A brief history of theocracy in the United States and the totalitarian dangers it poses
What would an American Theocracy look like? If you want an idea, look no further than our elected Republican and Tea Party representatives. In recent decades, the right-wing has waged a personal war on America’s secular form of government and have attempted to shred the 1st amendment separation of religion and state. We can all see signs of theocratic tendencies within America’s religious right, which has caused drastic and possibly dangerous consequences for our secular Republic.
The Religious Right in America has been on the rise since the 1980’s, beginning with the so-called “moral majority” movement which was spearheaded by men like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. Overtime the religious right has sought to eliminate the secular barrier in government protected by the 1st amendment. As Falwell once stated “The idea that religion and politics don’t mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country.”
This belief has grown very strong among religious conservatives, so much so that they are now re-writing history (in more ways than one). It is well established that the founding fathers, especially the more famous ones, were mainly deists and not Christians in the evangelical sense.
Thomas Jefferson kept a personal bible in which he not only removed the entire Old Testament, he also removed all divine references in the New Testament including all mentions of the divinity of Jesus. John Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli in 1797 which declared the US to be “not founded on the Christian religion.” Benjamin Franklin was practically agnostic when it came to religion, and even George Washington refused to take communion.
In spite of the well known deism of many of the founders, the religious right in America completely disregards these facts and instead has launched a campaign to rewrite history. In fact a certain sect of the Christian right known as “Dominionists” have stated that the founding fathers intended the United States to be founded as a Christian Theocracy and that the Constitution was framed directly after the Ten Commandments. Yes, they seriously believe this.
The danger here is that these ideas are not just relegated to fringe groups, but in fact have gained wide traction among conservatives in America. Texas has in recent years altered its public school textbooks in order to spread this type of theocratic propaganda espoused by the religious right. For example, some Texas school books are teaching students about end-times theology and Genesis creationism.
It is very important to note that the religious right is not basing its theocratic tendencies on rational fact and understanding. Chris Hedges, a former foreign correspondent of the New York Times, wrote a book titled American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America in which he spelled out in detail the doctrines and dangers of the religious right. One solid point Hedges made was about the mode of belief over truth in the Christian right, which he spelled out as such in the book;
“In the promulgation of a totalitarian belief system, at first we are told we all have a right to an opinion, in short, a right to believe anything. Soon, under iron control of an empowered totalitarian movement, facts become worthless, kept or discarded according to an ideological litmus test. Lies become true. And once the totalitarians are in power, facts are ruthlessly manipulated or kept hidden to support the lie.”
What Hedges has laid out is not an original observation, however he manages to summarize very well the mindset of the religious right in so many ways. Indeed, when one looks closely at the religious right you will see a totalitarian apparatus and mindset spread among them. Facts are worthless unless they support well established religious dogma.
Believe me, if the 1st amendment did not clearly separate Church and State, conservatives would have imposed a State (Christian) Religion a long time ago and perhaps we would today be living in a world very similar to Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale. For those not familiar with the novel, it gives a frighteningly accurate look at the type of system a Christian Theocracy in America would impose if given the chance.
Many states in America have seen the gradual progression of an American theocratic ideology pushed upon them. One by one, christian conservatives plan to take over local governments and have it serve as a domino effect to topple the separation of church in state.
North Carolina for example recently attempted to outright nullify the 1st Amendment to establish an official State Religion. As a parting shot to all religious theocrats, I will post the 1st Amendment’s clauses on religion to show how demonstrably clear the separation of church and state is;
-“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
– “No religious test hall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”