I am not a religious person, but I do believe that religion — and in this case I will confine my remarks to Christianity, the religion I have the most experience with — can bring peace and comfort to many people. There is a good example of this from the life of my own family: in 1954, my grandfather Lyle Estell died of a heart attack on the night of January 15th, only hours before my mother's seventh birthday. My grandmother, Esther, suddenly found herself a widow with three young children after only ten years of marriage.
A doctor lived across the street, and after summoning the ambulance, he gave my grandmother a bottle of sedatives. (He was later arrested for selling fraudulent prescriptions.) She has told me that she wanted to take those pills that horrid night. More than anything, she wanted to fall asleep and forget. She went into the bathroom, locked the door, and fell to her knees and cried out: "God, you got me into this, you have to help me get out!"
And she flushed the pills down the toilet.
Whether it was "God" that kept her from seeking solace in medication, or simply her faith in a "God," is irrelevant. Whatever it was, it kept her focused on raising three children in the best way she could.
The problem becomes, in my mind, when people who find comfort and peace in religion begin to feel that their religion is appropriate for every American, and an appropriate governing philsophy for the United States America, in conjuction with — or as a replacement for — the United States Constitution and civil law.
I listen to men and women, in real life and on television, who sound so sure of their convictions, and so sure of what "God" wants, and so sure that they have all the answers to every problem. Those answers are found in the Bible, a five-thousand year old book that has undergone countless revisions and translations and edits. In addition, of course, the Catholic Church suppressed several gospels that conflicted with Church doctrine.
Why do these people — who I believe are trying to put us on a path toward Theocracy — depend so greatly on a work with such a checkered history?
Because they are desperately afraid. They are desperately afraid of a life without instructions and guidelines and rules handed down by a higher power. The Bible provides an intellectually lazy safety-net for some of these people, so that they don't have to confront the difficulties of modern life. Life is much easier when you know everything. I should know — I was sixteen years old once.
They are afraid of change, of difference, of the murky world of Constitutional law where interpretations can change with the times.
Once, Biblical law was used to keep African Americans in slavery. As we all know, the Bible supports lots of behavior that we know find abhorrent, or attacks behavior that has become more acceptable in today's modern life.
What I do in my life is my business. What you do in yours is your business. I will deal with God myself when my times comes, I don't need you to tell me how to live. I hope your religion brings you comfort, but get off my back. I am going to fight to keep the US of A a civil and Constitutional society, and not a theocracy as many might have it.
There's my line in the sand.