Sunday, November 14, 2004

Bob Jones: FUCK YOU

A huge middle finger to Bob Jones III, who wrote a congratulatory letter to George Bush that was dripping with theocratic intent (see here for the full letter, with comments). As I mentioned before, my arguments about theocracy were restricted purely to the question of what mattered this election. This doesn't mean I'm unconcerned about the power of the religious right. "Theocracy" might be an awkward buzzword for what worries many liberals, but it's an adequate descriptor for the agenda of people like Bob Jones, who'd like to see This Great Land of Ours awash in gentle Jesus-radiation: a Bible in every pot.

Think I'm kidding? Here's an excerpt from Jones's letter:

In your re-election, God has graciously granted America—though she doesn't deserve it—a reprieve from the agenda of paganism. You have been given a mandate. We the people expect your voice to be like the clear and certain sound of a trumpet. Because you seek the Lord daily, we who know the Lord will follow that kind of voice eagerly.

Don't equivocate. Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ. Honor the Lord, and He will honor you.

Had your opponent won, I would have still given thanks, because the Bible says I must (I Thessalonians 5:18). It would have been hard, but because the Lord lifts up whom He will and pulls down whom He will, I would have done it. It is easy to rejoice today, because Christ has allowed you to be His servant in this nation for another presidential term. Undoubtedly, you will have opportunity to appoint many conservative judges and exercise forceful leadership with the Congress in passing legislation that is defined by biblical norm regarding the family, sexuality, sanctity of life, religious freedom, freedom of speech, and limited government. You have four years—a brief time only—to leave an imprint for righteousness upon this nation that brings with it the blessings of Almighty God. [emphasis added]

Please read the italicized portion over and over again until it sinks in. That's what theocracy is all about, folks. If you don't see it there, you're in deep denial. It's incumbent on more rational conservatives to distance themselves from people like Bob Jones. It's incumbent on liberals to aid the process by dropping their overemotionalism and regaining a measure of rationality: dKos and Atrios and Michael Moore shouldn't be your spokespeople; a left wing full of Kevin Drums, however, would be welcome.

I've argued before that secularism is the neutral ground that allows our country to enjoy a largely harmonious religious pluralism. Buddhist temples and Christian churches can be found next door to each other in many cities. High school students form circles of friends who come from many different backgrounds. Such diversity gives us strength. Ideological homogeneity leads to ideological inbreeding. Both liberals and conservatives should do what they can to promote diversity not only as a fact but as a value, as something to uphold and cherish.

Lee at Verbum Ipsum makes a good point in a recent post about secularism: in truth, it's not really neutral; secularism is itself founded on values. I agree. When I use the term "neutral ground" with regard to secularism, I know full well that there are different secularisms, and they aren't neutral in an absolute sense. Saddam Hussein's secularism isn't the same thing as American secularism, for example. So treat the word "neutral" with some caution, but remember that it does make sense within the American context: our secularism is a latticework woven through the American sacred canopy, ensuring both a religio-cultural cohesiveness and religious distinctiveness. Secularism is crucial to the functioning of American culture as a whole. Without it, things fall to pieces. Can you name a single country founded on explicitly religious principles that enjoys an American level of religious diversity and overall tolerance? Too much theocracy is bad for the national health.

Bob Jones? Meet Bob Smith.


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