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Is democracy a religion?

14 November 2019

Maybe because I’ve been watching the American soap opera “Greenleaf” … the trials and travails of a family of evangelical preachers and their megachurch… as well as following events in Bolivia… where it appears Evangelical Christians played a major role in planning and executing the coup… the question comes up.

Is it more or less democratic to simply follow the literal Word (of one’s constitution, or the BIble), or is it open to interpretation… and by whom?  Is the goal of a democratic society the “salvation” of everyone, or of the elect?  And what is “salvation”?  Traditionally, we’ve fallen back on either Bentham’s “most good for the most people”, but … like those who say “we are all God’s children”, there are those who say we say “all men (and women…. and intersex) are created equal and…. entitled to the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.  Whatever salvation or happiness is?  And again… is it something we decide, or do we turn it over to our preachers, or to some sort of holy writ?

In the story, the Bishop is ailing, but the undisputed leader of his congregation and his family.  There is no clear line of succession, and while the Bishop and the pastors do more than their share of “unchristian” acts, they see themselves (and are seen) as justified.

While, in theory, there was a succession plan for the Bolivian head of state, he, like the fictional Calvary Church, had a long time leader who had created a thriving community that was identified with that leader.  Is it wrong that the rules (or strict Biblical interpretations) were sometimes stretched to meet the needs of the flock, or the citizens?

It seems that in discussing what happened (and is happening) in Bolivia is a matter of belief.  I wonder if those who defend the … “transition in power”… avoid using the word “coup” the way religious people avoid the word “sin” for acts they accept, though others see as anathema.  In the story, the gay choir director is fired, not for anything particular, but because for some, he’s a sinner.  Something not said, and certainly not a legal reason (the fictional church is trying to avoid a lawsuit for termination without cause).  A coup is not something we politely call a transition we support either.

One Comment leave one →
  1. norm permalink
    16 November 2019 11:56 am

    Your metaphor is a fine one and in truth, far broader than what you included in today’s essay. My friend in Merida is saying the hand of Trump may be involved because of the rare earth mining industry. The New York Times was whispering behind its hands that it was more of a racial element driving the coup.

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