Blue Gal once again sponsored a Blog Against Theocracy to coincide with the Easter weekend. I cannot think of a more appropriate weekend to host such an event. It is vitally important, at a time when most Americans are wallowing in the self-importance of their own religiosity, that an effort is made to forcibly remind us of the potential for religious extremism, and more importantly, that this nation, in its infancy, recognized the perils of intertwining government and religion, and made a commitment, through the Constitution, to deny the supremacy of religious thought over secular institutions. This does not mean that religion does not play an important role in culture; only that we must never allow religion to be more important than individual freedom. It does not mean we must cast aspersions on those who find solace and hope in religious service; only that we must recognize that many find solace and hope without a need for religion. It does not mean that we are denigrating the rights of those who wish to worship their god; only that we understand those same rights apply to those worshipping no god. It is not that religious ideas should have their freedom restricted in the public square; only that we grant critique of religion the same freedom. It is not that we should focus our attention, favorable or critical, on any one religion; only that we should accept that the range of religious and non-religious viewpoints serve their adherents equally.
As many critics of the Blog Against Theocracy have observed, the United States is not a theocracy. No, it is not; but the road to a theocracy proceeds in small steps. There are a plethora of incidents daily perpetrated across this nation that collectively derive the heart of any theocracy. In this sense, I would define “theocracy” on a local scale. Whenever religion is invoked to restrict a right or freedom, it is a step toward theocracy; whenever religion is a justification for harm, it is a step toward theocracy; whenever lack of religion prompts official discrimination, it is a step toward theocracy. The point of the Blog Against Theocracy is to prevent those steps from gaining any ground.
To this end, my contribution to the Blog Against Theocracy will not be limited to this post. During the coming year I plan to highlight what I consider to be steps in the direction of theocracy as they occur throughout the United States. My purpose will be to demonstrate the need to remain vigilant in an effort to keep us from straying too far down the path toward religious extremism.
I am hard on religion in these pages…and will continue to be. This does not mean that I cannot appreciate the need some people feel for maintaining religious conviction. My only objection occurs when their religious conviction demands my participation or consent. Nor have I completely made up my mind on issues of spirituality: which is why I continue to pay attention to folks like Henry Neufeld, Claude Mariottini, Jim West and James McGrath.
And so, in the spirit of Easter Sunday, I offer some bumper sticker wisdom that made me smile while doing some shopping with my family in Reno this weekend:
GOD BLESS THE WORLD…NO EXCEPTIONS.