Sunday, June 05, 2005

Fundamentalist revisionists

Just today I got an email from the Tulsa Interfaith Alliance about a fundamentalist Christian who is demanding that creationist displays be put next to the scientific time line on evolution at the Tulsa Zoo. And so I really appreciated the powerful rant I found this morning by Harvey Wasserman entitled, "Attack on separation of church and state defames America". Here's how it gets started:

The right-wing's multi-front war on American democracy now aims at our core belief in separation of church and state. It includes an attempt to say the founding fathers endorsed the idea that this is a "Christian nation," with an official religion.

But the founders---and a vast majority of Americans---repeatedly, vehemently and with stunning clarity denounced, rejected and despised such beliefs.

Nowhere in the Constitution they wrote does the word "Christian" or the name of Christ appear. The very first phrase of the First Amendment demands that "Congress shall make no law concerning an establishment of religion."

One major reason Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Tom Paine, Ethan Allen and the vast majority of early Americans rejected the merger of church and state was the lingering stench of Puritan intolerance. The infamous theocratic murders of the Salem witch trials sickened the American soul, just as today's power grab by Karl Rove's new corporate fundamentalists creates an atmosphere of intolerance and fear, defined by the world's largest prison gulag.

With characteristic duplicity, the radical right is attempting to re-write another of this nation's most cherished beliefs.

Wasserman goes on to discuss in more detail how the revisionists are trying to claim that Puritan intolerance is our real heritage as a nation. Then he makes this point:

The Deistic God of Franklin, Jefferson, and their Enlightened cohorts was in fact a humanistic divinity, rooted in the possibilities of the mind and spirit. America's true founding faith drew strength from diverse sources, including native America, pacifist Quakerism and the actual teachings of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount: broad, peace-loving, tolerant, egalitarian, pluralistic, loving.

Then Wasserman talks about the true American values:

It is not the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments that form the bedrock of American values. It is the first Ten Amendments to the Constitution. If anything should be chiseled in stone on our public buildings, it's the Bill of Rights.

Which is precisely what this attack on our history means to burn at the stake. Awakened America rose up in revolt against King, corporation and clergy. Its rejection of a state-sponsored church, Christian or otherwise, was fiercely explicit and decidedly mainstream.

Today's corporate-funded fundamentalist jihad is at war with America's uniquely diverse revolutionary soul. Spitting in the face of our historic core, the Big Lie of a "Christian nation" is vintage Rove at his most Orwellian.

I know I've talked to you before about Americans United for Separation of Church and State. I want to give you that link again and suggest that you click through and find out about this marvelous organization that needs our support now more than ever. Please give what you can.

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