"There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: Religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin." Linus van Pelt, Peanuts
The Problematization of Religion in Music Therapy
Eleazar the Maccabee and War "Elephant" Carrying Seleucid General, Based Upon Apocryphal Book of 1 Maccabees From Speculum Humanae Salvationis (Anonymous, 14th Century)
During recent years, the United States has experienced an intensification of the discourse on the role of religion and faith-based belief systems in public policy. At the core of this discourse is a fundamental tension between the basic civil rights to freedom of, and freedom from, religion. The discourse itself is nothing new, and it certainly comes as no surprise that such a discourse would arise, in an environment where demographic diversity abounds, including divergent sets of values and worldviews; but it has taken on a distinctly amplified character over the past decade or so, during an era when the US political arena has witnessed the emergence of movements that have challenged past precedent in new ways. This discourse has tended to become controversial, contentious, and even hostile in tone, wherever it has arrived at non-negotiable, fundamental impasses around such challenging issues as religious expression in public education, reproductive rights, marriage equality, and so forth. Further complicating matters are the sometimes subtle politics of privilege that are interwoven into the fabric of these issues. In spite of the great diversity of religious orientations that coexist among members of the US population, not every orientation (including those which are non-religious in character) is endowed with the same degree of public respect and socioeconomic legitimacy. This, in turn, has established multilayered, hegemonic structures that have readily contributed to implicit or explicit glorification of certain orientations and marginalization of others.