Politics and Religion

So I’m wide awake tonight with a thought that I cannot get out of my head.  It started this evening when one of my children made the statement that when they can vote they aren’t going to tell anyone who they vote for because it’s none of their business and they don’t want to “influence their decision”. 

So I’m pondering why that bothers me so much and I think it boils down to this whole ideology that you should never discuss politics nor religion.  I did a search to see if I could find when this idea came into being.  Where did it come from.  I haven’t found the answer and if you know then I’d really like to hear where it began because I feel this is a very DANGEROUS and STUPID idea.  Sorry, it’s early in the morning and I cannot be more polite then to say stupid.  I’m thinking Forest Gump “Stupid is as stupid does.”

What I know is that these two ideas, concepts, beliefs whatever you choose to call them are the MOST IMPORTANT things in our lives.  Our religion or lack thereof usually defines our belief system, our morals, our values and what is important to us.  Whether or not someone else believes as we do is irrelevant to discussing our religion with others.  The same is true for politics.  By discussing these ideas that are so important to everything we do, we learn to defend our beliefs, we learn to articulate our beliefs and sometimes in our discussions we learn something, we grow, we might even change our mind.  However, if there is never any discussion on these oh so important topics then how can we ever even know exactly what we do believe and why?

In Christianity apologetics is the art of being able to defend your beliefs and why.  Many people have beliefs and they have no idea why they have them.  They learned something when they were young and they never changed or even challenged their belief.  If you hold a belief in anything and you don’t know why you do then I would say your belief isn’t really yours.  It is someone else’s that you adopted. 

I know why I believe in God.  I can explain my beliefs, I can argue and debate what I believe is truth.  But when I have conversations with others about what they believe, I usually learn something about them, and about humanity.

Looking back in history, it was very common for people especially wealthy people to gather for dinner parties and after the meal the men would congregate and discuss politics and I’m betting they didn’t avoid discussing religion either.  These men often didn’t agree and from what I read in history there were often heated arguments.  However, these men didn’t avoid going to these dinner parties in fear that someone might bring up politics or religion.  Quite the opposite.  These men enjoyed lively debates about these topics and I’m sure in defending their positions they became more convinced of their beliefs and I’m equally certain that some well structured debates also changed some minds along the way.

And if we aren’t discussing politics and religion with our children then who is instilling their beliefs in them?  Do I want them listening to the media or whatever is popular in culture today or do I want them forming their own beliefs and value systems based on what’s really important?  I want my children to hold to their morals and their values and those may differ from mine in minor or even major ways but I want them to be able to stand up and defend their beliefs, to know why they believe it, to be able to argue with logic, reason and feeling why they hold these beliefs. 

In my search to find out where this idea came from I stumbled up on a blog article.  The writer is insignificant but what she said was that she was at dinner and heard an adult talking with his adult children and discussing politics and how she thought that kind of talk shouldn’t be allowed in public.

Really?  How narrow minded of her.  She went on to rant about how people should “never” talk about politics, religion, sex or money.  I might agree with her on the sex topic, but the rest are very important and we should be talking about them especially with our children and with our friends.  It may not be any of my business how much money my friends make, but if they have some ideas on how to make money, I’d sure like to hear them.  Perhaps if I had more friends who talked about money I wouldn’t have made some bad money decisions in my life.  The blog title was something about “etiquette”.  I think she would have done a better job explaining how to disagree and debate while being civilized which seems to be the bigger problem of discussing these taboo topics.

I think that’s the most dangerous thing in our country today is how no one is allowed to express certain opinions without being vilified and called names.  It seems to be unacceptable to use derogatory terms about race, gender, etc. which I agree with 100% however it doesn’t seem to be unacceptable to label people and be hateful to them when they support a conservative, Christian point of view.  That is a huge double standard and I think it shows a lack of intelligence on the part of the one doing the name calling.  You see, I can discuss my beliefs whether political or religious and I can allow you to have your own often differing points of view.  However, I can disagree with you without being hateful and using childish tactics of name calling.  And I don’t think this is all a one sided thing.  I see plenty of name calling coming from my conservative friends at times as well.  I think somewhere along the way this ideology that we do not discuss politics or religion has caused us to lose the ability to actually debate, to argue and to share our beliefs in a civilized manner.  I believe without the lively discussions on these two topics, we wouldn’t even have the United States of America as no one would have ever questioned the status quo and would have just blindly followed England.

I welcome discussions on religion and politics and I will never avoid those topics and I certainly hope that I’ve discussed them with my children and encouraged them to look at what’s going on in the world and to look for the truth and to be able to stand up for what they believe.  And I hope that one day I’m in a restaurant with that fellow blogger and she overhears me talking with my adult children about politics and religion.