The danger inherent in fundamentalism is it demands an absolutist and strict obedience to a concrete standard, or set of standards, that its ideologue devotees cannot waiver from or comprehend non-compliance from non-adherents. Religion, in its purest form, is steeped in fundamentalism primarily because strict obedience to its particular tenets is required by its adherents who tend toward imposing their beliefs on the rest of society. America’s version of conservatism is a fixed belief system not unlike fundamentalist religion, and regardless the U.S. Constitution, or will of the people, conservatives are ill-inclined to waiver from imposing their ideology on the people. Like religion, conservatives demand strict obedience from all members of society making it incompatible with democracy or a free society. For the past four-and-a-half years, Americans have been besieged by an axis of fundamentalist groups who exemplify anti-democratic ideology and between corporatists, evangelical fundamentalists, and conservatives, the nation risks drifting toward fascism and if not thwarted spells the end of American democracy.
Although corporatists pose a clear and present danger to America’s representative democracy, it is religious and conservative fundamentalists who openly oppose the idea of a free society, and in their rush to impose their ideology on the entire nation belie their contention they love America or its founding document. Republicans in Congress have all but brought governance to a halt with their obstructionism and demand that the nation adheres to their fundamentalist agenda or they prevent government from operating, and in conjunction with forcing bible-based laws on the people demonstrate their hatred for democracy. As Americans await a pair of Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage, religious fundamentalists preemptively warned that a decision contrary to their religion will leave them no choice but to defy the Court they claim is “acting beyond its constitutional role and contrary to the Natural Moral Law which transcends religions, culture, and time.” The evangelicals released a letter stating their intent to defy the High Court and ended with a threat; “Make no mistake about our resolve, this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross,” and it exemplifies the Christian-conservative mindset Republicans are pushing on the people at all levels of government.
At the beginning of the 113th Congress, Speaker of the House John Boehner promised evangelical fundamentalists that “making abortion a relic of the past” was Republican’s primary goal for 2013, and following through on his word House Republicans passed an unconstitutional ban on abortions after 20 weeks in clear violation of the High Court’s ruling that abortion is a woman’s choice, and legal, until the fetus is viable outside the womb. Fundamentalists could not care less what the Supreme Court ruled and Republicans demonstrated their allegiance is not to the Constitutional authority of the High Court, but to the absolutist standards of fundamentalist Christians. In Virginia, the state’s attorney general and candidate for governor, Ken Cuccinelli, is defending an unconstitutional law, “Crimes Against Nature,” because he feels it is his religious right to prohibit oral and anal sex between consenting adults because like opponents of same-sex marriage, he claims it is “contrary to natural moral law” spelled out in the Christian bible.
Cuccinelli has a history of demanding Virginia residents adhere to his religious fundamentalist agenda and is the poster-boy for the Christian right’s attempt to rule by biblical edict. In 2007, Cuccinelli cosponsored personhood legislation that defined a zygote is a human being and would abolish and criminalize all forms of birth control as tantamount to murder for preventing a zygote from implanting in the womb. In 1982 the Senate rejected legislation defining human life at fertilization because it automatically defined contraception as an “abortifacient” which is a nice word for zygote killer. In 2010, Cuccinelli sent a memo to the state’s universities informing them they did not need to protect gays from discrimination, and that it would be illegal if they did. He said, “It is my advice that the law prohibits a college or university from including ‘sexual orientation’ as a protected class within its nondiscrimination policy,” and it is based on his “view that homosexual acts are intrinsically wrong. I think in a natural law based country it’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that. They don’t comport with natural law. I happen to think that it represents behavior that is not healthy to society.”
Cuccinelli, like same-sex marriage opponents and conservatives opposed to social programs, safety nets, taxes on the wealthy and corporations, represents the fundamentalist threat to democracy because they will go to any length to impose their ideology on the people regardless the U.S. Constitution, Supreme Court rulings, or the will of the people. For example, Republicans blocked expanded background checks for gun purchases despite 90% of America, including Republicans and NRA members, supported a sensible means of keeping guns out of criminal’s hands. In a January 2013 poll, 70% of Americans supported abortion rights and yet Republicans, at the behest of evangelicals, passed an unconstitutional ban after 20 weeks despite the risk of losing more women voters in the next election.
Democracy is the antithesis of, and protection from, fundamentalism because the idea of one man, one religion, one political ideology, or one religious book being set up as the absolute standard to which all people of a nation are bound will always subject the majority to tyranny. It is true that is the end goal of Christian fundamentalists in America the same as it is the goal of conservatives in the tea party and Republicans pushing libertarianism on America, but it is not democracy and certainly not the Founding Fathers intent. Admittedly not all Christians seek to impose their will on all the people, but inherent in all religions is the belief that there is only one way, one law, and one absolute that rejects all others and it is why men like Cuccinelli, conservative Christians in Congress, and same-sex marriage opponents openly threaten to defy the Highest Court in the land because a ruling may be contrary to their “natural moral law” and state categorically that the Supreme Court has no “moral authority” to rule that all Americans are protected under the 14th Amendment.
Perhaps the religious leaders who threatened there is a “line we cannot and will not cross” are ignorant of the High Court’s duty to the Constitution and the nation because it is not a moral authority; it is a legal and Constitutional authority over the entire nation. Whether the religious fundamentalists like it or not, the Constitution, and not any religious book, is the legal authority in America and that is a line that the great majority of Americans will not tolerate any group crossing regardless of what kind of fundamentalist ideologue they are.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.