The following Editor’s letter in the latest issue of The Week magazine was penned by the magazine’s co-managing editor, Susan Caskie. The reason I’m posting it here is because I’ve been expressing to people, both in real life and on this blog, that America is rapidly heading toward becoming a Christian theocracy. The reactions I have received from many range from being told that I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, that I’m a Chicken Little claiming that the sky is falling, and to, “Well, America is a Christian nation, you know.”
So when I read this opinion piece, I felt at least some sense of relief that I’m not alone in my concerns and that I’m not a crazy conspiracy theorist crying wolf. Please take a moment to read this and let me know what you think in the comments.
A 40-foot Christian cross can stand on public land. A public-school football coach can pray to Jesus on the field. A U.S. state must extend its vouchers to Christian schools that teach “a Christian worldview.” The newly activist Supreme Court has given a green light to all these government-sanctioned expressions of religious belief, in defiance of previous rulings that the Constitution bars official endorsement of a particular religion.
Since John Roberts became chief justice in 2005, the court has ruled for religious organizations 85 percent of the time. And while past courts often protected minority faiths, this one showers freshly discovered rights on the Christian majority. Under Roberts, says Northeastern University law professor Wendy Parmet, “almost all of the decisions are issued on behalf of Catholics or evangelicals.”
That is not an accident. Republican presidents have for decades outsourced their court picks to the Federalist Society, whose co-chair Leonard Leo is a member of the far-right Catholic sect Opus Dei. The result is an overwhelmingly Catholic court. Only about 21 percent of Americans are Catholic (including — full disclosure here — my mother’s side of the family, the Irish side; the Scottish Caskies are Episcopalian). Yet six out of the nine justices are Catholic, or seven if you count Neil Gorsuch, who was raised Catholic. In theory, judges put their personal beliefs aside. But does anyone doubt that the worldviews of these justices strongly colored their opinions in these cases — and in overturning Roe v. Wade? The belief that full human personhood begins at conception and that the rights of an embryo trump those of a woman is a conservative Christian teaching — one not shared by a majority of Americans.
Our Constitution prohibits the government from favoring, or “establishing,” one faith as the state religion. But we are getting perilously close to doing just that.