Thursday, July 21, 2005

 

The Christian States of America

You know, for a long time I've been a staunch opponent of the religious takeover of government. But sometimes I wonder if this isn't just the result of my near-terminal annoyance over the fact that so many people simply can't grasp the concept of the separation of Church and State.

But when I start to look at it the other way around, things get a little more interesting than scary. If the government became religion-based, what would happen?

Well, for one thing, they'd have to argue about which religion to adopt. Oh, sure, it's easy enough to say "Christian," but what does that mean? Catholic? Baptist? Mormon? There are hundreds of different brands of Christianity. They'd have to choose one.

Naturally, since it's the government, the Feds would have to take over the operations of whichever church actually became the official church. Also naturally, all the other churches would have to start paying taxes, since there would no longer be any separation of church and state.

Think of the increased Federal revenue. It's awe-inspiring to think about. Virtually every neighborhood church would have to start paying property taxes. Religious donations would no longer be tax write-offs. And the Feds would regulate church spending! No more wacky religious schools, no more 700 Club.

Of course, the government would have to regulate who could become a minister or priest. There'd have to be a test. No way would discrimination be tolerated, so women, minorities and gays could count on becoming priests sooner or later. Probably sooner. No way would anyone just be allowed to say they're a minister! You have to take a test to work for the Post Office.

There would certainly be no more theological disputes. There would be a single government policy as to exactly what the Bible means, and that would be that.

And of course, preachers would no longer be allowed to preach anything they wanted, any more than public school teachers are allowed to teach anything they want. It would all be regulated. Committees and "church boards" would schedule what sermons could be given when, and of course what preachers would be allowed to say would have to be prescribed. A standardized prayer book would have to be issued--and, naturally, any voter constituency would want a voice in deciding what was included in it, and how it was worded.

There could of course only be one official translation of the Bible.

And, quite naturally, the church would be just another Federal bureaucracy. Like the Veterans Administration. Pay scales for ministers would be determined by Congress.

I don't know. I think I kinda like the sound of a lot of this. Maybe the born-agains are right--maybe relgion is exactly what American government needs.



The Quotidian Meander


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