There's a saying, often attributed to novelist Sinclair Lewis, that can sum certain strains on the American right: "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and waving a cross." And while the phrase always comes across as a bit screechy -- we've spent 237 years swearing in on a Bible, with little fascism to show for it -- there's no secret that the recent surge of both the Tea Party and the congressional and statewide GOP numbers has coincided with a lurch toward supporting purportedly Biblical ideals. Wherever Jesus, that Middle Eastern socialist, may be, it seems many within the right-wing resurgence believe his time is best spent bandying bills and filibusters with the rest of us.
While Gov. Rick Perry generally draws the most national attention for his insistence on conflating religion and state -- only so many states can pray for rain with a straight face -- there's one official in Texas who has been more effusive with his desire to graft his Bible-thumpin' into our state Legislature. And after throwing his hat into the lieutenant governor's race, it seems state Sen. Dan Patrick is seeking to take his theocratic ways to higher office.
A new post from Patrick last week only helped solidify him as the theocratic choice and pushed him that much closer to Sinclair's thoughts on flags and fascism:
" I AM APT TO BELIEVE THAT TODAY WILL BE CELEBRATED BY SUCEEDING GENERATIONS AS A GREAT ANNIVERSAY FESTIVAL. IT OUGHT TO BE COMMENMORATED, AS THE DAY OF DELIVERANCE, BY SOLEMN ACTS OF DEVOTION TO GOD ALMIGHTY"
JOHN QUINCY ADAMS
I used that quote and the following ones in my presentation at Mims Baptist this week about how our Founding Fathers understood we were a nation founded on the Word of God of the Old & New Testament. They knew that if we turned our back on God the future of our nation would be in great peril [sic].
There are a couple ways to respond to this. First, there's the fact that Patrick insisted on KEEPING HIS CAPS LOCK ON THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE QUOTE, displaying a wanton disregard for the typographers among us. (There's also the fact that the post has been whitewashed of earlier critical comments, but that's beside the point.)
Secondly, Patrick decided to include a photo that is, well, actually a bit disconcerting.
The shot, as Patrick describes it, shows "[t]he Christian and American Flags at Mims Baptist in Conroe where I spoke this week [sic]." We have an unidentified member of the United States Navy holding the Christian banner just as he would the American flag. His comrades salute alongside. While there are certain strictures on uniformed members of the military appearing at political rallies, it seems within their legal right to drape and salute a sectarian flag while in colors. That seems ... a bit off.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
But back to Patrick, the man whose few credentials include slotting the phrase "under God" into the state pledge. The state senator -- who's been at the fore of the noted abortion restrictions that are set to soon kick in, turning Texas into one of the most restrictive stretches in the developed world -- seems to believe that the "Founding Fathers" consist of but five gentlemen who lived in the 19th century, not a one of whom actually signed the Declaration of Independence. Indeed, some would actually point out that John Quincy Adams is not generally considered a "Founding Father," though he's one of the handful for whom his father took the mantle, well, literally.
The state senator decided that he should select only a sampling of quotes from a few of those he considers the "Founding Fathers." He elides the fact that neither "God" nor "Jesus" nor "Sodom" nor "Satan" are mentioned once within the Constitution, and that the document explicitly refrains from any form of religious endorsement. He also ignores statements from the signatories and Constitutional crafters that, you know, exhibited any form of the secularism they instilled in the nation's founding texts. On the off-chance that Patrick's never come across them, which is entirely possible, a sampling:
- "The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense founded on the Christian religion[.]" - John Adams
- "And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in [showing] that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together." - James Madison
- "... Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law." - Thomas Jefferson
The list, of course, goes on. For a nation that, as Patrick says, was "founded on the Word of God," our lead framers had a curious knack of dissenting from just such Word. And it would be good for Patrick to recall that. We wouldn't want anyone to accuse him of fascistic fundamentialism, after all.