Thomas Jefferson wasn’t just speaking philosophically when he wrote, “In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.”lkl Jefferson had seen firsthand how the Church of England and the British monarchy colluded to maintain a corrupt power structure. The church ( the voice of God) endorsed the crown, and the crown, in turn, endorsed the chosen corporate elite. The favor of God was bestowed upon those whom He chose to make wealthy; wealth itself provided the evidence of God’s blessing. This is Calvinism, and in this roundabout way, God sanctioned the corporation.
Why the ancient history? Because these same forces are at play today, in America.
The American colonists were often religious (to varying degrees), but the pilgrims fled to America specifically to escape an oppressive church/state power structure. It is important to recognize that this structure prominently featured Jesus. And the Bible. And crosses. And churches.
Today, if we criticize any of these things (or the powers using them as marketing tools) we’re called anti-Christian. But the Founders knew that it is possible for a state/king/country/corporation to have all of the symbols of piety that attract the shallow, and yet still be wholly and morally corrupt. Religious freedom was a part of the American ideal, but what was codified into law was government free from religion. James Madison cast one of America’s very first presidential vetoes, of a bill that would have provided funding to churches to help the poor, on the grounds that the bill would violate the separation of church and state.
In America today, the democratic revolution that overthrew the unholy alliance of church, state, and corporation is itself being overthrown. The kingly powers have been returned to the government one-by-one. Candidates offered up by the elite gatekeepers of the political parties differ, for the most part, merely upon how best to support the power structure of corporate wealth, whose elites have been chosen by God, as evidenced by their success. These corporations now take on a sheen of righteousness, are called ‘institutions’, and are kept alive, often artificially, no matter how much damage they do to society.
What was once the rightful purview of government, the general welfare of the populace, is once again the domain of ‘God’. If society is unrighteous, then we are to suffer accordingly. Where once the problems of sexually transmitted disease or unwanted pregnancy were answered by an effort to encourage safe sex, birth control and sexual education, today the state is increasingly forbidden from interfering in God’s divine punishment of the ‘evil doers’. To mitigate suffering and address social problems is, in this perverse worldview, seen as a thwarting of the natural balance of good and evil. Therefor government itself is evil.
Who does this view serve? The church and the corporation. The church wants government to cease addressing social ills, so that people may suffer and come crawling to the church.
It serves the Corporatists goal that government be seen as evil, so that democratic control over our society may be wrested away and nullified. It also vastly broadens the potential customer base: When government is made deliberately dysfunctional in administration of the commons, corporations are then encouraged to step in and do so – with profit added.
What are the solutions? A number of organizations, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation among them, provide critical watchdog functions. Find them on the web and support their work.
Another solution relies upon smaller.
Sociopaths and psychopaths readily rise through the ranks of power structures: corporate, religious, and government. Their whole goal is power and domination. Smaller government, smaller churches, smaller corporations, would help keep these predators in check and limit their power.
On the smallest level, it requires that each of us maintain a skeptical view of religion, even our own. Belief in invisible beings and magical rule books from on high have no place in making public policy.
Sean Shealy is an author and progressive activist. Last month he released his first novel, Killing Limbaugh, in part as a fundraiser for a failing pacemaker. Shealy is the author of the 2004 nonfiction work Corruption & Cover-Ups of the Bush White House Unmasked. He writes and fights for all citizens, rich or poor. You may write to him at SeanShealy@informatonpress.net.