Why Do Conservative Christians Hate The Constitution?by Allen Snyder
A few weeks ago, on CNN's Crossfire, James Carville, Tucker Carlson and their guests howled about the giant Ten Commandments rock recently uprooted from the lobby of the Alabama State Supreme Court building. Chief Justice "Crazy" Roy Moore, responsible for the rock's placement, had garnered so much support against its removal, believers were flocking to Montgomery as though someone discovered a Jesus-shaped squash at the Piggly Wiggly.
Loudly condemning the removal was The Christian Defense Fund. When asked specifically what the genuflectors were protesting, the CDF attorney gushed that the monument's removal was a travesty, representing nothing less than the moral decline of Western civilization. Further compelling evidence, he said, of the Devil's handiwork and America's destructive prejudice against Christianity.
Peppered throughout his tirade were comments emphasizing the monument's removal as the constitutionally questionable act. Astonishingly, neither host mentioned the obvious - that the display's initial placement, not its removal, was the problem. The CDF attorney acted like Ten Commandment displays are de facto constitutional and opponents must prove removing the display doesn't violate the law.
Amazing how Fundies always shortcut through the facts. Supreme Court precedent prohibits obviously religious displays on public or government property (although they incorrectly allow for so-called "contextual" or "historical" displays). Displaying the Ten Commandments in such locations is unconstitutional. Period. The burden of proof is on display supporters to show that displaying the monument is constitutional.
Allowing the Christian Right to dictate this debate's discourse plays right into their hands. They just love to play the part of tortured victim, sacrificial martyr, and oppressed minority - makes them feel all pious, righteous, and Christ-like. Their "everybody-is-against-us" paranoia tugs at the heart-strings of the hopelessly misinformed and terminally brainwashed. Next thing you know, 75% of people believe Christianity is an endangered religion, America is a "Christian nation," and the Commandments are the basis for American law. All false, of course.
Christianity in America , particularly in the South, is so ubiquitously in-your-face and shamelessly political, nonbelievers like me either regularly convulse with monster cases of dry heaves or chuckle to ourselves at the vacuous platitudes posted on church marquees. The governmental largesse heaped on Christian institutions is disgustingly transparent (not to mention illegal). BushCo's recent Christmas-in-September gift to "faith-based" (read: religious) organizations reeks of both favoritism and political pandering.
And when intelligent people like Slate's Dahlia Lithwick imagine whether the Founders "would object to the ways in which religion has been chased out of the public square" (posted 8/21/03), it's clear the Christian Right's propaganda campaign is working beautifully. Such alarmist nonsense, when repeated continually in church pulpits or on The 700 Club, begins to sound truthful to lobotomized Christian apologists. Then again, it's not hard to manipulate the thoughtless.
Consider: imagine you're a fundamentalist Christian (it's OK, the headache is temporary) who absolutely needs to be praying to God constantly. Now go through your daily routine, praying wherever possible. There's scarcely a second where you can't pray, praise, or worship.
Start praying the minute you wake, shower and sing hymns, jam to gospel in the car, hum "God Bless America" in the elevator, read inspirational poetry, say grace at lunch, Bible-read on your break, jam more on the way home, play Bible Baseball while making dinner, say grace again, watch hours of Christian TV, bless everyone before bed, and make the kids say "now I lay me down to sleep" (a sick children's prayer if ever there was one).
Sounds to me like personal religious expression is just fine. It's when they can't make everyone else, like graduating seniors or governmental institutions, go blindly along that they get pissed off. It's not about "expression," it's about coerced conformity to their twisted right-wing Christian mentality.
So much for the "chased out of the public square" nonsense.
Ms. Lithwick also writes that "one possible view [on church/state separation] is that the Establishment Clause was intended only to ensure that there was no official adoption of a state religion." In a diverse nation like the United States, it's not a state-adopted religion that non-Christians have to worry about. Far more dangerous are the gross stenches of impropriety emanating from the lucrative favoritism Christian institutions routinely blackmail from a born-again and constitutionally illiterate Federal government.
So why does the Christian Right really hate the Constitution?
Is it that they're unwilling or incapable of making even the simplest conceptual and intellectual distinctions? That they can't see the world without Christian blinders? Can't they separate their private religion from their public politics? Is their ignorance so bottomless, they can't distinguish the Founder's faith (they weren't "deeply religious men," as Lithwick claims) from their revolutionary goals?
Well, it's all that, but underlying everything is a broad-spectrum fear and loathing.
You see, the Constitution provides prohibitions against and remedies for what the Christian Right really wants - a Christian-dominated theocracy which imposes its dogmatic will, and worse, its vague, infantile, and useless Ten Commandments-like morality on all Americans whether they like it or not.
Allen Snyder is an instructor of Philosophy and Ethics at Pellissippi State Technical Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org This article is copyright by Allen Snyder and originally published by opednews.com but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog, or web media so long as this credit is attached.