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Church of the USA?

Why doesn’t the United States of America have it’s own national church? Italy has the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church, Greece and Russia have their Orthodox churches, and of course, there is most obvious example of them all – the Church of England.

How come we don’t have a church of our own? The government could put one in every neighborhood and support it with our taxes. Maybe now is the time to set one up and make sure that everyone in our country sings from the same hymn book!

Since she joined the Republican Presidential ticket, Sarah Palin has become the darling of the evangelical Christian wing of the Republican Party.  It has been predicted by some pundits that her nomination as Republican Vice Presidential candidate will eventually put John McCain’s campaign ahead of Barak Obama’s quest and will result in McCain becoming our 44th President.  They feel that Sarah Palin’s popularity with the evangelicals, religiously conservative Republicans, religious independents, and Reagan Democrats will give McCain enough votes in the Midwest and critical Southern states to swing the vote to McCain.

John McCain has always been in trouble with the religious right wing of the Republican Party because he has never really espoused many of their more controversial positions.  By adding Palin to his ticket he has managed to strengthen his position with the evangelicals and Southern Baptists that have tried to take over the party since 1976.  She has clearly verbalized her positions on abortion, women’s rights, the makeup of the Supreme Court, and America’s self-annointed position as God’s most favored country.  To her the war in Iraq is a “mission from God” and it’s purpose is “to do God’s will.” While McCain seems somewhat reluctant to wear any particular religious mantle, Sarah Palin seems to have absolutely no problem mixing her religious beliefs with her secular duties.

Palin seems to forget that separation of Church and State was one of the major components and primary doctrines of the U.S. Constitution as written and approved by the founding fathers.  Prior to the Revolution, they were subjects of the King of England, the titular and secular head of the Church of England – and were therefore also subject to the religous rules of that Church.  Many of our early patriots were Catholic, or held agnostic views that were in direct opposition to “the King’s Most Holy Church.” That is why many of the colonies separated from the English governmental rules and created new states that conformed to their own versions of religious freedom that ignored the authority of the English Church (Rhode Island).

Since the formation of the United States, freedom of religion has been a constitutionally guaranteed right provided specific clauses of the First Amendment. Freedom of religion was closely associated with “separation of church and state,” a concept which was espoused by many of the early patriots such as Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin and clearly outlined in the writings of Thomas Jefferson. The modern legal concept of religious freedom as the union of freedom of belief and freedom of worship with the absence of any state-sponsored religion, originated in the United States of America.

Over the past seventy years many hard-won battles have been fought in the courts to secure and guarantee that church and state will remain separate and that minority views would be protected.  However, other battles continue to rage, led by Evangelical and Conservative Protestant religious leaders, many who are televangelists with huge followings, to promote the teaching of creationism, sexual abstinence, the subordination of women, anti-gay and anti-abortion positions.  They want prayer to be a part of daily school activities and the concept of a “Christian America” to be taught in all schools, public and private.

Sarah Palin has made her position clear on these issues and John McCain has also begun to be more forthcoming in his support of these right-wing Christian positions.  If they are elected to the highest offices in the land and manage to pack the Supreme Court with like-minded justices, then here is what we have to look forward to over the next 20 to 25 years:

  • A reversal of Roe vs. Wade, eliminating a woman’s choice over her own body and the use of elective abortion.
  • Reduction and probable elimination of all government funded embryonic stem cell research.
  • Elimination of all “right-to-die” laws where enacted by certain states, forcing many terminally ill persons to live out their lives in discomfort and pain.
  • Reinstitution of daily prayers in public schools and for other publicly sponsored functions.
  • Establishment of a national ethic and laws based on Christian Biblical guidelines as defined by the Protestant religious leaders.
  • The reversal of all or most “gay rights,” including domestic relationship and marriage rights.
  • The required teaching of “Intelligent Design” (really Creationism) in public schools as a counterpoint to teaching the scientifically supported theory of evolution.
  • The required teaching of sexual abstinence and the elimination of required “sex education” courses in public schools.
  • The banning of public displays promoting gay and lesbian rights, including the ability for any homosexuals to adopt children.
  • The complete reestablishment of all Christian religious holiday observances in public schools and government buildings.
  • Tighter censorship of movies, cable and network TV, and printed publications – eliminating nudity, sexual references, or any words or phrases that the censors consider to be obscene.
  • The promotion of American national interests over those of other countries, especially when those countries are Islamic or non-Christian.  The exception, of course, would be Israel.

This is actually an abbreviated list.  Many other issues, especially involving the medical use of marijuana or other non-pharmaceutical drugs along with many other personal choice concepts would be considered un-American and would be subject to new laws.

More importantly, with the Executive Branch and the Supreme Court either reversing or failing to enforce laws protecting freedom of thought and non-Christian religious practices, we could find ourselves forced backward in time to the 1940s and 1950s in living styles and personal choices.

I lived during those times.  Although I do consider them “the good old days” in many ways, personal freedoms were very different then and very restrictive.  I can assure you that no one, not even the Christan radical right, will really want to live like that again.

Give Sarah Palin and John McCain the vote, and we may find ourselves “back to the future” and “stuck in the Fifties again.” But maybe, just maybe, we’ll end up with a church of our own.

Editor’s note: When I published this article on September 8, 2008 I thought maybe I had overreached a bit. Little did I know how far the Republican Party would regress back into the 19th Century in less than four years. The only questions left to answer is what specific religious sect will lead the country’s conversion to evangelical Christianity? What about the rest of us who can’t possibly stomach the idea of going to church every Sunday to be force-fed doctrines and practices that we simply could not accept? Will we be forced to become Mormons? Or Southern Baptists and Pentecostals? Or must we become evangelical Catholics and be forced to choose between the leadership of our government or the Pope? Will abortion, birth control, and in vitro conception be banned? Is stem cell research dead forever? Are gays and lesbians going to be forced to marry members of the opposite sex or face going to jail? Will we all have to prove membership in a qualified church before we can get married, buy a home, or get a driver’s license? Do we really want the Republican Party to lead us marching back into the 19th Century? Is that what “conservatism” is all about?

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Comments

  1. brogers644@yahoo.com says:

    My wife and I spend a month cycle touring in Iceland and learned a great deal about the country and the people. It is socialist in most of the postive ways of other scandanavian countries. In the book, Bliss, reporting on research of happiness quotients around the world, Icelanders are most happy. Iceland has the highest unmarried birthrate in the developed world. Except for the long dark cold winters it would be a wonderful place to live. They are very liberal, and yet:

    ICELAND HAS A STATE RELIGION

    Soooooo. There are exceptions. We have too many choices for religion in America; that is our problem. There is so much competition between religions that they prosper and grow. Duh. Lets have one national legal religion. Then people will mostly ignore it.

    bob rogers

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