At The Wild Hunt Jason Pitzl-Waters gives us a wrap-up of all the Dominionism hoopla of the past few weeks. It’s a good summary and a great source if you’re just now trying to figure it out. Pitzl-Waters also goes directly to the most important aspect of this conversation: how would the individual beliefs of the presidential candidates affect each of us? He writes:
The trouble is that it only takes a few well-placed individuals to make things difficult for those who don’t toe some arbitrary theological/cultural line. I guess what I’m trying to say is that just because some of this sounds paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not after us.
See, the thing is that we all split hairs about what Jefferson meant by “separation of church and state.” Danbury Baptists, not in the constitution, the Jefferson cut-up bible, the beliefs of the founding fathers… you know the drill. ”You got your religion in my government!” “You got your government in my religion!” But who really cares what the fathers’ intended? They didn’t get a lot of stuff right and they certainly couldn’t have guessed what kind of world we’d be roaming around in today. They were still riding horses! Using literal interpretation of the constitution (an impossible task, as with the bible, if ever there was one) to determine, say, when a woman has children or how the country should regulate carbon emissions is pure bunk. There aren’t going to be specifics because the constitution was meant to grow and change and evolve along with us. That’s why god made amendments!
But–and this comes back to Pitzl-Waters’ point–those like, say, the Dominionists, who interpret the constitution in a particular way are absolutely free to do so. Liberty of conscience and all that. And I’m serious! The right to freedom of faith is why my Anabaptist folks caught a ship to this new country in the early 1700s, after being chased around old Europe by Church-States. What groups aren’t free to do is legislate those views on our pluralistic society. (It’s easy to get anyone to agree to this premise, just choose some faith a “god’s law” advocate doesn’t abide by when posing the hypothetical.)
It’s not so hard to determine which candidates intend to legislate their own beliefs (albeit for our own good, ahem). Ask them. Where journalists get all gooey is when they’re side-tracked by “look at the weirdo Christian” stuff (Bachmann’s submission, Romney’s undergarments) and forget the more important questions. Another problem with most current reporting is the false diagnostic that Dominionists are a minority and therefor insignificant to our electoral process. Have no fear, we’re told, they can’t swing the vote.
Unfortunately, our rickety old democracy doesn’t really run on majority vote, it runs on organizational influence, money and power. And that’s where the Dominionists–or to be completely clear, those who think that the US should be governed (legislated, regulated) according to a particular “literal interpretation” of both the constitution and the bible, and lament a mythical decline in cultural morals, a decline they have taken upon themselves to correct–have a leg up. They’ve got allies and they know how to use them. That’s how politics works.
To dismiss this particular intention, governance of the country according to the laws of one brand of faith, is to throw away liberty and conscience. I don’t care how red, white, and blue, how well-intentioned, how dedicated to poverty, to respect, to children and puppies and bright sun-shiny days any candidate is. If they wish to make laws that make all of society, as Pitzl-Waters writes, “toe some arbitrary theological/cultural line,” the intention is by definition hostile to those who have other beliefs. This is what I wish journalists following Bachmann and Perry around were talking about.