How many times throughout the day do we say things without really meaning what the words themselves mean? “I’d die for a drink of water right now”, “he’s drop dead gorgeous”, “It’s raining cats and dogs out there” etc. You know, those little sayings that we use in every day speech that we don’t really mean, but they certainly get our point across. We don’t really think of those things as serious issues to get hung up on. I mean, no one is going to stop you and say “HEY, it’s not REALLY raining cats and dogs, it’s just raining very hard”, unless they were intentionally being obtuse.
However, when it comes to religious sayings we have to take a second look at these things. Do people really mean “Oh my god, I hope you suspend the laws of physics so I can make this trick shot” or “Jesus protected me during the car accident”? Maybe, maybe not, but the point is that words and ideas do indeed have meaning and we recognize that every day.
Let us look at another example; a current presidential candidate, Michelle Bachmann. She has said: “I will not seek a higher office if God is not calling me to do it. If I am called to serve in that realm I would serve, but if I am not called, I wouldn’t do it.” Do you think Bachmann really means that she won’t serve unless she perceives her god is telling her to? Now, when we consider religious sayings, these little things we say every day can start to have more of an impact. Do we want someone in charge of things if they have to get an OK from a voice that only they can hear? I think not. Granted, this is an extreme example, not everyone that uses these religious sayings can be put into such a controversial position, but the point still remains. Words have meaning.
If we look again and again at all of our societal norms and mores we have to consider what we are really saying. When we have a Medal of Honor ceremony, why do we have a prayer? What does that mean? Why do we need to invoke a god to celebrate a heroic soldier? Why do we consistently lie to our children about tooth fairies and Santa Clause? Even when we tell children that Santa clause or the Easter bunny is real, what does that say about how much we value what is true? When does it stop being a funny small saying and become a dangerous way of thinking? When does a child’s Santa Clause turn into Bachmann’s god?
The point of this rambling message is that we should take more care and notice when things happen in our society and even in our speech. If we as a people think it’s alright to discriminate against people based religion as long as it isn’t overt, then we are still saying it’s alright to discriminate. So let it rain cats and dogs, and go ahead and die for that drink of water, but when it comes to letting religion into your culture, hold your words to a higher standard.