Dan Kennedy at The Guardian takes a look at the extent to which the current front runners for the 2012 Republican nomination have adopted a view of America that is radically at odds with the First Amendment:
If you’re part of secular America – that is, if you’re an atheist, an agnostic, a religious liberal or even a mainstream believer who thinks religion should be kept out of politics and vice-versa – then you should be very afraid of what the Republican party has in store for you in 2012.
f you don’t believe me, let’s start with Tim Pawlenty, unassuming governor of Minnesota in his day job, fire-breathing Christian warrior and aspiring presidential candidate in his spare time.
“I want to share with you four ideas that I think should carry us forward,” Pawlenty said on Friday at the annual gathering of the Conservative Political Action Committee, or CPAC. After invoking “basic constitutional principle and basic common sense,” he continued:
“The first one is this: God’s in charge. God is in charge … In the Declaration of Independence it says we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights. It doesn’t say we’re endowed by Washington, DC, or endowed by the bureaucrats or endowed by state government. It’s by our creator that we are given these rights.”
Never mind Pawlenty’s fundamental and no doubt deliberate misreading of the founders’ intent. (Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, is well-known for having cut up a Bible to remove all supernatural references to Jesus.) How, in practice, does Pawlenty envision “God’s in charge” as a governing principle?
Excellent question, but Pawlenty’s not alone, there’s also Mitt Romney:
The trouble is that Romney has already declared war on secular America. In December 2007, you may recall, he delivered a speech in which he defended his Mormon religion at a time when he was under assault from evangelical Christians. It was, in many respects, a sensible plea for religious tolerance.
Except that Romney called for tolerance only among believers, explicitly omitting non-believers. “Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me,” Romney said. “And so it is for hundreds of millions of our countrymen: we do not insist on a single strain of religion – rather, we welcome our nation’s symphony of faith.”
As New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote the next day, “Romney described a community yesterday. Observant Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Jews and Muslims are inside that community. The nonobservant are not. There was not even a perfunctory sentence showing respect for the nonreligious.” Brooks – a conservative, though a secular one – warned that Romney was calling for “a culture war without end”.
Of course, Romney and Pawlenty are hardly alone:
If you have not seen Sarah Palin asking God to build a natural-gas pipeline in Alaska, well, do yourself a favour right now (see also her recent speech at the Tea Party convention). Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, personifies the Christian right in its purest form. “I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ,” Huckabee said in 1998. There is no reason to think he’s changed his mind.
Huckabee has also been quoted as favoring the teaching of so-called intelligent design in science classrooms and said that the Constitution should be amended to be in line with “God’s Law.” As for Palin, during the campaign she displayed a fundamental misunderstanding of the Constitution’s provisions about the role of religion and was recently quoted as claiming, falsely, that America was founded as a “Christian Nation.”
If the tea party movement has had any value, it is is that its managed to keep the focus of Republican candidates on fiscal issues, but it’s fairly clear that underneath the fiscal conservatism, the sincerity of which should be doubted given the GOP’s record while in power, the Republican Party is no friend of liberty on social issues and it’s only a matter of time before that side of it rears it’s head again.
H/T: Ron Chusid