(To see Cal Grondahl’s cartoon that goes with this post, click here.) I ask readers for their reactions to the following: Sexual intercourse is a sacred act, a gift from God to his children as a celebration of marital love, as well as for the procreation of children. Fornication is a selfish abuse of that sacred gift. Adultery is blasphemy to God’s law, a betrayal of one’s spouse, and a very serious sin.
I hold very strongly to those beliefs; nevertheless I do not seek to make them laws, nor do I condemn — within a public sphere — others who disagree. Yet, a growing portion of Americans no longer distinguish between personal and political beliefs. Traditional beliefs are easily scorned, and often placed dishonestly in a political context.
A current example is the debate over whether contraceptive services should be mandated as part of the health insurance policies of religious organizations. The issue is a constitutional one that concerns the First Amendment. Nevertheless, leading representatives of the Democratic Party have framed the debate as one of religious extremists wanting to deny women contraception. That’s absurd, but among activists who can no longer distinguish the political from the personal, it’s a catchy cause.
The debate has also led to scorn of persons who personally oppose contraception. Rick Santorum, GOP presidential candidate, is often mocked for his personal opposition of most contraception use, although he’s long noted that he would not extend his personal beliefs into the public sphere. It’s hard to avoid the irony of Santorum being criticized by liberals and many Democrats for his “religion” while his detractors attempt to impose their beliefs on religious organizations through the new health care law.
Mitt Romney has also been unfairly scorned and ridiculed for personal religious beliefs that he and others have no wish to inflict on others. The LDS doctrine of baptism for the dead was mocked by “comedian” Bill Maher, who “unbaptized” Romney’s descendants. Liberal blogger Andrew Sullivan has featured photos of the LDS garments, worn by members of the LDS faith, on his blog. These are considered sacred by faithful members.
What’s interesting about this is that Maher, Sullivan, and many others who mock conservative personal religious beliefs do so unscathed from their peers, or liberal pols. The sharp move to the left in the past decade by the Democratic Party has made many persons with disgust for and hatred toward conservative people of faith more comfortable with their bigotry.