Readers of Bishop John Shelby Spong’s newsletter know that he offers ways to reimagine faith and renew our yearning for the Divine without diminishing human intelligence. His latest newsletter carried an open letter by Jon Carroll to the most pious of the contenders for the GOP nomination for President of the United States. The letter was made available to Bishop Spong by one of his readers, Sunny Hill. Some excerpts:
Dear Sen. Santorum:
I have heard your cry to make religion more a part of the government and, by extension, more a part of the law than it is at the moment. And I have seen your ideas in action in the so-called “personhood” bills and other bits of legislation that seek to prevent a woman from controlling her own body. And that is the essence of the problem. When you say you want religion closer to public policy, you’re not just talking about any religion. You’re talking about your religion, which is an insular form of Roman Catholicism. If, say, the precedents of Shariah law were accorded some deference in Supreme Court rulings, you might not be as happy with the intermingling of church and state. If the tales of Shiva, maker and destroyer of worlds, were somehow to become a fundamental part of the curriculum in public schools, this development would, I wager, cause you some distress. The Hindu myths are not to be taken literally, although some people do. The Bible stories aren’t to be taken literally, but some people do. Do we really want myths conflated with facts to guide our reasoning about pragmatic issues of the day? Not me.
. . . You know the Big Government that all you guys rail against, the one that is sapping our precious freedoms? Well, that ain’t nothing compared with Big Religion. . . .
Morality is not the same as religion. . . . I think of a religious government as meaning: more sermons, fewer bridges.
Honest to God, Senator, . . . I certainly don’t want the whole engine of government shifted so that it accords with your theology. Give that baby a rest; you’re scaring the horses.