We regularly divert ourselves mindlessly watching re-runs of late night television shows which over the years that I have addressed the medium are increasingly loaded with political and social innuendo. Perhaps in the early years of television when late night shows were for general consumption; or, what is more probable, were confined to Johnny Carson in the early part of the evening and nut cases thereafter, the comic diet was fairly standard and not designed to hit below the belt.  Somewhere along the line however late night TV adopted the same distinguishing credentials as the American public which for convenience is divided between left and right, communists and capitalists, government and freedom. While these oblique divisions succeeded to isolate the good and the bad, the intellects and the Red Necks, neither of them was employed for much beyond the stock superlatives and absurdities (though the persuasion of Democrat or Republican was undeniable). Some of the nuances are less than hints rather outright slurs; but the characterization doesn’t generally capture any more than comic attention and expected alliances. What lately has awakened me is the burgeoning exception.  And I have to say, an unanticipated one. It is a piffling but repetitive wade into the murky waters of  religion.

The one thing most people on the popular stage (politicians and entertainers) don’t mess with is religion.  The effort is seldom worth the reward. Indeed most people even in private communications have learned to confine the dialogue to one’s health and the weather when the sticky subject of religion surfaces. Recently I have noted more than one late night talk show host is casting dispersions upon the alter so to speak.

Often misunderstood as ‘Casting Aspersions’, this ancient term derived from the Spanish ‘Castio Dispersionio’ refers to the encanting of the magic spell ‘Dispersions’ causing, as the name suggests, the target of the spell to break up and scatter before you.

It helps identify the “issue” (as we were taught in law school to establish at the outset) by attaching to the vast subject of religion the overture of superstition, a common and generally inoffensive label.

A superstition is any belief or practice considered by non-practitioners to be irrational or supernatural, attributed to fate or magic, perceived supernatural influence, or fear of that which is unknown. It is commonly applied to beliefs and practices surrounding luck, amulets, astrology, fortune telling, spirits, and certain paranormal entities, particularly the belief that future events can be foretold by specific (apparently) unrelated prior events.

Also, the word superstition is often used to refer to a religion not practiced by the majority of a given society regardless of whether the prevailing religion contains alleged superstitions.

Greek and Roman polytheists, who modeled their relations with the gods on political and social terms, scorned the man who constantly trembled with fear at the thought of the gods, as a slave feared a cruel and capricious master. Such fear of the gods was what the Romans meant by “superstition” (Veyne 1987, p. 211).

The nexus between politics and religion has survived centuries.  Often the survival has been a mere preference to avoid disruptive contemplation; that is, seldom does the debate descend to an intellectual discussion of the tenability of the alliance. But increasingly I am hearing promotion of a more acrid nature.

Diderot’s Encyclopédie defines superstition as “any excess of religion in general”, and links it specifically with paganism.

Uniting the clergy at communion with cannibals dancing around a bonfire is unquestionably starting to heat things up. If you prefer antiquity as a more legitimate and delicate argument,

In his Prelude on the Babylonian Captivity of the Church, Martin Luther (who called the papacy “that fountain and source of all superstitions”) accuses the popes of superstition:
For there was scarce another of the celebrated bishoprics that had so few learned pontiffs; only in violence, intrigue, and superstition has it hitherto surpassed the rest. For the men who occupied the Roman See a thousand years ago differ so vastly from those who have since come into power, that one is compelled to refuse the name of Roman pontiff either to the former or to the latter.

As vulgar as the popular opinion of the masses may be it has nonetheless constituted the winning gamble of kings and politicians alike over the centuries.  To this day we know that Trump for all his inconsequence has made a career for himself and the (new) Republican party to adopt whatever it is the proletariat wants – in exchange for votes naturally.  And any leader of whatever coalition who pretends otherwise is dissuading no one but themselves. The defeat of the divine prerogative in the 1600s put an end to governance by imperative in every sense other than persuasiveness.

“How can I believe in a God who commands people ‘You shall not murder’ (Exodus 20:13) and yet this God goes killing off, left and right,  people whom He dislikes or hates?”  This is one reason a good number of people have become atheists.  Among other reasons atheists cite for their unbelief in God are: why does God allow a race or  class of people to impose cruel slavery upon another race or class;  why is there so much suffering, so much violence, within humanity and within the animal kingdom?

It is quite understandable that some people would have this feeling about certain gory and horrid details in Biblical and secular history and in the natural order.  But this feeling fails to understand that there are prerogatives that are God’s alone and not man’s.  Webster defines “prerogative” as “a prior or exclusive right or privilege.”

Debate such as the one above is based upon circuitous thinking only; namely, God is right because he has the exclusive right to be so.  It hardly provides any evidence apart from, “Because I say so…” In any event my point is not to engage in what even Thomas Paine knew only too well is an uphill battle with logic; viz., The Age of Reason. More importantly what is now evolving – including the recognition of Presidents of the United States of America – is that the opinion of the masses upon this former hard core wrangle is beginning to gain ground. And that means the people who depend upon the support of the masses will take note.

They thought that they found, both in the Bible and in the Statute Book, directions which could not be misunderstood. The Bible enjoins obedience to the powers that be. The Statute Book contains an act providing that no subject shall be deemed a wrongdoer for adhering to the King in possession.

Thomas Babington Macaulay Macaulay. “The History of England, from the Accession of James II — Volume 3.”