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Matthew5 and SweetPea
THEOCRATIC REVISION AT ITS WORST: EPILOGUE
NEUTRALITY VS THEOCRACY By Matthew 5
Assisted by BibleBelted, and SweetPea
"Government in our democracy, state and national, must be neutral in matters of religious theory, doctrine, and practice. It may not be hostile to any religion or to the advocacy of no-religion; and it may not aid, foster, or promote one religion or religious theory against another or even against the militant opposite. The First Amendment mandates governmental neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion." - Abe Fortas, Epperson v. Arkansas , 393 U.S. 97, 1968. 
You'd think that devoutly religious people would be in favor of governmental neutrality when it comes to religion. Granted, we have the First Amendment religion clause which supposedly protects us from an established national church and which protects our religious freedom, but governmental neutrality (separation of church and state, if you prefer) is the mechanism that enforces our the religion clause. I don't know about you but I find it very strange that the most religious people in this country are the same people who are so obsessively determined to undermine the method by which we enforce the religion clause. Considering the fact that under normal circumstances the political/religious pendulum swings back and forth, from left to right and back again, one would assume that the religious right in this country would want to maintain government neutrality to protect their own religious freedom.
Roger Williams (December 21, 1603-April 1, 1684) a figure heard from to infrequently these days, understood this argument very well. A separatist preacher, Williams was banished by the the Massachusetts General Court on September 13, 1635 for advocating religious tolerance and for criticizing the Massachusetts Bay Charter. Initially considered himself a Baptist, but as he aged, Williams revealed himself as one of those rare people who becomes more open minded with age, eventually becoming a nondenominational Christian ( i.e. a seeker). Ironically, while the radical religious right attempts to tear down the wall between church and state, it was Roger Williams whose use of similar terminology way well have inspired Thomas Jefferson's use of the term. Wrote Williams:
"When they [the Church] have opened a gap in the hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world, God hath ever broke down the wall itself, removed the Candlestick, etc., and made His Garden a wilderness as it is this day. And that therefore if He will ever please to restore His garden and Paradise again, it must of necessity be walled in peculiarly unto Himself from the world, and all that be saved out of the world are to be transplanted out of the wilderness of the World." 
Note the similarities between the terms "hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world," as used by Williams and the term "Wall of Separation"  that Jefferson used more than a century and a half later. Contrary to what the radical religious right would have us believe, the truth of the matter is that both, Williams and Rogers believed that a Separation of Church and State was necessary to protect both, religion and government. We have already read what Jefferson thought about establishment in earlier contributions to this series, but what did Williams have to offer? Well, to be precise, Williams to believed that a marriage of church and state was detrimental to both, the religious and civil authorities and that it was better to keep the two apart. In the preface to The Bloody Tenet of Persecution for Cause of Conscience, Williams issued "Twelve Arguments for Religious Tolerance."
"First, that the blood of so many hundred thousand souls of Protestants and Papists, spilt in the wars of present and former ages, for their respective consciences, is not required nor accepted by Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace. "Secondly, pregnant scriptures and arguments are throughout the work proposed against the doctrine of persecution for cause of conscience." "Thirdly, satisfactory answers are given to scriptures, and objections produced by Mr. Calvin, Beza, Mr. Cotton, and the ministers of the New English churches and others former and later, tending to prove the doctrine of persecution for cause of conscience. "Fourthly, the doctrine of persecution for cause of conscience is proved guilty of all the blood of the souls crying for vengeance under the altar. "Fifthly, all civil states with their officers of justice in their respective constitutions and administrations are proved essentially civil, and therefore not judges, governors, or defenders of the spiritual or Christian state and worship. "Sixthly, it is the will and command of God that (since the coming of his Son the Lord Jesus) a permission of the most paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or antichristian consciences and worships, be granted to all men in all nations and countries; and they are only to be fought against with that sword which is only (in soul matters) able to conquer, to wit, the sword of God's Spirit, the Word of God. "Seventhly, the state of the Land of Israel, the kings and people thereof in peace and war, is proved figurative and ceremonial, and no pattern nor president for any kingdom or civil state in the world to follow. "Eighthly, God requireth not a uniformity of religion to be enacted and enforced in any civil state; which enforced uniformity (sooner or later) is the greatest occasion of civil war, ravishing of conscience, persecution of Christ Jesus in his servants, and of the hypocrisy and destruction of millions of souls. "Ninthly, in holding an enforced uniformity of religion in a civil state, we must necessarily disclaim our desires and hopes of the Jew's conversion to Christ. "Tenthly, an enforced uniformity of religion throughout a nation or civil state, confounds the civil and religious, denies the principles of Christianity and civility, and that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. "Eleventhly, the permission of other consciences and worships than a state professeth only can (according to God) procure a firm and lasting peace (good assurance being taken according to the wisdom of the civil state for uniformity of civil obedience from all forts). "Twelfthly, lastly, true civility and Christianity may both flourish in a state or kingdom, notwithstanding the permission of divers and contrary consciences, either of Jew or Gentile..." 
What does this mean? It means that the wall between Separation of Church and State offers two way protection, not just one way protection of the church. It means that history shows us how violent and brutal establishment has been and that the best thing government and religion can do is to maintain a wally between them for the benefit of all. Unfortunately there are people who truly believe that church state separation and government neutrality is a form of hostility towards their particular religion.
"... the most devoutly religious people should also be the staunchest defenders of government neutrality in matters of religion. Given the awesome power of the modern state, religious people should want to do everything reasonable to reduce the risk that the state will interfere with their religious institutions, and that would include the state coming down against them in theological matters. Accomplishing this requires removing from the government the authority to support them in theological matters as well. "Unfortunately, too few people seem to be aware of this — or, if they are, they don't consider the risk to be high enough to give up the benefits of state endorsement. This may seem like a reasonable gamble, given America's history as having a predominantly Christian population. It's an unwise gamble, though, given how much variety there is within American Christianity and how far religious pluralism has advanced in recent decades. "There are people who believe that government 'neutrality' is the same as government "hostility," but exactly the opposite is actually the case. If the government is not neutral, then the government is taking sides. If the government is taking sides on behalf of one group or belief, then it is also taking sides against the alternative groups or beliefs. Perhaps it isn't the intention of the government to send the message that those alternatives are worse, but it does so necessarily when it signals that the chosen option is favored by endorsing, supporting, or promoting it. That, in turn, qualifies as a form of "hostility." 
But what the Dominionists fail to recognize is that theocracy, by its very nature, is a self destructive concept. How many nations, past theocracies, have destroyed the very nation that it took over? Theocracy, if nothing else, is a recipe for both religious and civil corruption. In the end it contaminates everything it touches. It stifles scientific curiosity; degrades the technological advancements that a nation needs to survive; and through internal violence in the form of inquisitions and through external violence through religious wars of conquest, bleeds the theocratic nation dry. That's a hell of a price to pay for imposing a particular religious view on other people.
"The sad reality of Dominionism is that in order to achieve power and control over other men some sort of accord or treaty must be established with the world system. Biblical Christians of the devotional evangelical variety are fully aware of this danger. They see any bid for power and authority in this world as a very dangerous move. The gathering and the 'unity' that is achieved by this means is artificial, cheap, and short-lived. The reason for this is quite simple. Any bid for power is based on compromise with the spirit behind that power. Dominionism is achieved by playing games with the systems of this world. And when they use the ways of this world to establish authority the Church that becomes established finally ends up running counter to true Christianity.
"History bears this out. The recurring pattern is as follows. Establishment Christians make deals with the worldly powers. Then they always end up beholden to these worldly powers. Compromised Christians then find themselves, (through fear of their worldly masters), being forced to persecute their uncompromised fellow Christians. Church history is absolutely full of strange stories based on this corruption. Sadly, it continues today. Dominion Theology will comes to its peak in the Apocalypse. It will become the future Harlot Church John saw. (Rev.17 & 18)" 
That's ironic when you consider the fact that it is the radical religious right, the Dominionists themselves who suffer from a paranoid delusion in which they see everyone except themselves as a part of a New Age Satanic plot. which includes:
" Acupressure, Acupuncture, Aerobics at the YMCA, The American Civil Liberties Union, Alcoholics Anonymous, Amway Corporation, Atari Computer Corporation, Biofeedback, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Buffalo (New York) Public Schools, Campbell's Soup Company, the Catholic Church, Catholic Communion, Chrysler Corporation, the movie Cocoon , Norman Cousins, Creative visualization, Ending World Hunger, Environmentalism, Freemasons, Globalism, Mikail Gorbachev, The Grapes of Wrath , Guided imagery for success and prosperity, Health food, Holistic health, The Hunger Project, Aldous Huxley, Hypnosis, Information revolution, Jehovah's Witness, Jewish Kabala, Life Magazine, Lions International, Lockheed Corporation, Minneapolis City Government, Mobil Oil Company, Monsanto Corporation, Mormon Church, Mother Theresa, The Muppets, NAACP, Ralph Nader. NASA, National Organization for Women, NBC Television, Native American religious ceremonies, Networking, Newsweek Magazine, New York City Government, Planed Parenthood, Pluralism, Polaroid Corporation, Pope John XXIII, Positive thinking, Prince Phillip, Princeton University, Proctor and Gamble, Reader's Digest , Rock and roll, Rockefeller Foundation, Rosaries, Save the Whales movement, Self realization, Social Security Administration, Stress management, Transcendental Meditation, Desmond Tutu, U.S. Navy, UNESCO, United Nations, University of Michigan, University of Texas, Lech Welesa, Vegetarian diets, Westinghouse, World Peace efforts, Yale University, Bois Yeltsin. " 
In other words, it isn't only gays, lesbians, and abortionists. It's a wide range of people, entities, and practices which the radical religious right has lumped together for persecution, including mainstream Protestant Churches, the Catholic Church, and nonchristian religions in general. And now the bad news. That list comes from late 1993-1994. One can only assume that their recent taste of political power has made them even more hungry, more determined, and more fanatical in their hatred of religious dissidents.
And God knows they've tasted enough power since George W. Bush came to power.
For all intents and purposes the Dominionists compose a mere seven percent of the American population. But, like past radical fringe groups, they are well funded, highly organized, and extremely underhanded. Not only do they operate in the sunlight; like a pervasive fungus they also operate in the shadows, constantly undermining the Constitution and the liberties for which it stands. This of course isn't surprising. Lenin operated in a similar manner during the build up to the Russian Revolution. After the Beer Hall Putch, Adolf Hitler decided to put a happier and friendlier face on the Nazi party to convince the German people that he had moderated his views. But all the time he was working behind the scenes to establish a virulently racist dictatorship. The Dominionists are no different.
FACT: Having converted Christ's ministry into a hellacious bastardization of Social Darwinism, the Dominionists actively seek and collect funds from major corporations which allow them to exert even more influence over both, the Republican Party and the nation as a whole. Tyson Foods, in addition to making major contributions to radical religious entities, has placed 128 part time chaplains--mostly evangelicals or fundamentalists, in 78 plants across the country. Other huge backers include Wal-Mart, Sam's Wholesale, and Purdue [8 ]
FACT. In 2003 faith based organizations received 8.1 percent of the social service budget or $2.005 billion in funding. In Fiscal year 2004 that figure jumped to 10.3 percent, or $2.005 billion in funding.. In 2005 the figure rose to $ 11 percent of all federal competitive service grants, amounting to $2.15 billion. To make matters even worse, many of the religious groups receiving tax payer dollars openly discriminate against gays, lesbians, and people of other faiths. In many cases the only real qualification for employment is that the employee be a Bible believing Christian. 
FACT: At the same time the Bush administration was wasting more than $1 billion on chastity programs alone. Programs, incidentally, that a majority of the American people did not want, and which have yet to be proven effective. And yet approximately 30 percent of American Public Schools teach abstinence only. 
FACT: Prior to the 2006 midterm elections, Christian Fundamentalists held a majority of seats in 36 percent of of all Republican Party state committees, or 18 of 50 states. At the same time they also held large minorities in the remaining states. Forty-five Senators and 186 members of the House of Representatives had been singled out for theocratic praise from radical right groups such as the Eagle Forum, the Christian Coalition, and the Family Resource Council. 
FACT: Tens of millions of Americans depend on Christian broadcasting as their only source of news. Moreover, anywhere from 1.1 million to 2.1 million children are home schooled. Almost all of them are Evangelicals which means that the vast majority of these children will be taught incorrectly that America was established as a Christian nation. Evolution is not taught,and they are almost never confronted with contrary ideas which might contradict their very narrow Biblical world view. Instead they are often channeled into right wing universities such as Patrick Henry University, Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, or Pat Robertson's Regent University; the last of which is a level four law school, level four being the worst rating that a law school can muster. And yet George W. Bush has channeled graduates of these institutions into his administration, knowing full well that they are historical and legal revisionists who are more interested in establishing a Christian Theocracy than upholding the law and the Constitution. 
FACT: We are all familiar with Ken Blackwell (another die hard religious fanatic) and his coordinated effort with Walden O'Dell, CEO of Diebold to deliver Ohio for George W. Bush during the 2004 elections, but how many people realize that the radical religious right, in addition to infiltrating elected positions and the judiciary, is also attempting to infiltrate the United States Military and law enforcement. This became painfully obvious when senior military officers appeared in uniform in a video to promote a Christian Organization. I am referring to Brigadier General Vince Brooks and the Christian Embassy, a Christian missionary group which concentrates on government employees.  And then there's that matter of Blackwater, the world's most powerful mercenary Army which is led by a Fundamentalist Christian/former Navy Seal who apparently has enough money to open Blackwater facilities in strategic areas across the United States. Which raises the question why? Are we seeing the early stages of a Christianized SS or Gestapo? 
I think we, as a people need to stand up and take our country back before it's too late. For the most part Separation of Church and State has worked well for more than 200 years. It isn't a panacea for every church-state issue that comes down the pike, but it has preserved our freedom of religion and prevented the establishment of a Theocracy, a form of government that our Founding Fathers would have found repugnant in the extreme. In fact, when you really think about it, the idea that men like Madison, Jefferson, and Franklin, et al would have studied European and American History, recognized the corruption, hypocrisy, and bloodshed that stems from an established faith, only to turn around and then impose the same corruption, hypocrisy and bloodshed on the American people through a Theocratic Constitution is at best laughable.
Personally, I don't care what you want to worship. If you want to believe that America should be a Christian Republic you have a right to believe so. If you want to hate people based on their race, sexual orientation, or religion, you have a right to do so. If you want to worship a taco that looks like the Virgin Mary or a grease stain on your garage floor you have a right to do so. But your right to swing your theological fist stops where my nose begins. When you want to use the power and financial resources of the United States government to impose your prayers, symbols, hymns, or doctrine on others you have crossed the line.
Thomas Jefferson had it right when he "declared eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."
It was good advice then and it's good advice now. Maybe we should start to embrace it again.
"Be pleased then (honored Sir) to remember that thing which we call conscience is of such a nature (especially in Englishmen) as once a Pope of Rome, at the suffering of an Englishman in Rome, himself observed that although it be groundless, false, and deluded, yet it is not by any arguments as torments easily removed.
"I speak not in terms of the multitude of all nations, which have their ebings and flowings in religion ( as the longest sword and strongest arm of flesh carries it), but I speak of conscience, a permission fixed in the mind and heart of man, which enforceth him to judge (as Paul said of himself a persecutor) and to do so and so with respect to God, His Worship
"This conscience is found in all mankind, more or less: in Jews, Turks, Papists, Protestants, Pagans...
"The maker and Searcher of our hearts knows with what bitterness I write, as with bitterness of the soul I have heard such language as to proceed from yourself and others, who formerly have fled from ( with crying out against) persecutors: "You will say this is your conscience; you will say you are persecuted, and you are persecuted for your conscience. No, you are conventiclers, heretics, blasphemers, seducers. You deserve to be hanged; rather than one shall be waiting to hang him. I will hang him myself. I am resolved not to leave an heretic om the country. I had rather so many whores and whore mongers and thieves come among us.
"Oh Sir, you cannot forget what language and dialect this is, whether the Gardiners and Bonners, both former and latter, used to all that bowed not the state golden image of what conscience soever they were. And indeed, Sir, if the most High be pleased to awaken you to render unto His holy Majesty His die praises, in you truly broken-heated confessions and supplications, you will then proclaim to all the world, that what profession soever you made of the lamb, yet these confessions could not proceed from the Dragon's mouth...
"Oh remember it is dangerous combat for potsherds of the earth to fight with their dreadful potter. It is a dismal battle for poor naked feet to kick against the pricks; it is a dreadful voice from the King of kings and Lord of Lords: 'Endicott, Endicott, why huntest though me? why imprisonest thou me? why finest, so bloodily whippest? why wouldst thou (did not I hold thy bloody hands) hang and burn me?' Yea, Sir, I beseech you remember that it is a dangerous thing to put this to the may-be, to the venture or hazard of the possibility. 'Is it possible,' may you well say, 'that since I hunt, I hunt not the life of my Savior and the blood of the Lamb of God: I have fought against many several sorts of consciences; it is beyond all possibility and hazard that I have not fought against God, that I have not persecuted Jesus in some of them?'
"Sir, I must be humbly bold to say that 'tis impossible for any man or men to maintain their Christ by the sword and to worship a true Christ, to fight against all consciences opposite to theirs, and not to fight against God in some of them and to hunt after the life of the true Lord Jesus Christ. Oh remember, wither your principles and consciences must in time and opportunity force you!...
"Sir I know I have presumed much upon your weighty affairs and thoughts; I end with an humble cry to the Father of mercies that you may take David's counsel, and silently commune with your own heart upon your bed. reflect upon your own spirit, and believe Him that saith it to his over zealous disciples, 'You know not what spirit you are of'; that no sleep may seize upon your eyes, nor slumber upon your eyelids, until your serious thoughts have seriously, calm;y, and unchangeably (through help from Christ Jesus) fixed,
"First on a moderation towards the spirits and consciences of all mankind, merely differing from or opposing with only religious and spiritual opposition,
"Secondly, a deep and cordial resolution (in these wonderful, searching, disputing, and dissenting times) to search, to listen, to pray, to mast, and more fearfully, more tremblingly to enquire what the holy pleasure and the holy mysteries of the most Holy are: in whom I humbly deserve to be.
"Your poor fellow servant, unfeignedly
respective and faithful
A letter by Roger Williams from 1651 from Roger Williams to Massachusetts Governor John Endicott on the occasion of the arrest of of three Baptists in Massachusetts: 
 From: About: Atheism/Agnosticism Abe Fortas About Government Neutrality Towards Religion Copyright 2007 About Inc http://atheism.about.com/od/weeklyquotes/a/fortas01.htm
 From: Ronald Bruce Meyer.com
Roger Williams Banished: 1635
Separation of Church and State
 From: THE U.S. Constitution Online
Jefferson's Wall of Separation Letter
By Steve Mount
Copyright 1995-2007 by Steve Mount
Last modified January 30, 2007
Accessed May 16, 2007
 From: The Constitution Society
Article titled: "A Plea for Religious Liberty by Roger Williams
Copyright 1994-2005 by the Constitution Society
Last updated November 18, 2006
 From: About: Atheism/Agnosticism
Abe Fortas on Government Neutrality Towards Religion
Copyright 2007 by About Inc
 From : Dominion Theology in Recent History
By Gavin Finley MD
 From: Educational Leadership magazine
Pages 6 through 11
December 1993/January 1994
Article titled "When Two Worldviews Collide
byRobert J. Marzano
 From: American Fascists, The Christian Right and the War on America
By Chris Hedges
Published by The Free Press
Copyright 206 by Chris Hedges
 From: NPR: The Nation
Religious Group's Ties to Pentagon Questioned
December 11, 2006
Copyright 2007 by NPR
 From: Democracy Now
Blackwater Plans for New Facility Near San Diego Draws Fire From Residents, Peace Activists, and Local Congressman
 From: A Documentary History of Religion in America to the Civil War (Second Edition)
Edited by Edwin S. Gaustad
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids
Copyright 1982, 1993 William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
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