The events of the past few weeks, from the Terri Schiavo drama, to the attack on the state and federal courts by Christian Rightists in Congress, underscores the power and signficance of the Christian Right in American politics.
I was present, undercover, at the first national strategy conference of Pat Robertson’s Christian Coaltion in 1989. I wrote about thier plans to become the most powerful force in American politics. I spoke all over the country, and was a source for other journalists seeking to understand the new movement. Fifteen plus years later, they have substantially acheived their objective. Not, as it turned out, the Christian Coalition alone, but the Christian Right political movement they came to epitomize.
Still, the Christian Right is a mystery to many. They find it difficult to understand, to discuss, and to attempt to counter it. Joe Bageant has written, “Until progressives come to understand what [fundamentalists] read, hear, are told and deeply believe, we cannot understand American politics, much less be effective.”
Fortunately, there is a conference coming right up that seeks to help us begin to understand.
Examining the Real Agenda of the Religious Far Right, April 29-30 in New York, is an opportunity to hear as remarkable and impressive a group of experts on the Religious Right as has been assembled anywhere in a long time. I am honored to be included along with Rev. Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, Rev. Joe Hough, president of Union Theological Seminary, authors Karen Amrstrong, Chip Berlet and Skipp Porteous, among many others.
Most of us get information and analysis about the Christian Right from rather narrow bands of sources and perspectives. This conference offers an engaging mix of journalists, academics, religious leaders and independent thinkers and activists who I think will broaden and deepen our knowledge and understanding of the Christian Right.
Examining the Real Agenda of the Religious Far Right
A Two-Day Conference
[printable conference flyer]
Friday April 29 7:30-10pm
Saturday April 30 10am-5:30pm
Co-sponsored by the NY Open Center and CUNY Graduate Center Public Programs
“Most Americans outside the Bible Belt have little idea of the beliefs held by millions of fundamentalist churchgoers,” according to the conference description. “We have an almost total lack of awareness of the rise of Dominionism and Christian Reconstructionism, forms of theology that advocate a biblical vision of God’s kingdom on earth. Some fundamentalists also foresee events such as The Rapture, the Times of Tribulation, Armageddon, and the Second Coming of Christ as we enter The End of Days…
The 2004 election tells us that socially conscious citizens need to awaken to the ambitions of this influential religious movement. What do fundamentalist theologies advocate regarding theocracy, abortion and homosexuality? What is the nature of the world order under God’s law that they anticipate? How do many fundamentalists interpret the role of Israel? How does this affect U.S. policy? Why are so many fundamentalists opposed to environmentalism and the UN? Why are millions in America drawn to this form of belief, and how can we come to understand them?”
I will write about the conference, and I hope others will as well. I will link to interesting reports I hear about.
[Crossposted from FrederickClarkson.com]