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Hullabaloo


Thursday, December 23, 2004

 
Back To The Future

I haven't written much about the UCC ad controversy because, as an atheist, it seems a bit presumptuous to weigh in on issues such as this except to say that I think that freedom of speech demands that all voices should be allowed on the public airwaves.

That article, however, makes me a little bit sad and I can't help but feel that all this is leading to the kind of intra religious fighting we haven't seen for decades in this country. For quite a while everyone had been getting along pretty well, religiously speaking.

My grandfather was what was known as an anti-papist. (He didn't think much of Jews either.) A good portion of his life was defined by his religious identity as an Episcopalian and freemason who hated Catholics. He was born in 1886, so it wasn't all that unusual. During his lifetime, which ended in 1972, it became less and less acceptable to hold the views he held until, at the end, he was an anachronism. I always thought that was a good thing and in a perverse way to hear him rail against the Pope in the 1960's always reinforced in me a strong belief in social progress. His old fashioned ideas had been completely discredited by mainstream society during his own lifetime.

Now we are seeing the re-emergence of intra Christian rivalry (along with hostility to non-Judeo Christian religions in general) and the infighting has begun again. The lines are breaking down now between fundamentalism and liberalism, but really it's the same old shit.

And it illustrates the real reason why the founders insisted on separation of church and state. It wasn't in service of secularism; it was in service of religion. When one sect gains the power of the state, the others have no choice but to fight for their rights. This UCC controversy is, I fear, the beginning of another episode of religious war between the Christians. Two steps forward one step back.

But I have to say that I have no idea why, in the midst of this religious rivalry, nobody gives a shit about this:

Rather than the traditional egg hunt, this group, calling itself the American Clergy Leadership Conference, sponsored a nationwide "Tear Down The Cross" day for Easter, 2003. Last week, leaders in this radical cause presided over a Washington prayer breakfast featuring messages of thanks from the presidents. Former Senator Bob Dole came in person.

[...]

Moon was keynote speaker last week, declaring in remarks reprinted by the Times that "God's heart is under confinement." In some ways it was a repeat performance of the Senate coronation ceremony, which the New York Times editorial page compared to an act of the mad emperor Caligula.

You may remember that Senator John Warner and other Congressmen unloaded on Moon's entourage for "deceiving" them into sponsoring a ceremony where America "surrendered to [Moon] in the king's role," according to an internal church memo. "America is saying to Father, 'please become my king," claimed Moon minister Chung Kwak. The versatile Kwak is currently wearing a second hat as head of the UPI news agency, added to Moon's collection of media properties in 2000.

Strangely enough, last week the hosts of the "surrender" ceremony weren't blasted but blessed by two presidents of the United States. The same faces were there: George Stallings, Jr., the flamboyant ex-archbishop who bellowed at the March dinner for America to open up its heart to Moon; Michael Jenkins and Chang Shik Yang, hosts of past "Tear Down The Cross" rituals; and former Democratic D.C. representative Walter Fauntroy, who shares the Moonies' opposition to gay civil unions (Moon calls gays "dung-eating dogs"; Fauntroy calls same-sex marriage "an abomination"). Congressman Davis did not attend.

Like the Senate party, this conference climaxed with a new Crown of Peace awarded to Moon by his own organization, though in this case they held off on the royal treatment until the following evening. The award was reported by UPI.

According to a report in the Washington Times as well as video found on the Moon-affiliated Web site FamilyFed.org, the elder Bush made a taped appearance before the ACLC's 3,000-strong crowd, which he thanked for their work. "I thought about parachuting into the building," he joked about wishing he could make it. And he paid lip service to Moon's unwieldy religious jargon, using phrases like "peace centered on God," a goal that he called "right on target."

His son, George W. Bush, wrote a warm letter of support presented at the event by a state senator, in which the president and his wife Laura sent his best wishes to the sponsors -- and thanked them for rallying his "armies of compassion.


Picture if you will, Bill and Hill and Al and Tipper doing this.

Why doesn't anybody confront the wingnut political and religious gasbags with this crap? How could Bush or Falwell or O'Reilly or any of the other self-appointed guardians of Christianity defend this wierd nonsense?

Gosh, it almost make you think that the Republican and Christian Right leadership are actually simple whores for money.





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