Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Reckoning with the God Squad
Fundamentalist bullies cannot be appeased. They must be confronted.
By Bill Moyers
Pat Robertson’s Operation Blessing was one of the first groups to receive taxpayer funds from the President’s Faith-based Initiative for “relief work” on the Gulf coast.
At the Central Baptist Church in Marshall, Texas, where I was baptized in the faith, we believed in a free church in a free state. I still do.
My spiritual forbears did not take kindly to living under theocrats who embraced religious liberty for themselves but denied it to others. “Forced worship stinks in God’s nostrils,” thundered the dissenter Roger Williams as he was banished from Massachusetts for denying Puritan authority over his conscience. Baptists there were a “pitiful negligible minority” but they were agitators for freedom and therefore denounced as “incendiaries of the commonwealth” for holding to their belief in that great democracy of faith-the priesthood of all believers.
Such revolutionary ideas made the new nation with its Constitution and Bill of Rights “a haven for the cause of conscience.” No longer would “the loathsome combination of church and state”-as Thomas Jefferson described it-be the settled order. The First Amendment neither inculcates religion nor inoculates against it. Americans could be loyal to the Constitution without being hostile to God, or they could pay no heed to God without fear of being mugged by an official God Squad. It has been a remarkable arrangement that guaranteed “soul freedom.”
Read the rest of the article here.
posted by Tamara - 12:24 PM -- Link to this entry
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