How Outdated Morals Permeated Our Political System

In the United States of America, we all know there is a conservative fringe element that believeshomosexuals are sinful second-class citizens, that women shouldn’t have bodily rights and thatglobal warming isn’t a real concern. But where from where do those outdated ideas originate and how did they come to pervade American politics?

The Christian Right often touts the moral high ground, but the “morality” on which their lives are based is no longer in line with our modern ethical structure. By clinging tightly to the ideas that served as “righteous” thousands of years ago, under the misguided belief that they are transcendent and divinely inspired, religious fundamentalists fight not for what is right, but for what was once considered right by one small group of people. This model ignores one simple fact: over time, our understanding of what is moral changes, while the words in the Bible, Qur’an, etc. do not to any great degree.

This development, progression and fluidity of cultural ethics and norms is precisely what makes biblical teachings a poor, stagnant moral compass for today’s society. Not only does the Holy Bible condone acts which our modern society would find completely unethical, such as rapemurder andslavery, but it also condemns acts like homosexual orientation and working on Sundays — acts that, today, could be considered normal and completely separate from “morality.”

Whether a politician believes maintenance of the earth is completely unnecessary because Jesus will return soon to save his followers or that God sees homosexuals as an “abomination,” those beliefs inform his or her actions and legislative choices. Since Christianity is the predominant religion in America, “Christian” ideals permeate through our laws resulting in various infringements upon our secular nation’s supposed separation of Church and State. This can come in something as harmless as “IN GOD WE TRUST” being printed on all American legal tender or as harsh asdenying homosexuals civil rights based on that religion’s principles.

By basing their lives — and therefore their policy decisions — on prescriptions from an unchangeable holy text, the Tea Party and other representatives of Christian fundamentalism in American politics have become the primary force for stalling moral progress. They believe we get our morality from religion, but that’s like saying we get our trees from houses: it’s completely backward. Our ancient ancestors incorporated their moral codes into religions to keep order. They didn’t have complex law enforcement systems for establishing rules that everyone would follow, so they sought to give those regulations divine origin. This process worked perfectly well for them, all things considered, but our moral structure evolves over time and is not well-suited for being narrowly and stagnantly defined by a religious text. As we’ve seen so clearly in modern America, it just doesn’t work very well on a long-term timeline.

The historical predecessors of our current Tea Party Christians were those who used the Bible to fight against the abolition of slavery, racial integration and women’s voting rights. Today they continue to use cherry-picked Biblical scripture as the main justification for Creationism and other false sciences being taught in our public schools, as well as the impediment of potentially life-saving stem cell research and equal rights for same-sex couples. As a result of this, in modern America, our values have grown and groups advocating for “religious morality” have become in opposition to twenty-first century morality: such groups include religious extremists, the Ku Klux KlanJihadists, Crusader, Nazis and anti-abortion terrorist organizations. If you look at the organizations that have consistently impeded the progress of human rights and science historically and in the present day, you’ll see that they are most often religious in nature.

Unfortunately for me and many non-believers, being an atheist does not exempt me from these damaging effects. And I advocate for secularism to push back against the encroachment of religion into our nation, which is supposed to have a wall of separation of Church and State that would prevent these occurrences and place religion back into its position as a personal endeavor… creating a nation where those who wish to worship are allowed to do so freely of their own accord, and those of us who do not have or want religion in our lives to avoid being governed or limited by it.

The Secular Writings of David G. McAfee

David G. McAfee is a journalist and author of Mom, Dad, I’m an Atheist: The Guide to Coming Out as a Non-believer and Disproving Christianity and other Secular Writings. He is also a frequent contributor to American Atheist Magazine. McAfee attended University of California, Santa Barbara, and graduated with dual-degrees in English and Religious Studies, with an emphasis on Christianity and Mediterranean religions.

Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NIV: If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.”
2 Chronicles 15:12-13 NIV: “They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul. All who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, were to be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman.”
Exodus 21:20-21: “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.”
Leviticus 20:13 NIV: “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”
Exodus 31:14 NIV: “Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death; those who do any work on that day must be cut off from their people.”
John 14:1-3 NIV: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”