First it was Barak Obama and his pastor. Now it is McCain and one of his endorsers. I am surprised at the religious undertones in American politics. This is the first time I have been following a US presidential race closely and it has been an eye opener. I had always thought of US as a truly secular country, where religion does not intrude in public life. People don’t judge you on the basis of your religious beliefs and affiliations. In the past one year I have been forced to change my mind.
A few says back John McCain appeared on Ellen DeGeneres show. She asked about his stand on gay marriages and he said he believes marriage is only between a man and a women..
“There is this old way of thinking that we are not all the same, we are all the same people,” she told McCain. “All of us. You’re no different than I am. Our love is the same.” He asked him if he would walk her down the aisle.
For a change, I felt sorry for McCain. Why should a leader have to defend his religious beliefs? While I totally agree that gays should be given equal rights as any other human being, I don’t see why an individual should be forced to accept a view which contradicts his faith. Being a Hindu, I believe beef eating is a sin (I think meat eating itself is not right). I have many friends who eat beef and I hold them in high regard. However, I would be offended if they insist that I share their beef steak. That is why I found Ellen’s question in bad taste.
There is another aspect I do not understand about gay marriages. Isn’t marriage a religious ceremony? By making gay marriage legal, aren’t you forcing the church to sanctify a union which it believes to be a sin? Isn’t this against the secular fabric of a democracy? When you talk about separation of state and church doesn’t it work both ways. How can the state force its morality on the church?
In India, Muslims are allowed to marry twice whereas Hindus are not. This was because Muslims were guaranteed at the time of independence that their religious freedom will be fully protected. From what I know, Indian law even upholds their divorce laws which can be carried out by a unilateral declaration by the husband and does not require the husband to pay any maintenance to the wife. Do I find it appalling – yes I do; from the stand point of my morality. But who am I to judge. I am sure there are many aspect of my religion which others may find equally appalling.