Worship is an act of religious devotion usually directed towards a deity, and it may be performed individually, in an informal or formal group, or by a designated leader. Practice, as applied to religion is the actual application of religious dogma as opposed to principles about such application or use. Americans enjoy the freedom to worship and practice their religious beliefs without interference or restriction from the government, but the tendency among fundamentalist Christians is defining their right to practice religion as forcing compliance of their beliefs on the rest of the population. It is the definition of theocratic tyranny and the religious right is counting on the judiciary to achieve their goals.
Theocratic tyrants believe their right to practice religion entails forcing their dogma on the rest of humanity whether they adhere to the faith or not. It is not enough for them to “practice” religion in church, in private, or within a group of like-minded devotees, and throughout history some of the worst human atrocities were committed under the guise of a right to “practice” religion. The Old Testament is rife with theocratic tyranny in that god demanded abject obedience from his devotees that extended far beyond his “chosen people.” In fact, Old Testament god often commanded “his people” to exterminate every man, woman, child, slave, and beast of a population that dared worship and practice according to their own beliefs.
Americanized “Christians” have abandoned, and condemn as heresy, the teachings of tolerance, forgiveness, and non-judgment their faith’s namesake advocated. Subsequently, “aberro-Christians” observe Old Testament dogma and seek constitutional and legal authority to demand absolute obedience to their beliefs from all Americans as an integral part of their religious freedom to “practice” their Old Testament faith. The Founding Fathers recognized the inherent danger of theocratic tyranny taking hold in the fledgling nation’s government and built a “wall of separation” between church and state that fundamentalist Christians are rabid to breach to transform America into a tyrannical theocracy.
On Sunday, evangelical fanatic Rick Santorum weighed in on news the Supreme Court will decide whether or not “religious” corporations can legally make health care decisions for their employees. Santorum went directly to the Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom to argue that corporations had First Amendment religious freedom to prohibit their employees’ access to contraceptives as part of its right to “practice religion.” He said the Affordable Care Acts’ mandate to provide contraception coverage in private healthcare policies “can’t enable you to force your religious views on other people.”
Santorum believes a corporation’s religious freedom allows it to “practice its faith” by imposing its religion on people in their employ. He reasoned that “the idea that the First Amendment stops after you walk out of church, that it doesn’t have anything to do with how you live the rest of your life, I don’t know very many people of faith that believes that their religion ends with just worship. It ends in how you practice that faith.” On one point Santorum is right; the First Amendment does not prohibit fundamentalist Christians from worshipping, living by, or practicing their faith at any point in their lives. However, it does prohibit them from “practicing” their faith when it means forcing others to abide by their religion regardless if “their” is an individual or a corporation.
According to Santorum, the contraception mandate is “President Obama saying, once you step outside that church, your religious values don’t matter anymore, it’s my values that I can impose on you.” The President is not imposing his values on individuals or corporations, he simply affirmed what the Constitution guarantees every American; the freedom to choose. However, freedom to choose outside the confines of the religious right beliefs violates what fundamentalist Christians regard as their freedom to “practice their faith” by imposing their dogma on all Americans.
Fundamentalist Christians cannot allow Americans, particularly female Americans, to have the freedom to choose, and to abridge that freedom they advocate the only form of tyranny left in the world, theocratic tyranny. Some argue corporate tyranny is the biggest threat to America, but it is already well-established and in that sense it is game over. However, corporate tyranny hinged on a dependable religious right voting bloc to elect Republicans to do their bidding and to increase their corporate reach. It was recently revealed that the Koch brothers have secretly funded religious right groups that were energized by the recent change to filibuster rules in the U.S. Senate.
One reason the President’s judicial nominees were filibustered mercilessly is due to conservative Christians’ perceived threat of changing the philosophical balance of circuit courts. It is why right-wing media and uber-conservatives decried filibuster reform as allowing President Obama to “pack the court” with secular judges conservative Christians warned will “teach the people that religion is evil” and make decisions that “go against the Ten Commandments and destroy the country.” The end of the filibuster threatens the conservative’s stranglehold on the courts and it is why Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell warned “The solution to this problem is at the ballot box,” and John McCain said “Democrats will regret this.”
The truth is that without a robust turnout by Democrats in 2014, all Americans will regret a GOP Senate that will ensure only judges sympathetic to fundamentalist Christians will ever reach the bench. The only reason the Supreme Court is hearing the Hobby Lobby corporate conscience case is because the 10th Circuit ruled the corporation’s “faith” overruled employees’ religious freedom that two other Circuits struck down as absurd. One thing is certain, the religious right is motivated and angry that Senate Republicans can no longer block nominees who are not conservative extremists and they will turn out in force in 2014.
Hopefully Americans comprehend the only power that matters in America sits with the Judiciary that can strike down or uphold any law they believe violates the Constitution. With a tendency of conservatives to interpret the Constitution according to fundamentalist Christian leanings, Americans should fear more rulings favoring the religious right that surely guarantees theocratic tyranny is not as far off as many Americans are inclined to believe. A Supreme Court decision favorable to “religious corporations” will be the death knell of secular democracy in America, because with power to buy elections and appoint Christian conservatives to the highest courts in the land, the religious right will “practice” their religion with impunity and subject every American to theocratic tyranny.
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.