"A cruel debate opponent" "Pagan blasphemer" "Reverse-iconoclast" "don't get pissed at him b/c he pwn yalls whiney asses"
My Photo
Location: Indiana, United States

Miscellaneous meanderings and philosophical ramblings. The title from a spiral notebook I used to jot down my thoughts on religion and other matters some years ago. I like to write, think and express my views on various issues. Robust discussion is welcome.

Chris of Rights and Charles Martin <-- Lists of debunked Sarah Palin rumors

"Lan astaslem."
I will not submit. I will not surrender.
Choose your language: Francais/French Deutsch/German Italiano/Italian Portugues/Portuguese Espanol/Spanish 日本語/Japanese 한국어/Korean 中文(简体)/Chinese Simplified

Monday, August 29, 2005

Theocracy - an introduction

The term theocracy has been used lately to refer to any attempts by people of religious faith, specifically Christian, to be involved with government or to enact laws that are perceived to be violating the 1st amendment. There are a number of problems with this view and I intend to discuss several with the premises in this introduction. My plan is to continue with future posts, by examining various issues claimed to be examples of Christians attempting to establish theocracy. It may be, that in some cases, I will agree with those making the accusations. However, it will take more than merely asserting “theocracy” for me to reach such a conclusion.

Part of the problem with using this term, is that it is an emotionally charged word due to recent events. Who can forget the government of the Taliban and its public execution of women for not following the exact and severe precepts of radical Islam? Unfortunately, some use the term with the full intent of associating any political action by Christians with such spiritual darkness. Such individuals, while extremely vocal, are not to be taken seriously. Certainly, some may fully believe what they are saying. They see Christian political activity only a few steps away from an oppressive religious regime that treats woman as only receptacles for men’s pleasure and hangs homosexuals. The level of rational thought processes used to reach their conclusion leaves them sadly immune to reasonable discussion, much like the most extreme of conspiracy theorists. For some though, their bigotry is rooted in tragic experience within a religious community. It saddens me that such things in fact occur. As Christians, we should pray that such wounds would be healed and do our best to help, so that the sad decay of bitterness will not continue its destructive work in their lives.

Yet, more thoughtful people and those not burdened by such pain, may still think or be suspicious that Christians being involved in politics can only mean we are very near having religion take control of our government. One reason for this is that many Christians may support a particular issue. The concern is that religious motivation must therefore mean one more step towards theocracy is what is being proposed. But, in fact, this does not mean that a religious edict or practice is being legislated. Personal motivation, or that which animates us does not mean a religious law is in danger of being forced on the country. If that were the case, then Christians that are pro-choice, pro-minimum wage or pro-whatever; would also be subjecting us to a theocracy, if we were to be consistent.

Another reason for suspecting theocracy is that many Christians can only express their views in a religious manner. For example, some Christians can only say murder or theft should be wrong, because God said so in the 10 commandments. But, this obviously does not mean that a law against murder or stealing is a sign of religion being imposed on non-believers. The issue itself needs to be looked at, to determine if it is indeed an inappropriate imposition of strictly religious edicts. Christians could help in this matter by learning how to express their justification for various issues in secular terms. To do so, in ways that show a clear benefit to society regardless of what one holds or does not hold as religious faith. This does not mean be dishonest, but rather, honestly determine and express the reasons for proposed legislation that will convince others who are not Christian. One issue that I have had personal experience with is abortion. Many Christians can only express a pro-life view in religious terms, yet it is a fact that a strictly secular pro-life argument can be made and has been made by atheists and agnostics. One can still be animated to support such legislation by one’s faith, but let’s not make it easy for some to mistake laws that would benefit society for merely being religious and therefore prohibited by the Constitution. It may take more work on our part but we will all benefit.

Something that we should probably consider, is that focusing so much on motivations as a means to defeat legislation may be drawing us closer to thought control. It would be sadly ironic if those resisting what they think of as intrusions of theocracy, were to create a far more oppressive result than anything those on the religious right could think of enacting. Images of Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell, may come to mind. While this is being proposed tentatively, one thing cannot be denied. The distortion of language that allows some to reflexively use of the term “theocracy” is rampant and very much like the “newspeak," language used by Big Brother in Orwell’s novel. Sadly, examples of such can probably be found within all political parties and belief systems.

A matter that also contributes to the theocracy charge being made, is that many look at the 1st amendment as a protection against being offended. It doesn’t help that some rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court have done much to read the amendment in this manner. But there are several problems with this. To begin, the amendment is clearly about Congress creating law. In addition to the common sense reading of the 1st amendment is the very real problem of determining law by something so subjective as “I was offended”. How are any of us supposed to know what the law actually says if that is the criteria for determining if, we broke it? Since we cannot read minds in advance and everyone has different levels of toleration, we can only hope that we haven’t offended someone more sensitive than the last person who brought the case to court and that the judges won’t take things further than their last ruling. But, recent history shows us this is not a very secure position to be subjected to. I’ve covered this problem with jurisprudence in more detail in a previous post; It's Good to Be The King.

Hopefully, some can now see the error in thinking that simply because Christians support legislation, it is therefore undeniable that this or that proposal is forcing religion on the country or moving us closer to a “theocracy”. While the extremists that exist in all belief systems, by way of the fact that humans are invariably involved, will not be interested in thoughtful discussion, I stubbornly believe that many reasonable people still exist in this country. We may be of different faiths or no faith, we may be polar opposites in political views, but let’s look at such matters carefully, and not fall prey to using emotional rhetoric such as the “religious right is America’s Al Queda”. Such a statement merely brings Abraham Lincoln to mind when he said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
Trackback URI                             Submit this post on! width=                     View blog reactions
<< Home

Click for Latest Posts

Creative Commons License

As defined and limited by the license, any use of work from this blog, must be attributed to Mark K. Sprengel and include a link back to this blog.

Get updates by e-mail:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Widgetize! Subscribe Social Bookmark Blogs that link here
My Technorati profile

Also, follow me on Twitter

Search this blog:

powered by Aditya

Recent Comments: