Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Breaking the silence on the controversial topic of religion

<ast week, students found yellow notes in their mailboxes. Here is an example.

Handwritten: “I hope 8th week is going smoothly! Make sure you’re taking the time to enjoy life!” And typed on the bottom: “The lord your God is with you. He is mighty enough to save you. He will take great delight in you. The quietness of his love will calm you down. He will sing with you because of you” Zephaniah 3:17. The sender remains anonymous, but the religious undertones are clear.

The notes had different effects on the student body. Some regarded the message as a friendly gesture—for others this generated feelings of discomfort. Religious diversity is a given here on campus and it is unusual to find such a message in ones mailbox. From our point of view, the controversial nature of religious dialogue becomes the focus of this event.

It seems that religion is a perennially taboo subject on this college campus. As a non-secular institution, religion is not a required part of academic study as it is on a university that has religious affiliations. Nonetheless, there are active religious groups at Carleton who create a dynamic and diverse offering a services and religious events. It is admirable that Carleton hosts such an accepting religious environment. The new publication Unashamed seeks to inspire religious dialogue in a non-threatening manner, and the Chapel hosts several events every term with the same intention.

Then why is religion so difficult to talk about? Perhaps controversy arises in the fact that religion in today’s society carries political connotations. On an institutional level, it can be used to legitimize and manipulate political goals.

Historically, religion has served a tool of oppression when used to support a political agenda. The Holocaust is an extreme example of a governing body using religion as a basis of persecution. Although this situation is extreme, it serves to show how religion is vulnerable to corruption and misapplication.

Religion undoubtedly inspires faith in millions and creates a centralized and productive community. On a personal level, religion can provide spiritual comfort and can promote generous and compassionate behavior. The problem exists when religion becomes an imposition rather than a choice.

Citizens of this country are guaranteed a separation of church and state. The presence of religion in politics legally has no place in today’s governmental structure. The current administration, however, has demonstrated the dangerous interaction between religion and politics. A political environment infused with religion obscures democratic practice.

We will conclude with a statement made by Republican columnist, Bruce Bartlett: President Bush “truly believes he’s on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence…But you can’t run the world on faith.” It is clear that the United States should keep this in mind during the 2008 election, but in the meantime, we should not stop talking about religion. Perhaps it was our silence that allowed such an intrusion of religion into politics.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *