Saturday :: Dec 18, 2004

I, Christian? Right!

by pessimist

We've discussed religion and the role it plays in the Republican Party on this blog before. But until now, the Religious Right appeared to be monolithic, marching in unison toward the Apocalypse they hoped to cause, which would force Jesus off his almost-too-late-by-half derriere [That's French for ass - live with it] and get the Second Coming going before GOP dominance ends. Now, there are wide cracks beginning to show up in this monolith:

I Am A Conservative Christian - And The Religious Right Scares Me, Too
by Chuck Baldwin

No one can honestly question my commitment to pro-life, pro-family, conservative causes. That being said, the Religious Right, as it now exists, scares me.

For one reason, on the whole, the Religious Right has obviously and patently become little more than a propaganda machine for the Republican Party in general and for President G.W. Bush in particular. This is in spite of the fact that both Bush and the Republican Party in Washington, D.C., have routinely ignored and even trampled the very principles which the Religious Right claims to represent.

Therefore, no longer does the Religious Right represent conservative, Christian values. Instead, they represent their own self-serving interests at the expense of those values.

It also appears painfully obvious to me that in order to sit at the king's table, the Religious Right is willing to compromise any principle, no matter how sacred. As such, it has become a hollow movement. Sadly, the Religious Right is now a movement without a cause, except the cause of advancing the Republican Party.

Beyond that, the Religious Right is actively assisting those who would destroy our freedoms. On the whole, the Religious Right comports with those within the Bush administration and within the Republican Party who, in the name of "fighting terrorism," are actually terrorizing constitutional protections of our liberties.

The Religious Right offered virtually no resistance to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the passage of the Patriot Act, or the recently created position of National Intelligence Director. Neither did the Religious Right offer even a whimper of protest as President Bush and Republicans in Congress created a first-ever national ID card in the new intelligence bill, which eerily has more in common with early Twentieth Century German and Russian intelligence institutions than anything envisioned by America's Founding Fathers.

Another disconcerting feature of today's Religious Right is its attempt to Christianize political entities which it supports and to demonize political entities which it opposes.

This trend is especially scary.

When people are told that they are voting "Christian" by voting for Republican Party candidates, it is being intimated that they are voting non-Christian by voting for any other candidate.

This is not only silly on its face, it is downright dangerous!

I don't remember anyone saying people voted "Christian" when they elected the outspoken Christian candidate, Jimmy Carter, President. Yet, Carter, in his personal life, demonstrated as much, if not more, Christianity than does George W. Bush. If you recall, Carter even taught Sunday School in a Southern Baptist Church while President.

And: Bill Clinton talked about Jesus more often than Mr Bush and has spoken in more churches than Mr Bush has had rubber-chicken dinners.

However, in spite of the fact that President Bush and the Republican Party in Washington, D.C., have repeatedly supported copious unchristian (not to mention unconstitutional) programs and policies, Christians act as if Bush and his fellow Republicans have ushered in the Millennial Kingdom.

More than that, the Religious Right appears to believe that G.W. Bush is the anointed vicar of Christ. But instead of wearing the garb of a religious leader, he wears the shroud of a politico and a military commander-in-chief.

As such, in the minds of the Religious Right, Bush's war in Iraq is a holy crusade. America is fast taking on the shape of the old Holy Roman Empire and President Bush is quickly morphing into a modern day Caesar.

The willingness of the Religious Right to give President Bush king-like subservience is easily seen in the way they demonize anyone who dares to oppose him.

This is very unnerving.

Are we heading for a modern day religious inquisition, this one led not by the Catholic Church but by the Religious Right? Are we witnessing the type of marriage between Church and State that America's founders originally feared?

I used to believe that liberals were paranoid for being fearful of conservative Christians gaining political power. Now, I share their trepidation.

Of course, the sad truth is, neither George W. Bush nor the Republican Party in Washington, D.C. represents genuine Christian or even conservative principles.

If they did, they would take their oaths to the Constitution seriously and then neither liberals nor conservatives would have anything to fear, for the U.S. Constitution protects the rights and freedoms of all men.

Unfortunately, when the seed of Bush's unconstitutional policies come to fruition, it will produce large scale fallout economically, socially, and politically. And sadder still will be that, instead of blaming Bush's infidelity to constitutional government and conservative principles, people will blame Christianity and conservatism itself.

The result of this miscalculation will doubtless be a massive tide of support for more and greater unconstitutional government, but only under a different name.

Here's an example of such unconstitutional government and the actions it takes:

Nearly Half in U.S. Say Restrict Muslims

Nearly half of all Americans believe the U.S. government should restrict the civil liberties of Muslim Americans, according to a nationwide poll.

Republicans and people who described themselves as highly religious were more apt to support curtailing Muslims' civil liberties than Democrats or people who are less religious.

Researchers also found that respondents who paid more attention to television news were more likely to fear terrorist attacks and support limiting the rights of Muslim Americans.

Where are all those conservatives who warn about that slippery slope? If we restrict the rights of Muslims in America, will we also restrict the rights of Blacks? Asians? Native Americans? Mexicans? The French? Germans? Italians? Liberals? Democrats? College professors? Gun Owners?

None of these are so far fetched. Every group I have cited above has had rights restricted at some point in our history. They were usually under assault by groups whose passions were inflamed by some method. But this latest group is activated in ways researchers didn't anticipate:

While researchers said they were not surprised by the overall level of support for curtailing civil liberties, they were startled by the correlation with religion and exposure to television news. "We need to explore why these two very important channels of discourse may nurture fear rather than understanding," Shanahan said.

That shouldn't take too much research. A couple of days watching FAUX 'News' and maybe CNN should begin to reveal sufficient data to draw certain conclusions. They might also want to listen to a former Bu$hCo insider - Christie Whitman:

Whitman Warns Against Catering to Right

Christie Whitman, the former New Jersey governor and Bush environmental official, says in an upcoming book that Republican moderates must speak up or the party could move so far to the right that it will lose its influence and strength.

Aren't you just a tad tardy, Christie? After all - you served these very people for about two years at the EPA, and we here in the Inland Empire would like to thank you for all of the polluted air we now get to breathe, thanks to the new business-friendly environmental rules you once enforced as head of the EPA. But I digress.

The main focus of Whitman's book It's My Party Too: The Battle for the Heart of the GOP and the Future of America, is on her desire for moderate Republicans to regain control of the party.

The more conservative wing of the party has claimed much credit for Bush's re-election. "A clear and present danger Republicans face today is that the party will now move so far to the right that it ends up alienating centrist voters and marginalizing itself," Whitman writes in the book, obtained Friday by The Associated Press. The book is to be released by The Penguin Press in late January.

Christie, I'm doubting that you've been paying much attention since you left the New Jersey Governorship. You are only stting yourself up for attacks by the very people you attempt to warn about. Have you missed the big flap over Tom DeLay's little ethics coup in the House recently? Have you not seen the news about Bernie Kerik, the choice for Homeland Security head promoted by your brother 'moderate' who's been very busy bussing The First Butt ever since?

Sure - this woudln't have made it to you before the press date, but as an insider, should I doubt that you weren't hearing the scuttlebutt about the changes pending with the re(s)election? If not, you were more out of the loop than I ever gave you credit for. But then, maybe you still aren't too with it, are you?

The role of moderates is to bring the party back to its center, she says. Whitman says fellow moderates, such as former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, were instrumental in Bush's re-election win, often campaigning with him in battleground states.

Neither one managed to deliver their home states, so just how good were they for the ticket? In the Red States, Zell Miller could have promoted George W. Bu$h and gotten credit for the victory.

But I do have to cut you a bit of slack. this statement is true, regardless of one's political alignment:

"It is time for Republican moderates to assert forcefully and plainly that this is our party, too, that we not only have a place but a voice, and not just a voice but a vision that is true to the historic principles of our party and our nation, not one tied to an extremist agenda," she says.

Such a statement goes for any party, not just the Republicans. If the Whigs were still around, it would apply to them. It should have applied to the Reform Party, to the Democrats, to the Greens, to the Libertarians, etc.

But by putting this into print, you will never eat a Republican lunch again. Remember John Diulio?

The recant countdown sequence has been initiated.

But at least you didn't take this action:

Politics, passion & property

A lightning rod of the controversy is a sign featuring a grinning image of George W. Bush offering the thumbs-up with the words “Dang, it feels good to be a gangsterer!” printed above. The current billboard on the side of a large brick building at 922 Massachusetts Ave. is clearly visible from the I-65/I-70 freeway interchange.

Donna Yarema, owner of Teapots N Treasures, on the first floor of the building, said that the political signs have come at a great cost to her business and personal safety. Yarema said she was most upset at the lack of response from the building’s owner, Tom Battista, when she told him the signs were hurting her business.

Battista said the billboards are part of a billboard art group his daughter helped form called Your Art Here, and that he donated space on two of his Massachusetts Avenue properties as platforms for their art. Your Art Here’s billboards have showcased a variety of different themes in the last few years, including “Flatland: Billboards at the Crossroads of America” and the “Billboard Generation” series of work by young artists. The politically-themed billboards began running in September as part of the “Patriotic Art Series.”

Owen Mundy, co-founder of Your Art Here, said that they were contacted by the Federal Election Commission on Nov. 1 and informed that the FEC had received a complaint that they might have engaged in illegal electioneering. The group sent a response Nov. 14, and has heard nothing back yet.

“We basically said that since we’re a non-profit organization we’re not concerned with trying to sway votes, and on top of that these are art pieces,” Mundy said. “This art series was funded by private individuals. We weren’t out there trying to change people’s minds. We were just exercising our free speech.”

Mundy said that Your Art Here, which is organized as a non-profit organization in the state of Indiana in order to protect themselves on a legal level, has received a largely positive set of responses. He said that they are aware of only a single complaint to the FEC. “Essentially what it boils down to is that someone tried to take away our freedom of speech because he didn’t like what we were saying,” Mundy said.

Complaints from other area residents — not Yarema — brought the matter to the attention of the city and eventually the Federal Election Commission.

“When the city called me I felt like I was going to the principal’s office in high school,” Battista said. “There were these three people from code enforcement who were sitting there trying to tell me what art was. They found out that I had permits for these, so they’re totally permissible and everything. When they threatened jail to me it was just kind of fun. I could only think of ‘Alice’s Restaurant,’ that I would go to jail for these art pieces on the side of a building.”

Battista said that the “Gangsterer” sign — a take on the Geto Boys rap song “Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta” — stayed up longer after the election because it was taller and harder to move, but that it will be replaced soon.

In the meantime, Yarema said it’s taught her an important lesson about the politics of passion. “You wouldn’t think this would be such a big deal and incite such a reaction in people, but we’ve learned the hard way that’s not the case,” Yarema said.

Nobody expects the Passion of the Reich!

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pessimist :: 6:43 PM :: Comments (13) :: Digg It!