This is yet another eclectic round-up of interesting and significant blog posts from the Greater Blogosphere on the religious right and what to do about it. This week’s edition features posts from Orcinus, Jews on First!, and Political Spaghetti — as well as many of the usual suspects.
Almost everyone has opinions about the religious right, its major characters, and the latest outrageous statements of Pat Robertson.
I think it is important that we listen to people who know what they are talking about.
Street Prophets: Pastordan flags an important story by journalist John Sugg on the state of the Christian Right. This is a story that merits much discussion.
Among other things, Sugg writes:
It remains to be seen whether the forces arrayed against the religious right will amount to much. Will they cause a substantial number of evangelicals to consider issues other than the short litmus test positions that fundamentalists such as Sadie Fields and Jerry Falwell have told them are important? Will they energize people of faith from other religious traditions to become more engaged in the political process? And, most of all, will they fracture the coalition that has given the Republican Party control of the White House, Congress and state governments across the South?
Chuck Currie nails the hypocrisy of the latest “statement” from the Institute on Religion and Democracy whose mission is to dismember the National Council of Churches and the leading affiliated mainline Christian denominations.
The Republican Party-aligned Institute on Religion and Democracy sent out a press release today attacking Jim Winkler, general secretary of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society for a speech he gave in March of this year critical of President Bush IRD spokesman Mark Tooley (also a writer for conservative activist David Horowitz’s web site ) claims that Winkler confuses “partisan politics with the Gospel.” The irony is too great to ignore. Not only is Tooley using the very same words that I’ve used in public criticism of IRD but the IRD press release attacking Winker was sent out by – wait for it – 2004 Bush campaign worker John Lomperis. Lomperis routinely sends out attack pieces against progressive Christians who don’t conform to IRD’s own partisan political agenda without disclosing his own partisan political activities.
Religion Clause: Howard Friedman notes:
On Monday, Florida’s Christian Family Coalition held a pastor appreciation breakfast in Miami. The 4 Florida gubernatorial candidates were invited to speak. Two showed up, but one of the two clearly got a boost, according to the Associated Press. Rev. O’Neal Dozier, introducing candidate Charlie Crist, said that the Lord Jesus had come to him in a dream two years ago and told him that Crist would be Florida’s next governor. Dozier is not without political connections. Present Governor Jeb Bush appointed him to a board that nominates judges in south Florida.
Political Spaghetti: Matt writes (May 19th):
Today, the founder of the Legion of Christ, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, was disciplined by the Vatican for what Andrew Sullivan calls “a long and brutal history of sexual abuse and harassment of young seminarians in his care.”
Sullivan goes on to call on Richard John Neuhaus, a long-time defender of Father Maciel, and member of the Institute on Religion and Democracy’s (IRD) Board of Directors, to apologize for his “slander” against the journalists “who tried to unmask Maciel’s crimes.”
Although hardly comparable to Maciel, Archbishop Peter Akinola, who is also defended by the IRD, is nearly immune to attack because of the idolization he receives from within conservative Anglican circles and because the current threat of schism within the Anglican Communion makes the complaints of liberals too politically charged to be recognized — even when Akinola endorses legislation that would put gay and lesbian Nigerians in jail over a theological disagreement.
Sometimes the truth is before us, and we just can’t see.
Blog from the Capital: Don Byrd discussed a major article from the Christian Science Monitor on vouchers for private religious schools in Milwaukee:
Sure, there are feel-good stories of capable children moving from a failing situation to a thriving one. But, the bulk of the evidence says what we’ve always known about voucher programs; they send public money to religious institutions, encourage the creation of religious schools of dubious educational integrity, are unable to maintain quality control, and offer no measurable improvement in the only thing that matters: student achievement.
Wall of Separation: Joe Conn reports on how Bob McDonnell, a graduate of Pat Robertson’s Regent University Law School is now Attorney General of Virginia — and pushing an antigay marriage amendment to the state constitution:
Legal experts say it would not only ban same-sex marriage, but would also jeopardize many other legal provisions protecting all unmarried couples. It would even put at risk important protections against domestic violence.
Jews on First! Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak reviews Rabbi James Rudin’s book, The Baptizing of America: The Religious Right’s Plans for the Rest of Us
For Jews, a central proposition about America is: America is different. Jews took heart that, in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and each of its subsequent amendments — especially the first and the fourteenth — the United States was distinguishing itself from old Europe by establishing the separation of church and state. This created a special independent status for all religions, including Judaism. Now, though, Rabbi James Rudin warns in his new book, The Baptizing of America: The Religious Right’s Plans for the Rest of Us, all of that is about to end.
Rudin writes: “I am convinced that despite the large U.S. population, the religious diversity, and the Constitutional and judicial guarantees of church-state separation, the campaign to permanently transform America into a faith-based nation where one particular form of Christianity is legally dominant over all other religious communities constitutes a clear and present danger.”
Talk to Action: Mainstream Baptist discusses the relationship betweeen the white supremacist Christian Identity movement and theocratic Christian Reconstructionist movement.
Bruce Wilson has reposted the transcript (by Renee from Ohio), of the recent Air America program State of Belief, that featured three Talk to Action writers.
Moiv shows us the money behind the Christian Right in Texas — and what that money buys.
Frank Cocozzelli posted part three of his series on the Catholic Right, notably the real story of Opus Dei — made famous by The DaVinci Code.
Orcinus: Dave Neiwart has a long and timely discussion of the militant evangelical youth group, Battle Cry.
I first noticed BattleCry when they held their San Francisco rally a couple of months ago. After reading up on them and listening carefully to their rhetoric, I think Taylor’s labeling of them as “fascist” is not exactly correct. Rather, I think they’re a classic case of pseudo fascism:
Unlike the genuine article, it presents itself under a normative, rather than a revolutionary, guise; and rather than openly exulting in violence, it pays lip service to law and order. Moreover, even in the areas where it resembles real fascism, the similarities are often more familial than exact. It is, in essence, less virulent and less violent, and thus more likely to gain broad acceptance within a longtime stable democratic system like that of the United States.
The familial resemblance of fascism’s architecture is unmistakable, but it is not fully fleshed out. It is like a hologram, a skeletal outline, of fascism.
Fascism is not a single, readily identifiable principle but a political pathology, best understood (as in psychology) as a constellation of traits … Taken individually, many of these traits seem innocuous enough, even readily familiar, part of the traditional American political hurly-burly. A few of them are present throughout the political spectrum — but definitely not all of them.
It is only when taken together in sum does the constellation become clear. And when it comes together, it is fated to take on a life of its own.
The main component of fascism that is missing from Battle Cry is the real, beating heart of fascism: its eliminationist violence. There’s plenty of pretend violence, and certainly plenty of demonization of the “enemy,” all of which build toward the real thing. But there’s relatively little talk, yet, of “crushing” or eliminating or exterminating the enemy, which is really the signal characteristic of the Brownshirt.
When we see groups like this taking shape, we need to understand that they are a warning sign that something is coming that the politics of the past may be inadequate to contain. It means we need to reach deeper and find something that dispells the cloud of fear that conservative rule has shrouded over the nation.