May 23, 2003

contemplation/theocrats

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at May 23, 2003 6:55 PM
The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man.

---Thomas Jefferson

The American Prospect has an article this week (W.'s Christian Nation) summarizing attacks on church-state separation by the Bush administration and others. (As most of you know this is one of my favorite topics.) Most of it is not new to me, although it seems like every week there's some new Christian nutjob appointed to an influential judgeship. The article is useful, though, in sketching the big picture for church-state issues. I've started thinking in somewhat broad terms about this, so I may write about it in the next few days (or, alternatively, find something more interesting and drop the thread entirely). Anyway, here are some of the questions I'm pondering:

  • How worried should we be? Everyone's got their favorite slippery-slope scenario that ends with George H. W. Bush's dream of revoking atheists' citizenships. Realistically though, how much ground is going to be lost in the next few years under Bush, DeLay, Frist, and Scalia?

  • How much of this does the American public support? Some ridiculous fraction of people think "under God" ought to stay in the Pledge of Allegiance (and to these people, I extend a heartfelt middle finger). Presumably not all of these people are in favor of, say, school prayer. How far does the tyranny of the majority extend?

  • How sympathetic is Bush personally to the goals of the religious right? (And does it matter?) Is he just trying to shore up his base, or does he really envision a Christian nation?

  • What are the immediate, identifiable effects of religious politics? For one, American science is already falling behind in fields like cloning and stem cell research.

  • How does the situation compare with other nations? Most European countries have populations more secular than the United States, despite a lack of official church-state separation.

I'd like to say something intelligent about these issues, but it remains to be seen whether I can come up with anything. In the meantime, I'm off to this thing at John's house. Tags:
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