Seems like everyone's predicting the imminent implosion of modern christianism. And yes, it does look that way, doesn't it? Despite the wide variety of clinical-level personality disorders on display amongst the current Republican candidates, the so-called "religious" right can't find the particular flavor of lunacy that makes them get all hard. Call it electile dysfunction. As it happens Rich's point is underlined by a simultaneous article in the Sunday Times on the same subject.
I truly wish this were so, that we didn't have to worry about the theocrats amongst us. But I don't believe it for a second. The "intelligent design" creationism movement, despite taking a huge hit from the outcome of the Kitzmiller trial, has regrouped. It's new strategy is very simple and dangerous: Rather than advocate directly for creationism, they have designed and are selling a bad biology textbook that makes all sorts of specious critiques of Darwin and evolution. Get it? While you can insist that schools obey the law and not establish religion, it is very difficult to design a law that keeps schools from purchasing, and using, a terrible, error-filled textbook.
Furthermore, as far as I know, no viable candidate for the presidency has come out in favor of a rollback - I would prefer elimination - of the "faith-based" government handouts to political operatives in a priestly vestments such as Chuck Colson.
Rich and Kirkpatrick also ignore, or fail to emphasize, the unbelievably deep pockets of modern christianism. These are seriously wealthy people who take the long view. If, as is likely, there is no compellingly nutty candidate in '08, they'll bide their time, fund christianists in '10, and look forwards to '12.
They also forget the oft-made observation, apparently wished for by the right as often as the rest of us fear it, that the U.S. is one terrorist attack away from dramatically increased authoritarianism. Christianism would thrive in such an environment.
Finally, there is the wholesale, near-invisible adoption of at least some portions of a christianist worldview by even the most mainstream media. Here is a tiny little detail from Kirkpatrick's article as one of many possible examples. It's so small you might miss it no matter how opposed you are to christianism :
But in the wake of the ban on public-school prayer, the sexual revolution and the exodus to the suburbs that filled the new megachurches, protecting the unborn became the rallying cry of a new movement to uphold the traditional family.The fact that the phrase "protecting the unborn" was not enclosed in quotes is a minor, trivial detail, but a telling one (note also the "traditional family" trope as well).
It means that for the author, or the editor, or both, conventional usage has dignified the pro-coathanger position as a normative one. To say the least, "protecting the unborn" is not really an accurate description of what that movement was, and is, up to. If it was, those so anxious to protect the unborn would begin by demanding high quality pre-natal care for all expectant mothers. Rather, what this movement really is about is coercion. It's about coercing every mother to bring every pregnancy to term. It's also about forcing poor, pregnant women to avail themselves of exceedingly dangerous back-alley abortions if they need (or choose) to terminate a pregnancy.
In short, slowly, inexorably, christianism has been mainstreamed to the point where we just slide right by some its most extreme, and kooky, expressions and accept them as "the way to look at the world." This will continue, unless it is confronted and confounded.
Anyone in fall 2007 who thinks christianism's been beaten back to the margins of American cultural and political life simply doesn't understand who these people are, what they've been doing for some 82 years, and how far they have advanced over the past 8 years. It is a sad truth that the fight against American christianism will continue for a very long time to come. The mere absence, at present, of a viable national presidential candidate for '08 who supports their theocratic agenda isn't even a tiny victory but simply a statistical blip.
[UPDATE: In comments, Digby reminds us of there may be method behind the madness, Let a "liberal woman" preside over the Herculean clean up of George Bush's stables. Since that will be all but impossible to do in a mere 4 years, it will make their job easier in '12 to portray Dems (and liberals) as ineffectual and elect another white male sympathetic to theocracy. ]