The Threat of Religious Dogmatism

Having religious faith is well-regarded in the United States, as well as elsewhere throughout the world. In our country, it would be virtually impossible for a self-proclaimed atheist to be elected to high office. Our Constitution rightly protects freedom of religion. True wisdom is found in the teachings of great religious teachers. All this is good, and it’s understandable that many religious people think that what they believe their faith requires overrides all other considerations. But what happens when critical numbers of people in positions of power hold religious beliefs that clash with liberal, reasoned, compassionate, equitable, honest, empirically based principles that have become enshrined in Constitution, statutes, and institutional workings of post-Enlightenment societies? What happens when the Supreme Court of the United States becomes dominated by such people? What happens when Supreme Court justices, though they are obliged to disguise their motivation, decide cases by responding to what they believe is the mandate of their religious convictions rather than to secular laws and institutions they swore to uphold? This is the threat of religious dogmatism.

Willam Barr, the authoritarian-minded chief law enforcement officer of the United States is a religious dogmatist. It’s a safe bet that he already has in hand drafts of petitions, including one addressed to the Supreme Court of the United States, seeking a ruling that election results in designated states be nullified because a substantial number of ballots were fraudulently submitted or tampered with. His loyal assistants will only need to fill in a few details on election night. We don’t know how the religious dogmatists controling the Supreme Court would decide such a case, though we have plenty of clues.