Thursday, July 14, 2005

Debunking Christian Nationalism, Cont.

Marci Hamilton, a constitutional lawyer has a fine commentary on Alternet in which she attacks the bogus history undergirding Christian Nationalism, one of the ideological building blocks of the theocratic Christian Right. She is understandably concerned about the clout the Christian Right will exercise in the selection of a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Here is some of what she wrote:

"This country was not founded on a single religious viewpoint, as the far right would have it, but rather on a wide diversity of religious beliefs. The current far right believers are reminiscent of the Puritans who settled what would become Massachusetts and who established their religion as the religion of the colony (and then the state). The Puritans believed in the right to believe whatever one wanted, so long as dissenters left their cities and communities. They believed in a religious culture controlled by the majority. Rhode Island was founded because of the Puritans' rank intolerance."

"Many of the dissenting Christians in Massachusetts were Baptists, whose charismatic preachers, including the Revs. Isaac Backus and John Leland, preached the separation of church and state. Backus declared that the "notion of a Christian commonwealth should be exploded forever" while Leland called established religions, 'all of them, anti-Christocracies.'"

"Yet, far right Christians today, many of them Baptists, have no respect for disestablishment principles. They are intent on removing barriers between government and religion, and, in fact, making government the servant to religion. They want their religious messages on courthouse walls, their theology in the science classrooms, their prayers in public schools, and their values to mandate constitutional policy. They even argue that Protestants are a majority and therefore have the right to have the government deliver their religious messages. This is their agenda for the next Supreme Court Justice."

I learned by reading the tag line on Hamilton's piece about her new book -- which sounds like a must read. Here is a bit more about it from the publisher's web site:

"God vs. the Gavel: Religion and the Rule of Law challenges the pervasive assumption that all religious conduct deserves constitutional protection. While religious conduct provides many benefits to society, it is not always benign. The thesis of the book is that anyone who harms another person should be governed by the laws that govern everyone else -- and truth be told, religion is capable of great harm."

"This may not sound like a radical proposition, but it has been under assault since the 1960s. The majority of academics and many religious organizations would construct a fortress around religious conduct that would make it extremely difficult to prosecute child abuse by clergy, medical neglect of children by faith healers, and other socially intolerable behaviors. This book intends to change the course of the public debate over religion by bringing to the public's attention the tactics of religious entities to avoid the law and therefore harm others. God vs. the Gavel will bring much-needed balance to the contemporary, heated debate about religion and its role in society."

Tip o' the Hat to Jesus Politics for alerting me to the post on Mainstream Baptist about Hamilton's article on Alternet. These blogs are increasingly important sources of information and analysis in the struggle with the theocratic Christian Right.

[Crossposted from]


Blogger Agent Tim said...

I highly disagree with this article, but that would be obvious due to the fact that I'm conservative, and a Republican, as well as a Christian. I know you don't have trackbacks on this site, so I wanted to leave you the link to my response, which is far to long for the comment section:

Or here

7:58 AM  

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