Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Examining theocracy in America

Ruth Conniff has an interesting column on it over at Progressive Magazine. It's a little thin though; I wished it were longer. Here are some highlights and money quotes:

The new theocrats make much of the fact that the actual words "separation of church and state" do not appear in the Constitution. (But then neither do the words "religious liberty" or "fair trial," counters Leo Pfeffer, as cited on the pro-separation home page cited above.) The framers' intent is very clear. The actual language about a wall of separation come from Thomas Jefferson's letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, written in 1802:

"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."
[snip]

For people who argue that just because (unlike the Iraqi constitution) the United States of America prohibits the imposition of a state religion, that doesn't mean our government is not meant to derive its ultimate legitimacy from God, there is Article VI, Section III:

". . . but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
[snip]

The new theocrats like to invoke a kind of phony traditionalism, based on nostalgia, when they argue that the founding fathers support their own, revisionist idea of American history and America's place in the world. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, this Administration is continually violating the founders' vision of America, whether it is taking war-making powers from Congress and improperly bestowing them on the President, spying on American citizens to thwart a vague and amorphous terrorist threat, chilling free speech with threatening language about national security, or declaring that America is a Christian nation with a mission to bring its philosophy, at gunpoint, to the rest of the world.

Article here.

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