Tuesday, March 14, 2006

God and Country - Part I

I may only be showing my age, and it is entirely possible that such things are no longer taught in American history or "civics" classes, but I seem to recall my grade school teachers informing us that the First Amendment's anti-establishment clause (no "official" religion) grew out of the Founding Fathers' fresh recollections of the persecution (even, in some cases, the forced conversion) of religious minorities. France may have been the Champeen pogromist, slaughtering Huegenots, Cathari, and witches during what the latter, after the favorite method of execution, called "the Burning Times."

In a mere 230 years since the forefathers brought forth a more perfect (read: free) union, a nation taking pride in its freedom from religion, we are witnessing an unprecedented clamor for theocracy, a movement marked by hypocritical lip service to the idea of religious freedom, but with unmistakable subtexts of Christian fundamentalism. Maybe fundamentalist Christers are by nature reactionary, and the more we assert our right to be agnostics or atheists, the more they push an agenda that is little more than a thinly disguised plot to make the USA the Jesus Freak equivalent of Iran. Fundamentalism is bad no matter who the prophet and what the gospel. A right wing evangelical with a "pro-family" agenda is no different than an obdurate Shi'a mullah who finds in Shari'a law an agenda for keeping great numbers of the world's population firmly ensconced in the 18th century.

When this sort of thing is allowed to flourish, unabated, it results in things like the mutaww'un, or "enforcers of obedience" of Wahhabism, who've been characterized as "a kind of private religious police, monitoring not only public but also private conformity to Islam." (The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, emphasis added.) With the establishment of a Christer theocracy in the USA, we may see the return to such early American practices as hitting people with rods when they doze off in church, and putting them in stocks on proof they worked on the Sabbath. Who are the front men for this nonsense? Would it surprise you to know that the Number One Bull Moose Looney just happens to be a United States senator?

Yep. He's Sen. Sam Brownback, GOP, Kansas. (Where else?) Senator Sam plans to run for chief exec, and he's got most of the Christer voting block -- the same evangelicals who helped put Dubya in the White House -- backing his efforts. If any one individual epitomizes the follies and evils of theocratic political philosophy, it's Brownback. A February 9th Rolling Stone portrait of the man had me screaming and puking at turns, as Brownback represents everything sick and evil in post-Vietnam America. The author of the "National Affairs" piece in Rolling Stone, Jeff Sharlet, a New York University professor, says that Brownback (1) held off on signing Newtie's contract on America "not because it was too radical but because it was too tame," (2) once told a group of businessmen "he wanted to be the next Jesse Helms -- 'Senator No.' who operated as a one-man demolition unit against godlessness," and (3) compared Roe v. Wade to the Dred Scott decision, although the former legalized abortion -- an expansion of freedom -- while the latter legitimated slavery, a curtailing of it.

Sharlet portrays Brownback and spouse as plain vanilla Americans, she in the kitchen while he is fiddling with the remote to block those channels on TV deemed "too sexual," including, at times, the nightly news. After all, it was Brownback who, in the wake of Janet Jackson's unfortunate tit-plop at Super Bowl halftime, introduced $325,000 fines for such shenanigans in his Broadcast Decency Reform Act! Senator Sam is a member of the Promise Keepers, portrayed by Sharlet as proselytizers not only for Christeranity but worldwide conversion. Theirs is "a vision of manly Christianity dedicated to the expansion of American power as a means of spreading the gospel," Sharlet writes. So this is what the Bush Bunch are up to in the Mideast! And just when one is starting to wonder how dangerous such twits can really be, Sharlet lays The Biggie on us. He claims that Brownback is a member of a secret group called The Fellowship, headed by a lunatic named Doug Coe.

"They [strive] ultimately, for what Coe calls 'Jesus plus nothing,' a government led by Christ's will alone. In the future...everything -- sex and taxes, war and the price of oil -- will be decided upon not by democracy or the church or even Scripture. The Bible itself is for the masses; in the Fellowship, Christ reveals a higher set of commands to the annointed few. It's a good old boy's club blessed by God...." (Emphasis added.) I've highlighted some select clauses in this part of Sharlet's report in hopes you'll note that this scenario is already being followed by Rev. Robber's Son and Rev. Faultwell. When disaster strikes, it's God's punishment on America for our sinful ways. Never mind that such thinking commits the logical fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc, best illustrated by reference to the aboriginal tribe whose chief kicked the bucket during a total solar eclipse. Lest the Gods look down unfavorably on them, they made sure that later chiefs were whacked whether sick or well.

Wait, there's more. But I will reserve it for Part II. (Although I dearly love Mr. Google's Blogger, longish pieces become cumbersome, difficult to edit, and hard to keep stable. It's probably easier to break a long blog into parts.)

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