Saturday, April 7, 2007

We don't need a religious dictatorship!

The battle against theocracy has been on-going since the Puritans first set foot in North America. One can read plenty about how well the Puritan "utopia" went (Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States or David Stannard's American Holocaust will fill you in on the necessary details). Nearly four centuries later, we're still dealing with Puritan wannabes who are desperate to impose their "paradise" on the rest of us (consult Kevin Phillips' American Theocracy, for example, for a treatment of the contemporary Dominionist vibe that pervades the GOP). Thanks, but no thanks.

Thing is, our current theocrats have a narrow literalist interpretation of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible that allows no room for dissent, no room for those who are from different worldviews. Such a view is foolish, at best and destructive at worst. We live in a society that is too authoritarian as it is. If the trends that folks like Phillips have been tracking remain unchecked, freedom of worship (as is the case with all the other basic civil liberties) will be largely a thing of the past. Be aware of those who claim to have THE answer; to attempts to control the language of social and political discourse in order to consolidate power; who pay lip service to "love thy neighbor" while advocating shunning or violence against those of different races, religions, sexual orientations, or non-authoritarian political persuasions. Be wary of those who speak of charity but who act to further consolidate a rigid caste system that condemns many millions of humans to grinding poverty. Be wary of those who love their fancy SUVs (complete with the fish symbol and "support the troops" ribbons) and their air-conditioned homes, but who work to derail not only the sciences that made those monstrosities possible but the sciences that might serve to minimize the damage we've done to our planet and prevent further damage.

Heck, we would be well advised that even a cursory study of Christianity's history would show that the monolithic facade of today's neo-Puritans is largely that of urban legend, and that in fact there were and still are varied approaches to worship, fellowship, and witnessing. As an admittedly very unorthodox Christian, I would just as soon not only tolerate but openly accept my fellow human beings in all their diversity. Beats the alternatives - which have and continue to lead to unnecessary conflict and violence.

For more info, check out the Blog Against Theocracy, and First Freedoms First.

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