Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Coming Theocracy

The Christian right continues to pursue an agenda attacking the theory of evolution and promoting the concept that separation of state and religion is not and never has been a constitutional mandate on America. They continue efforts to codify their agenda in legislation requiring that Christianity be an inherent part of all government affairs. This religious ideology is supported by the Republican right, which believes that “other schools of thought” should be legitimate subjects in our public schools. The “other schools of thought” are, of course, creation science, divine design and intelligent design. The insult to our intelligence is that these proposals are not even poorly camouflaged subterfuges for something else.

If anyone believes that these schemes are anything more than thinly veiled back-door attempts to require the teaching of Christian religious beliefs in our public schools, they have deluded themselves with the same nonsense that gave rise to those ideas in the first place – the belief that creation as stated in the bible is not only fact but a legitimate science in itself. They are a clear and growing extension of the idea promoted by the former Bush administration and the Christian right that there is not and never has been a separation of church and state.

The smoke screen is obvious. Virtually everyone who is now promoting intelligent design is, in fact, devout believers in the biblical version of creation. Those who actually believe in intelligent or divine design have never amplified their beliefs to the level of national consciousness that now exists. It is only the Christian right and other religious adherents to the biblical version who are actively promoting these ideas. Ideas that, if accepted as legitimate government discourse, will open the door to recognizing the true origin of the universe as proclaimed in the bible.

The implications of these initiatives are as far-reaching as they are dangerous. They include a repudiation of hundreds if not thousands of years of scientific research, achievement, and knowledge about the universe, our planet, and the evolutionary development of the millions of species of life that now inhabit our planet. Knowledge that many theologists are quick to fragment, minimalize, and demonize into simple propaganda that supports their own narrow religions beliefs – beliefs that include the idea that all this “evolution stuff” is only theory. No one of course sees that if evolution is a theory, creationism as proclaimed in the bible is superstitious mythology. Mythology for which absolutely no empirical evidence exists that the supernatural events depicted in the bible ever happened.

The current battle between liberals and the Christian right over birth control, abortion, gay marriage, prayer in public schools, taxpayer support for parochial schools, and religious monuments on government property continues to be described in the media as “differences in ideology”. It’s another subterfuge. Ascribing this battle merely to differences in ideology allows the Christian right’s agenda to be acceptable initiatives for government legislation that imposes their agenda on everyone. It is a self-serving and obvious smoke screen for what it really is – religious doctrine. Its origins stem from the bible, denominational religious scriptures, and interpretations by religious leaders. Its goal is nothing less than the establishment of a Christian right theocracy.

Contrary to the claims of the Christian right that there should be no separation of church and state, this country has maintained a well-established history of separation since the founding fathers adopted it when the United States was established. The writings, pronouncements, and inclusion of this policy in the Bill of Rights and the first amendment by the founding fathers is clear evidence that religious doctrine was to be no part of government. The Christian right and other religious zealots have historically promoted their own interpretation which refutes the policy; but until the Bush administration came to power, this interpretation was regularly dismissed. Even though we now have a liberal democrate in the White House, the Christian right continues to believe it has the momentum and power to overturn history.

There is a widespread ignorance in the methodology of science and religion. The “truth” of religious doctrine is absolute. There can be no dissent, questioning, or challenge to its teachings. Those who choose to do so are automatically branded as heretics, apostates, and evildoers destined for hell. In the past, these people have been castigated, tortured, and put to death for even questioning the religious orthodoxy. The Spanish inquisition and the religious persecution by the early puritans in this country are only a small sampling of the practice throughout history. While burning at the stake and physical torture are no longer permitted, the practice in the form of discrimination, exclusion, and ostracism continues to thrive to this day. It is a practice that mandates unquestioning obedience to the religious dictates of the majority. It is a practice that not only repudiates but demonizes the right to ex­ercise any free will at all. It is based on the belief that all humans are less than adult and that without the direction provided by the religious scriptures and of the clergy, they will act like children. According to this theory, the people are most virtuous when they are most docile. Finally, it is dangerous because it considers all forms of dissent unforgivable sins.

The conflict with science has existed from the earliest times. Throughout history, the findings and discoveries of scientific research has been repudiated and demonized by the religious community. Those who dared publish their findings were persecuted if not tortured or put to death. Acceptance of their findings came only through a slow and reluctant realization of the undeniable benefits to man. The repudiation and demonizing of science continues to this day. The Christian right’s opposition to stem cell research, birth control, and physical evolution are only a few of the examples.

Where is the outrage to all this? Because of the increased empowerment of the Christian right to convert its religious beliefs into the laws of the land, this country and its institutions are in danger of being highjacked into a narrow fundamentalist religious state contemptuous of the progressive liberal traditions that have made the United States what it is - a world leader in opposing ignorance, repression and, and authoritarianism. If the Christian right with the help of the Catholic Church has its way, these traditions will be eroded away until they no longer exist. People who cherish an open society free of political and religious repression should start speaking up. The goal of the Christian right and the religious community as a whole is nothing less than a Christian theocracy.

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