Sunday, April 18, 2004

Theocrats

Michael at Rantophilia feels I have "gone too far" in referring to those who advocate mixing religion and government as theocrats. I could have gone much further, but I don't. What Michael appears to be criticizing me on is that I either don't name names (which religious sects) or that I am painting anyone who wants more religion in government as theocratic.

I can name names. It is clear that most conservative Christian denominations that put out spokes people want a theocracy. The problem here is that Michael may not understand what I mean by theocracy and my reference to Iran. That also plays into my "generalization" about those who want any religion in government.

If you want religion into government then I am guessing (or you could say generalizing) that 95% of those people want their religion into government, not any religion. They don't want Wicca or Islam or Hindu beliefs or the belief that the Grand Canyon is the ruler of the Universe put equally into government. Most want Christianity because most people in the country are Christian and most of those pushing for mixing government and religion on any level are advocates or repeating what they heard in churches that advocate a "Christian Nation."

Now, do I believe most people who answered yes to putting more government want a Iranian style theocracy? No, I doubt they even now what a theocracy is. I do think that those same people would care if we did outlaw certain religious beliefs or mandated certain religious practices in the country, like saying oaths where one pledges allegiance to a Christian "God."

I don't honestly fear we are going to end up like Iran. I think their enough people out there who like porn, beer, swearing, and watching football on Sundays to keep freedom alive. What I do fear is a continuation of a society where atheists are often considered either communists or devil worshipers, therefore considered subhuman or outright criminal. This idea is manifest mostly plainly in the fact that no openly atheist person could be elected to any significant public office in the country.

There are many groups that make me fear theocracy. I think if one reads some of their beliefs you might share my fears. One of biggest and most troublesome is that of the Texas Republican Party. Their 2002 party platform (pdf) is filled with the following gems:
We believe that human life is sacred because each person is created in the image of God, that life begins at the moment of conception and ends at the point of natural death, and that all innocent human life must be protected.

[...]

“God Bless Texas!”

[...]

Christian Nation – The Republican Party of Texas reaffirms the United States of America is a Christian nation,
which was founded on fundamental Judeo-Christian principles based on the Holy Bible. We also affirm the right of each individual to worship in the religion of his or her choice.
Religion – The Party acknowledges that the church is a God–ordained institution with a sphere of authority separate from that of civil government; thus, churches, synagogues and other places of worship, including home Bible study groups, should not be regulated, controlled, or taxed by any level of civil government, including the Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service. We reclaim freedom of religious expression in public on government property, and freedom from governmental interference.


[...]

Free Exercise of Religion – The Party believes all Americans have the right to practice their religious faith free of persecution, intimidation, and violence. We call on Congress to sanction any country that is guilty of persecuting its citizens because of their religious beliefs. Our Party pledges to do everything within its power to restore the original intent of the First Amendment of the United States and dispel the myth of the separation of Church and State. We support the right of individuals and state and local governments to display the Ten Commandments on public property subject to their control.
Now, with ideas like these in the state platform of the Home State of sitting President, you really my fears are totally unfounded? The GOP leadership in Texas is advocating a theocracy. It is one where as long as you accept that the majority religion is the real one, you can do as you want, with the understanding that you will be social outcasts left out of society. They won't kill you for being atheist, but life would be easier if you just complied with the majority and accepted the state religion. That is not Iran, but is "starting to sound" like it.

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