MANN TALK: 'Ordered Liberty Under God'

by Perry Mann

Church and State,” published by “Americans United for Separation of Church and State,” informs the reader that Gary Bauer, erstwhile Presidential candidate and former president of the Family Research Council (FRC), opined when addressing the Council:

 “A good bit of the country thinks the meaning of America is it’s a place where you get to do whatever you want. Different strokes for different folks; if it feels good, do it. And then there are people like us who believe with all our hearts that that was NOT what the country was supposed to be about. We believe that it’s supposed to be a place built on ordered liberty under God.” And he continued: “Somebody gets to put their [sic] views into practice through our [sic] laws. And the winner of this big war between those two worldviews is going to win our children.”


To me there are few less ominous or more intimidating phrases than “ordered liberty under God.” First, what does Bauer mean by “ordered?” Coming from him, I immediately think of some ecclesiastical tyrant robed in splendor, castled in a Medieval cathedral, issuing writs and summons and subpoenas, executed by Swiss Guards, demanding the appearance of eccentrics who are suspected of not having lived an “ordered” life under God; or, on second thought, that he means liberty that is not chaotic. But then I wonder who will be the “somebody” who brings order to liberty and in what manner. I suspect by law; but there arises the fear and question what laws. Undoubtedly, laws that are in conformity with evangelical Christian theology; that is God’s Laws 


From the FRC ‘s agenda, which is in harmony with that of Bauer’s agenda, one can gather what Bauer thinks God’s laws mandate, to wit: The destruction of the wall separating church and state; the subsidization with public funds of religious schools and faith-based social services; the outlawing of abortions; the defunding of population control programs; criminalization of cloning even for medical research. And zealous opposition to civil rights for gays, apposition to campaign finance reform, to federal funding of the arts, and to progressive taxation and the estate tax.


If I had to make a choice between a place where there existed “ordered liberty under God” and  “a place where you can do whatever you want,” I would choose the latter in a New York second. I cannot conceive of living in a nation where liberty is ordered in accordance with Gary Bauer’s interpretation of God’s laws nor of the interpretation of any other person or persons. The vision of ordered liberty as conceived by say William Bennett or John Ashcroft and executed by one or the other of them is terror inducing just to contemplate. This nation will not become a theocracy peacefully and any serious attempt to make it one will precipitate a repeat of the slaughter of the religious wars of the Middle Ages. Imagine, reader, the civil disturbance provoked by an established church of glossolalic preachers headed by Pope Ashcroft.


What could do more to Balkanize this nation than the dismantling of its public school system and the replacing it with religious schools funded by public money distributed in a manner that allowed every religion, denomination and cult to have its share of the money based on membership? Also, what would happen to what’s left of this democracy? It would either destroy itself in civil conflict and religious wars or succumb to the rule of a tyrant who would impose “ordered liberty” under the tyrant’s God. And all children would be theologically brainwashed producing expected adherents equal to the number of members of congregations.


Bauer and the anti-choice Christian zealots believe that God mandates them to work toward outlawing abortion on the ground that at the moment of conception a person is created with an eternal soul. What evidence do they have that a fetus is a person and that it has a soul and that God is offended by its abortion? Not much. Their argument is mostly faith-based and Bible-based, both of which bases have no standing judged by God-endowed reason. Faith has been defined as “an implausible hypothesis, irrationally held;” and the Bible has been scholarly denominated mythical and is probably no more God’s word than is Tennyson’s poetry. Jewish patriarchs attributed the Bible to God to give it divine authority, a ploy commonly used by those who wish to make holy their calling and to separate themselves from the unholy.

     

Faith and the Bible alone are flimsy premises upon which to presume that one unquestionably knows the will of God and particularly upon which to discriminate against or to make criminals and sinners of others. Yet, so-called Christians oppose civil rights protections for gays on the ostensible ground that St. Paul was a homophobe, which saintly stance makes righteous their own sexual aversion to an orientation they think gays freely chose as opposed to the one they think they freely chose. 


The modern Pharisees would have the world believe that God approves the agenda of the far-right Republicans. That is, that God opposes campaign finance-reform and that He is for slashing federal taxes, including the so-called death tax. If Christians really believe that Jesus was God’s son and was sent to speak for Him, then they should consider the inconsistency of their demanding a reduction in the taxes for the rich when Christ advised that the rich had as little chance of entering the Kingdom as a camel has of threading the eye of needle, and also the Son’s admonition that in order for the rich man to enter the Kingdom, he must give all he has to the poor and follow Him.


Bauer believes that the winners of the war will win the children.  Thus, he exhibits gross ignorance of the nature of man. If a child’s mind were a blank slate upon which proselytizers could write indelibly, I would be a believer instead of skeptic. Something inborn, something impervious to proselytizing comes with conception and resides in the mind giving growth to independent thinking, the bane of believers. It is that something that produced such movements as the Reformation, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and such men as Copernicus, Galileo Thomas Jefferson, Voltaire and William Butler Yeats, who warned: “Once you attempt legislation on religious grounds, you open the way for every kind of intolerance and religious persecution.”  

 

  

* * *  Perry Mann is a former teacher, a lawyer, a former prosecuting attorney of Summers County and a columnist for Huntington News Network. He lives in Hinton, WV.  
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