Nehemiah Scudder is the fictional President (2012-2015) and First Prophet (2016-?) of the United States of America in Robert A. Heinlein's "Future History" series. Sometime during Scudder's first term, he succeeds in converting the US from a democracy into a religious dictatorship (theocracy). The original Scudder story ("If This Goes On...") was written in 1940, with several other references dating as late as 1987 (in Heinlein's last published novel, To Sail Beyond the Sunset).
Many people, especially rationalists, saw George W. Bush's presidency as veering dangerously towards a potential Scudder-like scenario. Bush's theocratic leanings, however, pale in comparison to those of 2012 presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who has openly advocated for Christian theocracy as part of his campaign platform.
Heinlein's concept of Nehemiah Scudder may have had its origins in such characters as President Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip in the novel It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis. Windrip is believed to have been based on any of a number of real people, however, and Heinlein may have drawn from similar sources.
I generally always took this story to be a warning that the wrong person in the Presidency can essentially destroy everything that America is supposed to stand for, starting with democracy, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech. When I see someone like George W. Bush managing to get into the White House with a platform that appeals to many of the worst traits of evangelism, and working to further evangelism's goals at the expense of rationalism and meritocracy, and you have people saying "I feel that God is in the White House", it's just plain scary. (The fact that we're less than 10 years from the date of Scudder's fictional presidency is just icing on the scary-cake.) --Woozle 11:29, 15 Nov 2005 (CST)
- 2012-02-24 Rick Santorum and the rise of anti-Earth theocracy by David Brin
- 2000-07 A Study of "IF THIS GOES ON..." by Bill Patterson