April 7, 2007

Theocracy in America: No Rest for the Rational

When I first heard about the Blog Against Theocracy blogswarm initiated by Blue Gal, I wasn't sure what to make of it. I regularly post about the problems with theocracy, as do the majority of the atheist blogs I read. What could I do for this blogswarm that would be different from the usual?

In the end, I decided that I would just do more of the same, with the difference being that I would attempt to pull some themes together from previous posts. Actually, it has been a long time since I posted directly on the topic of theocracy.

What is Theocracy?

Essentially, theocracy refers to the primacy of religion in government and law. A theocratic society is one in which clergy rules and in which religious law trumps secular law. When American Christians think of theocracy, they typically think of Middle Eastern countries which are characterized by repressive religious governments. Such governments may have an "elected" leader, but the real power typically lies with Muslim clerics. Law is based on religious doctrine and tends to be misogynistic.

An American Theocracy?

It is understandable that most American believers think of the Middle East when contemplating theocracy, but there are plenty of Americans who seek to bring theocracy to America. Naturally, this would be a Christian theocracy. Advocates of such a system are sometimes referred to as Christocrats, Christianists, or Dominionists. They speak of "reclaiming America for Christ" and similar absurdities. One articulate spokesman, D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries said it this way:
Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost. As the vice regents of God, we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors -- in short, over every aspect and institution of human society.
Other examples of what the key players in this movement think can be found here. While many American Christians will dismiss such statements as little more than the rantings of a handful of extremists, their influence reaches all the way to the American presidency.

In fact, the modern theocratic movement in America is an important wing of the Republican party. Republicans target fundamentalist churches and refer to their congregants as their "base." The Republicans gain votes at the expense of turning their party over to religious extremists who oppose stem cell research, push school prayer, meddle in end-of-life decisions, protest against evolution, and are openly bigoted toward homosexuals. These Christian extremists gain political power with which to push their theocratic agenda.

Evidence of an American Theocratic Movement

The possibility of a theocratic America is difficult to imagine, even for those of us who are concerned with preserving church-state separation, but there is evidence of both intent and progress in this direction.
This list could go on and on, but you get the idea. It is clear that many Christian extremists seek an American theocracy. It is equally clear that this is a threat to our democracy. With Bush in office, we have seen an erosion of democracy, a substitution of science with faith as a basis for policy, and a recasting of the world in terms of good and evil. Take a stand here.

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