There have always been assaults on the American tradition that holds separate church and state, but there may well be more today than ever before. We should all do what little we can to express our opposition to this trend. Separation serves church and state - it safeguards all religious freedoms while protecting the rights of those who choose no religion. America has managed to safeguard this separation, more or less, for over two centuries. Most Americans, except Right Wing Christians, support the establishment clause. Christians and others who prefer a secular Republic should recognize the dangers of creeping theocracy.
Five candidates for the Republican Party nomination for president are theocrats. All believe we are "under" their god and that this nation is "exceptional" because their god is a big fan and protector of America. These candidates are Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Congressman Ron Paul, Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Senator Rick Santorum. Consider the following from statements made at the "Thanksgiving Family Forum" in Iowa last week.
American exceptionalism is grounded on the Judeo-Christian ethic, which is really based upon the 10 Commandments. The 10 Commandments were the foundation for our law. That's what Blackstone said-the English jurist-and our founders looked to Blackstone for the foundation of our law. That's our law . . . I have a biblical worldview. And I think, going back to the Declaration of Independence, the fact that it's God who created us-if He created us, He created government. And the government is on His shoulders, as the book of Isaiah says.
What we are seeing is a wider gap between people of faith and people of nonfaith. ... Those of us that are people of faith and strong faith have allowed the nonfaith element to intimidate us into not fighting back. I believe we've been too passive. We have maybe pushed back, but as people of faith, we have not fought back.
Somebody's values are going to decide what the Congress votes on or what the president of the United States is going to deal with. And the question is: Whose values? And let me tell you, it needs to be our values-values and virtues that this country was based upon in Judeo-Christian founding fathers . . . in every person's heart, in every person's soul, there is a hole that can only be filled by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Unlike Islam, where the higher law and the civil law are the same, in our case, we have civil laws. But our civil laws have to comport with the higher law. ... As long as abortion is legal-at least according to the Supreme Court-legal in this country, we will never have rest, because that law does not comport with God's law. . . The idea that the only things that the states are prevented from doing are only things specifically established in the Constitution is wrong. Our country is based on a moral enterprise. Gay marriage is wrong. As Abraham Lincoln said, the states do not have the right to do wrong. ... As a president, I will get involved, because the states do not have the right to undermine the basic, fundamental values that hold this country together.
And part of what I would like to explore is whether or not you could get the Congress to pass a law which simply says: Personhood begins at conception. And therefore-and you could, in the same law, block the court and just say, 'This will not be subject to review,' which we have precedent for. You would therefore not have to have a constitutional amendment, because the Congress would have exercised its authority under the 14th Amendment to define life, and to therefore undo all of Roe vs. Wade, for the entire country, in one legislative action.
All five of these Republicans want a government that applies their religious values to our laws. All seek laws that apply their Christian version of Sharia law. These Republicans are committed to their notions of god-given truths and standards of morality. The source of these laws that they would seek to impose on all Americans? Not the Constitution but the Holy Bible.
The code word for much of this talk is "exceptionalism." It has been used by several recent presidents. It is another approach to the eventual elimination of the wall of separation much like the infamous "faith-based" funding of religious institutions initiated by Bush and expanded by Obama.
It's a pity that all citizens who are not enamored of this direction do not laugh out loud when pols proclaim that we are divinely ordained. Do Republicans really think that a god gave a certain country a mission to manage, guide and lead the rest of the world? It sounds preposterous, yet, presidents and others have been getting away with it. Ronald Reagan once referred to "some divine plan" that placed America here. Reagan quoted Pope Pius XII on this theme, "Into the hands of America God has placed the destinies of an afflicted mankind."
Wow. How did the Pope know that? Did he offer evidence? Did everyone (or anyone) in other countries agree?
Who can forget the time George Bush got into the theocratic mood? In 2004, he said: "We have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom."
No kidding? Where, exactly, beyond the stars did that call come from and who heard it, besides George? I didn't hear it. Did you?
I believe it was Voltaire (Philosophical Dictionary, 1764) who observed that "the truths of religion are never so well understood as by those who have lost the power of reasoning."
Take a stand against this trend. Write letters, tell your friends and let the candidates know they are full of bullbleep. Join campaigns to discourage theocratic meddling. Want a recent example?
Did you know that U.S. Catholic bishops have launched a campaign to defeat new rules adopted by Health and Human Services requiring employers to offer health care to cover contraception? This is simple prevention. While religious institutions were exempted, the Catholic bishops want more restrictions. They want a "conscience clause" to exempt larger population groups.
You can join the Freedom from Religion Foundation's campaign to "ensure American women's right to preventive contraceptive care" by petitioning the HSS to retain the rules first set out for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Ask that the government not exempt religion-related universities and hospitals from new guidelines requiring contraceptive insurance at no added cost to insured women. Keep the matter of whether or not to utilize family planning options is a private decision for individuals - not employers, pastors or priests.
You can E-mail the president at this address:
You can make a phone call the White House - 202-456-1111
Or, you can write a letter to The White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500.
Consider sending a CC to Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum.
It won't turn them around but at least they'll realize that you are not likely to vote for a theocrat.
Donald B. Ardell is the Well Infidel. He favors evidence over faith, reason over revelation and secular perspectives over the gobbledygook of spirituality. His enthusiasm for reason, exuberance, athleticism and liberty are reflected in his books (14), newsletter (598 editions of a weekly report), speeches and most recently, a full deck for playing a REAL wellness card game. Write Don for a sample copy of his newsletter at firstname.lastname@example.org