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Laudato Si.

“Glory be to God for dappled things” — Gerard Manley Hopkins, Pied Beauty

“The big conversation we need within government has still not begun.” George Monbiot responding to UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s new environmental proposal, very much echoing the essential message embedded in Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’… which focuses on Care for Our Common Home.

The punchline to this piece — its thrust — can apply to most electoral realms in the world which preclude a blending of the secular and the spiritual. But even if the transformation recommended here only takes place in one of the fifty U.S.  states during Trump’s time in office a watershed seed will have been planted.

In the U.S. the phrase “separation of church and state” is derived from a letter written by President Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to Baptists from Danbury, Connecticut, and published in a Massachusetts newspaper soon thereafter.

“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

A wall of separation between church and state.This is a very strong statement, very clear in meaning. First of all, it means that the government cannot make laws that favor one religion over any other, because it cannot make laws related to the establishment of a religion or the free expression of religious beliefs. But none of that precludes doing what I recommend respecting a united effort on the part of religious organizations to secure — together, on an equal basis — significant reins of decision-making power on the gubernatorial level in a given state.

Clearly, no religious organization wants to jeopardize its tax status. But — also, clearly — no religious organization can any longer tolerate the singularly sick secular momentum which is taking us over the precipice, an abomination by the standards of any spiritual group.The GOOD NEWS is that the former is not a problem for any religious organization with regard to what I’m recommending here, and the latter can be addressed effortlessly.

Three central concepts were derived from the 1st Amendment which became America’s doctrine for church-state separation: no coercion in religious matters, no expectation to support a religion against one’s will, and religious liberty encompasses all religions. In sum, citizens are free to embrace or reject a faith, any support for religion – financial or physical – must be voluntary, and all religions are equal in the eyes of the law with no special preference or favoritism.

None of that precludes the movement in religious solidarity I’m recommending for the electoral arena.

If one chooses a dozen religious leaders to comprise a gubernatorial coalition for a given U.S. state to serve — together, on an equal basis — as the executive of the political realm… well, they’d have to do at least as well as any career politician in gubernatorial history. Of course, citizens can’t vote for a coalition, so there would have to be a figurehead candidate in place for a campaign, a single individual who  would make it clear that citizens weren’t casting a vote for a particular religion, but — rather — for a wide range of representation of the spiritual world. Members of the coalition could be rotated in and out, meaning the composition of the group could change regularly and include “representatives” who were not part of the initial twelve who campaigned and secured the office.

There are many crucial details related to this proposal which I’ll be happy to elaborate on, upon request. This I can tell you, though. This is not an idea which I just grabbed from the top of my head, and am now dumping here at CC for your kind consideration. Rather, the basic bones of this new paradigm for electoral politics have been on the boards for some time, and the whole shebang has been massaged by a score of high profile international figures for well over a decade; a close colleague has even addressed this game plan recently on CC with a different focus. And another colleague has spotlighted some of the reasons folks recoil from religion automatically …unnecessarily… unwisely.

45.76% of the people in California are “religious,” meaning they affiliate with a religion. 28.34% are Catholic; 2.10% are LDS; 5.73% are another Christian faith; 0.59% are Jewish; 1.20% are an eastern faith; 0.74% affilitates with Islam. Those numbers are an excellent point of departure for what I’m recommending. I mean, the Golden State is not the same as Vermont or New Hampshire on this score; only 23% of the people in those states claim to be religious. In addition, a campaign based on religion could count on a certain number of folks who self-describe as spiritual (but not religious)… and would welcome some alternative to the very distasteful secular representation that’s been in place forever.

The Secular Syndrome isn’t working, never has — truth be told — and it’s time to perhaps experiment with a radically different approach to dealing with our collective crises. Whatever religion one holds dear, it appears that a concerted effort among people of faith could do no worse than what career politicians have done to date. And I imagine that many atheists and agnostics would agree with that assessment.

I know that even a failed inter-faith campaign would send very positive ripples nationwide, and impact beautifully throughout the world. The very worse scenario, it seems to me, would be to stir up new creative juices respecting care for our common home, and inject something sorely needed into the present political mix.

Losing one’s religion has been fashionable in many quarters for some time. Maybe the time has come to fall on one’s knees, and open up to Eternity.

Richard Martin Oxman sends his blessings to one and all, and welcomes contact at aptosnews@gmail.com. He would be honored to delineate all the nuts and bolts involved in creating the watershed in history he’s proposing, and provide his land line telephone number for an exchange following email contact.

 

 

One Comment

  1. K SHESHU BAB says:

    If religion is not consumed as ‘ opium ‘ by masses and the hidden ‘ virtues ‘ are brought out, there is still a place for a ‘ good ‘ religion for humanity