The Supreme Court and Theocracy
Joan Bokaer printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Apr 04, 2007 at 07:42:56 AM EST
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Monday in favor of the environment and against theocracy. The two are inextricably linked. I've been waiting for this opinion to see how Justice Kennedy would vote, for he is the new swing vote since Sandra Day O'Conner resigned. I'm greatly relieved.

The theocratic right has a two-prong approach to the federal government. They want to strengthen the federal government's ability to impose their theology on the rest of society while at the same time practically eliminating the government's ability to protect the environment, consumers, and workers. The theocratic right would abolish the EPA as well as the Department of Education, but also impose strict laws on women's bodies or fight Death with Dignity laws. Let me explain how the two are part of the same picture - a stronger government that becomes an enforcer of theocracy becomes a weaker government that loses its ability to enforce environmental laws. Hopefully this post will make it clear why Monday's Supreme Court ruling was both a victory for the environment and a blow for theocracy.

A good place to go to understand the political agenda of the theocratic right is the Texas Republican Party Platform. In 2004 the Texas GOP called for abolishing

the Bureau of Tobacco and Firearms, the position of Surgeon General, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Departments of Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Education, Commerce and Labor. We also call for the de-funding or abolition of the National Endowment for the Arts, and Public Broadcasting System.

While all these agencies are abolished, so is what they call the "myth" of separation of church and state, thereby paving the way for theocratic rule:

Our party pledges to exert its influence to ...  dispel the "myth" of the separation of church and state.


The Republican Party of Texas affirms the United States of America is a Christian Nation.

This "Christian nation" platform makes several recommendations about the environment highlighting their belief in the absolute right of property owners to pollute:

We reaffirm belief in the fundamental constitutional right of an individual to use property without governmental interference.

We oppose conservation easements on our natural resources administered by organizations unaccountable to tax payers and voters.

That means land trusts and conservation groups would be declared unconstitutional.
We oppose the Endangered Species Act.

We believe that groundwater is an absolute, vested right of the landowner.

We oppose passage of any international treaty that overrides United States sovereignty including the Kyoto agreement and Biodiversity Treaty.

Another way to understand the link between theocracy and the environment is to look at who dissented on the Supreme Court's ruling. The dissenters were Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Chief Justice Roberts. Scalia wrote an article for an influential journal of religion in public life, First Things, in May, 2002. (Their site is currently under construction)
... Government...derives its moral authority from God. It is the minister of God with powers to "avenge" to "execute wrath" including even wrath by the sword.

Scalia appears hostile to Democracy: The "consensus" [that government is the minister of God]
has been upset, I think by the emergence of democracy...It is much more difficult to see the hand of God...behind the fools and rogues...we ourselves elect of our own free will.

He sees democracy as obscuring the divine authority:
... the reaction of people of faith to this tendency of democracy to obscure divine authority...should [be] the resolution to combat it as effectively as possible.

A book was published in 1988 that sheds light on the ideals of Dominion Theology. Thomas Ice had just walked away from a theology that he had wholeheartedly embraced for twelve years and wrote Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse? He explains the role of the federal government this way:

The only legitimate functions of the state are: restraining civil evil; punishing evil; protecting the law abiding; and defending the nation.

In a theocratic vision the church would assume all social functions of government such as education and welfare. When the theocratic right was setting the agenda for Congress, before the November midterm elections of 2006, understanding this view of government explained a lot of legislation they were passing.

I wrote a series of articles for Talk To Action on the role of the federal government in a theocracy.

Go to:

Dominionism and The Constitution in Exile Movement

House Bill Would Eliminate Most Regulatory Functions Of Federal Government

A Culture of Life or Death?

Follow The Votes

Paul Weyrich: The Man Who Framed the Republican Party

ALEC: Traditional values discover corporate funding They're at it again! The Texas GOP Declares "America is a Christian nation

Are We Becoming The "Reconstructed Kingdom" ? The Invisible Hand of Rousas J. Rushdooney

"    We believe that groundwater is an absolute, vested right of the landowner."

Funny, but I don't remember them being up in arms when Native American lands were being confiscated for a natural resource (water) a few years ago!!!  (My memory of the incident was that it was Navajo families who lost their lands!)

Oh.. yes.. it's OK if it's lands belonging to minorities.    I forgot!

Cynicism and irony off...

Indeed, if I remember right, there were some fundamentalists/dominionists who applauded the action- the confiscation of "Indian land" for the water underneath.

American culture is all about "me" (individualism)- and this is just an extension of that.  They think about what they can gain from their stances- but forget what they could loose.  And these people certainly don't care about the Other that they harm through their actions.

by ArchaeoBob on Wed Apr 04, 2007 at 11:50:18 AM EST

Is it really a pro-corporate stance?  The individual (that is, the right to die, the right to terminate a pregnancy) must be subserviant to the government.  But the corporation need not be?  Corporations must be free to exploit and maximize, while individuals must be restrained?  

I guess I would like to hear more about the perspectives that Joan is tying together.  

What informs me most is when the two clash, for example, when environmental toxins from corporate pollution interfere with healthy reproduction of individuals.  It seems to me that, in the Religious Right view, the corporate interests win -- something that could lead one to conclude that theocracy/religion is being used as a duck blind to support amassing wealth.


by cyncooper on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 12:14:35 PM EST

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