Last week, United Church of Christ (UCC) President John C. Dorhauer accused the “Religious Right” of attempting “to turn America into a theocratic state.” In an opinion piece posted to UCC’s website on February 4, Dorhauer argued that his own liberal agenda advanced religious liberty, while the Religious Right are supposedly undermining religious freedom in America.
Beginning by tracing his lineage back to the Mayflower, Dorhauer described the early American Puritans as “religious zealots.” He said the Founding Fathers opposed the “religious tyranny found in the spirit of the Pilgrims,” and thus attempted to prevent religion from gaining too much power in government through the Bill of Rights.
He then said the Religious Right were attempting to undo these protections. “The irony of the Religious Right fighting for a ‘freedom’ that utilizes all three branches of government to enforce their narrow theology isn’t lost on me,” Dorhauer said.
He attempted to explain why opposing legalized gay marriage and abortion was anathema to religious liberty:
“I believe in religious freedom, but not the kind that argues that government should grant me the right to refuse to serve or hire someone because they are homosexual. Removing someone’s civil rights by empowering the government to protect and preserve my religious homophobia is not my idea of religious liberty.
“I believe in religious freedom, but not the kind that argues that government should tolerate employers or medical professionals who want to deprive women of their full range of health care options. Depriving women of choices that our courts deem legal and appropriate to preserve my religious misogyny is not my idea of religious liberty.”
What Dorhauer left out, of course, was that the government’s support for gay marriage and abortion imposed a separate but still very real “moral compass” on Americans. Mandating that many Americans violate their conscience when it comes to the sanctity of marriage and the sanctity of life clearly demonstrates the very theocratic spirit Dorhauer so detests. Yet Dorhauer not only found it acceptable to use the government to impose liberal morals across the country, but also had the nerve to call this true “religious freedom.”