War Games by Libby Post
There’s a war going on and I’m not talking about Iraq.
If you listen to the Christian Right, they’ll tell you there’s a war against Christianity in this country. Maintaining a separation of church and state is seen as a full frontal assault on their version of Christianity. Removing the Ten Commandments from a court room or banning the use of a cross on public property or a city’s seal or no prayer in public schools is interpreted as hostile to Christians.
Never mind that all of our presidents have been Christians. Never mind that our founding fathers who wrote the original rules described themselves the same way. And, never mind that the Christian faith, in all its permutations, is the dominant religion in our country.
To listen to them, the entire fate of our country and their right to worship are at stake.
If you happened into an evangelical church this past Sunday, you just might have had a chance to listen to their version of the truth. Reaching 2,200 mostly white people at the Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville and millions more via SkyAngel, a Christ-centered satellite network, and Trinity Broadcasting Network, which considers itself “America’s most watched faith channel,” the Family Research Council presented Justice Sunday II.
The message of the day was simple and direct-the need to shape the Supreme Court so that Christian values are protected. The themes were homophobia and pure disdain for our third branch of government, the judiciary. Folks like Zell Miller, the former Democratic Senator from Georgia who showed his true colors at the 2004 Republican convention, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Focus on the Family’s James Dobson and that old tried and true right-wing standard bearer, Phyllis Schlafly, spoke fire and brimstone about the evils of homosexuality and the insidiousness of “activist judges.”
Even Robert “I coulda been one of the Supremes” Bork got into the act. He told the crowd and all those in TV land that the Supreme Court has already defined homosexuality as “a constitutional right . . . and once homosexuality is defined as a constitutional right, there is nothing the states can do about it, nothing the people can do about it.”
DeLay skewered recent Supreme Court rulings saying “Rights are invented out of whole cloth. Longstanding traditions are found to be unconstitutional.” He assailed “activist courts” who he contends are inflicting his nation with “state-sanctioned same-sex marriage” and “partial birth abortion” and are “ridding the public square of any mention of our nation’s religious heritage.” In his view, the actions of the Supreme Court are really acts of “judicial supremacy, judicial autocracy.”
Focus on the Family’s Dobson called the justices “unelected, unaccountable and arrogant” and continued with “These activist, unelected judges believe they know better than the American people about the direction the country should go.” Schlafly, of course, tried to rewrite the constitution by asking “How do the judges get away with such outrageous decisions? By asserting that Supreme Court decisions are the supreme law of the land. But you know that is not true. That is a terrible heresy.”
We’re in the middle of a war all right but it’s not a Christian nation that’s at stake. What’s at risk is the constitution and the very fabric of our democracy. In this war the aggressor has framed himself as the victim, the basher is pretending to be the bashee and any tactics he uses to protect his Christian right is fundamentally sound since, after all, God is on his side. He wraps himself in the flag, claims to speak for moral and family values out of one side of his mouth and then trashes the Constitution and destroys its democratic ideals with a voice rife with hate and homophobia.
Gays and lesbians are portrayed as the devil. Judges and elected officials who believe in an independent, impartial judiciary are seen as infidels. Every day citizens who stand up for the Bill of Rights are seen as godless heathens. The rest of us are lumped together by the Christian right’s media handlers as the lion who is eating all the innocents.
If that were the case, we would be the ones with the resources to beam our message into millions of households across the country, pay our way for unprecedented entre to the White House and build campaign war chests so large that buying elections is a fait accompli.
There’s a war going on all right and we’re the ones fighting for our rights.