This is the really irrefutable difference between the USA and Europe - you care too much about religion. Even on a lefty website, the amount of time, energy and front page real estate spent discussing religion and spirituality is staggering - and not a little bit disturbing.
Religion deals in absolutes. Politics deals with the shades of grey of human life. Our whole history shows that the two do not mix well - in fact, our whole history is about slowly, but completely separating the two, so that politics can be democratic, and religion can be about individuals practising their faith.
The current mix of the two in the USA, including on the left, is scary.
"Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest" - Diderot
Europe, home of the Inquisition and, more recently, of that modern cult, communism, knows something about how absolutes lead to the worst human catastrophes. Indeed, America was founded on a large part by those Europeans that fled the religious wars and persecution of our continent.
"The end justifies the means" is the most dangerous argument. When your end is God, or doctrinal purity, or black and white morality inspired by a Superior Being, you end up committing the worst crimes, as they are easily justified by a greater good in the future. When that greater good is in your afterlife, you end up - inevitably -with suicide bombers on one side, and torture and preemptive strikes on the other.
Religion and spirituality belong to the private sphere. If someone finds solace, peace, fulfillment in his/her beliefs and religious practice, that's great. If you find an anchor for your personal values and morality in religious doctrine, that's also a good thing. But religion is NOT THE ONLY SOURCE OF VALUES AND MORALITY.
Bring your values into the political debate, not their source. Do come into politics to promote your values and your morals. But please do not come into politics to get others to adopt the source of these values. That's totalitarian.
And I get worried when, even on DailyKos, so much time is spent on religion - and especially when the debate does not center on the values, but on their sources. The religious right has brainwashed your country enough by making it a "fact" that you cannot have values without (their) religion. It's that link that must be fought, not religion. It's that linkage, that many here on this site seem to accept, that gives the religious right its power.
Religion needs to be kept as an individual matter, and should be taken out of politics. That does not mean that it cannot inspire political ideas or drive individual politicians, but that should be it, and being religious should not be a criteria to be a politician.
Religion brings simple answers to the questions we all face with respect to our own mortality and the meaning of our life. Religion can also provide valuable guidance to live our life in a "good" way. The temptation to make this the only way has always existed, and has been used and abused by religious institutions (Churches) and political leaders to herd people. That happens when some elite, whether born as such or self-selected, gets to decide what is "good" for others. Religion as a political entity, like any other ideology-based movement with higher ideals, brings the ultimate justification for what is "good" and is easy to ride to negate the individual values of peole and take away their liberty.
Europe has learnt this the hard way, and has pretty much taken religion out of public life. That does not mean that people or politicians have no faith, but that most citizens are healthily skeptical or those that put their religion on their sleeves and try to proselytise. Going to church is a social activity and/or a personal choice, not a political one.
Please, America - get religion our of politics as well. And please, Kossacks, do not try to outfaith the religious right, you play right in their game by legitimising the link between faith and values.
Stand by your values proudly, faith or not.
I am sorry I cannot respond to all the comments. I have read all of them (at least as of a few minutes ago...) and thank all of you for your participation. Just a few points to answer some items that have come up several times:
- to those that say that France or Europe are in no position to lecture the USA: I specifically mentioned our sad history with religion (and other ideologies like communism) to make clear that "we" are not better. I am not trying to give any lesson, just to provide another perspective. If you think this is not welcome on dKos, well, what can I say? And if you think I am an uncritical cheerleader of France, go read this: Ordinary police racism in France
- to those that bring up the "French riots": please don't bring your religious fantaisies into our riots. They have very little to do with religion. Or do you believe Fox News and CNN now?
- to those that think that I oppose religion inspiring political action. Read what I wrote. I am not opposing it, I am only saying that that you should fight for your ideas and ideals, not for their underlying source. Ideas inspired by religion are no better (and no worse) than ideas inspired by secular or personal values. If you think your political ideals are more deserving because they are based on your religious beliefs, you are entering the game of the fundamentalists.