Can America Avoid Religious Authoritarianism?

By Donald A. Collins | 23 February 2023
Church and State

(Credit: YouTube / screengrab)

Reading the page one February 19th Washington Post story about the Taliban’s tyrannical grip on women in Afghanistan reminds us of the huge restrictive hegemony of all religions around the world.

All religions claim that some god has singled them out as providing the only true message that should govern the behavior of their adherents should strike an impartial observer as ridiculous.

But we know all too well the phantasmal nature of their actions to sustain and enhance their political, social, and economic power.

For example, in the small city I grew up in 70 years ago church membership was almost mandatory to win you the approbation of our fellow citizens. My parents generally followed this cultural protocol, but we did miss a lot of Sunday morning services and I would lie in bed quietly hoping they wouldn’t wake up in time to take me to another repetitious sermon!

In short, eschewing god publicly would have been very bad for your business or general reputation.

Of course, the various religious entities like any good business vie for market share to keep the cash flowing.

The deists who founded our republic emulated the world’s greatest thinkers in setting up our founding documents to make a distinct need to keep secular matters separate from religious convictions. So pick your fantasy, but don’t bug me with it!!

Biden closes every speech by saying “God bless America and may God protect our troops” which evokes two non-secular thoughts.

One, Biden, a lifelong Roman Catholic, strongly opposed the June 24, 2022, Dobbs anti-abortion decision and two, the rapidly declining membership in organized religion makes his words sound stilted and archaic.

We are a nation founded on uniquely secular principles with no state religion and with a multiplicity of religious choices unmandated by any government edict at any level!

Does any religious believer want to be told by others even if they represent the majority what religion or no religion to embrace???!

We know there grew among African Americans, many having deep faith in various mainly protestant religions, feelings about their churches as sanctuaries of safety and togetherness against the hostility of a hostile white society.

These beliefs were not designed to produce the kind of religious slavery or to set tyrannical rules such as set forth by Catholicism but more focused on gaining equality and justice in education (undoing separate but equal) or access to entry into governmental and private institutions. Much has been accomplished but the kind of racism fostered now by adherents to Critical Race Theory who fear their replacement by non-whites, and immigrants has led us in many ways to the divided state of politics today. The rise and fall of Donald Trump will not make this condition evaporate or eliminate his legacy. The powerful racism of his clones will continue to advance.

Anti-abortionists, those seeking to restrict minority voting or stand against reasonable gun control don’t all go to the same religious or secular churches, but do seem to stand together as a political block that inhibits compromise, dialogue and tolerance which is vital in maintaining a functioning democracy.

Dangerous big deep money authoritarians such as Leonard Leo are at work constantly to fashion with false information messages designed to promote fear, discontent and fealty to their constituents who are lured by their false claims of freedom and patriotism into the kind of illusions of realty which still capture that estimated 30% of Trump supporters who make his 2024 nomination possible.

Democrats doubtless find a Trump nomination politically and strategically a winning situation, but having this poisonous nihilistic venom continuing to flow into our public discourse would suggest the GOP will certainly find another candidate.

Democrats will beat any Presidential candidate the GOP chooses if that party continues to fail to offer a rational plan to govern, not a program of attacks on anything Biden tries to accomplish.

Final note: WWII gave President Roosevelt an unprecedented 4th term in office, Putin’s Ukrainian invasion may give President Biden his second term should it linger since inserting new GOP leaders into a complex evolving war might not be wise.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC, has spent over 50 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of “From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013”, “Trump Becoming Macbeth: Will our democracy survive?”, “We Humans Overwhelm Our Earth: 11 or 2 Billion by 2100?”, “What Can Be Done Now to Save Habitable Life on Planet Earth?”, “Vote”, “Can Homo Sapiens Survive?”, “Will Choice and Democracy Win?” and “Can Our U.S. Survive 8 Plus Billion of Us”.

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