The freedom of religion is not primarily concerned with private devotion but rather that of public worship. It is a display of the freedom of conscience which, if removed to merely the privacy of silence, becomes a privation of faith which results in a practical, if not literal, atheism.

Over the years I’ve heard or read about the idea of “redeeming” music or literature or education or government…you get the picture. If it exists and functions in society as an institution of some sort, there’s always someone in the Church that wants to sound the call to redeem it. What they really mean is that they want to sanitize it in order to make it palatable or useful according to whatever manner of constructs that their pietistic sensibilities have conjured up.

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The reduction of Christianity to a mere belief, to simple immanence, barren of the transcendent, leaves christians of any people or nation easy prey to the carnivorous nature of political ideology. And this disenchantment of creation also fundamentally changes the way in which christians conceive of and pray to, God himself. The supplication, adoration and worship that are the elements of prayer are cast off and replaced by a conversation. A conversation with, because of the loss of transcendence, a deity that is always near, always immanent. So near, in fact, so as to be indistinguishable from oneself; prayer does, in fact, become just a conversation with a voice in your head.

D.G. Hart hits it spot on regarding the relative confusion and pathos that is the presence of the evangelicalism on the right and especially in the Republican party. Theocratic tendencies will always attempt to assert themselves in a vacuum of political sensibility and absence of a true, formal and active distinction between that which is Sacred and that which is Secular.

Why aren’t churches taxed? This seems like a legitimate question.

The First Amendment says this:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

We often only pay attention to the negative aspect here, that government shall make no provision for a state religion, that the state and the church shall remain separate. But the positive is just as important, that the people shall be “free” to exercise religion or, interestingly as an attached clause, the freedom of speech. No where does it enunciate or establish the acceptable content of either religion or free speech, yet it extends it protection. “Free” is an essential and necessary stipulation in this case. It establishes that in fact churches have always been exempt from taxes; taxes being a method of state control.

Inherent to the human condition is a narcissism that co-opts the Good News of redemption, of reconciliation and tells us it’s only value is imagesCAEKGW9Sin what have you done for me lately, that whispers in our ears that God helps those who help themselves. It’s no wonder that we’ve become moralists, that we testify to the worthiness of Christianity by pointing to the project of western civilization as an alchemical wonder wrought by spiritual powers. We’re scared, scared that a visible loss of our influence in the culture of the Greatest Nation on Earth is a witness that stands accusing the truthfulness of our story of the human condition.