24 February 2010

"Republican intolerance of secularism"

Selections from an interesting an no-holds-barred op-ed column in yesterday's Guardian (U.K.):
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... there's something new, something more intolerant, something truly ugly in the works. And if 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...
"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."
Pawlenty trashed anyone who attended "Ivy League schools" or who go to "chablis-drinking, brie-eating parties in San Francisco"... It sounded like a parody of Pat Buchanan's famous 1992 "culture war" speech. Except that Pawlenty is one of the Republicans' two most plausible candidates for president in 2012...

[In 2007 the other plausible candidate Mitt] 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."
"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."
Romney and Pawlenty are the early front-runners for the Republican presidential nomination, and it's a good thing: the most frequently mentioned potential fringe candidates [Palin, Huckabee] are even worse...

In contrast to [founding father President James] Madison, the Republicans propose a theocracy of believers. It is an assault not just on anyone who isn't one of them, but on the American idea, and on liberal democracies everywhere.
More at the link.


  1. As horrible a thought as the candidacy of Palin or Huckabee is, I have trouble imagining either of them coming out with anything resembling Romney's "omission of nonbelievers." And I doubt either is any worse than Pawlenty in their trashing of the liberal elites.

    They're worse for other reasons, unquestionably, including their mixing of politics with religion. But I think the Guardian chose bad examples of what they're worse than in that regard.

  2. Hey, let's face it...persecution complexes are in. Ideological rifts are the new racism.

  3. It's always scary to contemplate the state stepping into the role of God but sheesh - Reps and Dems are fighting a battle over which gets to be the main client serving the interests of corporations, and this guy is fretting over prayer in school or some such?

    Some top-line candidates may be sincere themselves, but the party machinery is not. These things are sops to religious conservatives to keep them from third-party populist revolt.

    It doesn't mean that they won't recriminalize blasphemy (indeed, if it enabled their getting away with more corruption and fraud, it might make it more likely), but the possibility that one of our major parties is TOO MORAL should be the least of our worries.

  4. I take your point, Manpace, but I personally am not the least worried about the possibility that these folks are "too moral." At least, not in terms of what I think of as moral...YMMV.

  5. More reasons I'll leave if it heads that way in the next election. Anyone want an American?

  6. "More reasons I'll leave if it heads that way in the next election."

    Seems like everyone says that at some point in their lives, but only draftees and deserters mean it.

    I should point out that throughout its history, the United States has been marvelously free in letting people worship as they please. I think this is one of the reasons Americans are more religious than others - no state religion.

    Be careful to where you flee - more than one outpost in the UK still has blasphemy laws on the books.

  7. "Be careful to where you flee - more than one outpost in the UK still has blasphemy laws on the books."

    Pardon? Not unless you consider Ireland to be a part of the UK - and the Irish would most likely conider that the most blasphemous thing you say!

  8. This is being blown WAY out of proportion.... This inDUHvidual is using his own religious bias to distort the original message.

    He's right, in that the founding fathers of our country did have deep and heart felt faith, and that they wrote much of the original constitution based on those beliefs.

    I'm just sayin' . . .

  9. The "Founding Fathers" were NOT particularly religious individuals.

    I'm just sayin'...

  10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blasphemy_law_in_the_United_Kingdom

  11. ited_kingdom

    Truncated the url...

  12. Strange. Over here in the UK it feels to this (not particularly rabid, non-fundamentalist) theist that the boot it very much on the other foot, with little-to-no room left in the public sphere for tolerance of religious views.

    We're all meant to pretend to be good secularists in public and keep our crazy religious views very much to ourselves.

    'Tolerance' does not equate to 'secular'.

    Secularism should be a non-privileged position, same as any other in a pluralist democracy and that should cut both ways.

  13. "A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider to be God-fearing and pious." Aristotle.

  14. The author left this sentence from Brooks article out: ""There was not even a perfunctory sentence showing respect for the nonreligious. I’m assuming that Romney left that out in order to generate howls of outrage in the liberal press.""

    Looks like it worked.

  15. This article (and blog entry) is making a mountain out of a mole hill. The hyperbole of a "theocracy" is pretty lame.


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