Faith-Based Parks Initiative

PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) has recently assailed the administration’s ostensible faith-based parks initiative. I’m not a big fan of the group, but this clearly violates the separation of church and state.

After watching a documentary on Ronald Reagan (and reading from his letters), I remember thinking that he seemed a lot more religious than I remembered as a youth. Ayn Rand correctly pointed out his religious leanings back in 1981, but I guess I just never noticed it at the time. His stance against the Soviet Union and his economic policies just had me spellbound, I suppose.

Interestingly, George W. Bush patterned his presidential bid after Ronald Reagan’s, targeting many of the same issues and striking the same tone. He is also, I think, much more vocal in his religiosity than Reagan ever was publicly. Bush’s faith-based initiatives have directly tried to insinuate religion into many previously-secular spheres of public life.

What makes the present situation more troubling is that Bush is quite probably going to win the 2004 election and both his inability to try for a third term and Cheney’s likely lack of interest in a presidential run could embolden him to step up his religious patronage in order to cement his fundamentalist legacy. As an avowed atheist, I can’t help but be dismayed at the prospect of another inch gained in the slope towards theocracy. But what can one do? The Republican Party isn’t going to nominate someone other than Bush, the religious tenor of the campaign isn’t raising the hackles of voters, and the crop of Democratic candidates all want the federal government to enter more areas of private life—excepting, of course, the bedroom—with edicts.

I know in my heart of hearts that the battle for liberty and individual rights does not take place in the context of an election or eight years, but the prospects have never seemed dimmer. Privately, though, my life has never been better and I feel like my future is brighter than ever. I guess I will just have to retreat into the private sanctuary and comforting cocoon of family and work.

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