The bogus narrative of the Religious Right -- that there is a humanist or secular humanist or secularist "religion" bent on taking over America has already been one of the features of this election season. We have heard about it from Rick Santorum and from Mitt Romney. We have written extensively about this bogus narrative and its variants at Talk to Action over the years, including a discussion of Mitt Romney's recent declaration: "I think there is in this country a war on religion. I think there is a desire to establish a religion in America known as secularism."
Happily, historian Rick Perlstein, writing in Rolling Stone, has an excellent take on the matter.
Note the careful language: Democrats want "to establish a religion" — a precise quotation of the First Amendment's' Establishment Clause banning same. And the claim that "they gave it a lot of thought" insinuates a deliberate conspiracy. But conservatives would not fall for it, the stalwart Romney announced: "Those of us who are people of faith recognize [what] this is—an attack on one religion is an attack on all religion."
A marker has been laid down. Heed it well. Universal healthcare is the Trojan Horse in Obama's radical religious crusade to undo orthodox religion. Could a notion so crazy possibly have legs? Crazier things have penetrated the fog before — and this one has the advantage of tickling the most abiding anxiety of conservative-minded citizens: that liberalism is contributing to the sexual dissolution of their very own homes and hearths. Romney's recycling of the smear may already have helped him assuage the doubts of the religious right that he is one of them.
And Democrats losing their nerve, backing away from defending desperately needed reform out of fear stepping on mysterious "deeply held" beliefs that are actually the invention of hucksters with right-wing agendas? Well, that's happened before, too.
Don't let it happen again.