Tuesday, October 31, 2006

JAMES DOBSON AND ANN COULTER CONFIRM THAT JESUS IS A GODLESS LIBERAL

After hinting at it for many years, a top leader of the Religious Right and his ideological soul mate confirmed what has been a closely guarded secret for some 2000 years: Jesus is really nothing more than a godless liberal.

The startling revelation came on Tuesday, October 24, 2006. The previous day James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family and widely-recognized leader of the Religious Right, welcomed Ann Coulter, author of Godless: The Church of Liberalism, on his radio show. Dobson, self-proclaimed and self-important champion of “family values,” recently made news by dismissing the Republican Party’s child sex predator scandal by declaring that the charges were the result of a prank played by teenage pages. Coulter, in the meantime, has emerged as a favorite of the Religious Right for slamming and slandering Democrats in Godless, her latest book. Dobson in turn welcomed her as a hero on his radio show, after which the two quickly launched into a shared favorite pastime: gloating in self-righteousness while swapping lies about “liberal Democrats.”

For two days, Dobson and Coulter had a good time kicking the stuffing out of liberal, godless Democrats while blaming them for every known evil under the sun. In the midst of the gloat-fest, the subject turned to liberals’ concerns over how to treat one’s enemies, including the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Scoffing over the idea that any American would be concerned about how the United States treats or mistreats the nation’s enemies, Coulter slipped up and let the secret out of the bag: demonstrating “kindness” to one’s enemies, Coulter declared, is nothing more than “a liberal idea that will not die.”

“You have heard it said,” Jesus said to his followers in the Gospel of Matthew, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Nonsense, according to Coulter and Dobson. Only morons would love their enemies … liberal morons, at that.

Yet Coulter and Dobson are right in at least one regard: Jesus’ commandment to love one’s enemies is indeed “a liberal idea that will not die.”

Coulter and Dobson, mockingly dismissive of Jesus’ teachings, apparently despise Jesus for being a godless liberal who believes in showing kindness to one’s enemies. Of course, the Religious Right of Jesus’ day knew all to well that Jesus was a godless liberal, and it was reason enough for them to have Jesus executed.

But Jesus did not really die when the religious fundamentalists of his day had him nailed to a cross. Neither did his liberal teachings, which live on to this day, to the chagrin of the modern Religious Right.

Thomas Jefferson, one of America’s leading founding fathers, tore out many of the pages in his Bible, but refused to dismiss the teachings of Jesus. But to Coulter and Dobson in 2006, even Jesus is a godless liberal who can no longer be trusted.

Monday, October 23, 2006

WILL THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT FORM A THIRD POLITICAL PARTY IN 2008?

For some years now, I have silently wondered just how long the Religious Right will stick with a Republican Party which is only willing to partially embrace the theocon vision of a theocratic, "Christian" nation.

Now, for the first time, I note at least one religious conservative pundit is publicly considering just such a move in time for the 2008 presidential election.

Bonnie Alba from Renew America, after vowing never to vote Democrat and dismissing the current Republican Party as also too liberal, has this to say:

"Republicans and Democrats, you have two years to get your act together. Do the job you've been hired to do, confront the very real problems of our time and honor your oath of office. In two years, I will decide with my vote whether you have fulfilled your commitment and earned your pay. There is a third party waiting for me, just in case."

A week earlier, an editorial in Tennessee's Chattanoogan had advocated for a religiously-based third political party.

Will other theocon pundits jump on Alba'a bandwagon? Even now, are Religious Right leaders such as James Dobson and Jerry Falwell quietly discussing the formation of a third party?

The theocons are, after all, in a tight spot. The nationalistic ambitions of the Religious Right are the hot topic of conversation in the Current Affairs section at local bookstores, and their theocratic designs have been broadcast to the general public even as the presumptive Party of God, in addition to being a wasteland in terms of ethics and integrity, has been exposed as a long-time safe harbor for homosexuals and a child predator. In short, the efforts of Christian conservatives to hijack the Republican Party, despite certain gains (such as the recent Supreme Court nominees) and a lot of public rhetoric from the Bush administration, have failed miserably.

If the theocons are to remain true to their nationalistic, moralistic faith and principles, they are left with only one alternative to save face and prove their commitment to the principles they publicly proclaim: abandon the tainted and corrupt Republican Party and form their own political party.

Friday, October 13, 2006

FAITH, A CASUALTY OF POLITICS?

Sgt. Ricky Clousing, a young, born-again evangelical Christian, went off to war in Iraq "out of patriotism, idealism and curiosity." But as an interrogator in Iraq, he quickly realized that American forces were harassing and even killing innocent civilians, thus "creating the insurgency you're trying to fight." He told his superiors of the problem, who referred him to a chaplain, who blithely counseled him that in the Old Testament, "God sent his people to war." Returning to the states on leave, Clousing told his church friends the truth about the war in Iraq, but they told him that the Bible commanded Americans to be loyal to the government by "rendering unto Ceaser's what is Caesar's." And thus Clousing realized that their "politics" had "infiltrated their religion so much, they can't see past their politics."

This week Clousing was court-martialed and sentenced to 11 months in prison for going AWOL, for once he became convinced of the anti-Christian nature of the Iraq War, he refused to return to the battlefield.

You can read his story in the New York Times, but you probably won't hear about it from your local Republican megachurch or conservative Christian organizations ... just like you won't hear Jesus' admonitions that his followers should be peacemakers rather than warmongers.

Monday, October 09, 2006

FLIP-FLOPPING ON CHURCH AND STATE

In 1802, the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut wrote Thomas Jefferson in support of the Constitutional separation of church and state. But in 2006, another Baptist church in Danbury, Connecticut is coveting taxpayer money, through the Bush administration's faith-based initiative, to build a children's center. Their Danbury Baptist forefathers would be horrified, but more and more of today's Baptists, now a majoritarian voice in America, expect and even demand tax dollars to prop up their faith.

In fact, the New York Times reports that religion in America, especially of the evangelical stripe, in recent decades has gained more and more government privileges at the burden of American taxpayers. Not only that, but increasingly churches and other religious institutions are not only hungry for taxpayer dollars and insistent on government privileges, but, ironically, are enclaves in which employees have few rights and in which individuals are often treated in anything other than a Christian manner.

The last two stories are the first two in a series of four in a New York Time's special entitled, "In God's Name," an expose on how religious organizations, including a large percentage of Baptist churches, increasingly press for, and receive, special privileges and favoritism from an accommodating government.

As Randall Balmer noted, "Where have all the Baptists gone?"

Friday, October 06, 2006

REPUBLICANS AND SEX: POLITICAL ARMAGEDDON

On Friday, September 29, Republican Congressman Mark Foley (Florida) resigned amid evidence he engaged in sexually explicit instant messaging with a minor male House page.

In the intervening seven days, five Amish girls were killed in a horrible schoolroom shooting, dozens of American servicepersons died in Iraq and Afghanistan, hundreds of Iraqis died in sectarian violence, and yet more evidence surfaced that the Iraq War is a disaster and utter failure, contrary to President George W. Bush's insistent denials.

But the one story receiving the lopsided bulk of attention is the Republican Sex Scandal involving the homosexual Foley and accusations that he is a child sex predator. Foley is no longer even the centerpiece. The obvious cover-up is the main course upon which the media is dining. And the one question on everyone's mind is, "Will House Speaker Denny Hastert, who apparently knew of Foley's inappropriate contact with the page months or even years ago, be forced to resign?" Even Republicans are acknowledging that this latest scandal may well be the final straw that gets them kicked out of majority positions in both the House and Senate this November.

Why is the Foley scandal turning out to be the greatest of many scandals in the past three years within the Bush administration and Republican Senate and House? Greater than the presidential layer of lies that led us into a disastrous war in Iraq and continue to this day. Greater than the Abramoff corruption scandal in which numerous felonies were committed and numeorus Bush administration figures have been forced to resign. Greater than Tom DeLay's ties to Abramoff and the other federal crimes committed by the Texan.

The answer is a three-letter, dirty word: sex.

The Republican Party, led around by the nose by the Religious Right since the 1980s, shaped by the so-called "moral" (read anti-abortion, anti-homosexual and anti-sex in general) agenda of the Religious Right, has suddenly been revealed as anything but moral.

Homosexuality. Child sex predation. Cover-up at the highest levels of the Republican Party.

In short, the unthinkable political doomsday scenario suddenly happened. Republicans overnight became everything and more that the Religious Right has spent over two decades trying with all their might to pin on the "liberal" Democratic Party.

It doesn't matter that the Republican Party under the current administration had become the party of warmongering, legions of lies, unswerving supporters of the rich over the poor, systemic polluters of our fragile environment, and of a President who cursed the Constitution as nothing more than a "G...D... piece of paper" and devoted his presidency to violating it.

What matters is sex. It's what the Republicans used against Bill Clinton with a hatred that was unparalleled in American politics. Now it has become the downfall of the Republican Party. And this time it is about much more than consensual oral sex between two adults.

And how is James Dobson, the spokesperson of the Religious Right, handling this scandal involving homosexuality and child predation and political cover-up at the highest levels of the Republican Party? Dobson is pooh-poohing the whole thing as a "joke" and a "prank" by some wayward pages.

That's right. A prank. A joke. Nothing more.

And what about Baptist Press, the SBC Public Relations arm that is loyal to a fault to the Republican Party and is quick to point out sexual immorality in American culture and among "liberals," especially homosexuality?

Not a peep.

Jerry Falwell?

Nada.

But what else can the Religious Right do? They've been in bed with the Republican Party for so long that even the revelation of homosexuality and child predation between their sheets cannot dislodge them, for if they throw back the covers, their own moral nakedness will be known to all the world. So their only option is denial. After all, it's worked (somewhat) for Bush these past three years in regards to the Iraq war.

Party's over, folks.

Political Armageddon has arrived, exploding between the legs of the Religious Right. It's not a pretty sight, but justice is sometimes ugly.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

"God's Country"

Walter Russell Mead is the author of an interesting article in the current edition of Foreign Affairs journal.

I stumbled across the article yesterday while in Barnes & Noble, and read it in hard copy. The website link above contains the entire article (it is long), prefaced with the following very brief summary:

"Religion has always been a major force in U.S. politics, but the recent surge in the number and the power of evangelicals is recasting the country's political scene -- with dramatic implications for foreign policy. This should not be cause for panic: evangelicals are passionately devoted to justice and improving the world, and eager to reach out across sectarian lines."

I suggest you read the article yourself if you have any interest in Christian nationalism in America. I do have a few quibbles with some of Mead's basic assumptions, however.

For one thing, he downplays fundamentalism and broadens evangelicalism well past the borders of fundamentalism. Regarding Baptists, he shows little comprehension that the Southern Baptist Convention has become fundamentalist, not merely evangelical. In quoting Frank Page (p. 37 in the print copy) as saying (following his surprising election to the presidency of the SBC) "I believe the Word of God, I'm just not mad about it" as a way to prove the non-fundamentalist nature of the SBC, he placed the quote in the wrong context of Page referring to independent fundamentalists outside the SBC, when Page instead was backhanding the fundamentalist leadership of his own convention.

Secondly, while he correctly brands Jerry Falwell as a fundamentalist, he makes no mention that Jerry Falwell is not only a Southern Baptist, but was a leader (though an outsider) in the takeover of the SBC, the dominant speaker of the fundamentalist-controlled SBC pastor's conferences during the Takeover years, became the ultimate insider in the process, and remains a top-billed speaker at SBC events to this day (particularly opening convocations at SBC seminaries) whose frequent-over-the-top statements are never condemned by SBC leaders. In short, Mead fails to realize that Jerry Falwell, of all Southern Baptists today, is arguably the one individual that is most representative of the ideology of the current SBC (Mohler could be, if he were not a strict Calvinist; Land pretends to speak for all Southern Baptists, but simply acts out of his own hubris; Patterson would like to be the top representative, but ultimately has too many rough edges - even Falwell admits Patterson is more right-wing than he, which is really scary). Land, by the way, according to Mead, is not a fundamentalist.

Finally, listening to Mead alone, one would never pick up on the theocratic aspirations of folks like James Dobson, Rick Scarborough and D. James Kennedy.

So ultimately, I would say, Mead underestimates (and underdefines) fundamentalists. One might also argue with his other labels of "liberal" and "evangelical" Christians, but that is another discussion.

I do highly recommend the article.