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…
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.