Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Theocracy, Jihad and Separation of Church and State. Oh my!

The Blogfather links to a great piece today entitled When Columnists cry 'Jihad!' Authored by former NY Times report John McCandish Phillips, the piece examines the recent onslaught of hysterical criticism aimed at the 'Christian right' by editorial elites.

Phillips comes at the problem from a perspective quite different than anyone else I've seen discussing the issue. In the process, he documents certain 'uncomfortable facts' for said elites about who we are and where we came from as a nation.

The fact is that our founders did not give us a nation frightened by the apparition of the Deity lurking about in our most central places. On Sept. 25, 1789, the text of what was later adopted as the First Amendment was passed by both houses of Congress, and subsequently sent to the states for ratification. On that same day , the gentlemen in the House who had acted to give us that invaluable text took another action: They passed a resolution asking President George Washington to declare a national day of thanksgiving to no less a perceived eminence than almighty God.

That's president , that's national, that's official and, alas, my doubting hearties, it's God -- all wrapped up in a federal action by those who knew what they meant by the non-establishment clause and saw their request as standing at not the slightest variance from it.

Which brings me to this post by Michael over at Christian Conservative. Michael has a creative imagination and many of his posts express his frustration, stupefication and all his other reactions to our modern society with said creativity and a dash of good humor. This was no different. Here Michael takes a crack at writing a sequel to Lewis' The Screwtape Letters.

According to your most recent report, your current patient has been studying more of his cultures history and yet you appear encouraged! “Perhaps,” as you wrote, “he might find something ugly about his country and hate it more.”

Sounds an awful lot like the editorial firm of Dowd, Cohen and Krugman. Wormwood's client is seemingly just as enthralled with the notion of 'separation of church and state' as any D.C. or NY columnist:

The first reaction we like is this business about a “separation of Church and State.” The words are almost a magic spell. Our friends who use it are free to dismiss any law, action, feeling, or work if there can be a relationship formed between religion and State. And most importantly, these words end the debate in the mind of the individual when he says them to himself. In some cases even long held secular laws which happen to agree with religious ones are also despised. If the enemy’s work is alive in any institution which receives State support no matter how far removed, it can now be stopped short because of this powerful dogma. Also it somewhat suggests the church is an infectious and deadly virus, and moreover by contrast displays their corrupt State as pure and good dependent upon its detachment from religion!

Of course thats not limited to just Dowd and the like. I've been victim of it myself. None of those who cast such aspersions seem willing or able to address the small fact that Screwtape himself concedes:

Granted we must still conceal why the State exempts Church land from taxation as a means to promote church outreach to citizens and the State, but we will discuss that in more detail later.

The second reaction is “religion is evil.” This thought however must not be dealt with too deeply, it merely serves as a means to disengage a persons intellect when they say it. We have a few convenient failures of religion past and current which serve as a basis for this claim, but I urge you my dear Wormwood that we must not let this thought be cross examined else the success of religion and the failures of secularism be introduced into the mind and brought to light. Our own fruit can be counted on one hand, but the enemies in ten thousand as his book is in many homes and hearts. There are many things evil indeed, but as long as our enemy’s workers are perceived to be the cause of it, we have no need to fear being discovered its chief designer.

So what should Dowd, Cohen and Krugman et al. think when a spiritual proponent of their own position would concede in defeat the very thing they argue over and over and over?

Like Phillips, I know many a conservative Christian. None of them foam at the mouth, none of them are looking to blow up abortion clinics and certainly none of them are in the business of threatening judges.

What they do want is the freedom to advocate their view of public policy without the derision and scorn that their opponents would never stand for were it aimed at them.

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