letter to the editor

Who speaks for God?

Mon, 05/09/2022 - 3:00pm

Dear Editor:

The proposed Maine GOP 2022 platform makes numerous mentions of faith. and freedom of religion. But against a backdrop of opposition to sharia law, Islamophobia, and rising anti-Semitism one has to wonder about how freedom of religion fits into the platform.

It is unsurprising that the GOP cloaks itself in the divine, as religion, by its nature, legitimizes authoritarianism. After all, God is not an elected office, nor are commandments subject to referendum.

In the assignment of the functions of government to faith based organizations, as proposed by the GOP platform, the government then becomes an arbiter of dogma. Further, this expanded role of government becomes open and subject to elected officials who have little or no foundation in theological practice in pronouncing what forms religion takes.

This theocratic impulse by the GOP is also corrosive to communities of faith as well. In creating dependencies on government funding, faith based organizations become clients of the state.

The constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion not only protects the faith community from government interference, but also protects the public from the formation of theocratic government policy that uses the power of the state to suppress other forms of religion and enact bigoted laws in the name of God.

For example, the GOP platform declares that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. For ministers who believe that the sacrament of marriage can be extended to couples of the same sex as an article of their faith, freedom to practice their religion is effectively denied.

There is an old joke about three theologians trying to decide on the nature of God and coming up with five different conceptions. The point is that religious faith is a deeply personal mater and government has no place in it.

People of faith need to be wary of being led into the temptation of thinking that God is on their side that the sanction of government implies. It leads to judgment and oppression of others while being blind to one’s own failings. One might better ask the question, ”Am I on God’s side?”

Fred W. Nehring