Government and religion make an unhappy alliance

Carl Parker

History is filled with the accounts of attempts to meld religion and government, and the subsequent wars. Lessons are to be learned from the crusades and the Spanish Inquisition. We should remember why the pilgrims left England and came to America. Kings tried to mandate the choice of religions for hundreds of years. And there are those today who would have the U.S. government do the same thing.

Afghanistan is a good case in point of what religion married to government can do. Remember the accounts of religious enforcers roaming the streets in Afghanistan punishing those who violated sharia law? Some seem to have forgotten what our American Constitution says about religion. It assures us the right to practice any religion we choose, or none at all.

Too many Texas politicians of late have worked hard to impose by law their religious beliefs on the rest of us. Religion should be about faith, devotion and practice, not law.

I have, for example, no trouble using the word Merry Christmas without fear of retribution or criticism. Some would have us believe there is some regular consequence for using the greeting.

There are many who seek to use false fears as a weapon, attempting to convince us all there is a governmental attack on religion. Our future religious pathway does not rely on politics from the pulpit, nor does it rely on giving tax breaks to churches for use of political activities. The Johnson Amendment prohibits religious organizations that are tax exempt from engaging in direct political activities. This amendment, the repeal of which is advocated by our current president, was made to assure that those non-believers or practitioners of separate beliefs not be required to support politics in the name of religion. 

Studies have recently shown there is an apparent abandonment of organized religion. In all probability, the cause is not government action but hypocrisy. Our recent presidential election demonstrated for us that so called “true believers” support and vote for a man profane in speech, immoral in his sexual conduct and claiming never to have asked forgiveness from a Supreme Being or anyone else for anything.

The real future for an American religious revival is for those of us who claim strong Godly beliefs to practice what we preach.

Carl Parker has practiced law in Port Arthur since 1958. He was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1962 and the Senate in 1976. His e-mail is cap1934 [at] aol [dot] com.