So THAT'S cognitive Dissonance!

Purely for the sake of making sure we’re all on the same definitive page, the simplest definition of cognitive dissonance is the simultaneous holding of conflicting beliefs.

If you’re looking for a defining example of “cognitive dissonance,” listen as various factions delve into that ever-weighty constitutional political football we call SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE.

And I’m not talking about the radicals on BOTH sides of the issue that always reduce the matter to a life and death struggle between “good” and “evil,” either.

I’m referring to decent, hardworking, shirtsleeve Americans—natural-born or naturalized. Most of them are otherwise practical and intelligent patriotic citizens who, if necessary, are prepared to sacrifice their lives defending this nation.

But, this piece isn’t about the seemingly perpetual hissy fit over politicians who insist on opening public meetings with prayers or about kids trying to say Grace in public school cafeterias. In fact, it’s not even about our 1st Amendment protections of religious freedoms.

Instead, this one’s all about the lengths to which hordes of well-meaning people go to overcome the inflexibility and inconvenience of an absolute interpretation of the “rules,” versus the flexibility and mighty convenience of relatively applying them.

And, NONE of it would be possible without COGNITIVE DISSONANCE. And, when it comes to absolutes, too many people in this country have become too adept at saying one thing and doing something quite the opposite.

Our forefathers founded this nation as a secular Republic governed by OUR elected representatives. They did this because they knew, first hand, of the horrors of kingly dictators and the inherent dangers lurking within the innards of state-mandated “OFFICIAL” religions.

At the same time, they wanted to make sure that future generations had unfettered freedom to practice whichever religion they preferred, including NO religion at all, WITHOUT government dictating otherwise.

But, while religion has always played a passive role in our politics, the current class of presidential primary candidates seems to be drawing religion dangerously closer to theocratic proximity.

It’s become virtually impossible for anyone to win a national election—and probably most state and local elections—without FIRST conveying a solid belief in God. And, it had better be the Christian God, too. Separation of church and state? Really?

Politicians are REACTIONARIES. They pander to whatever gets them the most votes. And, religion has become a biggie. Here’s a questionnaire that an outfit ( demanded all of the 2012 crop of presidential candidates fill out. Click here to read the questions.

I’m not anti-religion until the God-people begin campaigns aimed at making matters of faith the law of the land.

With the exception of Ron Paul, every one of them answered these questions in vivid detail. And, while I’d not likely vote for Ron Paul, I certainly admire his tenacity at keeping his religious views to himself.

Old-school Republicans—I’m one of them—believed in a lean, fiscally sound government that permitted the private sector to control unemployment and inflation as far as reasonably possible.

They needed a tax base sufficient to maintain a solid national defense, enforce just enough regulation to maintain the public’s safety and health, and to keep the free market playing field balanced for ALL who wanted to participate.

That’s all changed now. The Republicans of the last 30-years, especially the past 10 of them, have been far bigger spenders on the credit card than the Democrats ever dared. And, we should add to this insult a growing Republican propensity to stick their noses into social issues in which they have no business.

Only the current crop of RIGHTIES would display the stupidity of convening a committee—absent ANY women at all—to discuss and, perhaps ultimately determine, women’s reproductive rights.

Only the current crop of ideological Conservatives would stand by as one of their candidates vows to outlaw CONTRACEPTION, not to mention touting his absolute belief that women should, by legal mandate, carry pregnancies to full term no matter WHAT, including rape and incest.

I guess Rick Santorum has taken St. Augustine (354-430AD) literally when he proclaimed centuries ago that “Any woman, who does not give birth to as many children as she is capable, is guilty of MURDER.”

These same people puke at the mention of gays MARRYING each other, but seem to have no problems with gay “unions.” The legal impact of gay unions is the same as that of heterosexual marriages.

But, since marriage is a religious sacrament, apparently these folks must think there is some truth to the notion that “God hates fags.”

There is another term that the comedian, Bill Cosby, used as a humorous and loving reference to some of the stupid antics of his own children: BRAIN-DEAD! I think it’s an appropriate description of the current batch of Republican candidates.

Separation of church and state is not—and never has been—an absolute when it comes to politicians pandering to people’s religious beliefs.

As a long retired scientist, I’m no closer to the meaning of life than I was the day I was born. But, you know, I don’t think the hunt for life’s meaning is a major social goal for most people with 3-digit IQs.

I think the REAL problem lies in the notion that SOME people, a growing number of them politically influential, fear that life may hold some meaning with which THEY don’t approve.

And, the less reluctant the rest of us become in permitting religion to monopolize the political preponderance, the more likely we are to one day—sooner than you might think—empower our own version of the “MORAL” police and begin executing INFIDELS. Think about it!

Joe Walther is a freelance writer and publisher of The True Facts. Email comments here.

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