Even though summer is here, this week there has been plenty of illuminating blogospheric reporting on and discussion of the religious right. So welcome to my more-or-less-weekly blog round-up on these matters.
The summer time is the right time, to learn about the religious right — and what to do about it. Well, all the time is the right time, but you know…
Mik Moore has video:
Steven Colbert [of Comedy Central] interviewed a self-righteous Congressman who wants to hang the ten commandments, well, everywhere, and asks him the question you’re dying to ask: “What are the ten commandments?” Perhaps the good Congressman should start by hanging the ten commandments in his home first.
Blog from the Capital
Don Byrd updates the trouble with federal funding of “faith-based” social services.
The Raw Story
John Byrne reports:
On a PBS program aired this weekend and taped in April, new Bush domestic policy adviser Karl Zinsmeister told the host that he would personally support doctors being jailed for performing abortions…
Zinsmeister, President George W. Bush’s newly appointed chief Domestic Policy Advisor, gave the interview prior to his White House appointment. Zinsmeister was appointed May 24.
Asked if he would “feel comfortable putting a doctor in jail for performing a procedure that a woman wants?” Zinsmeister said, “sure,” while noting that he supported some limitations in cases of rape or incest.
Father Jake Stops the World
Father Jake takes note that the editors of The Washington Times have apparently been reading Episcopal blogs in the run-up to the denomination’c convention in Columbus. Ohio. The paper writes: “The battle of the blogs is in full swing at the Episcopal General Convention meeting in Columbus, Ohio…”It’s a whole different game now,” said a Canadian clergyman operating one of the sites. ‘It’s ‘The people’s revolution hits the ground’… ”
The media is turning to the blogs for news. We’re part of “the people’s revolution.” Imagine that. This is becoming fun.
Dispatches from the Culture Wars
Ed Brayton reports on an interesting article by Stephen Carter in Christianity Today. Brayton notes that Carter exposes the bogus demonization of the ACLU which has a long record of defending religious freedom of, among others, Christians.
But he has a larger purpose in mind, and I think it’s an important one. He wants to make a statement about the tendency of people on both sides to demonize their opponents. Decide that your opponents are purely evil rather than mistaken … you’ll either fall for any criticism anyone makes of your enemy, no matter how unsupported it is by the evidence, or you’ll reach the point where you don’t really care whether a criticism is accurate as long as it makes Them look bad.
Lambert discusses E.J.Dionne’s report on the election of the new, less strident president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and wonders whether evangelicals are “mellowing.”
Dionne does make an interesting point lower down in the blogosphere. Real Christians–not Christianists–are crashing the gate at the SBC using blogs:
Over the past several years, an active network of Baptist bloggers has opened up discussion in the convention and given reformers and moderates avenues around what [Robert] Parham [of the Baptist Center for Ethics] called “the Baptist establishment papers” and other means of communication controlled by the convention’s leadership. Thus may some of our oldest and most traditional institutions be transformed by new technologies.
Talk to Action
Mainstream Baptist isn’t so sure that the SBC is mellowing. He thinks the hard right got taken by surprise — and that won’t happen again. He also reports that while the SBC voted not to support an exodus from the public schools — they voted instead to try to take over school boards.
Michelle Goldberg inspires an important discussion about how to conduct ourselves on conservative Christian talk radio.
Jonathan Hutson’s latest post in his series on the the video game Left Behind: Eternal Forces opens this way:
The Christian supremacist video game has drawn the wrath of conservative Christian attorney Jack Thompson. He has denounced and cut ties with Tyndale House, publisher of the Left Behind novels that inspired the video game, and he is now threatening a lawsuit over its licensing of the game. Talk to Action has obtained a letter from Mr. Thompson in which he has urged Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, Ph.D., to join him in repudiating Tyndale House.
Mr. Thompson has charged that in licensing the game, Tyndale House, publisher of his own book against video game violence as well as the Living Word Bible and several of Mr. Dobson’s titles on child-rearing, “has now become one of the mental molesters of minors for money.”
Chip Berlet thinks that those who are concerned about the new vid game, Left Behind: Eternal Forces should also take a closer look at the ugly stuff in Tim LaHaye’s novels on which the game is based:
The real scandal involving the violent video game Left Behind: Eternal Forces is that the demonization of enemies, bloodthirsty dualism, and murderous rampages on the computer screen are accurate reflections of the apocalyptic theology espoused by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins in their Left Behind series of novels which have sold more than 70 million copies.
Few in the mainstream media have dared confront the fact that the best-selling Left Behind series is a primer valorizing bigotry, paranoia, and guerilla warfare against those who promote tolerance, pluralism, and global cooperation. Almost four years ago, however, author Gershom Gorenberg, blasted the Left Behind series for its open “contempt for Judaism,” making a “fanatic killer” a hero, and general rejection of tolerance and democratic civil society.
Moiv reports that a draconian Republican antiabortion bill in Ohio enjoys the enthusiastic support of a Hero of the Faith of the Army of God — an alumni assocation of domestic terrorists who revere their captured and executed martyrs — and cheer-on the next generation.
And I appeal to the blogosphere for assistance in updating my book, Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy.
In the book I wrote: “The struggle between democracy and theocracy, which seemed to have been settled when the U.S. Constitution was ratified, is far from over. As Christian Right theorist Gary North writes, “For the first time in over 300 years, a growing number of Christians are starting to view themselves as an army on the move. This army will grow.” Taking this metaphor a step farther, North declared that, “We are self-consciously firing the first shot.”
As written, the book remains surprisingly current in describing trends that were harder for many of us to see ten years ago, but are far more evident now. I want to underscore that even if the GOP loses both houses of Congress in this election, the Christian Right is going to remain a powerful force in American politics and culture. Like any other movement, they will have their ups and downs, and ebbs and flows. But they have built some important organizations — religious denominations; think tanks; universities and law schools, and more — that did not exist a generation ago. There are quite a range of ideologies, methods, personalities and so on. And just as in any other broadly based movement, they are not without weaknesses and factions, in addition to their many strengths. These are things worth knowing.