Blogging against Theocracy

I suppose I could have cheaped out and used yesterday's post about James Carville's inane comparison of Bill Richardson to Judas as an example of the problems inherent in the lack of a separation between church and state, but that would be too easy (not to mention a bit of a stretch).

According to Wikipedia, 78.5% of the population identifies as Christian, an unquestionable majority, and that fact is often put forward by religious types who argue that since we live in a democratic society (we don't, but bear with me), then the "values" set forth by Christianity should be dominant in our society. But they gloss over the most important part of that question.

What, exactly, are Christian values? Is there a definitive list somewhere that we as a nation might examine and debate about and then decide on?

Ask a Christian conservative that, and the answer will likely be some form of "it's right there in the Bible," with perhaps a nod toward the Ten Commandments (carefully neglecting the rest of the Mosaic Law, except on the gay thing). Jesus often gets skipped over--his message of love and acceptance doesn't generally fit into their theology--but Paul (and people who claimed to be Paul) get a lot of love, especially when it comes to woman-hating.

The reason for this--and it's obvious to anyone on the outside--is that the Bible, the rulebook for this vast conglomeration of religions, is a mishmash of stories and life lessons and symbolic language and contradictory laws. Don't get me wrong--for a book written over an incredibly long period, by dozens of authors, across multiple cultures, it holds together remarkably well, but that's more a testament to the later editors than it is proof of a consistent author, or more importantly, of a divine presence in the words.

And this mishmash has already been the cause of great division inside the world of Christianity. While there have been schisms in powerful churches for purely political reasons, a great many of them have been as a result of dogmatic differences. The divisions between Catholic and Protestant theology are just the starting point--the divisions inside the Protestant movement are often hilarious to the outside observer. I get a kick out of it myself because I've been on the inside, and remember vociferously defending my narrow spectrum of beliefs as the one and only truth.

So what does this have to do with theocracy? It's pretty simple, actually. It doesn't matter if 78.5% of the population fits itself under this umbrella of Christianity--not all Christians believe the same thing, even the basics. Forget the margins. And if people can't agree on whether their holy book claims Jesus is God or Man or some sort of hybrid, what makes them think that they'll agree on more important issues of governance? And if they're a member of a small church, what makes them think they'd wind up in charge, or would even have a say? Remember, this discussion began with the claim that we're a democratic society, where the majority rules, and that since the majority is Christian, they get to rule. But that only works in an ecumenical sense, and does anyone here believe that Jeremiah Wright and Pat Robertson are going to be on the same side of any issue, no matter how much either claims to believe in God?

Fortunately, enough people are far-sighted on this. They understand that in a theocracy, their church could potentially be legislated out of existence, and so see the separation of church and state for what it is--a protection for the church as much as for the state. We just have to keep pushing back against those who don't see it, and who would attempt to dominate the rest of us through their specious claims of divine backing.

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