“I’m a Christian first.”

I was listening to NPR this morning and heard a report about (what else?) the upcoming election, which turned to (of course) religion.

(I have to take a brief moment here to marvel at what I’m doing right now. If you’d asked for my opinion about something like this a year ago, I would have told you I never talk about religion or politics. Yet here I am, writing my very first blog post, and I’m talking about both of them. To quote Simon Tam from the Firefly episode ‘Jaynestown’, “This must be what going mad feels like.”)

One of the people interviewed in the NPR report was the chairwoman of a local Republican Central Committee. When confronted by conservatives who won’t vote Republican because of the economy, she tells them, “I’m a Christian first. And if you vote your true Christian values and vote for the candidate that you think is ethically right and has the [right] values, that will take care of the economy.”

This quote is a good example of what scares me about religion and religious people. I think it’s also an excellent illustration of why the United States’ founding fathers wanted to keep religion out of the government.

How the heck is voting “your true Christian values” going to help the economy?

I was taught, and have always believed, that it takes an informed and educated electorate to make a democracy work. But it seems to me that saying “I’m a Christian first” means there’s no reason to inform yourself about the candidates and what they stand for, or to educate yourself about their policies and how they might affect you, your neighbors, or the rest of the country. Just follow your “Christian values” and everything will be all right. In other words, don’t bother to think.

Ah, yes, the dumbing down of the electorate…

In his essay ‘Viruses of the Mind’*, Richard Dawkins likens religion to a mind virus and imagines how a medical textbook might describe the symptoms. One of the symptoms he seems to have missed is the sudden inability of sufferers to think for themselves. Or maybe it’s not so much an inability to think as an unwillingness to do so. After all, it’s so much easier to just be a sheep, follow the flock, do as you’re told. Never mind that the shepherd may be leading you not to some sheepy paradise, but to slaughter.

Be a Christian if you must, but – please – when it comes to politics (or anything else that affects your fellow citizens, Christians and non-Christians alike), put your religion on the back burner and take the time to become informed and educated about your choices. THINK, people. Don’t blindly follow your faith.

*Originally published in B. Dahlbom (ed.), Dennett and His Critics: Demystifying Mind (Oxford, Blackwell, 1993); reprinted in R. Dawkins A Devil’s Chaplain: Relections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love (New York, Mariner Books, 2004)

4 Responses to ““I’m a Christian first.””

  1. I just received an e-mail forward called “Revelations 13” describing how the Anti-Christ will appear as a Muslim descended man in his 40’s with a Christ-like appeal, but will lead us astray. The “message” of the e-mail was that our founding fathers “fought and died” for a “Christian nation.” So many sheeple believe this total farce. I’m dreading the time when we DO become a Christian nation of narrow minded bigots.

  2. Love your Borzoi/Greyhound site and congrats on the blog. Living in the buckle of the bible belt, it amazes me what sheeple will believe. I’ve heard it called “Cognitive Disconnect”. When you are presented with the facts, yet you choose to believe what you’ve been told despite it being incorrect (men and dinosaurs inhabiting earth at the same time-despite their fossils cannot be carbon dated to the same time period-of course, you must believe that carbon dating is science and science is a fact first). I’ve gotten the e-mail that Carol mentioins…scary that people believe this drivel (e-mails of this type).

  3. So far so good. The blog seems like it will be a good one. I hope to follow it. Look forward to hearing how you bring all the topics mentioned in your header together. Good luck!

  4. The Greytheist Says:

    Bring all the topics together? Er…uhm… How about this: “Hi. I’m the Greytheist. I’m a nontheistic skeptical Browncoat who loves science and is owned by several Greyhounds.” There. All the topics together. ;)

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