6 Sneaky Ways the Christian Right Foists Its Biblical Agenda on America
Continued from previous page
The unconstitutional, actual religious reasons: They want the government to pay for the religious indoctrination of children. Even though the vouchers can, in theory, be spent on private secular schools, the way the program works in places like Louisiana makes it clear that this is about government-sponsored religious education.
3) What they want: No Equal Rights Amendment. While this battle to prevent the Constitution from being amended to give women equal rights, which the right won, was mostly fought in the late '70s and early '80s, Christian right-controlled legislatures occasionally take time to vote against it today.
The secular reasons they gave: In many ways, Phyllis Schlafly used the battle against the ERA to invent the modern conservative strategy of making bad faith secular arguments to advance a religious agenda. As Rachel Maddow recounts, Schlafly and her comrades claimed the ERA would mandate unisex bathrooms, make it illegal for women to be housewives, and destroy families.
The unconstitutional, actual religious reasons: The Bible is pretty clear that women are not equal to men, calling them “the weaker vessel” (1 Peter 3:7) who must live “in silence” to “not usurp authority over man” (1 Timothy 2:12), because women are to basically worship their husbands, “and he shall rule over thee” (Genesis 3:16).
4) What they want: A ban on gay marriage. Often cast as "protecting" traditional marriage.
The secular reasons they give: The argument presented in favor of Prop 8 before the Supreme Court is that marriage was established to make sure children are raised by the parents who created them through sexual intercourse, and that expanding it to include gay couples (it’s already expanded to include stepfamilies and infertile couples) would redefine it in a way that would cause vague damage the anti-gay lawyer refused to describe.
The unconstitutional, actual religious reasons: The Old Testament harshly condemns homosexuality, saying, “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death” (Leviticus 20:13). Christian fundamentalists have downgraded this simply to mean that their government shouldn’t endorse marriages that go against right-wing religious teachings.
5) What they want: To end the teaching of evolution in schools. This battle has been going on since at least the 1920s, and every time it comes around, the religious right gets a little better at hiding its religious motivations behind secularist claims.
The secular reasons they give: The current strategy is to claim that evolutionary theory is scientifically controversial, and therefore schools should “teach the controversy.” Clearly, they hope to give students reason to doubt the theory of evolution. In reality, there is no controversy. As the National Center for Science Education has stated, "There is no serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred or that natural selection is a major mechanism of evolution.”
The unconstitutional, actual religious reasons: For Biblical literalists, evolution is an uncomfortable topic because the Bible says God created the world in the space of six days. While evolution correctly holds that human beings are primates who evolved from a common ancestor, the Bible teaches that God made them out of “the dust of the ground” (Genesis 2:7). Why that is supposed to be less demeaning is hard to say.
6) What they want: To restrict access to abortion and contraception. Everyone knows the religious right has it out for abortion rights, but recently attacks on contraception access have also been increasing.
The secular reasons they give: Abortion is "baby-killing," it's unsafe for women, and it causes breast cancer and suicide. Emergency contraception is really “abortion” and birth control pills are unsafe. Telling kids just to abstain from sex is the only public health strategy we need. Condoms don’t work to prevent HIV.