Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Monday, March 03, 2003  

Thoughts on the Family

What a delightful discussion: thanks. (Referring to the "comments" on the previous post--context there for any first-time readers.) We've come to an interesting question: what's the constitutionality of the Family? Our good friend Listening puts it thus:

"it's not that there are groups who gather with the express aim of exploring the means by which they can gain influence and political power. This has happened since the beginning of human history. In our county it is our right, if not our duty, to so act to protect the values that WE cherish--so that our views are not trampled upon.

It's an interesting point--one I've been pushing around all weekend. Intuitively, I felt it missed a basic point, but on the face of it, the statement seems the essence of democracy: individuals voicing their opinions about the nature of governance. I was hung up on this secrecy thing it occured to me, because obviously the Christians have enormous governmental influence, and I never consdered this anything but good politics. Certainly consistent with the constitution. But the secrecy...

It starts from the obvious question: why would they need to be secretive? George Bush doesn't hide his own beliefs: he tells people what they are and he endorses PACs, media, and nonprofits who are specifically politico-religious. So what's the advantage of secrecy?

One thought is that the Family's ideas don't make good PR and so better to keep them on the hush. (According to Sharlet, they have a list of statements in a document called "Thoughts and Principles of the Family" that are not mainstream: "We recognize the place and responsibility of national secular leaders in the work of advancing His kingdom." "We desire to see a leadership led by God--leaders of all levels of society who direct projects as they are led by the spirit.") But still, we don't descriminate against a speaker because we don't like his speech: the Family has the right to espouse this view.

But one could argue that the secrecy is there to protect not constitutionally-protected speech, but the implementation of unconstitutional actions described in the speech. And this is what I fear. Any third-party involved in politics is bound by disclosure laws--whether it's the oil industry, labor, or religious groups. This is part of the protection that ensures that the three wings of government maintain the checks and balances that are critical to a healthy democracy. The Family's raison d'etra, however, is exactly the opposite. It wishes to harness the power of the government to further the ends of Christ. Its strategy, it seems clear from the article, is to work in secrecy to recruit and convert politicians who will in turn pack the courts and pass laws favorable to Christian values and work with governments who agree to this course.

Why are we planning to invade Iraq? George Bush has told us nothing of a religious war. But if the agenda of the Family were to hold sway across all halls of US power, it might well be. (And to Listening, who is leery about my conspiracy-coddling, let me say that I'm not asserting this.)

We live in a democracy, which means there needs to be safeguards against the tyranny of the many. If these are dismantled for the sole reason of establishing the tyranny, it's clearly a constitutional breach. Call me a canary in the coal mine, but I think it's not too soon to start asking hard questions about what appears to this blogger to be an establishment of religion.

posted by Jeff | 1:47 PM |
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