Acton Institute Powerblog

Over the Edge with the Religious Left

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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

Marc Vander Maas

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