One of the most powerful weapons of the left today has quietly taken hold and moved into the mainstream culture without the right realizing what has been happening:
The Theocracy Slur.
This is the notion that American Christians want to replace our current form of government with a theocracy that will openly oppress non-Christians and impose the Ten Commandments and other bizarre (as they see it), sectarian opinions through law on a highly unwilling populace.
It is a perfectly absurd notion, given the vast distance our society would have to travel to get anywhere near such a condition, and the amount of anti-Christian policy that has been implemented by the nation’s courts and legislatures over the past half-century. Nonetheless, it is a common claim today, despite its entirely fantastic nature. It codifies and extends the Left’s customary characterization of the Religious Right as an alien, un-American force.
Jon Sanders of the John Locke Foundation recently noted a typical example of the Theocracy Slur, one aimed at indoctrinating high school students in the dangers of Christian belief:
Burlington Township High School in New Jersey . . . last month held a mock hostage-taking and school shooting training scenario. As the Burlington County Timesreported, the perpetrators in this scenario were “members of a right-wing fundamentalist group called the ‘New Crusaders’ who don’t believe in separation of church and state” and who “went to the school seeking justice because the daughter of one had been expelled for praying before class.”
Such grotesque and outlandish beliefs about American Christians are standard issue today among the left. Consider, for example, the following books released in the past couple of years: American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the Twenty-First Century, by Kevin Phillips; Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right, by Mel White; The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason, by Sam Harris; An Angel Directs the Storm: Apocalyptic Religion and American Empire, by Michael Northcott; The Fundamentals of Extremism: The Christian Right in America, edited by Kimberly Blake; and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America, by Chris Hedges. Get the idea?
That’s just a sampling of many such titles, and the ideas in them are repeated continuously in articles, editorials, and op-eds and on TV and radio. Harris, for example, in a March 15, 2007, Los Angeles Times op-ed titled “God’s Dupes,” hysterically claimed that every Christian, without exception, “inadvertently shelters those who are more fanatical than oneself from criticism.” Harris argues as follows:
Ordinary fundamentalist Christians, by maintaining that the Bible is the perfect word of God, inadvertently support the Dominionists—men and women who, by the millions, are quietly working to turn our country into a totalitarian theocracy reminiscent of John Calvin’s Geneva. Christian moderates, by their lingering attachment to the unique divinity of Jesus, protect the faith of fundamentalists from public scorn. Christian liberals—who aren’t sure what they believe but just love the experience of going to church occasionally—deny the moderates a proper collision with scientific rationality. And in this way centuries have come and gone without an honest word being spoken about God in our society.
Harris’s conclusion: “it is time we broke this spell en masse.” A less tolerant attitude is hardly imaginable, and one can clearly see that Harris is simply projecting his own hatred onto others, imagining that Christians must despise him as much as he loathes them. And naturally, if one assumes that all Christians, inadvertently or otherwise, are protecting a vanguard of theocrats who would turn the United States into a Christian version of Taliban Afghanistan—after all, Calvin’s Geneva was actually a pretty good place—then they are a mortal danger to society and must be suppressed at all costs.
Hence the Theocracy Slur is central to leftist politics today. Harris makes the argument thoroughly explicit, but he is only articulating what the American atheist left increasingly and openly believes: that all Christians, without exception, are complicit in an ongoing attempt at a religious coup d’etat of the United States.
This belief, moreover, makes it impossible for Christians ever to win any trust from the atheist left, even by agreeing with them on particular issues, as some evangelicals are trying to do by adopting the left’s position on global warming, for example. For if all Christians are inherently furthering a Christian Taliban takeover, then Christianity is a dire problem and must be stamped out, for the nation’s protection.
As a result, concessions to the left only enable it to win greater support on those particular issues and do nothing to ameliorate the atheist left’s intense fear and hatred of Christianity.
In addition, the Theocracy Slur explains why the contemporary left expresses little to no concern about Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, or Satanism: the numbers of believers in those religions in the United States are so small that the left sees no imminent danger from them. Christians, on the other hand, are numerous and potentially powerful.
The ultimate consequence of the current use of the media to enforce an identity politics position on personal expression is clear: to establish that people’s statements should be evaluated on their expected consequences, and that the expected consequences of Christianity are the enslavement of the American people to religious fanatics who wish torture and death on all unbelievers. The only solution to such a problem is to unleash dreadful assaults on those who dare to press Christian claims in public.
This is the impulse behind homosexual activists’ physical invasions of churches, spitting the Eucharist on the floor, and other such overtly bigoted and fanatical anti-religious behavior. It is also what is behind the attempts to criminalize criticism of homosexuality, even or especially when made from church pulpits.
The process is simple: claim that an idea or proposition with which you disagree endangers the physical safety of some group of people, and then declare that for their protection such statements simply cannot be made. Then use all possible means to stop them: media attacks, character assassination, lawsuits, physical intimidation, and, whenever possible, legislation and the use of government force.
It can happen here, to revive Sinclair Lewis’s claim about fascism, and it is clear that these attacks must only increase unless and until American Christians stand up on their hind legs and fight back with equal force.
Such a counterattack will bring even greater fury from the atheist left, there can be no doubt, but it is the only alternative to the increasing erosion of Christianity as a viable force in American society. That, after all, is the enemy’s real goal.