The Republican Party initials GOP that once stood for Grand Old Party now mean God’s Own Party. The Republican Party primaries featured Christian fundamentalists (Santorum, Bachmann, Perry and Cain) and another willing to act like one to get elected (Gingrich). The winning nominee (Romney) might be as much a zealot as the others, depending upon what position he takes at any given time. His remarks to date show little tolerance for secularism.
It’s sad that the agenda of the party of Abraham Lincoln, Robert Green Ingersoll and so many notable Americans has become such a Right-Wing force for dogmatism. Republicans want us to view this country as a Christian nation; there is little tolerance for church/state separation in the Republican version of a nation under God.
I believe that Romney and the Republican Congress would be only too happy to make a few key changes in the Constitution and have the United States of America dedicated as a theocracy in the service of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Chist. Holy shit.
Lillian Hellman famously remarked that people change and forget to tell each other. Well, it seems political parties change, too, as today’s Party of God amply demonstrates. I wonder if the majority of those who call themselves Republicans or worse, actually vote Republican, really want an American theocracy? Do they appreciate the nature of the beast and recognize that this is where the GOP wants to take us? Do most want such qualities of government policy as the following:
- A constitutional office of chief priest or minister?
- Exemptions from military service for self-described devout Christians? This provision would enable the faithful to exercise a peculiar option regarding military service, even if we someday go back to conscription: take up bibles (i.e., study religion in-depth) or take up arms (i.e., enter military service).
- Welfare payments to support the most devout Christians who pursue biblical and other religious studies?
- Public school mandatory prayers and religious studies at the expense of course reductions for secular subjects, such as math, English and science.
The above examples are not hypothetical or speculative. These are conditions in a somewhat democratic, theocratic state – Israel.
In addition to the obvious burdens such subsidies impose on the non-zealot population, favoritism laws for the orthodox create divisions in society. An article in the New York Times describes the consequences. In Israel, the privileged ultra-Orthodox Haredim have grown so influential, costly and arrogant that they are commonly perceived as the enemy in the Jewish state, hated by most of the people. (See The Fight Over Who Fights in Israel by Jodi Rudoren, published on May 19, 2012.) The author cites influential observers who consider the situation bad for Israel, bad for the Jewish people, bad for the government and simply bizarre and abnormal. A cautionary tale? I think so.
While not a theocracy yet, we in the U.S.A. have our conflicts over special favors for religion and especially over the intrusion of religion in ways that are seen by secularists as unconstitutional. A few examples:
- In God we trust on the coins of the realm.
- Under God in the Pledge of Allegiance.
- Subsidies for chaplains in the military, ministerial parsonages and tax-exempt churches.
God’s Own Party presidential candidate Mitt Romney recently accused the president of having a secular agenda. Really? Were it so! The president who ends every speech with God bless you and God bless the United States of America and who has continued funding for the faith-based agenda of the previous Administration and who participates in and defends a day of prayer? Wow. Mr. President surely is keeping that secular agenda under wraps. I wonder how Mitt made this amazing discovery.
If we are so unfortunate to descend into a theocracy in the future, there will be hell to pay concerning certain values that the founders envisioned as uniquely American at the time, including religious tolerance and freedom for all faiths – and for those who prefer no faiths, no religions, no gods, no masters.
One of the most divisive moves toward theocracy remains the clearly unconstitutional National Day of Prayer, a grotesque aberration of church/state separation. By Congressional decree, this infamous event, like the religious Pledge, was instituted by Christian-nation bullies. God and government, however, are a dangerous mix. Secularists across the country want to put a stop to all this before we find ourselves as divided as Israel. Our Christian version of the Israeli Haredim want a theocracy. Let’s all do our part, in whatever modest ways might be available. Besides personal action, we can participate in and financially back organized resistance. In this way, we can do our part in the effort to prevent Christian evangelicals from hijacking our secular Constitution more than they already have.
My own favorite sources of organized resistance include these four organizations:
- The Council for Secular Humanism
- The Secular Coalition for America
- The Freedom from Religion Foundation
- Americans United for Separation of Church and State
As Thomas Paine advised: Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must undergo the fatigue . . . of supporting it. In a recent (2/24/2012) blog, Nathan Cox explained why Secular Values Are American Values. Quite clearly, religious values are not. If you doubt it, have a look at the first four commandments or just about any section in the Christian bibles. What you will find there are not American values, at least not any of the American values we associate with liberty and freedom – as embodied in the Bill of Rights. Theocracies are not founded on values that guarantee life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness; rather they specialize in dogmatic, totalitarian commandments and biblical fables.
Theocracy anyone? I hope not even Republicans really want to go there.