Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Unspoken Third Party

“I think every good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the ass.” - Barry Goldwater

Bill Pendergast writes regarding Michelle Bachman and the emergence of the Religious Right as a de-facto political organization.

    Over the past thirty years, the evangelical Christianity of the right has been organized into a discrete/particular political machine--and this fact has eluded the overwhelming majority of our professional political commentators. And the fact is that this machine (and its umbrella organization that directs it, the Council for National Policy) has successfully evaded regular media coverage of its operations. That has made this political machine incredibly powerful.

I think he's right in pointing out that it's been long, long overlooked as an effective third party. I think it's become much more dangerous since conservatism was left bereft of the wisdom of Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley Jr. But I note at the same time that this all does sound a little familiar.

H.L. Mencken writes (The Baltimore Evening Sun, July 13, 1925)

 The Book of Revelation has all the authority, in these theological uplands, of military orders in time of war. The people turn to it for light upon all their problems, spiritual and secular. If a text were found in it denouncing the Anti-Evolution law, then the Anti-Evolution law would become infamous overnight. But so far the exegetes who roar and snuffle in the town have found no such text. Instead they have found only blazing ratifications and reinforcements of Genesis. Darwin is the devil with seven tails and nine horns. Scopes, though he is disguised by flannel pantaloons and a Beta Theta Pi haircut, is the harlot of Babylon. Darrow is Beelzebub in person and Malone is the Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm.

I have hitherto hinted an Episcopalian down here in the coca-cola belt is regarded as an atheist. It sounds like one of the lies that journalists tell, but it is really an understatement of the facts. Even a Methodist, by Rhea county standards, is one a bit debauched by pride of intellect. It is the four Methodists on the jury who are expected to hold out for giving Scopes Christian burial after he is hanged. They all made it plain, when they were examined, that they were free-thinking and independent men, and not to be run amuck by the superstitions of the lowly. One actually confessed that he seldom read the Bible, though he hastened to add that he was familiar with its principles. The fellow had on a boiled shirt and a polka dot necktie. He sits somewhat apart. When Darrow withers to a cinder under the celestial blowpipe, this dubious Wesleyan, too, will lose a few hairs.
But others have been following these trends too. I've been a long time reader of Katherine Yurica,
 who has been warning about dominionist theology for years and years. I've written about Dominion (the idea that Christians should rule the nation, in order to conquer the world and bring forth a kingdom so that Jesus may return, the theology that is taught at the C-Street church
Heck, I've written about it a bit, most memorably and relevantly in The Spiders Behind Sara's Eyes. Now, that's not really a critique of their political goals as it is of their "will to power" from a viewpoint some would dismiss as "woo." Me, I think the word "evil" is a perfectly respectable word, and I take the utterly illliberal view that you will know it when you smell it.

Meanwhile, if there are people who's religious viewpoint makes it perfectly defensible to do anything whatsoever to gain power - lie, cheat, steal, foment war, manufacture consent, slander, steal elections - whatever it takes - then it's never a good idea to think of them as anything less dangerous than your own personal, direct, mortal enemy. Because... they are.

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