The Crusades were Christian military campaigns sanctioned by the Catholic Church during the High and Late Middle Ages with the stated goal of ‘restoring’ Christianity in the Middle East that was never a Christian region. After a 200-year struggle to impose Christianity and control the “Holy Land,” the conflict ended in failure leading the Catholic Church to abandon its attempt at imposing Christianity on the Middle East. Fast forward to 21st Century America and with the United States Council of Catholic Bishops and their Republican onward Christian soldiers in the religious right leading the charge, a new Crusade is underway and it will face the same fate as over a millennia ago. The difference this time around is that the so-called “holy land” is America that like 10th Century Middle East was never a Christian nation. Still, the religious Republican and neo-Christian movement intends on restoring this country to a make-believe land that has never existed.
Over the past week Christian fanatics have ramped up their war rhetoric over the outrage of decent Americans who are appalled Republicans are passing theocratic edicts subverting the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal and civil rights for all Americans. The Christian right has been big on claiming they are being persecuted each time they are prohibited from forcing Christianity on all Americans, but the furor surrounding the Indiana “license to discriminate” law has incited them to declare war on Americans who adhere to common decency and the Constitution instead of a couple of verses in an archaic book of Hebrew mythology.
Yesterday Hrafnkell Haradlsson reported that the Christian right was prepared to ‘rise up’ against their oppressors because they cannot legally discriminate against gays. However, their crusade is far and away much more than just eliminating gay rights, and gays, from America; more on that later. The latest indication that Republicans will enjoin the Catholic bishops’ and religious right’s war against the Constitution, was disgraced former speaker of the house Tom Delay who said unapologetically that “gays undermine his religious liberty.” That’s right, what Delay is saying, and the religious right concurs, is that what subverts the evangelical right’s religious freedom and persecutes Christians is that gays exist and are allowed to live in America. It is a very telling statement about the direction Republicans intend on taking the nation on behalf of their most reliable voting bloc.
Delay followed up where Rick Santorum and his ilk started and called for Christians to “fight this battle to the bitter end because when you let the government dictate what you believe and what your values are, this county is finished.” Now, no-one, much less the government, has dictated to the hate-infested religious right what they believe or what their values are. The Constitution guarantees they can believe whatever they want and no American cares what their values are or how they conduct their personal lives; that is the difference between the Christian right and the rest of America. What Americans do not condone is the religious right imposing its beliefs on and forcing Americans to embrace their values under color of Republican theocratic legislation.
DeLay wasted little time assailing the governors of Indiana and Arkansas for changing so-called “religious liberty” laws to adhere to the U.S. Constitution and prevent discrimination against LGBT people. According to Delay, “This is the result of the gay agenda. We’re now seeing what the gay agenda is all about; our religious liberty.” According to Delay, “our religious liberty, as it’s described in the Declaration of Independence, is that we get our rights from our creator, and from that we get that we’re the good people that can govern through the Constitution. What they’re trying to do is undermine religious liberty so that they become accepted. We have got to fight this battle to the bitter end or this county is finished.” Delay also said that if a gay person “asks me to undermine my values, what I believe in, undermine my religious liberty, then I have the right to stand up for what I believe in.”
First, no gay person is going to ask an evangelical to undermine their values; they just do not care about their ‘values’ until they become oppressive. Second, standing up for what they believe in might include imposing theocratic edicts on the entire population in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, but this is America and the religious right would do well to remember that in a real war, anti-religious tyranny Americans crushed the Taliban in short order. That is precisely what awaits Delay and his religious right cohort’s “battle to the bitter end” according to a recent poll.
Results of a survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) last week revealed that 80% of Americans oppose allowing Christians to discriminate against gay or lesbians for any reason, much less because as Delay contends gays exist. In fact, greater majorities opposed religiously-grounded businesses discriminating against any group over anything because it is inherently un-American and patently unconstitutional. Likely, the great majority of Americans are cognizant that regardless what evangelicals claim, America is not a Christian theocracy and the Christian bible is not the law of the land; much less an obscure verse or two claiming god is mad at gays. As an aside, Old Testament god, the bible, Christianity, or opposition to gays is not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution any more than there is an Article establishing America as a Christian theocracy.
There is still, sadly, a misconception among Americans that these religious freedom advocates and their Crusade against the Constitution is solely about gays. Since this war has been sanctioned and started by the United States Council of Catholic Bishops, it is also about restricting women’s reproductive rights the Supreme Court’s Papal-5 ruled was the USCCB and evangelicals’ legal right when they attempted to establish the Vatican’s Humanae Vitae as law of the land for theocracy-minded Republicans.
If Americans think for a second this religious crusade to impose theocracy on the nation is only about gays or women, they seriously need to think again. The fundamentalists’ crusade is for the right to discriminate in public accommodations and hiring practices, to interfere with every American’s family formation, sexual intimacy, and childbearing decisions. The Christian fanatics also want the right to use public funds and buildings to propagate biblical values and priorities in schools, and all while freeloading on taxpayer-funded infrastructure without contributing because they are tax-exempt. The religious Republicans also demand to legislate their biblical right to withhold medical care for women and children as exemplary followers of Christ exercising religious liberty. On that account, President Obama finally broke the unwritten law against uttering an unkind word against Christian barbarism during Tuesday’s Easter prayer breakfast. He is the first politician to recognize that America’s neo-Christian movement is as a far afield from Christ’s teachings as the Sun is from the Earth and it was a welcomed and praiseworthy acknowledgment.
If the religious right wants a war, they are damn sure going to get one because the overwhelming majority of Americans are finally getting a real-time look at what American neo-Christianity’s version of religious liberty entails and how it will ultimately affect their lives. If nothing else, the firestorm over Indiana’s so-called religious freedom law exposed the evangelical and religious Republican movement’s intent to use religion to subvert every other Americans’ equal and civil rights.
It is likely that most Americans comprehend that not only will the 21st Century American Crusade be against the gay community and women, but any American that fails to comply with whatever religious edict Republicans legislate on behalf of evangelical extremists. Make no mistake, today it is legislation legalizing discrimination against gays and restricting women’s access to reproductive care and next it will be legislation mandating church attendance, forced prayer in public schools, and limiting voting to white Christians; all ideas that have been proposed by religious Republicans.