Gods and Governments — Religious and Secular mixed rule is always toxic

Gods and Governments

Religious and Secular mixed rule is always toxic

October 10th 2021

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

One sentiment you hear from religious fundamentalists in the United States is something along the lines of “God should be the government” It’s nothing new; religions have always sought to gain political and economic power and influence, and there are hundreds of examples throughout history where they have succeeded in doing that. These political cultures are broadly referred to as theocracies.

Usually in such a regime there is a religious hierarchy that interprets divine will (which is always most obliging to their wants and needs) and then passes edicts on to a secular authority who do the dirty work—mostly in the form of executing, banning, or enslaving.

Ancient Egypt is an example that is well known, as is China. The Byzantine Empire was an uneasy and often bloody power-sharing arrangement between the government of Rome and the Catholic Church. Most European countries had similar arrangements, leading to civil wars, pogroms, and the occasional genocide.

Edward the Second threw the Jews out of England, and those slow to leave learned to their regret that England was on an island.

King Henry VIII had 983 senior clerics killed as part of his drive to replace the Catholic Church with his own brand.

Elizabeth 1 killed thousands of Catholics in England, and in Ireland a million and a half Catholics died from cruel English policies based in large measure on the idea that idolaters should not be countenanced.

Adolph Hitler had Catholic support during his rise to power, but the relationship went sour and Hitler, too, sought to replace Catholicism with his own peculiar blend of Nordic mysticism, Christianity, and “racial science.”

The Test Acts codified prejudice against all non-Protestants in England. It’s still against the law in England for a Catholic to be Prime Minister, although since Tony Blair that law only gets lip service.

Pure theocracies in Europe are fairly rare: Münster and Zurich are the only well-known examples, and both rapidly turned into cults and collapsed.

Modern theocracies are mostly limited to the middle east these days: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and to an extent, Israel.

America was founded on the notion that keeping religious and secular power separate was the key to avoiding religious strife (nearly all the Founders had ancestors who, within the past 300 years, had been imprisoned or executed for religious reasons) and to a certain degree, that has been successful.

The first Christian-based religious strife in North America came when Protestants came to America seeking freedom of religion. No, not the Puritans—the French Huguenot, who settled in Florida, then a Spanish colony. The Spanish were unamused by the infestation of heretics, and proceeded to wipe the colony out.

While the founders wanted to end religious persecution (the Constitution explicitly bans Test Acts), the Protestant majority brought with them the attitudes and prejudices of the mother lands. Despite the noble intentions of the Constitution, many states actually had Test Acts in their laws, forbidding Catholics, Jews, or other unbelievers from holding office, or even owning property. I’m told that in six states, atheists legally cannot hold office to this day. Some communities mandated church attendance for all well into the 19th century.

Much of the genocide of native peoples was met with anything ranging from indifference to beaming approval by church authorities. “Godless heathen” very nearly became one word.

However, the anti-Catholic practices of England and other lands ironically made it harder to discriminate against Catholics in America because of the huge influx of refugees seeking freedom in America. By the twentieth century Catholicism was the biggest single Christian sect in America.

But it would be a mistake to think religious oppression—both oppressor and oppressed—ended there.

Catholics in Boston had to violently riot for the right to have their own schools—and were met by rioting Protestants who didn’t want to allow such a thing. Their Lord’s Prayer was the one true Lord’s Prayer, and people who didn’t accept that should not be allowed to teach their children.

But compared to Europe, America got off lightly (except for the aforementioned Godless Heathens, of course). Even as Churches in Europe lost direct control of secular governments—a long bloody process in itself—most European conflicts remained thinly disguised religious disputations.

The only way a society can be free is by holding religion at at least arm’s length from the centers of power. The Founders understood this all too well. They knew something about governments “run by God”–such governments are cruel, repressive, and deeply antipathetic to the notions of independent thought and individual freedom. One only need read the Bible, or the Talmud, or the Q’uran to see how deep this antipathy goes. How long can dissent last in a form of government where the Law says dissent should be punished by death? Well, you can find an answer for that with Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan.

All theocracies are viciously repressive. All require a steady stream of executions and terror to force compliance from the flock, formerly known as the electorate. Holy Books don’t discuss liberty, or freedom to disagree. They instead give lessons on disemboweling non-believers or forcing abortions on unfaithful women (Numbers 11, look it up). There has never been a theocracy that was multicultural, enlightened, or particularly literate. Ever. And it won’t start with the Christians Dominionists and Falangists of present day America.

The last thing anyone wants, or needs is ‘government under God.’ If someone could figure out a way to ask God, they would probably find he was pretty much against the idea himself. He has enough smiting to do as it is.

Crest of a Wave — Breaking a Fascist Surge

Crest of a Wave

Breaking a Fascist Surge

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

October 5th 2021

There’s a lot of hand-wringing among various commentators about the dangers of a right wing coup against the United States. And their concerns are well founded: MAGAts, the QAnon crazies, and the far right are a violent, vicious and determined group, back by fascist, power-seeking corporations who lie, cheat, steal and make their pathetic patsies Congressionals and Senators. Manchin and Sinema aren’t standing on principles; they are obeying orders from their big donors. They are a pair of corporate whores.

And they aren’t the worst. Trump thinks of himself as the next great Hitler, and is emulating the German dictators’ route to power. His followers, ignorant of history and lacking any moral compass, are his brownshirts, becoming more and more aggressive and violent, attacking school board meetings, confronting nurses and doctors who are just doing their jobs, The Lord Hawhaws at Faux News accuse anyone who opposes them of being illegal aliens, socialists, people who hate Christianity and of course hating the flag. One scumbag at Faux news tried to smear Tammy Duckworth of cheating by availing herself of benefits for disabled vets. All she lost was an arm and both legs, after all. It’s not like she had to grow bone spurs in service to her country.

They are vile, ignorant, vicious people. The worst of them are Nazis. The best of them are destructively stupid.

But more and more, I’m seeing signs that this wave of fascism sweeping across America is beginning to lose its force.

America’s Asshole Ex (former president AAX) is losing support. Big donors are backing away. The Arizona Audit, always a bad joke, became an embarrassment. It’s more and more likely that AAX will face felony charges as a result of his trying to bully Georgia State Raffensperger into arbitrarily changing the vote totals in AAX’s favor. Several suits for sex abuse are moving forward. On a daily basis, new lurid books come out, detailing the utter chaos and corruption of his misrule.

The vast tsunami of corruption and racketeering trials stemming from his decades of cheating, lying, defrauding and general malice are coalescing into a huge series of trials that will begin next year. It’s his fear of that accounting that mostly drives his big lie that he actually won the election and is still president. Only the power of the presidency can save him now. Otherwise he will die in prison.

His physical and mental health, already under scrutiny before the election, might play a factor in his movement. Personally, I won’t mind in the least if he drops dead—he’s a vile human being and will be no loss to anyone other than the fools who clung to him for power. But he’s not a good bet to even be alive in 2024, and the stress and strain of the ongoing trials and investigations will take a further toll.

The excesses of his movement are beginning to backfire in earnest. The three partisan hacks he jammed onto the Court have resulted in a widespread social revolt, with the Supreme Court’s respect at the lowest level in history—lower, even, than the partisan mess it made of Bush v. Gore back in 2000. Coney, a god-struck idiot, did herself no favors by whining about being considered a partisan hack while addressing the McConnell Foundation while its puppet master looked on, beaming approval of his little black-robed slave. Even the corporate media couldn’t put lipstick on that one. The justices have been out telling people they aren’t corporate Republican whores, a miscalculation that is utterly destroying the Court’s remaining gravitas.

The attacks on doctors, nurses, school boards and people just minding their own business and wearing masks are causing widespread revulsion and disgust. Expect to see a counter movement against these right wing bullies, and expect them to vanish quickly. They are bullies, and thus they are cowards.

The anti-vax movement is disappearing in the face of employer mandates. Most of them were just playing a little antisocial rebellion game, and between the indisputable explosion of Covid amongst the unvaccinated and the potential loss of a paycheck, the movement is collapsing. Some radio gasbag named Josh Bernstein caught Covid, and once he stopped pissing himself in fear, viciously attacked…Doctor Fauci. I can’t follow his logic; he seems mad that he caught a disease that was politically embarrassing, and hates Fauci for being right. I think. In any event, he wants to shoot Fauci because laws come from God or something. You try to figure it out. My brain hurts.

The Capitol insurrectionists are realizing just how deeply they’ve stepped in it. The guy who chucked a fire extinguisher at a cop pled guilty and burst into tears. Poor little snowflake might be punished for feloniously assaulting a police officer. And he’s a patriot, wears an American flag jacket and everything. Another “sovereign citizen” is doing a good job to showing just want kind of nuts AAX attracts to his movement. The judge can’t judge her because she’s a capital-letter Person, or something.

The Capitol rioters are, for the most part, crybabies and nuts. And the public is starting to realize that.

While a majority of Republicans still cling to the Big Lie that Trump secretly won the election, it’s beginning to fray around the edges. In part, because it is so transparently a lie, and in part because people are beginning to realize that what AAX wants is the complete and total destruction of the Constitutional Republic, and in its place, a one-party fascist state in which the party declares the winner of elections and therefore elections are just window dressing, as they were in the Soviet Union. Should AAX were regain power, elections would cease altogether in short order because of “the [name your distinct group of people] problem” and camps to “solve” those people would arise in short order.

In other words, people are starting to see the unpatriotism and moral, intellectual and ethical bankruptcy of the far right, and realizing that they don’t protect our rights any more than the corporate fascists (including AAX) do.

Just remember—at all levels, fight fascism, vote Democratic. The movement is self-destructing, but we still need to finish the job.