Attack of the Theocrats by Sean Faircloth

attack of the theocratsAttack of the Theocrats: How the religious right harms us all and what we can do about it; a toolkit for building a secular America by Sean Faircloth. “We’re one nation under the CONSTITUTION” (2012)

Foreword by Richard Dawkins. This is a slim volume and a pretty fast read. He makes many astute comments on the sad situation we have in America with the bat-shit crazy theocrats, dominism, evangelicals, and other commercial ventures (aka scams, frauds, hucksters) like “seed” churches (give us your money and you will get money [not] and prosperity gospel megachurches that delude credulous and desperate people that if only they believe (and pay) the minister, they will be (a) saved and have a nice life in Heaven [rather than none at all or burning hellfire], (b) they are doing “good” somehow for others [the church owners], (c) their suffering will be mitigated by a “higher force” [never going to happen, better to live the life you have free of the fear of hell or hope that heaven will be better, and actively work to HELP YOURSELF to changed the existing world to be more like imaginary heaven than the living hell it is now].

Obviously, I am an atheist. The author, current director of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (U.S.) is also an atheist. He has been a lawyer and a served a decade in the Maine legislature.

There are amusing (once you get past being disgusted) quotes at the start of the chapters that reinforce just how bad authoritarian theocrats can be, if that isn’t too noble a phrase to apply to complete idiots like Sarah Palin: “I think we should keep this clean, keep it simple, go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant. They’re quite clear that we would create law based on the GOD IN THE BIBLE and the TEN COMMANDMENTS. It’s pretty simple.”

But that is exactly the opposite of what the founders and the founding documents say. Just because you are a fool and listen to ignorant and malicious people with their own agenda IT WILL NOT MAKE IT TRUE. And you just know that she has never actually read any of them, or if she has, she has read with no comprehension; public officials should be able to pass a third grade reading comprehension test; I doubt The Donald or Palin would pass. The opposing quote at the start of chapter 2, page 30 is from John Adams (a founder in case Sarah happens to read this and doesn’t recognize the name):

Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in the service HAD INTERVIEWS WITH THE GODS, or were in any degree UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF HEAVEN. . . . it will forever be acknowledge that these governments were contrived merely by the use of REASON and the senses.”

So much for Walker, W, Cruz, et al who claimed God wanted them to run. Clearly they are not listening to the right voices in their heads.

The SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE, enshrined in our First Amendment, is CENTRAL to America’s unique and unprecedented civil liberties. (p. 31)

This separation is what has made American exceptionalism possible, yet the religious right would have you believe it is God’s blessing — or punishment, depending on what the catastrophe of the moment is: gay marriage caused Orlando shooting, or abortion caused Hurricane Katrina, or homosexuality is causing climate change. Ha ha, just made that one up, they don’t believe in science and therefore don’t believe in climate change; why would their benevolent god fry the earth and kill everyone? Oh that’s right, the self-righteous believe they alone will be whisked to Heaven and the REST OF US will burn in Hell for eternity (which is probably close to what earth will be soon). And I guess they are cool with a god who would kill everything and everyone on the planet anyway, since they don’t have a problem with their Flood. Guess god didn’t like the dinosaurs enough, although hard to say, in the Creation Museum they frolic alongside people, but I am not clear if that is supposed to have taken place before or after the flood. No matter, fiction doesn’t have to be based in reality.

Jefferson directed that his three most important important accomplishments be engraved on his headstone. Serving as President of the United States didn’t make his cut, but his authoring of the Declaration of Independence, his fathering of the University of Virginia, and his crafting of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom did. The Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom served as the basis of the separation of church and state in our Constitution. That separation remained central to Jefferson’s values — and is central to American EXCEPTIONALISM. . . . There have already been more than forty U.S. Presidents, but the separation of church and state stands out as a singularly brilliant accomplishment in human history. And we have Jefferson and Madison (Jefferson’s key collaborator) to thank for this WORLD-CHANGING CONCEPT.

Jefferson’s “wall of separation between church and state” created one of the great steps forward for RATIONAL THOUGHT and CIVIL DISCOURSE. Like the invention of the WHEEL, Jefferson’s wall made not only our country but also our WORLD A BETTER PLACE. Thus, when Ms. Palin and other theocrats focus on American exceptionalism in the DIVINE SENSE and propose or adopt policies based on THEIR PARTICULAR INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE rather than our Constitution, they in fact undermine that which truly makes America exceptional. (p. 31)

An amusing thought experiment he poses gives four quotes and asks what would you advise someone who said them on their chances of becoming elected. One example is “Christianity is ‘our particular superstition.’ ” This was said, of course, by Thomas Jefferson, one of the most beloved presidents — especially to me because of his donation  (yes he got some reimbursement) of his library to the burned down War of 1812 Library of Congress. NOTE: we burned down the library in British Toronto first! The point was, no candidate saying something like that could get elected dog catcher today because of the virulent strain of religious idolatry that exists today. People aren’t screaming at pregnant women at abortion clinics out of “Christian” charity and kindness. They are terrorists who would be Inquisitors if they had half a chance.

Page 32 has a great quote he cites that took place at the benediction [please tell me we don’t have invocation and benedictions at the democratic convention; and we surely shouldn’t be having them at school graduations!!! either]. W. A. Criswell, “the man selected by President Ronald Reagan to deliver the benediction for the 1984 Republican National Convention. . . . said the separation of church and state “is the figment of some INFIDEL’S imagination.” The author goes on to demonstrate another problem of the privilege of the religious in this country today and their interaction with politicians:

It was Criswell who introduced Reagan at a giant gathering of fundamentalist preachers in 1980 to whom Reagan made this pivotal declaration: I know you can’t endorse me, but . . . I want you to know that I endorse you.”

A second thought experiment follows, I will quote all for because they are all too delicious and erudite to skip even one (page 33):

Quote one: “In no instance have. . . the churches been guardians of the LIBERTIES of the people.”

Quote two: “Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every NOBLE enterprise.”

Quote three: “During almost 15 centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, PRIDE and indolence in the clergy; IGNORANCE and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, BIGOTRY, and PERSECUTION.”

Quote four: “Religion . . . has been much oftener a MOTIVE to REPRESSION than a RESTRAINT from it.”

With commentary like this, I may have to switch from Jefferson to James Madison (Father of the Constitution) since I think all his quotes above are spot-on and #4 is particularly accurate and reality-based! And a fun fact I didn’t know: Madison was only 25 years old!!!!!!

Jefferson famously wrote the words “separation of church and state.” MADISON wrote that government and religion are served by “the total separation of church and state.” (author emphasis) As a twenty-five-year-old legislator, Madison succeeded in his first major legislative proposal, which left religious opinion completely to the “dictates of conscience.”

So naturally, I wondered what the minimum age was for a Representative, given Madison being 25, and sure enough, it is 25 years old! 🙂 However, it was fascinating in the page to see a sidebar link to the actual reality that 22-year-old, William Charles Cole Claiborne, who was elected then, and again at age 24, was seated by the House anyway!

I have been mystified by the National Prayer Breakfast since it is clearly a violation of the separation of church and state and wondered when it became a “tradition” [traditions don’t get no brownie points from me, no paraphrase my new favorite firebrand Nina Turner]. And ah ha, 1953 the height of the Cold War and the godless commAmerican don't patronize reds ad from 1950sunists in the former Soviet Union were causing glorious righteousness and feverish hostility to anyone not deemed a True Believer. And for those of you who aren’t familiar, maybe the fact that Richard Nixon participated alongside McCarthy in these “trials” and persecutions, with the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover (who was likened to the Gestapo for his tactics).

W made a big show of the prayer breakfast, but this was NOT the intention of the founding fathers (p. 33):

Contrast that with Madison, who publicly opposed ANY government sponsored prayer day. In 1817 he wrote that a national day of prayer would “imply and certainly nourish the erroneous idea of a national religion.”

And so it has come to pass. Who would have thought that the McCarthy tyranny worried about tyrannical godlessness would result in an America that has drunk the Kool-aid that evangelist theocrats now preach! We have the “in God we trust” instead of “e pluribus unum” not that anyone asserting this would know what the Latin words meant. And of course, the modification to the pledge of allegiance which surely would make Madison weep, with the ridiculous “under God” modification. At least we no longer, theoretically, have to indoctrinate children in school into say the pledge with that phrase in it. But not, I suspect for long with the authoritarian theocrats dominating local school boards, state legislatures, and federal government, not to mention the religiosity of the Catholic men on the Supreme Court, an occurrence hard to imagine back in JFK’s day.

And the W direction of federal tax payer money for “abstinence only” [epic fail, Bristol Palin knows despite not practicing what she preaches] which is an expressly religious position. Along with the “no abortion with my tax dollars” Christians (to use the loosely) who would deny appropriate medical care for women as if it was any of their business or the business of any church. But they are only too happy to carry guns in grocery stores, wouldn’t dream of picketing a gun manufacturer, and don’t seem to be bothered by the weekly shootings of and by toddlers that are killing them and many other people.

And contrary to a right wing propaganda piece of fiction hiding under the guise of non-fiction, that liberals have removed the sacred post of chaplains to the House and the Senate, they have not. This is a lie. They still exist, still get paid $800,000 a year [not a typo, in discussing it with someone they said no, that would be crazy, so we agreed it must have been $80k but upon re-checking, it was in fact $800,000 and they barely do any work at all! Theoretically there to open Congress, and I suppose close, but I’m not sure about that. And they often have GUEST clergy come do the honors!!! Who no doubt get paid an enormous “honorarium” and the salaried clergy get to keep their full wages anyway.

Today a chaplain opens Congress with a prayer. Madison said, “Establishment of a chaplainship to Congress is a . . . violation of equal rights, as well as . . . Constitutional principles.” As the Constitution’s prime author, he’d know.

With regard to chaplains in the military, Madison said, “Better also to disarm in the same way, the precedent of chaplainship for the army and navy than erect them into a political authority in matters of religion. Madison concluded that the appointment of military chaplains would inevitably CONSTITUTE TYRANNY — that religious truth would be tested by numbers and that major sects would end up governing minor sects. This, as Madison foresaw and we shall see later, is the case today. (pp. 33-34)

I think it is very telling that in the world we live in, filled with 24×7 “news” so little is known about what is actually going on in Congress, who is in town, who is actually attending their committee meetings, what they are actually saying when three or more gather (which I have been told requires sunshine law to go into effect at the county level locally so that the public can know who is saying what to whom and what they were talking about) and make their deals. “You vote for this and I’ll slip your Monsanto exemption from public lawsuits in mine” kind of things for example.

I was appalled to learn that W provided millions and millions of TAX PAYER DOLLARS for abstinence only education programs that we know are futile and a failure and REAL sex education is what is needed. But “God Forbid!” the sex obsessed set proclaim if it is even proposed. My child my right to indoctrinate into whatever nut wing sect beliefs I want (even though that is child abuse from my perspective, and if it were a religion other than Christianity, most people would oppose the homeschooling of religious values of something like paganism, or OH NO atheism. Plus there are the charter school vouchers, the Texas School Board deciding that creationism must be taught as if it were EQUAL to evolution, but who would have a cow if say, the NATIVE AMERICAN creation myths were taught too. Or any of the dozens if not hundreds of other religious mythologies. To have tax payers pay for ANYTHING tainted by one particular religion — especially under the guise of legitimate equivalent of fact-based science is enough to make me weep for the next generation. Teach the philosophy of religions in college courses and include them all and let everyone believe as they wish (or not).

What of so-called faith-based initiatives? [by the federal government like under W’s reign] Madison OPPOSED federal RECOGNITION of religious charities, even when they involved no federal funds. According to the Father of the Constitution, a bill vesting in churches an authority to provide for the SUPPORT OF THE POOR was something he opposed as giving “legal agency in carrying into effect a public and civil duty.” Today so-called faith-based initiatives involve your tax dollars going to religious organizations. But get this: Madison vetoed legislation that recognized a church charity even though the legislation gave the church no money at all.

One such program has been the millions of tax dollars given to FAKE abortion clinics that are really staffed by religious forced-birthers who offer free ultrasounds and then declare you pregnant when if fact you have an IUD. And of course, their counsel is always to have the baby and never ever refer pregnant women to REAL abortion clinics or off unbiased counseling. To me, this is among the worst things W has done and that is saying a lot given ISIS and Iraq!

Once born, they do not want to spend a dime on the kids and immediately the sacred blessing of a child becomes the bastard offspring of a slattern who just had a kid to be able to take a living off tax dollars. But of course, there are so many who declaim “no abortion with my tax dollars” but do I get an equal about of media coverage to say, no tax dollars for religious organizations — or even better, NO TAX BREAKS FOR RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS THAT ARE LITTLE LESS THAN PROFIT-MAKING BUSINESSES. They do not have any oversight or obligation to spend any church income on the local poor for example. They may say that the Christmas drive bought toys for little kids starving in Africa (because there always are) but who is checking their books or the intermediary that claims to have executed the program?

Regarding legislation pertaining to a parcel of land for the Baptist Church, Madison opposed “the appropriation of funds of the U.S. for the use and support of religious societies,” which he saw as contrary to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. He not only vetoed bills that would have allocated surplus land for churches but also vetoed bills that offered only symbolic support to houses of worship. Wrote Madison, “There is an evil which ought to be guarded against in the indefinite accumulation of property . . . by ECCLESIASTICAL CORPORATIONS.”

In other words, Madison went much further than any recent president in separating government from religion. Many FUNDAMENTALISTS mouth the phrase “original intent.” I’m quoting from the real original intent, from the Father of the Constitution. It is understandable that THEOCRATS seek to paper over Madison, and even delete references to Jefferson in textbooks, as was recently was attempted in TEXAS.

The forceful nature of Madison’s strong support of church-state separation is something fundamentalists work hard to SHOUT OVER. They must shout because, despite their repetitive claims, America was NOT founded as a Christian nation — the evidence against them is the decisive CLARITY of the actual original intent. In his day, Jefferson espoused legislation in Virginia that specifically rejected the idea of Christian only religious protection to include, according to Jefferson himself, protection for “the Jew,” “the Hindoo,” “the Mahometan,” and “the infidel.” Jefferson won the 1800 election over strong opposition from most religious groups. How? Well, by one estimate, only 10-15 percent of Americans were church members in 1800. (p. 34)

These men were very firm. The memory of the Catholics and Protestants killing each other historically certainly informed their Enlightened abhorrence of the mandatory attendance at church services by some sects, and other limits on educated and reasonable actions accorded to [white] men. Madison and Jefferson had a “political partnership lasting a half a century.” And our country, America as an ideal that has been lost or stolen by the oligarchy today, is indebted to Madison and Jefferson perhaps more than other men.

Madison, as a legislator, led the [Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom] in 1786, stating that no one “shall be compelled to . . . support any religious worship . . . whatsoever”  and that one’s religious opinion “shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.” (author emphasis). (p. 35)

To me, since this statue was a basis for the federal religious freedom Amendment, it is clear that, more than just not being a Christian nation, that NO TAX BREAKS for such religious corporations, which essentially reduce tax revenue and therefore cost all tax payers money to support them, should be permitted. I am still researching how they came to be exempt, but I suspect the answer will be what it always is MONEY and THREATS to smear anyone with the spine to stand up to the religious zealots.

Furthermore, I think it is categorically clear that the right to an abortion is a fundamental civil liberty that shall not be compromised by the opinion an beliefs of religious people who seek to DIMINISH that right.

It is also clear that freedom of religion DOES include FREEDOM FROM RELIGION (we infidels appreciate the inclusion), despite what the religious faction would proclaim, that is, that the first amendment only protects the religious, and atheists are therefore not protected.

In the 1800s America saw a rise in [the plague] fundamentalism. By one estimate, the percentage of church-going Americans doubled from 1776 to 1832, from 17 percent to approximately 34 percent. The times became RISKIER FOR FREETHINKING politicians such as the one who said this: “The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statement of Christian dogma.” This freethinking politician was ABRAHAM LINCOLN, who never joined a church and who, according to his best friend and law partner, “died an unbeliever.” (emphasis mine, pp. 35-36)

DOGMA is antithetical to freethinkers. That dogma promotes the segregation of women, the submission of women, and other crap, like must suffer pain in childbirth or no use contraception, or have an abortion, or not to teach and to remain silent, pretty much meant I will not and never could be religious. I can think therefore I am, and I will not blindly accept lies as truth or the words of men as the word of ANY god or gods. We need a LOT LESS of the RELIGIOSITY that has infected too many politicians and a whole lot more FREETHINKERS who can read something other than the Bible and not for the purpose of discrediting the facts, like evolution.

Just maybe we should include freethinkers in public debate: take, for example, the great feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, “The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of women’s emancipation.” Stanton also said, “I know of no other book that so fully teaches the subjugation and degradation of women.” (p. 36)

Plus all the great lines about whether you can have sex with a slave (which is apparently okay with the Christian god), stoning women for being raped or forcing them to marry their rapist, or dashing out other tribes’ babies heads against rocks. Vicious, savage, brutality. No civilization there; just a ruling class of men over women, the powerful over the weak, and the determination to keep it that way. Kind of like the Republicans. 🙂

I have had a really impossible time understanding how anyone can believe in a god that allows children to die of starvation in a land of plenty or even a land not of plenty but with a few people who have plenty. The most common response I hear is – “Oh that’s not god’s doing, that’s the devil.” Conveniently, an omnipotent being who “loves” us is content to let us die and burn in hell if we fail to “fear” and “obey” him, does not or cannot overcome the devil’s work. Religious people who pray thanks for the tornado missing their house seem indifferent to the fact that the next 4 blocks over were flattened. Facebook posts asking for prayers for dying children when, were there a god surely he wouldn’t let children die of cancer before there allowed to live very long?

Author Mark Twain is no less clear than the church in presenting his views: “If there is a God, he is a malign thug.”

Twain also wrote, “I cannot see how a man of any large degree of humorous perception can ever be religious — unless he purposely shuts the eyes of his mind and keeps them shut by force.” There was a time when America believed that a person with Mark Twain’s views on religion should be included as an equal part of the American Tapestry. (p. 36)

This was relating to a discussion of his Huckleberry Finn book which of course is one of the frequently banned books in schools. I don’t recall all the reasons it has been banned; the portrayal of the church teaching being more immoral than to turn in a runaway slave might be one given racism. But also Twain used the period language that was common and that was to call anyone black as the epithet “nigger” or probably “colored” or other phrases not acceptable today.

One person who thought this group [skeptics and freethinkers] should be included was John F. Kennedy. President Kennedy supported separation of church and state more emphatically than any president since Madison. “The separation of church and state is absolute,” Kennedy said. “[America is] . . . where every man has the same right to attend or not the church of his choices.”

Kennedy’s policies contrast with the America of recent decades, in which private religious schools receive tax dollars through textbook aid, vouchers, and trasportation subsidies — yet they remain free from most state and federal regulations. The Golden Christian School in Cleveland had a curriculum based exclusively on watching videos. This religious school got YOUR TAX MONEY. Another religious school hired a convicted murderer and had no fire alarms. That religious school got your tax money too. (pp. 35-37)

And as pointed out on the same page, religious schools can expel students for any reason, including those judged “not sufficiently religious.” They also do not have to comply with any constitutional rights, and they can refuse to offer special education.

FYI it was under Kennedy’s administration that SCOTUS ruled in 1962 that “the government can’t orchestrate school prayer.” Students are still allowed to choose, despite the fundamentalists claiming it is “banned.” They just can’t force students to all participate in mandated prayer of the Christian faith in public schools.

One of the greatest Supreme Court justices in American history, William Brennan, like Kennedy, was a Catholic. Brennan put it best about schools and religion: “Families entrust public schools with the education of their children, but condition their trust on the understanding that the classroom will not purposefully be used to advance religious views that may conflict with the private beliefs of the student and their family.”

The author also quotes Dr. Martin Luther King “who said of school-sponsored prayer: “It would be better if the school day began with a reading of the Bill of Rights rather than the Bible.”(p. 37-38)

The Seductive Simplicity of Certainty
Thomas Jefferson believed that “reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error.” . . . Contrast this Enlightenment philosophy with that of George Hensley, a Pentecostal preacher who, like many religious people, passionately adhered to selected protions of the Bible’s vast and contradictory texts. Hensley focused on Mark 16:18, which asserts the power to “take up serpents” and “drink any deadly thing,” because “it shall not hurt them.” This great theologian, George Hensley, died in 1955 of a snakebite. Hensley has thousands of followers to this day. His passionate preaching, like that of so many itinerant preachers, is part of a very significant American tradition, a tradition that stand in DIRECT CONTRAST to the views of our Founders. Back in Maine I found delicious irony in the fact that fundamentalists passionately pointed to those biblical passages condemning homosexuality yet never mentioned the prohibition on eating shellfish, a biblical edict that would be none to helpful to Maine’s emblematic lobster industry. (p. 38)

And of course the now infamous mixed cloth and the fact that so many preachers condemning gays have been arrested while soliciting homosexual prostitutes or child porn or pedophilia by the 70,000 estimated victims of the Catholic religion that has so dominated the world for far too many centuries and too many decades on the Supreme Court. And just recently on Huffington Post, Randy Boehning, a ND anti-gay politician “comes out as gay after being caught sending explicit photos on Grindr (a gay dating app)’

Then considering the sagacity of the Founders, remember that, in this century, women have been stripped, raped, and set on fire in the name of religion. Not in some ancient time. In this century, a pregnant woman has been cut open and had her fetus impaled on a pike in the name of religion. In this century, two hundred men and women were hacked by machetes and burned alive in Nigeria — because women planned to wear bikinis! In 2002 in Saudi Arabia, fourteen girls burned to death in their schools. Why? The country’s “religious police” blocked the schoolgirls from exiting their burning school building and blocked rescue workers from entering because the girls weren’t wearing proper Islamic dress! (p. 39)

Too many Christians shake their heads at such ignorance and obsession with worthless details of religious dogma by other people and yet, and yet, in America, women are constantly being judged virgin or whore by how they dress. Should you run naked out of a burning building or die rather than be seen naked? I vote get out, everyone has seen naked bodies before. This really is no big deal. Not when it is life and death. And though the book generalized “proper dress” to sound like something that showed the girls figures like a chemise or something, as I recall the news it was only that they tried to get out without stopping to put on their HEADSCARVES. Because, death is preferable to the religious police than allowing anyone to see girls’ hair.

And yet they are our allies. We are told we must respect their religious beliefs. We are told that it is their tradition that women are not allowed out of their homes without being accompanied by a male relative (even a male child will do, but certainly not some female relation). They apparently believe in magic penises or something to protect the virginity or sanctity of sole possession of their chattel’s vaginas. Fuck that. No aid to anyone unless they stop treating women as property. Remember the good old days (not that long ago either) in India where, if a husband died, the wife was drugged and burned alive with his corpse. Wouldn’t want any pesky old ladies left over to take up resources best used by sons of a family.

This is religion. This is dogma. This is nuts.

One of our present [recently blessedly deceased]  Supreme Court justices, Antonin Scalia, who was appointed by Ronald Reagan, said, “The more Christian a country is the less likely it is to regard the death penalty as immoral.” Perhaps he’s right. Justice Scalia’s principle might also be applied to Muslim fundamentalist countries. In a world where fundamentalism is on the rise, America must be made safe for the ideas of Einstein and Twain. Politics must be made safe for the ideas of Madison and Jefferson. (p. 39)

You know how there is not supposed to be a religious test for qualification to government appointments? Well, I am starting to think we need a requirement that politicians sign a contract to NOT apply religious dogma to lawmaking in America.

The Bible and the Koran REJECT evolution, not just in the scientific sense, but in the HUMANISTIC sense. The words of the Bible are and Koran are UNCHANGEABLE, no matter what COMPASSION, science, or thousands of years of REASON may reveal. Blacks?
Women? Gay people? Too bad. Your applications were received centuries too late. The Constitution — and this was Madison’s ORIGINAL INTENT — is an evolutionary document by design. Madison genius was his bumble belief that what he knew in the late 1700s wasn’t all there was to know and therefore our system must adapt and change. (p. 40)

A crucial point is made that despite their hatefulness and reasoned recognition that the fundamentalists are simply, laughably, wrong, they have been successful to an extensive effect and worst of all THEY HAVE NO SHAME, no self-awareness of their actual anti-Christian dogma and absolutely no doubt that they are right, while others recognized the self-righteousness of their hard line and cruelty.

The question is asked, then, and yet to be answered is, can the REASONING and educated among us STOP the madness and retain the tenuous hold on the little separation of church and state that remains.

The decision expected tomorrow about the Texas law that would shut down abortion clinics in Texas will be a key factor in determining just how bad it will be.

Can nonfundamentalist Americans . . .be as committed to truth as fundamentalalists can be committed to unbending, ancient documents? Can we be as committed to gentleness as they are committed to corporal punishment in school? Cam we be as committed to justice and inclusion as they are to JUDGMENTAL HARSHNESS? Can we be as committed to action based on reason as they are to action based on unbending doctrine?

Perhaps the biggest motivation for action is the stark and harsh results of privileging of religion in U.S. law. We will see that, far from an intellectual abstraction, this breach of Jefferson’s wall has GREATLY HARMED AMERICANS and people the world over. Moreover, fundamentalists, through their political and legislative efforts, have harmed the very American exceptionalism they claim to revere. After all, America is exceptional only so long as it embodies the rationalism and reason that were central to the genius of Jefferson and Madison, our brilliant leaders who envisioned, designed, and then built the all-important wall separating church and state. (p. 41)

Chapter 3 Religious Bias in Law Harms Us All
[Opening quotes:]
Mitt Romney (Mormon fringe): “Our greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of FAITH upon which our Constitution rests.” [NOT!!!!!! and repeating it over and over will never make it true!!!]

James Madison (author of the Constitution): “During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trail. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, PRIDE and INDOLENCE in the clergy [and pedophilia], IGNORANCE and SERVILITY in the laity; in both, SUPERSTITION, BIGOTRY, and PERSECUTION.” [also a quote at the beginning in case you’re wondering]

In this chapter the author cites instances of non-religious servicemen receiving death threats, slurs, and being chased and threatened to beat them. Promotions did not come, reprimands did. This despite the fact that religious matters are not supposed to be a part of the military conduct and promotion system. Yet fundamentalists get promoted and form proselytizing organizations with Officers appearing in uniform in videos of organizations for military Christians.

Religion is obviously deadly to women. He cites cases like a rape victim “trying to fill a  prescription for emergency contraception . . .” and and on-duty pharmacist refusing to dispense because of his religious beliefs. His religion trumped her health and her religious beliefs. THIS IS NOT RIGHT. And unfortunately, this is not uncommon, including regular birth control methods as well.

Each year, approximately 25,000 women in America become pregnant as a result of rape. Timely access to emergency contraception could help many of these women avoid the additional trauma of an unintended pregnancy.(p. 45)

And of course, at this stage it is NOT an abortion, and emergency contraception would prevent the need for an abortion. But the bat-shit crazy zealots don’t want women having sex at all without consequences, and therefore want to deny all contraception, abortion, and everything related to something that would prevent an unwanted forced birth even in the case of severe fetal defects, incest, and more. THEY ARE JUST UNREASONABLE and irrational and condescending and self-righteous, and it is NONE of their fucking business. But they come back with “not with my tax dollars” and similar faulty reasoning, while we are dropping millions of dollars worth of bombs killing children all over the place given half a chance. Mr. Religious Bush with Cheney and Rumsfeld by his side, or pulling his strings, whatever, has caused massive terrorism around the world, death and destruction, and these local Bible thumpers get their panties in a twist over a woman’s personal choice for her health.

HOW CAN THEY KEEP GETTING AWAY WITH IT? The powers that be WANT IT TO BE THIS WAY. They want to keep women barefoot and pregnant with cannon fodder and the next generation of wage slave labor. They like forcing women to work just to keep them from being able to spend time with the children they force them to have or they choose to have. They like paying women less than men, they like not offering maternity leave despite protests of motherhood being sacred right up there with God (and apple pie). They like women having to work to pay another woman for daycare of their children because the only way for them not to be Welfare Queens and lazy sluts is by earning a wage income. Just being a mother is not enough, though being a father does not face the double burden of child support for many families.

No Catholic hospital will give emergency contraception to a rape victim. Nor will they perform abortions even if medically necessary, say to complete an already happening miscarriage. They won’t perform any tubal ligation or vasectomies either. BECAUSE OF DOGMA made up by a bunch of old white men who theoretically were celibate and who had controlled the sex lives of their sheeple for centuries and took their money and lived well and better than most for telling stories on Sunday’s and threatening their flock with hell and damnation if they didn’t pay up. FRAUD FRAUD FRAUD.

Unjust, religiously biased laws pertaining to sexual health have a deep, pervasive, and harmful effect not just in the United States, but also abroad. . . . Unfortunately, a U.S. policy created under [St.] Ronald Reagan often restricts . . . family planning funds from using their own non-U.S. funds to provide clinical abortion services. (p. 46)

REPEAT, prohibits nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to spend their NON U.S. MONEY to provide abortions or even discuss abortion as an option with women and girls in Africa and elsewhere. This is commonly known as the “gag rule” and comes and goes depending on whether a democrat or republican is president and/or maybe Congress domination. The existence of the “global gag rule prohibits a woman from knowing her medical options because to allow her COMPREHENSIVE INFORMATION and care would ENCOURAGE what the RELIGIOUS EXTREMISTS label as IMMORAL ACTIONS.”

Neither Congress nor the President should deny women accurate medical information [especially in other nations]. To impose a gag rule is to mandate a particular religious bias and to promote religious propaganda based on the views of specially privileged religious groups — and to use tax dollars to do so.

Who sits in the Oval Office determines whether or not the global gag rule stands. . . . The lives and rights of women [anywhere] should not hang on ONE MAN’S EDICT (or, when we get there, one woman’s edict). Congress must permanently repeal this gag rule, so no matter who’d in the Oval Office, federal funds can go to hospitals and clinics that provide comprehensive reproductive information and services, rather only to those that restrict informing women of all their choices and rights. [That is, to force birth on women in other nations.] (pp. 46-47)

Health Education
Religious ideology, not medical science, now targets many public school children in health-related curricula across the country. For example, in May 2009, using federal “abstinence-only-until-marriage” funds, the State of Mississippi held a teen abstinence summit. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). “The 2009 summit featured religious themes and overtly Christian messages, including a lengthy presentation about the Ten Commandments by Judge John Hudson. Judge Hudson told the audience, ‘Abstain, God says, from promiscuous sex. . . . Why would He tell us not do it? He’s not. He’s telling us that He created this great and wonderful gift for a special and unique committed relationship that is to last forever.’ The program also included several prayers.” Yes, that’s our tax dollars at work. (p. 47)

Of course, it is only the females that they really don’t want having sex for pleasure. And my belief is that, apart from the caveman level of wanting to make sure any child born is the appropriate male’s (since they sure wouldn’t want to have to pay for someone else’s bastard child), MEN ARE BASICALLY AFRAID THEIR SEXUAL PROWESS WILL BE REVEALED by a woman who has a chance to try sex out with various partners in order to make an assessment of who and what meets her sexual needs. This personal take on the whole virgin obsession is not something I have seen proposed elsewhere as a psychological possibility, but then I haven’t really looked. And don’t even get me started on STDs or the good girl who gets “swept away” versus the slut who is deliberately on the pill or other contraception.

Since 1997 the federal government has allocated MORE THAN $1 BILLION for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. Making matters worse, by LAW, . . . programs CAN’T PROVIDE LIFESAVING information about the health benefits of contraception and condoms for the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS and unintended pregnancies.  (p. 47)

How can anyone say that this is MORAL?

Life-Saving Health Research
For a worldview that often references God’s love, where is the compassion in failing to provide life-saving information about AIDS? Where is the compassion in prohibiting lifesaving research?

Did you ever know someone who faced leukemia? About a quarter of a million children and adults in the world develop some form of leukemia every year. Many die. But there’s hope. Through embryonic stem cell research, scientists may develop a special type of white blood cell that destroys leukemia cancer cells.

. . . diabetes? Millions upon millions face this horrible disease, often results in amputation, disability, and death.

. . . Lou Gehrig’s disease or a stroke or Parkinson’s or a spinal cord injury.  Millions of people face these deadly challenges. Embryonic stem cell research offers real hope, but there is a catch. THEOCRATIC EXTREMISTS object to such basic research. Thousands of embryonic stem cells from fertility clinics across the country are destroyed every year rather than advance what the National Institutes of Health says is “one of the most promising areas of research.” (p. 48)

For me personally, since I have multiple sclerosis, I especially resent the power of THEOCRATIC whose obsession with ancient documents by people who thought the earth was flat should control my future ability to walk, breathe, and live. I will not hold my breath for their god to intervene.

Religious extremists talk about choosing life, yet they halt research that could save millions of lives. Religious extremists say their interpretation of the Bible belongs in our laws, and that human life is less important that their desire to impose their interpretation on the rest of us. These religious extremists simply REFUSE TO CHOOSE LIFE. (p. 48)

And of course there are the self-righteous people like the Reagans who opposed stem cell research right up until St. Ronnie got Alzheimer’s.

Religious Bias Promotes Discrimination
“Faith Based initiatives”
It is unconstitutional to allow religious organizations that get federal fund to hire and fire employees because of their religion.It is unconstitutional to allow religious institutions that get federal money to proselytize to recipients of their government-sponsored social services. It is unconstitutional to send taxpayer dollars to houses of worship. The George W. Bush administration permitted each of these unconstitutional activities, labeling them “faith-based” initiatives. Despite his promise, President Obama has failed to reverse this unconstitutional policy. (p. 49)

Not to mention that no one in Congress denounced these violations. And even if they did, they had Scalia as their backstop for reinforcing the theocrats will. I do believe that just recently Obama may have revoked the federal tax dollars going to pay for abstinence-only education.

The constitutional rights of taxpayers and social service recipients stayed protected from discrimination until President [W.] Bush established the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community initiatives in 2001. The office FUNNELED TAX MONEY to religious groups and gave financial advantages to religious institutions over secular nonprofits competing for government funding. Religious institutions have unique advantages in applying for federal money over secular nonprofits. Houses of worship can get federal funds without first creating a nonprofit 501(3)(c) service organization to separate their sectarian and secular activities. They can also (1) receive grants without segregating the funds from private sources; (2) provide tax-subsidized services in spaces replete with religious symbols; and (3) discriminate in hiring based on religion.  (p. 49)

And of course in recent years, with Hobby Lobby and other Scalia biased SCOTUS majority, even more organizations have been granted the right to discriminate without consequence on the basis of “religious freedom” even when that religious “freedom” removes another person’s religious freedom (or choices, or beliefs). They are trying to not even have to write a letter informing the government that they don’t intend to provide OBAMACARE mandated birth control coverage to their employees. Similarly, Arizona passed a law (I think it was signed) to require WOMEN TO TELL THEIR BOSSES they were taking birth control. Elsewhere they tried to make laws allowing employers to fire women for using birth control, especially single women!

The unbelievable gall, and the utter failure of the DEMOCRATIC PARTY to take dramatic and effective action speaks to the unreasonable power the theocrats have in our government, choke hold on politicians, and domination in the courts thank to W judge packing zealots as “objective” judges.

Other egregious abuses of taxpayers include “Voucher programs [that] force every U.S. taxpayer to subsidize private religious schools.”

These schools discriminate on the basis of religion and proselytize to students who have no choice but to be subjected to propaganda when they should be getting an education. (p. 50)

And it gets worse from there. Appalling child abuse to tell children they are going to hell if they don’t obey priests who end up sexually abusing them for example. As someone said in the movie Spotlight, something like, “He’s a priest. It’s like saying no to God when they ask you to do something.

The thing that makes me crazy is that it is a perpetual and ongoing battle against the thousands of little laws the 50 states and federal Republicans try to slip by in direct violation of the Constitution, no activist judges needed.

Okay, so I am very depressed at the extent and damage these zealots have caused on so many levels, especially Scalia and Bush et al. But the democrats are just more of the same, with less back bone. The fact that there are obvious corrupt churches, especially megachurches, is horrifying to me. And that they get away with all kinds of stuff that anyone or any other business would not because of the “religious exemptions” have got to be stopped. For example, page 53, he talks about how the City of Boulder lost a land-use lawsuit against a megachurch that “sought a sixth expansion of its facility” that violated the need to preserve open spaces.

Why was the megachurch successful in its suit? The FEDERAL RELIGIOUS LAND USE and INSTITUTIONALIZED PERSONS ACT (RLUIPA) privileges religion by providing a broad exemption to the enforcement of any land-use regulations when, and only when, such regulations are challenged by a religious organization. RLUIPA is labeled as PROTECTING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, but its title is misleading [like all of the Orwellian titles of laws passed in the last few decades]. The free expression clause of the First Amendment continues to protect religious freedom as always. Congressional action to “RESTORE” a freedom, such as the ABILITY TO IGNORE LAWS others must obey, is nothing more than special rights dressed up pretty. (p. 53)

Hence we now have had ridiculous lawsuits about pizza places wanting to be able to refuse to serve gays, cake makers who want to be able to refuse to make wedding cakes for gay couples (that would make them a “participant” in an immoral act against their religion, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha), and other bullshit, culminating in the most recent absurdity over transgender people and which bathroom they must use irrespective of what they look like, leading men to feel free to crash into ladies’ rooms for genital checks, and mall security cops to drag out young women who looks to boyish to be allowed in their correct public bathroom. Because, as you may have guessed, God doesn’t like transgender people, even less than those homosexuals the cake makers and pizza places hate.

A nonprofit that serves the poor must obey the law. Why then should a megachurch that focuses on preaching against gay people be exempt from zoning law? . . .Why then should a megachurch that preaches that women should be subservient be able to expand its building willy-nilly ignoring local law? Who does more for society? (p. 53)

And then you have the Duggars and their sister molesting and other girl molesting boy and their Quiverful beliefs that women are cows to breed as much as possible until they die and by God, Mrs. Duggar has proven that the olden days of 10 or 13 children mothers were pikers by having 19! children, and before the incest and child molestation charges kind of blew up their pathetic reality show, I believe she was going to go for 20.

“Our abiding American value, EQUAL TREATMENT UNDER THE LAW, calls out for repeal of this unjust special right in law.” No top-down federal government mandate about what special groups are exempt from following local laws. No special TAX BREAKS for them either, dammit. Let them form a 501(c)(3) or something and prove that a minimum of 80% of revenue is actually going to charitable purposes rather than multi-million dollar mansions for the prosperity preachers and the guy who told his congregation that God wanted him to have a 65 million dollar jet.

I don’t know which is more frightening, the way the theocrats have infiltrated the government for special consideration in law, in the courts, and other ways, or the fact that a megachurch in Boulder, Colorado would have so many freaking sheeple that they needed to expand SIX times. Truly there has been an alien invasion and I am not talking about immigrants, I am talking about pod people! (look it up you youngsters or non-scifi movie goers.)

Other mentions include the stranglehold over textbook content by the Texas school board, such as their attempt to “remove Thomas Jefferson’s name from a list of leaders who have inspired changes in governments worldwide. Why? It might have something to do with the fact that President Jefferson, who authored the Declaration of Independence, also penned the phrase “separation of church and state.” (p. 54)

And of course the inevitable Evolution battle, Scopes Monkey trial ancient history repeats and repeats.

A few theocratic Texans shouldn’t get to determine the educational standards for America’s schools. . . . Textbooks and teachers must present accurate information on evolution , the age of the universe, America’s secular founding, and laws affecting church-state separation. (p. 55)

There are so many ways this book itemizes the ridiculous privileges and costs to taxpayers and harm to communities, that I am running out of ambition to list them all, but faith healing must receive at least a mention, since it kills children and never cures them. How can this be religiously exempt?

And pp. 62-63 the spare the rod and spoil the child old fashioned religiosity become physical child abuse. And is promoted as “Dare to Discipline” by James Dobson of Focus on the Family infamy “with an annual budget of over $100 million” undoubtedly tax-free. He asserts, “spanking should be of sufficient magnitude to cause the child to cry genuinely.” This book doesn’t state for which offenses spanking a child “as young as 18 months” until the child cries “genuinely” is warranted. I can’t even imagine what an 18 month old might do; dirty diapers? He even advocates that if such a treatment results in “more than five minutes of crying” well then ” ‘the child is merely complaining’ and ‘I would require him to stop the protest crying, usually by offering him a little more of whatever caused the original tears.’ ” Note that religious schools may use physical punishment without consequences.

Well, I am going to have to wrap it up and you should just get the book and read it. Let me list just a few more items. Chapter 4 is title GENITAL MORALITY vs. REAL MORALITY.

Human sexuality and Bronze Age attitudes about human sexuality are perhaps the central characteristic of fundamentalist and theocratic public policy. (p. 67)

How about Deuteronomy 22:13-21. which says that a woman who is not a virgin bride must be killed. What is with religion’s obsession with this virgin business [for women] anyhow. (p. 68)

The angry condemnations regarding sex, from the Right and the Left, are prissy, prudish, harsh, and humorless. And these condemnation, these sexual police brigades, are at the heart of fundamentalism and some forms of political correctness. (p. 71)

Punishing people of either gender for sex, making people feel guilty for sex, is, as the blogger Greta Christina puts it, like “punishing you for getting hungry.”(p. 74) [!!!!]

The Meese Commission of the Ronald Reagan years lied about the connection between porn and violence, because those at the top really want us to focus on the easily understood trivia of Victorian sexual regulation rather than the complexities of the common good for an entire nation. . . . This prudish obsession with sex emanates from something inside that is twisted, dark, and vicious. Take a step back and survey the scene from Prop 8 in California or the attempts to gut Planned Parenthood in Washington, D.C. Is there anyone more sex-crazed than a fundamentalist? (p. 74)

Lies about sex education and restrictions on women’s health care are harmful to people and they are also bad public policy. The prude police are also very harmful to society as a whole because false religiously biased genital morality dominates American debate — and distracts the American people from the challenging and important moral issues of justice and compassion for our fellow citizens and for people throughout the world. (p. 75)

Chapter 5 Two American Traditions
Religious Hucksters and Secular Innovators

There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design. — Michele Bachmann

There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness. — George Washington

Oh my this chapter is just too full of so many outrageous things that I do not think I could even just select one or two choice tidbits. Subheadings like The Theocratic HuckstersThe Televangelist Hucksters, which is definitely redundant hint at the points discussed. But here are a few generalizations from the text. Did you know that churches don’t have to even file any financial information to the government? Unlike for profit, or nonprofits, they are untouchable. And I mean that literally. “Only a ‘high-level’ IRS official can even authorize an audit of a religious organization. ” Everyone knows they don’t have to pay income tax on the “donations” of their flock, but did you know that “Religious groups can legally give tax-free housing allowances to so-called clergy (some of whom might be family), ALLOWANCES THAT ARE NOT COUNTED AS INCOME, EXEMPTING THE HOUSING FROM TAXATION.” (p. 84)

Meanwhile , many of the ministers [Osteen] who preach that very dogma [sexual repression] live very luxuriously — subsidized by our tax money with special exemptions offered to no one else and REQUIRED NO WHERE IN THE CONSTITUTION. (p. 89)

Indeed I would argue that the separation of church and state would mandate that religious organizations SHOULD NOT BE EXEMPTED from taxation, auditing, or financial disclosure as are required by non-profits or other entities (like political groups).

He discussed the fact that the infamous “C Street” rooming house (choke) is affiliated with The Family “a decades old religious organization” so they have a religious exemption because they may hold “services” there and so tax-exemption apply. And notable Republicans have stayed there and carried on sexual liaisons there while denouncing other people’s sexual conduct and lack of morality. They themselves it seems, believe themselves to be anointed by God to do as they please, immoral and terrifying (p. 90):

I kidded earlier about the C Street group and its tax-subsidized housing and sexual shenanigans, but the history of The Family runs deep and dark. The Family’s secretive leader, Doug Coe, positively compared Jesus’s teachings to the Red Guard during the Chinese Cultural Revolution: “I’ve seen pictures of young men in the Red Guard of China. . . . they would bring in this young man’s mother and father, lay her on the table with a basket on the end. . . . He would take an axe and cut her head off. . . They have to put the purposes of the Red Guard ahead of the mother-father-brother-sister –their own life! That was a covenant. A pledge. That was what Jesus said.”

Sorry, I will give you time to vomit here. And I must note, of course it was the MOTHER’S HEAD that was chopped off.

Chapter 6 The Theocrats (aka the Fundamentalist Fifty)
Newt Gingrich:  The first job we have as Americans is to reach out to everybody in the country who is NOT YET SAVED, and to help them understand the spiritual basis of a creator-endowed society.

Barry Goldwater: I don’t have any respect for the Religious Right.

Do we have a theocracy in America? Not yet. But at no other time in American history have we had such a high percentage of theocratic members of Congress — people who expressly endorse religious bias in American law. Just as ominously, at no other time have religious fundamentalists effectively had veto power over of the the country’s two major political parties. The religious bias in numerous laws described in this book is NOT the result of a constitutional requirement. Far from it. These biased laws have been enacted despite our Constitution.

There are only 535 members of Congress, and they make laws for the other 300 million of us. . . .

Many — indeed, most — of the 535 sitting members of Congress who vote consistently for theocratic policies will not be discussed in the pages that follow. Doing so would take a whole book in itself. Rather, the fifty members listed in this chapter are merely a representative sampling of those politicians who wear the theocratic bias on their sleeve — ones worthy of an award for theocratic values. (p. 91)

The rest of the chapter names name of “these heroes of twenty-first-century American theocracy.” They are listed alphabetically with various categories for the Awards, like “Michigan-Is-A-Very-Scary Award. AND THIS WAS PUBLISHED BEFORE THE FLINT WATER CRISIS WAS KNOWN OR REPORTED. It would make a fun drinking game to guess the possible names on the list, but some are no-brainers (pun intended) like Michele Bachmann.

Unfortunately, I am almost certain that only 1 percent of 1 percent of the citizens in this country could name the names of their representatives in the House. Maybe senators is possible, like our Al Franken who was already famous before becoming a politician. Of course, many others might know their senators names but not their party affiliation, what principles, if any, they hold, and how they have voted, or anything at all about them.

And of course, who can name their state representatives and party-affiliation without looking them up? Not me. I have always just voted democratic ticket because that was my litmus test for humanity. Alas, that is not the case anymore. So I didn’t need to know the names. This was my mistake, because it just meant when my candidate didn’t make it, I just signed and forgot about it. NO MORE! Now I know and actively support democratic or other (never Republicans though, they can’t pass my “human decency” test) candidates. The takeover by the theocrats was deliberately done and must be recognized as such and ACTIVELY and VIGOROUSLY countered.

And no, I am not going to name the 50 names. Buy the book or get it from your library. But I must point out that while the majority are Republican, when it comes to theocrats, the Democrats have some too.

Which reminds me, in addition to the rise of theocrats in Congress, we must not forget that they are also disproportionately infiltrated in the legal system as well, especially as judges appointed by W.

Chapter 7  — The Secularists
George W. Bush: I don’t know that atheists should be CONSIDERED AS CITIZENS, nor should they be CONSIDERED PATRIOTS. This is one nation under God.

Theodore Roosevelt: To discriminate against a thoroughly upright citizen because he belongs to some particular church, or because, like Abraham Lincoln, he has not AVOWED his allegiance to any church, is an OUTRAGE against the liberty of CONSCIENCE which is one of the FOUNDATIONS OF AMERICAN LIFE. 

Unlike the previous chapter list of 50 theocrats, this chapter on openly non-theist members is much shorter: one. And even then, though he says he does not believe in “a Supreme Being” he states he is a Unitarian, which is definitely not an atheist like me. No godless infidel aka atheist could be elected to office in today’s climate. Not even, or especially not, Abraham Lincoln.

The author goes on to describe how we secularists need a better “marketing plan” as he humorously puts it. Here are the two bad/good quotes for chapter 9 Our Secular Decade: A Strategic Plan (p. 119):

Rick Perry:  I think it’s time for us to just hand it over to God and say, “God, Your’re going to have to fix this.” . . .  I think it’s time for us to use our wisdom and our influence and really put it in God’s hands. That’s what I’m going to do, and I hope you’ll join me.”

Barry Goldwater [!! who knew?]: The great decisions of government cannot be dictated by the concerns of religious factions. . . . We have succeeded for 205 years in keeping the affairs of state separate from the uncompromising idealism [dogma] of religious groups and we mustn’t stop now. To retreat from that separation would violate the PRINCIPLES of CONSERVATISM and the values upon which the framers built this democratic republic.

Rick Perry’s quote is especially puzzling to me. Since his God is an imaginary being, just what does he think would happen if we let “god take the wheel” of this country? If his God wanted to do something, wouldn’t he have not let the U.S. to get broken in the first place? And the arrogance that he believes if God DID FIX THIS it would come out in his favor is laughable.

In the final chapter, Chapter 10 — A Vision of a Secular America he promotes a 10-point vision for changing the alarming trend of theocracy, especially AUTHORITARIAN theocracy is a danger. I will still never get over the election and downfall of America with the presidency of Ronald Reagan. While I always was a lifelong democrat, my father had been a Republican. As a WWII veteran, he believed in the ideals of America and could not see that the Republicans were not worthy of his vote. He later told me than among his regrets, the vote for Ronald Reagan was among the top of the list, if not the top. I was dumbfounded but glad that he was truly the man I believed he was, heroic, and was no longer under the spell of the conservatives.

The bad/good quotes for Chapter 10 (p. 133) are:

Ronald Reagan: Within the covers of the Bible are all the answers for all the problems MEN face.

He produced a budget than zeroed out any funding for libraries every year of his administration. The irony that he got a presidential library never fails to grate.

Thomas Jefferson: Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error.

I have to say that if I could choose the people I want to go have a beer with, it would be Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, never Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush. The fact that these two men held the same office as them, as well as Adams (2), Lincoln, Roosevelt(s), Washington, is terrifying. Clinton the Second or The Donald are similarly maddening, though obviously The Donald is the signifier of the end of the world the End Time people have been waiting for. I just hoped I would escape with my life before it all exploded again. At least we avoided the anti-Christ Ted Cruz, but with the Republicans backing away from The Donald, some of the also-rans might get a second chance, but at least if that is the case, at least we know we can expect a theocracy and not just a mad dog drunk with power.



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