Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Monday Sermon: Why We Must Keep The Wall Between Church And State To Tear Down The Walls Of Bigotry And Hatred

The most chilling thought about America's future is a Cindy Jacobs as President.
Some walls exist to keeps things in. Some walls exist to keep things out. But one wall stands to help other walls fall: the wall of separation between church and state. It keeps the bigots at bay and gives us time to assess their bigotry and belie their hatred.

There is a movement afoot to erase the separation of church and state: it's boldly proposed by the "lunatic fringe" - people like Cindy Jacobs who has fashioned herself and her colleagues as "New Apostles" (the NAR, or New Apostolic Reformation), but it's more prevalent in the "We Are A Christian Nation" circles headed by pseudo historian David Barton.

"We Are A Christian Nation" - therein lies the seeds to dark times ahead. For Dominionists like Barton neglect to insert an important word into the slogan: "only." America is to be a Christian ONLY nation: we caught a glimpse of the vehemence with which Dominionists and Reconstructionists hold their "truths to be self-evident" when Pastor Dennis Terry's introduction of Rick Santorum created a firestorm, telling liberals, atheists, Muslims, Buddhists to "Get Out!" Terry's subsequent backpedaling of "I was misquoted. I'm a Christian, so of course I love everyone," fell on deaf ears - only his congregation believed him.

It is ironic to think that the very reason for America's freedom of religion is the thing that today's Christian Right is trying to destroy: without separation of church and state there can be no freedom of religion, only freedom of a few Christian sects to worship the One True Religion. They say that wouldn't be so, but given an inch, and a mile of hatred for other sects, other religions would be taken: there would be nothing to stop them.

Perhaps the best reason for Separation of Church and State is that the fighting between Christian sects and denominations should be kept among themselves. We've already seen how - in disregarding the wall - candidates' "Christianity" has come into play and how, if left to certain denominations (like the Southern Baptist Convention), candidates would be disqualified simply because they are not "their" kind of Christian. They want to build a theocracy, but not on the shoulders of someone like Mitt Romney. Rick Santorum got as far as he did with his campaign simply because he painted himself as more righteous than the Catholic Church - something that pleased the Protestant Christian Right immensely.

The Wall, properly in place, would eventually disqualify the disqualifiers.

Jefferson, The Architect of The Wall

David Barton's latest tome, The Jefferson Lies has been widely criticized as one of the most disingenuous books ever written about Jefferson, valiantly trying to convince people that Jefferson was really VERY Christian, he could not have fathered Sally Hemmings' children and that - most importantly - he was never a critic of Christianity or religion. And never really meant that crazy idea about separation of church and state.

But some people have believed Barton's fictional look at our third President. It's considered a bestseller.*

The problem with Barton's revisionist history: quotes, especially Jefferson's. You can't change them, nor can you give them too much of a relativist slant. They're there for all the world to judge them on face value, and with Jefferson's quotes, with writings from the man who constructed the "Jefferson Bible" because he did not believe in the miracles of the New Testament, Jefferson himself belies any attempt to make him into a founder of a Christian Nation.

  • History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.
  • Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.
  • Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law. 
  • In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. 
  • (...and the one to which I identify most): Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus."
  • - Man once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind.
And the coup d' gras:
"I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology."
Back To Barton ... and his ilk.

The bigotry displayed by David these last several years is undeniable: when rendering everything good as "Biblical" and everything else bad as "secular" Barton has himself set up a wall of "Us vs Them" and ramped up religious bigotry to new levels:

Right Wing Watch:
Barton, who has warned the public schools are trying to “force” students “to be homosexual” through “homosexual indoctrination,” concurred with host Diana Crews said that she sees “Hitler” in “the likes of Kevin Jennings,” whom she claimed is promoting a “very dangerous that the agenda is really leading kids away from God.” He went on to attack California’s SB 48 and claim that textbooks there will teach kids the debated claims that George Washington Carver and Abraham Lincoln were gay, contending that “public schools are more into indoctrination than they are into truth or knowledge.”

How many are in Barton's group? Unfortunately, enough to make Freedom of Religion very difficult and put other freedoms (e.g. women's reproductive rights) in jeopardy. It's a group that could decide that any theocrat, no matter how inane, would be better than none - and a good start to establish a true Reconstructionist state.

Without a Wall of Separation Between Church and State, immense walls of bigotry could force us to face the fact that someone like Cindy Jacobs could indeed become President.

*The criterion for "bestseller" still stands at overall bookstore and online sales, regardless of any one group buying it en masse. If, for example, a book about the state of Texas were to become wildly popular with Texans, and sell, say 75,000 copies in one week, it could conceivably be termed a "national bestseller."

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