Today, Mata H offered four stories about religion in the news. In short, the articles report improved health for people with strong religious convictions, secular oppression of a religious blogger in Egypt, the unusually Democratic sensibilities of Hispanic Catholics, and protests by Air Force personnel with regards to browbeating harassment by fundamentalist evangelical Christians.
I noticed a very different post relating to religion today, in a post Bruce Wilson posted yesterday -- via Alternet, a fascinating blog post on Talk2Action:
It may surprise many that hardline communists were also hardline social conservatives on the matters of family and sexuality. It is the nature of extremism to incorporate far out views on these matters into state policy. The answers to this perverse mix of despotism and family values lies in the natures of religion and nationalism. It is not about left versus right because social conservatism can be found in both as tools of the state. Social conservatism, both religious and secular, when wed to nationalism and embraced as state policy, has almost always turned into an enemy of tolerance and liberty. In fact, social conservatives in the USA, led by Christian conservatives, have fought or disagreed with religious diversity, religious equality, abolition of slavery, Suffrage, desegregation, integrating the armed forces, Brown v Board of Education, mixed race marriages, respect and equality for Jews (not in MY country club!), the Civil Rights Act of 1965, gender equality laws, women in authority, working women, reproductive education, family planning, contraception, condoms, gay rights and a host of others. It was humanists, both religious and secular that banded together to win the rights movements of the past.
Recently I've had the chance to see some of the recently re-released (on DVD) documentary series, The World At War. (If you think Ken "pan-and-scan" Burns sets the standard, watch this series and think again. I cannot imagine how his upcoming series can compare with this epic achievement.)
Anyway, The World At War features a LOT of archive film footage from Germany in the years before WW2 started, and the thing that leaps right out of the screen and into the pit of your stomach is how Hitler's political rise was on the wave of a fundamentalist Christian mania. Watch the films of night-time, torch-lit rallies with crosses outnumbering swastikas. Hear the religious songs of purity and righteous glory. It will scare the crap out of you.