From "the Christian Right isn't going anywhere" files
Two good pieces from Salon today. The first is by a fellow who was once a sincere fundamentalist Christian believer and discovered that Conservative Christianity in this country isn't actually a religion at all but is rather a purely political organization:
The political version of Christianity is first and foremost a media construct, like so much of our lives these days. It’s championed by Fox News, the 700 Club and a parade of has-beens and never weres, selling the “prosperity gospel” like so much snake oil. It’s a powerful and toxic stew that is as relevant to Jesus as professional wrestling or a discarded Playboy. Conservative Christianity in America is less a religion and more of a secret handshake, a group signifier of exclusion and moral superiority. Its swaggering and masculine cruelty is at once its greatest weakness and most attractive feature for working class white people who have seen their lifestyles and power eroded...
I could fill a dozen essays with examples of Bible verses that contradict the core ideas and statements of conservative candidates, politicians and talking heads, but it’s a waste of time. No matter what the politicians and pundits claim to believe, they are only using faith to exploit an angry and ignorant populace with a collective Bible literacy that wouldn’t fill a shot glass.
As the Republican base becomes both grayer and whiter, more homogenous and religious, fake Christianity will become an even more important wedge for conservatives to drive between people and their self-interest. We don’t care if a Republican politician throws grandma out of the nursing home or takes food stamps from poor people, so long as he weeps during Sunday service. The problem with America isn’t greed, out of control capitalism or the perversion of democracy with moneyed interests—it’s that we don’t go to church enough or we aren’t cruel enough to our gay nephew.
The Fox News/GOP version of Christianity has already betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, and would do so again, just to get the matching set of spinning rims. Even though it’s a 21st century fabrication, it still has power and danger. Liberal Christians and anyone who values a secular republic need to stop pretending it’s been defeated.
This one by Elias Isquith:
Recently, Salon spoke over the phone with [the Rev. Barry] Lynn [of Americans United for Separation of Church and State] about his work, the recent Supreme Court rulings on religious liberty and marriage equality, and why it’s a mistake to laugh off people like Santorum and Huckabee, regardless of how silly they may seem. Our conversation is below and has been edited for clarity and length.
In the book’s introduction, you say you’re optimistic about the country’s future regarding the separation of church and state. But you also say vigilance will be required to make sure the gains of the last two generations or so are not lost. What would it mean to “lose” in this sense?
One of the way you lose is if you’re not vigilant about the issues that are essentially over as a matter of judicial inquiry.
Prayer in schools, for example, is virtually on no one’s radar anymore — except we find case after case where individual schools or school districts are trying to evade what is essentially settled law. Similarly, creationism and its white-coated friend “intelligent design” have been to court over and over again, even though it’s pretty much a resolved legal question.
The other way we could lose big is if certain practices that are completely inconsistent with the separation of church and state become seen as routine or normative.
Funding ministries, for example, used to be unthinkable; even in the 1930s and ’40s, governments did not believe they should pay for religious schools or hunger programs held in churches. But today, seven years into the Obama administration — and with two full terms of George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” — we find it routine for organizations that are religious to believe they deserve government funding and that they deserve to have taxpayers pay for all of the things that they can’t convince their own members to support voluntarily.
Another that’s become routine is the endorsement of candidates from the pulpit. Even the late Jerry Falwell used to say, Do not talk about politics from the pulpit. Then, of course, Jerry got a better offer — to run the Moral Majority — and he became obsessed with the idea of gaining political power. But now, thanks to the inaction of the Obama administration, there are no complaints being followed up about deliberate and obvious and over-the-line endorsements and opposition to candidates by religious institutions.
The religious right is not going away. They are the foot soldiers of the conservative movement. And while they always feel persecuted and victimized by the secular left even as they make great headway in enforcing their agenda, gay marriage has them reeling. The actually lost one and they lost big. And all the operatives, wheeler-dealers and profit centers of the conservative movement are under tremendous pressure to deliver something to appease them.