You might recall that last Easter, a group of secularist bloggers started a blogswarm to "Blog Against Theocracy." At first I assumed they would be blogging against the ancient nation of Israel, or perhaps some Muslim countries, but I quickly realized they were blogging against something that didn't exist in America and wasn't being worked for in America...yet they wanted people to believe it was.
I use the term BATS because the whole concept of "Blogging Against Theocracy" in a country where there has never been theocracy, is no theocracy, and is no move to institute theocracy is quite silly. Thus, BATS: Blogging Against Theocracy Silliness.
This group of misguided souls believes that any influence of religious faith in the public square constitutes "theocracy." They believe theocracy is manifested in things like teaching creationism, defending the human life of disabled people like Terri Schiavo, defending unborn children, maintaining the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, and any expression of faith in the public square or acknowledgement of the Christian heritage of America.
And though the group claimed they have nothing against Christianity, they chose to have this "Blog Against Theocracy" on Easter, the most sacred holiday in Christianity.
Then they had another on Independence Day, the day this nation was founded by a Christian people who recognized certain truths:
That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
And these founders did so
with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence
And now, for the second Easter in a row, they again "Blog Against Theocracy." If this is an indication that they bear no ill will toward Christianity, I would hate to see their definition of hostility."
While carrying on this activity at Easter is highly disrespectful of the 82% of Americans who identify with Christianity, still, I welcome the opportunity to address such misconceptions and distortions of the role of religion in America.
As we did last year, Dakota Voice and others will stand against this error to set the record straight. If error is allowed to stand unchallenged, it becomes accepted as truth. The things against which the BATS rail(a) do not constitute theocracy, (b) do not violate the Constitution, and (c) are perfectly reasonable in our free society, and necessary to it's good health and maintenance.
But before we begin to examine some of these fallacious assumptions and point to the truth, we should examine exactly what "theocracy" is so that we have a proper understanding of the subject matter.
A "theocracy" is defined as "government of a state by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided."
"Immediate" is defined as "acting or being without the intervention of another object, cause, or agency" or "present to the mind independently of other states or factors."
Therefore, a theocracy would have to be the government of a state by divine guidance or those regarded as divinely guided (i.e. a pastor, priest or other holy figure), which has no other consideration or object than obedience to a deity. In other words, their foremost and overriding concern must be that the commands of the deity are adhered to.
The Encarta Encyclopedia refers to "theocracy" with the Greek root of the word theokratia, meaning “government by a god”. As examples it refers to Old Testament Israel, Muslim communities, and modern-day Iran.
Wikipedia also sheds light on the meaning of "theocracy" and provides several examples. The United States is not found among them.
Since in the United States our leaders are elected by a majority vote of the people, there are no appointments of holy figures to ensure religious doctrine is adhered to. Further, most do not even come from an officially religious background.
The oath of office taken by United States leaders also indicates that their primary objective is not to ensure compliance with religious directives. Instead, it states that their primary concern and obligation is to respect and implement our United States Constitution.
Consider the oath of office taken by congressmen:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
Note that their first obligation is to "support and defend the Constitution," and to be true to the Constitution and hold allegiance to it. There is no reference of allegiance to a religious deity or code or creed. The only reference to divinity in the oath is where the oath is affirmed with an appeal for help from God in carrying out that oath, and an implicit accountability before God if the oath-taker breaks the oath.
The president takes his oath as prescribed by Article II Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
And since George Washington added "So help me God," that tradition has been carried on by U.S. presidents.
Again, you will note that the highest priority of the president is to carry out the duties of his office and safeguard the U.S. Constitution. Other than the same appeal to God for help, there is no hint of theocracy.
We have seen theocracies in world history, and there are theocracies in the world now, primarily in the Muslim world.
At the end of the day, there has never been a theocracy in America, despite America having been a far more religious culture in the past than it is today. In fact, the farther back you go, the more the character of our culture was overtly Christian. Yet you find no theocracy.
And today you find no theocracy. Our government is not run by pastors and priests, nor is anyone advocating it be run by pastors and priests. Nor do we see anyone wanting to do away with the Constitution and replace it with the Holy Bible.
We do, however, see a number of people who feel threatened by Christian values and the Christian worldview. We see many people who would rather the Christian faith remain within the walls of the church and never escape into the "real world" Monday-Saturday.
They want to live their lives the way they want without ever being confronted when they're wrong. Being rebuked when you're wrong offends, but there is no right not-to-be-offended in the Constitution.
They want unhindered freedom to build a secular world where God, the Bible and Christians have no relevance or influence. The Constitution provides no such right; if secularists want such a world, they should work for it the way every policy group does--and do so without resorting to the fake boogeyman of "theocracy" fear mongering.
Several of the writers at Dakota Voice will spend some of their precious Easter time this weekend, again refuting the implication that the Christian influence of individual citizens somehow constitutes a violation of the doctrine of "separation of church and state" or constitutes "theocracy."
Additionally, some other blogs, also concerned about the encroachment of secularism and the silencing of faith will join us this weekend. As they post their contributions, we will alert our readers; they will likely do the same with other blog posts for their readers. All posts from the group will also be listed at "Blogging Against Secularism."
The blogs joining us to earnestly contend for the faith are:
Ft. Hard Knox
To all of you, Dakota Voice is grateful to partner with you!