Language and Religion.

What strikes me about the religious right, is the ongoing attempts to take possession of words. For a long time they seemed to: claim, imply, presume and assume, that: 'morality', was an exclusive preserve of religion. Similarly they seem to want to claim the word 'spirit', as if the only interpretation is 'ghost that survives death,' rather than the essence of something, or someone.

The same thing can be said of their approach to the words 'liberty', and even 'war'.

This is an old strategy, used for millenia,  Orwell outlined it in 1984, control the language, and you control meaning, control meaning and 'crime think' becomes impossible.

Except of course humans have a well documented habit of creating their own meaning, particularly teenagers, who love to subvert language, hence 'wicked' or more recently, 'Sick' often mean good. (Yes I know I am showing my age.)

Likewise the religious right attempts to present 'theory' as a wild guess.

Atheism they want to define as a 'belief', rather than the null-hypothesis of the 'god' hypothesis. And further attempt to claim a 'theology' of atheism, which frankly seems absurd.

This 'reconstruction' of meaning extends further than words. In this religious, 'newspeak' Darwin becomes defined as a racist, yet he was the grandson of 2 prominent abolitionists,  Erasmus Darwin, and Josiah Wedgwood,  and yes the latter was the Potter, who even produced a Medallion one of which he sent to Jefferson as a gift, bearing an image of a kneeling, pleading negro slave holding aloft his chained wrists. Bearing the motto, "Am I not a man and a Brother?"

And reading, 'On the Origin of Species', a reader would be hard pressed to criticise it by modern criteria of anti-discriminatory practice. And there are no other writers works from that era through to the mid 20th century, I think that could be said of.

Likewise the religious right seeks to define Mr Shickelgrubber, (Original family name of Adolf Hitler, they didn't like it so the family changed it.) As a kind of rampant Darwinist, yet his speeches justified persecution of Jews, and others, and a 'hierarchy of races'  through biblical scripture, essentially he outlines a view of 'special creation'. There are only two comments on Darwin attributed to Mr S, one of these rejects the idea that humans evolved from lower animals, and in the other comes close to saying evolution  shouldn't be taught in schools.

Recently we have had the same sex marriage debate, and again redefinition of words was the name of the game. The religious right attempted to claim 'marriage' could have only the definition they chose, as if it had always been what they claimed. Somehow managing to avoid including a notion of 'love', and ignoring the different notions of 'marriage' that have existed over the centuries.

This of course failed because those naughty humans had already redefined marriage, from being a sales deal between two fathers, to become a contract between two lovers.

I noted a similar theme in conversations concerning the US first ammendment. Historically 'establishment' referenced the creation of a 'State Church,' analogous to the Church of England. Yet the religious right now seek to interpret 'establishment' to mean any religious organisation, essentially barring the US government and courts from governing any religious body whatsoever.

This has important implications, as US states which have enacted 'Religious Liberty' laws which allow religious people to discriminate in their work places on religious grounds have discovered, with the founding of odd churches, such as 'The Church of Cannabis.' The worry is they will only realise their mistake when some psychopath establishes the church of human sacrifice.

This post was prompted in my mind by a video in which a speaker was claiming there  was a 'war on religious liberty'.  The problem is this seeks to 'redefine' both the word 'war' and 'liberty'.

It is often claimed the 'Pilgrim Fathers' fled religious persecution, nothing could be further from the truth, they fled in order to dictate their religious ideals, which they were prevented from doing by British law. They regarded the Church of England as essentialy apostate. It was Tom Paine et all who challenged this.

This theme is still evident, the religious right in the US appears to think that they can dictate moral frameworks in a secular context. They are constitutionally split from the state, so they seek to dictate meaning in order to try and strengthen the meagre foot hold they have, with the long standing inclusion of  'In god we trust' on the great seal of the United States, and on coins from the 1840's onwards, and the 1950's addition of this to paper money, the adoption of the phrase as the officisl motto of the US, and the changes to the oath of allegience adding the words 'under god'.

'War,' is I think a word best used to describe people killing each other, so I don't think there is a 'war' going on. There is however a conflict, and it is about liberty, and from a certain view it is indeed, 'religious'. Those with religion seek to restrict the 'liberty to be free of religion'. And: in this conflict they intend to achieve their aim in part by trying to engineer language in popular culture so that thinking non-religious thoughts is impossible, or at least difficult. Just as newspeak sought to make crimethink impossible.

Of course language evolves in popular culture, so the possibility of genuine control for the religious right is limited. But with Fox News, and other outlets, including YouTube, spouting these attempts to engineer language, it seems beholden on those who want to see genuine 'liberty to be free of religion', to challenge such editorialising of dictionaries, whenever and wherever it appears.

Granted I may be 'preaching to the choir', but sometimes it's good to clearly state things, that perhaps we take for granted.

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