By Robert A. Vella

The very first amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as part of the Bill of Rights ratified in 1791, states that:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This separation of church and state was intended and repeatedly affirmed to ensure two things for the new nation:  1) that the United States government would be formally secular, and 2) that United States citizens could legally practice their various religions freely and without interference from other religions.  In a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802, President Thomas Jefferson wrote:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.

The “free exercise” of religion applies to all citizens including public officials.  Therefore, politicians are fully within their rights to act in accordance with their religious principles.  However, public officials are prohibited from enacting, administering, or interpreting law in favor of any religion or in disfavor of any religion.  For example, if my religion demands people to grow their hair long while your religion demands people to cut their hair short, then no official U.S. law or act can be used to enforce either religious precept.  For such a law or act to be constitutional, it would have to be based on non-religious reasons – like long hair posing a workplace hazard.

Since the rise of Christian fundamentalist political activism during the Reagan administration, evangelicals have attempted to systematically impose their beliefs upon the nation through indirect and subversive means which generally avoided a constitutional confrontation.  For example, they have been successful in closing down health care facilities in several states which performed reproductive and abortion services for women.  But with the election of Donald Trump, this strategy appears to be shifting to a more direct approach.  The following story may be the first serious indication that his administration intends to step towards implementing a Christian theocracy in America.

From:  Sessions announces ‘religious liberty task force’

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Monday that the Department of Justice is creating a “religious liberty task force.”

Sessions said the task force, co-chaired by Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio and the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy, Beth Williams, will help the department fully implement the religious liberty guidance it issued last year.

The guidance was a byproduct of President Trump’s executive order directing agencies to respect and protect religious liberty and political speech.

Sessions said on Monday that the task force will “ensure all Justice Department components are upholding that guidance in the cases they bring and defend, the arguments they make in court, the policies and regulations they adopt, and how we conduct our operations.”

54 thoughts on “Trump Administration takes the first steps towards implementing theocracy in America

  1. Robert, do you think they’ll succeed? Are there really enough fundies to support this to the point it becomes the practice?

    For me, I worry about those who are not “hardcore” yet they support the more religious/conservative viewpoint(s) simply because it IS religious in nature and, as you know, “God” is a big thing in this nation.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I agree, Nan. Mainstream acquiescence to Christian activism is the real concern here. Can they succeed? I think it’s possible, for sure. They’ve got the five votes they need on the Supreme Court. If the Trump administration keeps pushing this, I wonder what moderate Republicans and Democrats would do. If the GOP caves-in, would the Democratic Party be brave enough to oppose them?

      Liked by 2 people

    • I think a lot of non-fundie Christians support such things in the abstract but become less comfortable when they see the specifics.

      “Religious liberty” as a phrase is popular. In practice, it turns out to mean “God hates fags” and “you will have your rapist’s baby”. Those things are not popular.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I often wonder if the Mideast today is a mirror of where we’ll be in the future as far as religious domination being so prominent and utterly controlling.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think there is a parallel there. The dominance of Islam in the Middle East does resemble what the Republicans seem to want to create here. But see my comment above. Islamic fundamentalism was widely favored by public opinion in much of the Middle East for years. Then al-Qâ’idah and Dâ’ish (ISIL) came along and actually implemented it, and people saw that in specific practice it meant endless war, sex slavery for young girls, throwing people off of buildings, terrorism that mostly kills fellow Middle Easterners, etc. Public support over there for Islamic extremism has declined a lot over the last few years. That too is a parallel. Many non-fundie Christians here support “religious liberty” in the abstract, but they won’t like it when they see the specific policies it involves.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Would Turkey be an example of the way the US is heading? Nominally a secular state, it is now controlled by a religious political party. It appears to me that the Republican party is heading towards being a Christian party. In fact it’s almost there. It wouldn’t surprise me if I woke up one morning to the announcement that it had been renamed The Christian Republican Party.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Excellent post, Robert. Have they forgotten, then, that there are Muslims, Jews, Hindus, atheists and agnostics in this nation who are entitled to the exact same rights as the Christians? I am so tired of people referring to this as a “Christian nation” and our government as Christian. I have lost count of how many times I have stomped my virtual feet and reminded somebody that ours is a secular government and that our nation was founded based in part on religious freedom … true religious freedom, not the definition that is in use today. Religious freedom today means that Christians are FREE to restrict the rights of those who may have a different set of beliefs or values.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I am so tired of people referring to this as a “Christian nation” and our government as Christian.

      BINGO! And that right there is exactly one (of many) fundamental problems with our public education system that propagandized that “Christian nation” B.S. in the Eisenhower administration and that over the last 4-6 decades has been reinforced by (religious) private and charter schools! Those students, now adults in America, makeup most of the Conservative Right as well as the radical Fundy-Evangies in this country. :/ 😠

      The reality is that our Founding Fathers and the DoI and Constitution are unequivocally secular… and it CAN be proven they are secular and hence, we are NOT a “Christian nation.” Period. There is no debate about this.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Well said, Jill. I think most Christians are followers, meaning that religiously inclined folks tend to go along with what their church leaders preach. And, they are being told that America is and always has been a “Christian nation” particularly in evangelical churches. Dominionist leaders are especially antithetical towards our nation’s secular foundations.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. This entire topic reinforces my own personal aversion to religion of any stripe. They are all controlling and I find that flies in the face of human free will. Yes, there’s a lot riding on your elections in November.

    Liked by 4 people

    • That’s a very intriguing point. Christians teach about our human “free will” (as opposed to determinism), but expect their followers to be theologically compliant. It’s both contradictory and hypocritical.

      Yes, November! Thanks, John.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is horribly terrifying and disturbing on SO MANY LEVELS!!! I tell you what Robert… if middle Moderate America — and of course the Left — don’t show up to vote in Novemeber to AT LEAST begin fighting and opposing this disastrous path these Zealots are pushing, the “USA” will be no different than those Islamic nations with Sharia law. Period! 😡

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    You all know I tip-toe around when it comes to religion, for it is never my goal to offend anyone, and that’s hard as heck to do when religion is the topic. Our friend Robert Vella wrote the post I was contemplating, and did so much better than I could have anyway.
    ‘Religious freedom’ used to mean that we each had the freedom to follow any faith or no faith without interference from the government or from others. But in recent months, it has taken on a new connotation … one that I and others find deeply disturbing. The new meaning takes away the freedoms of any who do not comply with the evangelical Christians, almost as though Christianity were the “official religion” of the U.S.
    Please take a few minutes to read Robert’s excellent post about the latest push for religious bigotry. Thank you, Robert, for this post and implied permission to re-blog!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Reblogged this on Lucky Otters Haven and commented:
    This is frightening and all too real. Yes, it’s true — the Trump GOP wants to replace democracy with a Christian theocracy. But only “their” kind of Christians are acceptable. It’s happening much faster than I would have expected. Gilead really is happening in America.
    These dominionists must be stopped — somehow — before we turn into a Christian Saudi Arabia (of course, these “Christians” care nothing about anything Christ actually taught).

    Liked by 2 people

  9. We are doomed unless we can win the midterms. If we don’t, life will become much the same as it is in Saudi Arabia, especially for LGBTQ and women. I have no way to leave the country, no options at my age, and very little money. I’m wondering if I can survive living in such a regime. I don’t think I will be able to. We must all vote out these monsters! It’s terrifying.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Dear Robert A. Vella,

    Here’s the deal. The White Evangelicals comprise about 35% of the current GOP voter base. They support President Trump in huge numbers and they turn out to vote.

    They have already had an undue influence on current policies. Why did President Trump turn kneeling at football games during the playing of the National Anthem into an offense against our country? He was catering to his base by creating another culture wedge issue. Why are our transgender soldiers being barred from serving their country? It’s because the president is catering to this base.

    And now this! This is so discouraging.

    I am a person of faith but whatever these folks are practicing, it has nothing to do with God.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Gronda. Yes, I’ve heard that frustration from many people of faith who are very discouraged by this merger of politics and White Evangelical radicalism. A neighbor of mine got into a big argument with her father a year ago over Trump (they’re both Evangelical Christians). But, her opposition to Trump began to melt away after he and their church leaders berated her incessantly. Now, she doesn’t want to discuss anything about Trump at all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Robert A. Vella,

        Their is nothing like church ostracism to get someone in line. This operates like a cult. I find this frightening. Their pastors are leading these peoples astray. Thanks for speaking up on this subject.

        Hugs, Gronda

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    From a new blogger I found … RELIGIOUS FREEDOM!!
    ‘The new meaning takes away the freedoms of any who do not comply with the evangelical Christians, almost as though Christianity were the “official religion” of the U.S.’
    Guess many are left out of the ‘new club’! Wondering what happened to separation ‘between church and state’?

    Liked by 1 person

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