Take the nation back…where?

Mike Huckabee, the conservative former Arkansas governor, this weekend said that he is concerned about Islam’s role in Egypt’s future. … Continued

Mike Huckabee, the conservative former Arkansas governor, this weekend said that he is concerned about Islam’s role in Egypt’s future.  As On Faith panelist Reza Aslan this week noted, Huckabee has also called for Americans to “take this nation back for Christ” and, while running for president in 2008, declared that “what we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards.”

In America and in Egypt, should a majority religion inspire political life? How will Islam play a role in the struggles for democracy happening now in Egypt and other parts of the Muslim world?

All Middle East countries have constitutions, as do we, but I’m more worried that their leaders will establish Sharia law than that our leaders will “take this nation back for Christ.” Why? Because our religious radicals have not yet found a way to get around the Bill of Rights, despite their attempts to chip away at an increasingly brittle wall that separates church from state.

Former (and perhaps future) presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is ignorant and wrong in so many ways. He can’t take back this nation to a place it has never been. Perhaps Huckabee meant back to the first Pilgrims and Puritans who settled here and established Christian colonies. Those of the “wrong” religion were excluded from government participation and persecuted. Such church-state unions led to the Salem witch trials.

The framers of our U. S. Constitution and Bill of Rights wanted no part of the religious intolerance and bloodshed they saw in Europe, and in our own early theocratic colonies. They wisely established the first government in history to separate church and state. There have been numerous amendments proposed to turn our secular country into a bible-based Christian nation. Thankfully, all such attempts at official establishment have failed.

It’s interesting that some politicians can see dangers in a theocracy or in a government that favors one religion over others only when it’s their religion that isn’t favored. I mostly support democratic rule, but I’m not an absolutist. I worry when the majority of voters in any country want to establish a government religion. Whatever the outcome in Egypt or anywhere else, I hope for a government that respects women and minorities, and allows freedom of conscience for all its citizens.

There are many reasons strife continues in the Middle East. One is that fundamentalist Christians, Jews, and Muslims all want to take back the so-called “holy land” for Yahweh, Jesus, or Allah. Pandering American politicians who try to be holier than thou should recognize they have a long way to go to be holier than Middle East theocrats. Holiness isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Herb Silverman
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  • justsayin10

    I appreciate your thoughts — you are indiscriminately opposed to theocracy, whether it be here or there, this creed or that. I cannot help but notice that those people who are convinced this is a “Christian Nation,” and believe that that means we must talk about Jesus in public schools, post 10 Commandments all over the place, and have a Nativity all over government property each Christmas, also happen to be the ones who are most appalled at the theocracy in Muslim nations. I can’t help but worry that they are against Muslim theocracy for the wrong reasons.

  • Kent-State-University

    Whether it is Huckabee, Pope, Ayatollah, or any other religous fanatic, they all have their own narrow and one dimentional view of (so called) democracy that their gods order. But the truth is that “God and Democracy do not go together.” When God asks “take your son and slaughter him,” no question need to be asked but just obey his order.

  • pacotheus

    It’s a very puzzling problem, trying to foresee what will happen in Egypt. I suspect the odds are in favor of it turning into another Iran. Back here in the USA I don’t think the goddist zealots are numerous enough to pull off a takeover but who knows, the Bolsheviks did it back when. Civil unrest/war can have very unpredictable results so we should take care to avoid it. Maybe Egypt will get lucky and they will follow the examples of Poland and the Baltics instead of Iran, but, then, Poland and the Baltics did not have the burden of huge numbers of theo-nazis.

  • RichardSRussell

    Separation of church and state was the greatest gift the American Revolution gave to world civilization (just as the metric system was the greatest blessing bestowed upon humanity by the French Revolution). Anyone who wants to see what “one nation under god” would be like need look no further than the Islamic Republic of Iran.I am an atheist, but I no more want the schools to teach “there is no God” than that God blesses America. Religion is a personal, private affair; government should leave it up to each individual citizen and never, ever choose sides. No good ever comes of it.

  • jonesm2

    Can I get a bumper sticker with Herb’s closing phrase “Holiness Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be!”?

  • weylguy

    Herb, I appreciate all your comments and your shared wisdom regarding the role and extent of religion, not only in politics but in how a country views itself.As a life-long Southern Baptist, I have become disgusted with the hypocrisy of American Christians–their love of war, of the military, of lies, of torture, of moral exceptionalism, of money, of greed and of corporate criminality. It makes no sense whatsoever to call this a Christian Nation when we do not follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. The gospel of Matthew mentions hypocrisy no fewer than 15 times, and exactly how America’s Christians can read that and not see their faces in the mirror truly escapes my understanding.The Christian churches of America no longer have anything to teach me. In 2000, our pastor told the congregation that “a vote for Al Gore is a vote for Satan.” The very last time I attended church in 2008, the pastor talked about the threats from North Korea and Iran and the need to protect ourselves by “striking first.” This is precisely what happens when religion and politics mix. I will continue to seek Christ’s guidance from the New Testament, but my ears and heart are now closed to the churches. I now see America in a new light–very possibly, it’s the Great Satan of the world after all.

  • Catken1

    “When God asks “take your son and slaughter him,” no question need to be asked but just obey his order.”I believe that story to be a myth and not factual, but I still have to wonder if the author of that story really meant to imply that Abraham passed that test, and that the test was of his blind obedience.What if the test was of his compassion and his ability to stick by his principles (and his child) even when ordered by an authority figure to forgo them? What if he failed the test (but God stepped in at the last moment to rescue the innocent Isaac, as any sane and humane researcher would do)? What if the story was trying to draw the exact opposite moral from that drawn from it by most interpreters throughout history?

  • dangeroustalk

    Egypt has erupted with protests and their current government may very well be coming to end. While there is hope that democracy might take root, we have to realize that democracy is only part of the solution.One thing that makes America great is of course democracy. The idea of one person, one vote is very important, but democracy alone is not enough. This is what America learned when Hamas won the parliamentary elections in 2006 and took control of the Palestinian Authority. Sometimes the people you don’t like win elections. You can read the rest of my response to this topic:I will be responding to every issue posted in the ‘On Faith’ section. If you would like to be notified when my new response is up, please subscribe.

  • veginpost

    The most disappointing thing about our most recent presidential election is to realize just haw insidious is the need for our public officials to pander to the religious right. I really don’t care if a representative is religious or not. Obama seems to have that bent but why do we have to be reminded of it on a weekly basis. Get the job done. Be rational for the love of rational thinking. We have seen what religion does to free thinking and democratic society. That’s why we have a separation of Church and State for the love of reason! The horrible monstrosities of our own past and the perversions we are witnessing of our present world politics held captive by Islamic fanatics are enough for any rational thinker to appreciate our separation of church and state. Our politicians need to give it a break and address the real world issues that confront us. Stop shoving religion down our throats and obey the constitution. Let me worship God in my own way and run the government for all Americans. After we’ve cleaned our front porch of superstition and fantasy maybe we will truly be mature enough to advise other nations how they should shrug off Medieval(Mike Huckabee)thinking and join the prevalent progressive modern political world.