Smoking in public areas has been outlawed in several States in the US and in many countries around the world. This past November, the citizens of my home state — Ohio — voted to ban all public indoor smoking throughout the state. Smoking is not allowed in stores, restaurants, bars, places of business, clubs or within shouting distance of doorways to any public establishment, private or otherwise.
So it is written, so let it be done.
This isn't a rant about smoking, by the way, but eventually I'll make my point.
Smoking has been part of American heritage and history for perhaps thousands of years. Native Americans are frequently credited with discovering and harvesting the tobacco plant, and with inventing the practice of smoking. Smokers claim that enjoying a cigarette, cigar or pipe, helps facilitate a quiet moment of rest and relaxation. Some say it aids digestion. Many would be hard pressed to make it through the day without a smoke. For certain Native Americans, smoking even holds a religious significance.
But some people absolutely hate smoking.
Here’s an interesting tid-bit from Wikipedia:
Pope Urban VII’s 13 day papal reign included the world’s first known pubic smoking ban (1590), as he threatened to excommunicate anyone who “took tobacco in the porchway of or inside a church, whether it be by chewing it, smoking it with a pipe, sniffing it in powdered form through the nose.”
Of course everyone knows that smoking presents health risks to people. I know it only too well. My uncle smoked like a chimney his entire life and his nasty habit finally took its tool on him, robbing him of reaching his 80th birthday. My mother has been smoking like a fiend for the past 60 years and it’ll probably keep her from reaching her 85th. My grandfather was never seen without a lit pipe in his mouth, and he passed away of complications unrelated to smoking at 92.
OK, I realize my family genetics in regards to smoking isn’t everyone’s. While in my family smoking doesn’t seem to be a big killer, in fact, is considered as dangerous as chewing gum. However, in many other families, smoking has been devastating. That fact that smoking has deleterious effects on thousands of people’s health is well documented. Only a fool would argue with the mountain of medical statistics throwing aspersions on partaking of demon tobacco.
Still, smoking is not illegal. It is considered every adult’s individual right to enjoy smoking or not. What the ban is all about is keeping the possibly harmful side effects out of public areas where the smoke might affect a non-smoker’s health. And that's just fine with me.
OK, now on to Christianity.
Many people claim that their "faith" gives them a sense of hope and purpose. They say that without their belief in Jesus, Mary, or whomever, they’d find it difficult to get through the day. Religion has a calming effect on their lives, provides peace, and perhaps above all, helps them believe that everything is right in the world.
That's what they say.
History is rife with stories of torture, killing, war, even genocide, all in the name of religion. Christianity's history is chock full of Christians doing harm to people in the name of GOD. This cannot be refuted. It is way too easy to brush away history by saying that nNone of them were "True Christians™." Perhaps all those smokers, dead from emphysema and heart failure, were simply not "True Smokers™." True Smokers only acknowlege good things from smoking. True Christians only acknowledge good things from Christianity.
Just as True Smokers might feel offended or marginalized when asked to keep their grey cloud out of public areas, True Christians feel marginalized when asked to keep their hell-fire religion out of public politics. Smoking can rob a person of good clean air, but Christianity can rob a person of the ability to think. Smoking can shorten a person's life span, but Christianity can take away the ability to even pursue a full life. Smoking constricts the lungs while Christianity constricts everything else.
Being a Christian is a person's choice, just like being a smoker is a choice. Neither is illegal, and I wouldn't suggest that either should be. What people do in private is their own affair. What I would like to suggest is that forcing other people to accept and tolerate and respect and remain quiet and never criticize and even love my rancid cigar smoke in public areas would be, at the very least, rude and obnoxious. Today's Christianity seems intent on rallying political support in order to force other people to accept and tolerate and respect and remain quiet and never criticize and even love their Jesus. And that, I believe, is at the very least, rude and obnoxious.
Should religion be banned from polluting the public domain and influencing pubic policy in the same way that smoking is being banned from polluting the public domain and influencing public health?
What do you think?