The golden rule …
You may pray if you wish, go to church on Sunday and Wednesday, say grace over each meal, and wear a little gold cross around your neck on a fine gold chain or on the lapel of your business suit, next to your Rotary pin. If you want to show off the pious Christianity of your family of five with two large fish symbols and three little fish symbols stuck to the back of your car, you can. You are free to believe with all your heart that a virgin birthed the human son of god, that as a young man he performed miracles and taught good life lessons to those who would listen. You can believe that he was later betrayed and crucified like a common criminal. You can believe that he took the blame for all the sins committed in the world, died a horrible death on the cross, and then three days after entombment, his dead body rose. And you can believe that he now sits at the right hand of god, waiting for his eventual return to this world as a savior for believers and a bloody scourge to rest of us.
You can believe in a new, wondrous life in heaven after you die.
Here in America, you are free to believe all of it, or some of it, or a little of it. You can also believe in Allah, live your life according to Taoist teachings or celebrate Beltaine with an earthy pagan ritual. You can believe in Santa Claus, elves and UFOs.
And in America, you are free to choose not to believe in any of it, but base your view of life on science, wonder and the joy of being alive. You can celebrate Easter as a religious holiday or celebrate it as the return of spring and an end to the cold, harsh weather and desolation of winter. You can choose not to celebrate anything.
What you are not free to do in America is force me to believe like you do.
A theocracy is a government ruled by or subject to religious authority. It’s political, not spiritual.
Theocracies smash the single, universal Golden Rule observed by nearly all decent people all over the world, no matter their religion or lack of it: Treat others as you would like to be treated.
“Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD.” — Torah Leviticus 19:18
“When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” — Torah Leviticus 19:33-34
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” — Jesus (c. 5 BCE—33 CE) in the Gospels, Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31, Luke 10:27
“None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” — Muhammad (c. 571 – 632 CE) in a Hadith.
“This is the sum of duty; do naught unto others what you would not have them do unto you.” — Mahabharata (5:15:17) (c. 500 BCE)
“What you do not wish upon yourself, extend not to others.” — Confucius (ca. 551–479 BCE)
“What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man.” — Hillel (ca. 50 BCE-10 CE)
I wish you all a peaceful — and thoughtful — weekend.
Note: This was my contribution to the Blog Against Theocracy blogswarm this weekend. Read more about your First Amendment rights and the separation of church and state at http://www.firstfreedomfirst.org. And don’t miss the great writing on this subject at the other participating blogs. You can find a continually updated list of them at http://blogagainsttheocracy.blogspot.com/