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And Now, Prayers from Everybody

… or almost, that is. According to this Christian Post story, quite a variety of clergy have joined in the various services that will be involved in the inauguration.

So if people want to bash Rev. Rick Warren or Bishop Gene Robinson, they should at least consider the broader range of targets available.

Before anyone misunderstands me, let me tell you what does not disturb me here. First, I think that the president-elect is a man of faith, and that should be reflected in his inauguration. Second, I also think he will be president of a diverse nation, including people of a variety of faiths and of no faith (set of religious practices), and that should be celebrated as well.

Under the circumstances, we’re beginning to see the sort of representation that is needed, and some of us, at least, should have expected this all along–that the participants in the weekend would not only include the folks who pray at the inaugural itself, but who would be involved in many events surrounding that one.

What I would be delighted to hear from our political leaders at some point would be an explicit acknowledgement that our celebration of diversity extends specifically to include those who are atheist, agnostic, non-religious humanist, and so forth.

Why do I, as a Christian, get worked up about this? Because recent polls show that these are people who are actually despised by large percentages of the population. An interesting set of poll numbers can be found here, in which I would simply note that 56% say they would be willing to vote for an otherwise qualified homosexual, but only 46% would be willing to vote for an atheist. Both of those numbers are troubling to me, but in the wake of movements such as Proposition 8 in California, consider that less people regard atheists as acceptable. I take the golden rule seriously–do to others as you would have them do to you–and I think it applies here.

The problem, in my view, is that we work on these groups one at a time, rather than simply learning to celebrate diversity as long as that diversity is not injurious in a society with a variety of beliefs and practices. (I don’t advocate tolerance of people who practice human sacrifice, for example.) The reason I would like to hear something said is that it is only by expressing the view publicly that each of these groups consists of people, who should be judged on their merits whether for a job in one’s business or for public office, that we get people to think about them and change their attitudes. If nothing else, the previous century should have taught us that silence doesn’t work.

I grow more able to celebrate the inauguration mix as a whole, though still wondering about homogenization. I prefer a robust diversity where each practices his or her own religion, and it is the differences, not the sameness, that is celebrated. But one thing at a time.

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