Tag Archives: church/state

An Old Ghost Could Come Back to Haunt

jesus-flag1If you were paying attention, you may have noticed a shift in the orientation of the bills coming out of the Republican-controlled state legislatures in the past few months. As with the recently vetoed bill in Arizona, they increasingly use the term “religious freedom” to justify intolerance and bigotry. Much of this pandering on social issues is to give their voters a reason to support them at the polls, and continue to vote against their own interests. They were doing very well using the old “family values” ploy to do this for so many years, so one might wonder what’s behind this new framing.

The right has long used religious freedom to fight various aspects of Obama’s healthcare plan, make changes to the educational system, and justify the oppression of women. Now it is the go-to excuse for most issues. All of these measures are unconstitutional, regardless of the justification for them—every single one. Even the present Supreme Court has refused to allow any of these measures to remain law. In light of that, why do they keep bringing them up and passing them, and why do the voters keep supporting them? What do they have to gain? Continue reading

New Atheism, Accommodationism, and Humanism in a World Gone Mad – Part One

My Humanist group, “Humanists & Freethinkers of Cape Fear,” has invited me to be their speaker at the regular monthly meeting on Sunday afternoon, May 8th at 5 PM.  I was going to be in town anyway, and they could get me cheap, so they decided to take another chance and let me address them again. The last time I spoke there was two years ago, when I addressed the question of whether or not America was founded to be a Christian nation. With everything that’s happened in the last two years, it seems like a minor point, almost a moot question. Anyhow, as I have to write another paper for the group, I thought I might as well serialize it here on this blog as I haven’t used it for months. The first part, presented here, is the abstract for the talk. There will be more material here, over the weeks to come, then I will have time to present to the group in May.

If some modern “Rip Van Winkle” went to sleep two years ago, just after I made my last presentation to you on the “Christian Nation” question, what do you think would be their impression of the world we wake up to now? All that “hopey, changey” stuff is long gone, for most of us, replaced with fear, outrage, and uncertainty. Not only in the halls of Congress, but in State Houses all over the country, it seems that the bulwarks of democracy are being torn down, and with them, our First Amendment protections are being stripped by politicians eager to pander to their right-wing religious base.

Or are they? Who is it they are really pandering to? Is it the Religious Right, or is the Corporate Oligarchy who put them where they are, and does it make a difference as far as we’re concerned as Humanists? When you’re on the rack, does it matter who’s turning the screw and why? I would like to investigate the possibility that what’s going on in Congress and in the various States, is nothing but another diversion, as was the Astroturf, big business-funded “Tea Party,” designed to further divide us as Americans, and make us less likely to unite against those who would steal our remaining liberties. Continue reading

Another Great Asleepening

OK, I get it! I understand what Glen Beck is after, and if I’m right, he poses the greatest danger to the Constitution that it has faced in the history of the Republic. He has evidently decided he wants to be the Messiah who ushers-in the next great religious “awakening.” Although he stumbled upon this great mission because of some legal problems inherent in making his weekend rally political in nature, that does not diminish the force of his message, not only to the rabid christians who attended his little show, but also the millions who did not.

The message, of course, was that the only path leading to the salvation of this country, and the American way of life itself lies in returning to God! It was quite clear that secular government must give way to what the founders (all of them, according to David Barton) originally intended, which was nothing less than a government based upon the ten commandments and the moral principals revealed in holy scripture.

At the rally, Beck pretty much denounced the rhetoric he pounds over the airways all week long, on Saturday he talked about love, simpler times, returning to our founding principals, etc.. Gone was the hate and rabble-rousing he usually deals in, of course this behavior drives his critics nuts, but his supporters don’t even seem to notice. They see Beck (and Palin, of course) as being “just like them,” and to their most ardent supporters, they can do no wrong.

So, what’s the hitch? What’s the danger? Why is Beck supposedly more dangerous now then he was before? His hypocritical maneuver has inadvertently tapped into a huge reservoir of political strength – perhaps the greatest single potential political power in the country! His little show has, quite possibly, re-united the successful coalition of the socially and politically conservative, which goes way beyond what the Tea Party on its own had accomplished. Neither faction is totally happy with the current Republican party positions, but who the hell knows what they even are any more?

The Republican platform for the next two elections will be whatever their supporters want it to be. The corporations and special interests paying the bills could care less about the social or political issues in the elections, they only care about legislative positions, and their own bottom lines. As far as they’re concerned, a religious society is a compliant society, that is likely to go along with whatever adventure is presented to them, as long as it is presented as an outgrowth of American exceptionalism!

Make no mistake, if the Evangelicals get solidly behind the Republicans in the next election, and they succeed in obtaining majorities in one or both houses of Congress, in addition to the endless investigations they have promised, you will see the resurrection of some of the most heinous religiously-inspired legislation that has ever seen the light of day. The Constitution Restoration Act of 2005, for instance, would exempt from judicial review any decision made by any level state or local government if such decision was made because of their belief in a supreme being!

That little gem had many co-sponsors in Bush’s second term, but was shelved after the 2006 election. Expect to see it, and many others introduced in the next two years, and signed into law after Obama’s one term is over.

It will be interesting to see if Beck follows-through on what he started Saturday. Goodness knows that he and Palin used all the right code-words, those little verbal clues that so energize the Evangelicals, who are already convinced that our problems would all be cured if we would but turn back to (their) God, and accept (their interpretation of) his holy word.