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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Religion IS political in Kansas

By 史蒂夫 奥托


Living in the Bible belt, here in Kansas USA, is very hard for a leftist or an atheist. Kansans seem to be the antithesis of both these things. But to work for a revolutionary new society means re-adjusting to a hostile landscape and making some compromises.
At first, this might seem absurd. But as the Italian Marxist writer Antonio Gramsci made clear, we can’t just ignore or throw away all the past traditions and expect to wipe our history clean. Mao Zedong (毛泽东) also realized that and his later writings reflected more on Chinese culture. Gramsci often made references to the Catholic Church since Italy is a predominately Catholic country. Mao made references to Taoism, because he realized that it was something the Chinese people understood. He realized that Chinese communism had to be Chinese and reflect the cultural past as well as the present and future. Gramsci was one of the first Marxists to make that realization.
So how does a revolutionary leftist and non-believer organize, or even survive in the barren political landscape of Kansas? There is some common ground for these things. Take gun control. The Kansan Republicans are often adamant in their complaint that the Democratic Party favours gun control. But most revolutionary leftist do not support gun control. That is one issue that does not dog us.
Religion is trickier. Most of us revolutionary leftists are atheist or agnostic. Yet most of the peace activists in this area and in others are religious. Some people label themselves as “socialists” or “democratic socialists” and many of these people believe in some type of religion, the majority of those are Christians.
While there is a lot of discrimination against non-believers there is also discrimination against non-Christians. Buddhists, Wiccans and Moslems have as much difficulty fitting in as do the atheists and agnostics.
Christianity is not really incompatible with socialism. Only certain types are. Religion is probably the most important belief many people in Kansas have and it is the last thing they would be willing to part with. This is typical of people who live in certain parts of the US and certain parts of the world.
There are still those religions that are incompatible with progressive change. Fundamentalist opposes evolution and they are outright hostile to a scientific outlook. It also promotes bigotry against homosexuals and religions outside of Christianity. They oppose left or liberal religions as if they were devil worshipers. This type of religion has to be challenged and opposed at all times.
One thing we need to do is read and understand the Bible as well as the fundamentalists do. When they suggest that homosexuality is denounced in the Bible, we need to point out that the Bible also suggests we smash the heads of babies of our enemies during times of war and rape women captured in areas we take during war. We have to point out that believing in a book and its ideas is not the same as taking every word literally without question. There are parts of the Bible that are outdated and we need to point that out. Many religions don’t use the Bible as a reason to attack homosexuals, so we can make a distinction between progressive Christianity and conservative fundamentalism rather than arguing that Christianity is simply wrong.
To be a communist in Kansas is no more difficult than being a Democrat. Frank Thomas points out, in his book “What’s The Matter With Kansas?” that this state used to be a center for radicals such as socialists and communists. Today, many Kansas would never vote against the Republican Party and they ridicule the Democrats. The attitude seems to be that the Democratic Party holds both a foolish ideology as well as being anti-Kansas.
We can’t make alliances with hard core Republicans, but we can work with peace activists and other social justice groups that include religious people. On a local level, we may be able to work with a few progressive individuals in either of the major political parties, at least some of the time.
We don’t have to pretend we believe in god, just to win over the support of other Kansans. Instead we can push for tolerance of religious beliefs. We can work in issues, such as stopping the war in Afghanistan and supporting abortion rights. Tolerance for other people’s religious views means we can support the rights of homosexuals. We can work with those trying to keep creationism out of the local schools. What we can’t do in the short run is take the all or nothing approach. Instead, we can try to educate people involved in the issues we work on. It may take a long time, but it is more likely to pay off than simply ridiculing all Kansas for their backward beliefs on politics and their attachment to their religion.

2 comments:

Joe said...

The movie version of "What's the Matter with Kansas?" highlights the role of Kansan's Christian faith in their politics.

The Conservatives are featured - because they are the least-well understood - but many liberal and even radical-left Kansans have an interpretation of Christianity that suppports their poitics.

Our main purpose in making the film was to get past the stereotypes of "Red State" voters.

At a preview screening in Wichita, all the people who appear in the movie attended, and showed appreciation to the filmmakers for treating them very fairly.

victor said...

Its really great thought
thanks
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victor
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