March 04, 2005

A Post Modern Anthropological Oculus


With an eye focused on the function of Evangelical exclusivity, I have decided not to be angry with any of them, including GW. Let me explain. The functions of religion in general are varied, and historically they include the maintenance of psychological well being, and the support and completion of social needs, including political alimentation of the state. Historically, the imperial rights of the sovereign whether king, queen, Cesar, or Pharaoh were understood as God given. Anthropologically speaking, these functions are understood as being accomplished through the use of ritual, which is defined as cyclical acts that are performed at a particular time and place. Ritual works because it supports prescribed belief systems. It does that because it makes people feel good. Christian rituals occur in church at regular services every Sunday. They also happen at Bible study groups, church suppers, Sunday school, and other church functions. Removing these rituals to a special place like a church helps to make the rituals more effective. I myself, though I no longer attend regular church functions, study my Bible, other religious texts, and pray at night, in my bedroom just before going to bed. I am completely exclusive in my spiritual practice, and by excluding everyone I make my practice more meaningful. Thus it is that evangelicals also perform exclusivity in order to reinforce religious practice. Unfortunately, the consequence of ritual exclusive practice in the case of evangelicals includes the repudiation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people. The ritual makes evangelicals feel good because it supports their belief system. Such practice is circular, feeding on itself, and is extremely difficult to change.

Additionally, evangelicals, including the President, have tied their religious practice to politics and patriotism. The president does not see any incongruity between the founding father’s concern for the separation of church and state and his practice of Federal funding for religious charities. The President sees our federation of states, and the institution of democracy itself as God given, and therefore proposed in his recent state of the union address the practice of an Imperial Democracy that seeks to accomplish the conversion of foreign governments to our own practice. However, if, in truth, our form of government is the best, all other nations should come to practice it on their own given time.

Evangelicals in general also advocate for Christian prayer in the public schools. Evangelicals seek the inclusion of Creationism as a viable alternative theory to Darwin’s theory of evolution, though the former is an article of evangelical Christian religious faith and the later is a scientific theory with volumes of scientific study to support it. It amazes me that some nearby school districts in Pennsylvania have succumbed to the pressures evangelicals have brought to bare, and include creationism in science classes. Instead, the appropriate place in the public school curriculum should be a required course in comparative religions that includes creationism as a tenant of evangelical / fundamentalist practice.

Because I look at evangelical Christianity through anthropological eyes, I understand how and why evangelicals believe as they do. However, I cannot accept their faith as a prescription for the way others must live. Instead, I advocate for a Christian belief system that allows for diversity of religious practice. As a gay, Christian man, who believes that God made me the way I am, I am looking for a Christian church that is inclusive of all people regardless of their sexuality. Finally, I side with the founding fathers to maintain the separation of church and state.

*Arnush, Michael, Prof., HI202 Roman History, Skidmore College, “, viewed Thursday, March 3, 2005, 6:03 AM EST.

Tsunami Victims

With death tolls standing at 180,000, and almost as many missing, give to the following in order to help reunite orphans with distant relatives, and to insure that your money is used by people with true humanitarian concerns rather than proselytizing religious zeal.

American Friends Service Committee, and UNICEF

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