April 28, 2005

One God Under A Nation

Whose Nation Under God?
America, which separated church and state precisely to protect the private right to worship, has long had its share of religious absolutists who have wanted to harness the power of the state to their own view of revealed truth. But never before in our history has the government deliberately and cynically intervened on the side of the zealots.

President Bush, Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, and company are playing with serious fire. As the joke suggests, there is no challenging revealed truth. That's why the state stays neutral. [...]

Today's religious extremists are not only trying to use the state, with all its power, as religious proselytizer. They oppose science when it happens to conflict with their version of revealed truth. They twist history to claim that the Republic's freethinking Founders, like Jefferson, Adams, and Madison, were really theocrats like themselves. They long for the predemocratic world of absolutes circa 1500.

Although proponents of state sponsorship of ''faith-based" activities claim that all faiths are equally eligible, the politically dominant soon attempt to dictate the approved faith. Leon Wieseltier has observed, ''It is never long before one nation under God gives way to one God under a nation." [...]

Mercifully, religious extremists do not represent anything like a majority. We still have a proudly independent judiciary -- in the Schiavo case, Governor Jeb Bush could not find a single Florida judge willing to overturn the testimony of countless doctors. And mainstream denominations like the Presbyterians have begun speaking out vigorously on behalf of religious tolerance and pluralism.

But let's be clear: Our very democracy is under assault. History is filled with cases where a small minority was able to overturn democratic institutions.

Zeal on behalf of tolerance seems almost a contradiction. But the large American majority that believes in freedom of conscience and inquiry had better get organized with the same enlightened passion that drove America's Founders.
The Christian right want one nation under their God, a partisan, republican, gun-loving, tax-cutting, gay-hating, democrat, liberal-bashing, social security-cutting, oil-drilling, flag waving, pro-death penalty, anti-labor God.

Go read the whole article


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