Today, I ran across a BBC article; Uncertain times for US Religious Right, which gets it almost right. This is pretty good for a Brit and is a bit better than many American journalists get it. I can’t think of a better topic for a Sunday morning than this one.
I am a life-long Republican. I was also raised as a Catholic, in the Jesuit school. While I have long since repudiated the latter, I still hold to the principles of the former. As much as the Religious Right would like to argue differently, they are NOT the same! That is my point and they differ in fundamentally significant ways. I am old enough to remember the Republican Party from before it was taken over by the Religious Right, when it was still an enclave of Secular Humanism, which is almost anti-religious. This was when a Conservative would fight against ANY change in the Constitution and the radical arm voted for prohibition. When the Moral Majority was recognized as being the Radical Right, tainted with marginalized religious zealots and other whackos.
In short, the Republican Party was the home of true Constitutional Conservatives who saw, as their mission, the continued preservation of the US Constitution, as the ultimate practical governance document of the free world. This especially excluded the Radical Left, and the Social Democrats of what is now known as the Democratic Party.
What many Europeans, all journalists, and many younger Americans fail to understand is that the axis center, and heart, of US politics is the US Constitution. It is the life and soul of the United States and without it, the US would quickly devolve in to 50 squabbling countries, like Europe was until recently (Yes, I am old enough such that 10-15 years is still recent and anything less than 60 years is less than ancient).
The US Constitution was authored primarily by Secular Humanists. This included hoary names like Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Franklin, Washington, and indeed, most of the signatories of said document. As stated above, they were almost anti-religious and were deeply afraid that the country was vulnerable to subversion by the Religious Right, represented by the New England Puritans and the Catholic Church, at that time.
Ergo, contrary to the espousals of the Religious Right, the US was explicitly NOT founded by Christians or on Christian Principals. This is a fact that is reinforced by the very first amendment to the US Constitution;
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances
It was, in fact, founded on Secular Humanist principles of freedom, independence, and rational humanistic behavior. It is wholly free of supernatural or ecclesiastical influence, and not sullied thereby. That this parallels some part of ecclesiastical doctrine, is coincidental but that does not mean that it includes any ecclesiastical doctrine, even in part.
That said, this past election was stunning in its result. It was only possible by the mass defection of centrist Republicans, in support of more secular Democratic candidates. It is as much a rejection of the Religious Right as it was an affirmation of Obama’s more secular arguments.
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin certainly helped to enthuse and ignite her fellow Christian conservatives in a way that John McCain could not. Many are already backing her for a run in 2012.
While Palin my have galvanized the Religious Right to support herself and McCain, it also galvanized Centrist Republicans away from their own party. A foreshadowing of this was the failure of the Religious Right candidate, Mike Huckabee, to win the Republican nomination, in favor of the more secular McCain, followed by the defection of General Colin Powell (Another life-long Republican).
Mainly white, "born again" evangelical Protestants, who adhere to a literal interpretation of the Bible - and oppose abortion rights above all - the Religious Right comprise around 40% of the Republican Party's support.
At the same time, the Religious Right is only 20% of the total population. The secular 80% are getting rather fed up with them. The answer is clear. The Republican Party needs to marginalize the Religious Right and move back towards its original secular principles of Independence, Enterprise, Freedom, Opportunity, and equal justice for all. Above all, it needs to go back to defending the US Constitution and remind itself about what that Constitution says and stands for. For an example; realize that there is no specifics about marriage being only between one man and one woman. That is a Religious Right addition that has no place in a secular government or as an amendment to our most sacred of secular documents.
It is clear what the Republican Party needs to do;
- Drop the Anti-Abortion plank.
- Stop vilifying homosexuals and allow them to marry.
- Realize that Moral Right and Political Right are NOT the same place
- Move to dismantle the fascist totalitarian mechanisms instituted by George W. Bush as they are inherently anti-freedom and subject to totalitarian abuses.
- Promote Global Secularism
- Promote free markets and trade
- Promote Global Human Rights
- Promote Humanism and equality
- Defend freedom everywhere
- The decriminalization of victimless crimes, as crimes. The aren’t and never should have been crimes, under the US Constitution.