The Threat of Theocracy

Robert Peate
3 min readMay 17, 2022

The whole point of America is to be free to live as one wishes while possessing “no natural right in opposition to [one’s] social duties” (Jefferson). The separation of church and state is one of the guarantors of this freedom. The Founders wrote extensively on this topic, and I give a sampling here:

“The subject of religion, a subject on which I have ever been most scrupulously reserved, I have considered it as a matter between every man and his maker, in which no other, and far less the public, had a right to inter-meddle.”

— Thomas Jefferson

“The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

— John Adams

“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof’, thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

— Thomas Jefferson

“The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.”

— James Madison

“Government has no right to hurt a hair on the head of an atheist for his opinions.”

— John Adams

You get the idea. Since then, theocrats have had a hard time with this, as might be expected, even among the most ordinary citizens, leading Christopher Hitchens to observe:

“How dismal it is to see present-day Americans yearning for the very orthodoxy that their country was founded to escape.”

Such present-day Americans wish to be told what to think, feel, say, and do. They are, in short, not Americans at all, standing as they do against this country’s principles of freedom of belief and independence from tyranny.

Now, over two hundred years later, the Christian nationalists have accomplished more in their war on our government than ever before. They dream of imposing a theocracy in which White Christian men with money control everything and everyone. In their theocracy, women, nonWhites, LGBTQ, non-Christians, non-wealthy persons would all serve their masters, and the separation of church and state would be erased, along with the peace and stability that separation has provided to believer and nonbeliever alike.

But it must be stated clearly: this struggle is not about abortion, contraception, or marriage rights for gay couples. The goal of the theocrats is a theocracy, which means a government in which every policy and procedure is dictated by religion, not merely those few. There has never been a partial totalitarian government. When you think God is whispering in your ear and only you know what is right and good, you believe there is only one righteous way to do everything and every other way is evil.

Ironically, their desire for temporal power shows their lack of faith in divine power. I guess when thoughts and prayers don’t cut it, one needs good old fashioned muscle and steel.

However, I do not and cannot believe the theocrats will succeed in the United States of America, whether in toto or in perpetuity. If they topple the government, I expect it to return. If they damage but do not end the government, I expect it to be healed. They are too small in number and too disorganized to succeed. They are evil, crazy, stupid, and outnumbered, and those of us who do understand the greatness of our system will not let them succeed.