Look Out First Amendment – Theocracy Inbound

Artist: Jon McNaughton

"One Nation Under God: If the founding fathers and patriotic heroes of the past could speak to us today-- what would they say?"

There is at this point no hope at all we will escape a theocracy if Republicans win in 2012. They can call it anything they like, but we all know what it will be. The religion-based legislation has continued to pile up since 2010 as has the religion-based bigotry that inspires it. There is no end in sight and it only continues to get worse as we approach Election Day.

Imagine if both the president and the Senate were Republican as well as the House. There would suddenly be no place in America for non-Christians like me (or the wrong kind of Christians like many of you unless they chose to play the “good Indian” game that historically never ends happily). If you doubt this is true, look at what they say; look at what they do.

Look at recent legislation from Florida, where religious demagoguery is alive and well: Rep. Charles Van Zant (R-Palatka), an ordained Baptist minister, has introduced legislation that openly nixes the Constitution’s First Amendment and the Supreme Court, proclaiming that God is the creator of life and as such it is beyond the purview of government to interfere. The bill (HB 415 – the “Florida for Life Act”) claims that ‘all life comes from the Creator and begins at conception.’  Therefore the United States Supreme Court is not qualified to ‘determine, establish, or define the moral values of the people of the United States and specifically for the people of Florida.’”

The bill has language in common with Personhood Florida’s proposed law but its disdain for and blatant disregard of secular law is far more pronounced. What Van Zant ignores, of course, is the plain and simple fact that he and people who believe like he does can simply decline to have abortions should they wish: nobody is defining his moral values or stripping them away. The real problem for Van Zant is that other people are currently free to ignore HIS moral values, and we can’t have this, can we?

The utter refusal by Republican legislators to accept facts as proven by science is breathtaking. These are religious pronouncements, as from a religious authority, essentially stating that from a legal standpoint science has no bearing on any subject religion has staked a claim to: homosexuality, is one such subject, as is contraception, as is global warming, where we are assured God will look out for us, having previously promised not to kill us off with another flood. Yet sea levels continue to rise regardless. At what point does dogma give way to common sense and the facts on the ground? Is it enough when you’re feet are below water? Your knees? Your thighs?

According to the historical record, it doesn’t. Religious authority responds only to fait accompli and that is unlikely when those religious authorities hold the reins of power as they do in many states currently. Look how long it took Europe to climb out of the Dark Ages to the Renaissance and then Enlightenment. Look how many people died making that possible. And though Van Zant claims the Supreme Court has no authority, he will no doubt quite happily rely on them when their ranks are stacked with Bible-thumping conservatives like him.

Every step forward is accompanied by the requisite stop backward; as per Newton’s Third Law, to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. But since science is irrelevant here, sometimes there are two or more steps back. Look for a moment at the Republican reaction to President Obama’s embrace of marriage equality – the sudden need to reinforce the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). From Politico:

Just hours after President Barack Obama publicly backed gay marriage, the House struck back and passed a measure aimed at reinforcing the Defense of Marriage Act.

With a 245-171 vote, the House voted to stop the Justice Department from using taxpayer funds to actively oppose DOMA — the Clinton-era law defining marriage as between a man and a woman that the Obama administration stopped enforcing in February 2011.

So we can use taxpayer funds to defend what is essentially a religious position, but we cannot use taxpayer funds to oppose it?

And then there is this less than golden nugget from the AP:

“The president has repealed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and is using the military as props to promote his gay agenda,” said Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., who is running for Senate.

The committee, on a vote of 37-24, backed an amendment that barred same-sex marriages or “marriage-like” ceremonies on military installations. The panel also endorsed an Akin amendment that said the services should accommodate the rights of conscience of members of the services and chaplains who are morally or religiously opposed to expressions of human sexuality.


“Members of this committee are looking to turn back the clock and find new ways to discriminate against gay and lesbian service members,” said Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state, the top Democrat on the committee. “These men and women serve with honor and distinction and this amendment sends a message that their service is not valued.”

The so-called `Military Religious Freedom Protection Act’ (HR 3828), would “amend title 10, [of the] United States Code, to require that implementation of the repeal of the former Department of Defense policy concerning homosexual behavior in the Armed Forces not infringe upon the free exercise of religion by and the rights of conscience of members of the Armed Forces, including chaplains, and for other purposes.”

Now obviously, they would oppose any legislation that allowed non-Christian chaplains to call Christians bad names; you would hear cries of persecution raised to the heavens. Religious objections to behavior and religious freedom can be the property of only those who claim they have sole possession of the truth. Remember, though the First Amendment makes all religions equal, they are proceeding from a place where their religion is the only real religion. The two points of view cannot co-exist and you know which one will have to go if they win in 2012.

Cue the Taliban[gelical] regime and welcome to New Kabul, citizens of DC. If this is what America wants, it will be easy enough to get. Given the effort the GOP is putting into suppressing the vote, we may get it regardless of how we vote.

In all, reports The Nation, as many as 5 million eligible voters could meet difficulties voting this Election Day due to new, restrictive voter laws, and “Right-wing billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch have funded efforts to thwart 21 million Americans from voting and Koch dollars helped write and propose voting suppression bills in thirty-eight states.” Even a 25 percent success rate could be catastrophic, and they have the money to spend and stand to make a f*ckton more if their plots come to fruition.

I won’t ask you to excuse the language because look, this isn’t Shakespeare; this is just how it is and I want you to be the hell offended. It’s time to do something about this and everyone who isn’t trying is now officially part of the problem.

Image from mcnaughtonart.com

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