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    Democracy Under Assault
    Theopolitics, Incivility and Violence on the Right

    Michele Swenson


    Democracy Under Assault

    Theopolitics, Incivility and Violence on the Right

    The Movement to Overthrow Church-State Separation…

    Contemporary spiritual warfare challenges ‘60s liberal activism that signified to some historic civil rights gains, and to others, dreaded shifting demographics. A caller to a gun-talk radio show judged it a decade when cultural elites decided the country was "too white, too European and too Christian," leading to preference for non-European immigrants of different religions. Evangelicals who previously fought the cold war against "godless communists," turned their wrath toward "godless" Democrats, feminists, humanists, mainline Christians and other religions.

    Maintaining that rights should be conferred solely by popular vote or legislation, some ultraconservatives advocate rescinding parts of the Constitution to limit judicial jurisdiction; others call for civil disobedience or outright revolution…Frederick Clarkson has written extensively about Reconstructionists’ goal: the subversion of democracy.

    The moral challenge posed by moderates is how to respect diversity of beliefs and live in pluralistic community. The moral imperative delineated by the right is how to legislate theocracy by imposing their biblical interpretation as the basis of law to replace "secularist morality that has been legislated for the past 40 years."


    Religious Right Embraces ‘Survival of the Fittest’ Capitalism…

    Continued Reagan-style "supply side" tax cuts for the wealthiest have by design resulted in a shrinking tax base of support for education, healthcare and social program, and a rapidly escalating disparity of wealth.

    Right-wing policy grounded in nineteenth century survival-of-the-fittest economics holds it the duty of the economically strong to drive the economically weak into extinction in order to strengthen capitalism.


    Women Remain a Primary Target of the Right…

    In a perverse take on theology, the very idea of women as whole persons is deemed a threat to the presumed dominance of men. Former Mormon Sonia Johnson was not the first to observe that "men have made God in their own image," rather than the reverse, as stated in the Bible.

    A culture that denies women control over their own reproductive lives, and systematically excludes them as less than human, creates an environment where women are blamed for their own abuse, physical problems are judged "psychological," and women are routinely betrayed and abandoned by the very institutions that are supposed to serve them.


    Removal of Public Education…

    Consistent with the avowed goal of Jerry Falwell and others to abolish public schools by year 2000, the Separation of School and State Alliance based in Fresno, California began circulating a pledge in the ‘90s calling for the elimination of the public school system…The Alliance’s motto: "It’s not the business of federal, state and local governments to be involved in Monday school any more than Sunday school."

    Public education as a touchstone of democracy (a nation cannot expect "to be both ignorant and free," said Thomas Jefferson) is compromised by the elevation of commercial values above democratic and educational ones.


    Attack on the Independent Judiciary…

    Conservatives cannot achieve their goal of changing society without also profoundly changing the courts, asserted William Kristol, one-time Dan Quayle aid, and editor of The Weekly Standard. He extolled the great political appeal of channeling "populist anger at the notion of elitist judges with a general sense of resentment that the federal government is controlling people’s lives too much."

    Judges who have "distorted the Constitution" with decisions like Roe v. Wade and the banning of prescribed prayer from public schools should be subject to review and impeachment by Congress…argued Pat Robertson in the reactionary ‘90s…calling for removal of "superlegislators in black robes" who are "drunk with power" and "legislate instead of interpret" the Constitution.


    Guns Drive an Ultraconservative Ideology…

    Named a "gunocracy" by Professor Robert Jay Lifton, U.S. gun-centered ideology combines muscular theology with anti-government fervor and exclusionary end-times doctrine. Guns are the means by which "Christian nation" advocates will reclaim their right of rule…Those who invoke constitutional and biblical mandates for unlimited access to firearms entertain a vision of warring spiritual armies, mirroring Pat Robertson’s forecast of civil war between God-fearing gun owners and liberal heathens ("gun grabbers").


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