Robert Stacy McCain, in discussing Robert Knight’s column, writes “In the secular world of modern intellectualism, it is too easy to forget that not everyone is secular, worldly or modern.” Actually with one of the major political parties in this country becoming outright theocratic and desiring to deny our First Amendment rights to separation of church and state, this is something we never forget. We are often shocked to see such views expressed in 21st century America. In his column entitled We’re smarter than God, Robert Knight (author of Radical Rulers: The White House Elites Who Are Pushing America Toward Socialism) falls back on religious views to justify discrimination against homosexuals.
It is easy for the authoritarian right to accept Knight’s argument as McCain does since “more than 97% of Americans are heterosexual.” It is not justified to use one’s religious views to promote government restrictions upon the rights of any minority, regardless of how small.
Knight and McCain are convinced that god is on their side in opposing homosexuality and preservation of discrimination against gays in the military. Knight writes:
Those of us who believe that God created male and female and that sex outside marriage – adultery, fornication and homosexuality – is wrong and harmful, are just not being intelligent. It’s apparently not enough to love friends and family who are into homosexuality; we have to love the behavior that threatens their bodies and souls.
The problem with this view is that the world is full of many people with many views as to the nature of god, whether there is a god, and if there is a god what god actually believes about human conduct. No side in such debates has any real evidence and it all comes down to one’s opinion. The founding fathers recognized this when they devised a secular government with separation of church and state.
In secular America, everyone is entitled to their religious views but religious views are to never be the justification for government policy. Constitutional scholar and then candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination Barack Obama expressed such a theocratic position during the CNN/You Tube debate in 2007, arguing “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.” Obama also discussed separation of church and state when interviewed by CBN in 2007:
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.
Whatever we once were, we’re no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of non-believers. We should acknowledge this and realize that when we’re formulating policies from the state house to the Senate floor to the White House, we’ve got to work to translate our reasoning into values that are accessible to every one of our citizens, not just members of our own faith community.
Those who believe homosexuality is morally wrong are free to refrain from homosexual relations but do not have the right to impose this view upon others. Even many who are religious agree that we should not impose our views upon others. McCain expresses a bizarre and nonexistent fear in writing, “Homosexuality may no longer forbidden, but it is not mandatory — yet.”
When Republicans pursue policies based upon religious views there is certainly a difference in degree but morally they are no different than the Taliban or any other group supporting theocracy and opposing the modern world. Such a tremendous difference in world views is also something we must remember when Obama and other Democrats sometimes pursue policies we disagree with. Most people will never agree with any political party on all issues, but that is a different matter from opposing the overall theocratic worldview held by the authoritarian right.