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Mr. Rob Boston 7 — Ebony and Ivory: A Story of a Nation

2023-01-04

Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2020/04/01

Rob Boston is the Senior Advisor and Editor for Church and State of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which is the monthly membership magazine. He began work at Americans United in 1987 and authored four books entitled Close Encounters with the Religious Right: Journeys into the Twilight Zone of Religion and Politics (Prometheus Books, 2000), The Most Dangerous Man in America? Pat Robertson and the Rise of the Christian Coalition (Prometheus Books, 1996), Why the Religious Right Is Wrong About Separation of Church and State (Prometheus Books, 1993; second edition, 2003), and Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn’t Give You The Right To Tell Other People What To Do (Prometheus Books, 2014). Mr. Boston can be contacted here: boston@au.org.

This series covers secularism strictly within the American context for the consumption of 18-to-35-year-olds. In this interview session, we cover nationalism, religion, regressions, and a “damage report.”

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: White Nationalism is one form of ethnic nationalism in the United States. Black Nationalism exists while without the passing of segregationist laws in its favour in the history of the country, which makes the historical negative perspective of White Nationalism worse than Black Nationalism in America. How much of the Religious Right in the United States is, and is not, infected with White Nationalist rhetoric, attitudes, and implied policies?

Rob Boston: I think overt white nationalism in the major Religious Right groups in the United States is not very common. What is more common is for Christian nationalist groups to be tone-deaf to the concerns of others. They pursue an agenda that elevates the concerns of the majority — usually white, conservative Christian men — above everyone else. They pretend that American society is colour blind when it clearly is not. If you read Religious Right materials, you quickly reach the conclusion that they idealize the 1950s, which was a time when white Christians (mostly Protestants) men held sway over American culture, law and politics. They overlook the fact that African Americans were still living under oppressive Jim Crow laws in much of the nation and that women had very few rights.

Jacobsen: The United States had great founding principles, ideas, and then counter behaviours, laws, and actions of citizens to the stipulated ideals. More of the ideals appear to have been incorporated into the American cultural environs. What has been the reaction of the major secular organizations to these recent regressions in some of the stipulated ideals of America?

Boston: We are alarmed, especially at the ongoing erosion of the church-state wall and the attempts to redefine religious freedom as an instrument of discrimination. Our evolution from a majority Protestant nation to one of true religious diversity has at times been painful and difficult. But it was a necessary journey, and I think most Americans have little interest in going backwards.

Jacobsen: How have secular organizations in the United States been succeeding and failing in their efforts? As several have noted, the “damage report,” to use a Star Trek phrase, will cost several years in reparative work, probably.

Boston: Yes, there’s no doubt that we have a lot of work ahead of us. However, I do think that demographic trends in America are moving in the right direction, and the idea of our country lapsing into some sort of quasi-official “Christian nation” is probably a non-starter. Having said that, we are seeing laws and court rulings that preference the Christian faith. The federal courts under Donald Trump have become much more conservative, and that will take a long time to repair. I tell people to be in this fight for the long haul. The defence of church-state separation is a long-term project. Some people who are working on this issue now might not live long enough to see us entirely correct the course. But the next generation will — and that’s why we keep art it.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Mr. Boston.

Boston: Thank you.

License

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at www.in-sightpublishing.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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