Barton and his Evangelical buddies then tighten the screws and start using "America is a Christian Nation" to argue that "America should be governed according to the principles of Evangelical fundamentalist Christianity." Which means they would not acknowledge either Catholics or Unitarians as "real" Christians, and they would reject a secular state.
I don't agree with Barton on many things, but this mischaracterizes his position, at least according to what I have read and seen.
His argument is not about imposing Christianity on anyone. It is for allowing government officials to include their expressions of faith in discharging their duties. He is standing up to the removal of monuments from government buildings that, say, include the Ten Commandments, against prohibiting prayer for opening a meeting and things like that.
Since when are public officials forbidden from expressing
Barack Obama has invoked his religion more than George W. Bush, during his speeches.
Every single Republican candidate is tripping over themselves to demonstrate and reassure votes of their faith. Even Ron Paul.
Jimmy Carter referenced his religion often.
There is nothing in "Separation of Church and State" which prevents religionists from mentioning their faith. It isn't about "silencing" the faithful no matter how many Evangelicals stamp their feet and insist they're somehow persecuted.
That said, you're package-dealing government officials "expressing" their faith with ritualized prayer in government institutions
and Christian monuments in government buildings
. The latter is a pretty clear violation of the Establishment Clause; public monuments are paid for with public money and not all taxpayers are Christians. As for ritualized prayer in government institutions, that's a religious ritual. Whilst government officials can pray if they so wish, situations where prayer is MANDATED on a regular basis should be verboten.
Banning mandatory prayers in public institutions and not allowing Christian monuments to be paid for by public money is in no respects a violation of the freedom of public officials to practice or express their faith
, unless you mistreat the freedom of religion as a positive
liberty (when it is in fact a negative
You see Evangelicals do this too; when talking about their own
religious freedom, they treat it as a positive liberty; "the state must enable us to be good Christians by outlawing pornography, drugs, rock music and buttsex (at least between men)," but the minute another religious group starts complaining that THEIR values aren't being turned into legislation, the Evangelicals say "you're not being forced to stop practicing your religion so quit your bitching."
He openly supports Glenn Beck's "We're all Catholics now" movement against government encroachment, so where do you get that anti-Catholic stuff?
Evangelical and Fundy Protestants typically believe the Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon. I'm not making this up; Evangelicals typically loathe Catholics. The religious right might happily reach across the aisle to get political support (remember, they are fundamentally a political coalition), correct, but in their heads they believe the Catholics are going to hell for worshipping false gods. Look at how Mitt Romney's Mormonism made him a tough sell to the religionists. Same principle.
To be completely frank, Michael, I believe you are being excessively charitable when reading Barton. Charitable readings are good things, and one should always try to be fair (and Objectivists in general have a bad habit with avoiding being charitable when reading opposing arguments). So I am not attacking you for being charitable; I simply believe that in this
context, Barton is not someone to be read charitably. You claim that Barton doesn't want to impose Christianity on everyone; so why do Barton and his Evangelical buddies all have a surprising tendency to want...
1) Government 'encouraged' prayer in public schools? (Note, I am against the government banning
voluntary prayer in public schools, but I am equally against public money being used to 'encourage' prayer... to do this can only be described as "improving religious freedom" if you are talking about religious freedom as a positive
2) Sodomy laws, which are typically used against homosexual sodomy but not heterosexual sodomy (which, as Justice Sandra Day O'Connor correctly noted in her Concurrence in Lawrence v. Texas
, is a blatant violation of the Equal Protection Clause)
3) Taxpayer money being used to finance Christian pet projects (what was it that Jefferson said about compelling people to finance viewpoints they disagree with? Oh, and there's the whole Establishment Clause issue)
Barton's arguments are invariably
used to justify the above three things (and worse). They aren't used to say "Presidents can express their faith." No one has ever claimed Presidents cannot discuss their faith! Barton's arguments may be, when read charitably, quite modest in some respects. However, they are always
used as means to support theocratic ends.
Has Barton ever condemned this use of his arguments? Has Barton ever came out against enforced Christian morality? Has Barton ever opposed the blatantly theocratic agenda of his fellow Evangelicals?
Perhaps Barton simply doing his job, as a good little Jesus Fascist, at manufacturing excuses
for his fellow religionist's preferred public policies?