A couple weeks ago I got in the car and turned on the radio and there it was: a voice I didn't recognize, speaking in a tone I knew all too well.
You've heard it, too--the sing-songy, unjustly-put-upon, whiny-but-brave, aggrieved-but-stoic vocal stylings of the Virtuous Man Confronting a Wicked World. It is a tone that finds its purest expression in the genial-if-lunatic yodelings of Pat Robertson, a three-part harmony of moral smugness, pseudo-humility, and a deeply self-satisfying self-satisfaction.
I knew the voice on the radio wasn't Robertson's, but I also knew--without actually focusing on the words--that it belonged to someone who would be pleased to set down to a nice Sunday supper with Pat, and trade humorous anecdotes about how some people, such as myself, would one day burn in Hell forever. When the voice went on about how "marriage has been the keystone of societies for centuries, and that has meant marriage between a man and a woman," I knew I'd gotten it right, and waited for the mystery guest to be identified.
Turns out it was Senator Sam Brownback, R. Kan., who has the gall to (among other things) feature, on his website, a running "National Debt Clock." Yes, Senator Sam's keeping stern, admonishing tabs on the very debt he and his party have run up like...well, I was going to say, "like drunken sailors," but that would be unfair. Say what you will about drunken sailors, at least they only spend money they have. Sam and his party have been spending money they don't have. They've been spending money like corrupt Republicans.
Brownback had made news that week by announcing the formation of a committee to investigate the feasibility of his running for President in 2008. Now, hold that thought in one lobe of your overtaxed brain, while my lovely assistant wheels out onto the stage something called the Constitution Restoration Act of 2005.
At first glance, having a Constitution Restoration Act would seem to be a fine idea. Who doesn't think our good old Constitution--the actual four pages in the National Archives--could use a touch-up, a day at the spa, and some "work"? You bring in a couple paper-and-parchment experts, hire a calligrapher for some spot re-pointing, run the whole thing through the laminator once or twice, and America's founding document is good to go for another two centuries.
At second glance, however, we discover that the Constitution Restoration Act (CRA) has nothing to do with actually restoring the actual Constitution. Instead, like many other Republican pieces of legislation, it's a deceptively-named bombing sortie in their continual campaign of class and cultural warfare. Like its nasty, equally-deceitful cousins (the "Clear Skies Initiative," the "No Child Left Behind Act," and so on), this one comprises a large and dependably sneaky helping of reactionary fantasizing whose only goal is to placate the pious and/or enrich the greedy, at the expense of everyone else.
But wait, here it comes now:
Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review, by appeal, writ of certiorari, or otherwise, any matter to the extent that relief is sought against an element of Federal, State, or local government, or against an officer of Federal, State, or local government (whether or not acting in official personal capacity), by reason of that element's or officer's acknowledgement of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.
Oh, sure, it's just a lot of lawyer talk, but read it again. If you're half as smart as I think you are--and I think you are--you can see just what kind of a fast one this bill's sponsors are trying to pull.
You'll recognize a familiar name in the text. It's "God"--yes, the God, the one who put Zeus, Odin, Hunah Ku (Mayan creator god), Consus (Roman chthonic god protecting grain storage), and all the others out of business, that's right, including Loviatar, the Finnish goddess of pain. Now, we all know God, if only by reputation. He is--or, at least, He is said to be--omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, all-loving, eternal, and self-created. That's pretty impressive.
No wonder the CRA seeks to block Supreme Court jurisdiction over any Federal, state, or local governmental official who cites, as the basis of his or her actions, God, in His capacity as the sovereign source of law. Who needs the Supreme Court, or, indeed, the entire U.S. legal code, if you're acting on behalf of God?
But there's a problem with that scheme. It turns out that, no matter how superb God is and no matter how fabulous His resume, it isn't clear that He actually exists. How, then, can a reasonable civilization found any of its official actions upon His authority?
But wait. I'm being disingenuous. The people who want to base the writing, or the enforcing, or the subverting, of secular laws upon the authority of God, couldn't care less about creating "a reasonable civilization," and they have no doubt about--well, anything, starting with His existence and going on to every god-damn thing you can think of.
These people go by many names (Taliban, Hasidim, Shia, evangelical Christians, Fundamentalists, Pentecostals, Christian Reconstructionists, etc.) but they all have one thing in common: they would, if they could, institute laws--and, better, punishments--based on their deeply personal faith, and in defiance of and in rebuke of your deeply personal faith.
Speaking of which, let me ask: How's your world-view? But never mind. I'm sure it's very nice, and really interesting. Good for you, for having it, and everything. But I'm afraid it's not quite perfect, since the only world view that is perfect is mine.
In fact, I am continually struck by how absolutely fitting and complete my world-view is. And, not to brag, but one of the best things about it is, included in my world-view is the proviso I, per Marx (Groucho, Chico, etc.), call a "Sanity Clause." It holds that a) I don't think I was born inherently bad, and yet b) I may be wrong about various things.
This is what distinguishes my world view from those of the religious fundamentalists who have written or sponsored the Constitution Restoration Act. They--pious, upright Christians to a man--believe that a) they were born inherently bad ("in sin"), but b) they are not wrong about anything--or, rather, they cannot be wrong about anything important.
The attraction of this attitude is obvious. Having first nominally paid some token tribute to modesty and "humility" by "confessing" their sinfulness, they are free to swagger around the physical and moral universe without a care, or a doubt, in the world.
The most militant of these people are the Dominionists who, when not congratulating themselves and each other for their righteousness, spend their time seeking the complete and literal dominion of their brand of fundamentalist Christianity over you and me and the entire United Snakes. Sound good? No. It sounds like theocracy, because that's what it is. And they can't wait.
For additional info, after looking up Dominionism in Wikipedia go here for the definitive introduction--
--and read, to your mounting dismay, how the worst that Christian America has to offer (and who, by definition, think they're the best) look forward to eroding, if possible with dynamite, the wall of separation between church and state.
Of course, the desert tribe ignorance of fundamentalist Biblical literalism is reason enough to mock, excoriate, and utterly reject this movement's pretensions to political rule of a modern nation state. But you don't have to be an atheist to recognize Dominionism for the intellectual, social, and cultural disease that it is. There are many sincere Christians (such as Katherine Yurica) who agree that the only way to protect both church and state (everyone's respective church; all of our common state) is to maintain the wall between them. That wall is one of the primary structures upon which the success of the U.S.A. has been built. The lack of it is what has helped make Islamic societies the laff riots they are today.
Meanwhile, the CRA of 2005 had sixty sponsors, which is sixty too many. Perhaps you've heard of one of them: Sen. Sam Brownback, possible presidential candidate. Will it be reintroduced in 2007? We'll see.
But look, here comes everyone's favorite hypocritical opportunist, Newt Gingrich, waving a new Contract With America with which (per the New York Times) he hopes to "'recenter America on the creator from whom all our liberties come' and to appoint judges who understand 'the centrality of God in American history.'"
You have to hand it to these loathsome, insufferable people: they never stop. You say to them, "No, see, you think you're acting out of love for mankind, but what you're actually doing is campaigning for political tyranny and spiritual corruption. The problem is your world-view. There's no Sanity Claus."
Then they deny that, and go about their business, spreading darkness and promoting ignorance and waiting for the Son of God to come down from Heaven. When He gets here, He'll tell them how much better they are, and always have been, than anyone else. Then they'll be able to turn to the rest of us (before we're hustled off to the Lake of Fire) and say, "See?"
It's what they live for.