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Onward, Christian theocrats: the Yankee Taliban on the attack

“Our goal is a Christian nation,� says Terry. “We are called by God to conquer this country.�
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Onward, Christian theocrats: the Yankee Taliban on the attack

by Tamara A. Turner



There's no escape: religious moralism and promotion of Christianity are everywhere.
Turn to classical music on your radio and you'll be treated to an ad recruiting for a fundamentalist congregation in exurbia. Switch the dial to a news or talk station and you'll hear the latest diatribes against loose women, depraved homosexuals, treasonous liberals, and godless secular humanists.

Evangelicals like Randall Terry, founder of anti-abortion Operation Rescue, are endeavoring to accomplish nothing less than replacing the U.S. Constitution with biblical law. Intrinsic to their aim of creating an American Taliban is eliminating the separation between church and state, in tandem with a host of other freedoms and protections.

“Our goal is a Christian nation,� says Terry. “We are called by God to conquer this country.�

For corporate interests who must hold down the wages and conditions of workers and stifle dissent at home in order to compete against the European Union for world markets, the religious right is a literal godsend. It provides them the ideological cover they need to advance their objectives.


The wall comes tumbling down. The U.S. Constitution's First Amendment begins, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof....� Thomas Jefferson famously called this the “wall of separation� between church and state.

The wall has never been absolute. U.S. religious organizations, for example, enjoy tax-exempt status, worth an estimated $185 billion in annual revenue. Their combined assets now exceed $331 billion; one can only imagine what the fisherman of Galilee would think.

Today, however, religious extremists brazenly assert that the constitutional separation of church and state is a myth — “a lie introduced by Satan and fostered by the courts� according to Rick Scarborough, head of a group of “patriot pastors� and a close ally of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

The new crusaders are gaining ground in their efforts to openly shape public policy. They dominate in the executive and legislative branches of federal government, and their influence everywhere is spreading.

• Bush's “faith-based initiatives� pour billions into religious groups, although these organizations cannot supply even a fraction of the social services formerly provided by the government itself. The $20 billion allocated to them for the next 10 years is less than what the federal government used to spend annually on Aid for Dependent Children alone.

• The faith-based groups can refuse to hire gays, employ only Christians, and deny social services to anyone who won't participate in daily prayers and Bible readings — discriminatory practices defended by the Justice Department although countless lawsuits are pending.

• “Pro-choice� John Kerry and zealot Rick Santorum are joint sponsors of a Senate bill to legalize pharmacists' refusal to fill prescriptions for birth control and emergency contraception that “violate their beliefs.� Four states already have such laws; in other states, pharmacies restrict women's access to these drugs by not stocking them.

• The House approved a bill making it a federal crime to avoid parental consent laws by taking minors across state lines for an abortion. Senate approval is expected.

• Abstinence-only programs are the only sex “education� for which federal money can be used, even though teenagers in these programs have the highest rate of sexually transmitted diseases.

• Teachers in a dozen states cannot legally mention evolution unless “creationist� or “intelligent design� theory is presented as equally valid.

• In April, a Washington state bill to prohibit anti-gay discrimination was defeated for the 29th time in as many years. Microsoft Corporation dropped its long-standing support for the bill under threat of a boycott by a local evangelical preacher. (A backlash caused Microsoft to reverse course two weeks later, after the bill had already died.)

• Although same-sex civil unions are now legal in a few states, rightwing appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court are pending.


Partnership for power. What is the relationship of the religious right to reactionaries who don't fly under the banner of God? The convictions they hold most strongly in common include opposition to the rights of women and sexual minorities, contempt for unions, hatred of socialism, and reverence for “free enterprise,� private property rights, and authority. And these two components of the right wing grow cozier every day.

Fundamentally, the goals of the right wing are economic, and their sights are now set on the judiciary. As legal theorist Richard Epstein asserts, “There are many blatantly inappropriate statutes that cry out for a quick and easy kill� — including the minimum wage, Social Security, and laws governing the environment, occupational safety, and child labor.

Two of Bush's nominees for lifetime federal judgeships who have invariably ruled in favor of business are Janice Rogers Brown and Priscilla Owen.

Currently on the California Supreme Court, Janice Rogers Brown is an African American with a long record of rulings against affirmative action and anti-discrimination laws. She assails the New Deal of the 1930s, which created Social Security, as “the triumph of our socialist revolution.�

At an April meeting of Catholic legal professionals, Brown tagged opponents of Bush's nominees as atheists and secularists hostile to religious traditions. This witchhunting intimidation tactic, reminiscent of McCarthy-era redbaiting, is becoming standard for religious rightists and those currying their favor.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, for example, attacked Senate Democrats trying to block Bush's nominees as “against people of faith� in a videotaped address to an April 25 rally of rightwing churches in Louisville, Kentucky. In the same speech, Frist specifically went to bat for Priscilla Owen, a Texas Supreme Court judge elected with the help of donations from large corporations including Enron — obligations she consistently repays from the bench.

It's worth noting that this April gathering of Christian marauders prompted hundreds of other religious folks in Louisville to hold a counter-rally.


Window of opportunity. The religious right is gaining steam because the troubled capitalist system needs its help and cover.

Polls show that the majority of Americans believe the economy is getting worse, and with good reason. Over the last three years, while corporate profits have shown an annual growth rate of 14.5 percent after inflation, wages and salaries have grown less than a tenth as fast. Outsourcing and layoffs have eradicated better-paying jobs; unemployment is rampant; the Iraq war, at $4 billion a month, is draining U.S. taxpayers; and the social safety net is in tatters.

People are fearful, and they want answers. The religious right defends corporate interests by deflecting people's anxieties onto scapegoats and by providing moral justification for inequality, sexism, racism, homophobia, and poverty.

And, should the system's crisis worsen, the religious right offers the potential to rally a mass movement around a program for fascism — capitalism's weapon of last resort.

Canadian communist writer David Lethbridge notes that in 1930s Europe, “religion and fascism formed a united front of terror: a cross in one hand, a machine gun in the other.� Despite the Patriot Act-era devastation Bush and his cohorts have wreaked on civil liberties, that reality is not yet ours today. But to guarantee that a fascist movement does not arise again, now is the moment for opponents of the political agenda of the Christian right, to unite and take action.

This article first appeared in the Freedom Socialist Newspaper
socialism.com/index.html
 
 


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Comments

Re: Onward, Christian theocrats: the Yankee Taliban on the attack

Although this article does include discussion of anti-birth control legislation sponsored by John Kerry, I did not post this article with a picture of John Kerry.

Artwork of a different sort was posted.
 

Re: Onward, Christian theocrats: the Yankee Taliban on the attack

"I did not post this article with a picture of John Kerry."

looks like John Kerry to me.
images.indymedia.org/imc/santacruz/image/2/1_cover.jpg
 

Re: Onward, Christian theocrats: the Yankee Taliban on the attack

That is not the picture I posted.
 

Re: Onward, Christian theocrats: the Yankee Taliban on the attack

Whether this is a glitch in the server computer or some change made by an editor (or I suppose even a hacker), the change has grown on me and I do think the picture is appropriate.
 

Re: Onward, Christian theocrats: the Yankee Taliban on the attack

2_cover.jpg
Here is the original pictre (if it doesn't change again).
 

Re: Onward, Christian theocrats: the Yankee Taliban on the attack

Actually the article is quite good and I for one do care about it.
 

Re: the image

"Whether this is a glitch in the server computer or some change made by an editor (or I suppose even a hacker), the change has grown on me and I do think the picture is appropriate."

sounds odd. sc-imc editorial volunteers do not switch photos that are published. if there does seem to be a problem in the future, please send an email to scimc (at) indymedia.org thank you.
 

Re: Onward, Christian theocrats: the Yankee Taliban on the attack

I suppose I was wrong to suggest as one possibility that an sc-imc editors switched the photos. It was not meant with hostile intent. I was merely trying to put forward all of the possibilities in response to someone who didn't believe that there is a different picture up than the one I posted.
 

Re: Onward, Christian theocrats: the Yankee Taliban on the attack

Since this has been turned into a WAY bigger issue that it should have been, and since the current picture is not quite as appropriate as the one I actually posted, I'll now make a request that the sc-imc editors replace the current photo with the one I actually posted and delete all of this distracting discussion on the topic.
 

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