At America’s founding, the Constitution’s framers made sure the government would never establish a state religion in the future because they knew the inclination of Christians was to force their beliefs on a population, and thankfully they had the foresight to protect future generations from religious tyranny. Although plutocracy and corporatism are a clear and present danger to America, they pale in comparison to Dominionists who are the greatest threat to our democracy. Despite the Constitution’s prohibition on religious interference in government, Christian entitlement to rule America is creeping into every aspect of society.
The latest installment of the religious right’s entitlement agenda is the 10th anniversary commemoration of the terrorist’s attacks on 9/11. It is not surprising that Christian conservatives are condemning Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decision to bar clergy-led prayer at the ceremony, but their assertion that religious groups played a central role in the response to the tragedy informs their self-gratifying importance syndrome that without religion, New Yorkers and America could not have recovered from the attacks. No-one disputes the important assistance various churches provided to rescue workers, but at the time, all Americans were offering some type of assistance whether it was moral support, monetary help, or ordinary citizens around the country lining up to donate blood.
The leader of the nation’s largest Protestant group, Rev. Richard Land of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, said, “Nobody was turning religious leaders away from the scene 10 years ago. Why are they being banded from the 10th anniversary?” First, religious leaders are not banned from the 10th anniversary commemoration; they are banned from standing at a podium and offering their brand of prayer as if they represent all Americans. That is the heart of the issue and the Christian conservatives are insulted because they feel entitled to control the program. Bloomberg said it would be impossible to include everyone who would like to participate so he took the only option available and barred all religious interference in the program. Bloomberg said the event was to focus attention on relatives of the victims, and that there have never been clergy invocations at the event. However, that is not good enough for religious leaders.
There is nothing whatsoever that says Christians or any religion gets to have a say in New York’s commemorative program. In fact, if any public funds are used for the memorial, religious leaders are forbidden from participating by the 1st Amendment. The Religious Right does not recognize the Constitution as the law of the land and they are not alone in their beliefs. Texas governor Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, and a bevy of conservative Christian extremists are part of a Dominionist plot to take over the government and install theocratic rule in America.
In Rick Perry’s book, “Fed Up”, he accuses the A.C.L.U. of leading a campaign against religion in public life and he accuses “a small minority of atheists” of trying to sanitize our civil dialogue. Perry also writes that, “It’s as if the mere mention of a Creator is too powerful an idea for their own Godless ideology to withstand.” Perry is wrong. The Founding Fathers initiated the campaign against religion in public life and to make certain their intentions could never be misinterpreted, they were quite blunt in their wording in the 1st Amendment. No-one disputes that Christians have a right to exist or worship as they see fit, but the Constitution is very clear that Christians are not allowed to push their archaic superstitions on the rest of the country; that includes the anniversary of the terror attacks.
Michele Bachmann has accused leaders in Washington of waging a war on faith and she is taking her message to supporters who share her belief that god has anointed Christians to control this country. Bachmann’s anti-gay and anti-contraception campaign has as its basis a couple of obscure verses in the Christian bible, and her rabid supporters agree that all Americans are subject to the bible’s laws and oppressive edicts. Bachmann initiated constitution classes for members of Congress and invited David Barton, a notorious Religious Right historical revisionist to teach the classes. Barton travels around the country speaking and convincing Americans that the Founding Fathers really intended America to be a Christian nation. That Barton is having a measure of success is evidenced by the entitlement Christians feel that they are indeed anointed by god to control the government and the country. It is somewhat ironic that the same constitutional originalists who yearn to return to the Founders’ original intent are ignoring the Constitution’s ban on establishment of religion.
The rise of Christian Dominionists in America may be due to the decline of self-identified Christians in the population. In 1948, 91% of Americans identified themselves as Christian, but in 2009 the figure dropped to just 77% and although that is welcomed good news, it appears that desperation is setting in and provoking the Dominionists to ramp up their takeover plans. The bad news is that on the Republican side, all the presidential candidates have promised to lead onward Christian soldiers by appointing a presidential commission to investigate proponents of same-sex marriage for intervention. It is a sad commentary that any politician would pledge to appoint a commission to begin what is arguably a 21st Century Inquisition and Crusade to punish Americans who adhere to the Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom.
American government bears a lion’s share of the blame for the Christians’ entitlement to control the country. Churches are given tax-exempt status by the IRS and taxpayer dollars are given to faith-based groups to administer more taxpayer dollars in their evangelical programs. Presidents invite clergy to give unconstitutional invocations at government functions and schools across the nation are teaching the bible creation myth in science classes in lieu of evolution. None of this is constitutional and it does not bode well for our secular form of government; or non-believers. Now, Christian leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention are condemning Mayor Bloomberg for insulting them by barring them from participating in the 9/11 anniversary ceremonies. Bloomberg should ask why, if conservative Christians are anointed and meant to be a part of the ceremony, did god not protect the city from the attacks in the first place, but he would be labeled an apostate for questioning god; or in this case, the men-turned-god in the Southern Baptist Convention.
Mayor Bloomberg made a heroic decision to bar clergy from participating in the 9/11 anniversary ceremony; not because of the Constitution, although he is fulfilling his oath of office, but for a first-step in blunting the Christian conservatives’ entitlement attitude that is rampant in state and federal government. He also fulfilled his constitutional duty by barring any religious leaders from participating in the event. But most of all, Bloomberg did the right thing for the survivors and victims’ families who lost husbands, wives, daughters, and sons in the terror attacks and deserve their time to honor and remember their families without some pompous, entitled Christians mucking up the ceremony. The one thing to say about Bloomberg, is that he is a true American who follows the Constitution and common decency for keeping those vile Dominionists off the stage and out of sight…where they belong.