Ira Chernus' new book, Monsters to Destroy: The Neoconservative War on Terror and Sin, his theme is refected in his newest op ed appearing on TomDispatch. Chernus' piece is titled, Is Religion a Threat to Democracy?
One review of the book on the Amazon website says this about Monsters to Destroy:
"Monsters to Destroy is a must-read for all those concerned about the reckless and dangerous role the United States now plays in the world and its interrelationship with religious conservative moralism on the home front. Ira Chernus puts forward a convincing and rather disturbing analysis of the lens through which President Bush sees the world and how he communicates what amounts to a simplistic morality tale to the American people. In doing so, Professor Chernus provides important answers to the questions as to why the Bush administration does what it does and how they get away with it."
In today's op ed, Chernus answers the question raised in the title; he says:
[W]hen it comes to religion and politics, here's the most critical question: Should we turn the political arena into a stage to dramatize our quest for moral certainty? The simple answer is no -- for lots of reasons.
For starters, it's a direct threat to democracy. The essence of our system is that we, the people, get to choose our values. We don't discover them inscribed in the cosmos. So everything must be open to question, to debate, and therefore to change. In a democracy, there should be no fixed truth except that everyone has the right to offer a new view -- and to change his or her mind. It's a process whose outcome should never be predictable, a process without end. A claim to absolute truth -- any absolute truth -- stops that process.
Many on the right will argue that Christian or Judeo-Christian 'morality' is a requirement for governance of this nation. Yet the word God does not at all appear in the U.S. Constitution, an indication of the authors that perhaps they had seen how religion divided the people of Europe.
You may wish to read the rest of his comments as well as the book, Monsters to Destroy.