Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Politics of God

No, this is not a discussion of whether God is a Democrat or not, although I suspect that the God of the New Testament is, and His evil twin in the Old Testament is most definitely a Republican. No this is about who owns God’s trademark, Democrats or Republicans.

Republicans have a corner on the market in Evangelical Christians. This is the brand of Christian that thinks that God, and by some sort of default, themselves and the government, has the right to demand and regulate what happens in your living room, what you see on television, what occurs in your bedroom, and, if you have one, what happens in your uterus.

And to keep reminding you of this, Evangelicals also want you to mention the word “God” as often as possible. Or read it.

They include the word “God” in the American Pledge of Allegiance back in 1954. In 2006 they included the word “God” in the Pledge to the flag of Texas.

But Democrats don’t want Republicans to have a corner on the God market, even though they do appear to have God well in hand simply by virtue of the fact that they spend more time worrying about God and religion. Witness then the choice of words that you see in the Preamble to the 2010 Texas Democratic Party Platform. Quoting:

“We have faith that democracy, built on the sacred values of family, freedom and fairness, can afford every Texan, without exception, the opportunity to achieve their God-given potential.”

Well that’s not so bad, is it? For a sentence that tells you absolutely nothing, that’s pretty harmless and you get to mention the word “God”. But in fact, it is kind of bad, but not because of the wording. It’s bad because including the term “God-given” actually was the subject of some debate during the Platform Committee’s meeting last weekend, nearly six minutes worth as a matter of fact. I didn’t know this until I saw this video clip at the Texas Observer’s website today. Watch it, it is very revealing.

I was particularly taken with one comment at about 3:30. The committee member simply mentioned that once it was noticed that the Democrats had stricken the word “God” from their platform the conservative media would go into a frenzy.

And he was absolutely correct.

So like it or not the game to get God in your corner will continue to be played and there is nothing that can be done about it. Rightwing conservatives invented the game and play it well. Democrats would likely suffer an image problem if they stop playing at this game.

And a game is exactly what it is.

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