It is hardly a surprise that the great majority of Americans are not warm to the idea of anyone coming in or between, by way of hindrance or modification, their personal lives to interfere or change the outcome of their family decisions; especially if it is government intervention. Indeed, Republicans and sundry conservatives have made fighting against government interference in every aspect of American life their primary reason for opposing government regulations despite the people desperately need government to protect them from predators in the businesses and financial sector. However, Republicans have made interfering in business a regular practice when it suits their agenda, and over the past five years the GOP made regulating women’s lives one of its primary objectives due to their devotion to serving the religious right that runs a close second to the Republican loyalty to corporations and the dirty energy sector.
For a party that claims to hate government interference in Americans’ lives they typically call “government tyranny,” Republicans are tyrannical in serving evangelical fanaticism and if imposing their will on women and gays is not bad enough, the latest crusade is to force women to stay married by outlawing no-fault divorce. Seriously, Republicans can hardly be bothered to work for the people, but they toil like fabled perpetual motion machines to work against the people, especially women, as acolytes of the Christian right. Religious Republicans are waging a parallel marriage war. On one hand they are waging a ferocious war to prevent same-sex couples from marrying, and the other also serving the Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage to make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for opposite-sex couples to end a disastrous marriage.
In over a dozen states Republicans introduced bills to force unhappy couples to wait longer before a divorce is granted, mandate counseling courses to stay married, and limit the reasons two people who do not want to be married will be forced by Christian Republican fiat to stay married. Good Christian states like Arizona, Utah, and Louisiana have laws on the books making divorce difficult, and they will soon be joined by Oklahoma, Kansas, and Alabama. Three evangelical Republicans signed a pledge in 2011 for Christian organization Family Leader denouncing divorce and support forcing couples to suffer through a “cooling off period.” Evangelical Republicans love signing pledges to Christian organizations and Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum all signed on to support forcing couples to suffer an evangelical-prescribed waiting period before getting a divorce; regardless it is dangerous for a woman.
Religious conservatives pushing for “divorce reform” (read banning divorce) are having success in Republican-controlled states where Republicans are repeatedly introducing measures to constrain the practice and force marriages. The Republicans justify intervening in Americans’ personal lives with the Christian bible where god says “In God’s wise plan, when you married, the two of you became one person in his sight. And what does he want? Godly children from your union” (Malachi 2:15). They also validate their evangelical intervention with social nonsense such as divorce reduces worker productivity and warn of financial harm because two households are more expensive to maintain than one. They will use any nonsense to force marriage including religious right Republicans Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan proffering the bizarre notion that the solution to America’s overwhelming poverty problem is more marriages, except for gays.
According to a Family Research Council forced-marriage brochure, “Deterring Divorce,” forcing women to suffer a waiting period is “fairer to the spouse who is being left,” and since women are twice as likely as men to seek a divorce the FRCs motivation is clear; studies show that making divorce less accessible harms women most. According to a Stanford University study in 2003, women have benefitted from no-fault divorces because domestic violence was reduced by a third in just 10 years, the number of husbands convicted of murdering their wives fell by 10%, and the incidence of women in bad marriages committing suicide declined by up to 19%. A more recent report from the Center for American Progress and Maria Shriver revealed that only 28% of divorced women said they wished they had stayed married but it is unclear if they wanted to stay married to the same person or just wanted to be married. Maybe those women regretting their decision to divorce a man they really wished they had not divorced never heard of remarriage; it remains legal in all 50 states. Actually, only about 6% of divorced couples ever remarry.
Evangelical Republicans are engaging in Christian paternalism yet again. Christian paternalism is the practice on the part of theocrats in the Republican Party of restricting the freedom and responsibilities of those they believe are subordinate to them supposedly in the subordinates’ best interest; whether they like it or not. For Republicans who scream they are against big government interfering in Americans lives, they are rapidly expanding the government to achieve Christian conservatives’ ends. Republicans and their religious right masters regard marriage, heterosexual marriage, as an evangelical conservative institution and they seriously believe that married straight couples are the best defense against big government. One way or another, Republicans are Hell-bent and duty-bound to impose a religious right public policy that encourages the creation and forced perpetuation of married straight couples and any policy digressing from that goal, whether it is same-sex marriage or no-fault divorce, is antagonistic to the conservative institution and only through evangelical government oppression will they preserve their sick conservative Christian institution.
The big appeal to militia members and conservatives to rush to ready for armed rebellion in Nevada was opposition to a tyrannical and oppressive government, but how much more oppressive can government possibly be than to force two people, especially women in abusive marriages, to stay in a marriage against their will. The only thing a government could do to be more oppressive than forcing women to stay in a marriage would be forcing them to give birth against their will, and evangelical Republicans are quietly using legislation to achieve both goals by forcing women to stay in marriages because the bible tells them that what god wants most is “Godly children from your union.”
There are too many Americans inclined to roll their eyes when warned that the religious right is in a crusade to oppress the all the citizens of this country, and plenty of people think evangelicals will only restrict women’s reproductive health choices or same-sex couple’s right to marry, but there are no groups immune to their deviant biblical machinations. It is likely most Americans never thought, for one second, that religious right Republicans would seek to end divorce in this country for the Family Research Council or the National Organization of Marriage, but they are about to learn they are sadly, and tragically, mistaken. Whether it was the Heritage Foundation telling women aggressive feminists deceived women who are miserable getting paid to work when all they really want is to get married and give birth, or Republicans selling heterosexual marriage as the only solution to halt poverty, there is a concerted effort to force women to either get married or stay in an abusive marriage. Are they really convinced their bovine excrement reasons for seeking to ban divorce are legitimate? It does not matter one iota because to further their religious right plans to dominate Americans, Republicans will go to any lengths and banning no-fault divorce is just one in a long list of ways they will use oppressive government to control Americans’ lives.
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.