Tuesday, April 26

Stalking The Ellusive Theocrat

Michael Barone: Faith In Our Future?

If you read the headlines, you run the risk of thinking we are headed toward a theocracy.

Why do headline writers hate America? See, Michael, I gotta stop you right here. Let's agree that there are theocrats, okay, and that they are primarily clustered in your party. And further, let's ask ourselves where these scare headlines are (don't worry; I'm not expecting you to provide evidence or anything) and how they got there. They're there because those issues--gay marriage, Terri Schiavo, abortion, stem-cell research, the Ten Commandments on the courthouse lawn, the supposed persecution of Christians--are the issues of that faction. The forces of secularism did not put the Schiavo case on the front pages. Gay marriage, I admit, came about as the result of legal decisions and later of legislative ones. But who made it a religious issue? Not gays. I'd be happy if we declare all those matters of civil rights or privacy rights and take 'em out of the headlines all together. Are we agreed?

Of course we ain't. You want those issues, those votes, that source of funds. And you've recently come to realize they're a two-edged sword, so we get another lecture about how it couldn't possibly happen here. Just some "alarmists" talking.

But whether the United States is on its way to becoming a theocracy is actually a silly question. No religion is going to impose laws on an unwilling Congress or the people of this country.

Hey, Michael, if you're in the neighborhood this Sunday let's go get ourselves a couple of six packs, huh? Oh, I almost forgot, can't buy beer here on Sunday. Though I'm sure there's no religious significance in that.

C'mon, now. Who was holding those hoops for Bush and DeLay and Frist to jump through on the Schiavo case? If it's a silly question, then I'm sure the Republican party would have no qualms explaining that to the Dominionists. Next time around, I mean.

The real question is whether strong religious belief is on the rise in America and the world. Fifty years ago, secular liberals were confident that education, urbanization and science would lead people to renounce religion. That seems to have happened, if you confine your gaze to Europe, Canada and American university faculty clubs.

Okay, I said I wouldn't ask you for evidence. I didn't say no spit takes.

It is absolutely clear that in the past fifty years, by any measure you'd like to use, that religion has become less important to people in America. Church attendance and church membership are down. Religious tenets inform people's personal behavior much less than they did in 1955. The culture is much more secular. Fundamentalism and evangelicalism did enjoy a brief increase in the 1980s in the percentage of Christians who profess them, but that began to fall back a decade later and is still declining. The only place religion holds real sway is in the number of political operatives using it as a crutch.

And I'm not sure what the rest of the world has to do with American theocracy, unless you're planning on granting suffrage to South America. You aren't, are you?

But this movement has not been as benign as expected: The secular faiths of fascism and communism destroyed millions of lives before they were extinguished.

All right, that's the last invitation you're gonna get from me. Communism and fascism occurred in the last fifty years in America?

And while the argument itself is beneath contempt--certainly far beyond anything you Poor Persecuted Christians have had to endure--it's not without its unintentional humor in its development from wise-ass retort to semi-literate pronouncement. Because while the extent of the secularism of the Nazi party can be disputed, "fascism" sticks its hand in a rat trap while groping for some political schmierkase. Italy was fascist. Spain was fascist. And Catholic. Any second thoughts?


Anonymous said...

HANG on. Sunday = Football. Football = Beer. Football also = America. Why beer hasn't become sacramental is beyond me. What godless, America-hating part of the country do you live in?

Karen said...

Great entry - great blog, over all. :) And that picture your wife's students took is genius! :) Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

as for authoritarian/military-dominated governments in the western hemisphere, look south to central/south/latin america.

all settled by spain.