Modern Republicans turn their backs on Founders
With its ecstatic revival via the Sarah Palin vice presidential nomination, the Republic Party reaffirms a conclusion established during the current Bush administration: The Republican Party is this country's first religion-based national political party. Its predecessors - Federalists, Democrats, Whigs, Lincoln's Republicans, Theodore Roosevelt's Bull Moosers, Robert LaFollette's Progressives, Normal Thomas' Socialists, even Strom Thurmond's racist regional Dixiecrats - were all secular.
Under Ronald Reagan, however, the Republicans began their transmogrification into a religion-based party. It's a development that Jefferson and Hamilton would find not only incredible but abhorrent.
Though the Republicans focus on Palin's appeal as a model of feminist achievement, they are really inspired by her determination to force her primitive morality upon the public. That goal, however, is kept as secret as possible.
Palin is a fanatical anti-abortionist. She believes that the federal government should force rape victims to bear their assailants' babies. Despite her 17-year-old daughter's premarital pregnancy, she still favors abstinence-only exhortation instead of sex education. This evangelical folly keeps the U.S. teenage pregnancy rate 12 times Japan's, eight times Denmark's and six times France's rate.
Like her fellow evangelical George W. Bush, she believes that the Iraq war is "a task that is from God." Also like Bush, she rejects science, arguing that creationism should be taught as an alternative to evolution.
These reactionary political views, not her status as a feminine icon, have energized the evangelical Republicans. With his startling nomination, Sen. John McCain has revealed his opportunistic hypocrisy. For McCain doesn't share Palin's kookier views.
If you share the Founders' view of religion and politics, you view the current Republican Party as profoundly un-American. Evangelicals are ignorant of both the Constitution and its historical background. Repelled by widespread religious persecution in the Colonies, the Founders produced a thoroughly secular Constitution. It established the world's first constitutional republic banning state-sponsored religion. Article VI bans religious tests as a qualification for public office.
Evangelicals' claims that the U.S. is a Christian nation are demonstrably false. A 1797 treat with Tripoli states: "The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." This treaty annihilates the Christian-nation claim. The logic is straightforward and incontrovertible. In the Constitution's Article VI, treaties are "the supreme law of the land." Thus the Tripoli treaty's denial that the U.S. is a Christian nation has the same legal status as if it had appeared in the Constitution itself.
In Federalist Paper 69, Alexander Hamilton praised the stark contrast between the American president and Britain's King George III. The American president, said Hamilton, "has no particle of spiritual jurisdiction." As dedicated evangelicals, Bush, Palin and, less forthrightly, McCain stand in direct contradiction to Hamilton. Palin and her ecstatic evangelical supporters demand expansion of the presidential power into ever-broadening areas of "spiritual jurisdiction."
C.W. Griffin is a retired consulting engineer who lives in Honolulu.