State Religion vs Liberty

The defining character of our country is our liberty. When we look at the threat of an official state religion, realize that it is our freedom at stake. What, precisely, would we lose under a theocracy?

We must first understand that the driving force towards theocracy in this country isn’t a full representation of the religion being used as a vehicle. Kenneth Barr writes in an insightful op-ed:

Yet, the Bush Administration has been mounting a relentless attack on this basic principle of our democracy almost from its beginning. It has been trying to inflict a fundamentalist theocracy upon the nation with precious little resistance. Notice I don’t say Christian. There is no relationship between the Bushies and the faith of Christ. Christianity teaches love, peace and conciliation. The Bushies believe in fear, hatred and divisiveness. As Bradley Whitford said on “Real Time with Bill Maher” just after Katrina, their religion is supply-side economics.

Theocracy is never about the spirituality of religious belief. It is about imposing a strict set of behaviors. It is about control.

Some of the targets of this control are easy to see right off the bat. Sex is the big one. Something about sexual expression sets fundamentalists right off. Gay sex would not be permitted. In fact, you’d see a real surge in anti-gay behavior in society, encouraged by government (explicitly or implicitly depending on how far we fall). Contraception and sex ed would be severely diminished if not eliminated. Abortion would be a rusty hanger and the dirty back room of a clinic. In a theocracy sex is about two things: producing babies and reinforcing the patriarchy. Anything outside of that is painted as immoral, and the laws in this country would come to reflect that.

We would see blue laws in effect once again. Need to go shopping on a sunday? Sorry, that’s the Lord’s day. However the most worrying restrictions we would see would center around speech. If you think the fundamentalists are kicking up a storm now over the hate crimes legislation “threatening their freedom of speech” (despite the exception clause in the actual bill), just wait until they are in power. Blasphemy would be on the books once again. Publicly advocating for your own religion could become an actionable offense. To find out where, simply look at every point in society where religious speech is currently an issue for the religious right-wing, and you have found a potential new speech law under a theocratic US. Teachers are currently restricted with regard to how they present their individual faith in a classroom. Expect to see even harsher requirements surrounding non-approved religions. Right now swearing is censored out of radio and tv. Expect fines and penalties instead for “unclean speech”. Publicly criticizing the Bible, or the Biblical account of creation could become prohibited.

In a theocracy, you’d really need to watch what you say.

Finally existing crimes would see a readjustment according to religious mores. Adultery would become a much more serious offense. If the Bible says don’t do it, then government will enforce it.

You would also need to watch what you research. Stem Cell research, genetic research, or anything that could possibly be construed as undermining the approved Christian world view would be suspect or prohibited.

A theocratic America would be many things, but it would not be the land of the free.

That fact alone is reason enough to oppose our slide towards an official joining of church and state. It is our liberty that best defines us as Americans, and it is profoundly patriotic to defend that liberty. Let’s keep church and state separate. Let’s keep America free.


11 Responses

  1. I seriously doubt anyone but the deluded could or would argue that a Theocracy would be a good thing. It would be madness to live in one, following outdated and absurd rules which do nothing but diminish society.

  2. This is hysteria. I’m NOT in sympathy with the religious right. But no one is trying to impose a theocracy. They want Christmas trees allowed at City Hall and they don’t want the state to sanction same-sex marriage. Whatever we might think about those things, it’s not on the same level as banning gay sex, arresting people for blasphemy and passing blue laws.

    What’s your source for all this? Some backwoods preacher from the hills spouting off on a cable channel? What prominent voices are calling for the things you fear??

  3. Matt, hear hear!
    SteveJ, hardly. But even to a small extent, we are talking about trading liberty for religion. If the only two issues the religious right cared about were abortion and gay marriage, that’s still taking freedom away from a great many people.

    But this isn’t a “OMG, Theocracy is nigh upon us!” post. It is noting that there is a pronounced slide towards state sponsored religion. I decided to look and see what is at the bottom of the hill. For that, I can simply appeal to history for a reference.

    Every step towards theocracy, in an of itself, is something people can and do argue is a good thing. What some do not see is where we are walking.

  4. See? I agree with you 100% on this. We don’t need Christmas trees at city hall. What changed my mind on this was reading the O’Hare case. The right continually ignores the circumstances that drove the family to court.

    I don’t want the state to sanction any marriage, straight or gay.

    I’m torn abortion. I used to be absolutely pro-choice, and I’m still at about 90%. But spending time debating with socialists showed me something I hadn’t seen: the right to an abortion can quickly be turned into the responsibility to have one, as in, say , the example of CHina’s single child system.

    Coupling that with a dark futuristic vision – What’s going to happen when the government controls health care, then decides my daughter’s genes aren’t suitable for the procreation pool?

    If cancer is expensive, and it’s genetic, then shuold people carrying the gene be allowed to reproduce? It’s after all in the best interest of society to eliminate such drains to the health system, right?

    I think if we had small government, then abortion rights would be acceptable, but with the trends to cameras on every corner, I think it’s a dangerous power to give away.

    I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t end with “Ron Paul 2008. “

  5. Theocracy is never about the spirituality of religious belief. It is about imposing a strict set of behaviors. It is about control.

    Well put. Religion is an excuse, a smokescreen, a tool for political advantage. It’s all about control.

    As for SteveJ — theocrats/dominionists are a very real, dangerous force in America. The followers often do not share, or are aware of, the full radical agenda of their leaders, but there’s plenty of internal documents posted to show what they’re about. The site Talk2Action is a good starting point if you’d like to get up to speed. A theocracy is not imminent, but theocrats still need to be opposed every step of the way. Religion is fine; theocracy is anti-American.

  6. Stevie, there’s no need to ban same sex marriage unless you’re opposed for religious reasons… which just doesn’t work in a country that is supposed to have a separation of church and state. Whatever anyone says, that separation is necessary, especially in a place reknowned (or theoretically so) for its equality for all.

    On another note (or is it?), Happy Independence Day, bloggers!
    {Particularly to you, Fitty!}

  7. Pfft… God needs a day to shop too… selfish mortals.

  8. OMG banning gay marriages? but… I love anal…

    hide and go anal was my favorite sport since naked bowling

  9. Alexia,
    With China: That’s not socialism. That’s totalitarianism using aspects of socialism as bait. I don’t see right to becoming mandatory at all. Plus, its not a right to an abortion. It is the right to make your own reproducive choices. That freedom extends in both directions. Hence the movement being “pro-choice” rather than “pro-abortion”.

    Your worries about gene-discrimination are very very valid, but not in that context. No one is arguing for “government controlled” health care. I myself am arguing for government regulated and funded health care.

    But as it stands now, employers and health insurance providers could do a lot of nasty things once “pre-existing condition” becomes “genetic pre-dispoisition”. Hence the need for strong laws protecting against this abuse.

    (I don’t see how big government or cameras constitute a threat to reproductive choice. Its not a power we are giving away, but rather a power we are reclaiming. The right to choose should be up to the individual, not the government. I think you may still be very pro-choice.)

    “A theocracy is not imminent, but theocrats still need to be opposed every step of the way. Religion is fine; theocracy is anti-American.”
    Vive! Agreed!

    Sally Jane,
    Succinct and to a sharp point. The whole anti-gay-rights crowd is as transparent as the “intelligent design” group.

    (And Happy Indypendence Day to you Miss Sally Jane!)

    Thanks for this link!

    I hadn’t thought of blue laws in that fascinating light before.

    Harry Potter,
    I’d like to see that on a giant sign at a protest.

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