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The Religious Right and Contemporary American Politics

 
 
Ethel2
 
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 02:27 pm
Let's try this for a while. I hope it doesn't get so hot the thread is shut down, so I'm asking everyone to behave themselves.........no name calling please.

Let's post and discuss any instance that comes to our attention involving the religious right. I will also, as long as I have the time, post some statistics about the religious right along the way.

I suppose I will have to post a disclaimer before we start since many of you persist in hearing me say that I think all Republicans are religious fanatics. I know lots of non-fanatical Republicans. In my opinion, these people are guilty only of silence.

On this thread, I'm referring to religious fanatics, extremists with whom most of us do not agree and probably have a hard time abiding. The subject I propose to study here is the influence on contemporary American politics, especially in the last thirty years, of the fanatical, mostly evangelical Christian right.

For the purpose of ease, we should come up with a designation we can use to identify this group. It's hard to pin them down since, not all evangelicals are fanatics. Not all Christians are fanatics either and not all fanatics are Christians. They refer to themselves as "fundamentalist evangelical Christians." But even this designation doesn't entirely work because, some fundy evangelical Christians (only a rare few) are not fanatics either. So let's just refer to them for the purpose of discussion as the FFARR (the far far American religious right). But for short let's just call them the FAR.

For our first quotation:
Quote:
Fate of Sen. Specter may be decided soon


Speculation is running high in the press that Senator Arlen Specter will gain the chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee despite his militantly pro-abortion views. The now-ubiquitous Specter is telling every media outlet that will listen that he has no abortion litmus test and would not presume to warn President Bush on nominees. Yet his comments to the contrary a day after the recent election and his lengthy liberal record continue to reverberate in the halls of the U. S. Senate. Several senators have expressed concern about the prospect of a Specter chairmanship. The latest to do so is Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, a Judiciary Committee member who several years ago was denied a federal judgeship because of his conservative, pro-life views and the fierce opposition of Arlen Specter. Sessions indicated yesterday that the chairmanship of the committee should not automatically be decided by seniority. Other members of the Judiciary Committee have refused to give their support to Specter despite pressure to do so. Many senators will meet with Specter today to discuss his future and, depending on what he tells them, his fate will likely be determined soon. We will be profoundly disappointed if Specter wins this fight. Please keep up the pressure on the Senate. If you have not yet communicated with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee please contact them today at the link below.


At last, here is some rare good news from the Family Research Council (FRC).

It comes as a hard blow to them that they can't get their way all the time. But even if they have an occasional loss, they win more times than many people want to admit.

I know there are some of you who are itching to point out to me that this is proof that the FAR is not influential, however one instance of failure does not a non-influential force make. So maybe we can dispense with that much repeated discussion and go on to more productive work.

The following quotation is from Blatham. I think it's a good beginning point to set the up our discussion. Because it's clear that the FAR cannot win an election alone. They are a minority. It's true that they are being used as they are using the other forces driving the current political scene. But all together, we can see the tactic as one of division.

Quote:
The politics of division.

Since the last election, GOP strategists have been open regarding the need/wish to increase their percentage of the catholic and jewish votes. They failed with the jewish vote, but succeeded with the Catholic vote, as the analysis shows.

How did they achieve that? First off, we ought to assume that some percentage of the catholic gain was a consequence of the overall gain on terrorism/security issues which seems to have affected most electoral populations.

Secondly, organization, as the analysis shows.

But third, by forwarding a particular type of divisiveness though abortion and gay issues.

Now, let me tell you what I really think. Both of these issues, security and social, are driven by the promotion of fear. Fear of instability. Fear of change. Fear of the other or the alien.

And the solution to these fears is to trust in Authority - the government, the priest, the scripture, the literal. It is an easy and welcome relinquishment of an already shallow commitment to self-governance.
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Acquiunk
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 02:50 pm
To Blathams three fears, instability, change and the other, I would add a fourth, maginalization. Many on the right, particularly the religious right seem to have this inordinate sense of insignificance. That others with improper if not immoral values and goals are setting an agenda that they can do nothing about. I can not recall the name of the individual or the source, (it may have been the NYT) but one evangelical minister explained the election results by observing that evangelicals had been dragged by events to the very edge of the clift, looked over the edge and decided to fight back.
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dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 03:22 pm
perhaps a bit of history to start the ball rolling; In 1960 a Roman Catholic, John F. Kennedy, ran for president, and a number of evangelical Protestants were afraid that a Catholic in the White house would give the Vatican too much influence in the United States. In May, the Southern Baptist convention spoke in opposition to the election of a Roman Catholic to the office of the President of the United States. A few Protestants, including the advocate of positive thinking, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, formed an ad hoc group called the National Conference of Citizens for Religious Freedom, dedicated to opposing Kennedy's election. But unlike the election year of 1928, when Al Smith ran for president, in 1960 the issue of Catholicism evaporated. A greater issue was that of a missile gap, Kennedy claiming there was a missile gap.

Kennedy favored an aggressive policy against Communism. Nevertheless, he came under attack by some outspokenly anti-Communist Protestants. They considered Kennedy a liberal. Kennedy was, after all, Harvard educated and a Democrat. They spoke of moral decline and Armageddon and of Communism as foremost in leading the world toward ruin. The Communists, they believed, in addition to advocating slavery, were the world's foremost libertines and foremost in advocating the abandonment of God's laws.

Leading the charge against Kennedy, liberalism and Communism was Billy James Hargis, from Tulsa Oklahoma. Hargis had failed at study but had been ordained into the ministry after having been at the Ozark Bible College a year and a half, having left before receiving grades in his courses. He called himself Dr. Hargis but was later to say that his real education came from the hard knocks of life. He was another who believed himself to be gifted by intuition. His intuition led him to attack the National Education Association and the mass media. He accused mainline Protestant churches as having become infested with Communist sympathies. And he charged that the federal government was being directed by pro-Communists, by people who were parading under the name of liberal. The nation, he said, was in the hands of a group of Harvard radicals, hooked on "the insidious dope of socialism." Their hearts, claimed Hargis, "bled for the whole world but not for the United States." Since 1959 a case had been working its way through the courts concerning prayer in public schools. In 1962 the case reached the Supreme Court, and in June 1963 the justices of the Supreme Court ruled 6 to 1 that reverential Bible reading and prayer recitation had no place in the classrooms of public schools. Some Protestants were outraged. With Christianity not being openly expounded in their public schools, some Christians became more concerned that kids were being taught things that might subvert their brand of Christianity. Opposition to the teaching of evolution arose. The John Birch Society -- an anti-Communist and largely Protestant group -- joined those concerned with the schools, and in the early sixties their membership rose to more than one million. In the late fifties the leader of the John Birch Society, Robert Welch, had raised the question whether the President, Dwight Eisenhower, was part of the worldwide Communist conspiracy. In 1962, the John Birch Society announced that the Communist conspiracy controlled 50 to 60 percent of the United States (more than Lenin controlled Russia at the time of his revolution). And the John Birch Society claimed that Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement were instruments of subversion.
In the seventies, an estimated 24 million people tuned in weekly to listen to preachers like Billy Graham, Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson, Jim and Tammy Bakker, Jimmy Swaggert and Jerry Falwell.
What we seem to see in todays world is reaction and fear of change, capitalism is not answering to the basic needs of society and neither is the tradition sources such as "the church" To go back to the good old days, the agrarian days, the wholesome days when we all believed salvation on earth and in heaven would come by good clean living and hard work and, of course baptism, well, this option no longer seems available so the FAR reaches into their collective back-pockets and pull out and old boggieman-satan, the tried and true "elite/liberal" that is as strong a symbol of supression as can be handily found. Their (FAR) real enemy is slinking off with their dollars in hand as their hopeful eyes gaze heavenward.
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Baldimo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 03:27 pm
Are we also going to talk about the atheist left as well?
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 03:38 pm
Sure, but maybe in a different thread...
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 03:40 pm
Excellent post, dys.
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Baldimo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 03:40 pm
Well I don't know if that one would get much play here at A2K. It seems here the only bigoted responses are the ones that blast Christianity. You can't say anything bad about anything else except maybe someone who is a Jew. Everything else is off limits.
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blueveinedthrobber
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 03:43 pm
Baldimo wrote:
Well I don't know if that one would get much play here at A2K. It seems here the only bigoted responses are the ones that blast Christianity. You can't say anything bad about anything else except maybe someone who is a Jew. Everything else is off limits.


And that distasteful fact is exactly why you can choose to not participate Baldimo...that's that freedom you value so dearly in action......
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 03:43 pm
Why dont' you start one and see?

I don't think there is anything wrong with a reasonable discussion about the influence of the FAR on our politics and government. I haven't seen any bigoted responses.
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candidone1
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 04:00 pm
Baldimo wrote:
Are we also going to talk about the atheist left as well?


I think traditionally we have seen more harm done by the religious right than the athiest left.
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Ethel2
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 04:04 pm
Quote:
Are we also going to talk about the atheist left as well?


No we're not. Start another thread, Baldimo. This one is about the FAR.
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Ethel2
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 04:22 pm
That was grand, Dys! I'm eternally grateful.

Good ole Billy James. I sat through many a tirade by that man. He would not stop talking. Sometimes he'd go on for two hours when he was scheduled for one. He went on and on saying that Southern Methodist University was "the Red Bed of Communism" That phrase still rings in my head today. For a little girl, my age at the time was about 9 to 11 y.o., two hours of ranting and raving was too much to take. So I went crazy and became a liberal.

Anyway, that's an aside. Thanks, Dys for your beginning history lesson. It was very enlightening.
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Baldimo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 04:33 pm
Bigoted thread if I have ever seen one. I'm gone!
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blueveinedthrobber
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 04:34 pm
Baldimo wrote:
Bigoted thread if I have ever seen one. I'm gone!


buh bye....
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JustWonders
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 06:13 pm
Is it ok if we read along if we promise to be very quiet?
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BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 06:58 pm
How fascists coopted religious fundamentalism
The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public, but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.

Italian philosopher Giovanni Gentile, who wrote the entry in the Encyclopedia Italiana that said: "Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power."

As the 1983 American Heritage Dictionary noted, fascism is: "A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."

Thom Hartmann wrote: fascism/corporatism is "an attempt to create a 'modern' version of feudalism by merging the 'corporate' interests with those of the state." Feudalism, of course, is one of the most stable of the three historic tyrannies (kingdoms, theocracies, feudalism) that ruled nations prior to the rise of American republican democracy, and can be roughly defined as "rule by the rich."

Thus, the neo-feudal/fascistic rich get richer (and more powerful) on the backs of the poor and the middle class, an irony not lost on author Thomas Frank, who notes in his new book "What's The Matter With Kansas" that, "You can see the paradox first-hand on nearly any Main Street in middle America - 'going out of business' signs side by side with placards supporting George W. Bush."

The businesses "going out of business" are, in fascist administrations, usually those of locally owned small and medium- sized companies. Some in big business "are willing to jeopardize the structure of American liberty to gain some temporary advantage." "Monopolists who fear competition and who distrust democracy because it stands for equal opportunity would like to secure their position against small and energetic enterprise [companies]. In an effort to eliminate the possibility of any rival growing up, some monopolists would sacrifice democracy itself."

In Sinclair Lewis's 1935 novel "It Can't Happen Here," a conservative southern politician is helped to the presidency by a nationally syndicated radio talk show host. The politician - Buzz Windrip - runs his campaign on family values, the flag, and patriotism. Windrip and the talk show host portray advocates of traditional American democracy as anti-American.

When Windrip becomes President, he opens a Guantanamo-style detention center, and the viewpoint character of the book, Vermont newspaper editor Doremus Jessup, flees to Canada to avoid prosecution under new "patriotic" laws that make it illegal to criticize the President.

As Lewis noted in his novel, "the President, with something of his former good-humor [said]: 'There are two [political] parties, the Corporate and those who don't belong to any party at all, and so, to use a common phrase, are just out of luck!'

The idea of the Corporate or Corporative State, Secretary [of State] Sarason had more or less taken from Italy." And, President "Windrip's partisans called themselves the Corporatists, or, familiarly, the 'Corpos,' which nickname was generally used."

Lewis, the first American writer to win a Nobel Prize, was world famous by 1944, as was his book "It Can't Happen Here." And several well-known and powerful Americans, including Prescott Bush, had lost businesses in the early 1940s because of charges by Roosevelt that they were doing business with Hitler.

The fascist molders of the FAR's doctrines have been very clever. Their goals are political and economic power. They hid their methods by wrapping themselves in religious and patriotic costumes and rhetoric. They became expert at developing and exploiting "wedge" issues that establish them-against-us fears. Fear is their major weapon. Religion's long history is one of fear exploitation to gain power.

Long ago, they established their campaign bases in evangelical churches around the country. They financed their campaigns through tithing by their church members. They used radio and television to expand their movement and develop soft-sell inducements for fund raising. They accumulated enormous sums of money, some of which was used for their churches and their members. They formed church corporations and took advantage of the tax and reporting exemptions for religious institutions. Huge amounts of money went into the pockets of the movement's leaders. Enormous sums of money went to politicians to further their goals.

Their reward came during the 2004 presidential election. Now they are looking for their political and economic payoffs. They will attempt to disguise their demands as religious but, in fact, their goal for political and economic power has not changed. Only the spin has changed and gotten better. Fear is still the dominant tool.

Be afraid; be very afraid.

BBB
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 07:11 pm
Yes be afraid of the loonies that believe the US is heading towards becoming a fascist state. Be afraid of those that dears other peoples religions because their God may smite them. Be afraid of the people that want to revoke the rights of others in the name of freedom for themselves. Be afraid of those that through paranoia spread fear and hatred.
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blueveinedthrobber
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 07:14 pm
JustWonders wrote:
Is it ok if we read along if we promise to be very quiet?


absolutely.......you might learn something.....
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blueveinedthrobber
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 07:16 pm
McGentrix wrote:
Yes be afraid of the loonies that believe the US is heading towards becoming a fascist state. Be afraid of those that dears other peoples religions because their God may smite them. Be afraid of the people that want to revoke the rights of others in the name of freedom for themselves. Be afraid of those that through paranoia spread fear and hatred.


I thought you were a bush supporter?
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JustWonders
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 07:39 pm
One small question, if I'm permitted. Where would you say Harry Reid stands in relation to these FAR people? Is he on the left of them because of his stance on gun control, or would he be to the right of them because he is pro-LIFE?
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