As if the nation is not in enough trouble, there is another sign that with Republicans in control of all three branches of government, the rush toward America as a theocracy is ramping up. At the rate Republicans and Trump are pandering to the evangelical fanatics, America is not far off from being run like Iran and Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
Whether the religious right admits it or not, the majority hew to a mindset that only Christians are real Americans worthy of certain privileges and rights. It is likely true that mindset is substantiated by Republicans who work tirelessly to elevate evangelicals to a position of authority over the rest of the population with ever-increasing incidences of theocratic legislation.
The GOP has, in fact, given the religious right purview over women’s access to healthcare as well as the legal right to discriminate against any American unwilling to toe the evangelical line. There have even been murmurings that only evangelicals should be allowed to vote and that only Christians should run for and hold political office. Evangelicals still claim that America was created as a Christian theocracy and the Constitution was written by the god of the Christian bible. Now an emboldened religious Republican has introduced legislation that says only evangelicals can enter into the institution of marriage performed in a church.
Despite the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges nearly three years ago, religious Republicans are still crusading to deny same-sex couples the legal right to be married. In a new attack on same-sex marriage, a really religious Republican in the Missouri state legislature, some theocrat named T.J. Berry, introduced House Bill 1424 to restrict marriage in the “show me state” to “people of faith.” It is noteworthy to mention that Berry is as real a religious Republican as any evangelical fanatic and an ordained deacon of the First Baptist Church In Kearney, Missouri.
Berry’s theocratic legislation defines marriage as being a “solemnized union that takes place only inside a church.” Note that it doesn’t say inside a mosque, a synagogue, or a temple by design; Muslims, Buddhists or Jews do not worship or get “married” in a “church.” If Berry’s bill becomes law, any marriages that “were to take place outside of the church” will not be legal or recognized as legal marriages by the theocrats running Missouri; they will be domestic unions regardless the couple’s gender.
The First Baptist deacon Berry proudly admits that his bill’s purpose is redefining marriage in favor of “the church.” He said the only way a person in Missouri can be legally married under his legislation is “to go through a religious ceremony in a church.” Any couple refusing to take that route can get a civil document from the government, but they will not be legally married in Missouri.
The Legal Director at the Human Rights Campaign, Sarah Warbelow, explained the obvious that the law will hurt LGBTQ married couples in Missouri. She also said that restricting “marriage” to “church weddings calls into question all couples’ rights;” particularly those who were not married in a church in a “solemnized union.” Ms.Warbelow said:
“It’s hard to believe [this legislation is] something most conservatives support. Most Americans think that marriage is an important institution, and they don’t want to get rid of it.”
Most Americans are not running the government any longer so it doesn’t matter what they want or don’t want. Evangelicals are running the government despite their minority position, and along with their money machine the Koch brothers, they fully control the fate of the nation by wielding authority over Republicans.
It is noteworthy that this particularly nasty evangelical legislation is not about “getting rid of marriage as an institution;” evangelicals love solemnized man-woman church marriages. Berry’s bill simply restricts participation in the “important institution of marriage” to the evangelical faithful, but only if they are wed in a church. It is the only way Republican evangelicals claim they can protect churches and businesses from “the gay encroachment” and protect religious bigots refusing to do their taxpayer-funded jobs. That was another urgent reason for the theocratic law.
The bill’s supporters claim the new law will be “the remedy to controversies across the country involving government employees who object and refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples for religious reasons.”
No, the remedy for government employees who object to following the law of the land, and willfully violate the 14th Amendment, is immediate termination of their taxpayer-funded employment. And if it were possible, they should face charges for violating terms of employment as government employees for refusing to support the Constitution. Nearly all government and public employees from presidents to senators to law enforcement to school teachers swear an oath to support the U.S. Constitution; and that includes the 14th Amendment that evangelical Republicans claim violates their religious liberty.
Critics of the legislation concur with the HRC’s legal director in warning that it would cause LGBT couples, as well as all other non-religious couples, a great deal of trouble. It is almost certain that “causing all non-religious couples a great deal of trouble” is an important aspect of this particular theocratic abomination.
Like many Americans, the executive director of a Missouri advocacy group, the Center Project, is “irritated and frustrated” over the religious Republicans’ never-ending assault on equality and the concept of progress. Dion Wisniewski said:
“No matter how much progress we make, there is always going to be a push from conservative [evangelical] groups to roll back protections for individuals or enact new laws to make it more difficult to live normal lives. Conservative groups are putting pressure on the legislature to protect the ‘biblical definition’ of marriage, even though they aren’t being forced to perform these services.”
The evangelical fanatics supporting this particular theocratic edict never elaborated on exactly what “gay encroachment” entails, but it likely has everything to do with gays having equal rights. It is not out of the realm of possibility that when evangelical theocracy is officially the law of the land, the LGBTQ community will be banned from America, much less “evangelical churches and businesses.”
Although it should be unbelievable in a 21st Century secular nation, it was not surprising to learn that a Republican state is working to ban non-Christians from being married. It is unclear if the legislation will pass and become a state law, or progress to become a national crusade. But it is abundantly clear that with a puppet in the White House and most federal agencies in the grip of theocrats, evangelicals are on a crusade to do much more than ban non-Christians from being legally married. Tragically, very few Americans will notice the theocratic tyranny until they become targets of the religious right, and as centuries of “church” history informs, sooner rather than later every American will be a target of the fanatical religious right.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.