Opinion: Trump's New Religious Liberty Task Force Marks the End of an Era
When Religion and Politics Interject, Faith Becomes Nothing More than Opinion.
Yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the formation of a "Religious Liberty Task Force" to "protect and advance [America's] heritage of freedom and religion".
This is one of the most terrifying announcements of this presidency thus far and it honestly reads like a prequel to my book (Saints of the Paradise Valley).
So as someone who's been imagining this story playing out for the last 5 years, pardon me for pretending to be an expert on the matter for just a moment.
Let's start with the obvious: by "religious" freedom, this task force is clearly emphasizing "Christian freedom;" otherwise, we would also be talking about enabling religious extremist groups like ISIS to thrive as they already act in accordance with what they feel their beliefs entail. It promotes the opposite effect of "religious freedom" by perpetuating the assumption that if you live in North America, you either believe in Christianity or you don't belong. So yes, even Christians should be outraged by this news. It reduces faith into nothing more than a political agenda (which if you go through the history books, Christianity has been twisted to do time and time again). And when it is used solely as a basis for law and punishment, you lose value from the moralistic guidelines that make a religion worth believing in and it is instead just used to control the masses.
Secondly, let's take this opportunity to remember that this is a 2000+ year old book. Times were very different back in the pre-common-era days and stories from the Bible reflect that fact. I would hope that there is no one who considers themselves religious that still believe in slavery or stripping away women's rights, however, I know that I would be wrong. These things were changed in the last few centuries as a result of societal progress. Compound that with scientific discoveries such as the theory of evolution or the big bang theory and we find ourselves in a conflict.
Choosing to justify modern law by the words written in a 2000+ year old book is not just ignorant but it is irresponsible. It asks the public to suspend belief in facts and science and basic human rights. This is exactly what the Trump administration wants.
Books are not infallible.
There is a reason we hear the expression "the separation of church and state" regularly — it is to protect civilians from the dangers that can follow from putting our faith in something that we cannot see or hear for ourselves. What might act as a god to one person can be a villain to another — simply look at how religion is still being used to persecute LGBT communities or women. Or how it was used to justify slavery, genocide, and other atrocities.
The Bible is a collection of stories passed down from one generation to another — it was scribed, translated, and distorted by men like a dangerous game of telephone. What you believe is your own choosing but there is no denying the fact that human beings are flawed and many men in their pursuit of power have manipulated religion over time to suit their needs (looking at you, Henry VIII).
And it is happening again today. So I implore you, friends: don't allow your faith to blind you to those who want to use it to control you. Believe in the positive morals of religion but reject the flashy titles that accompany it. Live a virtuous life, not one that relies on a religion to justify hatred against those different from you. And look to facts to guide our future — they're the only thing we can put our faith in confidently.
Does the topic of science versus religion interest you? Consider buying an electronic copy of my dystopian novel, "Saints of the Paradise Valley" and watch the technological revolution unfold.