Just a day after Laurel and I joined the Unitarian Jihad, Senate majority leader Bill Frist demonstrates why this campaign against religious extremism is needed so badly.
The New York Times reports that Frist, my least favorite U.S. senator (especially after he outrageously dared to “diagnose” Terri Schiavo’s condition from videotapes and medical records) “has agreed to join a handful of prominent Christian conservatives in a telecast portraying Democrats as ‘against people of faith’ for blocking President Bush's nominees.”
Senator Frist, I have some news for you: there are lots of “people of faith” who are pleased that the Democrats are preventing a few unqualified nominees from getting lifetime appointments to a federal judgeship.
I am one of those people. It isn’t necessary to be a Christian to be a person of faith. There are many varieties of faith. Some don’t even have a name, not being associated with an organized religion. These might well be the truest faiths.
It’s a strange conception, this notion of Christian right’ies that only people who have a belief in God exactly like theirs have high moral and ethical standards. The New York Times article says that Christian conservatives consider that the battle over the nominees is part of a 30-year culture war.
I don’t understand what culture and religion have in common. I’ve always thought that the eternal God and all things divine were far above ephemeral cultural comings and goings. But if the Christian right wants a culture war, we of the Unitarian Jihad are prepared to fight for truth, justice, and the universal way.
Universal. Not Christian, not Islamic, not Jewish, not Buddhist, not Taoist, not anything with an “ian,” “ic,” “ish,” or “ist” attached to it. The American government represents everybody. Christians are part of that everybody, but just a part. No part should be able to run rough-shod over the whole, even if it is a majority part.
I have no problem with politicians who have strong religious beliefs. I do have a problem with politicians who don’t recognize the relativity and subjectivity of those beliefs, mistaking them for absolute commandments From On High. No, they’re just beliefs. And they have to be rationally defended in the court of public debate just like any other beliefs.
The most annoying characteristic of religious fundamentalists like Frist and his Christian allies is their sense of entitlement. “Because I believe it, it must be so.” No, it doesn’t. Again, your beliefs are just beliefs. You may believe that Terri Schiavo should have had her feeding tube reinserted, abortion is a sin, and gays shouldn’t marry. Fine. Just remember that other people have valid reasons for believing differently. Argue about your differences, but don’t claim that you have a direct line to God.
The first communiqué of the Unitarian Jihad says it nicely:
Beware! Unless you people shut up and begin acting like grown-ups with brains enough to understand the difference between political belief and personal faith, the Unitarian Jihad will begin a series of terrorist-like actions. We will take over television studios, kidnap so-called commentators and broadcast calm, well-reasoned discussions of the issues of the day. We will not try for "balance" by hiring fruitcakes; we will try for balance by hiring non-ideologues who have carefully thought through the issues.
Sounds good to me. Bring on the Jihad.