Frederick: Well, yeah. I think that we see the kind of top-downism that you're talking about, in say the debate about the contraception rule in Obama's health plan: requiring employers to provide contraception coverage in their employee plans. Now, the Catholic Church takes great exception to this, saying that all of their institutions and the one that they essentially control--it's a violation of their religion freedom to have to provide coverage of say, oral contraceptives. Now, it gets interesting, because, well okay, if it was just the church, you might do it that way, or even a church-controlled seminary or something that actually has something to do with the core religiosity itself. You might say, "Okay, that's a good argument there." And in fact, the Obama administration compromised and said, "Yeah, that's a good argument. We'll buy that." But, what the church and even some of their Evangelical allies are arguing is that degree of control should extend to sensibly secular universities and hospitals that are affiliated with them, but not necessarily controlled by, the church. And many of the employees are not even members of the Catholic Church or other affiliated churches. So, this is an aggressive effort to declare control over the very definition of religious freedom; not just for themselves, but for everybody who touches anything [of] which they have any kind of significant influence. This is really something extraordinary that we've never seen before in our culture, and it's a desperate attempt to reach out for control in places that arguably has never been done before.
Rob: Now, the Christian right and also the more conservative Jewish right often attack Islamism and worries about Sharia law. When I say they worry about Sharia law, they worry about it being imposed on the United States, and different religion being imposed on the United States. It seems to me that Reverend Moon has--through his resources, billion dollars spent and invested in business and media and influence, and covert operations--had an immense influence on the way that we live and the way our culture functions.
Rob: And I wonder whether that's not also the case for other organizations that are not seen as so far outside the mainstream, like the extremist religions on the right--the fundamentalist religions in this country.
Frederick: Yeah, there are absolute theocratic intentions on the part of many religious right organizations, not /
Rob: / That's the word I was looking for, theocratic. Yes.
Frederick: Absolutely clear, unambiguous theocratic intentions. Now, some would take great exception to my calling it that, but look, you can take an archaic definition of theocracy, meaning a government controlled by the clergy, but everybody I think would agree that the Massachusetts Bay Colony, for example, was a theocracy. Well, the clergy were not allowed to hold offices. The magistrates who were selected there had to be a member in good standing of the church, and in order to be a member of good standing in the church, the clergy had to approve of you, but it was never the clergy itself that ran things. That's what you have substantially in Iran as well. You ostensibly have a constitutional democracy in elections, and you have the clergy standing behind the scenes to veto things. Theocracies, just like democracies can be complicated in terms of how you define them? So, when you're taking specific religious ideas and trying to impose them via the law, that's generally referred to as theonomy: basically the rule of religious law.
So, sometimes there's a distinction without a difference. If you have the Christian right and their Catholic allies trying to say, "Well, it's a violation of our religious freedom to have to allow our employees to have insurance coverage that covers contraception," that's a theocratic idea. That's trying to impose a very singular, specific religious idea onto the way that all of society works for all of its citizens.