Three issues arouse passions like no other. These litmus-test subjects (and I feel very confident asserting this) are God, Guns, and Gays. Given the e-mails that I get when I write on any of these topics, they evoke more unreasoned emotion than anything else.
"God, Guns and Gays" (which I also think was my prom theme) can cause family rifts, chasms in relationships, and outright irrational behavior in humans.
Other writers have suggested that if I want to be liked I shouldn't go near God, Guns, or Gays. But my thinking is that I have never been liked, so why start trying so late in the game? Moreover, there are 300 million people in the USA (180 million of them here legally), and it is a fool's game to try to please them all, so here goes ...
First, about God: When this subject comes up, people are usually referring to their own particular deity, and therein lies the problem. Almost any action can be justified by someone's religion, most of which are based on books written more than 1,000 years ago and which are open to all sorts of interpretations. We must remember, moreover, that only 30 percent of the world's population is Christian and that those 2.1 billion Christians belong to dozens of different denominations, each of which slices and dices the Bible in its own way.
We are in a war now because a certain sect takes a jihadist view of the Koran. This sort of thing, if you read history, never ends well.
The Pilgrims came to North America to flee religious persecution and to worship as they chose. With that in mind, the Founding Fathers made the separation of church and state one of the fundamental tenets of our democracy. They were clear: They wanted a democracy, not a theocracy.
So, when it emerges that upward of 150 young graduates of the late Jerry Falwell's Liberty University law school are holding down important jobs in the Bush administration, it concerns me. And when one of the most senior staffers in the office of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (who resigned under pressure and took the Fifth Amendment) also turns out to be a graduate of Falwell's fourth-tier law school, it is clear that mixing religion and law is the objective.
Many of these zealots do not recognize the separation of church and state (much in the same way that they do not recognize fellow parishioners in the liquor store).
In the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy, guns have become topical again. And as in all matters of importance, I believe less government intrusion in the matter is the best policy. Liberals like Rosie O'Donnell spend much of their time preaching about more gun-control laws. And if you think guns make people criminals, then spoons are what make Rosie fat. Therefore, we should really outlaw spoons. And if government regulates spoons, could forks and knives be far behind?
Remember, three of the Fort Dix terrorist suspects had been in our country illegally for about 20 years. Between them, they had 75 arrests and citations, and our crack government agents failed to investigate their illegal status. I put no faith in government's ability to effectively police anything.
Homosexuality, as we all know through televangelists, is a learned behavior. Much like those with cerebral palsy or red hair, folks who are gay "choose" it. All a gay guy has to do is close his mind to Brad Pitt and pray a lot and he will be fine. Not as fine as Brad Pitt, but okay.
And what better way to make amends for the way you are than to spend your life in constant denial of the way you are so that you can please the pious people who hate you in the name of religion?
If the real reason that those who condemn gay marriage do so is because they do not want gays having sex, my suggestion is quite the opposite. As most married folks have found, there is no better way reduce the incidence of sex than to get married. The Religious Right may want to rethink that one.
Bush and the neo-cons seem to want us to fight for our God with Guns and without Gays — to preserve the American way of life, as they see it, against Muslim terrorists. Given his popularity numbers, I am not sure the American people are with Bush in this semi-religious war.
The bottom line: Life is short, so spending too much time pushing your views about these personal matters on others is a waste of time. Live a good life. Be an example for others. You will find that is the best way of encouraging people to see things your way.
Ron Hart is a columnist and investor in Atlanta. His e-mail address is RevRon10@aol.com.