I confess...I'm an agnostic. I believe that if there is a God, that it is beyond our ability to know. I realize that this is why it is called Faith. And that's not really the story of this post, but I did want to mention it. I think it is helpful to acknowledge our "come from" places. So that's mine...born to a Jewish mother and taught to be proud of that heritage but it was more a culture than a religious practice.
I've watched the controversy around Christine O'Donnell with interest. She is the tea-party endorsed candidate running in Delaware. I've seen her opponents ads here in the Philly area. I've only seen hers as a discussion point on news shows. I'd certainly prefer she lose but some of the debate is bugging me. There was a quote pulled from an old reel in which she mentions dabbling in witchcraft and she has a new ad in which she states that she is not a witch (she also says "I'm one of you"....which I could go on about in itself but won't).
This whole debate angers me....both the people who dug up the quote and the decision to dignify it with a response. I do understand both, especially given her position in a fairly "value centric" political landscape. But it drives me nuts. It raises the same anger in me that accompanies claims that Obama is a Muslim.
Why do we let religion be an epithet?
Wiccan is a very peaceful and loving religion. I have a friend whom I watched as she embraced the practice and it seems so open and welcoming, more about communing with and respecting the natural world than turning princes into frogs. Islam is similarly a peace-loving religion. People have twisted it an used it to justify horrible acts, but that is NOT Islam, that is evil wearing a Muslim mask. I want to remind everyone who talks about the religious roots of 9/11 that plenty of evil acts were done in the name of Christianity. Some little thing called The Crusades comes to mind.
I do understand that, my idealism aside, America is not ready for a Muslim president. And may not be ready for a Wiccan Senator. I'd like to think either could win a smaller race, in the right community, and I can respect that as a first step. While I understand the "need" to respond to the use of a religious label as an epithet, it still disheartens me. I wish the denial could at least be simple and a basic conveying of fact...to use a lighter analogy, like the Seinfeld "Not that there's anything wrong with that" episode, though truly genuine. I don't have blond hair...that's just a truth...but I am in no way disparing blondes.... heck, I get annoyed at blonde jokes too.
I hope that we'll be laughed at one day. I hope that one day people will look at gay marriage like we look at interracial marriage and think we were utterly idiotic for forbidding it. And I hope that one day Muslim, Wiccan, Whatever will not be a loaded and disparaging label. It will be a statement of fact and a label that can be worn with pride. Obviously, I can imagine a truly evil religion and that would be another case. But I hope we'll recognize that Muslims and Wiccans are practicing a good faith. That there are certainly evil members in both groups and that they may cloak their acts in their faiths. But that we'll be smarter than they are and see past the excuse...that we'll see them as exceptions and disparage the individuals rather than the groups.
I think most Americans would say the embrace the freedoms upon which our nation was founded. I hope one day we'll truly practice that belief and widen it beyond our narrow purview.