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What it means to oppress via theocratic nationalism
TGIF, TAT followers
This Friday comes a short tale about what happens when tone-deaf, Theocratic Nationalists run a country. The story that triggered today’s article is from the Associated Press, and about the Iranian theocracy celebrating the 1979 US Embassy take-over, marking the end of an oppressive monarchy. Meanwhile the streets are full of courageous Iranians, protesting the authoritarian theocracy that brutally oppresses her citizens. Iranian citizens have been the victims of a typical, theocratic government ever since.
There are some valuable lessons being taught on the streets of Tehran that currently apply to the US as well. Let’s take a look… how.
First, a couple of definitions so that we can all be on the same page about what Theocracy and Nationalism, mean to us here in the US.
o theocracy, government by divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided. In many theocracies, government leaders are members of the clergy, and the state’s legal system is based on religious law. Theocratic rule was typical of early civilizations. The Enlightenment marked the end of theocracy in most Western countries. Contemporary examples of theocracies include Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Vatican. See also church and state, sacred kingship.
o “Christian nationalism identifies the nation with God's will and action in the world; conflates national and Christian identity; and identifies service of the nation with service of God,” writes Dr. David W. Scott, who is a Methodist historical researcher and the Director of Mission Theology at the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church. “Christian nationalism gives moral cover for actions, even unseemly ones, taken in pursuit of national or political goals.”
Are patriotism and nationalism synonymous?
· Fanatical patriotism
Synonyms for patriotism are:
· Public spirit
Okay, with our grammar lesson taken care of, here’s the bottom line. There is no difference between the Ayatollah’s in Iran, supported by the IRGC and Quds Force from Mike Flynn and his MAGA movement here in the US. For that matter, what Flynn intends could just as easily be compared to the Taliban government in Afghanistan. Flynn’s intent for the US, is a rigid theocracy with no room for any deviation from convoluted and oppressive theology. This is the core of the MAGA movement. Nothing could violate American values and our constitutional democracy more.
Back to Iran
Today’s theocratic regime in Tehran is celebrating the US Embassy’s takeover, that led to over a year of Americans being held brutally hostage by Iranian revolutionaries. A short time later, Iran took a theocratic path that led directly towards the massive protests occurring all across Iran for the last few weeks. The regime, attempting to celebrate the beginning of their Islamic Revolution, are also rekindling the thirst for freedom within the Iranian people. In order to achieve that freedom, the Ayatollahs must go or at least relinquish the reins of power to the people. Iran’s citizens have long rued the day that brutal theocrats took control of their nation. Weeks of protest fill Iran’s streets. Forty years of oppression is now seriously contested all across Iran, her multiple ethnicities and regions. Once lit, the flame of freedom burns eternally in the souls of human beings. Nothing the Ayatollahs can do will extinguish it.
In a democracy, religion plays the role each citizen wishes it to play, so long as it doesn’t impose religious restrictions on others. Theocracies… dictate religious beliefs and how they must be adhered to. Constitutionally, the US protects the rights of all religious beliefs, even the right to not believe. Iran is not a democracy.
Religion, when used as a tool of oppression, is no different from any other belief system. Communism, dictatorships, military juntas like Myanmar or even Xi’s authoritarian dominance over China, largely focused on ancient dynastic-styled emperors. Belief systems, religious or otherwise are oppressive when they are managed by brutal, rigid ideology, even among homogenous societies.
Modern Iran is being subjected to 7th century religious edits that understandably anger and frustrate what was once, one of the most advanced Middle Eastern societies prior to 1979. While Iran is the poster child of oppressive theocracy, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan are little different. This should give us all a better understanding of the immorality of what the toxic mixture of theocracy and nationalist fervor look like.
So now, here we are at a point in history where we watch an oppressive regime in Tehran fail, all the while, faced with a powerful US movement led by Mike Flynn and Trump’s MAGA crowd, attempting to do something very similar with the US. Both recite extremist versions of ancient religious text selectively, for the purpose of power over all citizens. The ayatollah’s extremist interpretations of Shia Islam vary little from the extremist Christian interpretations that the Mike Flynn led, MAGA crowd are attempting to impose on America.
By Peter Wehner
25 Oct. 2022
Iran changed their government framework to embrace such theocratic nationalism, and this is precisely what Flynn attempts to do here in the US. Here at home, Flynn’s extremism is anti-constitutional, due to our separation of church and state principles within the US constitution. US citizens are guaranteed such separation although in recent months, the US Supreme Court denied previous abortion rights, largely based on a religious radical judge’s opinion from 17th century England. Here in TX, part of the GOP platform is to put religion back in schools, another slap in the face to the US constitution.
A close read of history will include countless examples of failed theocracies. Part of the rift in Putin’s genocidal war against Ukraine is based on religious ideology in regard to the split between the Russian Orthodox Church and Ukrainian Orthodoxy. Russia’s Orthodox Patriarch, Kirill, also a former KGB informant/ officer wields a great deal of power in service to oppression, not the teachings of the church.
To sum up our Friday post, let’s just remember that the people of Iran, like so many other nations, deserve to be treated as modern citizens of their nation and the world, not victims of 7th century oppressive, theocratic rule. Freedom to worship (or not) as you please in the US is guaranteed by our constitution as is the separation of church and state. Historical failures in most theocracies are exceedingly common. There is no reason to believe that Iran, or Mike Flynn will succeed any more than the Taliban or any other historical precedent.
Maybe Mike Flynn should just take on the role of an American Ayatollah. Maybe the Iranian ayatollahs should just move back into a mosque and let people live their lives too. Yes, I know that this is too much to wish for. At least, the US still has law on its side but won’t for long if the MAGA crowd gets its way.
Although the US has had historically, some serious issues with our stated values, we’re still a good bet to continue to progress, as advocates for human rights. We can help no one, if we don’t stop theocratic nationalism in its tracks here at home. There is not one thing that speaks to American values, regarding theocratic nationalism. It is quite the opposite. I believe that most Americans still believe in our actual values. Flynn, Trump and their lot absolutely has discarded and sold-out American values. If they want theocratic nationalism, I hear that Putin, the Taliban and the Ayatollahs are hiring.