07 November 2016
A Christianist manifesto
Some of the local papers in New York's Capital District ran a full page ad in their November 6 editions paid for by the Andrew Wommack Ministries. The ad invites readers to go to the Dependence On God website and sign an online version of the Declaration of Dependence that appeared in the newspapers. Its full title is "Declaration of Dependence Upon God and His Holy Bible," and it borrows one sentence from the more-famous Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights." The drafters of the Declaration, you may recall, listed the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as inalienable rights. The Wommack Ministries add to this list -- or replace it with -- "the right to exercise our Christian beliefs as put forth in God's Holy Bible." These core Christian beliefs include "that God grants life at conception," with the hairsplitting hedge that "no one has the right to take that life unless it is a direct threat to the life of the mother." Unfortunately, the Wommacks don't cite the verse on which they base that exception. The other shoe drops in short order: subscribers to the Declaration "respectfully reserve the right to refuse any mandate by the government that forces us to fund or support abortion," and they also "oppose same-sex marriage, polygamy, bestiality and all other forms of sexual perversion prohibited by Holy Scripture." On these issues, signatories "choose to obey God rather than man." A list of celebrity signers is appended to the Declaration to impress readers, though most of them are strangers to me. I did recognize Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar as notorious prosperity-gospel preachers, Dr. James Dobson as the tiresome scold of impiety on television, and retired Lt. General William G. Boykin as the officer who claimed that the War on Terror was a war against "a guy named Satan." Two elected officials appear among the signers: a state senator from Oklahoma who wants to strip abortionists of their medical licenses and an Arkansas state senator who declared the Supreme Court ruling striking down laws against gay marriage to be unconstitutional. People who keep a closer watch on the Christian fringes than I do may be able to tell you stories about some of the other signers. What appeared in print should be damning enough. It may be a subject for debate whether the views expressed in this parody of Jefferson's Declaration represent the mainstream of Christian opinion in this country, much less the mainstream of American opinion in general. The debate can be resolved simply; let Christians render unto Caesar, whether Caesar be a pregnant woman or a homosexual person, what is Caesar's according to law. Most, I suspect, do not think their salvation in danger by obeying man rather than God on these issues -- but let them make themselves clear one way or the other. The Constitution protects the free exercise of religion but does not entitle Christianists to obey God rather than man in matters not pertaining to ritual. God has no veto on gay rights or reproductive rights in this world, nor do his worshipers. If they can't respect those rights here, let them find a literally Christian nation to live in.