It seems the Republican Party has been infiltrated by the Religious Right. Mostly under the radar and sometimes not-so-silently, the sledgehammer assaults to the wall between the separation of church and state relentlessly continue. It’s time to take notice if you enjoy having First Amendment rights.
Here’s a question to ponder while reading: Why do decent, moderate Christians put up with self-serving politicians and their religious theatrics?
Mike Lofgren, a self-proclaimed GOP operative who spent three decades in Washington, recently decided to leave the party. Fed up, Lofgren said that “it should be evident to clear-eyed observers that the Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult.”
This alarming transformation has been in the works for over 30 years. Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, the Christian Right became a formidable political power through the efforts of Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, Robert Grant’s Christian Voice, Ed McAteer’s Religious Roundtable Council, James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, and Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network. Robertson even ran for the US Presidency in 1988.
The politicized fundamentalism of the Religious Right was summed up perfectly by John Kenneth Galbraith when he said that “the modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”
The sad irony here is that groups who hysterically preach “family values” and “patriotism” and “personal responsibility” mock the values of tolerance and pluralism that made this nation strong, free, and welcoming.
The anemic anti-tax, anti-poor, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-government, anti-freedom Christianity of the Religious Right often shamefully turns a blind-eye to suffering and openly mocks the blood of the Carpenter which, they claim, was shed for them, the true believers.
But for some in the GOP, it would seem that an “authorized by God” stamp of approval is the hottest commodity these days. And a little competition in the free market is great when God is up for grabs.
Take for example Texas Governor Rick Perry’s Christian prayer rally in August called “The Response”, and the pervasive religious movement connected to it. Several Christian preachers from the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) helped Perry organize this prayer rally which excluded non-Christians from participation, some of whom are considered extreme members of the Religious Right.
NAR preachers liken themselves to modern-day apostles and prophets. Their mission is control of the “seven mountains” of society: government, religion, arts and entertainment, media, family, business, and education. Those with ideological and network ties to NAR are estimated at 400 million followers.
The NAR is part of a larger movement known as Dominionism. It is reported that Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and Newt Gingrich have been associated with religious leaders or churches with dominionist views.
This is about winning votes, plain and simple. Organizers of the public prayer rally also promote “Champion The Vote”, which is the effort of the United in Purpose organization to get “5 million unregistered conservative Christians to register and vote according to the Biblical worldview in 2012.”
Be aware that on November 12th, United in Purpose will present One Nation Under God, a three hour event “featuring top American thinkers and political leaders who will bring the truth about God and America to people gathered in homes and churches across the nation.” And you guessed correctly, Governor Rick Perry is scheduled to be a featured speaker. As well as David Barton, a self-styled historian who has been criticized by many credible historians and religious groups for what they perceive as his unlettered scholarship.
Extra puzzling is when three candidates imply that God has chosen them to be the next president. Reverend Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State said recently that “Three presidential candidates claim God has chosen them to win. … At least two are wrong, and I’m guessing three are.”
Rev. Lynn was also an organizer for the “Family, Faith & Freedom Celebration,” an inclusive event in response to Perry’s prayer rally. There are pockets of peaceful action and those who courageously speak up for civil liberties, but more are desperately needed.
The blazing question here is this:
Again, why are decent, moderate Christians putting up with these self-serving political theatrics? Where is the large-scale outrage of Christians who refuse to use God as their personal marketing tool? Where are the truly moral voices of Christians who choose to use the Sermon on the Mount, as well as their own moral intuition, as their guiding light?
Where are the voices of Christians who question the ‘gospel of Ayn Rand’ and that famous rational self-interest that is gleefully shouted from the political pulpit, and in direct opposition to the teachings of Jesus?
Does silence mean consent?
It is an ominous state of affairs when, in the name and supposed authority of God, those who seek only their own interest and the interest of their corporate sponsors occupy seats in the government.
When oppressive legislation is drafted with the stamp and seal of God, who will remain to be the voice of the oppressed?