The Republicans’ fantasy of a Christian theocracy

In a recent post I compared the electoral appeal of moderate Islamists in the Middle East to the Republican party in the US.  That might have sounded glib, but William Saletan at Slate has compiled a list of quotes from the Republican candidates now running for president that perfectly illustrates what I meant.  Here are a few of them:

3. Our laws and our national identity are Judeo-Christian. Michele Bachmann explained:

American exceptionalism is grounded on the Judeo-Christian ethic, which is really based upon the 10 Commandments. The 10 Commandments were the foundation for our law. That’s what Blackstone said—the English jurist—and our founders looked to Blackstone for the foundation of our law. That’s our law.

4. No religion but Christianity will suffice. [Rick] Perry declared, “In every person’s heart, in every person’s soul, there is a hole that can only be filled by the Lord Jesus Christ.”

5. God created our government. Bachmann told the audience:

I have a biblical worldview. And I think, going back to the Declaration of Independence, the fact that it’s God who created us—if He created us, He created government. And the government is on His shoulders, as the book of Isaiah says.

6. U.S. law should follow God’s law. As Rick Santorum put it:

Unlike Islam, where the higher law and the civil law are the same, in our case, we have civil laws. But our civil laws have to comport with the higher law… As long as abortion is legal—at least according to the Supreme Court—legal in this country, we will never have rest, because that law does not comport with God’s law.

Look more closely at that last quote from Rick Santorum: “our civil laws have to comport with the higher [religious] law.”  That is precisely what moderate Islamists like the AKP in Turkey or Ennahda in Tunisia wish to see, though their higher law is Islamic rather than Christian.  Now it should be said that, personally, I don’t often find myself in agreement on matters of policy with either the Christian Right in the US or the Islamists in the Middle East but it seems to me that it’s preferable they be part of the political process where we can compete about ideas than shut out and radicalized.  But why is it that the American political party that is most receptive to a religious component of governance is the very one most hostile to those in the Middle East who want that religious component to be Islamic?


Also writing in Slate, Christopher Hitchens, as usual, has a few intemperate words on this subject that capture something of the vanity of imagining that one always has God at one’s side:

Is the United States [as George W. Bush said] “chosen by God and commissioned by history to be a model to the world”? Anybody claiming to have the answer to that question—as George W. Bush once seemed to do—would be a fool. For a start, what would be his sources of information? And how good a historian would he be? In the long view, very few of the survivors of the Roman Empire would have predicted that the inhabitants of the frozen and backward British Isles would be among the next builders of a global system, but so it proved. And there was no question that the British or English, especially the Protestant fundamentalist ones, believed that they had God on their side. In fact, I know of no European state that doesn’t have some kind of national myth to the same effect. The problem, as everybody knows, is that not all these myths can be simultaneously right.


One Response to “The Republicans’ fantasy of a Christian theocracy”

  1. chikashi miyamoto says:

    Religious fundamentalists are usually very sensitive to what others say about them and are easily offended, but at the same time, they are extremely intolerant of others.  It’s a circle.  Whether it is vicious or virtuous will depend on where one stands…

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