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Militant Deism

By Bryan Black

Explanations for the rise of the Christian Right look to our so-called 'culture wars'.  The excesses of the sixties rolled on in the "sex, drugs 'n rock'n roll" seventies.  This produced a conservative reaction in the eighties when Ronald Reagan's America went forward to the past, including old time values and that old time religion.  The Christian Right in this way opposed degeneracy on grounds both militant and familiar - ingredients for a successful politics of reaction.

But why do we find ourselves still stuck in the same configuration?  We're in the late nineties, going on a new millennium.  Lots of other things have moved right along.  The Cold War ended.  The American economy revived while the Eastern Star fell, with Japan and the Tiger economies looking less like the morning of a new economic day and more like Brazil with the usual funny money problems of South America. 

Amidst this rapid change, the sources of politics have not changed.  The rise of the Christian Right should have led to the fall of the Christian Right, according to the rotation of culture by the decade.  That did not happen.  We face a deficit of reasons, not for the rise of the Christian Right, but for its stabilization as the militant wing of the Republican Party, permanently.

We must examine the internal workings of reaction within the Republican Party.  With the end of the Cold War, the Republicans proposed a new future not just for America but also for the world.  This proposal was George Bush's moderately conservative vision of "The New World Order". 

As an Anglophile, Bush wanted America to continue the line of European Civilization in a still "kinder and gentler" way.  America should out-British the British Empire!  Failure of this moderately reactionary version of tomorrow's world forced the Republicans to turn inward, to a new reliance upon the Christian Right.  We need to be very clear that the next Republican Administration will represent the world to America, not in George Bush's terms of a new world order, but in Pat Robertson's terms of a pagan world in need of conversion.

The end of the Cold War stabilized the Christian Right.  Wishy-washy reaction stopped the Gulf War short and left standing the thief of Baghdad.  Only the militant positions of fundamentalists restored Republican confidence in a new nationalism.  The end of the Cold War also helped the Christian Right in another way.

For a hundred years the Left had a monopoly on militant progress.  The Left, at least in its glory days, had all the revolutionary zeal necessary to stamp out degeneracy with the best of them.  But the end of the Cold War meant the collapse of communism.  Left revolution has become a threatened if not an already extinct species.  The thief of Baghdad withstood the onslaught of the Bush brigade.  From the Progressives, however, Saddam Hussein has faced only unmanned obstacles to his total restoration.

Collapse of Left militancy has handed the Right the strategic advantage.  Wherever convictions matter, whether in raising the young or in defeating ambitions of tyranny around the world, wishy-washy progressivism makes a poor showing.  This concession of conviction strongly predicts today's progressive rhetoric that mocks all strong beliefs, backs away from principles and plays into the hands of the reaction by living up to the worst stereotypes of right-wing propaganda.

The conclusion from conditions favorable to the Christian Right and absence of threats to their core positions suggests a sustained effort at effective counter measures made now must eventually gain wide reception.  This fair prospect invites a militant Deism.

To take Deist opposition to the Christian Right to this new operational level means opening up other fronts.  The fact that the Left dropped the progressive ball must be explained anew.  The Left has opposed the Christian Right, not on religious grounds, but as atheism opposed to all religion, including Deism with the rest.  We need to pick up the pieces of that story, not in any hurried way, but at our leisure, as entering only for a moment upon a larger territory of neglected truths contradicting familiar lies.

The truths in question concern, for example, the ingenious toleration of the first amendment.  The Europeans never adopted this solution to their own problems of religious extremism.  No European nation disestablished religion in principle while tolerating all religions that abide by the law.  The Europeans rushed in and chose up sides, establishing a domestic circle of denigration, dividing 'us' from 'them' according to righteousness and recrimination.

The Church of England nationalized religion in England.  Just so for the Church of Scotland, the Church of Norway and for Protestant nations generally.  Catholic Europeans established religion also, though reduction of religious universals under national particularity appears less clearly there.  At this late date we must remind ourselves that only upon this basis of religion variously established nation by nation did European politics next take the shape of secular, ideological conflict.  The familiar division of politics into Left versus Right assumed and today still assumes, not American disestablishment of religion, but precisely European irrationality of the patchwork establishment of religion.

We can by this light shone upon European intolerance sum up the last two hundred years of European politics from a more candidly American point of view.  The circle of denigration between Protestant and Catholic zealots swept under the European rug by national establishment of religious ideologies erupted elsewhere, in the secular, ideological extremisms of Soviet Communism and German Fascism.

The drive of the Christian Right to subvert the Constitution by a backdoor establishment of religion becomes clearer in this light of historical truth.  The Christian Right just wants America to degenerate to European levels of political organization.  That desire moves without consciousness, by the dead weight of regression.  This same dull backsliding, however, holds within its power the entire American Left. 

The Left conceit that atheism has progressive credentials takes for granted the European model of religion as particular sects nationally established in opposition to other sects of the same and other religions.  Why, then, can Left progressivism never combat the Christian Right?  Left atheism takes establishment of religion already for granted, conceding to the Christian Right the victory of their heart desires.

The Left, in this way, stands already in collusion with Christian treason in America.  Without that collusion from self-styled 'Progressives' the ploy of first taking over the Republican Party and then establishing the Robertson agenda as the Republican agenda would everywhere be known for an historical betrayal of reason and American values.  A huge
awakening to a new America lies ahead.  But we cannot get there without returning to the original America of better spirits than presently represent us.

Who, then, are the real villains, the false 'Progressives' of the Left or the Christian Right?  Who drags America down the same highway of despair already taken by Christian Europe from Spain to Germany and Russia?  We cannot allow these questions of denigration to play the defining role.  They draw us into the stale rhetoric of righteousness and recrimination by accepting the terms of a European politics of ideological reason.  Another question serves us better, if we would resume the ingenious toleration that resumes the Deism of the Founders.  We ask how best to understand and explain these backsliders of whatever persuasion?

A militant Deism cannot accept the moralistic explanations of the Left or of the Right without sacrificing reason to their rhetoric of righteousness and recrimination.  Americans did not loose sight of the original Covenant because they became greedy capitalists or because they sold their souls to the Earl of Hell.  For two hundred years Americans have been occupied successfully and necessarily elsewhere.  What was a rebel colony then, now has become the first nation on Earth, not magically, not by withholding from greed and not by fending off Beelzebub. 

The best efforts of all the American born generations so far have been required to build up the nation in a world defined by Europeans in European terms.  To these generations we owe our present and future opportunity to change the terms of worldly association from the European mold of ideological denigration into something more mindful of our Creator and nearer the original American cause.

To press that cause against both the Left and the Christian Right, we should reaffirm the ingenious toleration of the first amendment, not only in its first application against ideological religion, but now in a second application against the dreadful intolerance of secular ideologies that destroyed European moral authority in the Nazi death-camps and the death-camps of the Soviet Gulag.  This reapplication of the first amendment reads: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of ideology, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

By this device we accomplish three things.  First and foremost, we serve the public by breaking the circle of denigration as it was broken before, now disestablishing the secular version of righteousness and recrimination familiar in its religious guise to the Founders. 

In this we remember the public could not be served at the foundation of the nation by a crossfire of sectarian zealots anxious to steal America for their religious faction.  Because we remember, we see very clearly the public today is not served by today's crossfire of secular ideologies.  Our representatives cannot both pursue the crossfire and keep faith with the people, their Earthly sovereign.

Party politics arrived from Europe during the presidency of John Quincey Adams.  For his opposition to this European engine of ideological righteousness and recrimination Adams got tagged as a failed president. 

Today we see the public is not served by the crossfire of parties, and that Adams' position must eventually be proved correct.  In sum, we task our representatives anew with the better purposes of implementing the moral consensus and fostering its increase.  We do so by abolishing the rewards of factional advantage that presently dominate and oppress their spirits.  To this end, the proposed amendment disestablishes the party apparatus of majority and minority parties in the House and Senate and removes the sources of party conflict between Legislative and Administrative branches.

Second, without a Republican Party to infiltrate and subvert to its agenda, the plan of the Christian Right to establish religion by the backdoor falls apart.  The first amendment closed the front door of religious ideology.  Its reapplication closes the backdoor of secular ideology.  But this methodology against reactionary religion in America owes nothing to the destructive disregard of our national life by atheism. 

We work renewal within the American grain, not against believers, but to give Americans the best of America to believe in.  And, just because that best belongs to us, not as Americans, but as creatures of "Nature and Nature's God" this same methodology has application universally, establishing American policy towards the Islamic Right and the Hindu Right abroad as surely as towards the Christian Right at home.

Third, without the party structure to ladder its ambition of ideological dominion, the Left faces the Founders' problem of moral reason of governance for our own people at home in their own nation, instead of the Left problem of morality postponed till "this stinking society" has been utterly destroyed.  The cultural excesses of the youth generations of the sixties and seventies in this way lose their inciting cause.  The Left repeatedly diverted the progressive thrust of idealism to its European version of militancy. 

The first sixties mobilization, the Civil Rights Movement, arose and prospered in the American grain, but had no larger comprehension of the public good.  With success in its own issue, the necessity of a comprehensive point of view imposed itself upon the Movement.  Only then, the Left monopoly on militant progressivism took over.

Blacks seduced by the slogan "Freedom comes out of the barrel of a gun" undermined the expanding moral consensus by Black Panther factionalism.Later progressive mobilizations, from the Anti-War Movement through the Women's Movement, have followed the same path of great hopes sadly disappointed by Leftist ideology.  From the ashes of these accumulated despairs hope rises again only by truing the very notion of progress, from partisan progressivism of the Left to the larger inclusion of progressive Deism.

Rebirth of progress on Deist principles begins with new application of the ingenious toleration of the Founders that breaks the grip upon contemporary politics of the ideological circle of denigration.  Consolidation of that beginning involves the step by step renewal of other Deist principles, not only the political principle contemplated here, but also principles of Deist faith and Deist reason.


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