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by Brian McKay

“ Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”

 

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Photo courtesy of Flickr

  • THOMAS JEFFERSON, WALL OF SEPARATION LETTER TO THE DANBURY BAPTIST CHURCH

It’s pretty well known by those of us outside of the evangelical circles that separation of church and state is a thing. We also seem to be the ones that don’t wish to revise history to support the idea of predominance over others and justification of hypocrisy.

Did you know that the first 5 of 6 Presidents didn’t believe in the divinity of Christ? The verdict is still out on Monroe. Jefferson pretended to be religious to motivate the populous and often agonized about his duplicity. Paine and Franklin outright hated religion. Yet, we see a man close to winning an election for the Senate that is both a pedophile and declares that this was founded as a religious country. The conservative think tank, Heritage Action, proclaims that separation of church and state is a myth. Trump voters have declared his election as ordained by God.

Really? God ordained vile, narcissism and misogynistic to lead a country? What the fuck is wrong with these people?

“ACCUSTOM A PEOPLE TO BELIEVE THAT PRIESTS OR ANY OTHER CLASS OF MEN CAN FORGIVE SINS, AND YOU WILL HAVE SINS IN ABUNDANCE.”

  • THOMAS PAINE

There is actually an answer to that question. They don’t truly believe anymore unless it suits them and when it does it is replete with pure hypocrisy. The goal has become a theocracy and every delusion will be accepted in order to complete that goal. Their teachings of Jesus be damned. Violation of them is completely acceptable and justified. Only the violence of the Old Testament matters now. Forgiveness from a deity has become the excuse to allow debauchery and justify sin.

How did this happen?

The eighties saw the ascension of Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority that was founded in 1979. That period also saw it dissolved but it had a tremendous impact. The Moral Majority was the first organization to mobilize Christian Conservatives in concert with the Republican Party. Reagan repeatedly referenced God and brought religious concerns into government as a political need to cater to this new political power base. The lines were getting blurred.

The Moral Majority became a force mostly centered in the south, as would be expected. Its goal was enactment of moral law and included the political positions of opposition to abortion (in all situations), homosexuality, media outlets and, even, the Equal Rights Amendment. It promoted prayer in schools, conversion of Jews and non-Christians to Christianity and a traditional view of family life where the wife was subservient to the man of the house. The organization was well funded and well organized. Much of its focus was on taking over lower level political positions on school boards and the state level.

While the decision of Roe v. Wade, the sexual revolution, the advent of VHS pornography and removal of prior morality laws, had created the Moral Majority, it dissolved in 1989. Cash flow problems, challenges from liberal groups and even other evangelical leaders had brought it down.

In the 80’s, an adherence to religion wouldn’t have allowed for a President Trump. Now, in the 2010’s, Reagan wouldn’t survive the ultra-conservative political climate no matter how much he is idolized by them.

And Here We Are

The removal of the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine by Reagan in 1987 created a new political climate with the arrival of Rush Limbaugh and, later, Sean Hannity and Fox News in the 90’s. No longer did they actually have to be “fair and balanced”. Fear of science, Islam and expanding sexual rights gave way to God and Country like never before. The Tea Party returned morality to the forefront of political demands. The southern and interior states now exercised considerable control over the entire country due to electoral structures that disproportionately empowered conservative, rural voters.

The election of Barack Obama, who they considered a Muslim, and the accompanying conspiracy theories proffered by the far-right media, created a more emboldened, further right and active Republican base. Stories of FEMA concentration camps for Christians were honestly accepted by many of them. Add in the disaffection of blue collar workers due to jobs being automated away, an economy moving to finance over production and a massive recession that further set back a middle class that hadn’t seen real wages increase in 30 years, put us in this fucked up situation.

“PERSECUTION IS NOT AN ORIGINAL FEATURE IN ANY RELIGION; BUT IT IS ALWAYS THE STRONGLY MARKED FEATURE OF ALL RELIGIONS ESTABLISHED BY LAW.”

  • THOMAS PAINE

A recent poll showed that evangelicals see themselves as the most persecuted populations in America. They see themselves as even more persecuted than Muslims and the LGBTQ community. As such, the term “culture war” is now commonplace among them. That America is moving away from organized religion in its younger generations, has served to scare old and white America like never before.

So now we have Trump and Roy Moore. Christian conservatives will frequently brand liberals as immoral and ethically defunct, while exalting anyone that claims to desire the return of Christian values to America. Evangelical church leaders regularly pray over Trump in the Oval Office. Pat Robertson declares the President as sent by God to a country that has lost its way. Roy Moore claims that “religious liberty comes from God’s law, and not the Constitution” while also professing that Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to serve in Congress. For Moore, his religious beliefs come before the rule of law and his supporters are happy to even justify sexual activity with children to get him elected in deeply religious Alabama.

That both Trump and Moore have denied credible stories of sexual impropriety and are so openly excepted in the evangelical community, shows us what it is now really about.

Now it’s about power. Having their religion represented at all levels of government and a judiciary stacked with ultra conservative judges, are the end game. The contingent that claims moral superiority while sending seed money to televangelists, will move to utter denial of or excuses for reprehensible behavior just to achieve power. Morality is now about control of others.

As an atheist, a day could come where my reality is a hanging offense. The show A Handmaids Tale is honestly scary. Creationism could usurp science in schools. Debate class could be about the significance of stories in a 3000-year-old book, written by sheep herders, that include rape, mass murder and incest. Businesses could wholesale deny services to members of the LGBTQ community. Discrimination would be normalized while the voting rights of women are rolled back. Back alley abortions would return with the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

The people that see themselves as the most persecuted in America will now gladly deny their candidate’s pedophilia in order to dictate law to everyone else.

They may think Islam is the greatest threat to American democracy, but I see the biggest threat and it is them.

Vote. Participate and save rationality.

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