The U.S. Constitution demands that there is no religious test to serve in any government capacity as an elected office holder or employee and for good reason; America is not a theocracy. Despite clear language in the Constitution, and historical evidence from the Constitution’s Framers and Founding Fathers, no small number of Republicans still insist that the Christian god rejected the Founders’ concept of “separation of church and state” when he created America. As forward thinking as the Founding Fathers and Framers were, they were remiss to envision a Christian political party that rejects the law of the land out of hand and with veritable impunity.
If the Constitution’s Framers had as much foresight into the threat of elected officials flouting the law of the land as they did theocrats taking over government, they would have included a Constitutional literacy test in Article VI, Section 3. If they had required every candidate for office pass a constitutional literacy test, the “no religious test clause” would have been unnecessary. Of course, Republicans are not yet demanding a religious test to run for office or work for the government, but there is an increasing number of them denying the validity of the 1st Amendment’s “separation clause” in their crusade to create an America governed by an evangelical theocracy.
The latest Republican theocrat, Steve Scalise, is claiming that he is horrified that some people believe the Founding Fathers and Constitution’s Framers were serious about keeping evangelicals from dictating policy and running the government. Scalise joins all manner of evangelical leaders and historical revisionists who not only claim there is no such thing as separation of church and state, but that no politician is capable of separating church and state. It is an integral part of the Dominionist crusade to put religion, the evangelical religion, in government as the nation’s guiding force and the only barrier to their success is the 1st Amendment’s Establishment and Separation Clause.
It is true that Scalise is an evangelical freak of nature, but he is far from being an outlier in Republican ranks. For dog’s sake, the nation’s top law enforcement official, Attorney General Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions, has argued that the Establishment Claus and separation of church and state are “extra-constitutional doctrine” and a “recent thing that is unhistorical and unconstitutional.” (Author bold) According to “sermon” Sessions, and likely Steve Scalise, the Constitution’s prohibition on Congress legislating any religion was a devious machination of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to evict god, the Christian bible, the Ten Commandments and Jesus Christ out of government.
However, Thomas Jefferson explained precisely what the meaning of the Establishment Clause was in 1802, at least a century before the ACLU was even created. An honest-to-dog historical figure, Founding Father, and third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson wrote explicitly what the Establish Clause in the First Amendment actually means.
“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 & State.”
Nevertheless, a sitting United States congressman, like the current attorney general, claim that no politician can possibly separate church and state despite swearing a “so help me god” oath to support and defend the Constitution – including the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment. It is noteworthy to remind Scalise that if not for the Establish Clause he claims is invalid, he would be prohibited from exercising his particular brand of Christianity. It is only because America is a secular nation and only because the Constitution forbids the government establishment of a religion that Scalise can be a practicing Catholic.
Remember, America was actually settled and founded by Puritans who vehemently forbade any other religions or religious celebrations such as Christmas and Easter. Their religion also strictly adhered to the Old Testament that demanded punishment for other “neo-Americans” if they displayed graven images such as the cross, “Christmas trees,” the nativity scene, or images of Jesus. Without a secular Constitution, all Americans would be Puritans by law and anything those Puritans considered “pagan” would be strictly verboten. It is precisely why Thomas Jefferson explained to Danbury “Baptists” that they were protected under the secular Constitution and were allowed to worship as they pleased; in the same manner Scalise can worship according to Vatican dictates.
There have always been religious fanatics like Scalise, Sessions and preacher Pence and they were generally regarded as harmless freakoids. They are still fanatical religious freaks, but they are no longer harmless now that evangelical extremists control the government lock, stock and barrel. Of course the religious right and their fundamentalist malcontents are in the minority and everything they advocate for is highly unpopular with the majority, but they wield enormous influence over the majority party running all three branches of government.
It is important to note that these religious fanatics are unafraid of saying out loud exactly what their intent is now that they own power over the government. Remember that Trump’s ridiculously unqualified Education Secretary announced that she would use her Cabinet level position to “advance god’s kingdom” and there was no outrage whatsoever. Remember too, that the Department of Health and Human Services designated a single-celled organism a “person” worthy of full government protection and no-one as much as blinked. There has also been relative silence, and acquiescence from most Americans, at the outrage of Trump and House Republicans giving the religious right preferential treatment including authority to ignore the conditions necessary to be tax exempt as well as equal rights protections in the 14th Amendment.
Americans have enjoyed a Constitution that prevents religious imposition for so long that they actually believe that protection cannot be abridged. And yet it seems like every couple of weeks since Trump’s poorly attended inauguration there is another violation of the Separation and Establishment Clause. Now another Republican is claiming that evangelicals cannot possibly, and will not, adhere to the Constitution and keep their church dogma out of government policy. That being the case they are disqualifying themselves from serving and it is damned high time the people evict them from government with extreme prejudice.
It is a sad fact of life, but Republicans are on the brink of imposing a theocratic government on the American people because there is a fear of confronting evangelicals in public or ever citing the preponderance of attacks on women, the U.S. Constitution, and the LGBTQ community are borne of religion. That cowardice in the face of a bloodless theocratic coup d’état will be the death of the nation the Founding Fathers created and put an ugly end to the Constitution they purposefully left god and religion out of.