Friday, February 15, 2008

Religion, State, Marriage, Gays (Cont'd)

On the other hand (cf. this), maybe the religious zealots should just go ahead and keep agitating about homosexuality and crusading to "protect" marriage from gays, and keep insisting that marriage be both a religious and a governmental institution. Maybe they should ever more adamantly adhere to the crudely anti-gay teachings of their holy texts even against growing evidence that homosexuality is unchosen and the rising consensus that intolerance of homosexuals is unfair, unjust, and bigoted. Maybe they should go on insisting that god hates the same gays they claim he creates, and insisting that god's otherwordly punishments for homosexuality can't be trusted, but rather that governments need to step in and assist the almighty with sublunary punishments, penalties, and exclusions.

Maybe, on this question of marriage and others like it, they should be encouraged to merge religion and state to such a point that going to church, mosque, or synagogue is indistinguishable from going to the county licensing office or DMV. I understand that's a fair approximation of the state of things in places like England, Norway, and Iceland, where taxpayers fund favored religions directly, and where, as a consequence, the church and its teachings assume all the gravity of tax-funded kindergarten -- fine for the kids, and not without its quaint songs, but nothing to trouble an adult. (I welcome corrections or qualifications from foreign readers.)

To be plain, I don't actually want this. I want anti-gay bigotry to stop yesterday, and I would like to see religion and state stay as far apart as possible, but part of me says that if religious zealots are so eager to associate their faiths with small-minded bigotry and petty moral authoritarianism, there's an upside to letting them. Saudi Arabia is supplying the world with reasons to fear church-state intermingling on an almost daily basis, showing everyone just what kind of "screwed up, vile little backwater of a barbarous craphole" religious zealotry can make of a society.

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