In America’s National Anthem, there is a phrase meant to bolster belief that because of the courage inherent in being American, the people enjoy liberty the rest of the world can only aspire to if they emigrated to the United States of America. The last line of America’s anthem to this nation’s greatness contains maybe the only words many Americans remember of Francis Scott Key’s poem where he asserts America is “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” and it certainly applies to America’s fighting forces, but it is a fallacy in regards to representatives in government. In fact, because of the cowardice of a large majority of politicians, over half the population is witnessing their freedoms being assaulted with extreme prejudice in Congress and Republican-controlled states, and instead of decrying the imposition of religion on women, Democrats dance around the issue out of fear of retribution from evangelical extremists.
Many Americans seem perfectly fine allowing conservative extremists to assault and deny women the right to choose their reproductive health because denying women equal rights is accepted as one of the consequences of living in a nation ruled by patriarchs. However, few Americans would sit idly by if they knew their wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers were the subject of religious extremism rivaling Islamic theocracies and harsh Sharia Law. The women of Texas are under assault by a cabal of evangelical fundamentalists, and despite the heroic action of State Senator Wendy Davis (D), evangelical governor Rick Perry called for another special legislative session for the purpose of passing and enacting legislation from America’s version of Sharia Law.
After it was revealed Republicans falsified a time-stamp on a Draconian piece of legislation banning abortion in Texas, Governor Rick Perry immediately called for another special session on July 1st to give evangelicals a second opportunity to impose religion on Texas women and force them into either becoming birth machines or remaining celibate. Perry even took a shot at Davis during his announcement by reminding the press that Davis was the child of a single mother and was herself a single mother to make a point that “she hasn’t learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential.” What Perry and all evangelical extremists fail to acknowledge is that Davis made a conscious choice that Texas Republicans are bent on taking away from women in Texas’ version of theocracy. It is true women’s advocates and Democrats fight for women’s reproductive rights as a matter of course and they should be praised for attempting to protect women’s choice, but they are cowards for never citing the source of Republican efforts to ban abortion.
One thing is perfectly clear, and it is that Republicans are not the least bit shy in citing religion as the driving force behind the various attempts to pass legislation targeting women’s reproductive rights. Whether it is the personhood movement, anti-abortion activists, militant forced-ultrasound advocates, or Republicans in Congress and state legislatures, they always cite the “sanctity of life” and boast their efforts are “Christ-centric, biblical approach to the issue of the sanctity of life.” Last year during a House hearing on contraception coverage in health insurance policies, Republicans convened an all-male panel of the clergy to advise and rule that contraception is a violation of their religion and should be excluded from health insurance coverage. Democrats railed against Republicans refusal to include even one woman on the panel, but they were silent in pointing out the panel resembled Iran’s Supreme Council of Mullahs and Supreme Leader, and it was curious why Democrats were terrified of citing religious leaders deciding the fate of women’s reproductive health.
America joins the Islamic Republic of Iran as one of the only nations on Earth to empower religion with a controlling voice in driving the direction of the nation, and like Iran, speaking out against the theocracy is a mortal sin and strictly forbidden. It is true the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, but the unwritten prohibition on criticizing or citing religion as the impetus for subverting women’s Constitutional rights looms large, and fear of reprisal for violating the prohibition empowers the theocrats to openly wage a holy war against women. There is little doubt Democrats are aware the war against women has its basis in religion, but instead of citing the unconstitutionality of legislating by bible, they advocate for women’s right to choose without uttering a single word against America’s sacred cow as a result of a thirty year crusade to transform America into a theocracy Democrats have willingly supported.
The religious right has enjoyed most favored advisor status because every administration since Reagan coddles religious groups with moral and financial support regardless their perpetual assault on religious freedom, education, the gay community, and particularly America’s women. In fact, religious organizations are a law unto themselves and it is in part because they are not held to the same standards as the rest of the population or the government that provides them with taxpayer-funded welfare, free money courtesy of faith-based initiatives, and free access to the halls of Congress to direct Republican policy as it relates to evangelical law. Few Americans would support banning the religious lobby from advocating for their favorite edict, but Americans should expect, and demand, that leaders in Washington speak out against imposing a religious agenda on every American. However, they do not and it is likely not necessarily that they support transforming the nation into a theocracy, but they are aware of the peril in questioning religion that drives Republican policies whether it is the rich deserve more wealth because god blessed them with success, or forcing women to give birth against their will.
There is peril in questioning or citing religion’s impact on legislation, and it may explain why many journalists and pundits tread lightly in criticizing the church-state relationship in Washington, the states, and local communities. Writing an opinion piece during the Prop 8 campaign criticizing Mormons, Catholics, and evangelicals for fear mongering and demonizing same-sex marriage began a five-and-a-half year campaign of death threats, stalking, and vandalism that continues unabated to this day and it is not unique to this author. However, it is long past time for Democrats, women’s advocacy groups, and pundits to cite the blatant insertion of religion into government that most Americans would be appalled to learn was the sole reason women are being attacked mercilessly in Congress and the states.
Most Americans do not advocate for a state religion, or religion persecuting women by controlling their reproductive health choices, but most Americans are unaware Republican attacks on women are religiously-motivated and not for the good of the country. Yes, it is true women’s rights are being eliminated at a frightening pace, especially in Republican-controlled states, but it is, in part, because no politician is brave enough to at least point out that the Puritanical machinations are forced religion and not economics, security, social welfare, or good governance. What is curious is why the majority of Christians who support women’s right to choose and religion-free government are silent in calling out the extremist Republicans using religion to subjugate women because their wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers will eventually suffer the effects of extremist legislation based on religion.
It is highly likely that evangelical governor Perry will succeed in closing down abortion services in Texas, and unlikely Republicans will be flummoxed by another marathon filibuster by a courageous Democrat. However, if pundits, Democrats, and women’s advocacy groups began a crusade to inform Texans that Republican anti-abortion legislation is evangelicals’ version of Sharia Law, it is possible instead of a few hundred protestors outside of the capital building in Texas, tens-of-thousands would make their voices heard that in America, religion is not legislation. America’s women deserve better treatment than Republicans are imposing on them, but until this nation’s politicians and pundits show America is the home of the brave, it will certainly not be the land of the free; especially for women.
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.