I used to joke about the "American Taliban" -- fundamentalist Christians who say they want to make this country into a Bible-based theocracy.
But now that every Republican presidential candidate has endorsed this crazy notion in one form or another, it isn't nearly as funny to me. Losing our constitutionally-guaranteed right of freedom from religion is a serious matter.
And one worth fighting hard to prevent.
I've voted for Republicans in the past, and would consider doing so again if moderates of the sort we Oregonians used to elect came back into G.O.P. fashion. But nowadays Governor Tom McCall, Senator Bob Packwood, and Senator Mark Hatfield wouldn't have a chance in a Republican primary.
It's disturbing that Rick Santorum, who either has a national lead in the Republican presidential race or is close to Romney's polling percentage, has said that the United States should follow God's law, not secular laws.
Unlike Islam, where the higher law and the civil law are the same, in our case, we have civil laws. But our civil laws have to comport with the higher law. … As long as abortion is legal—at least according to the Supreme Court—legal in this country, we will never have rest, because that law does not comport with God’s law.
Santorum also has criticized President Obama for not aligning his policies with Christian theology. Hey, Rick, wake up! The President of the United States isn't supposed to do this, according to our constitution.
You and your fellow Republican theocrats are the ones who should be roundly chastized for ignoring our nation's history.
Columnist Joe Nocera notes that early on, Roger Williams and other like-minded believers fleeing from religious persecution wanted to insure that immigrants to America would be free to either believe in God, or not believe.
However, John Winthrop was the Rick Santorum of his day. He wanted America to be a theocentric state founded on strict Puritanism. Fortunately, the Williams ideal prevailed. Unfortunately, the 2012 Republican presidential candidates show strong signs of wanting to resurrect Winthrop's dream of an authoritarian Christian nation.
Nocera concludes with:
I don’t doubt that if Winthrop could see America today, he would be horrified — just as, in many ways, Santorum is. Americans are free to do things that Santorum — and Winthrop — would view as deeply sinful. Individuals can believe what they want and act as they wish, without caring about what Rick Santorum — or John Winthrop — thinks.
By the time Roger Williams was an old man, Quakers had largely taken over the political structure of Rhode Island. “Roger Williams despised the Quaker religion,” Barry writes. But he did nothing to prevent their ascent, because he believed so strongly that one’s religious beliefs should not matter in the affairs of state.
Unlike Winthrop, if Williams could see the America his central idea gave us, he would likely be pleased. We should all be.