The Risks of Theocracy in America

Many blogs are celebrating this weekend with a blogswarm against theocracy. Ed Brayton joined the swarm with a warning against over-generalization in seeing the threat of theocracy. There is danger that a blogswarm against theocracy could be seen as unnecessarily paranoid as technically we are not faced with a theocracy–at least not yet. There are, however, areas in which the separation of church and state is breaking down which we are justifiably concerned about.

Religion has intruded upon policy decisions. The President believes chose him to be President and advised him to go to war in Iraq. Some have also claimed that Rumsfeld’s decisions on the war were also inspired by God.

In education the most obvious problem has been the attempts to sneak in teaching on creationism (even if called intelligent design) and limit teaching of evolution. However it is not only biology that faces attacks. Religious fundamentalists attack established science on cosmology when they disagree about the origins of the universe, and object to geology when they disagree over the age of the earth. Many believe that dinosaurs and humans coexisted. The Bush administration has even backed religious fundamentalists who object to the geological age of the Grand Canyon, preferring the view that it was created in the biblical flood. Many Republicans insist upon teaching abstinence-based sex education in place of effective sex education.

Health care is impacted by religious fundamentalism in areas from abortion rights to stem cell research. Republicans have attempted to set by legislation the moment when a fetus can feel pain regardless of the medical facts. Some pharmacists are refusing to provide Plan B based upon their religious beliefs. Religious views led to government intervention in personal end of life decisions in the Terri Schiavo case. It is likely that religious views play a part in the opposition of many conservatives to medicinal use of marijuana. Some even believe prayer is an effective form of medical care.

We may not have a theocracy, but religious views are intruding in many areas where they do not belong, and polls have repeatedly shown a dangerous ignorance of science in this country as a result of religious fundamentalism.

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