The absurdity of Republican attacks on both President Barack Obama and on liberalism itself escalate daily, from Liberty Counsel’s claim that Obama be impeached for turning America “Into a godless, socialist nation” to the theory put forward at a well publicized Tea Party event attended by Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) – a claim Bridenstine did not contest – that because Obama is not really the president, he should just be executed.
Republicans love to fantasize about impeaching Obama, or just plain marching to the White House, demanding he surrender, and lynching him – you know, the way conservatives have always treated uppity black men. Liberty Counsel, on the other hand, must realize that neither atheism nor socialism are impeachable offenses and that, in fact, the First Amendment demands that the government be no more a Christian government than a Muslim or Jewish or Hindu government.
But Liberty Counsel is far from alone in ignoring the First Amendment. ThinkProgress reported yesterday that senate hopeful Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) said during an interview with the Tea Party Express he will only vote for bills he thinks fit “Judeo-Christian Biblical principles.”
BROUN: I do go against my leadership all the time because I stand firm on the four questions that I ask about all legislation. The first, is it constitutional according to the original intent? The second, does it fit the Judeo-Christian Biblical principles that our nation is founded upon? Third, do we need it? Fourth, can we afford it? If all four yes, I vote yes, otherwise I vote no.
Broun’s criteria are laughable. Original intent is a convenient expression used by Tea Partiers who are completely ignorant of history. For them, original intent has nothing to do with the 18th century and everything to do with the 21st. Original intent is, for them, anything that advances their agenda. In other words, this is a meaningless criteria. Broun’s third reason answers itself – only anti-Obama legislation is “needed.” As for his fourth, there is always money in the federal budget to restrict women’s right to control their own reproductive functions but never any money in the federal budget to create even a single job. Basically, Broun is making excuses before even getting the job.
Another problem is that “Judeo-Christian” is “itself a Christian ideological construct” says scholar Mark S. Smith. Christians in Paul’s day were only too happy to claim to have replaced the Jews as God’s Chosen People. The New Testament replaced the Old, Christians can ignore Jewish dietary restrictions, and for many, Jesus’ death has nullified the Law of Moses. Judaism doesn’t have a concept of “original sin” or even a Satan, the central figure in the Religious Right’s crusade against Obama, gays and lesbians, and pretty much everything else they don’t approve of. And without Satan, how can evolution be, as Broun claims, a lie “from the pit of hell”?
Really, there isn’t much Jewishness in Christianity other than a penchant among Religious Right figures to misquote the Old Testament in order to buttress Christian claims, admittedly a practice as old as Christianity itself (for example, identifying Jesus with the Suffering Servant of Isaiah (52.13-53.12), an interpretation completely novel to Judaism’s interpretations of its own scriptures. The Gospels were even written in Greek, the language of Judaism’s Pagan neighbors, rather than Hebrew.
But if Broun really means what he says, no such bill will ever come before him because the United States is not based upon biblical principles, Judeo-Christian or otherwise. The Constitution establishes the United States; it does not establish Christianity. Neither Jesus nor the Bible are mentioned; neither are the Ten Commandments. The Constitution is based on English Common Law and Common Law, while it does owe something to ancient Pagan Roman law, has nothing to do with biblical law, Old OR New Testament.
Broun will not admit this, of course. Nobody on the Religious Right will. But it is a verifiable fact. And Broun’s insistence on supporting such legislation only marks him as an enemy of not only the First Amendment but of the Constitution itself, and as a man who wishes the Bible to supersede the Constitution as the law of the land. Because the Bible has never been the law of the land, one has to wonder what, exactly, Broun is loyal to. It is certainly not, whatever his election ads may claim, the United States of America or its secular Constitution.
 Mark S. Smith, “Ugaritic Studies and Israelite Religion: A Retrospective View,” Near Eastern Archaeology 65 (2002), 19.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.