It is always fascinating that a country responsible for stunning technological advancements, groundbreaking scientific research, and engineering marvels is painfully slow to change on social issues. American conservatism at one time preferred gradual to abrupt change and believed defending civilization from modernistic culture was crucial to social stability. America has made gradual social changes over the past 50 years, and conservatives fought to preserve the status quo every inch of the way, but since 2009, a new form of conservatism is threatening to take this country to late-17th Century America where the rule of law is the Christian religion and social progress is eradicated making the concept of maintaining tradition highly desirable. There have always been crackpots and religious fanatics preaching the virtues of biblical rule, but between growing numbers of Christian conservatives in Congress, and the Republican presidential ticket, Americans are precariously close to living under scriptural edict that will make the Taliban look tame.
Religious extremists directing Republicans have sought to impose their worldview on all Americans and are a stark reminder of the need to enforce the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause which keeps religious groups from controlling the government. A perennial example in Congress is Louis Gohmert who recently said slavery was an ugly moment in the nation’s history, but the situation now is even worse. Gohmert said America was coming to the “end of its existence” as evidenced by leaders and citizens neglecting to remain true to biblical teachings, and that the situation is worse because “the entire nation is far away from God’s teaching and so openly rebelling, even from the top, against God’s teachings in the Bible.” Gohmert is an extreme example, but he is not far removed from Willard Romney and Paul Ryan’s vision of America under a bible-inspired set of rules dictating how Americans conduct their personal lives.
Both Romney and Ryan signed the National Organization of Marriage (NOM) pledge agreeing if they reach the White House, they will appoint U.S. Supreme Court and federal bench judges and an attorney general who reject the idea the Founding Fathers inserted a right to gay marriage into the Constitution. They will also defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) vigorously in court, and establish a presidential commission on religious liberty to investigate reports of Americans who have been harassed or threatened for exercising civil rights to organize, to speak, to donate or to vote for marriage and to propose new protections. Although every part of the NOM pledge is offensive on its face, it is the last section that portends danger for any American who supports same-sex marriage, because if there is one thing Christian conservatives and Republicans have made an issue of, it is their claim of persecution when they are prevented from exercising their religious liberty to impose bible edicts on the rest of the population. Don’t believe it?
In August, the Family Research Council and Liberty Institute released a joint report entitled “The Survey on Religious Hostility in America” which is a “collection of more than 600 cases, detailing religious bigotry throughout America.” Extremist Christian David Barton commented on the alleged persecution of Christians saying People For the American Way (PFAW) and other groups have created a “toxic” and “hostile” environment where public officials are pressured into persecuting Christians. Translation; the Constitution prohibits Christians from imposing their beliefs on the government and rest of the population. A Romney presidency that appoints a commission to investigate and regulate so-called “persecutors” will become a 21st Century American Inquisition to ferret out and punish same-sex marriage supporters.
The gay community faces more trouble if Romney appoints federal judges and Supreme Court justices who agree with current Justice Antonin Scalia who recently said, “outlawing homosexual sodomy is a no-brainer.” Scalia wrote that nowhere in the Constitution does it say “homosexual sodomy is a ‘fundamental right, and that Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, scoutmasters, teachers, or boarders in their home. They are protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle they believe to be immoral and destructive.” This attitude falls directly in line with Romney’s pledge to propose a constitutional amendment defining marriage according to Christian tradition and vigorously defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Interestingly, on Thursday the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals became the second federal appeals court to strike down DOMA as an unconstitutional violation of equal protection. However, with Christian bible dogmata replacing the Constitution, the concept of equal protection will be a distant memory.
Women should be most frightened of Romney and Ryan’s religious fundamentalism that abhors a woman’s right to choose their own reproductive health. Romney said he strongly supported “personhood” measures since they were introduced several years ago, and he supports a constitutional amendment that would establish the definition of life at conception. His position has been consistent, clear, and far outside the mainstream as well as a serious threat to women’s health. Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, cosponsored the bill, with Todd Akin, that presented America the despicable term “forcible rape.” Ryan and Akin also cosponsored a federal personhood bill, the Sanctity of Human Life Act, that declares a fertilized egg is entitled to the exact same legal rights as an adult human being. If Ryan’s bill became law, the likely effect would be to treat killing a fertilized egg as the same thing as homicide. Subsequently, nearly all forms of contraception would become murder weapons and the law would effectively ban contraception in the United States.
It would be a tragic mistake for any woman, or man for that matter, to think if Romney and Ryan were elected they would tack to the center and relax their religious tendencies to impose biblical dogma on the nation. Romney and Ryan have been consistent in opposing abortion in any situation as cited in a disturbing instance of Romney pressuring a Mormon woman to have a baby despite a life threatening condition where both doctors, and even the Mormon Stake President, recommended an abortion. The woman’s father said Romney pressured them mercilessly and that he had “never been so upset about anything in my life; Romney is an authoritative fellow who thinks he is in charge of the world.” It is important to remember that Romney’s religion dictates that if he wins the White House, he will be in charge of the world and one of his duties is imposing his religious beliefs on the American people; especially women.
This election is crucial in many respects, but none as important as maintaining the separation of church and state. With a growing number of legislators subscribing to the Christian bible as rule of law mindset, and a presidential ticket replete with hardline religious fanatics who signed a solemn pledge to enforce biblical ideology on all Americans, there is no demographic that will be safe; especially women and gays. It is one thing for conservatives and their Christian fanatics to prefer gradual change and maintain traditions, but this new conservative is harkening back to the pre-Constitution era more in line with the Salem witch trials of 1692 than 21st Century America.
The religious right, Dominionists, and theocracy proponents pose a clear and present danger to all Americans regardless of their religious persuasion. There are historical instances of entire populations being caught up in religious-like frenzy and sweeping away all those who stand opposed, and it is certain that in pre-Nazi Germany, good German people had no more reason to assist in the slaughter of six million Jews than they would exterminate their own children, but when incited to action borne of fear-mongering and state-sponsored hate, there are no groups that can remain safe. America is nearing that point, and Republicans have fallen in line with extremist Christian fanatics whose sole intent is replacing the Constitution with the Christian bible, and America’s worst nightmare is a Romney presidency bolstered by conservative Christians in Congress and a bible-based Supreme Court that outlaws homosexuality, contraception, abortion, and gives full Constitutional rights to a single-celled organism. America does change slowly, but a Republican victory in November will bring a rapid change taking America into Dark Ages when there was no Constitution, no equal rights, and the bible’s Old Testament was the law of the land.