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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

 
Religious Right Revolutionaries

by digby

Frederick Clarkson has a fascinating piece at Religion Dispatches about the new "it" boy in religious celebrity circles. This fellow's name is Eric Metaxas:

Metaxas is not yet a household name, but this has certainly been his year. He was not only the keynote speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast where president Obama also spoke; he also succeeded the late Charles Colson—both as the voice of the nationally-syndicated radio commentary, Breakpoint, and as one of the three-member board of directors of the premier US conservative Catholic/evangelical alliance, The Manhattan Declaration.

As an up-and-coming evangelical leader, he has also been busy denouncing proposed federal regulations on contraception coverage in employer insurance packages. But he is unique in employing his status as a Bonhoeffer scholar to claim parallels between the regulations and early Nazi-era legislation, as he did, for example, in an appearance on MSNBC.

The Bonhoeffer book itself has drawn praise, but also scathing commentary, especially in the community of Bonhoeffer scholars. Clifford Green wrote in Christian Century that Metaxas is “hijacking Bonhoeffer” into the fundamentalist camp to deploy him against religious and political liberalism.

Less than two weeks after presenting a copy of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy to president Obama, Metaxas found himself discussing the implications of his Nazi analogy at the bookstore of the Catholic Information Center, the DC outpost of Opus Dei (the rightist order that was made a personal prelature of the pope by John Paul II in 1982).
“I am, as an American, offended,” Metaxas told a small audience at the Center, “by the idea that we cannot discuss certain things, and there is a kind of proto-facist—(I am being generous when I say proto)—bullying that happens in the culture” that disallows discussing the “big questions” about life and God.
Bonhoeffer’s voice, Metaxas explained, was prophetic:
“I see him as someone who like Isaiah, or Jeremiah, was saying things to call the people of God to be the people of God... In his day, clearly his voice was not heeded. His voice, if it’s prophetic, is not Bonhoeffer’s voice—it is really the voice of God.”

“This HHS mandate” situation he said “is so oddly similar to where Bonhoeffer found himself” early in the Nazi era. “If we don’t fight now,” Metaxas warned,

“if we don’t really use all our bullets now, we will have no fight five years from now. It’ll be over. This it. We’ve got to die on this hill. Most people say, oh no, this isn’t serious enough. Its just this little issue. But it’s the millimeter... its that line that we cross. I’m sorry to say that I see these parallels. I really wish I didn’t.”
I guess the same rules don't apply to "religious scholars" that apply to everyone else in public life. Comparing the ACA to Hitler is perfectly ok. If you're a wingnut preacher.

It's an interesting introduction to the new pastor on the block, but if you read further you will find that this "revolution" talk isn't anything new. There have been voices among the religious right going there for quite some time. Which is scary.

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