Social media fuels this fire of course, and offers even more incendiary potential than in previous elections.
We've all seen the cute little quotes, sayings and jokes; those thinly veiled judgments couched in "humor", the blows delivered by blithe witticisms from the lips of cartoon characters. Or babies. Who can take issue with a baby? Awwww, look at that cute baby!! He's so cute, it scarcely matters that he's being used as a poster child for intolerance and bigotry!
But the message is there and it's no less vicious for all the pithy internet window dressing.
Because a vast number of my Facebook friends are Conservative Republicans and staunchly religious to boot, I've been subjected to all kinds of nasty little jibes on my very own feed. I'm ignorant. Deluded. Immoral. Uninformed. Stupid. Damned to hell. That last one is really no surprise and I accepted that fate long ago. If indeed there is a hell, then I am certainly going there. But the others....those hurt.
I've refrained from posting anything too overtly political and I've avoided commenting on others' political posts, except in the most general sense possible. There's just no point to debating politics unless your objective is to alienate friends and family, fracture relationships, and paint yourself as someone who is more concerned with the right to express an opinion than the effect that opinion might have on other people. There have been times when I have felt almost irresistably compelled to defend myself against an onslaught of recrimination. But I don't. Because I care about people more than politics. And that won't ever not be true.
But it's really interesting to sit back and watch. It's also interesting to note how closely religion is tied to politics and what a polarizing force it seems to be.
As you all know, I'm an Atheist. I strongly believe in separation of church and state. For me, religion just isn't a factor in selecting a candidate, unless a candidate is using religion as a platform for issues that contradict my own beliefs. For that reason, choosing a candidate simply because of his religious beliefs is a concept that I just don't grasp very well. Nor do I understand supporting a candidate simply because your Pastor or Priest said you should.
Perhaps you can understand why that (free thinking) sometimes get me in trouble, given that I do live in the Bible Belt, especially when I express my thoughts on "One Nation Under God". I won't go there right now, because it would require an even more lengthy dissertation than this has become, but suffice it to say, I don't agree. This nation is first and foremost about freedom. Freedom to worship as we please, or not at all.
And of course, about freedom of speech, which gives me numerous opportunities to observe that some of the most vile, malignant, hateful rhetoric is being spewed by people who are supposed to be Disciples of a loving, benevolent God. They are the purveyors of the most persistent unkindess, the most unrelenting judgment, the most purposeful intolerance.
Here's what I think about that....
I believe Jesus was a real guy. I think he was a leader of men, and a humanist. I think he wanted people to be nice to each other, embrace diversity, celebrate our differences and learn from one another. I think he wanted us to care for our sick, our poor, our infirm and our elderly. I think he promoted strongly socialist beliefs in that respect. Do I think he walked on water and multiplied the loaves and fishes and turned water into wine? I think there's probably a smidgen of truth in there somewhere, but most folklore is founded in truth of some kind, no matter how marginal. So, no. I don't think he was divine, but I think he was probably pretty awesome.
And it occurs to me, that if the Jesus I believe in is true to who he really was, then folks...I and my liberal bretheren are a damn sight more Christian than many Christians.