A major, industrialized country, armed with nuclear weapons, elects a fundamentalist religious leader, and is defended by a military staffed with religious fanatics. A small group of self-selected religious elites directs the ideology from which the political and military leadership takes their cues, and based upon a literal interpretation of their holy texts, believes that history is moving towards a global holy war in which their nation has a vital role to play.
This sounds more than a little bit like Iran. But what I am describing is, in fact, the vision that a large number of people have for the United States of America in just a few years.
The idea that there might soon be an explicitly religious political party in this country is disturbing. It's particularly problematic because it indicates that the former Republicans who would form this party are simply unwilling to compromise or work with other Republicans who see things a little bit differently than them -- in other words, they require an ideology so pure that they will not make common cause even with other Republicans.
But "disturbing" reaches a new level when one considers the extent to which the military is being used as a stomping ground for those same evangelical, millenialist Christians who are considering a schism from the GOP. An incident in the linked article describes a Jewish cadet showing up after receiving an appointment to the Air Force Academy and being evangelized so aggressively that he withdrew. There are ministries which explicitly try to reach out to the military and obtain converts within the ranks of professional soldiers.
The prospect of religious warriors, subscribing to the teachings of a small group of religious leaders who also direct the ideology of a significant political party, resembles the Shi'ite clerics who sit in Iran's Council of Guardians and use their positions of religious influence to control the country's policies. The marriage of religion, politics, and military power in that country has created a static social environment, a necessarily aggressive and militant foreign policy, and a culture which, if the elites have their way, will revert to that of the seventh century.
While some Christians might see the analogous drift here in the U.S. as more benign, I see no reason to think that such a transformation -- which could very well include in its development a revolution every bit as traumatic as Iran's was -- would produce a result any different here than what happened to Persia a generation ago.
We were warned about this by our fourth President: "In no instance have the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people." "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy."
The proposed and evolving three-way marriage between the evangelical Christian pulpit, the hearts and minds of the military, and the explicit assertion of Christian political power is a path headed directly towards theocracy. "The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries." I see nothing benign at all about a Christian theocracy running the United States. I see only danger and violence.
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