By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 10/14/2019
Posted: 3/2/2006
Topics/Keywords: #ReligiousPolitics Page Views: 3056
America is experiencing its own sea change right now, from the warm, inviting waters of a land rollicking with diversity to one with the merciless, icy depths of religious fanatics who will stop at nothing to achieve their agenda of turning the United States into a theocracy
A sea change.

As you drive from Miami to Key West, down around the swamps and cypress islands of Key Largo, there's a place where the road is a causeway with water on each side . The most stunning thing about this causeway is the difference between the east and west sides. Both sides are viewed through thickets of scrubby bushes; both bodies of water are dotted with palm tree-bearing islets and, if the wind is blowing, saucy little whitecaps. In fact, it is the same body of water, or should be; occasionally the causeway gives way to a drawbridge and the water flows freely between.

However, the water on the east side is leaden gray; on the west it is Caribbean blue—and with good reason; on the east side of the causeway is the Atlantic Ocean and on the west is the Caribbean Sea.

For years I thought that was what was meant by a "sea change." I knew the term referred to a transformation, and what could be more dramatic a transformation than that of ocean to sea?

America is experiencing its own sea change right now, from the warm, inviting waters of a land rollicking with diversity to one with the merciless, icy depths of religious fanatics who will stop at nothing to achieve their agenda of turning the United States into a theocracy in which their god is rammed down the throats of everyone else. For too many years, we didn't take this threat seriously. After all, these fanatics are in the minority, aren't they?

But as with any other shark, there are enough symbiotes who benefit from the feeding frenzies to assist for their own reasons. Religious fanatics disguised as Republicans promoted a puppet that would do their bidding; that's how George W. Bush came to occupy the office of President. While the public made jokes about his lack of intelligence, social graces, and any other redeeming virtues, the fanatics got him to turn the tide in their favor by loading the Supreme Court with fanatics like themselves, giving them an overwhelming majority to do pretty much anything they want by twisting the words of the law in such a way as to support it.

The reason most Americans are indifferent to this is that they do not believe it will affect them. It's the "I've got mine" mentality that is so different from the neighbor-helping-neighbor image we have of the early 1900s—another sea change, though perhaps a more gradual one.

But those who would be indifferent are wrong, because this will change—is changing—things more than they can ever guess.

Take the gay marriage debate. Most Americans believe this issue is about gay marriage. Why not? Those are the words that are used. But the religious fanatics, who do not represent all Christians by a long shot, have enlisted moderate Christians into buying into their definition of a "family." One man, one woman, we've been told—even though historically that hasn't always been the case—and their children.

But today's issue of the St. Louis Post Dispatch tells of a man and a woman and their three children who are being thrown out of their home—a house they own!—because they are not legally married. And in Manassas, Virginia, families are being broken up because recent changes to local law have redefined "family" to exclude members beyond the second degree of kindred. (That means, for example, Great-Grandma.) Enforcement of these laws is being targeted at Latino families, but make no mistake: The originators of those laws, no matter what they claimed as their reasons, have one agenda and one agenda only:

To make it impossible to live in America without adhering to the tenets of the fanatics' interpretation of their religion.

People who consider themselves to be "liberal" or "moderate" bend over backwards to accommodate diversity, including the diversity represented by religious fanatics. But somewhere along the line, we're either going to have to acknowledge the threat these people present to our way of life and do something to protect it—or lose it.

In the past twenty years, the epithet "Land of the Free" has changed from a mindset to a registered trademark with as much meaning as "New and Improved!" That would also constitute a sea change, except that it's about to become a hurricane that will make Katrina look like a freshening breeze. And when it's over, the Bill of Rights will be in the same shape as New Orleans' Ward 9, and thanks to many of the same people.