Friday, May 06, 2005

Cross Blogging Question - Theocracy?

Theocracy: (n) A government ruled by or subject to religious

Cross Blogging's symposium this week addresses the too-oft heard charge that we "right wingers" are seeking to impose a theocracy on the rest of the nation. The impetus is this article written by Robert Kuttner.

The symposium asks the following questions, to which my responses are added.

1) Is the Religious Right trying to setup a Theocracy in America?
If I may be so bold, I don't think there is such a thing, really, as "the Religious Right." What I believe is that there are myriad people who have varying levels of conviction about issues that tend towards conservatism and practice, in one way or another, religion. I think the "left" (he says, making the same generalization he is now decrying) is mistaken when they lump all conservatives of a religious bent into a homogenous group. However, for the spirit of the question...the answer is "no." There is a distinct difference between advocating for certain issues and concerns and desiring that a priest or pastor head the nation. We should not be conflating religiously-motivated activism on issues with religiously-motivated activism for a church led government. The former happens all the time (even by secularists who don't want me to "force my beliefs on them" - and avoid this by forcing theirs on me!). The latter happens too rarely to recognize as a threat.

In addition, as I pointed out, the religious right is too fragmented to come up with a workable theocracy on which everyone would agree, let alone advocate for one.

2) Is the Religious Right trying to use the faith and beliefs of our Founding Fathers as just rhetoric?

As much as those who'd oppose them are, I guess. But some (on each side) have honest beliefs that the FF would agree with them. Each side tries to co-opt the FF, each side has some honest belief that the FF would disagree with the other side.

Is the Religious Right attempting to kill the independence of the Judiciary?

Can't speak for the entire RR, but I'm not. But then, the "independence of the Judiciary" is a somewhat misleading phrase. The judiciary is independent, but also constrained by checks and balances. Congress and the Executive branch are also independent, yet constrained. What I see most conservatives as trying to do is reclaim for Congress the role of legislators from the courts, who (allegedly) have usurped this legislative role under the guise of interpretation.

Is our Democracy under assault by the Religious Right?

Not that I can tell. Again, we need to be careful about conflating activism on certain issues with attacks on our government itself. This isn't about creating a theocracy; it's about how one group of people believes the Constitution should be interpreted, and about how another group reacts to the first. In fact, it's a sign our democracy is still strong that the RR is working within the system, as allowed by law and Senate rules, to act.

Should Politicians check our Faith at the door?

My, what a beautifully unconstitutional thought. Anyone holding this belief has serious need of a remedial course in the First Amendment. Politicians are as much citizens as anyone else, and as free as anyone else to inform their philosophy and politics from their worldview. What they cannot do is use their authority to establish a state church or force others to their religious point of view. But they can certainly use whatever philosophical tools they wish to arrive at answers on how to address certain issues.

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