Human beings innately yearn for explanations about the world, their purpose, and reassurance that there is more to life than their brief existence on Earth, and religious mythos played a significant role before reason and scientific empiricism delineated fact from fiction. There are, though, still large segments of civilization that base their entire existence on beliefs founded in mythology, fairy-tales, and irrational dogmata and Americans are as guilty of succumbing to religious ideology as the guiding force in their lives as any Stone Age tribal society. However, making personal decisions based on religious beliefs has given way to imposition of religion on the entire country whether it is education, legislation, or decision-making at the highest levels of government.
The danger of allowing religion to influence policy decision and if taken to extremes, be the undoing of a free society. Over the past month, three specific stories revealed that Republicans are using religion to drive policy decisions and they portend that America is drifting closer to a theocracy than most Americans are aware of, and if left unchecked, spells the end of a society that has endured for well over two-hundred years.
In Kansas this week, a state school board member said that new science standards under development are “very problematic” because they describe evolutionary theory as a well-established, core scientific concept. First, creationists, and indeed, many Christians and Republicans take issue with any science or scientific evidence because it is based in empirical data and contradicts the tenets and dogma of the Christian bible. However, it is not only that science standards under development embrace naturalism and secular humanism that precludes a mythological deity as the supreme being controlling all areas of life, board member Ken Willard assailed the new standards as “preferring one religious position over another.” That’s right, according to Willard, evolutionary theory is a religious position and not established, data-driven science, and yet many Christians assert that a story is true because it is written into religious mythology. It is not that Christians cannot believe whatever fairy tale they like, but replacing established facts with make-believe stories and inculcating America’s students serves no other purpose than creating a generation of superstitious voters who are easily manipulated to support policies that are against their own, and every other American’s, best interests.
On Wednesday, make-believe historian and fundamentalist fanatic David Barton opined that “it makes ‘perfect sense' that people are on welfare because they are not reading the bible.” It is not that Barton’s musing has any basis in fact or will convince legislators that mandatory bible reading becomes a requirement for receiving food stamps or public assistance, but he does wield considerable influence among extremist and mainstream Christians who vote and already support ending social safety nets to assist Americans struggling in the Republican’s catastrophic economy. Barton’s thesis was debunked and mocked in fine fashion by Hrafnkell Haraldsson here, and it is worth a careful read to learn that Barton’s claim has been discredited by real social scientists. However, like the Kansas school board member resurrecting evolutionary theory absurdity implies, real scientists and their studies are just another attempt by liberals to supplant “real religious dogma” with empirical data and it is anathema to god-folk. There is, though, a more troubling aspect to religion when a leader uses secret conversations with god to make policy choices instead of making a decision based on its merits and benefits to a large segment of the population, and especially if the entire country is affected.
In a New York Times article in May about Willard Romney’s Mormon faith and deep belief in the cult’s dogma, a variety of his fellow Mormons revealed the profound level of influence the Book of Mormon and tenets of the faith directs his life and decision-making. First, Willard is not under indictment for believing Jesus visited Nephite and Lamanite (Israeli) tribes that Mormons believe once populated America, but there is a serious issue of his dependence on prayer to make policy decisions that affect great numbers of Americans. One Mormon adherent who worshipped with Willard said that being a Latter-day Saint is “at the center of who he really is, if you scrape everything else off.” Now, it is unclear if Romney really believes he is a Latter-day Saint working in god’s stead here in America, but by all indications and Romney’s own assertion, he seriously believes every bit of Mormon mythology in spite of evidence disproving such basic Mormon tenets that Israeli’s travelled to America and developed a vibrant society, but that is another story altogether.
The frightening parts of the NY Times piece were revelations by former colleagues and friends who claim Willard uses prayer to understand “how to navigate particular problems,” and praying that he is “united with the powers above” in acting on decisions he already made. It is troubling on myriad levels, but none more prescient than which “powers above” he prays to or takes directions from. According to a Romney friend and church leader Grant Bennett, often, Romney reported that he had made decisions on the merits of an issue, but changed his mind after prayerful consideration and consultation with the “powers above,” and it begs the question; are those “powers” deities in heaven, or the Mormon First Presidency that wields power over Mormons second only to their deities? It is astonishing that a college-educated man can make informed decisions rationally, and then change direction based on secret conversations with whatever god Mormon’s worship. In fact, according to Bennett, Romney would say, “Even though rationally this looks like the thing to do, I just have a feeling we shouldn’t do it” after speaking to invisible “powers above.” A former colleague from Bain Capital recalled “literally kneeling down with Mitt at his home and praying about our firm,” and in times of crisis “prayed that we’d do right by our investors.” It is a frightening scenario that a man who would be president bases decisions on results of prayer and supplication instead of sound data and merits that should benefit the American people and not a deity’s organization on Earth or wealthy investors.
When the Founding Fathers devised how America would function and operate into the future, they knew the danger of allowing religion to govern the country, and yet, over two-hundred years later, a group of religious fanatics and cults are jockeying for control of Americans’ hearts and minds and every aspect of the government. Dominionists have inserted themselves into every aspect of society, but most alarming is education and legislation that affects Americans today and far into the future. It is stunning that after going through the age of Enlightenment, industrial and technical revolution, and advances in science that would cause biblical characters to quake in abject terror, religious fundamentalists and new-age latter-day prophets and saints are making a play to impose their religious dogma on every person in America with Dark Ages laws, discriminatory agendas, and dependence on conversations with imaginary creatures out of eye and mind sight of normal human beings.
At a time when the world is moving beyond superstition and imaginary creatures that are said to control every aspect of Americans’ lives, there is a movement in this country to surrender control of the government to theocrats who have no plans for America that are not founded in Stone Age mythos and deities unseen by all but the faithful who receive secret information about how to frighten, control, and subjugate an entire nation into slavery and thought-control. The concept of teaching children that science is a false-religion that warrants replacement by fairy tales, reading the bible creates jobs, or that prayer supersedes merit-based decisions that affect all Americans should be a dire warning that unless religious fanaticism is stopped forthwith, the only thing exceptional about America will be that it is the richest, most powerful nation on Earth with a population of superstitious sycophants.