Recently I read these two articles:
God and Country: A look at Patrick Henry College, where young Evangelical Republicans are trained to become the leaders of tomorrow.
Inside the Mind of an Iraqi Suicide Bomber: A look at the mindset of a person who is willing to die for, yes, God and Country. But mostly God.
I’m not going to try and be all clever and say OMG LOOK HOW SIMILAR THE TWO ARE. Blowing up yourself and civilians isn’t the same as becoming a Congressman.
But these articles have gotten me thinking about the idea of religion and government. And the combination of the two. Many folks (myself included, when I’m in a bad mood) see the Republican party as wanting to establish a theocracy in America. I’m actually not so sure about that. I think that Bush and Cheney (especially the latter) don’t mind talking a good game about Jesus and babies, but their interest in those subjects stops at getting Evangelical Christians (ECs) to support them. They’re interested in power and money, and if they were put in a position where they had to choose between ExxonMobil and the Southern Baptist Convention, we’d have some unhappy Baptists running around. In fact, a lot of conservative Christian groups feel as though Bush hasn’t delivered for them, even as people like me shudder at the amount of religion that’s gotten into government.
Then this posting at Slacktivist pointed me to a third article in this area:
This editorial, from a large mouthpiece of the EC community, takes ECs to task for arguing, essentially, that we need to get back to the ideas of the founding fathers to fix this nation. I’m not surprised at the message in the editorial, that the path to a correct society lies only through God. It’s the logical next step for their movement.
I’ve been thinking lately about the theocratic movement, and the oddity of trying to align it with the “will of the founding fathers.” Some amount of cognitive dissonance is necessary for believing that a bunch of Deists and Atheists intended the country they were founding to be solely Christian. Granted, a similar amount of cognitive dissonance is required to believe that George Bush is a true Christian — the conservatives have no trouble bending their minds to accommodate two clearly opposing ideas simultaneously. It seems to me that, rather than argue that Jefferson and the Constitution are as important as (or at least a pathway to) Jesus and the Bible, why not eliminate the troublesome middleman?
I think what we may see soon, and I think the editorial above is a pointer to this, is a movement that says, “We’re going to make this a Christian nation, regardless of the intentions of the founding fathers. What they wanted is immaterial. They either made a Christian nation or they should have, and either way, that’s our goal. And if the Constitution disagrees at some point with the Bible, then the Constitution needs to step aside.”
One could argue that this is already the idea, in deed if not in word. But I do suspect that very soon we’re going to see it vocalized. The founding fathers and the Constitution are nice and all, but in the long run, they’re not what matters to ECs. They have a higher responsibility, a higher calling. Would they damn the nation by subscribing to a document written by men instead of one written by God?
No, the young suicide bomber and the young conservatives in the articles at the top of this post aren’t alike in their methods. But their goals are the same. They are willing to do whatever it takes for God. The suicide bomber is more honest, in my opinion, when he says that “he fights first for Islam, second to become a ‘martyr’ and win acceptance into heaven, and only third for control of his country.” Republicans of his age aren’t yet willing to die for their God and country, but I think that combining those two ideas is the second step on that road, with the first step being the elimination of whatever stands in the way of combining them.