Sunday, April 8, 2007

Blog Against Theocracy: Night of the Living Dominionists

In the original version of the classic science fiction movie The Blob, a gang of hip teenagers race through town, attempting to warn their neighbors of the approaching monster. Their parents--and other iconic 1950's authority figures--dismiss their actions as just a practical joke by some mixed-up kids. But as the threat grows and grows, and after many people are killed, the menace becomes obvious. Teens, parents, teachers, concerned citizens, fire fighters, and law enforcement eventually join forces to defeat the monster.

Over the last few years, many of us have been suspicious of the growing intolerance expressed by certain elements of the Religious Right. Did they have some ulterior motive? Many feared this cult's goal was the establishment of a fundamentalist Christian theocracy in this country. Pursuant of these goals, they attacked and demonized gays, lesbians, or the transgendered, people practicing alternative sexuality, the hard-earned rights of racial minorities, members of non-mainstream religions, feminism and reproductive rights, certain fields of science such as ecology and evolution, and any form of art or expression that called into question a 1950's perception of normalcy. For lack of a better word, some of us have nicknamed the most strident of these zealots 'Dominionists' (but other apt terms are sometimes applied, such 'Theocons' or 'Authoritarians'). For the most part, warnings of this cult's impending coup were ignored.

After the attacks of 9/11, the American public seemed like complacent pod-people as an illegal war was waged, our Justice Department trashed domestic and international rights, and a free hand was given to industries hell-bent on driving the earth to ecological collapse. The main stream media, seemingly channeling a Big Brother form of journalism, advanced this agenda.

As any fan of genre films can tell you, the path to salvation is based upon getting others to notice. They have to see the threat with their own eyes, even if that involves rubbing their noses in it.

I feel that the Terri Schiavo saga was the bellwether. As the debacle unfolded, Americans got to see the subversion of their entire system of government. A special session of congress was convened, unconstitutional laws were drafted, and even the almost unheard of interruption of the President's vacation time, all to institute a 'right-to-life' agenda. Now comfortable in its lapdog roll, the press fed us "The Race to Save Terri" themed stories. However, poll after poll revealed the public was taking a dim view of these actions. This outrage served to reveal certain ulterior motives of the Dominionists: in moments of your most personal life and death struggles, in your most sacred space--only rightfully populated by loved ones or trusted medical professionals--there exhisted a cult of Bible-thumping monsters poised to violate you on every level. Even the sad post mortem of Mrs. Schiavo, revealing her complete blindness and lack of a functioning brain, pointed up another failing of the Dominionists: a complete lack of apologies.

It's sad and tragic for a family to be so hounded, at such critical times. But never underestimate the viciousness of Dominionsts. Even death is no shield against their harassment. They will even pursue you beyond the grave.

The family of fallen soldier Patrick Stewart was to find that out. Sgt. Stewart was killed in combat in Afghanistan. When his widow, Roberta, attempted to honor him by having a pentacle--the symbol of their Wiccan faith--engraved on his memorial plaque, she was in for a rude surprise. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs refused! It turns out the pentacle is not one of the approved symbols the VA allowed. Although applications for this symbol had been properly filed over the years, no action was ever taken. In the mean time, at least six other symbols (one even for Atheism) were approved. For some, the application to approval time was only a few months!

The ordeal of the Stewart family is well documented by the organization Americans United, who has brought a lawsuit (along with Salena Fox of Circle Sanctuary and a number of Wiccan veterans groups) against the VA, trying to force them to address the issue. In this case, the MSM is demonstrating a rare instance of being-on-point. Numerous editorials have appeared in support of the Stewart family and the story has gotten wide coverage. Even activists and politicians who are on the conservative side of issues, have lent their support, such as John Whitehead of the Rutheford Institute.

Throughout all of this, the VA has hidden behind a curtain of bureaucracy. A host of lame excuses has been offered. However, a close reading of the events seems to force the conclusion that someone is putting their personal religious convictions (which I might add are very mistaken as to the nature of Wicca) ahead of their duty and the Constitution of the United States. I wish the VA was not acting like this. It's a sad day for this country when the families of fallen soldiers must pursue lawsuits to get the VA to do the right thing.

Never underestimate the power and ruthlessness of Dominionists. But like the monsters of Psychotronic movies, they have their weaknesses: remember how the Blob could not stand cold temperatures; keep in mind the Hammer Studio's classics, where Van Helsing (played by Peter Cushing, of course) had an arsenal of weapons to defeat the Count (Christopher Lee).

Our weapons are the facts--Dominionists can't stand facts! Facts, knowledge, understanding, and diplomacy are analogous to holy water and garlic. Iconic symbols, such as the crucifix, also are powerful shields. We now have another weapon in our monster-stopping tool kit: the Pentacle.

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