Over the course of the past few months, many leaders on the left have been ramping up their rhetoric against the influence of the much-maligned “religious right” in American politics. The most recent high-profile example came from Democratic Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado, who described James Dobson and his Focus on the Family organization as “…the Antichrist of the world” in response to their strong advocacy against the filibustering of judicial nominees. Salazar later retracted his statement in the face of mounting criticism, but it is indicative of the state of things in America today that a major politician can so thoughtlessly condemn a major Christian organization using such inflammatory language.

Now comes word of a new effort by secular humanists and leftist activists to counter the “growing political threat from Christian conservatives.” (Link here, registration required.) The meeting, held in New York, seems to have produced little more than overheated rhetoric like this:

“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?”

…and this:

The United States is “not yet a theocracy,” Joan Bokaer, founder of TheocracyWatch.org, said Friday night, but she argued that “the United States is beginning to fit the model of a reconstructed America.”

There you have it, friends. America is teetering on the brink of falling into a pit of theocratic oppression. And what evidence is given to back up this contention?

Tax cuts combined with increased funding for faith-based social programs and decreases in welfare spending, Ms. Bokaer said, were examples of “the theological right … zealously setting up to establish their beliefs in all aspects of our society.”

She compared the Federal Communications Commission’s threatened crackdown on indecency on television with the Taliban, the repressive Islamic rulers of Afghanistan who harbored Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network until toppled by a U.S.-led invasion.

“Indecency police are a major part of theocratic states,” Ms. Bokaer said, flashing a picture of Islamic women covered head to foot under the title, “Taliban: Ministry for the Protection of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.”

Let’s leave aside the absurd contention that the public outcry over indecency on broadcast television and the resulting response of regulators is in any way similar to the Taliban’s ideas about maintaining law and order.

What is more interesting is the dogged devotion to the idea that the government must be the primary agent in society to care for the poor and downtrodden. This belief persists in spite of the fact that mountains of evidence exist showing governmental intervention and assistance not only don’t solve the problem of poverty, but in many cases actually exacerbates it. Those who question this assertion would do well to pick up a copy of Marvin Olasky’s The Tragedy of American Compassion, which addresses this topic in much greater detail.

It seems more likely that the real threat of “theocracy” comes not from the religious right, but from the religious left – a movement that places its faith in the government, adheres to a failed doctrine of collectivism, and is willing to demonize anyone who stands in the way of its drive to impose it’s belief system on all of us.

Hat tip: Captain’s Quarters


  • http://richleonardi.blogspot.com/2005/05/over-edge-with-religious-left.html Rich Leonardi

    “What is more interesting is the dogged devotion to the idea that the government must be the primary agent in society to care for the poor and downtrodden. This belief persists in spite of the fact that mountains of evidence exist showing governmental intervention and assistance not only don’t solve the problem of poverty, but in many cases actually exacerbates it. Those who question this assertion would do well to pick up a copy of Marvin Olasky’s The Tragedy of American Compassion, which addresses this topic in much greater detail.

    It seems more likely that the real threat of ‘theocracy’ comes not from the religious right, but from the religious left – a movement that places its faith in the government, adheres to a failed doctrine of collectivism, and is willing to demonize anyone who stands in the way of its drive to impose it’s belief system on all of us.”

    + + + + + + + + + + + +

    Recently-minted Colorado Senator Ben Salazar, a self-identified Catholic whose campaign went to great lengths to demonstrate his moderate credentials despite his support for abortion, calls Focus on the Family’s James Dobson “the Anti-Christ of the world” for opposing judicial fillibusters.

    Some wag once quipped that if you replaced every self-identified Catholic in Congress with a practicing Moslem, the United States would have a public policy decidedly more consistent with Catholicism. That wag was right.

  • http://www.hubsandspokes.com/archives/2005/05/yes_and_amen_1.html hubs and spokes

    John McCandlish in the Washington Post: Evangelicals are concerned about the frequently advanced and historically untenable secularists’ view of the intent of our non-establishment/free exercise of religion clause: that everything that has its origin in religion must be swept…

  • Mari Hobgood

    Let us examine who it is who is like the Taliban. The Taliban destroyed religious monuments, imposed speech codes, through legislation it imposed its beliefs on the population without regard to the will of the people, and showed a complete lack of respect for the sacredness of human life. Sounds a lot like the ACLU.

  • http://www.brendantrainor.com Brendan Trainor

    There is one solution to “indecencey” on broadcast tv–turn the channel. Don’t run to the religious right for more government. Throw the tv out. Or, perhaps, just perhaps, admit its just a television show, and give children credit for being intelligent.

    What is far more dangerous is giving federal funds to “faith based” charities. Now you’ve got the government involved in religious functions. The religions should be withdrawing from 501(c)(3) status, and completely separating themselves from the state, in order to be independent voices for their beliefs.

  • Marc Vander Maas

    Mr. Trainor:

    I appreciate your points. I want to make clear that the point being made is not to be construed as an endorsement of the regulatory powers of the FCC – for the purposes of this post, I’ll remain strictly neutral on that subject – but to point out that comparing a situation in which millions of citizens petitioned their government for action to the brutal, tyrannical and oppressive regime of the taliban is utterly ridiculous.

    With regard to your second point, you may find [url="http://www.acton.org/press/video/1995-01-20_Sirico.wmv"]this video[/url] featuring an exchange between Rev. Robert Sirico – Acton’s president – and Congressman Charles Rangel interesting.

  • http://www.theflickeringmirror.com Daniel Crandall

    The ACLU was an organization started by communists on the pretext of perserving civil rights. It has become the legal forerunner pushing Left Wing causes. It is not, however, comparable to the Taliban. Let the Left devolve into hatefilled rhetoric. It merely shows everyone that they are losing the battle of ideas. Show where the ACLU is wrong. Oppose them in their efforts to use state police powers to enforce a “naked public square.” But it is just too much to say that they are equivalent to the Taliban. I know of no situation where the ACLU encouraged its followers to kill a secular apostate.