Blog Against Theocracy Part VI: The Continuing Influence Of Pat Robertson
Another bonus post (and there will be one more post of excerpts from Morecraft following this one even though the blogswarm is officially over). In the comments to Part V, Enlightened Liberal wondered whether there was any real chance of a Christian Republic, ie a theocracy, ever happening in the U.S. I referred him back to Part IV of this series. But the takeover of the Texas GOP by christianists is old news. Here's an example "ripped from today's headlines:":
When Monica Goodling's name erupted into the news last week, the mainstream press discovered suddenly that Pat Robertson's Regent University exists. Not only that, the press learned that it has made a deep footprint in George W. Bush's Washington...For details to back up these assertions, please visit the link.
The right has exploited the mainstream press's ignorance about Robertson to avoid weathering the blowback from his most embarassing gaffes. Case in point: Two years ago, after Robertson called for the assassination of Hugo Chavez, Fox News' Brit Hume introduced what would become a central talking point for spinning the controversy. On the August 23, 2005 episode of Fox News' Special Report, Hume declared, "The televangelist Pat Robertson's political influence may have been declining since he came in second in the Iowa Republican caucuses 17 years ago. And he may have no clout with the Bush administration."
Morton Kondracke echoed Hume, exclaiming that "Pat Robertson's day has long since passed..."
But in the wake of Goodling's hotly publicized resignation, the mainstream press suddenly -- and correctly -- decided to judge Robertson by the fruits he has borne...
The Christian right is far more than a pantheon of charismatic backlashers with automatonic followers of "old men and women." It is also a sophicated political operation with a coherent long-term strategy. Goodling may be out of a job, but thousands of capable Christian right cadres remain, waging the culture war from inside the White House, federal agencies and Republican congressional offices. Together they will continue to inflame conflicts that were previously unimaginable.
Anyone insisting in spite of continuously mounting evidence that the Christian right is going to simply shrink into oblivion because the Democrats control Congress, or because evangelical leaders are prone to scandal, should learn from Goodling's example and take the fifth.
I am not claiming that Robertson is a follower of Rushdoony. He is not and there are important differences between the two men. I am saying that Robertson, Rushdoony, and Morecraft are all theocrats who share a common worldview and the common objective to transform the United States into a "Christian Republic" or a theocracy.
I am also not claiming that a full blown theocratic dystopia a la The Handmaid's Tale is likely in America's future. However, the theocrats have managed to undermine the separation of church and state in numerous different ways. Many of the goals of the theocrats, which were considered utterly crackpot, are now considered fit for mainstream discussion. Some examples include the establishment of an office of "faith-based initiatives," the utterly substance-less "intelligent design" creationism, the advocacy of a minimalist federal government, the opposition to the U.N. and multi-lateralism, the establishment of a false dichotomy between a dominant "secularism" and a persecuted Christianity, the attempt to undermine and eliminate Social Security, and the placement within the American government, at all levels, of political operatives fully committed to destroying American liberalism.
By "American liberalism" I am not referring specifically to those of us who call ourselves "liberals" but something far broader. The goal of the theocrats is to replace the Englightenment liberal idea of a nation of laws and the consensus of the governed with a government of self-described superior beings who claim they derive their power directly from God.
Such claims immunize rulers from criticism or accountability from the people. Such claims are made, in many different ways, by the Bush administration. Only Bush, of all presidents, at least in recent history, has explicitly claimed that the reason he took the country to war was because God told him to. Furthermore, Bush has never discouraged his far right base from claiming he is God's avatar on earth. (If anyone doubts this, I'll gladly provide links.) But sometimes the claim that "God commands it" is minimized or simply assumed, in the theocrats' support of such far-right goals as the elimination of Social Security, income tax, or participation in the UN.
These are extremely dangerous trends. Due to a highly sophisticated public relations campaign, the extent of christianist undermining both of American civic values AND the very infrastructure of American government (as with Goodling) has been grossly underestimated by the mainstream.
Why should we worry? Well, when you have an American president who follows God's will rather than the will of the people, you end up quagmired in insane, immoral wars as in Iraq. You end with an erosion of scientific expertise. And you end up with a federal government which holds itself accountable to no earthly law or lawmaker.In short, you end up with precisely the situation we face today with the Bush administration and, at the local level, with christianist incursions into state, county, and city government.
That's for starters. As bad as Bush is, if the theocrats aren't beaten back to the fringes of American politics, it will get a lot worse.
Morecraft's "Christian Republic" is merely a sick fantasy. But an America where a woman can't get accurate information and medical attention regarding reproductive health issues from her government because doing so conflicts with some crackpot's idea of what the Bible says is already a reality.
And that's why those of us who've read in detail what the theocrats say, and examined what they claim as their goals in light of what the Bush administration is doing are deeply worried. Too many of their worst people are already ensconced in government. And too many of their worst ideas are becoming law, or already are law.