My friend Bruce Gerencser of the blog The Way Forward wrote about how he would defang fundamentalist Xianity in America. His list is not only excellent, it is really insightful, because it shows how much religious theocrats already get away with in America.
There are several things that can be done to defang Christian fundamentalism:
- Close and defund the White House Office of Faith–Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The government has no business giving tax money to churches.
- Prohibit tax money from being funneled to private Christian schools via school voucher and school choice programs. An exception could be made for any school that is state licensed and under the purview of the state board of education.
- Pass a federal homeschooling standard.
- Forbid schools from teaching creationism.
- Forbid churches, pastors, and parachurch groups from having access to public school students during school hours.
- Enforce the law regarding church endorsement of political candidates. If a church is tax exempt they are not permitted to campaign for or endorse political candidates. If a church violates this law, they should immediately be stripped of their tax exemption. ( my preference would be to do away with church tax exemption altogether)
- Eliminate the clergy housing allowance.
- Require churches to file annual IRS forms.
- Require churches to pay taxes like any other business, including real estate and sales tax. Exception could be made for social and charitable ministries that are secular in nature.
- Require churches to follow the same zoning laws as any other business.
- Make sure every public institution adheres to the strict separation of church and state.
These eleven things would be a good place to start. The umbilical cord connecting state and church must be completely severed. Will this eliminate Christian fundamentalism? No, but it will reduce the influence it has on government. It is then up to voters to elect leaders that understand, respect, and enforce the separation of church and state. Fundamentalists have every right to worship freely, run for office, and lobby their political leaders. But, there is a line they must not be permitted to cross. Any theocratic ambitions or demands must be rejected and exposed as an attempt to breach the wall of separation between church and state.
Until we have a President and a Congress that is willing to stand up to Christian fundamentalists, we can expect continued encroachment by those who have theocratic ambitions.