In light of the fundamentalism which insists that we must give prominence to the religious foundations of our nation’s origins, it becomes imperative that we raise some fundamental questions about those foundations. What, we must ask, are the social and political ramifications of a belief system that assumes the “fatherhood” of “a common Creator”?
In the words of Cain… "Am I my brother’s keeper?". Do I have the right to demand that I be treated as a “fellow person”? In the tradition of Martin Buber, a prominent twentieth century philosopher, religious thinker, political activist and educator; shall we cultivate amongst ourselves “I-thou” rather than “I-it” relationships. Do we truly believe that “all persons are created equal”?
Religious belief is by no means separable from the anthropological assumptions of the faithful. The evidence from our human experience is that in fact people do create gods in their own images. Our religious ideals bear the indelible imprint of our social, economic, and historical biases. For this reason it is a semantically perilous exercise to underlay any conversation about a just and civil society with required assumptions about commonalities in religious belief. As I have observed elsewhere, our theology is for the most part the deification of our anthropology. An obvious peril of religious dialogue is therefore its inherent subjectivity.
It is ironic that in a culture where the God of the prophet Amos tells the oppressors of the poor to go to hell with their “sacrifices” and their other religious observances, these same oppressors never cease to warn the poor about “a godless ideology”. I am reminded of the Epistle of John where it is unequivocally stated, and here I paraphrase again… If a man says he loves God whom he cannot see, while he is oppressing his brother whom he can see… That man is a LIAR. So, one may ask on the basis of this declaration: Whose is the godless ideology?
As for me and my house... We will stay away from those who seek the endorsements of self-serving charlatans.