May 2005

Pray tell: What's the difference between a democracy and a theocracy?

By David Grant Long

Is it just me, or is anyone else getting fed up with this country’s Christian majority?

Even after last fall’s election installed several more of “their kind” in Congress, these Bible Belters and Thumpers are still constantly complaining that their religion is being discriminated against by the godless government — especially its courts — and the secular humanists who insist on the separation of church and state.

Not only that, they whine, all sorts of organizations and businesses — even department stores! — are taking Christ out of Christmas by using the bland “ Happy Holidays” salutation instead of “ Merry Christmas.” Beyond that, their beliefs are being dissed in many other ways as well, such as banning school prayer, refusing to teach “creation theory,” eliminating religious displays on public property, and trying to remove “ under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance and our cold, hard cash.

The U.S. Constitution mandates freedom of religion, they parrot their right-wing talkshow heroes, not freedom from religion. So it is perfectly legal and desirable, for instance, to have a giant block of granite etched with the 10 Commandments sitting in the lobby of an Alabama state court. After all, they mistakenly argue, our whole system of laws is rooted in the Christian God’s Commandments.

Let’s see . . . No. 1: Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me . . . hmmm, now just where would that be embedded in our state or federal laws? Surely not in the U.S. Constitution, which seems to say the exact opposite. Then there’s the prohibition about absolutely no graven images or any likeness of anything, be it from land, sky or sea, which would seem to put sculptors and cake-decorators out of business. Which law covers that?

And how about not coveting your neighbor’s wife or ass? This all-too-common if reprehensible practice flourishes today, yet we have no laws against ogling or ass-envy.

It also seems only fair that if one religion is allowed to erect displays and hold celebrations of its faith on public property, then all religions should have the same right, since government is forbidden from favoring one over another in what’s known as the establishment clause of the First Amendment. Let’s see, the Wiccans will hold their annual nude solstice dance under the moonlight in City Park, and the Satanists want to reserve the soccer fields for an animal sacrifice and bloodletting ceremony.

Anyway, when their throats get too raw to speak from all the shouting , here’s a few things for these self-righteous blowhards to think about in “ blessed” silence.

It’s their own fault that Santa Claus has supplanted Baby Jesus as the symbol of Xmas — as it is abbreviated by those who haven’t the time to show a little respect to its namesake. (For instance, the phrase “Happy Holidays” wasn’t inspired by anti-Christians, but by business people, many of them Christian, who wanted to give people of all faiths a chance to join in the generic materialistic orgy.)

They were the spineless believers who allowed their religious holiday to be perversely distorted into the most powerful mass-marketing tool in the history of the world. It certainly wasn’t atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus or Jews who promoted the idea of making Dec. 25 no more than a gigantic gift exchange that even the Three Wise Men could not have imagined. (As I remember the story, they didn’t give gifts to one another anyway, only to Christ.)

But now they apparently want retailers to feature Christ in their stores and ads for toys, electronics, jewelry and all the other merchandise that is hawked to their customers . (Perhaps cash registers could play “Away in the Manger” while ringing up sales.)

Prayer in school goes against the teachings of Christ, who in Matthew 6:6 tells us “. . . when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men . . .”

Pray in private, He instructed, so it makes little sense for parents to want their kids to pray in the public classroom. Anyway, I’ve always wondered why these prayer enthusiasts don’t pray with their own kids before they’re sent off to school, rather than have them mouth some homogenized, fit-any-religion, government- approved pap that in the end is as meaningless as reciting the alphabet.

Now, right-wing fundamentalists are claiming the Democrats are using an anti-Christian litmus test to block Bush’s federal judge nominees, and that the federal courts are already filled with judges who rule consistantly in favor of the Godless left. (And never mind that the great majority of sitting federal judges have been appointed by conservative, Republican, CHRISTIAN presidents, including seven of the nine Supreme Court judges.)

It’s becoming ever more clear that what these fundamentalists really want is a country ruled by a theocracy made up of “their kind” — one nation under a Christian God, and to hell with the rest of us.

The United States of Christian America governed by priests and preachers instead of mullahs — let’s pray it never comes to that.

David Grant Long writes from Cortez.