Americans have long been in denial that there is a movement in the U.S. that seeks to impose a Christian theocratic government; that there is a movement that is effectively using the tools of constitutional democracy, (also known as elections) to end constitutional democracy as we know it; that this movement is growing in number and power. It can’t happen here, we reassure ourselves. Americans won’t let it happen. But in fact, we are closer now than we have ever been, to “it” happening here.
But I have good news. The darkness of denial, and the business-as-usual view that has enshrouded the entire political spectrum; the darkness of a blind-eye turned towards the looming threat of the end of the American experiment; the darkness, the darkness… is lifting.
The lights are coming on in America.
And one very bright light has just clicked on. An editorial in today’s New York Times suggests that those of us who have been sounding the alarm about this were not alarmist. The danger is real, and the time for action is now. The Times descibes Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s effort to squelch all Democratic ability to block unqualified and/or extreme judicial nominations as part of a theocratic religious war against constitutional democracy. The Times is properly alarmed by Frist’s decision to participate in a national Chrsitian Right teleconference that describes those who oppose some of president George Bush’s judicial nominations as opponents of Christianity.
The Times‘ headline is “Bill Frist’s Religious War.” The temptation might be to call this editorial hyperbole, but it is not. Key strategists of the Christian Right have believed all along that what they were about is “religious war.” To be able to enlist the Senate majority leader (they have already got the House majority leader), a man who also aspires to the presidency, is a major step forward. The Christian Right has framed it’s battles as against the supposed religion of “secular humanism,” but this was always a straw man. It was and is a war of agression being waged by a certain coalition of rightist Christians who hold to overlapping notions of Christian theocracy. They share a common cause in their desire to demolish the wall of separation between church and state, and to be able to utilize taxpayer money and public institutions and infrastructure to build their movement to a position of unassailable and permanent power in the United States.
But there comes a point when it is no longer possible for anyone who is awake, or thinking about waking, to turn away from the simple fact that Christian theocrats are the dominant faction in both houses of Congress. There are many in Congress in both parties that are unable or unwilling to stand up to this. The days of denial are over. It is time for Americans who believe in the survival of constitutional democracy to come to the aid of their country.
It is not my habit to post an article or editorial in its entirety. But I hope the Times will forgive me in this instance.
“Right-wing Christian groups and the Republican politicians they bankroll have done much since the last election to impose their particular religious views on all Americans. But nothing comes close to the shameful declaration of religious war by Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, over the selection of judges for federal courts.”
“Senator Frist is to appear on a telecast sponsored by the Family Research Council, which styles itself a religious organization but is really just another Washington lobbying concern. The message is that the Democrats who oppose a tiny handful of President Bush’s judicial nominations are conducting an assault “against people of faith.” By that, Senator Frist and his allies do not mean people of all faiths, only those of their faith.”
“It is one thing when private groups foment this kind of intolerance. It is another thing entirely when it’s done by the highest-ranking member of the United States Senate, who swore on the Bible to uphold a Constitution that forbids the imposition of religious views on Americans. Unfortunately, Senator Frist and his allies are willing to break down the rules to push through their agenda – in this case, by creating what the senator knows is a false connection between religion and the debate about judges.”
“Senator Frist and his backers want to take away the sole tool Democrats have for resisting the appointment of unqualified judges: the filibuster. This is not about a majority or even a significant number of Bush nominees; it’s about a handful with fringe views or shaky qualifications. But Senator Frist is determined to get judges on the federal bench who are loyal to the Republican fringe and, he hopes, would accept a theocratic test on decisions.”
“Senator Frist has an even bigger game in mind than the current nominees: the next appointments to the Supreme Court, which the Republican conservatives view as their best chance to outlaw abortion and impose their moral code on the country.”
“We fully understand that a powerful branch of the Republican Party believes that the last election was won on “moral values.” Even if that were true, that’s a far cry from voting for one religion to dominate the entire country. President Bush owes it to Americans to stand up and say so.”
[Crossposted from FrederickClarkson.com ]