It’s a rousing feeling to wake up in the morning, pick up a copy of the Skiff and see an opinion column critical of your own. So, allow me if you will, Mr. Edwards, my response to your column in Friday’s issue.
Last Wednesday, I cited statistics that Americans were no less religious, but much less religiously affiliated. If politicians begin to speak less about religion, as surveys suggest the American people want, then maybe I will never again have to endure the turgid claims that God told each and every candidate to run for office.
That, my friends, will be a welcome relief to my ears and my conscience; I hope it will be one to yours. However, my opinion may have been misunderstood to say that I think religion is less of an issue in America, which is far from the truth.
Last Thursday, I visited the websites of all the major candidates for the U.S. Senate seat of Texas, and each website cited Biblical justification for its respective candidate’s categorical support for the State of Israel. I must say that I am completely unsurprised that one can find Biblical justification for the abject theft that was and is the Jewish state.
No, Mr. Edwards, I rather think the evolution of religious opinion as portrayed by the statistics I cited represents a threat to progress in this country.
Mr. Edwards stated, referencing Robert Putnam and David Campbell, that people adjust their politics to their religion and disaffiliation from religion prevents reconciliation between the devout and the secular.
I think the problem may be even more sinister than that.
In my own observation of the aforementioned shift, I have been struck for some time now by the post-modernist perversion of religious thought in America.
Yes, I am indeed bored with hearing the words, “God told me to run for president,” but I am worried more and more every day by the increasingly popular phrase, “My beliefs are my beliefs.”
One will often hear this harmful relativism from those receiving even the mildest inquiry about their beliefs. People who apparently think that one’s beliefs are justified simply by their being believed adopt that nonsensical statement and its derivatives almost universally.
Combine postmodern relativism with the privatization of religion in this country — by which I mean people value religion in the public square less, as statistics suggest — and we now have a seemingly incurable cancer that will plague us for decades to come.
“My beliefs are my beliefs” is masochism in its most intolerable form, because society damages itself by accepting this viewpoint.
Take my example of the 40 percent or more of Americans who do not “believe” in Darwin’s theory of evolution (despite that theories are not a matter of belief in science).
With the religious landscape I have just described, creationists and intelligent design-types might not express their unscientific opinions publicly, where they would be quickly refuted, but there is nothing to discourage them from voting for politicians who support “equal time” in schools.
There is nothing to stop them from teaching pseudoscience to their children and, possibly worst of all, they will continue to live as uneducated and unchallenged voters.
I agree with Mr. Edwards that the public’s religious views affect its voting behavior. Therefore, if one wishes to change the public’s voting behavior, one must also change its religious precepts.
In the wake of this religious and cultural shift, though it will hopefully bring us a public square noticeably devoid of candidates like Rick Santorum, it is an ever more arduous task to challenge people’s opinions on a personal level.
Our society and many of the viewpoints affecting it will be, for the foreseeable future, framed by very private and possibly very reactionary religious precepts. This challenge will make the task of encouraging great strides of human progress all the more difficult for those of us hoping to make the world a better place.
As for me? Challenge: accepted.
David Shaver is a sophomore political science major from Canyon.