It’s Time to Regulate Religion
By Earnest Prankheimer
America is undergoing an infestation of religious fundamentalism which is trying to crowbar God into government, where He has no business. These fanatics want to replace the Constitution with the Old Testament. Their view of religious freedom is the freedom to cram it down everyone else’s throats. It’s time that government finally begins to regulate religion, as it does other poisons and harmful materials. We are allowed to own firearms, but it’s against the law to go waving a gun around in a crowd; it’s too dangerous. You shouldn’t be able to wave your religion around in other people’s faces, either. Industries cannot pour toxic waste into the air, or lakes and streams. Neither should religion be spewed forth, when so many people lack the immune response (reason) to fight off its contagion. One candidate for the U.S. Senate says in “legitimate” rape the woman’s body can “shut that whole thing down,” his objection to rape victims being able to get abortions. Another says the pregnancy resulting from a rape is ‘a gift from God . . . what God intended.”
We must begin by purging any and all forms of religious expression from politics. God is never mentioned in our Constitution, and for good reason. And Article VI states that no religious test shall ever be required as qualification for any public office. Any politician trying to bring his religious views into law should be expelled from the office, and never permitted to serve again in any public position. Besides, if you are a Christian, you shouldn’t have time to campaign in the first place. You should be far too busy feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and sheltering the homeless. We need to remove all other traces of religion from government, too. “In God We Trust” has no place on our currency. The words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, added during the Red Scare of the 1950s, should be expunged, and the offices of Senate and House Chaplains should be abolished. Get rid of it all, except for holiday displays. We can be reasonable, can’t we? A cheap nativity scene made in China ain’t no big deal to me.
My idea is to institute a penalty system for religious abuse, as we have for alcohol and drugs. The fine would reflect the severity of the offense, as well as the number of sane, rational people afflicted. A simple “God bless you!” said to someone on the street would be, say, a $10 fine for the first offense. Tim Tebow, however, upon scoring a touchdown and doing his (now patented) “Tebow” (bending down on one knee, head down as in prayer) in front of millions on national television, would be more like $100,000. Same thing with athletes or award winners whose first words are “I’d like to thank my personal Lord and Savior . . .” That’ll be 100,000 bucks., please. The second offense would be a much steeper fine, and the third would result in permanent exile from polite society. We don’t care where you go, but you can’t stay here anymore. Bye! Take care? Hell, take off!
This does not infringe on freedom of speech. You can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater, or incite violence, either. These are necessary restrictions. And of course the wearing of crucifixes or headgear (which some religions require), and the cross, Star of David, or crescent on churches, shouldn’t be penalized; they are free expressions of faith. Religious schools and universities provide an alternative educational experience, and that’s fine. After all, we must respect the freedom to worship as one chooses. But far too little regard is given to freedom FROM religion. So keep it to yourself. Do as your Lord Jesus instructed in Matthew 6:6 — “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret.” If you insist on broadcasting your piety with a bullhorn, you’re going to have to pay for the spiritual pollution you create.
Let’s do away with tax exemptions for churches, too. They are violating that privilege by preaching politics from the pulpit. Millionaire televangelists like Reverend Hairdo can still fleece the flocks, but he can start paying his fair share from now on. Monasteries and convents would maintain their tax exemption, as they have taken vows of poverty, and do much public good.
Unfortunately, none of these suggestions will provide protection for those who are most vulnerable to religious contagion; I speak here of our precious little children. And although it would be far better for them if they were raised by the state, the matter will have to be dealt with later. Our education system no longer teaches critical thinking, either, but that’s another problem altogether.
Take heart, you genuine Christians, none of this will affect you. You keep your faith in your hearts, and it is revealed in the good you do. Only the hypocrites, liars, phonies, and bigots will be paying any fines, and as they’re unable to contain themselves, we’ll soon be rid of them. Meanwhile the nation will have a vast new, and very lucrative, source of revenue, which is badly needed in a tough economy.
In all of world history, no other force has been responsible for as much murder, destruction, torture, and downright mayhem, than has religion. It’s high time we put it in its place, which is as far from the public sphere as possible. Religion and politics corrupt each other; remember the Inquisition? If you want to devote your entire life to a book of Bronze Age Jewish fairy tales, that is your choice. Just leave the rest of us alone; we’re not interested. Don’t come knocking on our door, degrading your faith by peddling it like a box of soap or a set of encyclopedias. If you think Jesus is coming, go wait on some hilltop for Him, and let the rest of us get on with our lives.
This is the 21st flippin’ Century, for Christ’s sake, not the 14th. We have plenty of real problems to deal with, such as the devastation of the middle class, the erosion of our civil liberties, and the rape of the environment by predatory capitalism. We have neither the time nor the patience for your nonsense.