The blithering idiots otherwise known as the Texas State Board of Education want Christian churches to pay taxes. Lots and lots of taxes.
To be fair, like so many of us flitting through the fog and muck of our own lives, they don’t know that’s what they really want. And like so many of us, somebody needs to tell them.
But let’s back up for a second. If you are not aware, the Texas School Board passed new curriculum standards for American History – standards resembling a Right-Winged orgy. Think Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman sucking down whippets just to make sure they’ve killed the last liberal brain cell in their big plastic heads. You know, education.
Some of the lowlights of these new standards include:
- Excluding some African-American and Hispanic historical figures and dedicating more text-book space to elevating the magical NeoCon movement and its great wizard Ronald Reagan.
- A vindication of McCarthyism (because paranoia is awesome), while eliminating a good chunk of the Civil Rights’ movement of the 1960s.
- The board also attempted to recoin the slave trade as the “Atlantic Triangular Trade,” but, thankfully, failed. I dare the writers of SNL to concoct something that ridiculous.
But the most controversial requirement of these new standards is to downplay Thomas Jefferson, because Jefferson coined the phrase “ separation of church and state.”
More specifically, the Texas standards require students to be taught that the phrase does not appear in the Constitution. And, to be fair, it doesn’t include that exact phrase, but if you read it, you get the point.
We can argue about what the Founding Fathers really meant all day, but one of the authors of the constitution already interpreted it for us.
In a letter written in 1802 to leaders of the Baptist Church, Thomas Jefferson explained the First Amendment:
“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, 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.”
When I first heard of the Texas School Board Commission’s intention to impose a Christian Fundamentalist revisionist spin onto American History, I got pissed. Really pissed. And I pissed all over Facebook during a heated debate with a couple of old conservative classmates. These Tucker Carlson bow-tied ideologues, arrogant enough to think they can interpret the Constitution more accurately than one of its authors, really believe that the U.S.A. is a Christian nation and there is no separation of state from their religious beliefs.
And then the beauty of it hit me. They have no idea what they are asking for. They are asking for their church to be taxed. Clearly, they hadn’t thought this through.
So, I asked one of them to imagine America “The Christian Nation” — a vast and glorious utopia of red, white and blue crucifixes towering over the landscape like big golden McDonald arches. A nation where children are taught that Creationism is science and the Flintstones really did own a pet Snorkasaurus. A world where women were women and men were men — and all wore gender appropriate clothing.
But most of all, a country where churches are TAXED by the Federal government.
And that’s when my rotund Republican friend trembled at the sound of conservative kryptonite: Taxes.
How could he want his beloved religious institutions to be raped and pillaged by the nefarious Federal government?
It’s simple. The government cannot tax any establishment of religion, because they are considered completely separate. Churches and Synagogues and Mosques are tax-exempt.
However, if you do not subscribe to the idea that church and state should be separate, if you believe that this is a Christian nation, you must also believe Christian churches should be required to pay taxes — since they are not really separate from the government.
Here it was, the secret weapon that will forever protect the First Amendment from these ill-conceived assaults — because we all know there is nothing more horrifying to a red-blooded, red-partied American than taxes.
The modern conservative movement is losing by winning. You don’t have to be a hipster to dig that irony.
One of my snarkier liberal friends – a policy wonk living at the edge of the world (aka Venice Beach) – put the recent passage of the Christian revisionist American History standards into perspective:
“Wait. History is written by the losers now?”