Republican Bloggers Look In Wrong Direction When Warning of Theocracy

The hypocrisy of Republicans is just amazing. Most of the time they complain about the evils of secular liberals. Therefore you would think they would be happy if a Democrat speaks of religion. Ed Morrissey claims that a theocracy is coming under Obama because Michelle Obama made a vague reference to religion in a speech. She said (emphasis from Morrissey):

That is why I am here, because Barack Obama is the only person in this who understands that. That before we can work on the problems, we have to fix our souls. Our souls are broken in this nation.

This is hardly a threat of a theocracy. This threat is particularly absurd in light of the number of times Obama has defended separation of church and state–a fundamental concept of the founding fathers which many Republicans deny. In contrast John McCain has erroneously claimed that the United States was formed as a Christian nation.

I most recently quoted Obama on separation of church and state yesterday:

For my friends on the right, I think it would be helpful to remember the critical role that the separation of church and state has played in preserving not only our democracy but also our religious practice. Folks tend to forget that during our founding, it wasn’t the atheists or the civil libertarians who were the most effective champions of the First Amendment. It was the persecuted minorities, it was Baptists like John Leland who didn’t want the established churches to impose their views on folks who were getting happy out in the fields and teaching the scripture to slaves.

It was the forbearers of Evangelicals who were the most adamant about not mingling government with religious, because they didn’t want state-sponsored religion hindering their ability to practice their faith as they understood it. Given this fact, I think that the right might worry a bit more about the dangers of sectarianism.

I’ve also quoted Obama on separation of church and state many other times, such as after the CNN/You Tube Debate:

OBAMA: I am proud of my Christian faith. And it informs what I do. And I don’t think that people of any faith background should be prohibited from debating in the public square.

OBAMA: But I am a strong believer in the separation of church and state, and I think that we’ve got to translate…

(APPLAUSE)

By the way, I support it not just for the state but also for the church, because that maintains our religious independence and that’s why we have such a thriving religious life.

But what I also think is that we are under obligation in public life to translate our religious values into moral terms that all people can share, including those who are not believers. And that is how our democracy’s functioning, will continue to function. That’s what the founding fathers intended.

When speaking about faith based programs, Obama has stated, “I am much more concerned with maintaining the line between church and state.”

This hardly sounds like someone who is threatening theocracy, while the Republicans have given many reasons to have such concerns. Conservative challenges to abortion rights, funding of stem cell research, intrusion in end of life decisions in the Terri Schiavo case, and opposition to the rights of homosexuals are the most prominent examples in recent years of Republicans basing public policy decisions on their religious views. Republicans have also attempted to set by legislation the moment when a fetus can feel pain regardless of the medical facts.

In education there have 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.

If Morrissey is really concerned about theocracy he needs to look at his own party instead.

Update: Ed Morrissey responds:

Ron at Liberal Values implies that I’m a hypocrite. Ron’s a good guy, but he’s wrong. People rely on their values to formulate policy, and religious values are just as legitimate as others for that purpose. People who claim to know the status of my soul and promise that they can fix it through government intervention — on either side of the aisle — explicitly have crossed a line, not to mention exhibited arrogance in diagnosing the status of my soul.

Personally I would have left out any mention of the status of one’s soul from a political speech, preferring the Arnold Vinick policy on mixing politics and religion. However this does not mean that Obama intends to fix anyone’s soul through government intervention, which is made quite clear in Obama’s many statements on separation of church and state.

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14 Comments

  1. 1
    Mike K says:

    You completely missed his point. If you have a theocracy, you don’t need churches. The church is the White House. In fact, the religion of the left has been global warming and environmentalism for several decades. Obama just wants to be the savior.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Mike,

    There was a time when conservatives understood the importance of preserving the envirnoment.

    With regards to global warming, Obama follows the scientific consensus. If there is a religious view on global warming, it is the view of global warming deniers who ignore the scientific consensus when it contradicts their ideology/religion. Not surprisingly, there is a tremendous overlap between global warming deniers and those who deny evolutionary biology.

  3. 3
    Thomas Jackson says:

    There appears to be a huge overlap between those who are altair boys at the Church of Secularism and those who proffer sacrifcice to the Gods of Global Warming. There is no agreement on global warming. If there is name one European or Asian government to put the Kyoto Accords into effect. Perhaps Albania or Mongolia, eh, no, not even those enlightened places, must be that overwhelming agreement.

    But we can all rejoice in the saving of our souls if we only acknowledge Osama as our savior.

    Praise Osama.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    There most certainly is scientific consensus on global warming, and this is hardly limited to secularists (which is not a church). Secularism is what allows you to attend whatever church you choose to in this country, free of any government involvement.

    Your statement regarding Kyoto is total nonsense. There is a difference between a consensus on the science and having either a consensus or the political will with regards to a solution.

  5. 5
    Mike K says:

    Ron, the consensus you describe is driven by funding. Canadian researchers are trying to get funding for a study of the Sun’s magnetic flux which may be entering a Maunder Minimum. They are having trouble getting the funding because politics dictates what is funded. If we are entering a Maunder Minimum we may face an ice age in the next decade or two. I think you might look into this a bit more. The fact that Al Gore, who flunked out of a couple of colleges, got a Nobel Prize is one example of the theocratic nature of the global warming issue. Educate yourself at places like this There are going to be some embarrassed scientists if this is true. Here is another example of a science hysteria that is now looking like a mistake. Maybe the epidemic of type II diabetes we’ve had the past 30 years is a result of the low fat diet craze. Once again, the consensus was settled. Except it was wrong.

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    It is certainly possible for the scientific consensus to be wrong, but even if this were to turn out to be the case it would be incorrect to label those who respect the scientific consensus as being followers of a religion.

    I hope you are right and the scientific consensus on global warming is wrong, or at least exaggerated. However I note to great a tendency among conservatives to accept any criticism of the science, regardless of how week, in order to support their desires.

    I’m not very impressed by the site you link to. Scientific issues are best resolved in peer reviewed journals, not on web sites which have a political agenda. Using such sites as a source is far more analogous to following a religion than respecting the scientific consensus is.

  7. 7
    Mike K says:

    Ron, did you notice the backgrounds of any of the participants of that site ? At my university, casual discussions are often the source of new knowledge, which is later published in peer-reviewed journals. What about this guy ? He is a meteorologist and founded the Weather Channel, a prominent source of GW hysteria. All i ask is an open mind. For every creationist, there is a GW hysteric who opposes funding for research that might contradict the scientist, Al Gore. This story is getting very little play in the media. The point is not that it may show a cooling trend but that these scientists are having trouble getting funding.

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:

    John Coleman? He’s hardly a credible source. This is a perfect example of latching on to anything or anyone who supports your preconceptions.

  9. 9
    David Drissel says:

    Christian conservatives are the ones who promote theocracy. They are the ones who are constantly trying to amend the Constitution on this or that issue simply because they have some sort of “moral” or scriptural compunction to do so. They are theocratic because of their irrational dogmatic attitude on a whole range of issues – not even recognizing that there are shades of gray in human behavior. They promote moral absolutes on issues such as abortion, gay rights, vocal prayer in school, stem cell research, etc. Such conservatives are at war with science over global warming and evolution, despite massive amounts of evidence to the contrary.

    In contrast, liberal Christians such as Obama and Al Gore are influenced to some extent by their religious beliefs, but do not attempt to dictate public policy based solely on those beliefs. They are not exclusionary in their politics – just the opposite, since they strive to achieve consensus. Yes, they often take strong positions on public policy issues, but those stands are informed first and foremost by rational observation and research, not merely theological dogma.

  10. 10
    Mike K says:

    I was going to post that we had a nice debate until I saw you revert to the cliche’ about Coleman. Christian conservatives, first, are mostly not conservatives. They are social conservatives because they worry about the education of their children. I am agnostic but send my kids to religious schools to get a bit of discipline and logic. Dictation of public policy involves overturning millennia of social values to satisfy faddish fashions. Gay marriage is attractive to about 2% of gays who, in turn, are about 4% of the population. I am suspicious of people like Andrew Sullivan because I doubt his agenda. I think he, and some of his disciples, want to try to force Catholic Church acceptance of their life style by threats to tax exemption. Otherwise, why refuse civil unions, which would satisfy 99% of their desires?

    For the rest, I believe that fundamentalist Christians are in defensive mode and the angry left knows this but will not acknowledge it. Rational observation is in the eye of the beholder. Regards,

  11. 11
    Ron Chusid says:

    Gay marriage is directly a concern to only a small percentage of the population however it is the principle which matters, not the number affected. Discrimination and denial of rights to a group is wrong, regardless of the number affected. They should not have to settle for less, and it is far from clear that civil unions would satisfy 99% of their desires. The concept of separate but equal hasn’t worked out so well.

    It is hardly a cliche about Coleman. He makes claims which are contrary to the scientific evidence and lacks credentials in the field. A weatherman is hardly an expert on climate change and citing him just plays on the ignorance of the general population with regards to these distinctions.

  12. 12
    David Drissel says:

    Ron, I’m glad you pointed out that same sex marriage is matter of principle. It is a human rights issue which actually impacts millions of people in the U.S. everyday. Even if the 2-4 percent figures that Mike K cites is correct, he fails to note that we are still talking about a segment of the population that is greater in number than American Jews, Muslims, Native Americans, etc. Would Mike K deny civil liberties to any of these groups simply because of their relatively small size?

    You know, interracial marriage was against the law in many states until 1967. At the time that the Supreme Court ended all bans on interracial marriage in 1967, public opinion polls showed that a majority of Americans favored such bans. But as our founders noted, the majority is sometimes wrong. Many conservatives such as Mike K seem to favor a tyranny of the majority on the same sex marriage issue.

    Civil unions are not sufficient, since such unions are not transferable from state to state and also do no include many of the rights and privileges of marriage. Besides, the days of “separate but equal” should be long gone. No one is trying to “force” anything on the Catholic Church. I would be the first to defend any Church’s right to perform or not perform any type of ritual – including marriage rites. But that’s not the issue. We are talking here about government-issued marriage licenses that confer hundreds of legal and economic benefits on couples. To deny such couples those rights and privileges simply because of their gender or sexual orientation is discrimination pure and simple.

  13. 13
    Sarah says:

    Mike K:

    I wish conservatives would realize that separation of church and state would PROTECT religious institutions from performing “same-sex” marriage.

    Oh, and the concept of rights apply to everybody – not just those in the “majority.”

    And logic in a religious institution? Please, don’t make me laugh. I feel sorry for your children if you plan on raising them with such ignorance.

    If you believed in logic and rationality, you would provide some credible EVIDENCE to your insane accusations against gays and lesbians.

    Plus, the definition of marriage has changed NUMEROUS times throughout the years. At one point, marriage meant a woman being owned by a man. A man once had the marital right to beat and rape his wife. Women were sold off by their fathers in ancient Germany. Marriage meant money in those times.

    The concept of marrying for love is a new concept. Are you opposed to that? It was an effect of the Enlightenment, by the way. In late 17th century Virginia, Protestant ministers warned against married couples who loved each other too much. They were even against pet names.

    It might shock you to know that it was Martin Luther – yes, Martin Luther – who made marriage a secular institution. It was the PURITANS who brought the concept of marriage as a secular institution to the United States.

    African-Americans were not allowed to marry until after the Civil War. Interracial marriage wasn’t allowed until the Supreme Court ruled so, in the 1960s.

    So, are you opposed to all these changes? Or do you prefer to be ignorant about history? Pick up a book by Stephanie Coontz (she covers all of the topic above, btw) and make an attempt to educate yourself.

    PS – It was legal to form a homosexual union in medieval France.

  14. 14
    Brett says:

    The separation shouldn’t prevent people of faith (pastors) from speaking out on public issues ( http://blogs.pioneerlocal.com/religion/ ). That is not a right wing or left wing thing either. People of faith come from all spectrums, and faith informs their decisions.

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