Left Aims to Smite ‘Theocracy’ Movement

Left aims to smite ‘theocracy’ movement (Washington Times)

Secular humanists and leftist activists convened here over the weekend to strategize how to counter what they contend is a growing political threat from Christian conservatives. Understanding and answering the “religious far right” that propelled President Bush’s re-election is key to preventing a “theocracy” from governing the nation, speakers argued at a weekend conference. “The religious right now has an unprecedented influence on American politics and policy,” said Ralph White, co-founder of the Open Center, a New York City institution focused on holistic learning. “It is incumbent upon all of us to understand as precisely as possible its aims, methods, beliefs, theology and psychology.”

The Open Center, founded 21 years ago, played host to the two-day conference at City College of New York called “Examining the Real Agenda of the Religious Far Right.” People for the American Way, a liberal advocacy group that opposes religion in the public square, co-sponsored the conference, which drew about 500 participants. “This may be the darkest time in our history,” said Bob Edgar, general secretary of the left-leaning National Council of Churches and former six-term Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania. “The religious right have been systematically working at this for 40 years. The question is, where is the religious left?”

These people are either delusional or woefully ignorant of both American history and electoral math. I’m a secular humanist but understand that I’m in a small minority in what is perhaps the most religious nation in the developed world. That said, it is simply absurd that the “religious far right” is sufficiently large to elect a president, let alone that they’d have picked George W. Bush if they were indeed powerful enough to choose our leader.

President Bush is, like it or not, much closer to the middle on values issues than Open Center or People for the American Way. Further, the idea that Christian religious forces are more powerful now than they were at earlier points in our history, especially our first century and a half, is absurd. Indeed, for years after the passage of the 1st Amendment, Virginia and Massachusetts had official state religions.

The state of American culture is positively decadent by the standards of even the mid-1960s. Our values on things ranging from premarital sex, divorce, homosexuality, profane language, and a host of other issues are far closer to the secular humanist ideal than Biblical teaching. Even our religious leaders are phenomenally tolerant of deviation from Christian norms.

Indeed, I just finished watching, via TiVo delay, Pat Robertson offer a glowing endorsement of Rudy Giuliani on ABC’s “This Week” program. Robertson is the very face of the “religious right.” (Robertson, without explantion, did note that he would “vote against John McCain under any circumstances.”) If he can wax enthusiastic about the likes of Giuliani, a pro-abortion, pro-gay rights, adulterer, then I’d say we’re more than a smidge away from theocracy.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Is it possible that they need to convince themselves of a clear and present danger in order to implement repressive measures?

  2. bryan says:

    While Pat likes to fashion himself as the face of the religious right, he’s far less influential than people give him credit for.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Bryan: Likely true. But he’s the face of the Religious Right as far as its most vocal critics are concerned, filling the same bugaboo role that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton play.

  4. Jim Pfaff says:

    You make fair comments about the influence of the “religious right.” They (including myself) don’t control the political process, but great influence is had within the Republican Party and within the electorate in general because evangelicals and Roman Catholics lead on moral issues which are of concern to those within and without the faith: namely traditional marriage, abortion, taxes, etc. So, whereas as a block of voters they do not wield absolute power, when using wise political tactics they command great influence.

  5. jason says:

    The religious right wants to make this country a dictatorship and a theocrcy. All they want is control like communism they want control over your entire life, and to make the middle and lower income people of this nation a slave labor force and to consilodate all wealth and power to the richest people, they want an aristocrcy and also a militancy that has not been seen since nazi germany to go on crusades they belive you must destroy people to save them they want to invade the muslim nations and convert them to christianity. in their minds they think the world must have 1,000 years of christian rule for the rapture to happen these people are insane. There is hope because bush only got reelected by 3% and did not win the popular vote in 2000 these nazi christians are scaring people away from the republican party and it will not survive this decade. Abortion will remain legal forever YEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHhhhhhhhhh! stem cell research will continue as it is in so many nations and gays will be allowed to get married and lets not forget evolution will always be taught in schools so take that wingnuts i love putting you down

  6. It is rather amusing (and often annoying) to watch many on the Left rant about the pending theocracy and many on the Right acting as if God has been banned from the US.

    Not to employ a typical undergraduate conclusion: but the truth is clearly somewhere between the two.

    The idea that we are about to become a theocracy is absurd, as is the idea that there is an all-out war on faith.

  7. Jack Tanner says:

    The irony of jackasses like Jason calling people ‘wingnuts’ is apparently lost on him. The US is about to become the only theocracy on earth with no officials in gov’t, no state religion, no required church attendance and a constitutional amendment forbidding the establishment of a state religion. As soon as you see people referring to evangelicals and Catholics as one group it’s pretty obvious they have no idea what they’re talking about. Secularists and religious people take different sides of moral issues. Go figure! Isn’t that what would define them? The last time I checked religious affiliation in this country was voluntary, along with church attendance and voting. Strange how you have dozens of choices of major religious followings available in this country but only 2 major political parties.