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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/15/17

The Religious Right Is Not Dead - But It Can Be

Follow Me on Twitter     Message Bob Johnson

Contrary to countless claims that the religious right is dead, such as "The religious right can't win at the polls", made in an article by Paul Rosenberg in Salon on January 16, 2016, the religious right is not only not dead, it is stronger than ever and more of a threat than ever before.

The religious right was the essential element that put Trump in the White House. Now the Trump administration is paying the religious right back by bringing America much closer to being a Judeo-Christian theocracy. One of the most damaging things he has done is appoint the Christian fundamentalist Betsy DeVos as Secretary of the Department of Education. The billionaire DeVos has spent decades of her life and millions of dollars working to promote school vouchers that take children out of public schools and put them in private schools, many of which are religious schools. This is a direct assault against the First Amendment and the Jeffersonian principle of having a wall separating religion from government. However, DeVos and the religious right know the profound importance of winning over the youth to Christian dogma and beliefs.

One of the key religious-right activists and leaders who worked to put Trump in the White House was Pat Robertson prote'ge' Ralph Reed. In September of 1983 Reed claims he was at the appropriately named Bullfeathers pub in Washington, DC, when "the Holy Spirit simply demanded me to come to Jesus".

After he allegedly gave his heart to Jesus, Reed got involved in the religious right. He worked in the presidential campaign of Christian televangelist and charlatan Pat Robertson in 1988. Robertson eventually appointed Reed to lead the Christian Coalition. After being at the helm of the Christian Coalition from 1989 to 1997, and after legal problems arising in 2005 from his shady dealings with convicted felon Jack Abramoff, which involved scamming millions of dollars from American Indian tribes regarding casinos, Reed started the religious right political/religious organization the Faith & Freedom Coalition. This was used very successfully to bring about a victory for Donald Trump and the religious right in 2016.

Many sincere voters put credence in what Ralph Reed and his fellow religious-right leaders say because the religious right is cloaked in the robes of Biblical respectability. In the back of many voters' minds, they mistakenly assume that the religious right and con-artists like Ralph Reed are doing God's will and work. The Bible Reed and the religious right use to mesmerize the well-meaning masses with is the teeth of Reed's Faith & Freedom Coalition and his and the religious right's source of authority over millions of religious-right rank-and-file members. The Bible is a powerful engine of the religious right, which is driving us closer and closer to becoming a Bible-based theocracy.

Another powerful engine of the religious right is the lie they promote regarding the United States of America being created and founded as a Christian nation, by and for Christians. Last June after giving a speech to Reed's Faith & Freedom Coalition, then-candidate Donald Trump was asked by a reporter from Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network if he believed America is a Judeo-Christian nation and Trump responded with "that's the way it's been".

Fortunately, for free-thinking and freedom-loving people everywhere, there is a kill-switch for the lie-based engines of the religious right, as well as a source of spiritual inspiration and strength that is grounded in reason, nature, logic and reality, as opposed to superstition, ignorance and fear. That kill-switch is the world-view of Deism.

Most of the rank-and-file members of the religious right will not listen to atheists. However, many of them will listen to Deists. This is because Deists have common ground with them in their sincerely held belief in The Supreme Intelligence/God. Deists believe that God gave us reason and not religion. This quality of Deism allows people who are under the influence of a "revealed"/hearsay religion like Judaism or Christianity, to break free of that religious influence and to start thinking independently. (Many people who have left a "revealed" religion for Deism wrote about why they did so here.)

A great example of Donald Trump promoting the religious right lie that America is a Christian nation occurred on May 13, 2017, when Trump gave the commencement speech at the evangelical Christian fundamentalist Liberty University. Trump told the crowd of 50,000 Christians, "When the founders wrote the Declaration of Independence, they invoked our creator four times. Because in America, we don't worship government, we worship God." He deceptively put in the minds of his Christian listeners, or strengthened their already held false assumption, that the Declaration of Independence mentions the god of the Bible four times.

The author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, held Deistic beliefs and rejected much of the Bible. When God is mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, it is only in Deistic terms, such as "Nature's God" and never in Christian terms. Nowhere in the Declaration is Jesus, Moses or the Bible ever even mentioned.

If Trump had bothered to speak the truth and tell his audience of Christians that Jefferson was a Deist and that the Declaration of Independence only mentions God in Deistic terms and never mentions God in Christian or biblical terms, think of the percentage of that audience who would have looked into what Deism is. And the percentage of people who see his speech on television or who see or read about it in the news who would have looked into what Deism is. If this happened, the religious right would be weakened and liberty and progress would have been strengthened.

When we reflect on the important role Deistic thinking has played in American history, such as the American Revolution going directly against such Bible commands as are found at Romans 13:1-7, which teach Christians to live in fear and obedience to "the powers that be" because the powers that be are "ordained of God" and warning that anyone who resists the powers that be will be damned, and when we realize that at least two of the four US presidents depicted on Mount Rushmore (Washington and Jefferson and possibly Lincoln) held Deistic beliefs, among many other things, it makes us wonder why Deism is not common knowledge and a household word. The American founder and Deist Thomas Paine pointed out the reason why.

Paine wrote in The Age of Reason:

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"... But pure and simple Deism does not answer the purpose of despotic governments. They cannot lay hold of religion as an engine, but by mixing it with human inventions, and making their own authority a part; neither does it answer the avarice of priests, but by incorporating themselves and their functions with it, and becoming, like the government, a party in the system. It is this that forms the otherwise mysterious connection of church and state ..."

Seriously promoting Deism has never been done on a large scale. The entrenched church/state apparatus makes the promotion of Deism very difficult and very necessary. With the religious right being far from dead and moving the US closer every day to becoming a Bible-based theocracy, new thinking is required to successfully stop that nightmare from becoming a reality. Deism is that new thinking and has the potential to stop the US from devolving into a theocracy, as well as the potential to help people free themselves from the fear-based superstitions of the "revealed" religions.

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Bob Johnson is a paralegal and a freelance writer in Florida. He was raised Roman Catholic, but after reading Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason, he became a Deist. In 1993 he founded the World Union of Deists and in 1996 he launched the first web (more...)
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