gobbledygook…I know I do. Just remember that in your role of congressman in the US government, the Constitution of the United States, not the Bible, takes precedence. Give to Caeser what is Caeser’s.