“On this day (January 8) in 1697, Scottish medical student Thomas Aikenhead, 18 or 19 years old, was hanged to death for blasphemy, in Britain’s last execution for blasphemy. The young Edinburgh student was found guilty of denying the trinity. . .[emphasis added]” (https://ffrf.org/news/day/, for January 8, 2016).
In 1996, as many readers of my columns know, I published the original version of the book now known as “The 15% Solution: How the Republican Religious Right Took Control of the U.S.: 1981-2022.”) (The current version of the book, the third, is published by my dear friend and comrade Patrice Greanville, Editor/Publisher of The Greanville Post and Publisher of Punto Press.) In that book, based entirely on what the Republicans and the Religious Right were already telling us back then what they would do if they ever got significant control of the U.S. government at both the Federal and state levels, I predicted that a transmogrification of the Republican Party into something I called the “Republican-Christian Alliance” would occur sometime in the first decade of the 21st century. Well this is what is happening folks, about ten years after the time I originally projected for it.
I pointed out in my last column that one of the “mainstream” Republican candidates, JEB Bush, in responding to Donald Trump’s policy proposal for barring all Syrian refugees, allowed that he would let in the Christian ones. But given what happened to Mr. Aikenhead, JEB, suppose they took a different positon on the validity of the Doctrine of the Trinity than you do, would they still be allowed in? And while it might make no difference to JEB himself, there are still some serious doctrinal differences among Christians of various stripes on this one. And then must one wonder which version of the concept of the Trinity and of the Eucharist would be approved by John Kasich’s proposal for the establishment of a governmental office for spreading “Judeo-Christian values.” (In that last column I discussed the difficulty — actually the impossibility — of getting the various Jewish denominations to agree on almost anything that might, or might not, be considered a “core Jewish value.” I gather from numerous conversations that Christians would have the same problem.)
Of course we know that Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and Ben Carson are Dominionists (that is they put “God” above the Constitution), and Ted Cruz likely is too (for his father is one, quite openly). Of course, no media person is ever going to ask any of them a direct question on the matter. Just as no media person will ever go beyond the word “evangelicals” to describe the Christian Rightists in Iowa who are very strong in the Republican Party to get to a definition of the term. But in any case, these four, along with Trump, are usually considered outside of the Republican “mainstream.”
(Of course Trump could be described as a Dominionist too. Except that it would be a special type of Dominionism, not of “God,” but of Donald Trump. Consider, for example, that at a meeting of police officers he announced that on his first day in office by executive order he would institute nationally the death penalty for killing a police officer. Except that the use or on-use of the death penalty is a matter of law, at the Federal and state levels, and in the ordinary course of events could only be changed by legislation. Then there was his statement that he would end, nationally, gun-free zones in schools, another matter ordinarily handled by government, state and local. I have discussed Trump’s flirtations with fascism, another term for Trump-Dominionism, in this space before, and it is a matter to which I shall likely return.)
But then along comes Marco Rubio. He is considered by the media as a “Republican Establishment” candidate along with Bush, Kasich and Christie. As such, however, he is a candidate for the Presidency of a Republic governed by a Constitution in which neither the word “God” nor the word “Christian” appears. In this context, he made some utterly remarkable statements in a TV ad aimed at the Iowa Republican-Christian Right. I present for your consideration a discussion of it that appeared in a publication called the Christian Post (which seems to be rather favorable towards Sen. Rubio).
“Florida Sen. Marco Rubio released a new web ad (watch below) Tuesday discussing his Christian faith, saying our ‘ultimate goal is to live in all eternity with our Creator.’ Rubio, like many presidential candidates in the Republican field, has been open about sharing about his faith on the campaign trail. The Roman Catholic candidate, who also attends Protestant services with his wife, has admitted in the past that there have been times he was not a strong spiritual leader in the home. The new ad focuses on higher truths beyond politics, reflecting on the purpose of life and the created order. ‘Our goal is eternity,’ Rubio says. ‘The ability to live alongside our Creator for all time. That is the purpose of our life to grow closer in our relationship and to accept the free gift of salvation to us offered by Jesus Christ.’ Rubio affirmed the dignity and importance of work in the ad saying that our vocation is a way to reflect the glory of God but added our ‘ultimate goal is to live in all eternity with our Creator.’ “
The Christian Post article goes on to say about Rubio:
“Rubio said that the struggle ‘on a daily basis’ for Christians ‘is to remind ourselves of this, to remind ourselves the purpose of life is to cooperate with God’s plan.’ The Florida Senator quoted the notable passage from Luke 12:48: ‘From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.’ Rubio adds that God will ask humanity to account for the gifts that He has given to us. ‘Were your treasures stored up on earth or in heaven?’ asks Rubio, ‘and for me I try to allow that to influence me in everything that I do [emphasis added].’ ” In his book American Dreams, Rubio discusses the imago Dei teaching and the dignity of work: ‘For Christians, the centrality of work to human meaning and happiness comes from our being made in the image of God,’ wrote Rubio. ‘Being made in His image means we have dignity, worth and creativity. Work is how we use these gifts to contribute to our fellow men and women and to honor His name [emphasis added]’.” Presumably as President too. (You can read more of Rubio and religion at: http://www.christianpost.com/news/marco-rubio-ad-christian-voters-jesus-salvation-god-152690/#6pR4oJM8q5orKyir.99; http://www.christianpost.com/news/marco-rubio-ad-christian-voters-jesus-salvation-god-152690/#XpIIWIFfpcc6JdPb.99.)
If you don’t find this philosophy of life in a man who wants to be President of all of the people of the United States totally frightening, you should. Even more frightening for me is that the likelihood of the mainstream media asking him about his theology and how it would govern his mode of governing as President is about as high as the likelihood that the Doctrine of Global Warming is a myth. One can say the same for any such questions coming from any representatives of the Democratic side of the Duopoly.
Post-script on Iowa, South Carolina and the evangelical/Republican vote (1-20-16):
Every four years as the Presidential primary season starts, for the Republicans we hear about the battle for the "Evangelical" vote in Iowa in particular and also in South Carolina (those being two of the three very atypical US states [add New Hampshire] from which a small number of voters exert a huge influence on the Presidential elections. In an upcoming column I will be discussing what this means for what is triumphantly called "American Democracy.")
The term "Evangelical" has a very broad meaning both in the United States and around the world (see for example the extensive Wikipedia discussion of it, which I think is reasonably authoritative). In Republican politics, however, it has a very specific meaning (to which the media, heaven forefend, never choose to refer): Right-wing Christian Republican. Among other things for this kind of evangelical, "fundamentalism" is central to their thinking. That is, a particular English translation of a set of Greek and Latin translations from the Hebrew and Aramaic, rendered into English at the beginning of the 17th century in England by a committee of 48 to 52 theologians and academics, called the King James Version because it was developed for the Church of England upon the accession to the throne of King James VI of Scotland, I of England, to help cement the predominant position of the Protestant Church of England, somehow becomes the literal, "inerrant," word of God and has to be followed to the letter (except when it doesn't, as in "love thy neighbor as thyself," which does not apply when your neighbor happens to be an undocumented Latin immigrant.) It is unclear how many of these evangelicals are also Dominionists, that is the "word of God" (as they interpret it) stands above the civil law, including the U.S. Constitution.
But what is known is how important winning the Right-wing Christian vote in Iowa is to winning the Republican primary. In fact the last two winners, Mike Huckabee in 2008 and Rick Santorum (by a 15 vote whisker over Mitt Romney in 2012) are both Dominionists. And so, the Repubs. are fighting hammer and tong for the evangelical vote. And they are coming more-and-more out in the open about it and how, for them, in practice there is no separation between church, or at least between religious belief, and state.
This column was previously published at: http://www.greanvillepost.com/2016/01/11/republican-christian-alliance-comes/.