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The Religious Wars
The American Prospect ^ | December 1, 2003 | Robert Reich

Posted on 11/26/2003 10:15:38 AM PST by NYer

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to reflect yesterday's ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The original version of the piece can be found in the December issue of the print magazine.

Since last summer's Supreme Court decision in Lawrence vs. Texas, overturning Texas' anti-sodomy law, evangelicals have grown louder. Now that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has declared that gay couples have the right to marry, evangelicals are committed to making gay marriage a major issue during the upcoming presidential campaign. Their recent legislative victory over "partial-birth" abortions has emboldened them to seek additional ways to erode Roe v. Wade. They're mounting an all-out offensive for Senate confirmation of people like Alabama's attorney general, William Pryor -- who called Roe "the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history" -- to the federal courts. And they're determined to put religion back into the public schools.

The outcome of the 2004 presidential election will depend partly on what happens between now and Election Day in Iraq and to the U.S. economy. But it will also turn on the religious wars -- fueled by evangelical Protestants, the ground troops of the Republican Party. The conventional wisdom is that these issues are sure winners for the right. But Democrats can hold their own in these wars -- if they respond vigorously to the coming assault.

Democrats should call all this for what it is -- a clear and present danger to religious liberty in America. For more than three hundred years, the liberal tradition has sought to free people from the tyranny of religious doctrines that would otherwise be imposed on them. Today's evangelical right detests that tradition and seeks nothing short of a state-sponsored religion. But maintaining the separation of church and state is a necessary precondition of liberty.

Public opinion sides with the Democrats. Even though a slim majority continues to oppose gay marriage, polls show that most Americans believe that homosexual relationships between consenting adults should be legal, that the choice of whether to have an abortion should be up to a woman and her doctor, that stem-cell research should be legal, and that religion should stay out of the public schools. But unless Democrats focus the public's attention on the larger ongoing assault on religious liberty, the evangelical right will whittle away these freedoms.

Gay marriage doesn't have to be a wedge issue for the evangelicals -- not if Democrats can put it where it belongs, as another front in the religious wars. The question of whether gay couples should be treated the same as married people need not and should not involve the religious meaning of "marriage." That's up to particular faiths and congregations to decide. The issue here is whether gays should have the same legal rights as heterosexuals -- survivor's benefits under Social Security, alimony, the distribution of assets when relationships end in divorce and other legal privileges now conferred only on heterosexual couples.

Democrats should make clear that this is an issue about state power, not religion -- and call for gay civil rights. Not "marriage," but "domestic partnership" or "civil union" or whatever words will convey the same legal rights accorded heterosexuals. Most Americans think the law shouldn't discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. It follows that gays should have the same legal rights.

The evangelicals' victory on "partial-birth" abortion proves only that gruesome pictures and inflamed comments can persuade a majority that a particular procedure is inhumane. It has no bearing on the more basic question of whether the evangelical view about when life begins should be imposed on the rest of America. Democrats should be clear that the issues of abortion and stem-cell research are about religious liberty. Tar the Republicans and the evangelicals with William Pryor and other nominees who want to overrule Roe. Show that the Senate Democrats' filibuster of these nominees is another front in the same religious war. Likewise, Democrats should hold evangelicals accountable for what they're trying to do in our nation's schools -- promoting the teaching of creationism, demanding school prayer, pushing "abstinence until marriage" programs, and opposing sex education. This is all about imposing their religious views on our children.

The religious wars aren't pretty. Religious wars never are. But Democrats should mount a firm and clear counter-assault. In the months leading up to Election Day, when Republicans are screaming about God and accusing the Democrats of siding with sexual deviants and baby killers, Democrats should remind Americans that however important religion is to our spiritual lives, there is no room for liberty in a theocracy.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; Philosophy; Politics/Elections; US: Massachusetts
KEYWORDS: christianity; court; culturewar; gaymarriage; goodridge; homosexual; homosexualagenda; robertreich; samesex

1 posted on 11/26/2003 10:15:38 AM PST by NYer
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To: cpforlife.org; Mr. Silverback
Democrats should be clear that the issues of abortion and stem-cell research are about religious liberty.

Abortion = freedom from religion?

2 posted on 11/26/2003 10:19:30 AM PST by NYer (Prayer is strength for the weak.)
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To: american colleen; sinkspur; Lady In Blue; Salvation; Polycarp; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; ...
In the months leading up to Election Day, when Republicans are screaming about God and accusing the Democrats of siding with sexual deviants and baby killers, Democrats should remind Americans that however important religion is to our spiritual lives, there is no room for liberty in a theocracy.

It appears the little man has a small mind.

Catholic Ping - let me know if you want on/off this list


3 posted on 11/26/2003 10:23:04 AM PST by NYer (Prayer is strength for the weak.)
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To: NYer
Thank you Robert Reich, for reminding us that Democrats and Liberals hate Christians.

Sorry Robert, but your article comes up a little short. So do you.

4 posted on 11/26/2003 10:23:53 AM PST by SkyPilot
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To: scripter
polls show that most Americans believe that homosexual relationships between consenting adults should be legal

Apparently, Clinton wasn't the only one from that administration, who had 'inhaled'.

5 posted on 11/26/2003 10:25:18 AM PST by NYer (Prayer is strength for the weak.)
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To: NYer
Same wacko who was too far to the left to even be elected Governor of Massachusetts. He's a loser and always has been.
6 posted on 11/26/2003 10:26:28 AM PST by TheBigB (Teddy Kennedy wouldn't know the American mainstream if he drove his car into it.)
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To: NYer
You got it. It is absolutely confounding to me how this man can make any claims to sanity. The contradictions and illogic of his writings are astounding.

The leftist philosophy of truth is nuts. Reich asserts fact after fact and truth after truth, but decries the Christian's right to do so. I just do not get it.

Of course there is nothing to get, other than confused. They are losing. Their ideas are not ideas, but nonsensical phrases strung together.

7 posted on 11/26/2003 10:30:40 AM PST by sleepy_hollow
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To: NYer
This is interesting. It appears the dims are going to try and paint all Christians as fanatics. The rhetoric in this article is clear--you can have religious beliefs (for the time being) provided they have no influence in the public square.

Let us be clear, the democratic party has declared Christians enemy number one. All Americans need to understand this about the democrats.

8 posted on 11/26/2003 10:36:24 AM PST by Pietro
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To: Pietro
The Demonicratic Party PlatforM:

WE Support Sodomy; WE Oppose Public Prayer

Damnit! How much more clear do things have to get before the American people understand the direction we're being led in?

9 posted on 11/26/2003 10:54:55 AM PST by Pietro
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To: NYer
Democrats should call all this for what it is -- a clear and present danger to religious liberty in America.

Reich has no problem NOT letting us express our point of view, yet he says that WE are trying to take away the liberty of others. Let's be honest; we both are trying to have our values prevail in this culture. It is the Libs who are on the offensive to overrule the Christian standards that have guided our country for over 300 years, from the time of the Puritans.

10 posted on 11/26/2003 11:02:42 AM PST by DeweyCA
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To: NYer
Public opinion sides with the Democrats. Even though a slim majority continues to oppose gay marriage...

Typical democrat spin...

According to a FOX News poll conducted in the days following the Supreme Judicial Court ruling in Massachusetts, 66 percent of Americans oppose and 25 percent favor same-sex marriage. These new results are similar to those from August 2003, as well as results from 1996, when 65 percent of the public said they opposed allowing same-sex couples to marry. source:http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,103756,00.html

Apparently a 41% delta is a "slim margin" by democratic math. No wonder why they can't figure out that Bush was elected president.

11 posted on 11/26/2003 1:38:45 PM PST by highlander_UW
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To: 2nd amendment mama; A2J; Alouette; aposiopetic; attagirl; axel f; Balto_Boy; Blue Scourge; ...
Let me ping you guys the same way NYer pinged me:

Democrats should be clear that the issues of abortion and stem-cell research are about religious liberty.

Abortion = freedom from religion?

ProLife Ping!

If anyone wants on or off my ProLife Ping List, please notify me here or by freepmail.

12 posted on 11/26/2003 1:48:50 PM PST by Mr. Silverback (Pre-empt the third murder attempt-- Pray for Terry Schiavo!)
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To: NYer
Sodomy + dead babies=religious freedom? Wow. If anybody wants to keep denying this is primarily a spiritual battle, they can, but they might as well join the Flat Earth Society while they're at it. Reich is speaking ideas whispered in his ears stright from the depths of Hell: "You have the right to tell them what to do, because they tried to tell you what to do!"

Reich is like the worst possible combination of Paul Wellstone and Bill Clinton. He bears watching, because he manages to make this agenda of persecution sound so reasonable to so many people. All patriots, especially those who are Jews and conservative Christians, had better be vigilant, otherwise we'll be at the mercy of people like Reich, just like they were in Romania...

"We don't have enough real Communists in the country to fill a football stadium!" --A common expression in Romania before the post-war Communist takeover, as reported by Sabina Wurmbrand in The Pastor's Wife. Her husband, Richard, spent 14 torturous years in Romanian prisons, and Sabina spent years at hard labor in the gulag.

13 posted on 11/26/2003 2:13:26 PM PST by Mr. Silverback (Pre-empt the third murder attempt-- Pray for Terry Schiavo!)
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To: SkyPilot; NYer; All
"Thank you Robert Reich, for reminding us that Democrats and Liberals hate Christians."

Moreover, they hate Jesus Christ, they hate His Holy Gospel and the entire Bible, they hate the 10 Commandments, they especially hate the clear and absolute condemnation of sodomy.

They hate the very principles on which this Republic was founded.

If this is a “holy war” it will be:

Satan, The DNC, NARAL, Planned Barrenhood, the sodomite marriage camp and their friends at NAMBLA

Versus

Jesus Christ, the Angels and Saints, the Founding Fathers, all good Patriotic Truth and Liberty loving people everywhere.
_______________________________

Politics & Mentality of Abortion,
And a perspective on
Christian Patriotism

http://cpforlife.org/politics_of_abortion.htm

On the Importance of Morality and Religion in Government:

[W]e have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion....Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. (Source: John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co. 1854), Vol. IX, p. 229, October 11, 1798.)

Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime & pure, [and] which denounces against the wicked eternal misery, and [which] insured to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments. (Source: Bernard C. Steiner, The Life and Correspondence of James McHenry (Cleveland: The Burrows Brothers, 1907), p. 475. In a letter from Charles Carroll to James McHenry of November 4, 1800.)

[O]nly a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters. Source: Benjamin Franklin, The Writings of Benjamin Franklin, Jared Sparks, editor (Boston: Tappan, Whittemore and Mason, 1840), Vol. X, p. 297, April 17, 1787.

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of man and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connexions with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice?

And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric? (Source: George Washington, Address of George Washington, President of the United States . . . Preparatory to His Declination (Baltimore: George and Henry S. Keatinge), pp. 22-23. In his Farewell Address to the United States in 1796.)
14 posted on 11/26/2003 2:30:34 PM PST by cpforlife.org (The Missing Key of the Pro-Life Movement is at www.CpForLife.org)
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To: NYer; All
Uncle Screwtape would certainly approve of Robert Reich's article. Another attempt to pervert people's thinking...to "misinterpret, distort, twist what is right and good." (Quoting from Webster.)
15 posted on 11/26/2003 4:34:42 PM PST by trustandhope
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To: NYer
>> Republicans are screaming about God and accusing the Democrats of siding with sexual deviants and baby killers,...

Somebody go wake up the GOP. It is snoozing. It should be screaming about these things.

>> ... Democrats should remind Americans that however important religion is to our spiritual lives,...

Try some. Religion helps you side with decency, family and spiritual growth instead of with sexual deviants and baby killers.

>> there is no room for liberty in a theocracy.

We live in a theocracy now, except it's the church of the anti-God, under the trinity of Darwin, Marx and Freud. It is the church of socialism. It worships power. Its works are evil.

There is no conflict between being good and being free. On the contrary, only the pious will keep their liberty. "Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."

16 posted on 11/27/2003 7:18:01 AM PST by T'wit
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To: NYer
For more than three hundred years, the liberal tradition has sought to free people from the tyranny of religious doctrines that would otherwise be imposed on them.

Liberals have "freed" no one. They have used the courts and Democratic majorities in Congress to impose on us the most destructive, soul-corroding, liberty-robbing tyranny ever spawned by the mind of man, unrestrained by the tempering influence of the Christian faith.

Unrestrained abortion and its death list numbering in the tens of millions of the most innocent and helpless, radical feminism and its implacable and irrational hatred of fatherhood, gay marriage and its open and shameless mockery of the traditional family, and the welfare state and its fascist-inspired apotheosis of "progressive" activist government are symptoms of a profoundly sick society imprisoned by reckless appetites and demands for instant gratification. These are not the hallmarks of a free people.

17 posted on 11/27/2003 7:38:08 AM PST by Kevin Curry
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To: NYer
Democrats should remind Americans that however important religion is to our spiritual lives, there is no room for liberty in a theocracy.

Ah yes, the great straw-man of "theocracy" rears its ugly head once again. Some on FR scream this as well. No matter that no Republican, and no conservative of any great consequence, has ever called for the combination of the church and state into one entity, which is what a theocracy is.

To a leftist and/or a secularist, a "theocracy" means basing law on a moral code that they disagree with. Killing a baby or marrying someone of the same sex is convenient to their moral worldview, therefore anyone who is against it is a destructor of freedom who wants a "theocracy."

I'd be delighted if the left wants to start a religious debate. Ultimately they'll lose.

18 posted on 11/29/2003 8:28:18 AM PST by Zack Nguyen
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To: sleepy_hollow
In Reich's wor;d, Christianity is slavery, and only the enlightened atheists and statists of the last 300 years pulled humanity out of the quagmire of backwoods, hayseed fairy stories.

Reich is a consistent humanist. That is all. His kind has come many times, and will come again after he is gone.
19 posted on 11/29/2003 8:31:31 AM PST by Zack Nguyen
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To: Kevin Curry
Unrestrained abortion and its death list numbering in the tens of millions of the most innocent and helpless, radical feminism and its implacable and irrational hatred of fatherhood, gay marriage and its open and shameless mockery of the traditional family, and the welfare state and its fascist-inspired apotheosis of "progressive" activist government are symptoms of a profoundly sick society imprisoned by reckless appetites and demands for instant gratification. These are not the hallmarks of a free people.

I just wanted to repeat that for the cheap seats!

20 posted on 11/29/2003 8:32:56 AM PST by Zack Nguyen
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To: Kevin Curry; scripter
Unrestrained abortion and its death list numbering in the tens of millions of the most innocent and helpless, radical feminism and its implacable and irrational hatred of fatherhood, gay marriage and its open and shameless mockery of the traditional family, and the welfare state and its fascist-inspired apotheosis of "progressive" activist government are symptoms of a profoundly sick society imprisoned by reckless appetites and demands for instant gratification. These are not the hallmarks of a free people.

Thirty years ago, a close friend, educated in Italy, cautioned me that the US was headed down the same path as the 'ancients' of Rome, Greece, et al. He pointed to the feminist movement and predicted that, as history has already shown, when women rise to power, homosexuality soon follows. These two movements, he claimed, would be followed by a weakening of the American society and eventually, its fall. At the time, I laughed myself silly, but I never forgot those words.

Yesterday, in researching those comments, I came across this web site. While the author detests Bill Clinton, he is no fan of the current president either. However, his statements corroborate everything that my friend said! It's definitely worth a cursory read. I have it bookmarked. For example, he writes:

"Starting around the decade of the 60s, there began to be observed a marked change in the character of the White male students enrolled in U.S. colleges. This change was commented upon by some of the more astute professors, and had to do with the tendency of these young men to be too soft, too timid, too lacking in what had always been considered normal male aggressiveness. Now, it must be said, there have always been men who were softer, more effeminate, more "girlish," than average; just as there have always been women with a tendency towards masculinity,  but this was not what these professors were observing. What they saw was a relative increase in the number of such men, and this phenomenon has been growing at an ever accelerated pace ever since. "

Now, one may well ask, just what all of this has to do with the feminization of our young White men; the ever-growing number of "sensitized" males and outright homosexuals we see all around us? Well, the answer lies in the  replacement of spiritual man's aristocratic values, which foster honor, ambition, discipline, and self-control, with economic man's democratic and feminine values, which foster safety, comfort, security and  the home. In a democratic society the role of the government shifts from that of a father, who maintains order but allows for the incentive and freedom necessary for success, to that of a mother whose function is to provide security and comfort to all of her children; to make sure that their demands are satisfied.   

As the role of the government changes, individual behavior follows suit. Children begin to be raised differently, and a disciplined environment gives way to a permissive one. Such things as spanking or disciplining a child become subject to censure, and the result is a failure on the part of the child to learn from his mistakes, to mature and grow up. This move from a masculine idealism to a feminine materialism leads inevitably to hedonism and self-absorbed egoism.  The young -- both male and female -- put self-gratification as their most important goal in life, and it is this urge to satisfy the senses that economic man exploits and encourages. In the case of the male, it is not the acquisition of honor, glory or esteem that is encouraged; what  is touted as most important is indulging in whatever happens to satisfy one physically and emotionally: if it feels good, do it; if it's something that discomforts you, avoid it. Honor, glory, and self-control are not encouraged by economic man because there is no money to be made from such things in his world, and money, as a means to power, is what counts for him."

ECCE AMERICA

21 posted on 11/29/2003 3:01:21 PM PST by NYer (Prayer is strength for the weak.)
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