Governments Should Steer Clear of Religion

I routinely wake up in the morning and walk outside to pick up the latest issue of ‘The New York Times,’ which has been blithely thrown in the vicinity of my apartment door.
In my morning delirium, I sit down with my paper and orange juice; I repeatedly find that the crucifix and the cloth stars and stripes that hang juxtaposed on my wall are in a strange blur. The paper will shake me from the illusion; it always does.
But as the paper comes into focus this particular morning, I feel an eerie resemblance between its words and the indistinguishable adornments on my wall.
I read about a mosque that has been bombed in Lebanon. The Israeli government has destroyed this temple of God. Purportedly, the attack was part of the effort against the rapid metastasis of Hezbollah. I find myself gaining focus again. My glass is now empty, and I turn on the TV.
Shepard Smith is amidst explosions at the southern border of Israel.
As he speaks, I slowly lose focus on his face; his words assure me that there will be no American casualties in Lebanon, as Israel is not bombing the Christian districts. I instantly think of my friend Andrew. When I first met him, I asked why he carried a rug with him. He laughed and did not answer. After years of friendship, I revered this mat, seeing it as his direct line to God.
Most of Andrew’s family lives in Lebanon, but he was born and raised in America. If Andrew were visiting his family, I strongly doubt he would be in one of Shepard’s sacrosanct ‘Christian districts.’ Does this mean that he is not an American?
I have now begun to see the disease everywhere: gods and governments, martyrs and mercenaries, religions and regimes, all confounded. Every time Bush speaks of war, he succinctly speaks of God. He ends every one of his speeches with ‘God bless America.’ I wish he would ask God to bless Americans, and to guide America.
Maybe if he did, our county would be fighting to abolish poverty and genocide, instead of non-existent weapons of mass destruction.
In Bush’s speech on the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11, he said, ‘We’re fighting for the possibility that good and decent people across the Middle East can raise up societies based on freedom and tolerance and personal dignity.’ The problem with Bush’s moral imperatives of ‘good and decent,’ is that they only include people who support the American definition of ‘democracy,’ one that is led by three branches of government, each with a Christian majority. I am a Christian, yet I still find hypocrisy in Bush’s criticisms of theocracy.
I believe that the world might find a more peaceful resolution if people managed to break the confounded perception of church and state.
I do not mean the separation of these, because I think that this is would be impossible. If only people could clearly understand where one ends and the other begins.
In reality, propaganda ensures that this will never happen. In this country, we are trained from childhood to pray to a flag.
I remember receiving maledictions from a teacher in high school when I failed to stand for the pledge. I had broken a rib the night before.
What saddens me the most is the death of innocents that this propaganda breeds. What anger would we feel if someone came to America and killed our families, claiming righteousness in saving us from the evils of capitalism?
At a Dodgers game last weekend, I found myself beginning to recite the pledge out of habit. I then thought of my friend Andrew, and the purity in his eyes when he prays toward Mecca. I stopped mid-pledge, feeling like part of a collective demagogue. I kneeled and began to recite an ‘Our Father’