GOP and the Tyranny of Religion

J.C. Weatherby is right, I think, to state that "part of the First Amendment, which also guarantees Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press," is to set proper boundaries between the Church and the State -- this is why we support our founding fathers in the Separation of Church and State, the purpose of which is intended to accomplish: 1) protection of religious freedom for all persons; and 2) prevention of the tyranny of one religion. (link) But the Religious Right betrays this founding-American axiom.

Former Religious Right advocates Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson expose this truth: the Religious Right, during every Republican win, thinks that their ultimate goals will be accomplished: "a ban on abortion, bringing the gay rights movement to a halt, the 'clean-up' of television, and a reversal of the explosion in pornography and drug use."1 In a statement: they believe that legislative and judicial solutions will work.2 Still, your local Southern Baptist, Pentecostal, and otherwise conservative Christian pastor and other leaders will, each election season, warn Christians to "vote their conscience," a veiled manner of manipulating their followers to vote Republican.

What these conservative evangelicals want, in an ultimate sense, is a Christian utopia -- a Christian nation. Allow me to be blunt: 1) this nation was never a Christian nation; 2) God never called our founding fathers to construct a Christian society; and 3) seeking to form a Christian nation is to betray the prevention of the tyranny of one religion. Religious Right pastors and leaders support the tyranny of one religion. How so?

The Religious Right, though made up of conservative believers who disagree on minor theological principles, are united in their effort to advance conservative religious beliefs that deny the rights of others. Take the LGBTQ community as an example. Thomas and Dobson emphatically admit that one of the agenda points of the Religious Right is to cease equal rights for LGBTQ persons. That the Religious Right befriends Republicans, and believes that conservative evangelicals can advance their goals through this party, informs the rest of us about the GOP: if you are an advocate of LGBTQ rights then you cannot vote Republican. The tyranny of the Religious Right, then, is rendered obvious and exposed. They will stop at nothing to afford and propagate their objectives.

NOT A CHRISTIAN NATION

That America was never a Christian nation arrives as quite a shock to most conservatives. Dr. Gregg L. Frazer, of The Master's University, is right, I think, to insist that the founding fathers were a theologically-diverse group of men, some of whom were nominally Christian at best, deistic, rationalistic and agnostic, and hence not Christian in the sense that someone like David Barton maintains. He concludes:
In sum, both the Christian Right and the secular Left are largely wrong about the religious beliefs of America's key Founders and, consequently, their prescriptions for America based on those assumptions are also wrong. America's Founders were not all Christians. . . . On the other hand, they were not rank secularists who intended to erect a [strict] wall of separation between church and state. They were religious men [to at least some degree] who wanted religion -- but not necessarily Christianity -- to have significant influence in the public square. (link) (emphasis added)
If we have learned any truth from the history of Israel, in the Old Testament, then that includes the inevitable reality that a nation of believers in Christ (or of God in the Old Testament) is not going to occur, nor is such even expected. One would expect the base reality of the notion of inherent depravity and freedom of choice (both theological and sociological or political) would ensure such a natural (and biblical) conclusion.


That some conservative evangelicals -- e.g., Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, Jr., Eric Metaxas, James Dobson et al. -- still, after over forty years of failed religio-politico attempts at forming a Christian nation (beginning with the late Jerry Falwell's fumbled Moral Majority), and through legislative processes to change the heart of people, continue these same miscarried methods is alarming and disturbing at best.

GOD DID NOT ORIGINATE A CHRISTIAN NATION

Because the ideas and wishes of the Puritans (the original Religious Right) were opposed by the Church and the State, they separated themselves from the Church of England, gaining for themselves the title Separatists: "These 'Separatists' repudiated the state church and formed voluntary congregations based on a covenant with God and among themselves." (link) The Puritans were not intent on or content with merely religious freedom: they sought to reform and conform the Church of England to its socio-religio views. What the Puritans desired was power, authority, control.

This is exactly what we see in the Religious Right of our day -- nothing has changed. The Puritans, who were allowed to worship in their own separatist congregations, cried "Persecution!" when they could not get their way. Today's Religious Right mimics their forefathers and cry "Persecution!" whenever they cannot get their way which, for them, commences with a win for the Democratic party. Just as the Puritans imagined that God was, through them, intending to form a Christian nation,3 so, too, do conservative evangelicals today (à la the above-mentioned men and including historical-revisionist David Barton, Ted Cruz, Mike Pence, Ben Carson, Robert Jeffress, Gary Demar, Robert Morris, John Hagee, Doug Wilson, Tony Perkins, Mike Huckaby &c.).

THE TYRANNY OF RELIGION

The Religious Right, largely a male-dominated movement, continually proffers notions that restrict the rights of women and LGBTQ people; and those concerned about the same can in no viable sense whatsoever lend their vote to a Republican candidate. To insist that the pro-birth (a.k.a. pro-life) issue is the only issue a Christian should consider when deciding on a political candidate is, in my opinion, a contradiction; for life entails more than mere birth. But when the Religious Right manipulate their followers into this sort of restrictive mind-set, and they forge ahead full-steam in an attempt at forming a Christian nation, they re-introduce the alleged tyranny of religion from which their forefathers, the Puritans, fled England. The hypocrisy and double standards of the Religious Right borders on schizophrenia and must constantly be challenged.

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1 Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson, Blinded by Might: Can the Religious Right Save America? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 81. The answer expected by our authors in the subtitle is a loud and resounding no.

2 Ibid.

3 Robert Bruce Mullin, Episcopal Vision/American Reality: High Church Theology and Social Thought in Evangelical America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986), 85.

ABOUT WILLIAM BIRCH

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My name is William Birch and I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition but converted, if you will, to Anglicanism in 2012. I am gay, affirming, and take very seriously matters of social justice, religion and politics in the church and the state.