June 20, 2006
by: jovial_cynic
I can't avoid mixing my faith and politics in conversations these days; it seems like more and more, you can't really choose talk about one with it talking about the other. Religion has become inexorably intertwined with politics, such that party lines have become divided by religious issues. Or maybe religious issues have become divided by party lines... I'm not really sure yet which is affecting which.

I recently read an exerpt from a not-yet-published book by Randall Balmer titled, "Thy Kingdom Come: An Evangelical's Lament" (with the subheading, "How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America"), and it rang true for me in a way I wish I could have penned myself.

Balmer asserts that the religious right is responsible for this grotesque union between christianity and the republican party, bringing into focus the problems of this union.

He writes:

And what has the religious right done with its political influence? Judging by the platform and the policies of the Republican Party - and I'm aware of no way to disentangle the agenda of the Republican Party from the goals of the religious right - the purpose of all this grasping for power looks something like this: an expansion of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the continued prosecution of a war in the Middle East that enraged our longtime allies and would not meet even the barest of just-war criteria, and a rejiggering of Social Security, the effect of which, most observers agree, would be to fray the social-safety net for the poorest among us. Public education is very much imperiled by Republican policies, to the evident satisfaction of the religious right, and it seeks to replace science curricula with theology, thereby transforming students into catechumens.

America's grossly disproportionate consumption of energy continues unabated, prompting demands for oil exploration in environmentally sensitive areas. The Bush administration has jettisoned U.S. participation in the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which called on Americans to make at least a token effort to combat global warming. Corporate interests are treated with the kind of reverence and deference once reserved for the deity.

Balmer also writes of the historical account of the rise of this current Christian/Republican culture, which is both fascinating and frightening. It paints a picture of a coming American theocracy, a mingling of the church, the republican party, and corporate America...

I don't like playing the end-of-the-world card, but I don't think that the prophecied global persecution of true believers is going to come from Muslims, the Chinese, aliens, the Roman Empire, or the internet. I think that an American theocracy would be a more likely candidate for the beast.
np category: religion


Lucaso said:
I think he's wrong. First of all I'm right-wing and conservative but not a Republican but I disagree with that contention. SOME of the republican ideologies have fit hand in glove with conservative Christianity, especially the overt moral issues. Arguing about tax cuts for the rich is old and tired. It's not accurate but it is a markedly Democrat party line mantra they repeat over and over (like the Iraq war is about oil). The war in Iraq is something that is both good and bad. I'm torn, on the one hand it appears to have been pre-emptive. However the top general for the Iraqi army during Saddam's reign confessed that Saddam did indeed have WMDs and that during the short month-long ultimatum period immediately precluding the first attack, Saddam smuggled the weapons in civillian vehicles to Syria. Aside from that we've captured many known terrorists and killed some of the worst which has effectively crippled much of the terrorist network. Obviously it's an unending battle but there is far more positive news coming out of Iraq than negative (not that you'd hear it on the mainstream TV). Social Security needs to be regiggered (or whatever the word was). Kerry's plan was to keep Soc Sec the same and try to work within the system (which hasn't worked the last 20 years). At least Bush has the guts to try something that might pull Soc Sec out of the mess it's in. Public education is very much imperiled by Liberals running the zoo. My wife would testify that about 90-95% of teachers are staunch liberal democrats. Washington schools suck as do many of the states in the US. But WA has been run by Democrats for over 20yrs. They've had their long term chance to make things work and it's clear that WA is a beautiful state that sucks to teach in, be educated in, not to mention start a business in. I think that conservative Christians seek to present an alternative viewpoint to evolution which has bankrupted education. It causes people to think that life is without true purpose because there is no God and therefore no point. We're all just randomness. The crime and moral statistics are staggering following the acceptance of evolutionary teaching in the public system.

The Kyoto Protocol was also rejected by every President preceeding G.W.Bush. It's been rejected by almost all countries as well. Singling out Bush and America is riddiculous. There's no data to prove fossil fuels contribute one iota to the porported global warming anyway. Read my post on Gore's Inconvenient Truth. Corporate interests are treated with too much leniency. I'd like to see them hardballed more.

In the end of it all, I'd agree that Jesus wouldn't have been a Republican. But neither would He have been a Democrat. It's the liberal mindset that is trying to justify things like abortion, euthanasia, eradication of anything remotely resembling Christianity in public domain (which is what our nation's history was founded on), and many other blatantly immoral things.

Political parties aren't the answer to anything which is why I'm not beholden to one or the other. I just support what I believe is right according to God.

June 21, 2006

jovial_cynic said:
You're juggling too many issues at once, making it difficult to respond.

I think part of the difficulty is some definitions. Liberalism seeks a society characterized by freedom of thought for individuals, limitations on power for government/religious/corporate-entities, a market economy with generally free private enterprise (generally, meaning as long as corporate-entities don't take advantage of the individuals), and a transparent system of government that guarantees rights to fringe/minority groups, on account of all men being equal. (taken largely from Wikipedia)

The party-line issues you've brought up (abortion, euthanasia, education, etc.) are not *liberal* issues. They are issues in which the liberal audience at large have attached themselves to on account of government control. The issue is not that a liberal wants an abortion, or thinks that abortions should be committed indiscriminately. The issue is that a liberal feels that a government entity should not be the one to decide whether or not such an act is moral or legal. If the US was suffering from overpopulation, and pushed an abortion-of-female-children agenda, the liberals would be up in arms about that, because the government should not have that kind of say -- liberalism dictates that an individual should have the right to make those kinds of decisions for themselves. It's about empowerment of the individual over the control of a faceless government, or religion, or corporation.

If the government decided to push a overt Hindi agenda, sending money towards "faith-based programs" that actually promoted Hinduism in schools and in counceling programs, a true liberal would respond negatively. Not because of Hinduism, but because of the influence the government is trying to have over individuals.

So the issue isn't isn't the political issues you brought up. The issue is the relationship between the government and the individual. If you attach modern christianity to the government, what you have is an entity gaining control of more than just political issues -- you have an entity gaining control of individual and personal issues. You have states like Alabama banning sex toys on account of religious control of the state government. Liberals opposing the ban aren't "supporting sex toys," they're attacking the idea that the government should have that kind of influence over the private lives of individuals.

June 21, 2006

Luke said:
Fair enough. But under control of the liberals the country has always seen growth of government which mandantes selective freedom. For instance lib cry about freedom of speech when so-called artwork of a cross in urine is displayed, but when Anne Coulter's book "Godless" came out the same liberal groups called for a Mass. book ban of it. ACLU fights for Muslim rights to have public prayers broadcast in cities with a large Islamic population (can't remember the city this has passed in off-hand) in the US but fight tooth and nail against Christian's meeting privately before school begins for a bible study, or church groups meeting on school property during weekends. I've only mentioned a FEW of the hypocricies of liberalism.

I don't think that we can live in a society that is sanitized from our faiths. The two are inseparable and I see liberalism as fighting to remove any semblance of our Christian heritage. Most liberals do not characterize themselves as religious much less christian. The general manager of the Associated Press said in an interview that journalists are seldom church-goers or religious in any context. And in fact have a difficulty in presenting balanced opinion in regards to Christianity since they frequently oppose those beliefs.

I didn't mean to respond too greatly but I was trying to address the authors assertions. The government is here for our security (safety) and economic stability. All other issues I can't see a being a primary function of government. If libs have their way we'll have government controlling healthcare, finance, racial success (in affirmative-action), repeal of rights (like the 2nd amendment) and on and on it goes.

I see the conservative movement as maintaining those rights, not inventing new rights by reading things into the constitution, and understanding that laws are moral mandates. Which ones we enforce is merely the struggle. We can argue about less government but it's only ever grown under liberal or conservative leadership.

June 21, 2006

jovial_cynic said:
You're kind of clumping all liberals together, when in fact, a liberal simply points out the areas of government interference where they feel the issue is personal *to them.* A feminist liberal might cry out against abortion laws because of their feelings on reproductive rights, whereas I personally feel that the life of a child (at the moment we define it as a child) is more important than the desire of a mother to eliminate the child, so I think that the government should step in *to some degree* and protect the liberty of the child. And I think my position and the position of the feminist are equally liberal... which is exactly why I say that liberalism has less to do with issues, and more to do with liberty.

In the cases of the ACLU, the union is fighting for the liberty of a particular individual who feels their liberties are being eliminated. I agree that many of the high-profile cases involving the attempt to remove hints of christianity from the public sector are a little overboard, but I also know that if there was an anti-Christian presence in my place of my employement such that the workplace became hostile to me, the ACLU -- being a liberal organization -- would fight on my behalf.

June 21, 2006

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