THE WAR AGAINST AMERICA
BY JON NELSON AND RICHARD THAIN
One of the great canards of the Radical Religious Right (RRR) is that there is a “cultural war” going on in this country. Spokespersons for the fringe conservative religious movement claim that their enemies, secularism and Humanism, are everywhere, threatening the values that Americans hold dear. It is claimed that, as secularism increases, America has all but lost its religious roots and that they, the devout, are fighting a losing battle against the overwhelming forces of liberalism and secularism. As with the majority of such emanations from the Christian right wing, the opposite is in fact the case. It is progressivism, which historically has been at the forefront of the American “experience,” that is currently under attack by those who want to turn the clock back to the time of the Christian Dark Ages, when faith was a universal given and dissent was ruthlessly crushed by the full force of church/state union.
The administration of President George W. Bush proved itself to be the most reactionary right wing administration in American history. The president and his cronies repeatedly aligned their political agendas with that of the RRR. Religious extremists such as James Dobson, D. James Kennedy and other Christian fundamentalists found powerful support in their efforts to turn the United States into a Christian theocracy. As recently as forty years ago, prior to the emergence of the RRR, such views would not have been taken seriously, and consequently relegated to their rightful place at the extreme fringe of the Republican Party. In today’s religiously saturated environment, such is no longer the case. Extremist views based on religion have increasingly become mainstream, to the detriment of society and everyone in it who is not a fundamentalist Christian. In Washington, the Christian Right’s boot-licking political lackeys are attempting to implement their antiquated ideas into national policy. Whether the issue is enforced school prayer, homophobic laws, or eliminating a woman’s right to choose whether or not to continue a pregnancy, the religious extremists are dogged in their determination to introduce legislation that reflects their medieval religious notions about morality. Real moral issues, such as the righteousness of invading a foreign country that poses no threat to the United States, are rarely if ever discussed.
It is often claimed that there is a “war” of faith in this country. This is true. The only errors made by the Religious Right are in who instigated it and who are the aggressors.
Today’s religious extremists would have us believe that secular humanists threaten the “religious roots” of out country. In fact, it is proselytizing fundamentalists who threaten the values that made our country great. Historically, they have no case, conveniently ignore the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, passed unanimously by the United States Congress which made the non-Christian origins and status of the country crystal clear: “The United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” Given this and other indisputable historical facts, we may now pose a few timely questions to the Christian right-wing:
Is it humanists or believers who passed the Patriot Act, the single greatest threat to our constitutional liberties ever passed?
Is it secularists or the devout that see to undermine education by constantly demanding that creationist nonsense be taught in our public schools. Can the creationists describe and produce their alleged god or describe how the process of creation actually took place? If not, then let them retreat from the public arena until they can.
Is it atheists or fundamentalist Christians who condemned Bush’s pointlessly immoral war on the Iraqi people? Why is a person co-habitating with a person of the same gender a moral issue with fundamentalists while the deaths of 100,000 Iraqi women and children are not? More generally, why is sex always equated with sin, while war, suffering, and torture are not? Where is the Christian outrage over these issues?
Is it non-believers that oppose stem cell research, preferring to protect zygotes left over from a fertility clinic (which are frozen and eventually discarded) rather than promote research aimed at alleviating human suffering from a currently incurable disease? Why does a piece of protoplasm deserve moral consideration while possible curative procedures that affect real living and suffering humans do not?
Is it freethinkers or god-believers that would deny people the right to make their own personal decision on how to end their own lives and die with dignity? Why are the morally righteous so outraged at those who merely want to spare themselves untold hours of needless pain and misery at the end of their lives?
If a child dies because the parents refused to provide medical aid, are the parents more likely to be religious or non-religious? Why is it that those same people who call themselves “pro-life” are invariably the same people who ignore the rights of a child to receive competent medical treatment in favor of their parents alleged “religious freedom?” This is not merely immoral, it’s criminal.
There is much more.
The ultra-conservative religious people in this country would like nothing better than to destroy our public school system and replace it with fundamentalist Christian schools. Leaders such as Pat Robertson and others are on record for saying as much. The secularists almost always support public education whereby children can grow and learn with children of all backgrounds, creeds and races. By contrast, it is the would-be destroyers of public schools who, in their hatred of diversity, seek to install a universal religious apartheid wherein their children (and, if they have their way, all other children as well) will never be exposed to contrary beliefs, ideas, cultures, and backgrounds. Freethinkers ask: What are they afraid of? Do the religious subconsciously know that their ideas are antiquated relics of the Christian Dark Ages having no significant value in the third millennium CE? Why are they afraid to have their ideas compete in the free market of ideas? If they are as confident as they profess, why are they so insistent that all Americans financially support their own ideas of religious education?
Any religion that depends on the money of others for its survival is tacitly admitting that it cannot stand on its own two feet; it is acknowledging that time has passed it by. Recognizing this but never admitting it, RRR leaders react in the most hysterical fashion, screaming religious persecution and blindly lashing out at anyone daring to question any aspect of their agenda.
The religiously conservatives want to pass laws telling adults whom they can and cannot marry, and how to behave in the privacy of their own bedrooms. They want to force all women to adhere to their bronze-age notions about abortion and motherhood. At the most basic level, they want all our laws to conform to the standards they imagine their god set for them two thousand years ago. And this is truly frightening.
It was the devoutly religious who throughout history steadfastly promoted slavery and later, segregation. These evils were overcome largely because of the efforts of freethinkers who recognized that the absolutist nature of Christian fundamentalism, as manifested in a literal interpretation of scripture, was humanity’s single greatest enemy of progress. This remains the case today; it is the secularists and liberal religionists who are trying to keep the United States from becoming a Christian version of Iran. For this, they are condemned by the extremists in the Christian right-wing as being “un-American.” In fact it is they who are the real un-Americans. It is they who, at the very least, intend to scrap the Bill of Rights in favor of a “majority rules” mode of thinking, whereby the rights of minorities would be threatened as never before in our history. In point of fact, the RRR is not in the majority at all, but they continue to wrongly proclaim that most Americans agree with them.
Examining the writings of today’s RRR leaders discloses even more ominous plans: many, such as the Christian Reconstructionists and other military Christian militia groups, openly advocate scrapping the Constitution altogether and replacing it with the law code of the Bible, particularly of the Old Testament. Again, it is laughable that such people portray themselves as being “true” Americans. Do the people of the United States really want to be subjected to the death penalty (usually by stoning) for such grievous infractions as working on a Sunday or picking up sticks on the Sabbath as the Old Testament proclaims? Let it not be said that the Reconstructionists and their allies constitute a minority extremist faction that no one needs to take seriously, for many of the country’s most prominent leaders have embraced their theological and sociological ideas. Such is the threat posed by absolutist religious dogma.
Make no mistake about it: the RRR will not rest until the United States is a Christian totalitarian state. This anti-American Christian faction is currently the single most powerful influence in Washington. To cite but one example, one of their main bugaboos these days concerns the judiciary. While they scream about “activist judges” the facts are that the majority of federal judicial appointees have been made by Republican presidents. Despite this, many of these judges are not reactionary enough to suit the tastes of the RRR, who are now focusing their efforts on scrapping the entire concept of an independent judiciary. They want judges who will always rule in their favor no matter what the circumstances. To make this happen, they have started organizations such as the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration whose sole purpose is to impeach those judges who dare to rule independently of their wishes. Of course, an independent judiciary is one of the cornerstones of American democracy, illustrating once again the anti-American agenda of the RRR.
To cite but one example, U.S. Appellate court judge Stanley F. Birch Jr. is considered one of the more conservative on the federal bench yet, because he dared to write an opinion attacking Congress for its intervention in the Terry Schiavo case, he has been anathematized by the Right. Not content with this, some spokespersons such as home-schooling advocate Michael Farris have even demanded that any congressperson daring to rock the boat in this way should be impeached. What is this if not theocratic totalitarianism? Clearly, the goals of the RRR are the very antithesis of what America has always stood for.
If this is not evidence enough of the intentions of the RRR, consider these words from Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry: “I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good…Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this country. We don’t want equal time. We don’t want pluralism.”
Despite the endless war against America by the RRR, the facts of history cannot be denied: we were founded as a republic, not as a Christian nation. Unfortunately, the RRR has had so many recent victories, we are rapidly becoming a Christian nation. Although we are still a free nation, this will certainly change should the RRR attain the power it seeks.
To hear them talk, one would think that the RRR is the most threatened group in the country. They claim that all they want is a place at the table. Don’t be fooled! What they really want is to own the table and to have the exclusive right to determine who they invite to dinner. The RRR has been frighteningly successful in numerous ways, not the least of which is the way they have been able to cow the opposition and to exert such control over the supposedly liberal media (another rallying cry of theirs) that opposing voices are rarely heard. In this increasingly pro-fundamentalist religious/political environment, the voices of secularism and progressivism are all too rarely heard.
Given all this, we secularists have a challenge: Let the RRR produce facts that demonstrate how secularism is the real threat to our country today. Let them, if they can, cite comparable examples of how humanists threaten the values and liberties Americans hold dear. Let them provide examples of how secularism oppresses women, gays, and other minority groups. Let them demonstrate how the atheist/humanist movement threatens their right to assemble and to worship any god their imagination can dream up. Let them list the number of book burnings atheists have instigated. Let them name all the anti-abortion activists that have been murdered by secular extremists. Let them do all this without dishonestly “inventing” facts and then, and only then, will their arguments have merit.
These god-loving, life hating anti-human fanatics are not only painfully and obviously wrong, they are also profoundly and demonstrably immoral and anti-American. Their agenda is a threat to every American who doesn’t share their views and, until the people of this country recognize that fact, stop the appeasement and stand up to these theocrats, our country will continue its slide toward Christian Fascism.