Saturday, March 04, 2006

America: A Republic, Not a Theocracy

This terrifying article about Christian "Reconstruction" led me to start thinking about just what it is that the far right of the Republican Party really wants. And what it wants is nothing less than the destruction of our country's entire political system and its replacement with a "Christian" theocracy. (This appalling resolution in Missouri is further evidence of it.) Am I exaggerating? Check out this quote from the article:
Reconstructionists aren’t shy about what exactly it is they are pursuing: “The long-term goal of Christians in politics should be to gain exclusive control over the franchise,” Gary North, a top Reconstruction theorist, wrote in his 1989 book, Political Polytheism: The Myth of Pluralism. “Those who refuse to submit publicly…must be denied citizenship.”
First of all, if anyone tries to deny my citizenship and my right to vote, I will take up weapons and fight them. And no, I don't mean rhetorical weapons. I mean the machine gun/rifle/.38 magnum kind. They will take away my right to vote when they pry it out of my cold dead hands. I'm not the only one who feels this way, not by a long shot. I guarantee any attempt to forcibly impose fundamentalist, "Biblical"Christianity as the test of citizenship will start a Second American Civil War.
And I will be part of it.
What in God's name is wrong with these lunatics? Are they that ignorant of western civilization's history? Have they no knowledge whatsoever of the terrible religious wars that swept over Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries? Don't they understand that the principle of Church-State separation is ultimately designed to protect them? Christian Reconstruction, and its cousin, Dominion theology (espoused by Jerry Falwell, Tom DeLay, and Pat Robertson) is nothing less than an attempt to destroy our country. If fundamentalist Protestant Christianity is imposed legally, will the State order a mandatory tithe? (Don't laugh--some locales did in colonial America.) What will be the status of Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians? What will happen to Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, and agnostics? Will homosexuals be physically exterminated? (Again, don't laugh-Christian Reconstruction demands the death penalty for homosexuality.) Christian Reconstruction has very real ties to the Republican Party, which it sees as the vehicle for its success. The threat it poses is very real.
I love the Christians in my life. Most of my family is Christian. Most of my friends are, too. They would never dream of trying to impose their beliefs on my doubting, Deistic self. But the Christian Reconstructionists and Dominionists are utterly unlike them. They constitute the American Taliban, as many have said. They are anti-American fanatics, domestic versions of the Muslim fundamentalists waging war on us. Their doctrines are a cancer which must not be allowed to spread.
The authors of our Constitution, in their wisdom, prohibited religious tests for the holding of public offices. They forbade the establishment of an official faith. The omission of the word God in the Constitution was not an oversight; it was deliberate and intentional. The men who built our legal system were steeped in the history of Europe. They understood the demons that are unleashed when any religion attempts to impose itself on the rest of us. They would be horrified at the Reconstructionists, and would fight them with all their strength.
As for me, I'll simply say this: any attempt by the Reconstructionists to strip me of my citizenship on the basis of my religious beliefs will not be carried out over my dead body.
It will be over theirs.


Anja Maria said...

"Congess shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." - First Amendment

"Of its very nature, the exercise of religion consists before all else in those internal, voluntary, and free acts whereby man sets the course of his life directly from God. No merely human power can either command or prohibit acts of this kind." - from Vatican II

I like quotes. (This is why I have so many memorized.) These two, which come from pretty good authorities, indicate that nationalized religion is disastrous for both the nation and the religion.

As for history...

My impression is that Europe is more secular than America. Most Europeans consider religion to be a decent societal institution. Individuals can take it or leave it, as they choose, but they would never seriously want it involved in their politics. There is a collective sense of what happened last time.

America escaped that chapter of religious brutality by being very young at the time; there was enough room for dissenters and Catholics to simply settle in different colonies, and no one cared enough to fight about it. Later on, of course, the drafters of the Constitution wisely cemented that tolerance.

But, in consequence, Americans have no national memory of religious carnage (other than the witch trials). Theocrats are perhaps aware of Europe's past but believe that we are immune to such things - they don't understand that we were spared by the very tolerance they are trying to undermine. It's a strange combination of arrogance and ignorance.

... I don't really know. It's very depressing. Religion does not have to be powerless in a republic, but its place is in the hearts of individual citizens, never in the legislation. Trying to force such an unnatural union would destroy them both.

Joseph said...

Anja, as always you are brilliant and insightful.