What it revealed was the larger political battle of this decade, between secular democracy and religious extremism.
I’m not against God. But there are two problems with religious nationalism.
First, it’s intolerant. Wherever one religion rules, its adherents outlaw any faith but their own. This is true for Hindus in India, for the Russian Orthodox, even for Buddhists in Burma. It’s true for Jews in Israel and for fundamentalist protestants in the United States.
This remains true despite every great religious teacher, from Gautama to Vishnu to Confucius, from Moses to Jesus to Mohammed, all the way to Joseph Smith, teaching first the way of tolerance. Love your neighbor. Care for the less fortunate. Seek the enlightenment of faith for yourself.
It’s the leaders of these faiths, the Popes and the Mullahs, the Rabbis, and the Brahmins, who twist it into something else. There is a reason for this. Those faiths that adhered to tolerance were, over time, wiped out by leaders of the intolerant. This is the true original sin.
The second problem is that, once a faith comes to dominate, it immediately goes to war with all the other dominant faiths. Religious intolerance brings with it the war of all against all. In the name of God, men of faith first kill off the unbelievers in their own dominions, then go to war against the other dominions. There is no future in it. Might as well hand the planet to the cockroaches now and hope they never become sentient.
In this American election, the ultra-religious stood firm while democracy’s other enemies were largely cast aside. We can do without the grifters, and we can eat the rich, who had a terrible year in 2022.
But intolerance largely stood tall. Intolerance, born of religion, hates the other wherever it’s found. The South is especially fertile ground. This is where the Great Awakening took firmest hold and has never left. Jim Crow? You betcha. Sexism? Why, yes! Education? Only if they teach what we want them to learn.
This was the story of 2022 everywhere. Even in New York, where Republicans gained ground thanks to Orthodox Jews, who like their counterparts in Israel demand the government pay for their schools but that the kids remain ignorant. Orthodox Jewish schools are turning out idiots, much like religious-based charters in the South. And the religious schools here have gone one better, waging a holy war against all education that might question their orthodoxy. School boards have become battlegrounds.
There can be no more compromise with this malignant force. It’s a Civil War, in every city and county and state house. It’s also a global battle, between the secular world and the ultra-religious one.
This battle wasn’t chosen by the secularists. I’m fine with anyone else’s absolutes, so long as they’re not pushed on my family at the point of a gun. Our Constitution deliberately offers faith a compromise, absolute freedom in exchange for staying out of government. But through the Republican Party, Fundamentalism has rejected the deal, and no faith leader, ever, has drawn political power from his flock and not sought to gain control of everyone else. It’s a poisoned chalice for all who believe in God. It’s a stand that in the 21st century is incompatible with life on Earth.