Religion’s Role in Virginia Politics

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    As millions of Virginians celebrate Easter Sunday, it’s important to re-recognize the role that religion plays in Virginia’s politics. In Virginia, religion has been used as an argumentative backdrop to kill commonsensical rights for homosexuals and women. This year’s session of the General Assembly was only the latest round of religion as foundation for denying women fundamental rights to their own bodies and homosexuals their unequivocal right to marry as they see fit.

    I’m not a religious person but I’ve never been one to bash religion or anyone who adheres to this religion or that. Like it or not, religion is here to stay in Virginia for some time to come. Maybe it’s exactly how social life in Virginia should be.

    But while some Virginians who consider themselves religious understand the importance of allowing all Virginians to share equal rights, there are some who don’t. This latter group has co-opted religion to divide Virginians along the lines of first class, second class, and third class citizenship. Didn’t the New Testament say we are all God’s children?

    Whether it is through genuine belief, political cynicism, or a mix of both, religion has undoubtedly been the driving force behind the GOP’s anti-abortion legislation and its obviously anti-homosexual legislation as well. Every union “under God” should be between a man and woman, they argue. All life, from conception to the grave, is only God’s to give and take, not the woman carrying this life in her stomach.

    The point is that the faith-based community in Virginia needs to come out more forcibly in favor of gay and women’s rights if they believe in the importance of individual rights for every social group. The Republican Party has hi-jacked these issues in the name of religion, giving both a few black eyes. If you think they’re wrong, stand up and say so!  

    • mechenvy

      I think there is a simple and powerful argument to make which also happens to be politically advantageous to Democrats: Republicans are using the power of the state to force their personal interpretations of religion onto the rest of society, and theocracy is fundamentally anti-American. This argument appeals to the majority of Americans and serves as a wedge between far-right Republicans and whatever remains of rational, Main Street Republicans.