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Update [2004-11-8 0:36:59 by rghojai]: The original and the person's site can be found here

No, it ain't me, though I have spent some time around these folks and feel like this woman has a whole lot to say. This is long, but worth reading. I don't know if this is appropriate or not, but I have done a c&p from her blog....

I get very antsy when I see this entire election outcome being blamed on radical conservatism or on ignorance or stupidity.

Because really when people talk about "radical" conservativism, what they really mean is Southern conservativism, specifically the kind that originated in the Southern Baptist church in the late 70's/early 80's.  And that makes me unhappy.  

I am an ex-Southern conservative.  You can say, 'oh, Aja, you're nothing like them,' but I am.  I see my Southern Baptist upbringing in myself in countless ways every day.  All the things that people claim to love about me are things that spring directly from a very strong Christian, faith-based childhood.  

I may not have read the bible every day but I know my sunday school stories, and I never ever doubted as a child that, yes, Jesus loved me.  I seek forgiveness everywhere, forgive whenever I can, and still struggle with not having forgiveness from certain people for things I have done, because forgiveness is a cornerstone of my background--as are a really detrimental leaning towards submissiveness, a penchant for fried chicken, and a really annoying reflex tendency to see bad things and think 'ack, end of the world!'    

I've already said all I can ever say about Southern culture and Southern life here and here.  But there seems to be a need to say more about Southern conservativism and why it has spread through the country the way it has.

It starts with the fact that we as conservative Christians are taught to see America as our land.  I mean, you guys in Europe and the loonies on the East and West Coasts think the Founding Fathers died to bring us religious freedom.  

They so did not.  They died to give new Christianity a place where it could flourish.  And if you think that Catholicism was flourishing perfectly fine before that, thank you, then you don't understand conservative Christianity.  See, I grew up being taught that Catholicism was almost-sort-of-not-quite-but-we-won't-talk-about-it cult.  Really.  

Lots of Southern Baptists believe Catholicism is a cult, despite the fact that it is the largest practiced religion in the world.  If you understand that we can believe that about Catholicism then maybe you can understand that American Conservative Christian values don't necessarily fit into any kind of historical, cultural, or anthropological perspective. They never really have.  

Conservative Christians are taught all our lives that we are constantly engaged in spiritual warfare.  When I was in 6th grade I read a book called This Present Darkness by novelist Frank Peretti, who really kicked off the Christian fantasy genre and preceded those awful Left Behind guys by like 10 years.  I read this book and went around fancying that I saw angels around me, fighting demons everywhere, a great heavenly host doing battle with unseen forces of darkness.  

And I can't really explain to anybody who isn't familiar with conservative Christianity, but we are taught that this is real.  Demons? Real. Angelic warfare? Real.  That passage in Ephesians about putting on the full armor of God?  We take that seriously.  We take everything Paul said seriously, actually. Way, way, way too seriously, but the reason we take it so seriously is because Paul has this way of delineating Christianity as a practice so that you can live it out very easily.  He basically teaches Christians that they are to live every day as though they are battling persecution.  Paul is the classic propagator of the Us/Them mentality.  Them is the World.  The World is evil and sinful and wants to persecute Us.  It is Our job as Conservative Christians to don our armor and wage war against the World.  

When you grow up being raised in this environment, whether you give it any credence or not, what starts to happen is that you see things very easily in terms of whether they fit into the "Us" category or the "World" category.  Since, um, most things fall into the World category, it gets very easy to compartmentalize in your head, and to, for example, start thinking, "the media is a tool of Satan, I shouldn't believe what people are telling me."  And even if you don't think "TOOL OF SATAN!!!!" every time you hear the media, if you've heard other people around you and in your church say it enough, even subconsciously you start doubting the media.  

How this plays out is that you begin to filter your environment as a conservative christian based on what you can easily categorize.  Once you have identified, say, George Bush, as one of Us, it's much easier to disregard negative news about him because the Media is one of Them, and the two things can be easily canceled out in your mind.  

In the South, the tendency to categorize things, combined with the fact that we are taught to expect persecution as a Christian people, has led us to segregate, commit acts of racism and intolerance, and to be very, very suspicious of anyone from the North or the West, because all of you are part of the World.  

Conservative beliefs do not spread because of ignorance.  You must understand this.  Conservative beliefs spread because of a need in the conservative church to emphasize that if you are not fighting, you are losing the battle for spiritual warfare.  And until you have been out there battling the forces of evil you don't really understand how every day events can be magnified to fit into a larger picture of a tapestry of events being orchestrated by Jesus to lead us on to a higher victory.

I did this, for a year. I joined Campus Crusade in college.  I surrounede myself with Christians who were On Fire for Christ.  I shoved down all my doubts about the church and tried to really live the life of a true Christian, the life I had been taught was the life I should be living, all throughout my childhood.  I battled a cult and kept several people from joining it who were close to me, and it was frightening and exhilarating and scary and really terrifying at moments, because fuck if true cult members aren't really scary.  I could use bible verses to argue scripture, toss out verse numbers like bullets.  I was, in Christian-speak, a true warrior for Christ.

That's what they call us, you know.  Warriors for Christ.

The Southern Baptist church is the largest demonination of any religion in America.  We're bigger than the Catholics now.  And the single defining characteristic of the Southern Baptist church for the last 25 years has been that it has been fighting valiantly to wage the spiritual warfare on a political level.  Frank Peretti's sequel, Piercing the Darkness, is about takin the spiritual battle from a personal level to a political level.  If you really want to get into the mind of a conservative christian than you should really read those two books because you really need to understand: this is how we think.

I think it's wrong to call Bush a radical.  That New Conservative magazine or whatever it's called should know better.  Bush has never claimed to be a traditional conservative.  He doesn't care about conservative economics, conservative spending and conservative government.  He cares about conservative christian spiritual warfare.

If I were still a conservative Christian I can tell you exactly how this election would look to me right now.  Kerry is an immoral man of the World, and I thank God that Bush, a man of clear moral integrity who is out to defeat Satan regardless of the forces that stand in his way, has been blessed with victory.  He didn't win the election--God chose him as the leader of this nation.

That is how I would view this election.  And that is not a stance that would make me ignorant, stupid, bigoted, or homophobic.  Because I read just as many newspapers then as now.  I was valedictorian of my high school.  I was open-minded and tolerant.  And I was always pro-gay rights from the time I made my first gay friend at age 9.  

I was trying to be the best Christian I could be.  And I cast everything in a structured world, where everything was a question of what I was doing in my walk with Christ, and whether I was being persecuted.

In fact, I just remembered: a key mantra of Campus Crusade was this: If you're not being persecuted for your Christianity, then you're doing something wrong.

I said in my previous post that it was reprehensible to me that someone could vote for Bush knowing that he went to war on a lie.  And yet, I also understand that by every bit of education and background I have ever had, I by rights ought to be voting for Bush because as far as Aja the Conservative is concerned, he didn't lie, he merely told the truth from a spiritual perspective, from the perspective of a man committed to God's work, which involves bringing freedom to the rest of the world and stamping out the influence of Satan.

That is not an easy or a simplistic rationale.  

It took me, from the moment I began questioning the principles of the Southern Baptist church to the moment I absolutely decided to leave the church forever, 8 years.  8 years of constant questioning during which I was the conservative who was living by all those principles.  And the issue that both initially and ultimately made me leave was the same: gay rights.  

Had I not felt that the Southern Baptist church was wrong on gay rights initially, I would not have really questioned anything about my belief system or my values.  And as long as eight years is to me from the standpoint of my personal journey, I know without a doubt that there are millions of Americans who struggle on one particular issue where they disagree with their church, but continue to frame their lives in that outlook of spiritual warfare and constant battling against persecution.

When you blame the voters who chose Bush, you are completely mistaking what is happening in our country today.  Bush did not win the election based on ignorance and stupidity.  He won the election based on a belief system that has been determinedly advancing across the country because Christians believe it is their spiritual duty to bring people to Christ.  And you cannot be successfully brought to Christ until you also commit to serving Christ.  You cannot successfully serve Christ unless you do his will.  And it is Christ's will that Bush win re-election.  Do you see the pattern at work here???

You guys, you democrats and liberals, have a tendency to blame the people rather than the ideologies they represent.  It is my belief that people's lives are shaped by ideologies.  But people's lives are changed by other people.  My life was shaped by the ideology of the Southern Baptist church.  My life was changed when I met Jerry Boles, who died of AIDS in 1994.  My life was changed when my best friend came out to me 5 years later.  

I grew up in a place and in an environment that makes it impossible for me to accept the idea that Bush voters are all stupid and ignorant and simply uneducated about the facts.

Originally posted to rghojai on Sat Nov 06, 2004 at 11:04 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Recommended. (none)
      This was my experience as well.  I was raised in Texas, I went to a Soutern Baptist High School, and we were taught to think exactly what he's talking about every single day.  If you want to understand that mentality, he's spot on.

    coup d'etat n : a sudden and decisive change of government illegally or by force

    by greylantern on Sat Nov 06, 2004 at 11:10:58 PM PST

    •  But if he's spot on, (3.83)
      then this war was manufactured to ensure that that huge constituency would never abandon any president or administration behind a war against either muslims or foreign "terrorists."  It was manufactured as a means of ensuring a win in this election.  

      I don't think I'm being cynical to conclude this after reading this diary.  It's a thoughtful, wonderful diary, and very informative, and yet I come away from it with chills and a sense of bleakness.  Not because I think that the southern religious conservatives are dumb or ignorant or any of that-- obviously, they are as complex and human as anyone else.  But rather because the worldview that has been explained here suggests that the majority of them will never vote for any president who does not manufacture for them an image of America vs. the world, or America the good vs. forces of evil.

      •  My reaction is the same (3.33)
        It's hopeless.  Secession is the only way this will ever be resolved.

        "We share half our genes with the banana. This is a fact more evident in some of my acquaintances than others." - Robert Mays

        by randym77 on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 05:58:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  My first thoughts as well. (4.00)
          While I read this I was imagining a world where Lincoln allowed the south to secede. I was imagining that today those two Americas would look something like the difference between North and South Korea. One, a modern society run as a progressive democracy and another a fundamentalist state that considered the world the enemy and being run in the fashion of a persecuted cult. Liberals would have long since migrated north and the issue of slavery would obviously have come to a messy head at some point. I don't know how the fallout of those events would have affected a separated North (and I'm sure the North would have made good use of the talent flight), but the more I see of our advancing American Taliban the more I wonder if Lincoln was wrong.

          The polls don't tell us how a candidate is doing, they tell us how the media is doing.

          by Thumb on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 06:51:23 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Southern Christianity vs. Islam Fundamentalism (4.00)
          Like many of those reading this diary, I was raised in a similar manner. Actually, I was a pastor/minister and went to seminar and got an M.Div. My world view was like this one, but with the difference that I questioned the American cultural baggage that came with it since I was culturally hybrid. So, I can understand where the come from.

          I used to hear James Dobson, until I got scared by his extremism. But always thought that he was never going to get enough of a following to make a difference. I was wrong.

          An important and scary statement in this diary is that this ideology is spreading throughout the US. It is difficult to reach the cities (although I can see this happening too by looking at the inner city churches and their sermons), but the rural places in Pennsylvania, New York, Minnesota, and Michigan are full of this same people.

          Does not this look to you like what is happening to Islam Fundamentalism? They are spreading like fire. They advocate a life of spiritual warfare in which the world is either right or wrong. The preach of a world in which people are participants in the divine struggle to fix the world and bring redemption.

          Both religious ideologies bring comfort, a strong sense of belonging, and a clear map for life. This sense of security is more powerful than we allow it to be. It is unfair; it is bigotry; it is racist; and it is wrong. But we are limited in the ways we can attack it because the more we do, the more it grows.

          Probably we may have an opportunity to bring this debate to the national fore by highlighting the similarities to ideologies most people in the US hate, like, Islamic Fundamentalism.

          Jesus talked more about poverty than he ever did about sex. Let's call them by their correct name: fascists!

          by hidalgo on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 11:01:57 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The antidote is Catholics (4.00)
            I grew in a Pentecostal and Catholic home. I know all about the Catholic Church being the great whore of Babylon and the utlimate vehicle of the anti-Christ because I used to spew that stuff myself.

            I honestly do not think that Catholics know what conservative Christians think about them. Thirty minutes ago, a young military born again guy, great guy, spent 45 minutes trying to get me born again, he wouldn't accept that I got born again when I was 13 and filled with the Holy Spirit at 15, anti-Catholic to the hilt, until I came to my senses a decade or ago. I quoted the King James at him until he was dizzy and yet, I need to be saved solely because I said I am Catholic.

            I honestly think that if Catholics understood this mindset described in this diary, of which I was a part, like many others here, if they understood that their "Mary-worshipping-idolatory" is considered to be part of the problem, they wouldn't be so quick to form the political alliances that are presently being formed.

            I think we can go easily reclaim for the Democratic Party, moderate and progressive Catholics en masse to counter the conservative Christian surge that is spreading around the country. Many Catholics have left the political process or vote Republican because their moderate pro-choice views have been chastised and spit on by the party powers that be. We can get them back. They're with us on everything, they just don't want abortion thrown in their faces.

            $0.02 + Tax

            •  The Salvation Vote (none)
              I grew up in the south, in a Catholic family.  Something happened to my staunchly Catholic father, however, and though he is still Catholic, his opinions nowadays sound much more like an evangelical Southern Baptist than a Catholic.  

              I think American Catholicism is slipping into the mode of the southern evangelical.  Or maybe they're being driven there.  Or maybe they're willingly cozying up.  Whatever the reason, I think the guy quoted in the original posting is right: Catholics don't fully realize how these groups feel about them.

              I've seen it though.  You only have to be called a "papist" once to get the feeling that you're next, they'll get to you; they've just got their armies deployed against others at the moment.

              But, the guy quoted in the original thread has my view of those Southern religious voters wrong.  I don't think they're stupid.  It's much worse than that.  They're incurious, just like Bush.  And that makes them a dangerously exploitable group.  Their unquestioned passions as stated in the original post are being manipulated by people in positions of power to their own advantage.  It leads to brand new quasi-biblical mantras that reinforce their control:

              "If you are wealthy, God has blessed you" --heard in a Souther Baptist church in Greensboro North Carolina

              "I was always told, God helps those who help themselves" --from my father in an argument of why he shouldn't be taxed to help those in poverty through welfare programs.

              Voting for salvation trumps voting for one's own well being; suffering is an expected and welcomed step toward salvation.  I've seen this shifting view in my own father, and I heard it from the Catholic archbishop before this election when he posed this about casting a vote for John Kerry:  "If you vote this way, are you cooperating in evil?  And if you know you are cooperating in evil, should you go to confession? The answer is yes."

              In this current political-religious mixing, the ultimate loser will be the Catholic faith.

              "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect." --Mark Twain webpage

              by Hamlet on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 05:36:48 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  damn that could be my parents, too (none)
                Yeah, I grew up in the South, Catholic, and my parents lately have been sounding like the neighbors.  WTF?  HELLO, salvation with only faith is MOST DEFINITELY not Catholicism.  Thirty Years' War, anyone?

                Try _that_ with a drunken elephant.

                by spacekitty on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 06:14:13 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  and I certainly know what they think about us (none)
                I wrote a LTE to Salon earlier this year talking about Kerry's Catholicism and how I very much voted for him in opposition to Evangelical Bush.  

                I have very little respect for Evangelical Christians, which isn't fair, because for all the bad ones who make me hate them there are good ones that live up to their religion.  I notice, though, that the ones who live out their Christianity through good works and tolerance tend to socialize with non-evanglical Christians and have the opportunity to observe us drinking beer, supporting the poor, and helping each other move--i.e., we're obviously good people and not Evnagelical, so hmmmmm....

                And Kerry in one of the debates talked about how "Faith without works is dead," verrrry Catholic.

                Try _that_ with a drunken elephant.

                by spacekitty on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 06:19:56 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  I'd love to see (none)
            Michael Moore do a documentary on this subject.
        •  Its not hopeless, heres what you can do (4.00)
          Be on a permanent protest footing.  The next four years should make the late 60s and early 70s protests and cultural upheaval seem like kid's play. Some say this is "playing into their hands," but pray tell, what is remaining quiet and having hope the democrats can pull off miracles without loud popular support not MORE so in regards to "playing into their hands?"  

          In other words, if the Xtian fundies are going to win something, make them earn it. Use the debate or whatever format you have to push secular/better solutions. Don't let them feel legitimate for one minute.

          Divest from Bush's corporate backers.  These lists arent hard to find.  Donations are public record.

          Fight to secularize the concept of marriage.  I think this clearly violates the state and church separation.  Insurance companies should not be able to give breaks and special treatment to married people.  Marriage should be a church institution and the legal end should be a discrimanatory free 'civil union'  I think this could easily be made into a non-partisan issue. Afterall, doesnt the right hate it when government gets into their lives?

          Begin the dialogue on the usefullness of the federal system in today's day and age.  I dont think the feds represent anyone, other themselves and certain industries and lobbies.  We're in this bizzare war of lies, Ashcroft fights our medical marijuana and right to death law, etc.  The right always says they want a smaller/weaker federal government.  I agree, the feds are way out of line and beyond corrupt.  How they refused to put paper trails in the HAVA legislation is a sign of a democracy which is not very healthy.  Across the board we need to limit power to all three branches of government and shift back to a state's right position.

          I know the above may lead to removing federal protections, but theres no reason states cant reinstate those protections.  Its smaller government, its a tax break, and it will end this tyranny of the majority.  There's a lot to be said about federal reform right about now.

          Keep pushing energy indepedence. This will solve half of our foreign policy probelms.  Its time the looney left accepted nuclear plants as the only alternative to oil and we all agree to raise CAFE standards.

          Keep fighting the paperless voting machine.

          Keep fighting for a single payment insurance solution.  

          Keep fighting to end the "faith based" funding and support secular organizations.  Boycott all non-secular charities.

          There's a lot people can do. The question is, will they? Are we ready to take some chances?

          •  That's so 40 years ago. (none)
            Protest groups have already been framed as fringe loonies by the right and its media accomplices.  That means that any issue that draws protesters automatically becomes a fringe issue.  That, and it's no longer an effective weapon.  There's a reason Bush dismisses protesters as "focus groups"--the court of public opinion is irrelevant to him.  As Nov. 2 has shown us.

            When someone has declared war on you and your way of life, protesting is not going to dissuade them.  When your enemy owns the media and can spin your protests any way it wants, protests will not sway the people in the middle.

            Getting the electoral reforms is a good start and this might be possible in many places, but it's only good in the short term.  If this ideology continues to spread, they won't need to fix the elections anymore.

            •  protest.. (none)
     a form of civil disobedience.  There are other forms, but if you want to write off as 'the fringe' thats youre prerogative.  Acting in a civil fashion while this country courts theorcray and war for any reason at all is so 600 years ago. How far back do you want to go?  Something tells me in a year you'll wish it was 1964.
          •  Christian giving (none)

            Please don't withhold your giving from organizations just because they are affiliated with a religion.  While some Christians concentrate on conducting spiritual warfare against unconverted people, others conduct their warfare against poverty, oppression, illiteracy, bigotry and disease.  And since most religious charities happily take money and volunteers from Jews, Unitarians, Catholics, Muslims, Baptists and Feds, they make sure that the proselytization is restricted to good works lest they lose funds.  

            But should you be deciding between the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army for your Christmas giving, go with the American Red Cross.  While this may sound strange, the ARC is an organization dominated by Republicans and conservative Christians that somehow found ways to give survivors' benefits to gay widows and widowers after 9/11.  The Salvation Army is pushing for faith-based funding so it can freely discriminate against gays.  

            •  salvation army... (none)
              is not just discriminating against gays.  The NYC chapter was always very non-secular; however, in the last year, the religious fanatics at the helm decided to change that.  They made their employees sign statements that they uphold jesus as their savior (or something along those lines), many quit and some have filed a lawsuit.

              tikkun olam -- heal the world

              by bjeanh1 on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 04:16:28 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  oops (none)
                 i meant so say the NYC chapter was always pretty secular.

                tikkun olam -- heal the world

                by bjeanh1 on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 04:17:00 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Got to talk to a former Salvation Army officer (none)

                  The Salvation Army is, among other things, a Protestant denomination complete with weekly services.  He said something about it being part of the Holiness movement, a heritage shared with my boss' church.  That's not the aspect of their organization that they emphasize most, but it manifests itself as NYC found out to some distress.

                  Henri Durant, the founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross, was an early follower of the eschatology popularized by the Left Behind series and so beloved by the Falwell crowd.  In practice, his faith manifested itself as a profound humanism utterly alien to that crowd.  

        •  I'm thinking it's all hopeless (none)
          this is the most depressing diary that I have EVER read.
          these people may not be stupid by measurable standards, but they are forcing us all down a stupid path of meaningless, needless violence and destruction, furthering the rape of our planet and the supression and slaughter of the innocents, all to promote the ideas about God's work from a buncha crooks who don't even beleive what they themselves are saying.

          I am beginning to hate the very word "Christian", and only wish that Christ himself, the Prince of Peace and the stalwart of the innocents everywhere, would come down and consume George W. Bush in a pillar of fire, and shove a pillar of salt up Dick Cheney's ass.

          It's such a shame, this was such a lovely planet, full of resources, with enough for everyone.  Too bad about religious fundamentalism, greed, and white supremacy.

          by kate mckinnon on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 04:56:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hang in there, Kate! (none)
            These people have a perverted view of christianity.  I'm not blaming them, since our diarist has described the fundamentalists as indeed a cult.

            Remember, you are not alone!  Tens of millions of Americans are standing right alongside you.  

            If you think of Jesus, remember he was crucified.  Why?  He was thought to be a trouble-maker, maybe even on the wrong side in the fight between good and evil.  These people have got it all wrong if they think that "victory" is a sign of sanctity.

            Don't lose your hope.  We're with you.  It's painful to see the truth - as written in this diary.  But better to know the truth than remain in ignorance.

            And you have a lot of spunk and a future as a humorist!  I loved your remarks about how the Prince of Peace should come down and smite the mighty!

            •  thanks, very much. (none)

              They would really hate Jesus, yes, just as they hated him last time he showed up.  He would ask that they treat the least of his people as they would the highest in the land, and expect them to give all their worldly goods to beggars, and take to the streets themselves to preach peace.

              He would burn down Wal-Marts, and turn Hummers and Escalades into goat-carts.  He would ask Dick Cheney to serve a poor Iraqi family.  They would marginalize him quickly, and look around for a shinier Christ, with cleaner robes.


              by kate mckinnon on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 07:41:33 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  McLauglin Group... (none)
          That's what Lawrence O'Donnell said on the McLauglin Group...

          Check out my political blog at

          by PanicFan on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 09:53:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I think the critical point is that (4.00)
        the enemy is not these people, it is their idealogy.  

        Perhaps the biggest challenge of the Democratic Party is that by definition we are liberal--i.e., open to different perspectives, nuanced in our world view, receptive to change.

        It is very difficult to challenge idealogies that provide people with simple, by-the-book ways of thinking.  Why do you think religion has been the dominant force in history (and I'm talking long before and far beyond Judeo-Christianity)?  Why do you think radical Islam is also rising in the world?

        Life is a scary, uncertain thing.  In fact the only certainty, really, is death.

        The question we need to ask ourselves is how can we provide a world view to those seeking "answers" in a readily understandable, gut-check kind of way?

        It's not a coincidence that Kerry was called a "flip flopper."  It's not a coincidence that the most successful political strategies revolve around creating simple frames through which voters can view the candidates and the issues.

        So, back to my question: How can we, a party of diversity in belief and perspective, provide a single coherent vision?

        I think it might take doing something extreme.  My suggestion: practicing campaign finance reform on our own volition.  Take no money from corporations or unions, only individuals.  Send a message.

        •  guess what (none)
          If you uphold an obvious hateful ideology then YOURE the problem.

          These peope aren't that stupid, they know its a philosophy of hate and "jesus on tortillas."

        •  There seems to be (none)
          ... an obsession with sex and death with these folks.  Their religion squeezes their sexuality until it pops thrillingly and offers them heroin in the form of life-after-death certainty.  

          We secularists have no heroin to offer anyone, just encouragement to appreciate what we have here and now.  I suppose one could frame that for them as appreciation for God's Creation here and now, which they don't seem to have at all.  Maybe that could blunt some of the apocalyptic madness.

          •  Oh and I forgot (none)
            ...that the religion also gives them an ego boost by feeling special, chosen, and "saved".  This is obvious in the first few minutes of an interaction with these folks.  They respect no one but themselves.
          •  Not every religion (none)
            .. has a concept of salvation.  Buddhism for example.

            Don't bash religion.  That's the wrong opponent.  If your spirituality lies in nature, that's OK.  Others have different ways of expressing their sense of awe and wonder.

            Beware of what you don't understand.  Learn.  Respect others' beliefs, so long as they do not try to influence or limit yours.

            The human spirit longs for connection.  And there are many ways for that to happen.

            Please, be respectful.  

            •  I was referring (none)
     the theocons, the focus of the above diary.  

              I have a lot of Buddhists in my family and among my friends.  It's my favorite of the various religions.  I might, however, refer you to Alan Watts' book on Christianity for an analysis by a genius of my points.  I can't recall the title right now -- it's been many decades since I read it (and, I might add, scores of other books on religion -- I worked in religious literature for nearly a decade).  Watts only wrote one book on Christianity, so among his titles, it should be easy to find.

            •  Picky (none)
              The Dalai Lama says that Buddhism is not actually a "religion" because it does not address "the relationship between man and God(s)".  His more inclusive term is "spiritual practice".  This distinction will probably elude most of the general public.
      •  Bush agrees. (none)
        woodward quoted Bush as saying something like needing a war to gain domestic unity.

        Modern Republicans talk about Government being the problem, not the solution. What they don't tell you is they mean it as a campaign promise.

        by p mac on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 09:22:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  i disagree with your conclusion of hopelessness (none)
        what it defines is that a candidate must become and be presented as a righteous warrior for Truth.  if you use the word TRUTH in understanding 'Christ,' it is very helpful.

        in a way it has to do with media presentation; image presentation, which is done all the time in politics; it's a matter of What the image needs to be.

        this idea of galvanizing authority through image is not new; goes back to egyptians, greeks and romans; romans did it brilliantly.

        in 2004 republicans did it better than we did.

        if this is taken out of a religious context, which in my view, the religious conservatives have opened the flood gates for, then it is about grooming the candidate to do battle in this arena.

        to out-righteous the righteous.

        because they have moved it from a theological discussion, although i think the elephant in the room is the desire to TALK ABOUT GOD, into the landscape of who will do the battle against the forces of evil.  now here, evil has been clearly defined by george bush; but 'evil' can also be defined as people dying because they don't have access to health insurance.

        i don't by the way, think we should just BECOME these ideas, "to thine own self be true." but perhaps being aware can bring about a strategy that moves beyond.

        all this is in some ways about dualism.  the candidate who successfully makes ONENESS to environment will be powerful, in my view.

        .......if you believe in and practice wrong knowingly, you can at once change your course and do right. mbe

        by sudiepatou on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 01:35:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Of course the war was manufactured (none)
        Of course the war was manufactured to ensure his re-election.
        That seemed blindingly obvious (to me at least) at the time.

        Think about it. Why did it have be in the Spring of 2003 ? Why, when the French and others were actually promising to be part of it if it could be delayed to the Fall war fighting season ? What was the cause of the rush ? We could have built up our forces, built up the coalition, got the Turks involved (another thing that was dropped due to lack of time), etc., etc.  Why not ?

        The only obvious reason, at the time or now, was to get it out
        of the way in time for the election.

        BTW, I also am a Baptist refugee. My parents were directly involved fighting the putsch which overthrew and wrecked the  Baptist heritage in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), and so I saw this first hand. Not that many Baptists (and basically no non-Baptists) know about this, but every sleazy and dishonest tactic we have seen in last few years was first  tried out in the conquest of the SBC. (How about creating sexual scandals to get rid of inconvenent pastors ? Or, how about threatening the pension of a Minister nearing retirement unless he fired a politically incorrect teacher ?) The only word to describe what was done to people I know and respect, people who had spent their lives in service to the Church no less, is evil. Now the same gang is going to be doing the same thing to all of us.

        And, once these people get power, they never, ever, give it up. Be prepared for some rough years.

  •  What a manifesto! (none)
    Put up a tip jar

    John Kerry: strong leadership that can calm the waters of a troubled world.

    by diplomatic on Sat Nov 06, 2004 at 11:14:12 PM PST

  •  if this is right... (4.00)

    If this is right, it means we have to write off the south.

    Essentially, our friend here is saying that these guys start out with the assumption that every liberal is a manifestation of the prince of lies.  

    If this is true, it means that there's no way to convince these guys of anything.  That's my instinct, too.  I think we should write them off, and try to strip away some OTHER republican constituency... perhaps the hawks, perhaps the fiscal conservatives.  These guys are unmovable.

    •  agreed (4.00)
      Its a very interesting story and you make some valid points. Facts and reality obviously don't matter when you belive W. was ordained by God, and everyone else but your own kind are persecuting you and doing the devil's work. If these people belive that Democrats, liberals, yankees, gays, etc....are doing the devil's work and fighting Christ, then we have no choice but to write them off. No matter how dire the economic situation may be, no matter if they have no jobs, or no healthcare, or young men are dying every day in Bush's wars....these people will not mind so long as they belive conservative Republicans are crusading for Christ. It is pointless to spend resources convincing these people otherwise, and we may just have to live with a solid South--the Republican one.
      •  Maybe we need to challenge them (none)
        ... to send their children to die in Iraq to the exclusion of those of us who disagree with this idiotic and immoral war, and to avoid using all medical advances developed since Darwin, since it is based on evolution.  We need to challenge them to live their beliefs.  They should also avoid most technology, since they reject the scientific method and empiricism.  We need to challenge them constantly and point out that they are implicitly accepting science and evolution every time they utilize these advances.  Never stop shouting "hypocrit"!  Do it loudly and confidently and constantly.
        •  Oh man, I live in a suburb near Chicago... (none)
          ...and about a year ago went to a funeral and during the funeral the Minister starts going on how technology can't help you, etc. Hey, I'm an engineer and to listen to some asshole dressed as a man of God spew lies just pissed me off. I wanted to march up there and rip the microphone away from him, make him disrobe (Those clothes were made with technology), go outside, since the church was constructed with technology, make him give up his car, etc.

          I was pissed because

          a) He used a friends death as a reason to spew his own hate, and

          b)He spewed lies. Nothing but lies.

          These people, as far as I am concerned, are the Armies of the Anti-Christ. Because their core beliefs go against the very teachings of Jesus and they use their beliefs to sow hatred and force the people to hurt their own interests.

          Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it. -Tom Paine

          by Alumbrados on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 05:44:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You bet. (none)
            I think they're really just crazy jealous of the universal efficacy of science and technology.  You don't need faith to make it work, and it works everywhere on the planet, regardless of what anyone believes.  It's very threatening to them.  They do not distinguish between belief and knowledge, a very dangerous cognitive failure.

            BTW, another thing that really gets my goat is when these folks use medicine to get converts in 3rd world countries.  I'm all in favor of folks being treated, but there should be some intellectual honesty about where that power came from, and it ain't from Christianity.  Medicine evolved in spite of them.  We'd have been much farther along (by at least a millenium and a half) had they not been around, and many of our heroes of science were brutally murdered by them.

    •  It's not quite that simple (3.85)
      First of all, the South is not a single, monolithic Christian Conservative voting bloc.  I know; I have relatives who live there and are liberal Democrats.  Heck, over 30% of Texas voted for Kerry.  We DO have allies there, although they're in the minority.

      Second, this diary was fantastic.  But it's important to not over-emphasize the number of hard-core Christian Conservatives out there.  While they are, indeed, very committed, they are also very much in the minority.  Most Bush voters were not Christian Conservative, and many of them were, indeed, misinformed about objective facts regarding Bush's positions on issues and about the world today.

      But this diary is very informative, and it's worth asking what, exactly, dissuades Christian Conservatives of notions once they've got them in their heads.  What would have dissuaded them of the idea that Christ wanted Bush re-elected?  News that Bush had an extramarital affair?  Drugs or gambling?  Something else?

      Visit the Diary of the Lying Socialist Weasels, for commentary from the Original Progressive Web Warriors!

      by Jonathan on Sat Nov 06, 2004 at 11:43:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nothing, I suspect. (3.83)

        I have spoken to many, many Bush supporters, and they all share this mentality.  Even the ones who arent religious, oddly.

        I would describe it as "tribalism."  Basically, an us-vs-them mentality.  Whenever I look at Israel and Palestine, I think "what the hell is the purpose of this feud?"  It's nonsensical.  When I look at Republicans, I see the same thinking.  Not all of them, of course, but this sounds like a solid example.

      •  An opponent (none)
        Who wasn't Catholic.

        Poor Kerry.  More and more, I tend to think this election was almost entirely unwinnable.  I feel like we all got utterly blindsided by a political force that none of us saw coming.  Even though the hints were there, I was pretty blind and deaf to it because my own Catholic upbringing didn't teach me what the effect would be when Bush used those Biblical references and, on the other hand, had surrogates ramping up the apocalyptic rhetoric, not to mention the politics of some of these preachers.  I'm not accustomed to politics being brought into the church that directly.  What I want to know is, how much did Bill Clinton know?

        We must cultivate our garden.

        by daria g on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 12:01:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't think that at all (4.00)
          The mere fact that we came within 3% of beating Bush means the election was very winnable.  In many ways, Bush lucked out.

          Of all the factors that influenced the election, I think terrorism was far and away the biggest.  Everyone agreed that war was being waged, and that made Bush a wartime incumbent, allowing him to use patriotism as an effective talking point.  Beating a perceived wartime president is extremely difficult, but we almost did it.  

          By contrast, high turnout among evangelicals doesn't appear to have been inordinately important, at least according to the more comprehensive exit polls.

          Visit the Diary of the Lying Socialist Weasels, for commentary from the Original Progressive Web Warriors!

          by Jonathan on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 12:07:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Terrorism (none)
            That's been the one I've harped on so far - it plays into this general sense of uncertainty and fear, including fear of change.  So I guess if you've got a chunk of the electorate scared of change, and another chunk convinced that your candidate has been chosen by God.. and perhaps a fair number who just won't open their eyes and ears to any new information.. you've got a real problem.

            We must cultivate our garden.

            by daria g on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 12:13:17 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  catholic too (none)
          Somehow, I really don't think those bishops who were telling people to vote only on the abortion issue have any clue about the fire they are playing with.
          They just helped empower a movement that has historically hated them.
      •  Yes, there are allies in Texas... (4.00)
        and we began the work of organizing ourselves this past week. - bk
      •  Driving under the influence (none)
        Karl Rove long argued that the last-minute news in the 2000 campaign of Bush's 1976 DUI conviction led 4 million evangelicals to stay home.  That was what enabled Gore to win the popular vote.

        Judging by the turnout this time around, it appears he was right.

      •  Yes and no (4.00)
        I'm a Colorado native living in SE Tennessee.Having moved around alot, I can honestly say this is the hardest transition I've ever made. There was a dedicated army working for Kerry here. The urban areas were solidly Kerry, but we were working against SB preachers with 5K+ memberships....we didn't stand a chance! It took every ounce of self control I have not to go sign them up for military service on their way out of church! Near my house, there is literally a shack, with a B/C 04 sign the size of a car on the lawn. What Lakoff says about people voting against their own interest is right on. Secession, may be the only way. Whether economic or geographic...
      •  not monolithic, but... (3.75)
        As an ex-Southerner who was always liberal and non-Christian of any stripe, I know that there are liberals, Democrats, and moderate Christians in the South and Midwest. However, extremeist fundemantalists are the bullies on the block. For someone to stand against them, even a moderate Christian, risks their standing in the community. There's a small town Rove in every town.

        When I left the south, it was because there was no place for me there. I've returned recently because I had chalked it up to high school melodrama. I was wrong. I was a vocal liberal and paid the price. To say that they can only be reasoned with by one-on-one personal experiences is true to an extent, but with qualifications.

        One, the person must be a local in the respected powerbase of the community (business owner/church father/etc). This means no one outside the region. This also means no one inside the region but outside that powerbase by class or religion.

        Two, the opinion cannot be too far from the beliefs already held. It's persuation by millimeters.

        Three, the style of persuation has to negotiate the victim mindset. This isn't just for fundimentalists. It's a cultural trait, even with local RSProgressives. Hypersenitivity, people are waiting to be insulted. After a decade in NYC, I'm shocked by the amount of walking on eggshells required to get a cup of coffee. It's taken me 6mos to recognize when people are insulting me.

        These issues mean that the political push falls solely on the shoulders of moderates in red communities, and that they must risk exile by doing it. I've learned that, as an outsider in a red state, when I'm helping: I'm not helping. It's frustrating, not knowing how to help. Persuation by millimeters is equally frustrating, rehashing arguements from 1989. As is tiptoeing through a psychology so readily rewarded for being a victim. These are why I feel like writing off the red. (and moving back to the blue)

        My question to RSProgressives is how can BSProgressives help you? Has our helping actually helped? Is there a strategy for quelling the regionalism between each other, or at least minimizing it's impact?

        •  The victim mindset may be a key... (none)
          I have lived in the South nearly all my life, and even though I am only in my early thirties, I can still remember coming across the "Lost Cause" injured-Confederate-pride mindset in my parents and those of their generation.  Heck, it was even in my state history book!

          (By the way, my Pennsylvania-born and bred elementary school teacher railed against the portrayal of blacks as "servants" in that book.  She was the first person to make me realize you can't believe everything you read.)

      •  and don't forget the power (none)
        of facts. some kids out there just need to get them.

        I grew up in alabama and had a stepmom who taught me that vampires are real and that every believer gets to push one of the damned into the fire.

        family values indeed.

        "fuck your war... and your president."--Snake Plissken

        by binFranklin on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 03:33:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Disagree about writing off the South... (4.00)
      ...or at least Fla.

      There's a great NYT article chronicling the Repub. ground game in Florida. Give credit where it's due. They tore ass. Loathsome as Rove may be, there is a helluva lot to be learned from what he has done.

      People may focus on the reprehensible slimy elements of Rove, but we are ignorant if we don't look at what he has done outside of the slime and learn from it.

      We didn't lose Fla. by that much and--not to engage in Kerry-bashing--we didn't have a charismatic candidate people could relate to, one with a clear, concise, consistent message.

      I ain't saying it's right, but I think the 3C's are as important as the 3G's.

      I ain't got no damn job. Need a writer/editor/Web guy? Have brain, will travel.

      by rghojai on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 12:55:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  great diary (none)
        and you're right, it's time to steal chapters out of their playbook so tha we get out more voters next time.
      •  Fundamentalists (4.00)
        Replace "Christian" with "Islamic", "Christ" with "Allah", and you have a good picture of what is happening in the mosques of Saudi, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Iran etc etc.

        The similarities are more cogent that the differences.  The enemy of fundamentalist Christianity and that of Islam are the same: Liberal Democracy.  The political tools are the same: religious war, undergirded by cultural and economic resentment.  Each side plays on the same, deep sense of humiliation, of failure, and envy in an ethnicity that is economically withered and culturally ignored.  The things that the Southern Baptist ministers and the mullahs have to say about "liberal" western culture are indistinguishable.

        How do we fight back?

        1.  Our liberal culture is the most massive force in the world militating against religious fundamentalism, so of course it is (literally) the most demonized.  Let's stop providing ammunition to the enemy.  Crap popular culture incites envy-becoming-hatred on their part and apathy on ours.   MTV won more ten times more votes for Bush than for Kerry.  Our culture must be more inclusive, and better.

        2.  Immigration.  This is OUR wedge issue.  We have to start work on it now.
        •  That's exactly what I was thinking as I read this (none)
          When he talked about that the Christian coalition is now bigger than the Catholics, I was thinking, change the names to Sunnis, Shi'ites, and you'd be reading about someone in Iraq talking about their religion.
          •  fundies (none)
            whether christian or islamic
            this is the battle that is going on in our world
            and it will continue until the christian fundies have their little crusade to stamp out the islamic fundies or get their rapture..whichever comes first. I hope they get their rapture and are ripped harshly from the real world, so that we can get back to taking care of our earth, it's people. THe fundies would rather choke on polluted air and water and toxins, than admit that their leader is wrong in his belief that pollution is a myth

            republican hypocracy has condemned God and Jesus to be as Dead as our Democracy

            by demnomore on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 11:06:38 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  W. Islam, it's more than "fundies" (4.00)
              I lived in Saudi Arabia for 15 mo., beginning 10 weeks after 9/11. Interesting place. I worked with a lot of kind, benevolent Saudis, many of whom were educated in the USA and had traveled here often for vacations.

              It is with pride and good feelings that I think of several of these people and think of them as friends. One Saudi man gave me his watch when I left as a token of our friendship and my time as a guest in his country. I am wearing it as I type and it is one of my most prized posessions.

              These folks were at least as disgusted with Al Qaeda/Islamic extremism as anyone in the world. They have real fears that their faith is being destroyed and real fears about what may happen to the world--not "their" world, everyone's world.

              With that said, there is a significant element of Islam that involves converting people. Several people I referenced did gently raise the prospect of my becoming a Muslim.

              I ain't got no damn job. Need a writer/editor/Web guy? Have brain, will travel.

              by rghojai on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 01:37:01 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I've said it before... (none)
                ...the fundamentalists are God-Nazi's, regardless of religion. They use God, Allah, whatever, as a means to justify their hate. Any liberals who don't think they would be locked, tortured, or killed if these people get their way, are fools. They are a threat to our national security.

                If only we could find a barren spot on earth to send the fundamentalists of all religions and let them enjoy killing each other, instead of taking the rest of us down with them.

                May God help us all when they get WMD's.

                Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it. -Tom Paine

                by Alumbrados on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 05:51:37 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  Wahabi Christians (none)
          and their moo-lahs.

          "fuck your war... and your president."--Snake Plissken

          by binFranklin on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 03:36:18 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry but (4.00)
      It's not right.

      He speaks of His experience. His childhood. His life as part of the radical fundementalist right. Most of the south is NOT radical fundementalist.

      Yes there are people like that in the south. But there are people like that everywhere. There are people like that in every part of the nation and the world. My ex father in law was one of the people who would get snakebitten to prove his faith in god. He'd contribute every week to his rather extreme church along with several televangelists. He was from california.

      The majority of america isnt christian fundementalist. Or any other form of fundementalist. Despite media hints to the contrary most people DONT attend church. And while he may claim southern baptists are the biggest denomination the figures ive seen show just the opposite. That they are one of the smaller ones. With various forms of catholicism leading.

      No folks. America hasnt become the land of the scarlet letter. Most people dont want a state imposed religion. Most people arent fundementalist anything.

      While it's easy to scapegoat groups over our losses this group was just one little cog in a large dark machine. You can bet money an openly hostile press, massive voter fraud and vote suppression, and the flat out lies put out by the gop and the media had more to do with it. And our complete and total lack of a message had more to do with it than anything.

      The Democratic party needs to adopt its own moral and values principles (clawed) My other Drunken ravings

      by cdreid on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 02:33:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with you (none)
        I grew up in Kentucky, and my family is half Southern Baptist, so I'm familiar with the sentiments.  I don't think they are a majority.  This post shows me that we need to take away the "values" label from the fundamentalists.  Most of what they believe is pretty indefensible.  We need to shine a light on it.

        I'm a member of a minority group: the reality-based community.

        by Unstable Isotope on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 05:28:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  exactly! (none)
          I don't think we should worry about the Christian Fundamentalists.  Even if we can do things that would influence them and get a permanent majority as a result, those actions would destroy what I love about the Democratic party (truthfulness, facing the facts as they come up, belief that we can make things on earth better).  If the Fundamentalists change, they have to do it within the confines of their own lives and their own religions.  I'd also like them to live up to their choices and beliefs without the crutch of "well, politics is evil anyways" and not live on blind faith of whatever their leaders tell them within their religion.  

          Hell, maybe someone can point out that being in bed with the Bushies mean they're also in bed with all the other people who are in bed with the Bushies, like the log cabin Republicans and the pro-choice Republicans.  Maybe time for the Fundamentalists to rethink this problem of consistency and recoil, maybe they shouldn't vote because that would taint them at the time of the Rapture.

          I'm more concerned about about the people who don't firmly believe in the literal truth of the Old Testament and voted for Bush.  I've got a lot more contempt for them because a hell of a lot of the ones I meet are willfully blind to reality or out and out hypocrits.

          But unfortunately, the Democratic party has to win them back to get an electoral majority.  How can we un-shutter their lying eyes?

          •  Don't ignore them (none)
            The fundamentalists are tenacious and utterly committed to their ideals/ideologies and their promotion in the world. Even if they are less than half the population and you can technically win a majority of the vote without them, it is beyond foolish not to strive to render this group less influential.

            On Kos we've been talking ever since Dean caught fire about the fact that the political debate in this country has been shifting to the right for over 20 years. Well guess what? A huge part of that is because conservative fundamentalists have been growing in numbers, organization, and power. They are fairly inflexible, and any bargainer knows that when two parties come together and have to make a deal (i.e., somehow govern), the party that is less flexible will win the negotiations time and again. Since we can't walk away from politics, because that leaves them with everything, we have to find ways to combat them more effectively.

            the spirit is restored by wounding

            by jd in nyc on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 01:11:00 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  No they havent. (none)
              The fundimentalists havent grown in number.

              I'll explain what happened in this country (in my Opinion of course. But very researched).

              During the Carter years we had a very Christian president faced with several serious problems. One was the hostages. A small group of americans was taken hostage by Iran under the guise of "students". A man named Ted Koppel created a show now called nightline around it in which every single night he ran coverage of the fact that Iran was holding american hostages. For at least an hour a night.Often more. Added to that OPEC put an oil embargo on the US. Which created an  energy crisis, massive inflation and massive unemployment. The fed then raised the interest rates to keep inflation down (as always the fed thought unemployment was a good thing). That sent the prime rate up to 21%. That's the PRIME rate.

              Before and during that time christian fundementalists, financed by stunning amounts of money from the coors family etc were out fighting to take over local governments. County boards. City councils. They moved from there to state governments and then governorships. It was around this time btw that Jesse Helms suggested on the national airwaves that the right wing should buy up the media (Specifically CBS). You may have noticed something: they did.

              Carter had three choices. He could invade Iran and start a holy war in the middle east. He could send in special forces to rescue the hostages. Or he could put sanctions on Iran and negotiate. Being a christian he didnt want to kill a few hundred thousand iranians over a handful of americans. Who the iranians Rightfully hated (the Shah made Sadam look like cuddly). There is evidence that the Reaganites were negotiating with Iran to keep the hostages til the election was over. Here is some great evidence: They released the hostages one hour after reagan took office. Reagan then obligingly sold them US F-16's, spare parts.. etc etc. He trade arms for the hostages. But not only that part of the deal was clearly that they hold the hostages til he was elected.

              Under those circumstances Wile Coyote could have beat Carter. Reagan did and got a landslide. Any rational person could see why. But the right wing spun it as a "mandate" for "conservatism" whatever that means. The press started to tepidly jump on board.

              The democratic party then obligingly abandoned its  base. The working class and invividual liberty supporters. And happily began putting up losers like Dukakis and Mondale as our national figureheads. We pulled in the corporatists, told people who didnt live off trust funds that the GOP was right.. that 'free trade', lower wages, and tax cuts for the wealthy were good for them. That japan was taking american jobs because american workers were lazy and unproductive (American workers btw had the highest productivity of any workers in the world). The voters sent a message: No thanks. Then we put up clinton. Noone knew what the hell he stood for. But they had Bush. Ex CIA, breaker of "no new taxes", and the man who said the economy was fine. Clinton won. By then the media was solidly far right wing. Cokie Roberts remember was the "media queen". Says it all. Clinton winning made the dem leadership think "well golly lets move FARTHER right! We'll become republicans"

              And .. we're still doing it. Election loss after election loss. It aint hte fundies that beat us. It's the press and our abandonment of democratic values. We abandoned the working people of america. We abandoned the poor. We abandoned liberty. We abandoned everything but the almighty buck, gun control , and radical stances on abortion.

              We lost. We're still losing. And we will continue to lose until we kick the corporatists and enemies of the bill of rights out of our party.

              (and im sorry about the lenght folks troll rate me if ya will i wouldnt blame you)

              The Democratic party needs to adopt its own moral and values principles (clawed) My other Drunken ravings

              by cdreid on Mon Nov 08, 2004 at 10:20:41 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Jesus was a liberal (none)
          what i wanna know is, why in the world any christians are following Paul & the guy who had the revelations nightmare instead of JC?

          why don't i hear them quoting JC the liberal?

          "..The question was, who was going to attack us, when and where, and with what." ..."now, watch this drive."

          by x on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 10:39:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  pendulum (none)

            Yes, they are technically not "Christians" they are "Pauline"

            But the liberal feel of the Gospels and the conservative feel of the Pauline writing to me is pretty clear evidence of a fairly standard pendulum swing from a generally liberal to a generally conservative society. And that pendulum will always be swinging.

            That's obviously very over-simplistic but Its true. The trick is to keep the ther side from totally destroying things when the pendulum swings in their favour.

            Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people... it is true that most stupid people are conservative - John Stuart Mill

            by Sarkasba on Mon Nov 08, 2004 at 07:45:30 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Now look (none)
            if you're gonna follow some hippie loser peacenic rather than orthodox church teaching you're obviously an enemy of Christ. You cant have lazy poor people running around like we owe them something. Next you'll be saying god hates the rich!
            Its clear any good american christian (tm) knows whats right and we know you commie pinkos lie and trick us with your words. Prophet Falwell tells us all the time how you people are. We know you people want to burn the bible and have gay orgies with poor people. Because you're evil and you cant help it. But dont worry we have his Holiness in office now and we're gonna get you people! Mark my words!

            (Ill GUARANTEE someone troll rates me*grin*)

            The Democratic party needs to adopt its own moral and values principles (clawed) My other Drunken ravings

            by cdreid on Mon Nov 08, 2004 at 10:25:27 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  here's a 4! (none)
              i love satire.  & i needed a chuckle.  thanks.

              "..The question was, who was going to attack us, when and where, and with what." ..."now, watch this drive."

              by x on Mon Nov 08, 2004 at 11:29:30 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Hey man (none)
                Ya havent lived til ya had yourself a big gay orgy at an abortion clinic on an american flag. Its best if ya get yerself an innocent christian and ply him with wine and song of course. How else ya gonna spread gayness and americahate!

                The Democratic party needs to adopt its own moral and values principles (clawed) My other Drunken ravings

                by cdreid on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 12:26:44 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  We can't fall into the Persecutors trap again. (none)
          If we shine a light on it, aren't we just "persecuting" them and thereby falling into the "US vs Them" equation. Isn't it better for us to just put forth our own beliefs and message of acceptance and inclusion and strong families first, and then let the doubters like this guy come to our side.

          But I'd first say we need to put a "lift up the mainstream" pocketbook message with a strong economic fiscal responsibility message and we will be riding a wave in four years and hopefully crack the solidity of the GOP.

          Make it as simple as possible. But no simpler. --Albert Einstein

          by slammers on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 11:30:49 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Reach Out On Our Terms (none)

            This is exactly what we need to do. We need to reach out to the south on economic and fairness issues, and simply avoid addressing the "values" issues in their hearing. If they do come up, downplay their importance. We can't persuade the hard-liners, so there's no point in even trying. We might be able to persuade the ones nearer to the middle.

            Its like the media listened to Weird Al's "Dare to be Stupid" and said "Yes! This is how the world should be!"

            by RHunter on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 12:41:14 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You really don't get it? (3.66)
              This isn't about appeasement- it wont work. There is a segment of this group that believes that the end times are coming soon. It's an apocalyptic closed belief system- historically, nothing works against this sort of revival of religious furvor- unless it eats itself b/c like the taliban by nature its a closed system.
              •  YOU Really Don't Get It... (none)

                ... This whole "literacy" thing. I specifically said at the end of my comment that we can't persuade hardliners. What we can hope to persuade are the "soft" supporters. Its not like Red States are filled with 55-60% of these people. They're a minority, but they're a very vocal minority.

                Its like the media listened to Weird Al's "Dare to be Stupid" and said "Yes! This is how the world should be!"

                by RHunter on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 02:45:04 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  but, this whole diary is about the hardliners (none)
                  I don't get having a conversation that has nothing to do with the people we are actually discussing. If you want to have a separate conversation, do like others have done and post a separate diary about how we can reach the reachables. And please don't lecture me on where the red lines are or who we can change- I come from the background this guy is talking about- so I find it more than just a little annoying when I read people saying stuff- like if we change the subject to economics they will come along to us- b/c you know what - like this guy says- they aren't stupid- they can tell if you aren't talk about things that aren't important to them.
          •  One way (none)
            in which we "persecute" them is by insisting on the truth. In the e mail from his mom she says "we 40+ have lived under democrats most of our lives" How is that? Since 1944, if my count is right, there have been 32 years of Repubs and 28 of dems. Since '64 its been 24  to 16 repub. In Fact, she hasn't but she believes she has. Here in TX I heard a Xtian woman contend that "the only constitution that has separation of church and state is the Soviet." and follow it with "God chooses the King- George Bush wa selected by god". Given that trying to pay attention to reality disses these folks something terrible, perhaps we in the south could concentrate on educating the people who are educable. I think they may be a majority.

            "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

            by johnmorris on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 05:49:18 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  I think he's got a point. (none)
        I know Christian Conservatives who behave exactly as the author describes. I have no doubt that if Dobson and Robertson send their "warriors" out to fight evil by voting for the "godly" man, they do exactly that. I don't trust the final poll numbers completely, but there's no doubt that these people made a huge impact in the President's support.

        That said, most of the people I know who voted for Bush were stictly doing so for financial/economic reasons, or because they were lifelong Republicans who couldn't bring themselves to switch, and/or don't really believe their party is overrun by the kind of Christian Conservatives.

        I think these folks are in for a rude awakening, unless they're prepared to fight the CCs for the heart and soul of the Republican party.


        •  One of the points (4.00)
          I've tried to make in some recent posts about how I see the Bible is that people CAN change.

          How many of these cultural warriors are trapped, just as the author quoted in the diary describes - struggling to reconcile the belief system their surrounded by despite doubts and disagreements within them?

          It's terribly hard to break away from this mindset - but what if more and more of them could hear about another way to look at the Bible - that rejecting the hatred and dominants world-view doesn't mean rejecting their faith - but could even mean embracing it.  What if an understanding of "the Kingdom of God is upon you" means that it's about how we treat one another here and now - not in an afterlife - spread.

          The brand of Christianity that the Southern Baptist teach isn't the only option - the more of us, and the more of them - that encounter other interpretations - the sooner we will - once again- turn back this sort of teaching.

          It's NOT hopeless - they CAN change.  Not all of them, not quickly - but this isn't unique in history. Read the sermons of Harry Emerson Fosdick, for example "Shall the Fundamentalists Win?"   That was delivered in the 1920's !?  Scopes Monkey Trial anyone?   Throughout history, these things go in cycles. I firmly believe we are at, or are approaching, the far right edge of this cycle.  I had hoped the pendulum was about to start swinging back - apparenlty we have a few more years...

          The key point is that neither the south, nor even the membership of the fundamentalist denominations - are a monolithic block.  We cannot give up on them - and - as the author of the text quoted in the diary proves - some of them are struggling and looking for a way out.  

          and as for "succession" - go look at that purple map again. It's not black and white - or red and blue.  Thinking that it is makes us no better than our opponents.  I understand that's frustration talking - but it's nonsense - and it plays into their hands.   Let's take back our country - not give up on it.

          The women's suffragist and civil rights movements faced MUCH longer odds and higher obsticles than we face today. I'd like to think that we're worthy of their legacy.

          As Fosdick says in his sermon The present world situation smells to heaven! And now, in the presence of colossal problems, which must be solved in Christ's name and for Christ's sake, the Fundamentalists propose to drive out from the Christian churches all the consecrated souls who do not agree with their theory of inspiration. What immeasurable folly!

          Well, they are not going to do it

          They didn't win in the 20's, and they're not going to win now.

          Luke 15:20!

          •  One footnote (none)
            the Fosdick quote above was written for Christians in a church setting.  As a progressive Christian - I do believe that the work I do on earth should be in Christ name and that I should try to emulate his human life and teachings.

            I do NOT however think that everyone needs to believe that.

            My quoting Fosdick was to show how this struggle - within Christianity - has been ongoing for decades (actually centuries... you can even find it in the Bible...) - not to impose my faith tradition on anyone else.

          •  So right (and such a good handle) (none)
            There is no part of the country free of fundamentalism. Teens are natural soldiers (ask a revolutionary) and charismatic churches attract them when they are gaining freedom but still having a hard time being free. I fell in with a Bible study group in college, and it was only some hard failures of the perspective that brought me out. It is the failures that can break people of it, but as long as we're fighting like soldiers we won't want to admit failure.

            The proper response is forthright opposition. Like Fosdick, recognize what they say, and contradict them where they are wrong. Each one has to realize his or her mistake at their own pace.

            Reading this piece really brings me back to that perspective. It was exciting to matter so much. Think about it - spiritual warfare! High costs, but the highest purpose and gains! From the inside, it all seems so spiritually glamorous. So don't mirror that, don't feed it.

            The hard contradictory reality for me was that the gains were fictional, the battle pedestrian, and the losses far, far more real than I'd let myself think.

            Conservative beliefs spread because of a need to emphasize that if you are not fighting, you are losing the battle for spiritual warfare.

            by citizen on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 10:31:29 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  It's back to framing the debate (none)
        The fundamentalists have spent years instilling fear of anything progressive or liberal in the hearts of many people in the south. They are on the ground, in churches, in city hall, in the legislatures, on the radio framing the debate. Liberals have pretty much given up on the south because we so disdain the legacy of slavery and are fearful ourselves of the severe religious leanings. And frankly because why waste your energy on people who are so difficult to reach?

        But we have to remember, these are poor people and working poor and barely middle class. These are the people who willingly send their children into the military so they can get a college degree and a chance for a good life. They believe in America. They give to causes through their church and other community organizations. These are not bad people. They just haven't been spoken too like they matter by the Democratic party in a long time. There is a way to reach a large number of our fellow citizens in the south and mid-west. We need to let them know we don't look down on them. That we actually believe that they work and serve in our military for a reason. That we are proud of them and their strong values and convictions. But that as the founding fathers have always said, the government has no place messing with your church, your home or your family. As long as you're not hurting anyone, you have the right ot live your life free of interference. But, the government also has the obligation to serve the needs of you, your friends and neighbours and all the other citizens of our great country - that's why Medicare, Social Security, Veteran's Benefits, UI, and so on and so on, are vitally important.

        What we have to remember is that it's okay to believe in God. It's okay to believe America is the best country on earth and to be proud to live here. Isn't that what immigrants to this country have been saying for years?

        So it brings me back to how we frame the issues and how we acknowledge the differences, but at the same time, the common concerns and realities of all the citizens in this country.

        ps - And we have no presence in the local media - the media the Far, Evangical Right has succeded in exploiting for years now.

        Jaded Reality... "freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose"

        by spiderleaf on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 01:41:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  A footnote to this... (none)
          Is to also devise a way to frame the debate so as to hammer home the point that Bush, Cheney, Rummy, Ashcroft, etc. do not really believe the same things the working class and poor of the south and mid-west do about faith, peity, hard work and redemption. It's all smoke and mirrors. They are using God, Guns, Gays to allow power consolidation and control. Clever, but it can be unmasked if we are smart about it.

          Jaded Reality... "freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose"

          by spiderleaf on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 01:57:25 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Southern Baptist decline (4.00)


        Southern Baptists in decline

        10% in 1995 to 6% in 2001.  Here's the methodology:

        These figures are the results of responses to two questions. The first determined people's general religion: What is your religious preference -- Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish or an Orthodox religion such as the Greek or Russian Orthodox Church?

        Then, if the respondent said they were a Protestant, a follow up question was asked: What specific denomination is that?

        The denomination claims 16 million members, but if you add up the church rolls, the figure comes closer to 11 million.  This is a sizeable denomination, but Methodists number 13 million.  

        While the SBC may be the most prominent voice of the Religious Right, it has been beset by divisions brought about when the leadership tried to enforce fundamentalist doctrine;  Alabama, Texas and North Carolina all have conventions that have split from the SBC.  

        This said, religious conservatism is not confined to Southern Baptists.  Some of the SBC split came about because SBC leadership was developing its own Pope and Curia -- the congregations splitting may well be more virulently homophobic, racist, whatever than the SBC itself.  Missouri and Wisconsin Synod Lutherans, Reformed and Pentecostal churches are charter members of the Religious Right.  The Christian Coalition is first and foremost a coalition -- love Bush and profess some form of Protestantism, and you're in.  (Their Catholic outreach foundered on the Left Behind series of books;  Catholics aren't fond of having Popes called Anti-Christ).  

        •  Southern Baptists in decline (none)
          That being said, as a Catholic, I can tell you that Roman Catholics don't agree with the theology behind the "Left Behind" books. Rev. Barbara Rossing points out in "The Rapture Exposed" that the theology involved goes back to John Darby in the early 19th century. Mainline Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians don't accept Darby's theology. Interestingly enough, not a lot has been studied about the growth of the Orthodox Church in this country. Russian, Greek and Antiochian Orthodox church membership has been growing in this country as the different branches of Orthodoxy reach out to people outside the traditional ethnic groups that formed their original membership.
          •  "Left Behind" (none)
            is a new mythology created for a certain mindset. That mindset has been represented over time by "survivalists", by religions, even by pure populist movements. In the united states and around the world there are regularly "end timers". Some religious and some not. And what these end timers have in common is an all encompassing desire to escape. To escape from increasing complexity and change. To escape from increasing pressure to fit into systems that are not human friendly. To mold themselves into the people society tells them they must be less they be "other".

            This particular mythology is created based on the writings of a madman with no ties to christ. A man who literally lived in a cave, had neither followers nor supporters. Had no claim to religious or spiritual 'legitimacy'. And whos sole claim to fame is writing letters to the christian sect leaders of the time describing a hell on earth.

            What is remarkable is that what this man was warning against, and attacking, were the beginnings of the modern christian church. He was attacking the very religions and beliefs that fundementalists above all hold. He was attacking the approval of capitalism and what we now call "western values' by those churches. He was attacking their movement away from old testament, and a few new testament requirements. His warnings of an antichrist were coded warnings against false prophets.

            And the "Left behind" books take that mythology, expand on it, change it, and add to it. And are accepted into the mythology of the far right christians. While ignoring the actual words and meanings behind both the original rants of this cave dwelling self appointed prophet, the actual words of christ, and the literalist 'interpretations' of the bible.

            According to the very book they worship in direct contradiction to the words of christ there will be 110,000 people taken to "heaven". No more. No less. All the rest are condemned, not to hell for the human soul.. another creation out of whole cloth, to death. Eternal death. They are not condemned to be cast into the "lake of fire". That particular punishment was , by their own mythology, relegated to one particualar being. A being who had once been God's favorite.

            The reality is, and even true theologians and biblical scholars of the christian persuasion understand and teach this, that modern fundementalist, and most modern christian theologies are based on falsehoods. Not falsehoods in the sense that "science" opposes them. But falsehoods according to the very words of those mythologies.

            Christ would be apalled at almost all forms of modern christianity. At the false use of his name.  At its use for immoral acts. At the convoluted rationales used to twist his words, the words of their very own god, to mean something they clearly oppose.

            The Democratic party needs to adopt its own moral and values principles (clawed) My other Drunken ravings

            by cdreid on Mon Nov 08, 2004 at 04:36:42 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Another GOP constituancy (none)
      that is incompatible with the American Taliban's goals is the libertarians. I hear they're quite attached to their freedoms.

      The polls don't tell us how a candidate is doing, they tell us how the media is doing.

      by Thumb on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 06:55:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wrong! (none)
        Here in NH they voted redder than anybody by percentage. (Fortunately, the vote doesn't get counted by township, and there aren't enough of them by numbers, to make a difference.)

        They know what side their bread is buttered on: unless and until the GOP starts prosecuting rich guys with dope out in the middle of nowhere, instead of unemployed kids in poor milltowns, or raises taxes on the uppper income brackets too, they're never going to care about the rest of us.

        "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

        by bellatrys on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 10:49:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Excellent diary. (none)
      Thank you for your thoughtfulness and sense of lived perspective; it helps.

      We cannot convince people like your Mom that "we are right and she is wrong."

      What we can do is let her leadership actually enact their agenda. It has been to easy to pose as a "Christian Conservative" while having the luxury to live a very "immoral" private life. Let them force people into Covenant Marriages, let them strike down Roe and please make birth control illegal in Alabama. These are God-awful ideas; Conservatives have gotten to posture and pose without having to have this garbage forced down their throats.

      Once this actually happens, a Progressive insurgency will spread in "Red States" faster than the STDs that people will get without access to condoms.

      Social Conservatives have not had to subject their ideas to reality testing and I think it is time they got a heaping mouthful.

      Isn't Frank Parenti Catholic?

    •  I disagree! (none)
      To me, the whole point of the diary is that this person, over time, gradually saw the light.

      So who knows exactly what it might take for others to do so?  Based on this one story, it was a relationship with someone with AIDS, a shock somehow to the network of thinking, and a need to readjust that thinking or lose the care and concern for a friend.

      Take heart!  This may be painful stuff, but if you learn how these people think, then maybe you can find ways to talk to them in their own language, and gradually question their thinking.  Or simply wait for the traumas to come into their lives, so they are forced to question that.

  •  Perhaps I should say... (none)

    That this guy's analysis does ring true.
  •  I was raised Southern Baptist in TN (4.00)
    before my parents switched to penecostal, and yeah this is a good analysis.  However, the fact that people do bad things in the context of good intentions...well there is an old saying.  They can't get a pass because they are sincere.
    •  Concentrated in Southern Baptists... (none)
      I think that is true, but isn't Clinton a Southern Baptist? My wife is a Methodist, but it seems that their beliefs are based on using thier mind to make decisions and some science plays into their beliefs..more liberal then other protestant religions...

      Many of these non-denominational religions would be considered religious cons...

      •  Yes (4.00)
        As was Al Gore, and Jimmy Carter. Carter publicly broke with the SBC a few years ago after they'd handed down too many pronouncements like the one about wives submitting to their husbands.

        I believe Gore has drifted away, as well.

        We passed the Southern Baptist Convention building. Earlier in the day, Gore had made a point of telling me that he and Clinton used to pray together in the White House. I asked him which church in Nashville he and Tipper attended now.

        There was a pause in the front seat.

        "We're ecumenical now," Gore said, finally.

        Tipper said with a laugh, "I think I follow Baba Ram Dass."

        "The influx of fundamentalist preachers have pretty much chased us out with their right-wing politics," Gore added.

        Gore studied at Vanderbilt Divinity School, which is pretty ecumenical. I don't think it's tied to any one faith. I know the university isn't.
        •  Southern Baptist Convention (none)
          I had a comment to this diary that was so long that I created a diary to hold it.

          Christian Conservatives - Redux

          I believe that it gets at some of the issues that Gore had with the Southern Baptist Convention.

          Also, remember that there is a big difference between the Southern Baptist Convention (the Republican front group) and Baptists in the South.

          The revolution starts now--in your own back yard, in your own home town

          by TarheelDem on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 11:01:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Bill Moyers is a Baptist... (none)
          as is Jim Wallis...  & Tony Campolo, right?  they're not all subscribing to these bizarre views.
          unfortunately, the ones who have sucked my teenage sister in ARE of the type described as bush voters.
          she was raised a nice tolerant presbyterian girl in a pro-choice, pro-gay rights family of christians... none of us get it, but none of us can get through to her either.
      •  Of course (none)
        every religious sect has thoughtful, decent people of faith and nutjobs.  The differences are in how much of each and who is in charge.
  •  Very interesting and thoughtful post (4.00)
    What strikes me about your depiction of conservative Christianity is the level of paranoia in it.  Everybody is against us. We are Christian warriors. In fact, it's precisely the same ideology as Jihadist. The term jihad traditionally means an spiritual struggle against corrupting forces in the world. It's been interpreted by many to mean actual violence, however. And Christians historically have advanced their warfare rhetoric beyond the level of metaphor too. But it's the deep sense of confrontation with a corrupt world that is most revealing. At some level there must be a deep realization among conservative Christians that they are losing. The culture conservative Christians admire is disappearing - any which way you look at it the culture is more secular, more promiscuous, more profane, more violent, more materialistic, more greedy, more complex.  The number of self-identified Christians is dwindling.  The distance between America, the City on the Hill, and the outside world is shrinking.

    As with all movements of this sort there is a tendency to exaggerate the state of decline. Hearing about the conservative Christian worldview reminds me of Jonathan Edwards' famous sermon in Northampton in 1740 where he bemoaned the loss of the great moral Puritan society. Which gives me hope, in the end, because these movements are always rearguard actions. They are by nature reactionary, yet they can't stem the tide of change. One could argue that Jesus himself was the product of such fear of change in the world of the Jews and the Roman conquest.  

    What's shameful to me, though, is that the Republican Party trades on these apocalyptic fears and millenial visions but then offers the foot soldiers nothing in return. Maybe at some point Christian conservatives will feel like they are being taken for granted and will not bother voting anymore. Maybe they will take their spirtual warfare to a different playing field. Maybe they can be saved for modernity, one soul at a time.

    •  Elrod that's the problem! (4.00)
      The more secular we become, the more ardent their views are that the Rapture is coming sooner than later.  It simply embeds the belief even farther - and cements the image of 'us' vs. 'them'.   Chimp's use of the word 'CRUSADE' against the Islamic infidels wasn't exactly an accidental use of prose, if you catch my drift.

      The gay marriage deal has been used by preachers ad nauseum as a 'sign that the apocalypse will be upon us soon.'

      You talk about firing somebody up!  Whoa Nellie, when two guys kissing means Armageddon is just around the corner, you better believe they're motivated to vote.

      •  Good reading (none)
        Excellent writing about evangelical Christianity can be found here:

        Visit the Diary of the Lying Socialist Weasels, for commentary from the Original Progressive Web Warriors!

        by Jonathan on Sat Nov 06, 2004 at 11:53:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I grew up in the Southern Baptist church (4.00)
        It's odd to read about it here. I am Black so my experience were a little different. I find a mong white Christians this idea of God as the victim so they are victims. it doesn't exist so much in the black churches (although I recently read a post here by a black guy that makes me wonder if there hasnt been some convergence in the 10 years that I have been away from the Church)  The thing that ties them together though- white or black- is the idea of the end times. The problem with the present Administration and why more than anything they scare me is their belief in the end times. Before my mom passed away in fact one preacher came up to her to say that the end times are coming so most of us are not long for this world. He meant that as a form of consolation. It's one of those beliefs that almost all facts can be shaped to fit into it. 09.11- well that is a sign of the end times. Israel/Palestenian conflict- well that means the Israelis must be on our side so that they can prepare for the second coming, and the Palestenians must be on the toerh side
        •  Something I don't understand, though (none)
          If the end times are near, why be involved in politics at all?  In Revelation, aren't the small, persecuted Christian groups keeping their heads down, praying, repenting, and consoling one another?

          What's going on now is a sort of Constantinian triumphalism.

          •  I think (none)
            they're trying to up the schedule, so to speak.  There's a reason they're so interested in Mid East and the White House indulges then by running US policy past them first.  

            Jesus is movin' too slow, they want that Rapture now.

            Our 4th estate is actually the 5th column. :: Lick Bush

            by voltayre on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 06:22:29 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Immanetize the eschaton! (none)
              In the immortal words of Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea from 1973: "They're trying to immanetize the Eschaton!"

              Indeed. I remember freaking out when Reagan was elected, for exactly the same reason: there were some fundies running loose in his administration and rumours that he too was a "Left Behind" kind of guy. Looking back, he was a pillar of reason and sanity compared to the crew we have now. Yikes.

            •  Rapture Now! (none)
              Instant gratification.  Just like the idea of touch screen voting.  No waiting.  No patience.  These people want CONTROL (of god! for goodness sake!).
          •  Exactly. (none)
            My read of Revelation is that the Antichrist would arise out of an ascendant movement and eventually rule the world. Think about that a minute. Pretty scary.

            Treating people just like pawns in chess, wait til their judgment day comes

            by Alioth on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 06:45:23 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Because certain events must occur (none)
            If the end times are near, why be involved in politics at all?  In Revelation, aren't the small, persecuted Christian groups keeping their heads down, praying, repenting, and consoling one another?

            Politics figures greatly in the endtimes message. Jesus said there would be "wars and rumors of wars," but the biggest event before the rapture is the reconstitution of Israel. Once Israel was reconstituted, the Bible says that "this generation shall not pass before it sees the Son of Man come in glory." So there is the strong belief that Israel's reconstitution is a marker for the rapture's timing.

            Also, there is the issue of the anti-Christ and prophecies in the book of Daniel about how 13 nations would come together and unify and then the anti-christ would emerge as the head of those nations and move to rule the world. Those 13 nations were the original nations involved in the founding of the EU and the Vatican is the "little horn" from which the anti-Christ emerges. Also the UN is seen as a vehicle of the world order that will usher in the anti-Christ. These, and a few other reasons give them reason to watch the political scene.

            That said, those are not the reasons that they are involved in politics. They are reason to watch politics,but not immerse themselves.

            The reason for such political involvement, in my thinking, is evangelization: converting people, bring them to Jesus, getting them saved. The rapture will NOT happen until everyone has heard the gospel and has either accepted or rejected it. So their political participation is geared towards evangelization and proslytization. I think if you analyze what they do, it is more to create a friendlier structure for them to disseminate their message in schools, the media, etc.

            I could ramble on, but that's my take.

            •  From the distance of Daniel looking forward (none)
              a couple of hundred years is nothing.

              Thirteen colonies...? and now, GWB is moving to rule the world.

              Massacre is not a family value.

              by Canadian Reader on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 05:42:07 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  And anyway, it isn't thirteen. (none)
                The EU has never had thirteen members.

                When the Single European Act took effect in 1992, there were twelve members in the EEC trading area. After the Maastricht Treaty took effect in November 1993, three more nations joined, for a total of fifteen.

                The fifteen founding members: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and United Kingdom.

                Not only that, how could they forget Poland? As of May 1, 2004, there are now twenty-five members in the EU. The new nations are Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

                Okay. So maybe later expansion doesn't count. The thirteen original US colonies kind of increased in number, too. All the same, the US definitely fits the prophesy better than the EU.

                Thirteen is thirteen. Twelve is NOT thirteen.

                You know, in case you ever have occasion to argue with someone who believes this nonsense.

                Massacre is not a family value.

                by Canadian Reader on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 06:48:40 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  Something I don't understand, though (none)
            See Barbara Rossing's "The Rapture Exposed" for a fairly detailed criticism of the theology involved behind the end times. At its roots, it appears to be a selfish theology primarily concerned with one's own personal salvation and not helping others as the original Christians did during the persecutions in Rome.
        •  "end times" everywhere (none)
          i grew up in rural texas/oklahoma along the red river. my mom's family is Native American, so i grew up with the experiences of that community. the missionaries infiltrated the tribes in oklahoma long ago, so the protestant church is prominent in most tribes. my tribal newspaper has a "chaplains corner" right under the monthly address by the chief. as recently as a month ago, they "chaplain" was urging prayer and support for our president who is leading us through "these times" and talking about how the end times were upon us. it was blatantly pro-Bush and firmly wrapped in religious imperative.
      •  but it's (none)
        their problem.

        "fuck your war... and your president."--Snake Plissken

        by binFranklin on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 03:41:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I noticed that too (none)
      ...and I think that paranoia plays right into the hands of conservative Republicans in general who want to keep alive the idea that they are an oppressed bunch.  It helps to keep the troops in line and motivated.

      Visit the Diary of the Lying Socialist Weasels, for commentary from the Original Progressive Web Warriors!

      by Jonathan on Sat Nov 06, 2004 at 11:44:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  God help us (4.00)
      When Conservative Christians figure out that the GOP has consistently punked them - taking thier votes and destroying thier economic base in return for empty promises and symbolic gestures - the result will not be political demobilization, it will be radicalization. They will take their energy into third parties like the Constitutonal Party, the White Christian Dominionist party who seeks the establishment of a Christian Theocracy. They will redirect their energies into violent conflict - they will become terrorists are a much greater rate, and with a much wider target selection, than at present.

      They will never become Democrats, or even democrats; people with a moral imperative so uncompromising find it hard to participate in anything approaching democratic dialogue. They will be our Taliban, our Al Qaeda, and wax stronger by matyrdom.

      George W. Bush does not want you to read the above...

      by mbryan on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 03:33:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If only! (3.50)
        If only the Conservative Christians would figure out they're being punked and moved into radical third parties! It's not like the real whack jobs are in any kind of actual majority. If they defected, the GOP majority would be over. If they committed acts of terrorism, they'd be destroyed (unless Bush was still in office, I suppose, as he's not big on catching terrorists).

        Actually, I think a divide-and-conquer strategy is something the Dems need to work on. How exactly I'm not sure.

      •  Punked Conservative Christians (3.66)
        Most will return to the political apathy that they had during the late 1950s.  Only a very small minority will go Dominionist, at which point it will either be a domestic terrorist (that is, a law enforcement problem) or a minor but loud sect (the tinfoil hat phenomenon).

        The much greater danger is if they force the Republican Party to deliver on its promises.

        The revolution starts now--in your own back yard, in your own home town

        by TarheelDem on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 11:09:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yes (none)
      It's scary how much they do not value our country's values and traditions.  The separation of church and state was the principle this country is built on.  That's because our founding fathers went through religious persecution and know what it is like.  These radical fundamentalists want to throw out this tradition.  They think this is o.k. because their religion is right and everyone else's is wrong.

      I think this alliance of Catholics with fundamentalists evangelicals will not hold up.  The fundamentalists don't really think that Catholics are "Christian."

      I'm a member of a minority group: the reality-based community.

      by Unstable Isotope on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 05:33:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  alliance politics (none)
        You might be right about the instability of the alliance between conservative evangelicals and Catholics, but there are fundamentalist Christians allied with fundamentalist Jews even though the former are anti-semitic.  They have this idea that Armageddon is coming to the Middle East and Jesus is returning soon (to tate it crudely).
    •  deep sense? (none)
      They preach from the pulpits they are "losing", all the more reason to fight harder... HOWEVER they see it differently than we do because they expect to win in the end no matter how bad they are losing now.
  •  No Sale (3.81)
    It is ignorance.

    These people have the same access to books and other reading material as everyone else.

    It was not any person that caused me to decide that the Presbyterian church I was born into didn't make any sense to me. It was the question about why some of the other kids were members of other religions just because they were born into different families.

    I also read, a helluva lot, and I read all kinds of stuff, more and more I realized that religion just didn't make any sense to me at all. I came to see and understand it as a vestige of the past when people who had no other tools to understand changes in their environment decided they had to attribute many things to some mysterious power. Well, I figured that I was above that.

    I do see it having some value as a social structure for people that need one but that makes Wicca or Shinto or Islam just as valid as any other religions.

    •  asdf (3.80)
      You can call it ignorance -- but I think growing up in this kind of ideology actually trains you to endure cognitive dissonance. So when Bush/Cheney comes along and tells outrageous lies, it's easier to accept -- while the rest of us, our brains explode.
      •  Good point. (4.00)
        Also, the bit about "You guys, you democrats and liberals, have a tendency to blame the people rather than the ideologies they represent"-- is nonsense.  All this hand-wringing and post-election analysis is about NOT blaming the people who voted for Bush, and how to get them to vote for their interests rather than their ideological positions.

        I don't blame the people, I absolutely do blame the ideology.  I think that statement, and lot of the rest of the person's post, was silly.  Including the bit about "is this the face of the enemy" after some syrupy stuff about how nice his mom is.  Well, yes, actually that IS the face of the 'enemy', although I would not have characterized it as such.  People who are misinformed, bigoted, prejudiced, and close-minded can also be very NICE.  Does that legitimize their views?  It does not.  Mom likes his gay friend but doesn't want that friend to marry his partner?  Why the fuck not?  How is that any skin off Mom's nose; and how can someone like someone and want the best for them while still wanting them to have fewer rights than others have?

        This is bigotry wrapped in sentimentalism.  Yuck.

        "When fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression" -- H.L. Mencken

        by cinnamondog on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 06:24:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  It is "ignore-ance" (none)
        It is the deliberate ignoring of contrary views and contrary evidence.  It is not being unlearned, uninformed, unaware, or uneducated.  It is a deliberate action of keeping oneself in the dark.

        It is exactly the like my haiku from the 1980s:

        Self-contructed naivete
        keeps me safe

        The revolution starts now--in your own back yard, in your own home town

        by TarheelDem on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 11:16:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ignore-Ance is true. Dems are Chicken Little (none)
          I find the same attitude among suburban moms=educated, somewhat informed but voted for Bush. I think the reason why is they don't want their "orderly world of family, good kids, nice home, sufficient income" to be disrupted or tarnished by all the unsettling issues the democrats are fighting for or against= the poor, the corrupt, the gays, people/kids getting abortions, the people who play fast and loose." Why bother getting involved with that mess when you can just vote to stay in your bubble.

          so I think a lot of people can't deal with the cacophony and  instead vote to stay in their "bubble" and Ignore it all preferring to believe that the democrats are either attacking them or the dems are Chicken Little yelling the Sky is Falling.

          Make it as simple as possible. But no simpler. --Albert Einstein

          by slammers on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 11:42:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •   Plus there's a lot of fear (none)
        I was taught (not in so many words) that to question was to invite doubt, and doubt could lead to disbelief, and disbelief would mean you "weren't really saved" and would go straight to hell.  It took college for me to break out of that mind-cycle...and I've got a pretty damned high IQ.
    •  That's exactly (4.00)
      how I came to be agnostic.  I was raised with religion (Methodist & Southern Baptist).  I just stopped believing because of the contradictions in the religion and the Bible.  Why are some books more important than others?

      I support freedom of religion.  But I think all religions are equally valid.  Some conservatives claim to support freedom of religion, but they don't seem to find other religions or lack of religion as equally valid.

      I'm a member of a minority group: the reality-based community.

      by Unstable Isotope on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 05:36:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Nailed it (none)
      Those are my thoughts exactly.  I have little tolerance for these religious fanatics who are hell bent on imposing their beliefs and way of life on the rest of us.  They judge, they covet, they support a war that has killed 100,000 innocent human beings; none of these acts are consistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ that I was taught in a Methodist Sunday School.  What's odd is that as an agnostic I seem to have taken the moral teachings to heart but left all the religion behind, while these Christian fundamentalist freaks cling to the religion but don't seem to understand or care about the moral teachings.  

      I hope some sort of reconciliation is possible between the secularists and the Christians, but my sense is that we're headed for a showdown on the scale of the Civil War (maybe not so violent).

      "You go to your TV to turn your brain off. You go to your computer to turn your brain on." - Steve Jobs

      by Subterranean on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 06:56:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Amazing Diary (none)

    "Conservatism makes no poetry, breathes no prayer, has no invention; it is all memory." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

    by reef the dog on Sat Nov 06, 2004 at 11:31:46 PM PST

  •  Wow (3.88)
    I've lived in Tennessee for over 20 years, and known plenty of Baptists and Church of Christers, but never delved deep enough to get to this kind of understanding. This makes sense to me.

    Molly Ivins once wrote something about how she became a liberal, and it hinged on race, as this woman's evolution hinged on gays. Ivins said something to the effect that once you found out they were lying to you about race, that black people weren't inherently inferior, you started to question everything.

    I also recall a story about a young guy who had a similar experience. He was from Austin, and he went to see Louis Armstrong, and suddenly realized that a black person could be a genius. All the black people he knew were laborers or maids, so it was this major revelation to him. He wound up becoming a lawyer and working on the team that argued, IIRC, Brown v. Board of Education.

    Gawd, I sound like Paul Harvey.

    But anyway, this worldview seems like a tough nut to crack. But not impossible. After all, Bono managed to swing Jesse Helms on AIDS funding for Africa on the basis of their shared religious beliefs.

    Thanks for posting this. I'd like a link to this woman's blog, though, because I'd like to read more of her stuff. This whole "values" conversation has affected me deeply, because my religious background is the reason I vote Dem.

    •  Dave Marsh, (4.00)
      the rock critic, has spoken of his 'conversion'. It's smiliar to Ivins's. He says he grew up in a family where his father was a 'traditional bigoted racist' common in 1950's and 1960's Middle America. What converted him--and Marsh is now an uber-Liberal--was what he called the humanity in Smokey Robinson's voice.

      I don't think it's any coincidence that the person who wrote the original blog message, the former Christian Conservative, has a gay best friend. Once you realize that gays, blacks, Smokey Robinson et al aren't The Enemy, the whole house of cards collapses.

      "If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child."--Barack Obama

      by ChurchofBruce on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 04:35:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The cure is prayer (none)
      What would Jesus do? PRAY.

      Prayer truly changes circumstances, people and perceptions. Know that the answer to prayer may look messy. So no matter what you see, hold your prayer despite circumstances. Prayer is power.

      I don't like this growing fundamentalist fervor. Four more years of Bush, unfettered, will change the courts and the country indefinitely. Only WE, the people united, have the power to change the direction...and WE includes all Americans.

       For all who believe in the God of their choosing, pray. I am not being facetious. In addition to all the other work for peace and freedom, pray. Pray that they see through all the deception. Pray they no longer follow the Repubs (and the extremist Muslims), like sheep to slaughter.

      For all my athiest friends out in Kosland and beyond, I invite you to hold a positive image in your mind of how the world would be free of war, poverty, pollution.  When you start to worry, call up the image of a better world.

      "Won't help," you grouse. Maybe, but it sure won't hurt.

       You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one-- John Lennon

      "They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

      by digital drano on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 08:21:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why is this surprising? (none)
    Hell - I could've told you this and I'm a Catholic in Memphis.  We know all about the door knocks and the 'onward, Christian warriors' mentality.

    Evangelicals live in the know.  It's just that there's not as many of them.  Also, there's plenty of 'em on college campuses.  Dealt with them all the time.

    Us vs. them is very true, but it's a hell of a lot easier to point the finger at a 'them' when 'them' don't speak with a Southern accent.  Throw in the fact that he's a Catholic and a divorced one at that, and that's all she wrote.

    Your mom was dead-on: even the most ardent Evangelical knows that politics is a dirty business.  That's why being a Southern candidate is so very important to many Southerners, especially evangelicals.

    Evangelicals can recognize politics when they see it and when they take a side, it's all over, there's no convincing whatsoever.  War incompetence?  Not an issue.  Raping the environment?  Not an issue.  Fiscal irrationality beyond compare?  Not an issue.  TRUST?  THAT is the issue.  That's why Edwards-Clark in '08 would KILL Rudy G. (another Yankee, pro-choice, Catholic who also had an affair no less) or Pataki.

    That's probably more than anything else the moral of this story.  

    Bush could devote 100% of his resources on swing states and Kerry didn't have a chance in the South...except for Florida.  Bush did very well in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin because he practically lived there (and Pennsylvania) during the past 2 years.  He could afford that luxury since he hardly had to defend a single state he carried in 2000 - with the exception of Ohio.

    •  I agree with you (none)
      I attended Baylor University and now live in the heart of fundamentalist Texas.  While it is true that fundamentalism is not the largest sect in the South it is clearly the dominate one.  Most politicians pander to them.  Local city councils, mayors, school boards fear them.

      Also when I see so many folks writing on this blog that they have been surprised by all of this I wonder what else they may not understand when it comes to national politics.  One the one hand I am encouraged by this because it could be that we are stronger than our voting record; but on the other....

      There is a way to defeat fundamentalism, but we won't do it by showing them the error of their ways.  

  •  Great diary. (none)
    truly fantastic. What would be your suggestion to get to these people. I agree that the Kerry strategy of factual information didnt work, but how does one shake their belief system?
    •  One thing that occurs to me (none)
      I don't think any religious message would get through.  It wouldn't matter a whit which liberal-esque Bible passages you emphasize; the innoculation against that sort of thing is probably total.

      I would think that if anything works, it's got to be a certain "trigger" event (like watching a gay friend die).  Other than that, we should probably simply acknowledge that evangelicals are not potential allies, and work to limit the spread of their beliefs to new people.

      Visit the Diary of the Lying Socialist Weasels, for commentary from the Original Progressive Web Warriors!

      by Jonathan on Sat Nov 06, 2004 at 11:49:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Is it too late to retract that statement? (none)
        For the good of the Democratic Party?

        Crap - talk about being 'anti-religious'!  

        "We to limit the spread of their beliefs to new people."

        Gawd, I hope no Republican evangelicals are reading this, it'll be c&p heaven.

        •  Nope (4.00)
          I meant it.  I think evangelical Christianity, of the sort described by the diary author, is harmful to the country.

          I don't have a problem with people believing what they want to believe.  I DO have a problem with a religion that specifically tries to involve itself in politics, and use that involvement to hurt people.  To me, that's worth opposing.

          And to be clear, I'm not talking about Christianity in general.  Heck, I'd consider myself to be a Christian.  Rather, I'm talking specifically about one branch of Christianity, one that actually has quite a bit in common with the religion that informs the KKK and other hate groups.

          Visit the Diary of the Lying Socialist Weasels, for commentary from the Original Progressive Web Warriors!

          by Jonathan on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 12:00:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  One more thing (4.00)
            If my lone statement is enough to bring down the Demoratic Party, then God help us all.  The Freepers produce stuff that is far more heated and explosive every day.

            To repeat: I have no problem with religion or beliefs for their own sake.  I have a problem with the spread of ideas that result in people hurting other people.  I'd say the same thing about limiting the spread of racism.

            Visit the Diary of the Lying Socialist Weasels, for commentary from the Original Progressive Web Warriors!

            by Jonathan on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 12:03:31 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Not all evangelicals (none)
            There are plenty of evangelicals (I'd say a large minority) who are not fundamentalists in the sense described in the diary. Evangelical, Charismatic and fundamentalist all have slightly diffeent meanings, though they overlap. I think the best term to use for that we're up against is "The Christian Right" (though I prefer the "so-called Christian Right, that puts in too much of my bias). Many Evangelicals, especially blacks, but also many whites, have world views very different thant that described by the diarist.

            Let's stop worrying about who will lead us in 2008 and instead work on who we'll be 2005.

            by pHunbalanced on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 07:44:37 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Indeed (none)
  're talking about a cult that actually has its roots in the 19th century -- those guys in hairsuits carrying signs saying "The World Is Coming To An End" that used to be something folks laughed at are now running the country.
      •  Not Evangelicals -- Southern Baptist Convention (none)
        we should probably simply acknowledge that evangelicals

        This diary was about Baptists of the Southern Baptist Convention persuasion.  Since 1979, the Southern Baptist Convention, headquartered in Nashville, TN, has been a front group for the Republican Party.  As a result many Baptist congregations in the South have dropped their ties to the Southern Baptist Convention.

        There are midwestern and Pennsylvania evangelicals who are not in this same mindset; indeed, some of them oppose war.

        The revolution starts now--in your own back yard, in your own home town

        by TarheelDem on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 11:25:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Simple (none)
      PRAY - yeah, pray - that Rudy G./Pataki/McCain get nominated in '08.  None of these guys are an evangelical and IF Rudy G. wins, and we run Edwards-Clark against that ticket, we are on a VERY level playing field in the South.

      Again, Southern evangelicals don't trust politicians in general (they're not THAT dumb!).

      A contest between a 'them' Democratic and a 'them' Republican....we can get their ear.

      A contest between an 'someone like us' Republican and a 'them' Democrat = 04 redux.  

      •  At what expense? (none)
        While it might end up making the Democratic ticket "competitive" in the South for 2008, I think the price of Giuliani would be too high.  Wouldn't that mean we'd have to defend New York?  I'm a blueblooded Pennsylvanian and even I would have a tough time voting for a 100% southern ticket over socially progressive Giuliani.  
      •  Never happen (none)
        RINOs like Guiliani and McCain won't make it through the primary process.  

        Unless the simmering civil war in the GOP explodes, and the "reality-based" wing of it prevails, there is no way a guy like Guiliani would get nominated.  He's pro-choice and for gay rights.  He had not just one affair, but many of them. In public.  Which his kids had to read about on the front pages of the NY tabloids - with photos.  His wife found out he was divorcing her when she saw it on TV.  He announced it at a press conference on the steps of City Hall; he didn't bother telling her first.  The divorce was messy, with the judge scolding him for wanting to bring his mistress home to Gracie Mansion, where his kids lived.  When he was kicked out, he moved in with some male friends - a gay couple.  And perhaps worst of all, his last name ends in a vowel.

        A lot of analysts used to criticize the GOP for nominating candidates too far right to appeal to the mainstream.  But there's a method to their madness.  Not having to defend any Southern state except Florida is a tremendous advantage - one they are not likely to give up by nominating a moderate.

        "We share half our genes with the banana. This is a fact more evident in some of my acquaintances than others." - Robert Mays

        by randym77 on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 06:19:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  At the risk of being a pessimist... (4.00)
      I dunno that there is any hope. The author's mind changed through personal experience. Another poster said any change would have to come through personal experience and I fear that will not happen too often or at least not often enough.

      I hope I am wrong, but to me, the prospect of shaking their belief system is like me talking to a cat, trying to get it to do my dishes and clean my grout.

      I ain't got no damn job. Need a writer/editor/Web guy? Have brain, will travel.

      by rghojai on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 12:43:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There is one thing... (4.00)
      When John Kennedy ran for president the fundamentalists raged against him, led by W. A. Criswell, the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  Criswell was the leader, and revered saint, of the fundamentalist movement.  I was a student at Baylor University at the time and knew many preachers-in-training.  They were, and are, an amazingly political, and materialistic, group.  I attended political strategy sessions every Sunday for months in the run up to the election.  These young guys would report from all areas of the South as they talked to folks back home.  It was amazing.  In any case, it appeared to me that these men were different from their flock, but the flock did not realize it.  Once a wedge is driven between the leadership of the church and the beliefs of the flock then it is all over but the shouting.  We just have to find the wedge and then we have to find the determination to use it.
      •  First Baptist Church -- Dallas and Atlanta (none)
        The First Baptist Church in Dallas (Criswell) and the First Baptist Church in Atlanta led the Southern Baptist Convention into being a Republican front group in 1979.

        It was a self-conscious smackdown of Jimmy Carter or his racially tolerant, pro-choice views.

        The revolution starts now--in your own back yard, in your own home town

        by TarheelDem on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 11:29:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't get this front group (none)
          In 1960 the SBC was taking out full-pages ads telling their members and world at large that they should vote Republican.  The Republicans at that time were glad to get the endorsement.  The Baptists and the Republicans continued this game with the exception LBJ's election.  Finally, when Nixon ran again, the Republicans caught on and they fell in line.  The Baptists have been delivering the South ever since.  They are stronger than ever and their demands for payback get steeper and steeper - - just watch the next 4 years.
          •  Front Group, Yes, a Front Group (none)
            In 1960 the SBC was taking out full-pages ads telling their members and world at large that they should vote Republican.

            That was a one time occurrence during an election, one in which a Roman Catholic was running for president, not a continuous political movement that operates through the mechanisms of the SBC and enforces discipline on pastors and congregations.

            The events in 1979, orchestrated by Criswell, Fallwell, and others, were such a watershed that several colleges and universities converted to being private colleges and universities.

            The Republican agenda now dominates the SBC agenda instead of the SBC being merely and advocate group.

            The revolution starts now--in your own back yard, in your own home town

            by TarheelDem on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 12:53:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  How to win (none)
      I'm not sure you can win fundamentalists.  I think the Democratic party can win by constructing a vision.  Show how this vision of how the country and world will work informs the programs we support.  Bush did this effectively.  Kerry offered solutions, but not a vision.  I think this would be effective for the non-fundamentalists Christians, who we need to win over more.

      I'm a member of a minority group: the reality-based community.

      by Unstable Isotope on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 05:40:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You can't win them. (none)
        But you can demoralize them and split them, and isolate them.  Those principles they follow are big red buttons we can push to get them to over-reach.

        Wouldn't it be great to have a President who did the right thing as the automatic choice instead of a grudging last resort?

        by DemInTampa on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 06:14:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  asdf (none)
      how about when their corrupt leaders fall?  Come on -- the guys in charge just care about accumulating power and money, and power corrupts.  As we have seen with Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Faye, etc.

      Send the IRS after them i say.

      Get a big paper or network to do some serious investigative reporting -- i'm sure it'll be easy to uncover criminality.

      tikkun olam -- heal the world

      by bjeanh1 on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 04:34:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Unfortunately (none)
        ...the IRS has a list of Bush critics to harass right now, most notably the NAACP, and i think they did that as a pre-emptive strike to incapacitate them so they can't fight for the inevitable civil rights issues that exist with this abominable election.
  •  Thanks (none)
    Terrific post. We secular liberals need much more exposure to stories like these.
    •  Well (none)
      ya'll should come lurk on our blogs and discussion groups. There's Christians for Kerry, Catholics for Kerry, etc. They may all be morphing now, but I'm sure you can google them in and catch them before they're gone. (Catholics for Kerry will remain as is for now).

      Also, the Kerry forum is morphing into the Common Ground Common Sense forum and there is a sub-forum for People of faith. Lurk there and get a sense of us.

      There's also groups like pax Christi and Sojorners which are progressive Christian or Catholic websites, just to get a sense of how we all think.

    •  everybody seems to be making it (none)
      evangelical christians vs. seculars

      their are a lot of other people of religious faith who aren't evangelicals.  I am an observant jew, but am a lefty radical liberal.

      tikkun olam -- heal the world

      by bjeanh1 on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 04:44:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Beautiful (4.00)
    Having a similar experience in my youth (not identical, but similar to an extent), it all makes sense.


    "Them is the World.  The World is evil and sinful and wants to persecute Us.  It is Our job as Conservative Christians to don our armor and wage war against the World. "

    I had never - and I mean never - thought to tie the persecution complex back to Paul (who, need we forget, seems to be constantly fussing about churches that have fallen off the wagon, so to speak).

    But it makes a lot of sense. There is a very emphasis on martyrdom in conservative churches. This probably tends to rub off and make people think that they themselves are martyrs.

    Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness.

    by JimTXDem on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 12:00:51 AM PST

    •  What about these? (none)
      •  John Shelby Spong, in "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism" discusses the speculation that Paul was actually homosexual and that all of his ridigity and fulmination was the result of him repressing the hell out of it.  Jim Bakker, former head of the PTL club, was apparently deeply involved in homosexual behavior.

      •  Barna Research, Ltd. says the following things:

      "In a previous book, Barna warned that America was rapidly devolving into a society beset by moral anarchy. In his new volume he flatly states that moral anarchy has arrived and rules our culture today. The argument hinges on a substantial amount of attitudinal and behavioral evidence: record bankruptcy levels, frivolous lawsuits, the rapid growth of the pornography industry, highway speeding as the norm, income tax cheating, computer hacking and viruses, rising levels of white collar crime, rampant copyright violations (movies, books, recordings), terrorism and intimidation tactics, Net-based plagiarism, emotional comfort with lying and cheating, increasing rates of co-habitation and adultery, and so forth.

      Moreover, in Boiling Point, Barna takes the argument farther and suggests that the United States is now in a state of spiritual anarchy as well. He mentioned that millions of people's faith activity is no longer affected by parameters such as church loyalty, respect for clergy, acceptance of absolutes, tolerance of Christianity, reverence for God, a desire to strive for personal holiness, sensitivity to theological heresy, and appreciation of tradition. The rejection of these elements has created a void that has been filled by the customized spirituality that lacks biblical moorings."

      No doubt many of those 'values voters' are reacting to this same sense.  We could do some things to exaggerate their paranoia, and emphasize the corporate donorship links to the larger Republican Party.  We could start (and continue) by pointing out that Fox TV (parent of Fox News and the media arm of the Republican Party) is responsible for many of the most offensive programs to appear in prime time, and keep on suggesting that a better target for their ire would be Fox and its advertisers if they really wanted to have an effect.  The Republicans have a scorpion in their pants, and we can get it to sting.

      Wouldn't it be great to have a President who did the right thing as the automatic choice instead of a grudging last resort?

      by DemInTampa on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 07:31:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Paul was not one of the original disciples (none)
      ... thus he never walked and talked with the Man of Peace, the loosener of bonds, the forgiver of sins, the man of compassion and love.

      It seems to me that the Baptist fundamentalists are People of Paul, not Christians.  They, like Paul, who was a very, very observant Jew and persecuted those who did not observe the law in all its minutiae, seem to have missed the point about true Christianity.  Granted, Paul wanted to evangelize the heathen.  But at the same time he got hung up with do's and don't's  - something that Jesus tried to sweep away.

      Actually, I think Paul is best understood as a kiind of mystic.  He may even have been epileptic (the blinding light, the fall off the horse) or some other mental disorder.

      Anyway, end of rant on Paul.  

      Jesus was an extraordinary figure, who seems to have had the ability to touch the hearts of people  so that they were the never the same.

      Paul twisted that message, based on his own mystical views and rigid upbringing.  Talk about the "strict father" frame!

  •  Makes me want to flee the country even more.. (none)
    Go to good old Chatholic Europe.

    We Glory in war, in the shedding of human blood. What fools we are.

    by delver rootnose on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 12:06:09 AM PST

    •  This is your country, and its the only one you got (4.00)
      So buck up, we're in for a long ride.

      And we're gonna need everybody we can get.

      Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness.

      by JimTXDem on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 12:15:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nope Sorry even if I stay I'm.. (3.00)
        dropping out.  I can't tolerate a populace where Bush did not get resoundingly stomped in the election.  It depresses me no end that in a battle between the lesser of two evils the majority of people happily voted for the most evil.  I am going to become how I see republicans.  Surly sour evil and most prominently self-centered.

        Even the religious ones are just self-centered or as they put it Christ centered but since God cannot be proved and requires faith this faith allows for them to justify any actions they do or if they do something they know is wrong all they have to do is get some other believer to forgive them.

        We Glory in war, in the shedding of human blood. What fools we are.

        by delver rootnose on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 12:32:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Europe is (none)
      way more secular. Why just the other day the Vatican was throwing a hissy that christianity didn't get it proper reverence in the EU constitution.


      Our 4th estate is actually the 5th column. :: Lick Bush

      by voltayre on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 06:39:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Secular sure, but.... (none)
        only until there is talk of letting Turkey in to the EU.  Then all of a sudden there is talk of Europe as having a Christian identity.  I hate it when people talk of Europe as some sort of paradise of free thinking, it ain't. I lived there for years, my husband is from there, I visit my in-laws there each year, and may someday move back there for a time.  Europeans are just as fucked up as we are, just in different ways.

        Living abroad is a wonderful opportunity to learn not only about another culture, but also about oneself. And one of the perks of moving abroad is that the problems that surround you are not be your problems, or your responsibility to fix.  If that is what people want to do to escape what is going on here, that is fine.  I think it would be wonderful to have more Americans with knowledge of what is going on in the rest of the world first hand.  Just move back home and register to vote before the next election.  

      •  That fit is old here - Americanist Heresy n/t (none)

        Yet another member of the "reality-based community"

        by cmk on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 11:02:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  You have to see to believe this! (none)
    You know, the view of Catholicism he was talking about? As the whore of Babylon?
    Please look at this:
    •  Y'know (4.00)
      This is the thing: We keep hearing about how the Democratic Party denigrates religion. Well, name names. Who are these Democrats? Jimmy Carter, the ex-deacon? John Kerry, the former altar boy? Al Gore, the ex-divinity student?

      While Crazy Christians are given free rein to call Catholicism The Whore of Babylon.

      You know, my old roommate, who'd been raised Church of Christ, told me when I was 20 that her religion had taught that people who weren't Church of Christ were all going to Hell. Being a nice Lutheran girl from Maryland, I gasped and said, "That's the most awful thing I've ever heard!" before I could even think.

      Then, of course, I apologized for denigrating the teachings of her religion. Y'know, being liberal and all.

      She was cool with it. She'd lived at the CoC students' house and found it was a den of iniquity, something which didn't surprise me a bit, having grown up with a Southern Baptist preacher's daughter whose sexual habits were, shall we say, indiscriminate.

      But anyway, who's more dismissive of whose beliefs again?

      •  it's the activists and staff (3.80)
        yeah, it is weird when i see people say "Democrats denigrate religion." our candidates uniformly all have faith. our voters are still majority people of faith (only 14% of voters were secular). the only Democrats i have met who are not religious are Democratic staffers, the political professionals (i.e. including at interest groups like EMily's List, NARAL, Sierra Club) and activists in the party/blogosphere. only 20% of white delegates at the 1992 Democratic convention attended church once a month. places like Kos reflect the anti-religion/Christian bias that is so keenly felt and picked up among some believers. i know. i've felt it here as an evangelical, to the point where i wrote a post today about wanting to leave because i couldn't take anymore the Christian bashing/ignorance. i am seen as the "enemy," as someone with no brain cells who is stupid enough to believe in faith. it's funny, the folks here and on the Democratic staffs are severely out of touch with their own voting base. having worked in campaigns, in DC with the liberal interest groups, i know that organized religion is not looked highly upon. it is sneered at by the elites in DC/NY/Los Angeles. the only place in professional Democratic circles where faith is accepted and not condescended to is in the minority civil rights groups.

        if i were the GOP, i would simply put out direct mail with DailyKos posters' on Christianity and faith to show just how much the "liberals" hold "Americans of faith" in contempt. I always thought the professional Democrats tone-deaf approach to religion would hurt them someday, and that it would allow the GOP to make inroads in minority communities. no campaign staff i was ever on took that view seriously. i take no pleasure in saying, "I told you so." i once suggested on a campaign we have a religious outreach desk. i got laughted off. "Why do we need to talk about God? That's so stupid.that's what the GOP does when they brainwash people." uh ok.

        even now, there is handwringing about how to talk "to the Christians," with people wondering if we have to sell out our beliefs, people outraged at the notion of having to do "God talk." people paranoid about injecting religion into any debate. but you have various liberals who HAVE preached a spiritual vision that is inclusive, welcoming, tolerant. CLinton, Carter, Martin Luther King, Obama. even a Paul Wellstone did this brilliantly, sounding like an old school Jewish prophet in his speeches.

        when i talk to GOP folks in DC about faith matters, i'm not laughed at, as in "how could you believe that shit?" they'll ask which church i go to, which bible study. no one ever dares question my intelligence. it's a comfort that i never experience in the Democratic activist setting (whether at a Emily's List event, or here at Kos).

        •  You're getting at something (none)
          I resent the Crazy Christians' presumed hold on moral issues.

          ihlin, I've fought with you, because I don't believe that the Democratic Party is against religion, which it isn't. I don't think Galiel is representative of the party. He's just an asshole.

          Don't you live in California? That might explain a lot. I live in Tennessee, and people are Democrats because it's right.

          There are a lot of faith traditons in this country, and many of them are reticent.

          My mom hasn't gone to church in years, but she was so angry and upset by the framing of this election as a question of "moral values." She knows it was just about fag-hatin', and that kindness and love didn't enter into it.

          She believes in taking care of people, teaching them to fish. She believes in kindness, in equality.

        •  keep on this message (none)
          because you're right.    We need to speak to the persuadeable edge of the religious Christian electorate to win in the near future.  
          •  Know your audience. An example (4.00)
            For righteous people, personal inconsistency is the secret weapon. There's a tremendous amount of cherrypicking that goes on when it comes time for evangelicals to dole out their outrage. A la carte Pauls, many. Someone above referenced Barna. Here they are: The Barna Research Group:
            *Born again Christians are just as likely to get divorced as are non-born again adults. Overall, 33% of all born again individuals who have been married have gone through a divorce, which is statistically identical to the 34% incidence among non-born again adults.
            If you click through, you'll find all kinds of neato facts: Such as, Massachussets Liberals walk the talk of the sacred commitment of marriage better than evangelicals. Tell me again, who is it we're protecting marriage from?

            I don't ask that question to make a snarky point, just to point out the above mentioned inconsistency vulnerability. But. BUT. In order to be heard, you must frame your message in the vernacular, otherwise your only audience will be you, and bats and dogs.

            Use the words they would use, but use them first. Take gay marriage, the reason this election went south in more ways than one...

            Demonstrate: that if you (evangelicals) are going to cleave the country in two, then many of your most active allies will be "left behind", so to speak, because, as we have learned all too well of late, the mirror has two faces. The "demons" you choose to so paint also have (R) after their name. They go to your churches, they live under your family roof. They are your friends, they are your children, your brothers and sisters, they are the family of Man. Imperfect, as God intended. Living together, as God made them to be. If man's words and laws made life the idyll you imagine, then we would have all been sipping ambrosia since birth.

            Visualize: Faces of families, gay and otherwise, young and old, large and small, each with members disappeared from screen. "These are the enemy of God?"

            Ask: If man and woman are God's creations, who are we to arrogantly divide--by impecfect, human, political means--that which he has, inexplicably to some, placed on this earth to live together. Love, commitment, sacrifice, all the ingredients are there. Suddenly these are less than virtuous?

            Say: This is not a new challenge. It is an ages old conundrum. But if you deign to take matters into to your own hands merely to serve your modernistic, earthly impatience at not understanding His plan, then what do you get? Who is to say, but we know what we've been told: He who troubles his own house, shall inherit the wind.

            God has told us we can do better than that. But only together. And only if we truly will try. Now go. In peace. And be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only.


            end translation

        •  If we can't be honest (none)
          with ourselves how can we move forward?

          We have two choices: we can kick out all the secular progressives and become GOP-lite (which I'll be leaving) or we can hash out what our common values and shared vision is and move forward.

          I'm a member of a minority group: the reality-based community.

          by Unstable Isotope on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 05:47:06 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  i don't want to kick you out (none)
            you're a pilar of our base as our african americans, who disagree with you on most faith matters. but we need to expand it. where are we going to get votes now? we lost ground among Latinos, and black voters cannot simply be expected to vote 90% Dem time after time, esp. with so little to show for it. in OHio, the GOp already doubled it's % among blacks, they increased the Catholic/Jewish vote. i have no idea why people that go to church once a week should vote GOP and endorse their hateful, scapegoating negative agenda. but if we don't convince some of them to vote Dem. we're gonna be in the wilderness a long long time.
            •  I agree that we need them (none)
              and I think that we can get some of them, because our core values as a party, even among those of us who are not Christian, are also central to a whole lot of people of faith. I see the problem as coming from two ends:

              I think that the Democratic party doesn't talk about those values enough, whether they're placed in a religious context or not, and that a great many Christians of various denominations would vote liberal if the liberals would make their case well. Not on particular issues, which is where we always make our mistake, but on what we think is right in the world.

              But the other end of the problem isn't something that I personally can do much about, given that I'm an outsider to the Christian faith(s). I also think that liberal-minded Christians need to speak up and reclaim their churches, or at least end this national perception that all Christians are hardcore republicans. Which means lefty Christians need to stand up and say hey, this is our God, too, whether they're from the relatively white, hippy fold of my local Methodist church or whether they're African-American evangelicals or whatever.

              Change has to come from the party, and, like you, I read the comments generalizing all Christians with despair. We write off all Christians at our own peril, and I wish people could learn that any community so large has millions of divergent voices that defy easy generalizations. But that change also has to come from inside the Christian communities, to show that world, and the hardcore rightwing Christians, that not all Christians in this country follow Ralph Reed. Faith does not equal conservatism.

              This got very long, sorry ;)

          •  you don't get it (none)
            We don't need to change any values. We could just through more religious language. I'll explain it real simply.

            god=values of compassion

            1. We believe in god (values of compassion), and so we need a fair tax code.

            2. God (values of compassion) tells us that we shouldn't kill. What are we doing in Iraq?

            Satan=Republican elite
            3. The Republican elite are destroying the economy.

            We just to redefine the term. All values are religious. We have plenty of values. The Republicans have simply redefined the terms to their advantage. We need to fight back.

            •  What if we don't believe in God? (none)
              I do, but that's not the issue.

              What if we don't?  Should we lie?  Should we help build a country in which atheists are even more excluded?  Shall we help tear down the division of church and state that, quite frankly, is one of the only reasons that some people vote Democrat?

              Do you really think the party is just about good works and helping the poor?  Do you think the ACLU faction is insignificant?

              Do you think it helps a reality-based community to encourage faith-based determinations?

              I will give no quarter to the Religious Right and if my party does, it may lose a lot more voters than it gains.

              •  redefine the terms (none)
                All I'm saying is that you have to redefine whatever values you believe in as equivalent to god. You can add in things like civil liberties, free speech, and even Darwin's theory of evolution.

                The point is that if you make it a "religious" message you can garner more populous appeal. I don't see how it is "giving into the religious right". It has nothing to do with changing goals, but rather just phrasing them in a more populist way.

                Your whole faith-based and reality-based rhetoric doesn't really explain anything. I don't see how trying to bring people from the religious right over to our side would be giving ground. If you want to equate god with making reality-based determinations, I think that could work too.

        •  good points (none)
          Keep making yourself heard.  I think the Dems might be ready to  listen to you now.  Your comment made me wonder if the Dems trapped themselves by defining themselves as anti-Republican in a way that blinded themselves to the nessicity of competing with the Republicans without sacrificing their principles.
        •  How would you talk inclusively (none)
          in a world with secular minds, such as scientists, with Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Moslems, Catholics, and the spectrum of Protestants?  Can  you use the word God?  What is your advice?
          •  i told you--have an inclusive vision (4.00)
            i believe all the worlds faiths have common themes of caring for the poor, of being compassionate and kind, of serving their fellow man,of being humble and showing humility. like i said, Wellstone's thrilling rhetoric of prophecy resonated with me and many of other Christians. German lutherans in Minnesota loved him. Martin Luther King attracted many secular whites with his message of equality and social justice. obviously, they did not feel alienated or threatened. we can do that. read the Christian for Dean article i keep linking too:


            I also will say i supported Dean in part becausei thought he spoke to those best principles of Christianity: loving your neighbor, the theme of community-building. The Prospect had a good article on Dean's religion that i felt was the only one that "got it". this is the type of article you never see in the elite media that treats religion with the same condescension as folks here too.


            Dean's rhetoric obviously was inclusive. no one here objected. i dare say most were as equally inspired. But Dean had a firm moral vision and was able to articulate it i think in ways Kerry simply could not. That's why i worry already about the stupid handwringing over not running "another New Englander". Dean is a very different candidate from Kerry.

            i am so sick of people making political calculations of who should be the nominee (We need a midwesterner! no, a red-state Governor! a Southerner whose got Jesus!) this is all bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.

            as i posted before, people are hungry for vision, idealism, passion, conviction. that is why they vote for folks. I mean, on paper, who the hell was Dean? he represented VERMONT, with its tinypopulation of 99% white people. on paper he was a political loser. people gravitated towards him because he had something to say!
            Same with Reagan. on paper, how could he be the GOP nominee, a divorced Hollywood actor? he could because he had firm convictions that never wavered. i sure as hell disagreed with REagan's vision, but i never doubted his sincerity about truly believing in it. that goes a long long way with voters. i think Dubya's supporters were truly inspired by his rhetoric about "spreading freedom and liberty" and that "freedom is a gift from the almighty." yes, i know it's all bullshit. but it is inspiring and visionary language that Kerry could not match, other than talking about building a "Global coalition".

            i kept wanting to during the campaign for Kerry to bash Bush on the one central Christian tenet we are supposed to adhere to: Love your neighbor. we have treated our allies in the most contemptuous, non-Jesus like ways. i wish he could have called BUsh on it using that type of language. i'm sure my secular friends who have approved.

            Bernie Sanders is a self-proclaimed socialist, but he routinely wins GOP votes in VT because of his class-warfare populism that resonates. same with Wellstone. same with Obama who won many GOP white rural voters. same with Feingold who connects with rural folks who may not agree with his abortion position. i voted for John McCain in 2000 and i don't care where the hellhe came from. i simply liked his integrity despite disgreeing with him on 90% of the issues. he would be formidable in 2008. until gutless Democrats stop trying to go for what's "safe" and "electable" than genuine passion and conviction, they'll keep losing.

            •  great post (none)
              I am in completely agreement that it is the Dems desire to play it safe that is at the crux of the problem. People don't like weakwilled leadership not willing to take a chance and plainly say their vision for America and what they believe in. Your example of Obama is totally on point. Here is a guy who is unapologelically for gay rights (and says so without hesitation), for the woman's right to chose, for so many of the other issues that in theory he should lose on, or at the very least should not be cutting into Republican voting blocks like he did, and yet, he did do this. Here's a guy who is also a man of faith. I was one of those chicken little independent leaning Dems for a long time, but this election has taught me something. You can't win by being afraid- you have to find the strength to speak truth to power.
              •  same with Feingold (none)
                but Feingold has unapologetically stood up for Rural America by bashing corporate agribusiness and NAFTA. that's why they like him. Obama went to rural areas and made his case. you can see he is a man of true convictions, whose principles never waves. people sense that. they never sensed that from Kerry.
            •  Toward an inclusive vision - "frame" (none)
              Some of us have been working on that, on the ideas and the language.

              We're trying to use the idea of CIVIC VIRTUE as the lynchpin, which ties many of our values, spiritual or otherwise, together:

              A.  Eldercare.  It's a virtue.  Anything less is a vice.  (goes for medicare or social security)

              B. Budget Deficit? = Financial heresy.  

                  Civic Virtue? = Financial integrity.

              C. Blessed are the Peacekeepers. War is an abomination.

              D. Conservation is a virtue.  Desecration is a vice.

              E. Voting by the "Golden Rule."  Virtue counts.  Vice does not.

              F. Give back to society.  Break the cycle of greed.

              G. Resource, not outsource.  (goes for energy, jobs, everything)

              We are trying to use ideas that the christian right cannot disagree with, without upsetting those who are not christian or not religious at all.  But care.

              •  good job (none)
                you've come up with some good ones. Greed and materialism are two things i have found wide agreement among evangelicals, no matter their politics. We are all concerned with the vapid materialism, consumerism and greed of American society.
            •  Kerry only had a PLAN, not a VISION. (none)
              I think that the Democratic Party did the country a diservice when it packed all the primaries early in the year.  Remember, Kerry's big selling point after Iowa was that he "seemed presidential". I think that if the primaries had allowed more states to substantively participate in vetting the nomination, we may have had a better candidate.

              I loved Howard Dean.  He was rough around the edges and the PEOPLE loved him.  Unfortunately, the party did not. (He wasn't their guy, so they 86ed him.) A Dean/Clark would have been great - the passion and the punch.

              Dean was dead in the water by the time the nomination got around to my bright blue state.  Most people didn't even discuss to Kerry vs. Edwards. (John who?) Kerry just steamrolled through - ex-vet, seems presidential, yadda, yadda.  On the other hand Edwards TWO AMERICAS rap was very persuasive.  I voted Edwards because he had more passion, son of a mill worker -- "small town boy dun good."

              I hoped they might highlight the 2 Americas speech when Kerry picked Edwards as VP--instead we focused on VietNam and the endorement of generals. Looking backward, not forward.

              Kerry made the election about himself. He only had a PLAN, not a VISION.

              "Where there is no vision the people will perish."

              "They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

              by digital drano on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 09:07:29 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  holy crap (none)
  •  Man (4.00)
    I had forgotten this.  You're right on the money here.

    I was raised in a midwest Baptist family.  We were born again, we were in a battle with Satan, we had to defend ourselves from the world, which was out to tempt us and lead us astray.  We had to be ready for the rapture.  I went to Bible college and had large parts of the Bible memorized.  I was training to be a missionary.

    Then life events intervened in interesting ways, leading me to conclude that either God does not exist, or if he does, he's completely uninvolved in what we do.  That the belief system is propped up by psychology, not an external reality.  But now it's been more than 20 years, and I can barely remember my earlier beliefs.  You brought it all back.

    A few years after I left the church, I went with my family once when I was visiting, and I was so turned off by the preacher's message.  He was talking about how evil the world is (and the people in it, who are controlled by Satan), and I was thinking, "That's crazy, I'm solidly in the world right now and it's a pretty neat place.  And I really like the people."  I never went back to church again.

    I have since forgotten what it was like to believe those things about the world, but you're right, that is why no amount of facts will change this person's world view.  They have to experience something personally that causes them to question what they've been told about God.

    Democrats: The party of rights.

    by Katydid on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 12:15:53 AM PST

    •  If god exists then... (none)
      the world is just like the puppy the child Jesus begs for and gets only to grow tired with caring for it.  Leaving the care to a resentful parent that regrets getting the puppy in the first place.  More so each time the puppy craps on the fine oriental rug.

      We Glory in war, in the shedding of human blood. What fools we are.

      by delver rootnose on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 12:36:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Unfortunately (none)
      There are too few critical thinkers in the world.  That's why so many need to experience something personally.  How common will that be when some are so insulated from the world?

      I'm a member of a minority group: the reality-based community.

      by Unstable Isotope on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 05:48:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nothin' personal to your Mom but... (4.00)'s driving me NUTS that she says, "Oh well, all politicians lie" to justify the statement "Republicans are not worse than Democrats in any way."

    That's missing the SCALE of the problem:  does your Mom honestly believe we'd be in Iraq if Gore was president?  And how many died from Clinton's "Miss Lewinsky" lie?  Iraq's gonna get really very bloody in the next few days (56 killed in the last 24 hours) and there's estimates of tens of thousands of INNOCENT Iraqi civilians killed in this war for nothing.  Are these Iraqi's lives worth less than the aborted fetuses these Conservative Christians treasure so?  To my mind, it's a worse crime to kill members of an innocent family:  who have lived on this earth for years, established bonds with family and friends, and then be brutally and senselessly murdered by an American bomb.

    These 'Warriors for Christ' here in the comfy USA can have all the delusions about persecution that they want.  It's ludicrous that they see themselves as victims:  the upshot of their politics is aggressive and bloody.  And the blood they spill is not their own.  

    I agree with the comments upthread - we gotta write these folks off:  letting them govern means no separation between Church and State, and to me, the Founding Fathers were pretty damn clear on that one.

  •  umm (none)
    to me it does sound like this fanaticism spreads because of ignorance.  you say  us   vs them is the cause  but that is allowed to occur because of ignorance. or shall i say blind faith.  ignorance and no reason/logic.
  •  This is an ENORMOUSLY useful post: a must-read (4.00)

    1. Here's how religion works: People must understand that the more fanatical the beliefs, the easier dramatic conversions can occur. The culture war can be fought; all that is necessary is one issue that raises fatal doubt.

    2. I say this with no intention to offend, but this is the truth. How many German mothers in the '30s were sweet, wonderful cooks, adoring of their children, helpful to their neighbors, faithful churchgoers and staunch supporters of Adolf Hitler? Pretty much all of them, actually.

    3. Finally, if we cannot create the conversions I spoke of in my first point, this well-told tale must make clear one thing. We are no longer one country. This experiment is over. It is time to secede.
    •  One small point of disagreement (4.00)
      How many German mothers in the '30s were sweet, wonderful cooks, adoring of their children, helpful to their neighbors, faithful churchgoers and staunch supporters of Adolf Hitler? Pretty much all of them, actually.

      To be fair, Hilter never earned more than 37 percent of the vote in any election, so I take offense at your assertion that pretty much all German mothers in the 1930's were staunch supporters of Hitler.  Many were, and many others certainly abided by him, especially when he started creating jobs that helped  buy the food that they so lovelingly cooked for the children they adored.

  •  it's delusional and (3.50)
    narcissistic. it's a little desperate. my brother was in the church of christ for many years. to imagine himself as a spiritual warrior beset by the world gave him a way to feel good about himself. he was a hero. and it gave him a group that would give him acceptance without question as long as he shared the beliefs and pushed them along.

    they need the persecution. without it, they are nothing. but it is baloney - best way to get elected is to be a southern baptist, and that's the truth. Carter, Clinton, Gore, Bush. you cannot reasonably run for high office as an atheist or agnostic.

    i'm a backsliding agnostic/deist (?). i would be an atheist, but i just don't have that kind of strong faith. and actually, i feel kind of persecuted when i'm told that i'm going to hell or that i can't run for office without christianity. but i don't feel like basing my whole life on that persecution.

    if we let these people take over our government and make our laws, which is their aim, i'll have some real persecution to complain about. it is the goal of dominionists and christian reconstructionists to make biblical law the law of the land.  

    No member of our generation who wasn't a Communist or a dropout in the thirties is worth a damn. Lyndon B. Johnson

    by maskling11 on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 01:07:26 AM PST

  •  what religion are you now? (none)
    Are you agnostic, or a more liberal Christian?  Also, do you still live in the South?

    "We don't need bigger Government or smaller Government; what we need is better Government." ~ Councilman David Cohen

    by charlesdog12 on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 01:32:48 AM PST

  •  Empower OUR church members (none)
    Most of the churches whose membership includes the aboved described Rapture Nazis ALSO includes a significant percentage of people who for various reasons vote Democratic.

    If those fellow Democrats were empowered with clear spoken leaders and strong local party structures well financed with thousands of local sustaining ($10/month) members then they could apply pressure within the church. OUR voter guides could be pushed, OUR candidates could speak at their services, etc.

    Of course in many churchs, this would lead to heated arguments and disunity.  Eventually church leaders would have to either yearn for a more de-politicized church, OR move for a split of the church.

    Either way, enlightened views are advanced since even if a split int he church occurrs in this process, the conservative "rump" church has diminished clout due to smaller membership and the liberal membership can assimilate into other churches with significant conservative memberships and start the process over again.

    If I were a liberal Christian, I would see THIS as my mission from God.

    •  the church is already split (none)
      evangelicals look at the Nat'l Association of Churches as a false church. They are too "liberal" and not scripture-based. The crazies thrive so much on persecution, they must be in opposition to nearly everything that isn't overtly in their camp. Tolerance of sin is no virtue.

      All extremists are irrational and should be exposed

      by SeanF on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 02:08:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wait til money is added to the equation (none)
        If government money is on the table, the splits will multiply.  Money is "poison poured out on the church," as "my" heretics used to say.  Who will be more pure in pursuing government contracts?  The competition, use, and misuse of government money will be a fascinating topic to watch in the next years, but I'm not sure what publication will follow it.
      •  There is a major weakness of this mindset. (none)
        If you are dead sure everyone who doesn't believe exactly what you believe is a representative of Satan trying to tempt you to fall away from God's service, it is incredibly easy for schisms to occur. Minor, minor theological differences can cause rancorous splits. Look at the history of early Protestantism in Europe, and especially in England and Scotland.

        It's not something that an outsider can cause or promote. (At least, not unless you've got the skills and resources of a really good intelligence agency.) But history suggests that sooner or later such movements always fall apart from internal strife.

        Before they do, though, they tend to wreak a lot of damage.

        Massacre is not a family value.

        by Canadian Reader on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 09:46:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You are right on here! (none)
          I think the conversation here is suggesting that grafting religion onto politics holds the seeds of its own demise.  Especially in a democracy with freedom of speech.

          Inevitably politics requires compromise, something these people are unable to do, for that would mean a  pact with the devil.

          It's probably like communism and fascism.  The seeds of self-destruction are laid in the foundation.

          The allignment of the religious right and politics does indeed represent a pact with the devil, but they can't see that yet.

    •  Yes (none)
      I think secular Democrats need to listen to the faithful in our party to move forward.

      I also think it is imperative that the faithful take back religion from the fundamentalists.  Right now, right or wrong, faith is being identified with the fundamentalist evangelicals, and it is SCARY.

      We all have work to do.

      I'm a member of a minority group: the reality-based community.

      by Unstable Isotope on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 05:52:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  self-imposed ignorance (3.75)
    This is a great post but I can't agree that this kind of thinking (or lack of) is not ignorance. Someone further up called it cognitive dissonance. That is just a euphemism. It is self-imposed ignorance. It is laziness both spiritually and intellectually. They choose easy answers arrived at without the effort and irritation of forming conclusions from facts.

    And I am sorry if that insults your Mom. I'm insulting a lot of my own relatives too by saying so.

    I don't want to see the Democrats wasting any time trying to persuade the faith-based voters. I think it is useless. My personal experience is that doing so just makes them more resistant and often more vicious. Squeeze a marshmallow and it just becomes hard.

    If the epiphany of fact ever reaches them it will be on a random and individual basis. Maybe that happens when they turn to their church and their government  for help and find that they themselves are inconvenient facts. But that may need to happen repeatedly.

    I don't think this self-imposed ignorance is limited to the Evangelicals or Southerners. Getting that part of the GOP support that is not faith-based to start thinking may be possible, easier and quicker as the GOP agenda begins to impact their lives in undeniable ways.

    One question. How can a country that adores Britney Spears (sp?)  be home to Evangelical base that is large enough to win the election for Bush? I do not buy it. My answer is it does not. I think we are are dealing with three basis groups that voted for Bush for three sets of reasons:

    1. self-interest if they were wealthy
    2. faith-based
    3. general self-imposed ignorance about Iraq, terrorism, the economy, social issues etc.

    I hope the Democrats keep sending the facts out to that third group. I want the Democratic party to stand even more solidly for the causes that got 48% (and I think more) to vote for Kerry and against Bush.

    "The military and the monetary... Get together whenever it's necessary" - Gil Scott Heron

    by zane on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 01:49:51 AM PST

    •  faith-based voters do vote Dem (none)
      esp. the minorities. obviously, the Democratic agenda resonates with us, although i have a feeling if my colored brothers/sisters knew how much so many of the white activists felt about their beliefs, they'd prety much flee the party too.

      you can get more faith-based voters. MLK was a faith-based preached who won over many folks to the cause because of his spiritual vision. you just have to preach real vision, conviction, and values, the ones Democrats already have: commitment to social justice, the poor, the elderly, a sane foreign policy, etc. yes, you will never reach some of the hard-core fundies, but you can reach a lot of folks if you put it in those terms.

      i'll keep posting this guy's thoughtful words about how you reach people:

      •  faith-based (none)
        I know that the term faith-based now has a bad connotation to those who see social justice and values as fundamental to their religious beliefs.  I have religious faith that rests on what you are talking about.

        So your point is taken. But the faith-based as referred to by the media are primarily the white fundmentalists. Bush is very much a part of their religion at this point. It seems to me to be a very different belief system than what you are talking about. "Faith-based" now means them.

        It would be great if we could redefine to the meaning it should have but I think it was tried.

        Thanks for the article. The thing that bothers me is that the immorality of Bush's actions should not need to be spoken of in religious terms. They are immoral for Christians, athesists, Buddhists, Moslems.

        "The military and the monetary... Get together whenever it's necessary" - Gil Scott Heron

        by zane on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 04:50:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  the Rovian solution (none)
        to this conundrum would be for the progressive Christian-minded among us to coopt the label of Christian and reorient what the term means in a general sense.  Like the poster above, speak of morality  a la MLK, with stirring oratory and a firm Christian base of belief.  Even I as a seriously lapsed Catholic would did that.  

        Let's go to the heart  of the right's strength and drive a stake through it.  

        I surprise myself sometimes when I realize that despite having left the Church some twenty-odd years ago, I strongly support the humanist teachings of Jesus.  I was raised Catholic but got disenchanted pretty early because girls couldn't become altar boys.  : )  True!  I didn't think it was fair, and that started the unraveling of whatever faith I had in organized religion.  

        and by the way, Catholics don't read the Bible much, we have it read to us by priests instead.  A throwback to when illiteracy was the norm?

        •  Yes, (none)
          it goes back to the days when most parishioners couldn't read; same thing for the stained-glass windows, the statues, and the stations of the cross.  They all originated as visual aids for the illiterate.  The practice of the congregation singing the scriptures/responses in the Latin mass was also a mnemonic device.  

          No man is justified in doing evil on the grounds of expediency.--Teddy Roosevelt

          by Leslie in CA on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 08:26:19 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Lectionaries (none)

            Please note that many liturgical churches have set cycles of readings that offer the regular churchgoer a balance of Scripture that may be lacking in in some fundamentalist churches.  It may be that Catholics, Episcopalians and Lutherans get, hear and understand more scripture than fundamentalists.  
      •  ihlin, you are a whiny martyr yourself (3.50)
        I've said this before, and I'll say it again: get off your high horse of pride, stop getting your nose out of joint, take the chip off your shoulder and stop self-identifying with the fucking Pharisees - if you don't want to be tarred with the same brush, then put as much work into reforming your church as you do in scolding those who have beeen mauled by its leaders.

        Take out your anger and pride - PRIDE, damnéd PRIDE, just like Lucifer, "I will not serve!" with you guys who don't give me all the respect I feel I deserve - on your leaders who have made Christianity a stumbling block for the nations.

        Then, you'll actually start getting some respect from atheists and agnostics, who recognize your sincerity and lack of pride masked as a concern for the truth.

        But right now, you're part of the problem, with your self-righteous preachy finger-shaking, while you ignore the railroad-tie-sized beams in the collective eye of Evangelical Christianity as it exists, not some fantasy perfection image, but the reality, all whored after the Assyrians and the Egyptians today.

        "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

        by bellatrys on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 11:02:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You know (none)
          I nominated both of you for front page guest blogging status. I feel like I walked into something here . . . I hope you both get the nod then we'll have differing perspectives on the issues, at least regarding the Christian thing.
        •  whatever (none)
          i apologize if you think i'm a whining pharisee. i don't intend to be. truth be told, i'm more of a non-believer secularist most of these days than a believer, esp when you see what's become of the faith. we leftist christians already are a pariah among some of the faithful we are trying so hard to reform. there are many amazing Christian movements and groups out there that i am proud to be part of.

          but really, politically speaking, i could give a hoot about how secularists/atheists/agnostics, some of whom are hostile to Christians, feel. you guys are the minority of the electorate. 14% of voters i believe this year. you guys have nowhere else to go, and you don't swing elections and you are out of the mainstream of American society. i know it sucks to hear, but this country is deeply religious, believes in God and the majority are Christian. it depresses me sometimes too, to have to deal with such an ignorant, intolerant, faith-based electorate. if you want a tolerant, secular, reason-minded society, go move to Europe or Canada. we have the electorate we got, and for Democrats to win, they better get smart about it and SOON. the GOP is so far ahead at understanding religion, voting behavior and politics. and hey, the folks like Amy Sullivan and me who warned about this problem for years now now get to say "I told you so" to Democrats. it makes me cry. i would prefer i was not right and we controlled the Senate or the Presidency.

          from a pure political strategy POV, assuaging the anger/feelings of agnostics/atheists should not be high on the Democrats agenda. when you guys are 40% of the electorate,maybe i will start to pay attention to you again.

          •  hold the phone (none)
            This isn't an either/or situation. A person can speak about civic duty and government in secular langusge AND be a perfectly religious person. The very ideology that obsures this complexity and forces a community to speak a single pure, absolute language IS the problem. The act of replacing rich inventive language with a rigid authoritarian talking points destroys the ability for a caucus in a diverse community.

            As a mostly secular person, my obvious minority status does not nullify my rights to self-determine my future in this country. Telling me to get out is the very sentiment behind right-wing fundimentalism that angers me. It reveals with stunning clarity that aspect of religious language that seems inappropriate for government.

            Now, I know you are upset at the tone this subthread has taken. Perhaps that was the catalyst for your sentiments. Please, don't let your personal feelings lead you into territory where you are willing to dispose of an entire segment of society.

          •  You say smart things above then (none)
            you say stuff like this. This country has been religious forever and the Dems are mostly religious. The fact they dont follow this particular in your face, theocratic brand is another story entirely- stop painting with such a wide brush b/c frankly it makes you seem no different than the other Christians- the truth is Christians come in all forms- most of the electorate who votes for Dems are Christians- if you think for a moment about your own logic- thi sis clear b/c we got 48 to 49 percent of the vote- so not all those people are non religious- it's simply not that simple- and rather than arguing as i mentioned to you in other posts at the atheists/ and the like- we need to be shouting down your Christian wingnut brothers who are not as open as y ou are- the idea that the left and centrist Christians aren't out there denouncing these guys ona daily basis is how we got there- they are the one's usurping the conversation- and they are ones for whom you should feel anger- instead it seems you are propectuating in this particular post the whole Christian  as victim i this society and its simply not true-. Telling someone they need to leave the US because they don't share your ideals is reprensible. You have me when you are talking about the faith of say Obama and others, you lose me when you do say stuff like this.
            •  i agree with everything you said (none)
              most Dem voters are religious, a fact consistently ignored by people here. i have noted this many many times. what i was responding to was the poster saying he/she feels atheist/agnostics aren't respected by evangelicals. my reply was to say politically, this is an issue that doesn't concern me as only 14% of voters are secular. for better or worse, seculars are at the mercy of us Christians, who are the dominant portion of the electorate.

              i didn't mean to say seculars need to shut up or move to Europe. i meant to say they need to accept the contours of our electorate, which is not Europe (unfortunately in my mind as well). The US is a place where 90% believes in keeping "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, and most people have no problem with Bush's overt religiousity and where voters want to hear about a candidate's faith and the impact it plays in their policies.

              •  Not certain on the religious factor (none)
                I think you've overestimated the number of ardent religious types in the country.  Close to 60% of Americans do NOT attend Church with any regularity.  The downside of that is this: a significantly lower percentage of those 'lax religious' types vote.

                We're not as religious as you might think, it's just that the religious types are the ones with the loudest voices currently.

                Heck, 50% of American Jews don't even believe in God.  

                There's a HUGE difference between secularists and atheists.  I believe in God.  However, I also believe that other religions have not only merit, but the ability to grant one salvation(the majority of Americans believe this as well).  Unfortunately, your quote about 'atheists at the mercy of us Christians' smacks of patronizing arrogance.  What tragedy should befall a Hindu or a Buddhist should she decide to immigrate to this decidedly 'Christian' country?  Religious assimiliation or religious pluralism?  

                Given my level of respect for other religions and the fact that America is THE land of opportunity, I believe that the best way to maintain America's 'all men are created equal' ideal is to
                adopt a religious pluralism stance.

                That stance can only be upheld with the proper separation of Church and State.  

                Last point: California has long adopted a religious pluralism stance.  40% of Silicon Valley firms are founded by either a Hindu or a Buddhist.  The South will continually lag in this economic area as Hindus and Buddhists are not clamoring to move to the South.  

  •  exactly (4.00)
    As others have said, this was exactly my experience too. My mom is just like the poster's mom. She was always fond of quoting a passage in Revelations (I can't find it on google) which stated that in the end times, beware of those with too clever arguments, with too smooth of a tongue, for that is how the anti-christ will fool the world. That was always her trump card whenever i would win an argument about politics.

    That's cognitive dissonance on demand. And it shows how we got Bush back in the whitehouse - the better the case against him by the liberal media, the more proof that he's right.

    some key phrases:
    persecution, worldliness (meaning non-christian), a personal relationship (i.e. obsession) with Jesus Christ, submitting your own will to God, all truth is revealed in the bible, obedience, the arts can be dangerous if they aren't christian oriented. My mom would go to great lengths to convince herself that any classic literature or music she liked was really "christian." (Don't anyone tell her Tchaikovsky was gay!) Anything not overtly christian is at best dangerous and at worst the work of Satan. Christians interpret any direct challenge as persecution. Being persecuted is proof you are right. There is a gay agenda that intends to pervert the youth and take over the country. They already have the media. Homosexuality is an illness and willfully practicing homosexuality is the most blatant way you can reject God. As such, it invokes God's wrath more than any other sin. The occult is real and dangerous to dabble in.

    When I finally rejected everything she believed, she said, "I should have never let you play Dungeons and Dragons, listen to rock music, or go to Germany as an exchange student." And the worst of those 3 was going to Germany. (I stopped playing D&D when I was 12, for the sake of my own dignity!)

    I love my mother but I hate what she believes. There is no reasoning with this crowd. There will be no convincing them. They are irrational. They are disciplined. You are wrong because you are not one of them. They know God's will - you don't. If they anger you, it's more evidence that you are angry at God and in defiance of Him. It goes beyond Southern Baptists. It's infected much of the country. The politicization of this crowd is the biggest danger to the future of our country.

    ok, i guess this was more a confessional than a post!

    All extremists are irrational and should be exposed

    by SeanF on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 02:01:07 AM PST

    •  well... (4.00)
      beware of those with too clever arguments, with too smooth of a tongue, for that is how the anti-christ will fool the world.

      If that's the case, I guess there's no hope we can convince them that Dubya is the Antichrist....

      "We share half our genes with the banana. This is a fact more evident in some of my acquaintances than others." - Robert Mays

      by randym77 on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 06:49:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Jack Chick Nation (4.00)
      I know exactly where you and many other posters on this diary are coming from.  I started going to an evangelical (penticostal AOG) church when I was about 8.  I am familiar with everything you described.  Even my mother sounds similiar. Especially when she said that my "reading a bit too much" was what made me quit the church.  

      I mean, what can be said about a belief system that crumbles completely after someone reads something or has some experiences outside the range of the accepted orthodoxy?  How pathetic is that?  

      As the original post at the top described, I too was constantly "aware" of the spiritual warfare going on all around me, just beyond the "real" world of the senses.  I was well versed in the great "Plan of Salvation" from God's covenant with Abraham through the Rapture, the Tribulation, Armageddon and the final judgment...  This was my life for years.  Prayig, trying to win people for Jesus, before the end times came.  Then something started to trouble me.  

      Was the "End Times" inevitable, or could they be averted if enough people got their act together?  I didn't like this End Times stuff one bit.  Human beings just seemed to be playing out this preordained script.  At the time I was still in university.  What was the point of studying if there was no future to live in..??  I wondered, what about the idea of progress, of humans possibly living in outer space or traveling to other planets.  I mean, what if a Christian astronaut is on Mars when the rapture happens?  

      I took a biology class at my state university. Indeed there is a concept called chemistry which can account for just about everythig that happens not only to living organisms but all other non-organic natural systems on this planet and all others it seems.  There is indeed a scientific method which can be tested over and over to verify results.  There are things called fossils which can be observed and studied.  

      For the angels and demons that were supposed to inhabit the unseen world around me, there was no evidence whatsoever.  Even the apparitions in "Ghostbusters" left their little glowing spunk behind whenever they slimed someone.  It occured to me that if there were demons and angels it just didn't matter because they couldn't affect anything in the material world, including my sinus headaches, cells, mood, or my missing car keys.  

      I took an anthropology course.  A Christian family should never allow this to happen to their Bible-believing child. I found out there are many cultures with all kinds of weird religious beliefs and customs that they took quite seriously but which we easily regarded as mere myths and superstitions.  Hey, I thought, if those other people's religions were so much bunk, then why not ours?  

      It sounds like an easy step, but it wasn't.  There were years of indoctrination to contend with.  One cannot easily cast off such a worldview.

      In one of the last church services I attended, it occured to me that everyone there was a thoroughly indoctrinated member of a vast and influential yet completely pathological Doomsday Cult.  Somehow, I was on my way to deprogramming myself.

      Now some years later, I find that this same Doomsday Cult is now the strongest voting block in the United States.  Should the proverbial Left, the progressive establishment try to reach out to these voters...??  Well, just read SeanF's "Key phrases".  I could produce before my born-again family an ancestor worshipping, reincarnation believing Buddist monk, explain to them that this guy totaly believes his religion is true.  They would say that he is being decieved by Satan.  I could try to explain to them geological evidence that proves the world is vastly older than the 6,000 year span of the Bible.  They would say, well, that's your opinion, we just accept by faith that the Bible is the inerant truth.

      Forget it, folks.   The only way forward is to co-opt reality itself.  We must form a vast reality-based coalition which includes reality based conservatives, environmentalists, and especially reality based people from other countries as well...  

      •  it's surprising (4.00)
        that so many posters on dKos have such intimate knowledge of evangelical christianity, as "sonofapes" (ha ha ha - great name!) is further evidence of. It'd be interesting to poll members here to see how many we really are.

        As sonofapes says, rejecting this belief system is really difficult yet really empowering. In some way, I like having this in my background, cuz we have an understanding of these folks that others will never have.

        This is starting to feel like a therapy session, but the things that enabled me to open my eyes were three:

        1. going to Germany when I was 16 showed me that much of what I believed was culture-specific, not universal humanity. Suddenly, I could tell how the evangelical church's belief system is riddled with American culture, yet they profess it's God's will. Very self-serving.

        2. the book Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. Christians will hate this book, but it's elegant synthesis of multiple disciplines provides a wonderful anthroplogical counter to the superstition of christianity.

        3. I like to write music. In fact, I really like writing and listening to music. The fact that (as demonstrated in the movie Amadeus) one melody is better than another, for no rational reason, proves to me a divine power. But christianity also has no room for this kind of beauty in it's belief system, because if you start trusting beauty, the clerics lose control over what god thinks, wants, and values. I began to trust my own perceptions and judgments more than whatever self-serving line the christians came up with. And the fact that Christian-approved music just sucked pretty much did them in! Creativity killed their god and replaced it with one they didn't control.

        I'll take sonofape's diagnosis - we have to foster reality-based thinking and world views. Even though it might seem traitorous, I think the left should reach out to the world, specifically Europe, as part of our coalition. When Iraq melts down and the faithbased start to question everything, that will be a lifeline we can all invoke to help us out of this mess.

        All extremists are irrational and should be exposed

        by SeanF on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 10:56:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Maybe Protestantism succumbs. (none)
          In its Americanized Evangelical, but Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and most of the responsible forms of Protestantism, with varying degrees of success, overcome all three. Mozart's Catholicism in particular destroys the third rather handily.

          Join the battle against cosmic evil!

          by gzt on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 02:40:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  yah (none)
            you are right. I was referring very specifically to late 20th century american evangelical fundie types. Think religious talk radio, or go into one of those "christian marts" and look around.

            The irony is that religion in the past (along with burning people alive) did great things for music, the arts, and education.

            and did you ever consider Join the battle against comic evil!?

            All extremists are irrational and should be exposed

            by SeanF on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 02:50:05 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Hmm? (none)
              You said: "and did you ever consider Join the battle against comic evil!?"

              I'm having trouble parsing this. What did you want to ask about my sig?

              Join the battle against cosmic evil!

              by gzt on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 03:07:48 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  when I first glanced at it (none)
                i misread "comic" evil. And when I caught my error, I found that I liked both equally! so just making a silly joke, and pointing out another sig option...

                All extremists are irrational and should be exposed

                by SeanF on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 03:22:55 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  CULT-ural war (4.00)
    This diary speaks to me more than any other I've read all week and possibly ever here on dKos. The issues described go to the heart of the political reality and motivations of a core part of the GOP coalition. They also reflect my personal experience.

    My mother was Southern, and although she rejected the church forms of her upbringing and embraced Liberal politics--the reality is that the underlying content of a Christian victim identity, seeing the world through a stark and judgmental moral lens, and seeing the hand of Satan to be battled in the world as a life mission is very familiar. This spiritual ideology is so powerful, that it is on some levels unrejectable. Even if one rejects a church, it is pretty hard to reject a God-based worldview as well. To replace it with what? It is also worth saying that it not all bad. The lifelong commitment to serving the poor and weak as exemplified by Jimmy Carter is an example of how this worldview can operate in the service of Liberal politics and goals.

    The issue is that the GOP has co-opted their zeal towards conservative economic and imperial ideology. And vice-versa.

    Much of the Left does need to understand that what we are calling Ignorance, is not actually ignorance or lack of intelligence or even poor education. It is culture and the prioritizing of a "godly mission" over anything else the brain might say or know. The first part of the word CULTURE is "CULT". We need to think about that much more, because that is what we are up against; not stupidity or ignorance per se.

    By comparison, the Nazis were not ignorant, unintelligent or poorly educated. Instead they had a spiritual/cultural narrative of victimhood and moral purity that combined with a political narrative of empowerment, rearmament and spiritual unity. They used their intelligence and education to build the dreams (and consequential nightmares) of their spiritual/political narrative. Non-Germans in the 1930s laughed at Hitler as a buffoon. They denigrated his ignorance and the ignorance of his followers. This only made them stronger and reinforced their "martyr fighting uphill" psychology.

    Until we better understand the psychological narratives involved, we will not even know how to proceed.

    Speaking practically, if we want to win in the next few years, we need to focus on a Western Strategy based on "liberaltarianism" IMO. The South isn't dead to me, but it is probably beyond our realistic political influence for a while: either until many Southerners question their core ideology, or more likely, political events split their coalition and further energize and expand our coalition.

    How could their ideology be threatened? Perhaps, eventually, they will see that the End Times haven't arrived. Or that too many Southern boys and family members are getting killed for no good reason half way round the world. If and when the draft comes, it will hit the Red States too.

    Also, after 4 more years of Bush: his policy insanity may finally break some of the cognitive dissonance. I think it is also possible that these "Southern Christians" will eventually turn on their political bedfellows, the free marketeers (or vice versa). A serious economic crisis could destroy their alliance.

    Anyways, a great diary. Please write more.

    •  Thank you for that wonderful term (none)
      ...CULT-ural War.  Perfect!  Excellent systhesis in that simple term.

      A cult provides a sense of belonging, a world view, and it takes up all your free time, keeps you in its  collective busom, so that the mentality of the cult is all there is.  Seeing the world as evil is a way to keep you "in."  

      Seems clear from the posts that many people found a way out of this because they were away from home and had some kind of trauma or cognitive shock, which led to questions and finally to the crumbling of the mental network, within which they were imprisoned.

      If "freedom is a gift from the almighty" then these folks definitely need freedom and it may mean the downfall of their concept of the almighty altogether!

  •  Fatalism (3.83)
    is the enemy I see here. Many of the devout that I've talked to don't seem to believe that there is a future on Earth, and expect within the next few years Jesus is going to be coming, and their reward is in the next life. I feel sorry for the kids within these households for they've been condemned from the day they were born. I had similar feelings myself while growing up during the Cold War. I am amazed and somewhat embarrassed that many of the predictions I've heard for the end of us all have come and gone. Looking back, it is easy to scoff ( and I am disappointed that we didn't have to fight them Ruskies in the streets J/K). My point is, it is the fatalism that robs people of the hope to work towrds a better life in the present. If we can end the fatalism, then the enivronment, the economy, and the deteriorating standard of living becomes more intolerable.
  •  Well, if this isn't the most terrifying thing (4.00)
    So, what you're saying is that since it's not ignorance, you can't educate your way out of it.  Since it's us-versus-them, you can't seem to be one of them.  Since it's the-end-times-are-near, fear of the future will not move them.  Since it's not a world based on reality, reaching out to them will not work.

    If this post is not the most definitive explanation of why such people, and their ideology, are the _problem_ and why the Democratic Party should do more to ignore or isolate them rather than less, I don't know what is.

    And in point of fact, many of our founding fathers fought and died for religious freedom.  I defy you to show me how Ben Franklin or Thomas Jefferson's primary aims were to make a country for Christianity.

    •  PS I'm a Catholic (4.00)
      And I never before thought of any other christian religion as a cult until I read this post.  Which is no diss on you, but is fundamentally terrifying to me on every level.
      •  I know how you feel (none)
        I am Catholic too, and in the aftermath of this election I find myself realizing the extent to which my worldview is almost entirely incompatible with that of a large segment of the population of this country.  

        I do think the whole victimization/persecution complex extends way beyond the bounds of religion, for a lot of the conservative base.  Listen to Hannity or Limbaugh or any of those guys and it's all, "Oh, poor me, those evil liberals are out to get me, feminists are out to get me, elitists are out to get me, oh waaaaaah."  

        We must cultivate our garden.

        by daria g on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 01:10:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I know how you feel (none)
          I am also Catholic, and after a point, you just get tired of the Limbaugh and Hannity whine. These guys are laughing all the way to the bank with their victimization/persecution complexes. Give me a break!
    •  Spot on (4.00)
      reading comments regarding this subject of religion, looks like we're breaking into two camps.  Cater to them, or ignore them.  I'm for ignoring them.  We only lost by 1-3%, and that is questionable to cheating by gop.

      Build the base, fight on.  The invasion of Falluja is in a few days.  The Iraq war draft might shake them out.  If not, the end of days are coming, and we non-believers will be left here to vote.

      Sorry to sound so cynical, but I get that way when people have the audacity to tell me I'm going to hell.  Only God can judge.

      •  definitely build the base, but (none)
        I think we ignore the Christian vote at our peril. I know quite a few evangelicals who share the left's suspicion of Bush's corporatism, are strongly pro-environmental protection, mournful about the war in Iraq, and personally invested and passionate about social justice.

        What keeps them in the Republican column is the Democratic Party's all-too-common inability to articulate a clear message and, more problematically, the close identification of Democrats with no-compromise pro-choice positions.

        But they can be reached. The question is for us: are we willing to work with pro-life but socially-conscious evangelicals (not at all a contradiction in terms) and get 98% of our agenda, or will we insist on pro-choice purity and risk becoming more and more irrelevant to the debate over time. The conservative church is growing every year...

    •  Eighteenth Century Baptists (4.00)
      Even the Baptists in the 18th century were prime movers for religious freedom from Anglicanism.  They would not recognize the keepers of their tradition as Baptists.

      So much for "traditional" values.

      The revolution starts now--in your own back yard, in your own home town

      by TarheelDem on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 11:35:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There are ways of fighting back (none)
      The biggest is to point out shared values, and to build from there. After all, the liberal POV has as much a stem in the Bible as does conservative fundamentalism. We need only point this out and to rebuild lost trust.
    •  Age of unReason (none)
      I wonder if a government devised in the Age of Reason can survive an Age of Unreason.
  •  I was... (4.00)
    a Pentacostal for a few years and have read the Perriti books.  I still like them and count them as comfort reading now and then.  But in regards to spiritual warfare, I still think that people can discern between right and wrong even in regards to spirit.  I believe that they are being lazy and just accept GWB because he sprouts out bible versus and says that he is a man of God.  Just because he says that he has faith-for them it is about faith and not good works, does not mean that he should still get away with the corruption and lies that surround him.  My spirit rejects him as a liar and evil to the point that I cannot even watch him on TV.  In his wake there has been much death in Iraq and no amount of spiritual warefare can erase the injustice of that, to me.  My God is a just God.  My Jesus is loving and I can't believe that He would condone such sufferring.

    How can they (the Christians who support Bush) sleep at night?  Are they so wrapped up in their end of times, rapture desire that they are blinded?  

    I am a pro-choice believer in seperation of church and state.  I am a Christian because I think that Jesus had a good message.  I am not a normal Christian because I am not sure if he was God or not, but I don't think it matters in the end.  I believe his message that through him one can reach the father.  That means to me that his message, love one another, is the way to go.  And I think Paul hijacked Christianity.


    •  Yes they are (none)
      Those end of times books are best sellers.  I bet everytime there's trouble in the middle east they get all excited at the prospect of Jesus kissing their faces coming soon.  Just watch 700 club, or the preachers on sunday.  It's quite sick.

      Cult?  You bet.  Put the plastic bags on their heads and wait for the space ship to come get them.

      That's nothing against Christianity.  It's totally against someones interpretation of it, and how others are manipulating people.

      PT Barnum was right.

    •  Your comment about St. Paul (none)
      gets you a 4 from me!

      "When fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression" -- H.L. Mencken

      by cinnamondog on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 07:56:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  hrm (none)
    kind of like how democratic foreign policy is about engaging the enemy rather than bombing the hell out of them.

    New! dKos Local - sign up to meet up with local kossians.

    by tunesmith on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 02:49:58 AM PST

  •  No One is Teaching Our Kids History (4.00)

    You said:
    "They so did not.  They died to give new Christianity a place where it could flourish."

    My family dates from that time in CT.  My forefathers, two of whose diaries, dating from 1650's to early 1700's, are 2 of only 9 extant diaries in New England from that era, were mostly interested in taxes, surveying, and farming.  They went to church, and were involved in church.  They had to be.  CT was a theocracy, as was MA.  Other family members fled the area to NY and VT and RI, partially because of the repression in the area.  My family stayed in CT rather than RI because the taxes were lower here, and because of inertia.

    If you want to know about the Pilgrims, read the book Saints and Strangers.  Some of them were religious, and some were very, very not religious.  

    By the time of the Constitution, the only way to get the states to cooperate was to tolerate different religions.  Quakers in PA and RI, Dutch Reformed in NY, Congregational in CT and MA, Unitarian/Universalist/Deist/ Congregational in VT.   Devout money seekers in NH. Catholics, Lutherans in other states (I forget which). They had had enough of theocracy and agreed with Madison that when the church mixes in politics, politics corrupts the church.  And so separation of church and state is in the Constitution.

    One of the most appalling and depressing things I know is the disrespect and distrust of the founding fathers and the Constitution by the Christian right.

    I believe that the only way to reach Southern fundamentalists is to convert them to a different religion, Christianity.  We need to send pastordan and Jimmy Carter to run tent revivals on what Jesus said in VA, FL, and NC.

    And we need to resist the rewriting of history that is being done by the Texas Dept. of Education, by virtue of what they will and will not accept in text books, and their buying power.
    CA and NY should get together and support fact based science and history texts.

    •  Politics corrupts the church (4.00)
      Great Post and I think that we really need to sell the theme that Politics corupts the church.  That is a great observation.
      •  Politics corrupts (none)
        And the movement was explicitly political.  In 1979, the Southern Baptist Convention was hijacked by the conservative wing of the Republican Party as part of the strategy to put Ronald Reagan into power.

        How more corrupt can you get?

        The revolution starts now--in your own back yard, in your own home town

        by TarheelDem on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 11:38:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I've been reading (none)
      Freethinkers by Susan Jacoby. Highly recommended. The subtitle is "A history of secularism in America," I think. It's inspiring for me to think that we have such a rich history of free thought. Of course, we must respect others' beliefs. That's the whole point. But religion must not become law, or this country is finished.
    •  You've hit on the long term project (4.00)
      I believe that the only way to reach Southern fundamentalists is to convert them to a different religion, Christianity.

      I'm a Christian. Heck, I even believe Jesus was/is God. But I also believe that the lesson of God's creation and experience within creation is that the struggle for justice and mercy advances through the willing acceptance of unmerited suffering. That is, I believe a Christian's call and our experience of salvation is through militant non-violent resistance to evil; evil consists of militarism, greed (capitalism), and alienation from the Other. God demands we give up our selfishness and get over our fear. God is with us (all of us, even those who do not name or seek God) when we struggle for justice.

      That said, I am also a political person. This stuff has to happen in the world in the context of real human beings with all our failings. As a Democrat, I think we are are right to think we need to isolate the Christian right, point out its intolerance loudly, not to try to pander to it in any way. I think we should give up on the South and reach out to the Western frontier libertarian types in our search for a national majority.

      Vicious, intolerant Christianity has flared repeatedly in this country. But it has historically been kept on the margins by the conflicting, impure, but real, interests of coalitions of other folks: capitalists, urbanites, organized workers, immigrants, African Americans and the merely ornery. We can do this again. We have to.

      America is a broken promise, and we are called to do what we can to fix it. -- Bill Moyers

      by janinsanfran on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 08:53:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oh and (none)
    Thanks for this diary.  I believe it is accurate, as to how the thinking goes.  I have a few fundamentalist nephews.

    You can't quote Scripture at them, because it is known that devil quotes Scripture for his own purposes.

    But you can tell them that the end times are full of false prophets, and that the way you will know them is by 'their fruits'.  

    I would advise that if Democrats see GWB number 2 coming, that in the first campaign you hire investigators with film cameras and completely debunk this next guy's personal history.  The only proof that fundamentalists have that Bush is, as my nephew says, 'a godly man,' is that Bush Says So.  He doesn't go to church.  He doesn't even use the fundamentalist catch phrases that well.  He says he reads the Bible and prays, but Who Knows?

    But here's a hopeful thought.  Jeb is Catholic, son of the whore of Babylon.

  •  rove's coalition (none)
    This is an excellent post; but there is a much more dangerous trend building that we must be aware of.

    Rove's coalition for 2006.

    Rove has the evangelicals now and they are empowered and convinced they are absolutlely on God's side.

    The traditional Catholic vote, even in the Northeast, has moved away from it's historic concern for helping the poor to a more fundamentalist mood and aligned with the Chrisitan conservative. In the northeast, almost every Catholic Church was visited the Sunday before the election from a Bush representative with a voter's guide and basically told to vote against Kerry.  Interestingly, though the Catholics are theoretically against the death penalty and the Iraq war, the only principals they chose to enforce were opposition to gay rights and abortion.  How selective.

    In addition, by attacking Arab countries and unconditional support for Sharon, Rove has picked off the more conservative/militant Jews.

    To top it off, by essentially buying off susepitble black pastor's with "faith based initiative" bribe money, they will further reduce that vote for the Democrats.

    With this combination, Rove gets 4 different religious traditions that disagree with each other to do his dirty work.

    The Methodist Church and the UCC are two groups of liberal churches fighting against the war and for Christian values that are true and not perverted Christian values, and everyone of faith without a church home shoud throw them some support to be a voice against the extremist Christians.

    •  The Methodist Church (none)
      In the South, the United Methodist are fighting at the level of the Bishops but losing in the pews and with the a growing minority of the clergy.  The difficult issue is the acceptance of gays in membership.

      Too many Methodists get their views from their more aggressive Baptist and Pentecostal neighbors.

      The revolution starts now--in your own back yard, in your own home town

      by TarheelDem on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 11:45:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Methodist (none)
      are deeply split -  as are Episcopalians and Presbyterians.

      there's a group called the "Institute for Religion and Democracy" - who bankrolls fundie groups in all three, trying to turn us into the next SBC.

      I won't link to IRD - you can google em.  Their logo looks like tapeworms attacking a cross (or maybe that's my political and theological bias talking :-)

      As a United Methodist lay member strongly considering seminary, I dream of getting the UMC to places the UCC has been for years.

      •  there are Methodist clergy (none)
        who are right there with sister's one of them.

        If the misery of our poor is caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin. **Charles Darwin

        by MAJeff on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 06:01:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  My learnings (4.00)
    I started out in the Episcopal church when I was very young.  My grandmother took me and my brother every Sunday, as my parents were both non-believers, but encouraged us to spend time with my grandma.  My grandma is an old school Democrat, from the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, a daughter of a coal miner and a teacher.  She went on to become a teacher herself, and I can easily attribute her to being the reason why I am now a Democrat myself.  She has always taught me that we are all equals in God's eyes and He loves each and every one of us the same.  

    I continued going to the Episcopal church until age 12, when my mother was saved in a rather miraculous way.  She had thyroid cancer, one of the more agressive types. I naturally pulled away from the church, blaming God for letting this happen to my mother.  The doctors were worried about the size of the tumor and how it was looking like it was ready to mestastise. My mother became very spirtually in tune during these days, accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and we prayed constantly. When they went in to do her operation, they found the tumor was HALF the size of what it was when it was first discovered and benign!  All praise to God and the doctors, my mom's still with my family to this day.

    After this episode, my mother became very religious, started going to a non-denominational church that spoke much of what the poster in this diary is talking about, the constant spirtual warfare, gifts of the Holy Spirit, et al.  She took my brother and I to the same churchs up until we were around 18, when we broke away from going to church altogether due to the bigotry and hatred that they were spewing out from the pulpit.  Even as religious as we were, we had the sense to realise that the preacher was hijacking the message of God for his own leanings.

    Today:  My mom has still yet to find a church to attend and fit into, neither have I, nor my brother.  My grandma now goes to a Brethern church, which we attend with her sometimes...but quite honestly, we are much more the vocal type of worshipper that tends to not fit into the typical church building setting nowadays.  Our "church" now consists of us sitting down, talking about the Bible and the teachings, and praying together, which in God's eyes is just as powerful as attending a building.  We all our Democrats, and will continue to be so as long as our party stands up for civil, personal, and human rights...which Jesus Christ was one of the most powerful advocates for ever in his time.

    Thanks for reading, hopefully I wasn't too longwinded, but this diary entry made me too wish to post my feelings.

    "Dude, Wheres the soul of the Democratic Party"

    by marcvstraianvs on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 05:39:37 AM PST

  •  This is Puritanism! (4.00)
    The way the "southern conservative Christian" mindset is described in this diary appears to be a direct descendant of the Puritans' brand of Christianity. If so, let there be no doubt that a full-blown theocracy is their goal.

    You can break down the Puritans' beliefs like this:

    -- The Bible is 100% literal and true
    -- The big events and characters in the Bible reoccur and reappear in the lives of regular people every day
    -- Each one of us is a person from the Bible - but you don't know which one you or anyone else might be.
    -- We are all being punished for Adam's fall

    -- We are all predestined to Heaven or Hell--but we can't know which until we get there.
    -- If you are predestined for Heaven, you will naturally just be a good person without having to try
    -- If you are predestined for Hell, being good is futile

    -- Everybody will be punished for the sin of one person--even if the sin is committed by a child
    -- Nobody is allowed to question God's will, no matter how strange or random the world seems
    -- God has already decided your fate

    -- Each person--even babies--must make the choice to find God all by themselves, without being directly told to do so
    -- Each person must follow God's will without being directly told to do so

    The combination of these four elements is very, very dangerous. Take a look at the Salem witch trials.

    •  No, it's not Puritanism (none)
      Based on your excerpts here, most of those beliefs are not in fact consistent with the fundamentalist mindset.  Only three of those points apply:

      • The literal truth of the Bible
      • The whole human race being "fallen" because of Adam & Eve
      • Accepting God's will, no matter what happens

      As for salvation, there are some dispensationalists (you're predestined for heaven/hell), but most believe that everyone can be saved by accepting Jesus as their personal savior.  But that also feeds into the very powerful us/them dichotomy that the diary documents: accepting Jesus = heaven/"one of us," rejecting Jesus = hell/"one of them," the latter being those you need to pray for and witness to so that they too might be saved.  But the whole human race is--literally--divided into those who have accepted Christ and those who haven't (yet).

      Remember, too, that Bush was ostensibly "converted" by Billy Graham.  That gives him "fundamentalist cred" all by itself, since anyone saved by Rev. Graham has got to be well and truly saved.

      No man is justified in doing evil on the grounds of expediency.--Teddy Roosevelt

      by Leslie in CA on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 08:17:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Take a look at (4.00)
      16th century England and all the religious persecution that targeted Catholics then Protestants then Catholics again and continued through the 17th century with roundheads and Cavaliers -- the regicide, Cromwell, and the restoration...

      As my colleague at work recently asked: "Are we becomming the country our ancestors fled to come here?"

      •  Bingo! n/t (none)

        The revolution starts now--in your own back yard, in your own home town

        by TarheelDem on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 11:48:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Indeed (none)
        I'm directly descended from William Brewster, the leader of the Mayflower pilgrims, who wrote the Mayflower Compact, America's first constitution.  As a lay minister, he was the spiritual leader of the colony.  But when the people asked him to become their governor as well, he adamantly refused, as he was completely committed to the separation of church and state.  The fusion of church and state was why they left in the first place.
  •  Christ's Warriors (4.00)
    Great post on Christian conservatives.  These people will destroy our country in order to save it from evil.  They are not interested in politics, the world, or other people.  They are simply doing God's will.  They are not open to reason, experience, or democratic political discussion.  The latter only reinforces their position.

    My limited experience suggests that only a very personal encounter or experience - so powerful that it deeply jars their mentality - can provoke change.  One type of experience that can have this effect is severe pain or incredible failure -either their own or, more likely, that of one very close to them.  If one wants to change one of these soldiers, one will need to develop a close personal, trusting relationship with them.

    I can't help but say that this kind of religious mentality entails enormous violence against the self and a total violation and denial of the dignity of others.  They, after all, are mere (and usually unknowing) beings acting out a play that one has already discovered.

    These people do not fit the prototypical model of a citizen in a democracy.  I really do not mean to offend anyone here, but they are part of a cult.  I understand this is a bit harsh, but I doubt their sanity.

    Our best hope in the short run is to get them out of political life.

  •  Christian values = liberal values (4.00)
    Its funny, but for the past six years, every night, I listen to Christian Radio on my way home from work.

    Its tough duty:  I can't stand their rants, their sanctimony, or their claims of superiority.  But I've heard everything they say (which is more than most Kossians can say) and given them their fair shake.  And I need to say, this diary is spot-on -- this is truly how the fundamentalist church thinks.  

    There is, however, one thing that works when dealing with the fundamentalists:  learn the Bible.  Express yourself in spiritual terms.  And, when you do, you'll find something very funny -- there are lots of Biblical stories that support so-called liberal ideals.

    Let me give some examples.  Separation of Church and State?  Yep, its in there:  both old testament and new.  Equal protection?  Yep.  Right of privacy in sexual matters (i.e., the right not to be prosecuted for sexual behavior)?  Yep.  Good government -- no taking without compensation -- environmentalism -- freedom of speech -- social security -- and so on, and so on, and so on.

    And let me tell you -- when you know the bible and you confront one of the fundies head-on, they freak out.  There's something wonderful about having one of them tell you that the law should make homosexuality illegal , and to respond that Christ in his only recorded case of acting as a judge teaches that private sexual behavior should not be prosecuted by the civil authorities (in fact, that is exactly what he says).

    If we want to speak to much of America, we'd better learn the language they speak.  And the language they speak, frankly, is based on a biblical world view.  What we must do, therefore, is learn to speak in biblical terms for the ideals that we believe.  And if we do that, I believe that the Christian communities will slowly, inexoribly, be forced to change.  

    Spiritual warfare is the ultimate two-edged sword -- and god help the Republicans in this fight.

    •  Sure they freak out (none)
      But do they actually change their minds?  Or do they think "Even the devil can quote scripture"?

      I fear we're all "Cafeteria Catholics," picking and choosing only the items that reinforce what we already believe.  Hence the fundamentalist Christians who insist that Genesis be taken literally, and at the same time interpret Revelation allegorically.  

      "We share half our genes with the banana. This is a fact more evident in some of my acquaintances than others." - Robert Mays

      by randym77 on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 07:11:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think it helps to have a red letter bible (none)
        All quotations of Jesus are printed in red ink.  Those are the most persuasive.  But you have to have the right demeanor.  You quote it modestly and look down.  No challenging.  Then say, "I always try to do what Jesus says."  It doesn't always work. But doubt presents itself a little at a time.  I used to use the quotation about going in my closet to pray and not stand on the street corner like "the Philistines, for verily, I say unto you, they have their reward."  In other words, don't make a big show of your religion.  That's the introduction to the Lord's Prayer.
      •  yes, sometimes... (none)
        Yes, we can change our minds. In high school I was a hard-core Reaganite Republican, and now am pretty much an across-the-board liberal (though still pro-life). And, even today, I consider myself very much an evangelical Christian.

        What changed me was the experience of studying Scripture in college with fellow students and noticing how much attention Jesus (and authors of all the books of the Bible, not just the gospels) paid to the marginilized in society - and then going out and living it out, both in college and since. Nothing like living in the inner-city for 9 years to puncture shallow views of the welfare state.

        The main challenge is to overcome the tendency in conservative protestant theology (and, let's face it, in American ideology generally) to see the world very individualistically, and thus oppose in knee-jerk fashion government actions to address economic inequality, environmental issues, etc. That inherent evangelical/fundie suspicion of communal, systemic responses to social issues (read: liberal) was compounded by our 40+ year struggle with 'godless communism.' But as the Cold War recedes in our memory, I think we have new opportunities to move folks in our (liberal) direction.

    •  Homosexuality and the Bible (4.00)
      There is even more that you could say on this subject that could knock them off their feet on the issue of homosexuality (assuming you won't be labeled as one of armies of the Devil, which you probably will b/c the Devil is known to be able to quote the words of the Bible.  The truth is that Bible doesn't say very much about homosexuality, and it's not all that clear that it's actually prohibited- the actual text is contradictory, but its hard to argue with tradition which is what this is really about- a tradition of prohibition.

      In fact, the prohibition against homosexuality did not arise until 1000 years after the rise of the Catholic Church in Europe at about the same time as the persucution of Judaism began. If I am not mistaken, I believe it was with St. Thomas Aquainas. People must remember that several of these teachings that were retained later by Protestanisism were about the control of the church over the state. Some books of the Bible were indeed left out, so when people are quoting text and saying that it's the word of God, I say, no, you are quoting the text that is left. I think there is this book called the Gnosticist Bible that covers this issue. What remains in the Bible is what the early church decided to leave in for the purpose of consolidating its power over Europe. Gnostism actually refutes as I remember correctly the teachings of John (or maybe Paul) as to how to be a good Christian, but it doesn't work well with the control of people on earth so it was ditched.

      Jesus doesn't mention it at all, and the passage that you mention certainly indicates that it's not clear that he would have condoned state action against it. Even the story of Sodom and Ghomorah is about hedonism, worldliness and not being a good neighbor,although I will hear people who are not devout at all quote that section while they are out sleeping around with various people telling me that the Bible doesn't prohibited it. Many of the built of quotes are like this  by the way. They could be just as easily talking about something else or wider sexual behaviour, and not focused on gay or straight, but are interpreted by the modern traditions as being expressly about gays. Lesbianism is discussed even less than male homosexuality. As I remember, there are exactly two passages about it- one can be read as possibly, I stress possibly against, and one is indifferent.

      Moreover, many of the quotes used are in the Old Testament, and not the New. One of the problems with literal interpretation of the Bible rather than contexualism is that like the Constitution it's meaning is based on human interpretation- it can as I told an evangelical friend be the word of God, but you as a human can't fully know its meaning through the multiple language translations, cultural shifts, persoanl prejudices that divide you from Gods original meaning. This later one doesn't work because if you are a textualist you must by definition believe that there is no division between you and God in terms of your traditions and understanding of the text. I think of that as a bit of hubris, and, can lead to people like George W. Bush who believe that he knows through his own actions God's will on earth.  Do you notice the circularity about the post above- beyond the victimhood of the Christian warrior, there is the circularity that I am right, therefore, I am right. This is the principle difference between those of the faith who are contextualist, and those of the faith, who are textualist. It is a battle between an open interpretation of the word, and a close interpretation. One leads to a good relationship between people of faith in  society, and the other leads to a closed theocratic society (or at least in the long run it could.)

      There are some excellent books on the subject of the Bible and homosexulity from a more contextualist approach. The Good Book by Peter Gnonmes is one. It doesn't just cover homosexulity. A documentary, you may want to check out is  Tremblin' Before G_d (it's about homosexuality and orthodox judaism but it gives a few hints into Christianity and this subject).

      The point of all this is that the issue is only settled to those who are locked into their traditions, but not so settled if you are looking into what the text is actually saying for those of us who are believers. And, of course, the problem will only get worse as science is more and more showing a strong genetic component to sexual orientation.  Through animal studies they know there are 300 plus species so far that have exhibited homosexuality. There are also some interesting brain chemistry studies, and studies involving a trait that is a possible link to the location of the genes involved in sexual orientation expression. The reason why this is problematic is that it suggest a certain immutability to orientation. If like race, sexual orientation is immutable, it brings up the question would God make this trait immutable. I am sure that those who are textual could simply deny the science, but it will make it harder and harder to make the claims of legalized discrimination.

      •  One other point (none)
        When faced with the mounting science of homosexulity, one preacher wrote a recent LA Times op-ed that I thought was telling in which he said that people are not like animals, and even if it is immutable, the urge should be resisted because God was given them this homosexuality (read disease) as a test. I was struck by how similar the arguments were to race as a disease or handicap arguments in connection to the Bible that were made by southern apologists for slavery. Really, I think this is a continuation of those debates in that it's about whether faith and tradition should trump everything.
      •  Homosexual rape (none)
        The Bible is clearly against homosexual rape.

        From Genesis 19:1-11

        When the two angels came to Sodom that evening, Lot was sitting by the city gate.  As soon as he saw them, he got up and went to meet them.  He bowed down before them and said, "Sirs, I am here to serve you.  Please come to my house.  You can wash your feet and spend the night.  In the morning you can get up early and go on your way."

        But they answered, "No, we will spend the night here in the city square."

        He kept on urging them and finally they when with him to his house.  Lot ordered his servants to bake some bread and prepare a fine meal for the guests.  When it was resady, they ate it.

        Before the guests went to bed, the men of Sodom surrounded the house.  All of the men of the city, both young and old, were there.  They called out to Lot and asked, "Where are the men who came to stay with you tonight? Bring them out to us."  The men of Sodom wanted to have sex with them [i.e. wanted to rape the two angels]

        Lot went outside and closed the door behind him.  He said to them, "Friends, I beg you, don't do such a wicked thing!  Look, I have two daughters who are still virgins.  Let me bring them out to you, and you can do whatever you want with them.  But don't do anything to these men; they are guests in my house and I must protect them."

        But they said, "Get out of our way, you foreigner!  Who are you to tell us what to do?  Out of our way or we will treat you worse than them."  They pushed Lot back and moved to break down the door.

        But the two men inside reached out, pulled Lot back into the house, and shut the door.  Then they struck the men outside with blindness so that they could not find the door."

        So, God's angels destroy Sodom (and Gomorrah) for the Sodomite's practice of homosexual rape of foreign men.

        Ironic, after Abu Graib it is clear that homosexuality is not a moral issue with the religious Right.  They only want to keep it as a punishment.  They believe that homosexual rape is OK, in US prisons or in Abu Graib.  So, who exactly is the Sodomite?

        The revolution starts now--in your own back yard, in your own home town

        by TarheelDem on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 12:18:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's not about homosexuality, its about rape (none)
          This passage is about how we treat others, and is not about homosexuality at all. In other words, it wouldn't have made it better if the actions were carried out by women against the angels. The passage was about man's inhumane treatment. Not sex. Just as rape is not about sex, it's about violence. If one only reads the lines that fits one's belief traditions, then it's easy to imagine that all that was being discussed here is homosexuality.
        •  Hospitality, perhaps? (none)
          I don't touch that passage, but I had a professor who was quite the expert who insists it was about hospitality; that in semitic culture, especially at that time, hospitality was huge.

          The issue was that Lot had stopped these angels and invited them in as his guests. He was going to protect them to the point that he offered his two daughters!!! to the Sodomites (sorry!) who refused. For Lot to have let the men had their way would have been to violate hospitality which was seen as a sacred virtue of sorts. And so because these men did not respect that virtue, which was indicative of their lack of respect for human dignity, God destroyed them.

          Just throwing that in there.

          •  that's correct (none)
            this is also one interpretation- but notice the only one that modern Christians will admit to is that somehow it's about homosexuality rathr than about broader issues (b/c in my opinion such wider interpretations would say implicate them in things like say an unjust war or even voting rights)
        •  yeah he lets (none)
          them rape his daughters instead of sending out the angels.

          tikkun olam -- heal the world

          by bjeanh1 on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 04:53:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  historical points and a hermeneutic point. (none)
        1. The canon was mostly decided among the non-gnostic portion of the Church before the practice of Christianity was legal. Gnosticism had mostly died out before Constantine. St. Irenaeus killed them off [d.~202]. It was officially decided after Christianity gained power, but the Gnostics were long gone by then.
        2. Aquinas is far too late.
        3. Reading the Bible is a lot like reading the Constitution. There is no text apart from interpretation. I don't know what you mean by textualism and contextualism, but any responsible hermeneutic must take the Bible as part of a living tradition which has no meaning outside of it. If you are interested in what Christianity says, you must take the Bible in the context of the Christian tradition which produced and interpreted it. There is no what the text actually says apart from the interpretive tradition you read it in. The question, then, becomes which tradition we are to read it in. Might I suggest that the alleged tradition of the authors, unknowable as it is, is not always the relevant one?

        Join the battle against cosmic evil!

        by gzt on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 02:59:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Textual v. Contextual (none)
          Your comparison to the Constitution is accurate. It is precisely the battle between say an Anton Scalia and the more liberal Justices on the S. Ct.

          The textual argument of the Bible claims that the traditions are in fact solely based on the text of the Bible. In order words, they deny any contextual consideration of traditions which frankly is b.s. because of course they are, but they will claim that they are not. They see no metaphor or meaning beyond the Bible being the direct word of God. If the total time from begining to end of the Bible is 7000 years,then the world has only existed for a total of those years plus the present time. If Sodom and Gomorah talkd about homosexual rape of the angels, then the specifics are about homosexual rape and homosexuality, and not a wider lesson about man's inhumanity to man. Its the core of evangelism, and its extremes can descend into fundamentalism which is a part of all religions from Judaism, Buhdaism, Catholism (Mel Gibson is a Chatholic fundamentalist for example), Islam, Hinduism and Protestanism which we are presently discussing. If essense they would not allow for any variation from the doctrines because they say it is the direct word of God, and not subject to metahphorical interpretation for a wider principle.

          COntextualism says- these stories from God are meant to teach us lessons about the wider world and principles to live by. i.e., Sodom and Gomorah are about being cruel to your neighborand respecting your neighbor. It is less ironically reliant on tradition precisely because it admits meaning is derived from tradition.

          Its the same issue that Scalia never really addresses in his discussion of the COnstitution- in essense- how can one take what was a document of 200 years ago and apply it to modernity- he would say you wouldnt change a thing unless you go through the cumbersome process of amending the Constitution- otherwise you must follow not the spirt of the language- but its original and specific textual meaning.

          The inability to allow for the realities of reality based analysis is what separates the two- for example- in NYC- orthodox jews faced a dilemma recently of whether to drink city water because microscopic crustaceans were found int he water. The laws regarding Kosher foods under Judaic belief says they should not drink the water- and a debate - although minor has ensued. Do they follow the literal text? Or do they follow the spirit of the text?

      •  not quite... (none)
        Pragmatically, I would suggest if the point is to win points (and votes) from conservative Christians, you'll get much further talking about social justice and government than about homosexuality. I know a lot of evangelicals who are passionate about social justice, and more than a few who are lassez-faire on civil unions - but if you start going down the "and the Bible is actually ambiguous on homosexuality" road, you'll just lose them every time.
        •  frankly, my point here isn't to convince anyone (none)
          of an evangelical bent of anything- the point was to show this issue is not as clear among all Christians as they would argue. This is what I guess separates me from liberals- I am a left of center guy- I am out of the business of trying toconvince people to my position- I just want to understand why they think the way they do so that I can make sure it doesn't affect my life. i will respect other peoples faith- as I hope they respect my faith- I am pretty much a contextualist if you haven't guessed- but that doesn't mean that respect equals agreeing with someone people here that we should convince anyone to our position b/c I dont think people hre get that not everything is reconcilable- these people aren't stupid- they get our points- they just don't agree with them, and I think that's what a lot of people- including you are missing. You can talk social justice until you are blue in the face (and by the way if they don't think fair treatment of gays is social justice issue then I question their definition of the words). Here's the thing- Christian love isn't about earthly love- meaning- love of your brother to help him out- you are to do good stuff to help others, but for the truly fundie the best way that you can love your neighbor is to converted him b/c you are saving his soul- and providing him with eternal life in heaven rather than damnation in hell.  Until people get there are limits to this "dialogue" with some of the elements of the christian movement they will continue to say things like you are saying which are well meaning, but I don't see  it working based on the people that I have met and know.
    •  asdf (none)
      Cthulhu, would it be possible to list down the verses or parables for the 'let me give you some examples'. I only know about the separation of church and state (caesar unto caesar)...
    •  Great point Cthulhu (none)
      ... and great handle for a person who listens to Christian radio ;-)

      Do you think that you, or others perhaps who have had lots of bible education, could put together a book or website or even a document that lists biblical "precedent" for essential tenets of liberal thinking? As they say, book chapter and verse?

      Not to say that we are going to go around memorising this stuff, but it could come in handy.

    •  not gonna work... (none)
      The devil quotes scripture too..
  •  The religion is window dressing (3.66)
    The same religion is interpreted as a message of peace and tolerance in one part of the country and a message of war and intolerance in another part.

    America is turning imperialist because it is an empire.  The South is intolerant and anti-democratic because of its aristocratic heritage.  The religious nonsense is just our version of imperialist mythology.

    So they call themselves Christians.  Did you expect them to call themselves Fascists?

    It is far better if the deliberations of a free state are known to its enemies, than if the secrets of a tyranny are concealed from its citizens. -- Spinoza

    by Gary Sugar on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 06:37:44 AM PST

    •  What aristocratic heritage? (none)
      The South is intolerant and anti-democratic because of its aristocratic heritage.

      You've watched "Gone with the Wind" too many times.  The twentieth century political movement in the South was the peculiar form of populism that supported segregation for fear of competition from black workers.  There were other cultural elements, but it was still populism, even up through Jesse Helms.

      The South is not intolerant.  Some, a small minority of Southerners, are intolerant.  The attitude of Southerners is neither anti-democratic or anti-Democratic.  The South went for Bush for the same reason some other states went for Bush -- a large number of suburban Republicans whose life is just hunky-dory plus a great number of people who are scared crazy of terrorism.  The religious vote just ran the scoreboard up a few points.

      American fascism is more the attitude of Wall Street than it is of the South.  A more accurate term would be "corporate feudalism".

      The revolution starts now--in your own back yard, in your own home town

      by TarheelDem on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 12:32:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  May I be blunt? (none)
        I see what you're saying, but to a lot of people, you're sounding like Comical Ali.

        Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness.

        by JimTXDem on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 03:04:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks (none)
          I just don't see much aristocracy around here and never did.  There is a whole lot of aristocratic pretension arond here, but no aristocracy.  And there never was.

          I don't mind being the village idiot if it has some truth value.

          The revolution starts now--in your own back yard, in your own home town

          by TarheelDem on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 04:35:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  LOL (none)
        It's pretty difficult to get any more aristocratic than institutionalized slavery.  I can't really think of a culture that was more aristocratic than the colonial South.  Peter's Russia, maybe.

        It is far better if the deliberations of a free state are known to its enemies, than if the secrets of a tyranny are concealed from its citizens. -- Spinoza

        by Gary Sugar on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 09:08:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  As a Catholic (none)
    I was taught that faith is not enough to get one into heaven.  That faith must be accompanied by good works.  That we will be judged on our actions, not just by the sureness of our faith.  
    So it is using this rational that I say, in response to "And that is not a stance that would make me ignorant, stupid, bigoted, or homophobic," (and I am sorry to say it cause I think it makes it worse,) that while I agree that it is not ignorant, or even stupid it is bigoted, and homophobic, because the actions taken as a result of this stance are bigoted and homophobic.

    I hope this guy is right, that with exposure, and conversation etc, his mother, and people like her can be brought around, and I would applaud efforts to do so, but I for one am not willing to wait for that to happen.  We must write off the South, NOW.  Go after the Midwest and West.  

    •  Persecution (4.00)
      They believe that if they are not being persecuted they are doing something wrong?  Great, we finally know how to convince them they are wrong!  So, let's stop persecuting them  (not that I think we really are.)  Cede the South entirely.  Let them have it. Be polite and genial about it and just stop fighting for it, stop even thinking about it.  Demographics will change (check out the post about Fairfax County Virginia turning blue), and we can get back to it later.  

      For now we get a nice, personable Protestant (who knew I, a Catholic, was a member of a cult?) Midwesterner.  This will shore up support in Wisconsin, Western PA and Iowa and we go after Ohio, Missouri, (ok, kind of southern but also midwestern.)  Hell, we might be able to pick up one electoral vote in Nebraska of all places.      

      In addtion, Western Republicans have more in common with Libertarians than the Christian Conservatives (not counting Utah.) Democrats can make a stronger play for these states if we seal up the midwest with a hometown boy.  Especially after Bush and Co. dismantle the Bill of Rights even further in their second term.  We go after Colorado, (Kerry lost but Salazar won, we can make gains there) Arizona, (McCain is hugely popular there and not in anyway fundamentalist) Nevada, and New Mexico.  

      Sorry, to go on so long about stuff you all know, but it soothes me to make plans.

  •  How does one fight... (none) ideological virus?

    Answers on a postcard 25 words or less.

  •  I'm noticing a pattern (none)
    The author's mother's letter expresses a sentiment I've seen SEVERAL times already-- Bush's trangressions are covered up for because, "All Politicians Lie/Cheat." On the other hand, anything that a Democrat does wrong makes him irredeemably unfit for rule. How did we get in this position where Republican trangressions are considered "everyone does it," while those of the Democrats disqalify them from office?
  •  What about humility? (none)
    Perhaps if we point out the extreme arrogance of their beliefs (that they know God's will completely, that they know the end times are here), and remind that one of the central tenets of Christianity is humility, they would at least temper themselves more.

    "We kill when we close our eyes to poverty, suffering, and shame." -Herman Hesse

    by tryptamine on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 06:57:44 AM PST

    •  I tried that (none)
      ...on one of these folks, and it didn't work, as they get a kick out of being "saved" and therefore special and better than you are.  But i did stop him when, after a rousing argument whereby he claimed to be the perfect Christian, I said "You don't love me and people like me, and that's what you, as a Christian, are required to do.  You don't even respect me or my views.  You won't even listen to them."  That shut him up right quick and he jerked back in surprise.  Hadn't thought of that.
  •  Some folks are missing the point (4.00)
    Common sense and logic won't work here folks.

    Before moving to Chicago, my brother and I grew up in Texas (during our childhood years). Religion was a very, very big part of everyday life. I would imagine the same is true today. So trying to point out to them how they are "wrong" on certain issues is pointless and offensive.

    So what is the answer?

    Connect with them on issues they can agree with. These include economic justice for the poor while relating family values that are important to them. Folks, these are our voters when you think about it - most people south of the mason dixon are barely getting by!

    Another thing ...

    For years, the right has been claiming "Hollywood is poisening our children's minds" with sex and violence. The real culprit however are the big corporations, such as Disney and others. We have to tap into the anger of these religious voters by proving a target that everyone can agree on.

    We have to learn how to relate to people who consider family values an important aspect of American life. It does us no good to try to "change" them - this is who and what they are.

    I hope everyone gets the chance to read What the Matter with Kansas by Thomas Frank. He explains all of this in great detail.

    •  I think you are missing the point (none)
      There is a difference between what this guy is discussing- which is fundamentalism, and evangelicals. The former are unreachable, and is a wasted effort to reach out to them. The later are not. More importantly, it's not even clear just how much we need to reach out to them. They aren't the most attractive pick off towards a majority especially for any left leaning idealogy. Remember we lost by 3 percentage points. Most of the people voting for Bush were not of the fundamentalist sects. There were some who voted for him for non faith based reasons. The quesiton is should we even bother reach out to the ones who are unreachable? My answer is no- let's focus on those who are. As for your choice of who to attack, I think its a mistake to think we can out Republican the Republicans- the guy below who is a strink- read his post- it's brilliant actually in analysizing how to win in this situation.
      •  Perhaps (none)
        But we should be speaking to people who are evangelicals. Why not at least try to talk about issues that affect their lives?

        By the way, I am a "shrink" too.

        •  There are already a lot of people (4.00)
          on the left of the faith. the issue is not that- it is that the Christian Left has allowed their voice to be usurped by the Christian right. For example,Iflim (I believe that's his name above) on some pts he and I agree (ie, the Dems need vision and most importantly a backbone- which is why we both like Obama), and probably on religion and secularism there is some agree that secularist can be just as intollerant as the faithful, but on one crucial pt he and I disagree: I don't think the issue is a lack of respect for evangelicals- I believe it is that Christian breeds a sense of victimhood- so that Christians confuse a lack of willingess to enact their faith as law as the same as not respecting their faith. They aren't the same thing, and as a nontheocratic society- they shouldn't be.
        •  From one shrink (none)
          ... to another!

          Hi, Chicago!  I'm in Milwaukee.

  •  A View from a Shrink (4.00)
    Okay, so, I'm a shrink.  Let me take a look at this phenomenon we're all discussing from another angle.  

    When you look at a belief system like this, one question to ask is, "what's the payoff?"  That is, what do these adherents get out of this?"

    Others in this thread have pointed out the elements of the following:

    1.  the persecution fantasy allows for a feeling of being special, singled out

    2.  this feeling of being special has narcissistic elements, including a gradiose sense of one's own cosmic importance, as well as a solidarity with others based on a common (illusory) fantasy

    3.  there is also the payoff of the dream, the salvation dream, with the thought that "A paradise is coming and I can be part of bringing it to fruition."

    4.  finally, there is the obvious payoff that the unmanageable or unwanted elements of the self ("evil") can be projected onto another, and then that other can be punished for embodying (in this fantasy) the unwanted aspects of the self.  This does not mean that all homophobes, for example, are closet cases, but it does mean that this kind of personality structure needs a scapegoat to embody all that is evil and threateneing.  By doing this, the mind gets a passing dose of clarity and peace that floats atop an ignored chaos of doubt and self hate that remains barely conscious, but which occasionally intrudes into consciousness (thus all that spiritual struggle and craving of forgiveness)

    Now, what all this tells us is that this personality is at once very rigid and very fragile.  Keeping this personality structure together and functioning takes a lot of work for a person, and a lot of communal support.  And the stakes for the individual are high:  once the system collapses or comes undone, the result is depression and sin some cases extreme aggression.  The post quoted above clearly comes form a depressed person, and not just depression due to the outcome of the leection, I would argue.  The structure of the depression preexists the election results.  I would venture to say that the writer is nostalgic for and painfully feels the loss of the dream world embodied by his (or was it her?) former faith and community membership.  The story from the mother, quoted above, represents that tie to that partialy lost connection.

    Okay, that may all be very (or not very) interesting, but what does it mean politically?  If I were Karl Rove, and I wanted to exploit this knowledge for political gain, what would I do?

    1.  Demoralize their base by attacking the character and "moral" fitness of their chosen candidates.  Liberals are not good at this.  Liberals like to feel they are above this.  But the big threat to Bush in 2000 at the end was the news of his drunk driving arrest.  The brouhaha of the Mary Cheney lesbian issue was a threat to them, which they turned around with some neat jujitsu from Mary's Mom as the election approached.  This kind of character assassination would have to go on mostly below the radar, with flyers, planted people (starting now) on websites like Crosswalk, etc.

    2.  It's the reality, stupid.  Remember the tale of Don Quixote.  It was the mirrored knight who made Don Quixote's romantic and delusional visions come crashing down.  We actually did make headway with the reality issues this time around:  the debates did matter and di rehabilitate Kerry's image, and damage Bush's image.  It just was not quite enough.

    3.  The goal is not to win over fundamentalists.  It is to demoralize them.  remembers how, before the Moral majority, these people did not make themselves active in politics.  It's all or nothing with them.  If they get disgusted with politics, and see the process as part of the evil "world," then there turnout is depressed.  This is what Karl Rove fears most, as we have known (but not understood) for years.  So, we want to suppress their turnout using the strategies mentioned above.

    4.  Don't forget Sancho Panza.  Extending the Don Quixote myth above, remember that for every true believer, there is a closet skeptic who props the true believer up, out of love, loyalty and a fondness for the dream/illusion.  But sancho can vote, too, and Sancho's ballot is secret.  Many Catholics have played the role of Sancho in this election, but there are many others.  To win over Sancho, we have to offer sancho a dream - a vision - of a kind of redemption or visions for America's future that is competitive and attractive.  This is why the whole "national greatness conservative" meme, and the neocon movement, fit with and built an alliance with the fundamentalists.  We have to use our values to describe an alternate, attractive vision, which Kerry did not do, but which Clinton did do ("I still believe in a place called Hope," which ws very biblical in tone, and later, the less strong but still effective "birdge to the 21st century).

    Just some thoughts for Kos community consideration.

    "Make each day your masterpiece." -- John Wooden

    by Pachacutec on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 08:03:08 AM PST

    •  Your analysis is spot on about this issue (none)
      I would add that it works best if you are the party in opposition which is what we are.
    •  I thoroughly agree. Great analysis. (none)
      A failure on our side is that we are too interested in our purity purity ourselves. We needed a way to attack Bush (and more importantly, future GOP shills) very directly for being a false Christian, as equally UNDESERVING of the "moral christian" vote as Rove painted Kerry to be. We didn't do it.

      In part because it is a nasty business to actively malign an opponent's character. But I am convinced that we are losing unnecessarily because we refuse many tools of offense. Clinton's mid-90s refusal to destroy Gingrich over his divorces, abandonment of his dying wife and likely copious infidelities comes to mind. Sure enough, that favor of deference wasn't returned and is still yielding GOP votes to this day.

      Rove used these attempt-to-cripple attacks on Kerry very effectively. His divorce and personal style (and respect for the non-religious) helped drown him. But it was Rove who threw the anvil on top of Kerry. We had better start learning to throw anvils around too.

      Strategically, I don' think the best tactic will be to run a hard-core Christian candidate or pander to these people. Our goal should be to cripple their candidates as UNDESERVING of the pure, Christian vote. And when I say cripple, I mean destroy their moral pretensions so badly, the average Christian wouldn't want to have them over for dinner. That kind of repugnance. Jack Ryan-style. The kind of destruction they waged on Clinton.

      We have got to get serious about strategically destroying the image of the opposing candidates. That, more than anythng else, is Rove's skill. And it needs to be matched or else we will be defeated far into the future.

      •  agree, disagree (none)
        The question of Bush and religion is fair game, i agree.  But who's going to raise it?  James Carville?  Hillary?  

        I don't think it's really about running candidates who are baptist ministers or something.  It's more about the need for cultural work on the borders of politics.

        Only an active, progressive religious left is in a position to say loudly and publicly HOW they disagrees with this president based on moral values they share with other progressives (who may or may not be religious at all).  

        "For these things, too, and for a multitude of others like them, we have only just begun to fight." --FDR

        by markymarx on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 11:01:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  A punt, and a clarification (none)
          I have no prescription for the next standard bearer, so let that be a "punt."  I'm not for Southern Baptist tokenism, but at the same time, I'm highly dubious of someone like Hillary.  The only way she could become remotely viable would be to run as Maggie Thatcher - an aggressive, though liberal, hawk.  And even then, it would be a lonshot, and I doubth the base would have the stomach for it.

          So, the rest of what you said. . . I agree with.  I've also posted a new diary that puts my critical lens on the left, from my own point of view.

          "Make each day your masterpiece." -- John Wooden

          by Pachacutec on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 11:41:20 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I am (none)
            black, gay and left of center and I have zero interest seeing Hillary run in 2008- she is a symptom of the problemin the Dem party- we need someone with a backbone and a common man's touch to run- she has neither. We don't need a nother bill clinton - we something that is not about triangulation which only works when there are 3 candidates anyway.
    •  Translate from negative elitism to positive action (none)
      1. Speak truthfully to their base by holding voters accountable for the character and moral fitness of their elected candidates.  

      2.  It's the fruits of politician's actions, stupid.

      3.   The goal is not to win over fundamentalists.  It is to engage them.  We never want to suppress any person's turnout using strategies but rather expose dissonance between actions and words as described above.

      4.  We have to use our values to describe an alternate, attractive vision, which Kerry did not do, but which Clinton did do ("I still believe in a place called Hope," which was very Biblical in tone.)

      •  I won't quibble, but (none)
        I think this approach seems a little too high road, and little too unrealistic.  Of course we need a positive vision, but ewe are not going to win by engaging fundamentalists.  Do the fundamentalists engage us?  Who's been winning the presidency in the last four decades?

        I think we on the left are often afraid to be divisive, and afraid to be warriors, and I think that hurts us as much as any faith-based gap.  But I may post a separate diary putting the left on the virtual couch.  Stay tuned, or subscribe to my posts.  

        And of course, I'll appreciate any and all ratings, positive or negative, and I appreciate the responses by you thoughtful folks who took the time to read my comment.

        "Make each day your masterpiece." -- John Wooden

        by Pachacutec on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 10:03:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Please do (none)
          I have been arguing this for the last day and half over the issue of whether or not their is voter fraud. Most of what passes for  why we shouldn't proceed on this issue is fear which I think explains why we are so timid in attacking the other side. I would love to read your diary because you are what I think this party needs- voices saying look this is human nature and lets use it for a change- at least we are on the side trying to help people.
    •  yes good analysis (none)
      but you go on to diagnose a perfect stranger, uninvited, with depression.

      If you are a clinician you know the power of labels and how they can assault a sense of self-competency.  I know it certainly as a patient.

      You can argue that you are helping the diarist by revealing a necessary truth, and that he is not your patient and hence no confidentiality applies, but frankly I think you crossed an important ethical line.

      •  Good point - let me respond and clarify (none)
        1.  I was in no way making a diagnosis of any individual.  I realize that my language came across that way, and I repent!  I was doing what some of us shrninks do as a free association excercise, riffing on a type of personality structure and applying it as an heuristic to a set set of individuals.  That's not a clinical exercise, but a rather a theoretical one.  I used elements of the text to exemplfy a set of dynamics.  But I did not make that clear, and wrote as if I were speaking in one of my grad school seminars about generic cse material.  My bad.  Mea culpa.

        2.  Just to set the record straight, I am not a practicing clinician, but am trained as one.  I have chosen to apply my knowledge and my business background as a consultant to business and as a progessional speaker.  Anyone who has any interest in what I mean by that can follow the links in my profile.  That's not advertising, that's just background and full disclosure.

        I hope that helps.  Again, I apoligize for and take responsibility for creating misunderstanding.

        "Make each day your masterpiece." -- John Wooden

        by Pachacutec on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 09:49:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you! (none)
          I was more concerned for the diarist than anything.  Still thought your post overall was very solid.

          Incidentally, have you followed Vimik Volkan's work?  I wanted to pass on this link and there's other stuff out there on him as well:

    •  excellent points (none)
      here is a question I am struggling this week: where does anger come from and what does it accomplish?

      Unity to be real must stand the severest strain without breaking.............Mahatma Gandhi

      by getmeoutofdixie on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 11:24:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  sources of anger (none)
        Hey, there's no one answer to this.  Psychologists, philosphers, moralists, religionists, anthropoogists and everyone else has a point of view on this one.

        The bottom line is, anger is part of human nature.  It has evolved to help us survive.  In itself, it is neither "good" nor "bad."  We can make moral judgments about actions we take, but the emotions themselves are neutral.

        I have argued elsewhere that the left tends to be innefectual with its anger because the modern left grew out of the peace movement, which tended to demonize all aggressive attack while promoting kumbayah pseudo-harmony ("I'd like to teach the world to sing. . .").

        To be effective, we have to use our anger to:

        1.  define ourselves and our core ideals (values and frames)

        2.  define (negatively) those who oppose our values and frames

        3.  undermine the efforts of our political adversaries to to the same, as in my post above.

        "Make each day your masterpiece." -- John Wooden

        by Pachacutec on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 11:46:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Aggression against children (none)
        This is a very long discussion, but if you're interested in my views on this you can download the current text of my book The Human Robot, Understanding the Emotional Effects of Industrialism. Your username is "daily," password "kos" -- case sensitive, no punctuation or quotes.

        Very briefly, the split is not necessarily religious (although that is a factor) but cultural, and it is based on the ways in which parents are taught to control their children from infancy.

        The Human Robot began in Mexico in 1973. I was then married to Virginia Christine Jolly, mother of Faera, then two years old. Chrissie struck up an acquaintance with Dr. James Clark Moloney, an elderly psychiatrist, who was our neighbor at La Giralda apartments in Guadalajara. Dr. Moloney introduced us to the concepts of the human robot. Human robots are people who have become machines, as a result of their conditioning from infancy on. Most of the horrors of modern time can be traced to their roots in the ways in which we abuse our children.

        We read all his books, some of them in manuscript and unpublished to this day, including his final work, On Curves and Straight Lines: The Manufacture of Human Robots. I can fairly say that the experience changed my life. I promised Dr. Moloney that I would try my best to bring his ideas to a greater audience. He warned us about the negative consequences of stirring the bitter mess of the mass psyche, but he ardently hoped that I would succeed where he had failed.

        During the years that followed, many of Dr. Moloney's ideas about bottle-feeding, strict toilet training and sexual repression became quite commonplace in the media. I myself used them whenever possible in my magazine articles. I believe that the first serious discussion of children ever to appear in Playboy was a brief review of Dr. Moloney's discoveries I inserted into "The Female Ego," an examination of NOW-style feminism, that appeared in 1978.

        While many other observers have since agreed on the essential facts, to the point where these ideas are perhaps a little familiar, even boring, Moloney was virtually alone in placing the blame for the introduction of these practices on industrialism, describing in gruesome detail the collaboration between early psychologists and businessmen.

        Do the following things to children, they said, and you will get obedient workers.

        Breast-feeding had to be curtailed from years to months. Infants were not to be allowed to sleep in the same beds with their parents, but were to be separated from their mothers as early as possible and, if possible, raised by strangers. In order to free their mothers to enter the factory, children had to be pushed to talk, walk and to control their bowel movements.

        These recommendations were translated into Victorian morality, first embraced by the emerging middle class and later inflicted on whole populations. It was believed that sexual repression would increase worker reliability. In pre-industrial economies, most rural people worked three to four days a week, at most, except during planting and harvest times. They had plenty of time to make love and their basic ideas about sex were positive and even orgiastic. Before the 17th Century, for example, women were viewed as moved by torrents of uncontrollable sexuality. As the factory system spread, their image changed to cold and puritanical and ungiving. Country people were at first unwilling to give the factory more time, even when they moved into the cities.

        In agricultural society, to have many children was a sign of wealth and fertility. They were not more mouths to feed, but more arms to help in the harvest. In the emerging industrial society, population growth was at first favored, but when child labor laws began to forbid the employment of children, and employers were required by law, contract and custom to be concerned about the welfare of their workers, children became liabilities rather than assets. More than that, the burden of responsibility had to be shifted to the parents. It was their own fault that they had all these children. They should have controlled themselves. Therefore the rich had no obligation to help the poor.

        Enforcing this code, meant suppressing all normal forms of erotic expression. Many non-industrial societies frowned upon masturbation by adults, homosexuality and anal and oral intercourse because they tended to inhibit population growth. In industrial society, however, these activities were forbidden because all energy was to be channeled into productivity. All pleasures had to be earned and purchased.

        The results have been quite gruesome, but if you don't examine the social costs, the outcome has been profitable beyond anyone's expectations at the beginning.

        Denying the breast leads to oral fixations such as alcoholism, smoking and overeating. Abusive toilet training is reflected in constipation, compulsive neatness, miserliness. Keeping children in cribs and nurseries increases anxiety. All these distortions increase consumption as well as submissiveness to authority.  

        I don't know that Moloney's theories can ever be proved in a scientific way, but they are very persuasive. It's interesting to me that mass and serial murders almost always turn out to have been beaten and otherwise abused from infancy by a parent, step-parent or close relative. There are Christians who believe that it is necessary to beat children regularly to break their will and make them obey. I'm not talking about spanking, but beating with switches, belts, cat-o'-nine tails and other weapons that leave bruises or even draw blood.

        Although deliberately hurting children for cultural reasons, especially young adolescents, is not unknown in non-industrial warrior cultures, it is rarely appplied to children under five or six. I am inclined to believe that toilet-training is much more significant than religion, but ultimately I am confident that the anger is installed in infancy.

        The politics of toilet training is never going to be avery popular subject. Unfortunately, that's where the answers, such as they are, will be found. The effects are almost certainly irreversible.

        I am not a shrink, by the way. I've just devoted my life to the study of children so that I could avoid hurting mine the way I was hurt.

        newsroom-l.netNews and issues for journalists.

        by Jules Siegel on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 02:03:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Political Strategy (none)
    Its triangulation..Take on their core issues as your own which will neutralize their base. The key is to not give them a reason to go to the polls.

    I think this will happen anyways, because I really think that the GOP will go with a Pataki or Rudy in 08. Who else is out there? Even McCain is somewhat of a moderate. This will drive the conservative christains nuts. They will be apt to stay away. Its not like they are going to run, Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh.

    The one thing that scares me is this..That there may be a cursade to change the Constitution to allow Bush to run again...Which would also allow Clinton to run again!!! (What a matchup)... If the CC's feel threatened, then this could be the new Cursade, who knows they may try to grandfather it to prevent Clinton from running again..

    You have to be thinking about that, since the Repo's control a majority of the state legislatures...Would it come in a Wartime Leadership Amendment to consecutive terms..and in the Christain Con belief we are always at war...

    Something to think about while Bush decides how to spend that "Political" Capital....

    •  They could always go for Santorum or Brownback (none)
      too you know.  Don't assume that they will go for a McCain or Guiliani after Bush won with his evangelical base.  

      Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. -- Robert F. Kennedy

      by LionelEHutz on Mon Nov 08, 2004 at 07:07:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  intervention (none)
    So basically they are brainwashed from birth to be conservatives. Liberals shy away from these southern states (and rightfully so - I myself would probably be killed) and therefore we are growing these single-minded citizens w/o any other influence on them. How can liberal or even moderate ideas be introduced to such communities?

    "...liberty and justice for all...heterosexuals"

    by leftout on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 08:29:53 AM PST

  •  Angels and Demons (none)
    Here's an "modest proposal" for this problem:

    If these folks need to see angels battling demons we just need to adjust the pH of their drinking water supply the Sunday before Election Day. That will give them a whole different perspective of good vs. evil.

    In all seriousness- I have no problem with anybody's religion, as long as they keep it to themselves. If they can't seperate Church and State, or insist on trying to shove their beliefs on others, they can leave the play ground and have a time-out.

    The Puritans left Europe because they were too uptight, which provoked the "persecution" by others. Their own intolerance of others was reflected back to them, and the same holds true now with the folks described in this diary.

    There is an excellent book on fundamentalism in the 3 Abrahamic faiths by a British writer named Karen Armstrong called "The Battle for God." Her book traces the rise of fundamentalism from 1492 to the present. Her book "Holy War," which is a history of the crusades, is an excellent read as well.

    " can call this song, the United States Blues!"

    by onezam on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 08:34:09 AM PST

  •  this is wonderful... (none)
    ...and I recommended it, but let me add that I'm kind of annoyed at you for doing a cut-and-paste from someone else's blog without providing a backlink or even telling us the name of the blog.  I want to read what else this person has to say, please!

    We Democrats are deciduous. We fade, lose heart, become torpid, languish, then the sap rises again, and we are passionate. -- Garrison Keillor

    by Evan on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 08:42:14 AM PST

  •  Strategy for Christ's Warriors (3.50)
    There are three options:

    1. They stay in the political game.  Worst outcome.

    2. They become disillusioned with politics for whatever reasons:  It's a dirty business, too much a part of the world, candidates and parties are corrupt, and others.  Kossacks should help identify the themes that might incline these folks to stay home.  Desirable outcome.

    3. They redirect their energies to a more desirable target.  Example:  the mass media, Hollywood, TV, corporate advertisers.  This can be achieved, because the religious right has in the past mobilized against these corporations.  This may produce a dangerous outcome, but it could also lead to corporations having to spend alot of money to defend themselves.  If that is the case, they may have fewer resources to contribute to GOP candidates.  This could also lead to all kinds of delicious theatre and threaten what is now a de facto political alliance of segments of corporate America and the religious right.
  •  God is love (4.00)
    Thanks for the wonderful post from ex-Christian conservative.  

    For pointy-headed intellectuals at least, the term "Founding Fathers" refers to the framers of the Constitution, who were themselves intellectuals and scholars; men of letters, rather than men of God.  This term doesn't generally apply to the Puritans who first settled in New England.  Even they, however, were dedicated to freedom of worship--that's what brought them to this country.  From this angle, the whole concept of proselytizing is truly at odds with traditional American values.  

    Secondly, I wonder if ex-Christian can explain to me how even the most conservative Christian can countenance the waste of life in Iraq.  One of the most basic values in the Old Testament is 'thou shalt not kill', but the New Testament goes farther still in expressing liberal values.  The Gospels are meant to join us, give us comfort and hope, not make war and hate those who disagree with us. Jesus asked us to love one another, to love even our enemies.  He also asked us to keep the church and spiritual matters separate from matters of state ('render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's' ... how much clearer can you get?).  

    How do conservative churches reconcile these seeming disconnects?

    •  they rewrote the bible (none)
      apparantly one of the new versions has "thou shalt not murder" instead of "thou shalt not kill". convenient, eh? when in doubt, call the editor.  
      •  Not New! (none)
        In the original Hebrew, it is "Thou shalt not murder." Something that is frequently misquoted. This commandment does not prohibit state-sanctioned killing.

        Another that is misquoted and misunderstood is "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." In the original Hebrew, it is "Thou shalt not carry the name of the Lord thy God in vain." This commandment does not prohibit saying, for example, "goddamn", so much as it prohibits claiming God's endorsement of your own self-serving causes. Somebody better tell W...

        •  thanks (none)
          i had no clue about the timeline. i did see a pro-death penalty fundimentalist use "...not murder" to justify the Texas capital punishment system on "The Texas Solution" on Trio. I just assumed this was a more recent translation. That's what i get for dabbling outside my turf.
  •  Aja is a "she", not a "he" (none)
    Just to help you-all adjust your mental images a bit, though I find it very amusing in a James-Tiptree-Jr. sort of way that her writing is clearly ungendered. I keep having an image of this young woman strutting around as Chicago sings, "I'm a man! yes I am yes I am yes I am!" guitar riff

    For completeness' sake, I'm XX too.

    •  I'm a dope (none)
      I just posted that at the end of the commenting thread. Doh.

      Do I know you on LiveJournal? I'm Flourish there too. I'm assuming you know Aja personally if you knew her gender.

      Frodo has failed - Bush has the ring!

      by Flourish on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 09:11:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  They won't listen (none)
    Everyone I'm close to (except myself) voted for Bush. None of the reasons I did not vote for him, nor the reasons I voted for Kerry mattered a twit to them.

    My inlaws are born-again Christians, my wife and I also were raised this way but neither of us attend church now. My inlaws voted for Bush because of his "values", in other words because he is a fellow christian.

    My wife voted for him because her job is going well and we haven't been attacked again (why mess that up?- Is what she says.)

    My brother voted for Bush because the ends justify the means. He sides with the neocons, the only safe world is an american dominated world.

    My Mom, who lives in Florida, voted for Bush because she didn't want her social security taken away (I'm still not sure why she thought Kerry would).

    My cousin, who I love dearly, voted for Bush. He lives in Minnesota and collects full automatic machine guns ... nuff said.

    What are we to do when everyone picks a reason to vote for (as stated in this diary) then shuts their mind to absolutely everything else?

    I tried, no one wants to listen.

  •  One correction, one conclusion (none)
    Great diary.  One correction.

    Aja wrote:
     "I mean, you guys in Europe and the loonies on the East and West Coasts think the Founding Fathers died to bring us religious freedom.  

    They so did not.  They died to give new Christianity a place where it could flourish."

    Um, no.  You're talking about the colonial founders, such as the Puritans, who did indeed want to found a New Jerusalem.  The Founding Fathers (the Revolutionaries and Constitutionalists) wanted no part of that shit.  They deliberately built a secular republic to guarantee religious freedom.

    One conclusion:

    Long term, we need to secede.  I am surrounded by born-again Christians, and though I don't understand their interior mentalscapes the way this guy does, I do understand that their thinking is going to change much.  This kind of ideology has only expanded in the past decades.  It's getting worse, not better.

    •  Don't secede - still winnable! (none)
      But we absolutely have to make a strong case for what you put your finger on: that the US was founded to guarantee religious freedom. We have to make the case for what American as an idea is for.

      People came here with the idealistic notion of finding freedom for their particular brand of Christianity, but when it came time to make the State work, they had to build in tolerance for other versions.

      The tension between the ideal that presumes that one's own view is Absolute Truth and the practical reality that you need to live and govern with people who disagree with you is there from the start.

      This is a winnable case, long term, with the right message machine. There are always going to be people who can't/won't distinguish between President and Moral Leader, but they will have kids, and not all their kids are going to fall into step behind them.

    •  who succeeds (none)
      As an example "Blue" Pennsylvania went Dem by 2%
      Red New Mexico and Iowa are separated by a few thousand votes.

      "Blue" Massachusetts has a Republican Gov.  "Blue" CA does...
      "Red" Montana, Kansas, and others have Dem Gov.

      the Republican Gov of Alabama proposed a massive overhaul of the state tax code to make it more progressive BECAUSE OF his understanding of his faith...  his opponents in this are Republicans, his allies Democrats....

      We aren't two divided camps.  We're intermingled - right down to the county level.

      I understand the frustration to leads to this desire - but where do we split?    This election, nationally, was 49% us  51% them.   a whole bunch of those votes don't correspond to geography.

      Successionist talk is self-defeating.   Let's focus on how to win some of them over - and that begins, in my mind, by realizing that neither "them" nor "us" are monolithic blocks - but coalitions.  Let's build ours while exploiting cracks in theirs.

    •  THat is not what the Fundamentalist's say... (none)

       AMERICA - Joyce Meyer Ministries

      From the Pilgrims that landed at Plymouth nearly four hundred years ago, to the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, believers built our country. Famous statesman Patrick Henry said, "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!" These men and women of God trusted in the Bible and had character, honor, and high moral standards. They were people of prayer who put God first and continually sought Him for intervention. I believe that because of their commitment to Christ and persistence in prayer, America has been greatly blessed. [more]

      Her television program is broadcast to more than two-thirds of the globe and her radio program is broadcast on over 300 stations.

      On her site you can learn about God AND voter registration. Check it out.

      "They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

      by digital drano on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 09:44:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  arithmetic quibble ? (none)
    "Those of us who are 40+ years old have lived most of our lives under Democrat rule and have decided we did not like their policies."

    But there have only been three Dem presidents in the past 36 years.

  •  So what? (none)
    "I have gone on way too long about this, but I hope that maybe just maybe this has shed some light on the entire experience of being a conservative christian, and how it can influence your vote without any other factors having anything to do with it.  This is not a problem of ignorance and stupidity."

    There were many wonderful, intelligent hippies in the 60s and 70s who didn't resemble the charicature that the Right painted them out to be.  Bottom line is that Bush supporters, a large faction of which are the "so called Moral Majority", live in their own "faith based reality" world where facts are irrelevent.  There was a great thread posted on the main board right before the election that pointed out the results of the Bush/Kerry reality study, begining with 60% believing that Saddam was responsible for 9/11 (anyone who can link me to that thread I'd appreciate it).  By my "reality based" standards, these results were "ignorance and stupidity" personified.

    If we are ever to sever the devil pact link between the rich fat cats and the Southern conservatives, then we have to make sure that the latter becomes as distasteful to the moderate as being brandished a "radical hippie liberal".  So I'm not going to stop calling a the bible thumping snake charmers ignorant and stupid, and I'm going to throw all the well-meaning "moral" Southern conservatives into the pot as well.


    •  Call them ignorant and stupid if you want (none)
      But you would do well to remember the Heaven's Gate mass suicide in San Diego a few years ago. These people were computer programmers and I can assure that many had an IQ higher than the average Joe.

      It's perplexing to try and understand, but intelligence really doesn't come into it quite as much as you are assuming. Again, the Fundamentalists are loyal to their ideology for the deepest of emotional reasons. They block out their brain's critical thinking for the rewards of their hearts--but it's not because they don't have brains. It's a matter of knowing and prioritizing God's will (which feels real good) over any confusing, doubt-inducing critical thought.

      On an aside, I have my own curiosity of whether we will see a mass suicide in the multiple thousands over the next decade. All the people who have made Left Behind a bookselling phenomenon are already half-way eager to die to be closer to God.

      In any case, we should just recognize that these people do vote and either get them to:

      1. Vote for us if they will
      2. Discourage them from voting for the other guy
      3. Expand our coalition to cancel out their vote.

      Neither arguing with them, calling them names nor entertaining an ideological move towards their fundamentalism is a very productive thing to do.
      •  I vote for number 3 (none)
        "Neither arguing with them, calling them names nor entertaining an ideological move towards their fundamentalism is a very productive thing to do."

        And so I would have to disagree with you on this point, because I believe that applying the same demonizing strategy that the Right used so well against "radicals", "liberals", "hippies" on the Left, will work equally effective when applied to the "Rapture group", "fundamentalists", "American Taliban" on the Right.  

        It's the natural fallout of the thread posted not long ago "Ralph's Gift".  The truth is that many Republicans are loath to see themselves defined as the party of the ignorant, so I say that is how we keep the next generation from joining their crowd.  If we no longer let conservatives define themselves as the party of small government, fiscal prudence, but rather label them with terms like "bigotry" and "family values" (establishing it for the code speak that it is), then more and more people are going to refuse to identify themselves as "Republicans".

        Marketing is the key, and for a first effort, click on my moniker and check out the comment "Rapture perfume - spray GOP 'liberally!'"

  •  Reason means nothing to tribalists. (none)
    Excellent diary that clearly explains what so many people fail to understand about the Christian fundamentalist mindset:  facts and reason have no value.  Even morality - true morality -- is useless to them; the only moral actions in their view are whatever a fellow fundamentalist does to further their agenda.

    This is a religious sect marked by virulent anti-intellectualism, whose followers regard ignorance as a tenet of faith, who view reason and science as the enemy of "God", who regard the Constitution as subordinate to their bibles, who view the law of the land as legitimate only when and if it can be used to further their religious agenda, and who - as the diarist explained - see the world as a spiritual battleground between their religion and everyone else and eagerly embrace division as evidence of their status as God's persecuted chosen people.    

    There is simply no reasoning with a mindset like this.  You think quoting Jesus will win them over?  Don't bet on it.  Notice how little the fundamentalists ever cite Jesus - their allegiances are to Paul and the angry Hebrew god of the Old Testament.  It doesn't matter if 100,000 or 2 million Iraqis are killed by Bush's war - the same fundamentalists who endorse the Biblical accounts of their Hebrew god murdering non-Christian infants will never be troubled by slaughter or atrocity against non-Christians.  Healthcare and unemployment are irrelevant to them - what use are those things to people who regard suffering as the rightful consequence of man's fallen nature and who are waiting for their reward in heaven.

    I think anyone can see that this has nothing to do with morality or even religion - it is identity politics in its worst, most base sense:  it's tribalism.   It simply doesn't matter how destructive or immoral Bush is - all the evidence is easily trumped by the fact that he is always good and moral because he is a Christian like them.  Those who think that Taliban is a harsh word for Christian evangelicals obviously don't understand the first thing about this sect.  

  •  agreed (none)
    Excellent diary and I, as a lifelong catholic, have never understood why bishops and many leading catholic leaders choose to align themselves so closely politically to evangelicals.  I think they view it as being part of a larger big tent christian movement against secularism.  But the diry little secret is that a lot of evangelicals I know were brought up to believe just the anti-catholic sentiments you expressed.  I've been literatured and prayed over til the cows came home by these people growing up.  
    •  agreed (none)
      I agree with you too. As a Catholic, I thought in the early 1980s that eventually the alliance between the bishops and the evangelical Protestants would die due to some members of the evangelical camp having anti-Catholic sentiments. It hasn't happened. The bishops are hardly in a position to serve as moral exemplars to those of us who are Catholics.
    This diary is a dead-on account of the mind of the southern fundamentalist.  i grew up in dallas in the church of christ [for those of you unfamiliar, we regard our southern baptist friends as a bit too liberal in scriptural interpretation but basically on the right track].

    Particularly what jumped out to me about this post was the explanation of the built-in filter and how it drives the way you read everything.  analysis is completely result-oriented and bass-ackward: decide who's with you and what's godly, who and what's not, and go from there.  that's what makes it so hard to break out of once you've bought into this system of thought.

    CITING PAUL AS THE SOURCE OF THEM/US WAS THE MOST INSIGHTFUL THING I'VE READ IN A WHILE AND REALLY MERITS SOME DISCUSSION.  FInd yourself a "red letter edition" version of the new testament and compare the direct quotes attributed to Jesus in the Gospels.  Now compare them to Paul's statements in the epistle books later in the new testament.  Does one sound more or less similar to 2004 republicans?  Does the other sound more or less similar to democrats?  I think this is how we might have a prayer of jacking with the fundamentalist brainlock - force them to defend their Paul-based positions against the words of Jesus.

    •  Bingo (none)
      This is one of the primary issues I have with the interpretation just on a relgious level- why paul accorded so much more respect than anything said by anyone else in terms of how they react politically?
  •  They have their own party. (4.00)
    I don't think we need to win them over.  However there are faithful people in this country of all creeds, more tolerant, and we need to have a place in the Democratic party.  If the Democratic Party formally promotes peace and diplomacy as a political stand, then the faithful could endorse that position  on religious grounds, and that should be welcome in the Party.  

    We are the Party of Religious tolerance, which means all religions, all people of faith, and that needs to be shouted.  For example, as a liberal Catholic, I do not endorse prayer in school, because I feel it is more meaningful to have ones own prayer, not just some meaningless  civil form of prayer.  

    However, I am for a moment of silence in the morning, so all children can say their own prayer, or meditate, or just clear the cobwebs from the head, or whatever.  

    I think that we need to chill out on the faith thing, and just be ourselves.  The faithful have not yet abandoned the Democratic Party, but has the Democratic Party abandoned the faithful?

    First of all, Catholics for Kerry and those faithful groups that openly supported Kerry, and Demcratic Party need to be commended, and communication and dialogue needs to be kept up.  

    Progressive Churches need support as well, and if they have access to faith-based funds, well, why not take advantage of it?  

    Liberal/progressive churches will need grantwriters, so volunteer for that in your own community.

    We need to endorse local candidates that are from progressive/mainline churches, so be on the lookout for that.

    If you are a member of a church, then start a club, organization, to discuss contemporary issues, and seek solutions.  It does not have to be partisan, but connecting with people and discussing possible solutions will help strengthen further action.

    The Southern Baptist Church has many organizations to help support it, and the sheer amount of money it raises through tithe is immense. (yeah I know, what does God need with money?)  

    One idea I had was to start financing and banking services, especially in low income neighborhoods.  When the Community Reinvestment Act is put to bed, then these neighborhoods will need to have some resources and investment, and it is likely someone will cash in on that, why not have the churches get involved in that kind of business?  The Lutherans have investment accounts, I think they are a retirement annuity.

    Anyway, the future is wide open.  Time to steer the boat.

  •  wedge (none)
    Do you think there is anyway to convince some of these folks that the Republicans may be using their religion to screw them?  I am not sure if Bush believes in his faith or not.  However, some one like Karl Rove's religion is winning.  So, the Republicans wealthy elite are using these people's faith to get them to vote for Bush against their own interests.  So long as they are for the guns gays and God issues, they don't realize that their wages are lower, their jobs are going overseas, their water is dirty, their air is dirty, they don;t have health care, and their God-given earth is being scorched.  If many of these fundies stood up for social justice the Republicans would be forced to move to the left.
    •  armageddon (none)
      apocalyse christians have set dates & waited for the end of the world for centuries, & been disappointed every time.  

      there is no future in this world for them.  they want to go to heaven, & they are sure the rest of us will go to hell.  much like islamic fundies.  so all these issues, environment, social justice, etc, are meaningless.

      didn't jesus say, "the kingdom of heaven is within you"?

      fundies have externalized heaven, holy war, etc.

      "..The question was, who was going to attack us, when and where, and with what." ..."now, watch this drive."

      by x on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 11:11:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think it's entirely necessary to show (none)
      non-fundamentalists how fundamentalists are not truly their friends who share their interests.  If you look at the ways people of faith distribute themselves across the spectrum, there is certainly room to create wedge issues and initiatives.  Catholics and fundamentlaist can be split apart.  We just need to study how.

      Of course, this does not mean we don't promote a positive agenda that is (liberal) values based.  Good wedge issues accomplish both ends at the same time.

      As Chris Bowers has pointed out, the whole language of "good works," or perhaps alternately of social justice, can perhaps help peel Catholics away from evangelicals.  The trick would be to promote a specific initiative or ballot measure that exploits the potential fracture without hitting it head on.

      I wonder, does the stem cell debate do this?  More moderate Christians, including Catholics, are not as hostile to science as fundamentalists are, and stem cell research has effectively been branded as a mean through with to alleviate human suffering.  What is the polling on this?  Ruy Tuxiera, where are you?

      "Make each day your masterpiece." -- John Wooden

      by Pachacutec on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 01:22:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting, but (none)
    this analysis cannot be the ground from which Democrats can re-evaluate political strategy.  We cannot give up the fight on certain issues.  In Texas health education textbooks, they are including the definition of marriage as "one man and one woman". In Grantsburg, WI, creationism has just been approved as an alternative "scientific" theory for teaching in the schools.   College Republicans are beginning to appeal to university administrations railing against their professors' liberal bias.  We cannot allow this to continue.

    As many others have noted here, education is key.  As long as public schools in rural areas are underfunded, particularly in teacher salaries, this ideological battle is going to become more difficult to defeat.

    •  Indeed education (none) key.  Maybe one thing we should try to do is encourage the educational and scientific community to prepare a lot more content for TV and film.  We need a cable network for this, too.  Even if the theocons don't watch it, others would, and knowledge would travel by word of mouth.
  •  I'd like some ex-conservative feedback on this (none)
    Thinking this was all about gay marriage and abortion will loose us another election

    Proud to be American crowd voted Bush

    Some points to ponder...

    Believe it or not, it wasn't just rednecks who voted for Bush
    By Mark Steyn (Filed: 07/11/2004)

    What was revealing about this election campaign was how little the condescending Europeans understand even about the side in American politics they purport to agree with - witness The Guardian's disastrous intervention in Clark County

    Uncowed by Islamists, undeferential to government, unshrivelled in its birthrates. Bush's redneck America is a more reliable long-term bet. Europe's media would do their readers a service if they stopped condescending to it.

    Red pride: Proud to be brave, independent, virile
    We didn't see that as a reason Kerry lost but I think he is right on the money here.

    We missed the "Proud to be American" crowd...

    More on this and HOW the Swift Liars hurt Kerry in my diary (no need to recommend, just come in for a chat...)

  •  The blind filter of Christian identity. (4.00)
    About the blind filter of Christian self-identification, it has a corollary in a profound observation made by Christopher Hitchens a while back (in his scathing expose of Mother Teresa).  Hitchens made the point that one of the greatest faults of incompetent minds (including the media) was to judge public figures by their reputation, instead of deducing their reputation from their actions.  Mother Teresa was evaluated through the lens of her pre-established reputation as a "saint."  It didn't matter how reprehensible her actual actions were (running death-houses that provided no real medical or pain management care, just a cramped bed to die in), it was all filtered through "saint" and thus declared saintly.  In this twisted world, a pre-established reputation is what drives perception; actions and results are irrelevant.  (A man known as an early riser can awake at noon every day of his life.)   Thus Mother Teresa could be pull off the neat trick of, in truth, being the cause and encourager of pain and suffering, while being regarded as just the opposite.  
    The same is true with Bush and the fundamentalists.  The fundamentalists will never judge Bush on the facts of his behavior or his results, all that matters is his fundamentalist identity.  
  •  We need to become reverse missionaries (4.00)
    if experience is what moves the fundamentalists to question themselves, we each need to go adopt a fundamentalist.  knock on doors and preach to them.  use the bible liberally.  speak their language. Become part of their lives.  Plenty of liberals in the south.  start with your neighbors.  they do it to you, you should hit right back.  

    if that doesn't work, find out about cult deprogramming techniques.  i don't know any myself, but see what works on cultists, then apply to right wing fundamentalists you know.  because, the whole us vs them, constant struggle, persecution-complex are CLASSIC cult signatures.  The evangelicals here may disagree with me, but read up on your cults, and then tell me that what the poster talks about is not indicative of cult behavior AT ALL.  and an apocalyptic one at that.

    and yes, we need to field a candidate that is unwavering in their values and is vocal about it. That requires  a very protestant mindset.  I think the reason Kerry didn't 'cut it' is that he has a very culturally 'catholic' (if that's what you can call it) mindset, which is to always question and doubt. You're taught that 'the Lord has no desires and works in mysterious ways,' and that leads to a questioning ethic.  Catholicism is not cut and dry like many protestant sects, or we wouldnt have encyclicals and the jesuits. And in mainline catholicism, you dont wear your beliefs on your sleeve.  So, we have to find someone (like Dean yes)  who can talk about liberal values like a protestant preacher.
    (sorry about the long post, btw)

  •  Aggressive regressives (4.00)
    It's amazing what suspension of disbelief, the complete subjugation of critical thinking, will bring. But this type of ideology is not at all new - it's really the story of the entire Dark Ages in Europe, when this was predominant. Modern theocratic states (mostly Middle Eastern, Islamic fundamentalist) aren't too different ideologically.

    I find it not only distasteful and nasty but also powerfully destructive. All the "warrior" mentality is intolerant and violent. Logic and reason and, really, goodness becomes secondary to the imaginary ideological battle.

    I value the results of ideological progress of the last 500 years -- the Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, the great liberal philosophies on which the United States of America were founded -- and they are ultimately more powerful than the Dark Ages thinking they defeated.

    I definitely don't think these people are incurable. Plenty of people have made a personal enlightening journey away from that dark thinking -- which is propped up by a political noise machine that is ultimately taking advantage of them. We need to help empower reason and reasonable people in those parts and share enlightenment stories.

    Kerry/Edwards: For a reality-based America

    by Em on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 11:09:46 AM PST

    •  Aggressive regressives (none)
      Garry Wills wrote an article in the New York Times on how Bush's election represented the fall of the Enlightenment.
    •  Content creators (none)
      need to create films and TV programs about the history of our founding fathers and vigorously tie the Enlightenment and Reason to Patriotism.

      And someone should make Mark Twain's magnificent The War Prayer into a short film.  I still don't understand why 1984 wasn't aired before the election.

  •  when over 1/2 the country (none)
    doesn't bother to vote, how can you say that the MAJORITY is for Souther baptist. Those that didn't bother to vote, didn't follow their church mandate to vote (so they must not be believers) this needs to be the target for the next election. Unfortunately, since this was the 3nd tainted election in a row (2000,2002,2004) it is doubtful that america will have a free election in the future (unlike venezuela, who used 17000 American made DRE's that offered verifiable paper trail). They killed democracy in my lifetime, and gave me a theocratic kleptocracy instead

    republican hypocracy has condemned God and Jesus to be as Dead as our Democracy

    by demnomore on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 11:15:29 AM PST

  •  Well, this just explains so much... (none)
    This diary has given me the best handle on the horrible religious war waged back-and-forth in my family since way before I was born.  I can't thank you enough for sharing these views.  Insight into this sort of mindset not only helps me understand what we as progressives have to deal with, but on a personal level gird my loins against what I consider to be a wanton disrespect for, and a wily form of aggression against my privately-held spirituality.

    My dad was Roman Catholic.  Mom was/is Southern Baptist.  They wound up marrying and divorcing twice in my childhood, the religious issues being too incendiary to deal without bloodshed.  Luckily, we kids got to be raised Episcopalian as a compromise, missing out on the "victim" thing and the "hellfire" thing, and learning to be good citizens in the process.

    My husband and I (non-Christians) are having to face Thanksgiving alone in a restaurant with my mom, the Right Wing Christian blog lurker, who has always gloried in "victimhood" and shown a remarkable tendency towards arrogance and smugness in her views.  Now I have an idea what's going on in her head, and can act accordingly.  Thanks!

  •  Very interesting and enlightening.... (none)
    But I must take issue with the author's mother when she says "The reason most of the country voted republican..."

    I'm sorry, but 51% to 48% (if that is indeed what it really was) is simply not "most of the country". And I also doubt that ALL of that 51% is an evangelical christian, although a large percentage of them no doubt are.

    "The country we carry in our hearts is waiting" --Bruce Springsteen.

    by bdizz on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 12:00:00 PM PST

  •  I grew up with Fundies (none)
     My parents sent me to a Christian school run by Fundamentalists because the public schools were so bad. In the third grade during bible study while reading out loud I came across the word "ass" in the bible. Now I had always been taught that "ass" was a really bad word that good Christians should never say, now here it was in the bible and I had to say it out loud. I couldn't do it. That moment started the cognitive dissonance which ultimately detroyed my faith. Later that year my best friend and I were framed for throwing spit-wads on the ceiling of the boys bathroom by one of the children of a teacher at the school. The principal tricked our parents into giving consent to spanking us, they told his mom my mom had agreed to spank me and told my mom his mom had agreed to spank him - they pressured them by saying to keep the punishment fair they needed their consent since the other had already consented. I volunteered to go first, he took me into his office and called his secretary in to watch. They put a couch on my feet and made me bend over it. I didn't cry or make any noise, every hit was harder than the last. I could tell they were pissed I didn't break. They hit my friend harder, he couldn't sit down for days. His mom was a nurse and was really freaked out by this, she then found out from my mom about how they told her the same thing and thus lied to get consent. She called the police, who got the principal to agree to never hit any kids again but they wouldn't press charges. The next year I went to public school. I was still a Christian at this point but the doubts were now there and fully formed - until this point I always viewed public schools as evil places full of communists and satanists, this is what I had been taught. By the end of the 4th grade my faith was dead.
    •  And this is the other shoe dropping (none)
      The tendency towards child abuse underlying this entire subject of fundamentalism is profound. Physical abuse is not limited to fundamentalists, but it is very common. It is also common for abused children to seek a fundamentalism (Christian or otherwise) to deal with the aganoy and confusion that brutal trauma creates.

      It often goes: I need to do God's will is to avoid further pain. Also, keeping an ideal vision of the Holy Father in your mind helps keep you from reliving the nightmare of what your Earthly Dad (or Mom) actually did to you, etc.

      If you have found this thread meaningful, I can only recommend--with all of my heart and mind--that you seek to read two books by Alice Miller:

      For Your Own Good : Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence


      Thou Shalt Not Be Aware: Society's Betrayal of the Child

      These books may change your life if you suffered physical and ideological abuse as a child. They. Are. Deep.

      They also give one of the best explanations for the rise of Nazi Germany--and the emotional basis, evolution, and roots of Fascism/Authoritarianism/Conformity--that I have ever read.

      •  Thanks (none)
         Besides this one instance I was never abused as a child. And besides the brainwashing that went on in these schools I was never "ideologically abused", my parents are open-minded tolerant people for the most part, they aren't crazy fundamentalists. You raise an interesting point though re: the abused seeking comfort in fundamentalist religion. I have some distant relatives by marriage who are all fervent fundamentalists. The mother in father are both complete failures, the mother is a Xanax addict, the father an unemployed slacker who drinks too much. They leech off their other family members. They have 5 children, all of whom were sexually abused by the same man - someone who stayed a "family friend" despite allegations against him. The reason he kept up his relationship was because he was a "good Christian" who was friends with the mother's brother who is a pastor and successful businessman (and crazy rightwinger). This entire family has become increasingly religious (and increasingly rightwing) over the years as their lives have fallen apart, she used to work in an office, he used to own a store, their kids were bright, popular, and generally succesful (now all but one of them are highschool drop-outs). They firmly believe demons exist among us and sometimes posses people, and that the apocalypse is coming. To them their personal failures are because evil is out to get them, and so they just hold on thinking that Jesus is coming back to save them any day now. They don't take any personal responsibility for their actions, they don't try to get themselves out of the hole they've dug. They just go to church, pop their pills, pray, and manipulate those around them into giving them money to support their livestyle. I have no doubt that if they voted they voted for Bush.
  •  Evangelicals are not going vote Dem (none)
    It's clear to me that Southern religious evangelicals are a lost cause for us.  They are set in their worldview and it's incompatible with majority of those in the Democratic Party.  To win over any of those folks, will be subtractive to our party because changes needed to our party's positions would alienate and lose our base.

    The best reason to understand the minds of the evangelicals from a Democratic political perspective is to figure out how to drive a wedge between the moderate Republicans and Christian evangelical wing of the party.   This is a no lose proposition for the Democrats.  Either Bush and side with the evangelicals and moderates become easy picking for Democrats in 2006 & 2008 or Bush sides with (or at lease tries to accommodate) the moderates and the evangelicals become de-energized and their turnout goes down in 2008.  We were only 3% behind nationally this time we only need a relatively small turnout shift and we win next time.

    I don't understand yet which issues will be the best wedges between moderate and evangelical Repubs.  A bruising fight over a Supreme Court judges might do it.  I don't think we should start that fight since prospect of another Thomas on the court sickens me too much but if Bush creates it with an extreme nominee, we should be prepared to capitalize on it.  One of the problems our party has is that when we lose, we're never better positioned for the fights ahead.  We're going to be losing a number of battles in the next 2 years due to the Repubs controlling Congress and the White House.  If we want to win again, we must make sure these losses set up for a future victory.

    •  Agreed (none)
      My husband and I were just talking about the very same thing: we are not going to sway evangelicals to vote dem.  They will continue to be told weekly at church service the "right" and "wrongs" in the political system.

      I do believe that if the repubs put up another christian conservative that we will be able to use it as a wedge issue.  There must certainly be repubs out there as dismayed by the "morality" vote as the dems are.  This is no longer their party either.

    •  Imprecise terms (none)
      I'm pretty sure Jim Wallis and JImmy Carter - and thousands of progressive evangelicals like them, voted for Kerry and numerous other Dems on their ballots.  

      Don't paint with too broad a brush.
      Evangelical does not equal Fundamentalist or Republican.

      •  Point conceded (none)
        regarding evangelicals.

        My larger point is that I'd be willing to bet that there are many repubs out there that are dismayed at the "morality" vote.  Especially the fiscal conservatives that may have voted Bush despite the deficit.  I wonder if they are scratching their heads now.

        •  Wedge Issue (none)
          I think using the religious right as a wedge issue is right on.  Some organizing principles:

          1.  In the reddest of the red states, Bush did not just win, he won by a landslide.  We are not going to close 30 point gaps in one election cycle, and maybe not in 2 or 3.  I'm not for ceding the South, but we need to play electoral college politics, and we are not going to gain EV in the reddest states in 2008.  We are in it for the long haul.

          2.  So forget about trying to outfundie the fundies.  Against a religion-spewing Republican, Dems are going to seem inauthentic.  And rightly so.  If we put up an authentic moralistic candidate (in the fundies' moralistic sense), we will have betrayed our values.

          3.  On the three issue "moral" issue cluster right now, we are on the majority side on all three.  A majority of Americans favor expanded stem cell research.  A majority favor upholding Roe.  A majority favor either civil unions or outright gay marriage (adding support for those options together, that support is greater than no legal rights for gays).  Stem cell research and Roe in particular provide excellent opportunities to divide the Republican Party, and draw voters to our side.

          4.  We have largely succeeded in embedding the storyline of this election as being Bush won because of the religious right (keep that meme alive!).  The beauty of that is the religious right will give absolutely no quarter within the Republcian Party on "spending their political capital."  This is a cohesive voting block, potentially decisive to the Republican coalition, that will not hesitate to stay home if the Republicans do not deliver Ralph Reed's agenda.  As the post above suggests, that is a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenario for the Republican coalition.

          We will, however, lose more states to gay-bashing before stemming the tide.  We should fight like hell to prevent it, and fight even harder to prevent a federal constitutional amendment (that would be a disaster), but right now I think a federalism that yields us some tolerant blue states is the best we are going to do.  I grieve over that, but fear it to be true.

          1.  We are not likely to get the Senate back for some time.  In NE, KY, and SC, we had better candidates, and the Republicans ran bad campaigns with horrible canddates who made outrageous statements.  And we lost.  Too many red states with two senators a piece.  I think we sould focus on governorships, state legislatures, and the US House.

          2.  We do need to convince moderate Republicans and swing voters that we share their values, defined on a playing field that is not fundie-centric.  But it isn't as unlikely as some think.  Kerry won easily among voters ranking jobs, education, and health care as their top concerns.  But for the war on terror, we would have won, and even with it we came close in the EC.  If we marginalize the Republican Party as the party of fundies, we will be in more than decent shape, both in the near to medium term and in the long term.      

          I don't think "value voters" are ignorant.  But I don't think they are anywhere near a majority of the electorate either, at least in the sense of being single-issue voters around "moral" issues.  If Bush does not get the deficit down (very unlikely in two years' time, especilly givn his agenda) and Iraq under control, and I doubt he will do either, we will be in good shape in 2006 to pick up seats in the House.

          Rove and his minions will be going hard after Latinos (first SCt appointee will be Latino I am convinced), and trying to use "values" to peel off Catholics and African-Americans.  We must be prepared to defend the stealing of those votes from us, far more I believe than trying to win over southern baptists.

          Let the Republicans deal with the fundies.  They are their problem.  And, whatever the Nov. 2nd afterglow for the Republicans, they most definitely are a problem for the Republican Party.    

  •  How Do you Fight That? (none)
    That's the question now. The United States has become an incredibly secular nation. Just as we begin marching around the world fighting 'fanatics' some here at home are coming to the realization that parts of our country are just as fanatical as those in the Middle East.

    Based on that testimony, I don't know that I see any way to stem the tide of religious fanaticism in the United States. What exactly are our options? We can't try to take the moral high ground, we can't argue science, they really don't seem to be people you can 'convert' in large numbers. And that's a terrifying thought.

    •  I don't know (none)
      I worry about being too tolerant and accepting of the spread of the Christian Right, because I think it's endangering our democracy.  I read in the NYT recently about a Christian college in the east (forgot the name) that takes mostly home-schooled fundamentalist kids and grooms them for positions in the government.  Several of their students are interns in the White House right now, with designs on positions of power.  Can you imagine if we had a Wiccan college doing this, with Clinton welcoming these people with open arms?  What worries me is the Christian right's well-orchestrated and increasing infiltration into politics.  I don't know about reaching these people so that they vote Democratic in the future, but they have to be stopped from taking over the government somehow, and they're trying.  Let them expand all they want and convince alcoholics and the unemployed that all they have to do is accept Christ into their hearts and all will be well.  But the government takeover is another matter.  It starts with the faith-based initiatives and padding the courts with conservative judges, and the separation of church and state gets progressively blurrier from there until it doesn't exist anymore.  Next stop, theocracy.  How do we stop this when we don't control a single branch of govt?
  •  Election fraud = "a miracle from God"??? (4.00)
    Reading this, it suddenly became obvious to me why election fraud is a partisan issue, and why only the "reality-based" community seems to care about it.

    If I were to step into these Christian Fundamentalist shoes, I could easily see any what we call "election fraud" as instead being evidence of God miraculously parting the waters of the Red States and letting Bush and his Chosen Christian Soldiers pass through to the Promised Land. Of course it would make sense that, for example, the exit polls were so far off, it was Divine Intervention! God reached down and CHANGED THE BALLOTS to make sure that Bush got elected. Hallelujia!

    So, from that perspective, I found your post a great aid to tolerance, compassion, and understanding the motivations of the "other" side. However, I also found it a bit bizarre and frightening kind of Through the Looking Glass... a scary acid trip. After 9/11 I studied up on Islamic fundamentalism and got the same sensation... I found them just as scary.

    This fundamenalism is powerful stuff. I could see how it could be addictive. It's like crack rock. I believe that the more Pentecostal variety can profoundly alter consciousness  just like a drug, or hypnosis. And, combined with an exclusive, war-like, us vs. them ideology, it's easily as dangerous as the 760,000 pounds of high-explosives Bush let the insurgents in Iraq walk away with.

    I'm glad you mentioned the persecution syndrome that seems such an essential component to both Christian and Islamic fundamentalism. Indeed, as we near Thanksgiving we must accept that you are right: our country was not founded on religious tolerance, but rather on religious fanaticism and a deep sense of persecution. The Puritans were so freaking paranoid they fled England and came all the way to the middle of nowhere (to Massachussetts.. I guess the Baptists don't give props to their Bay State forbears). Recall Michael Moore's brilliant cartoon jaunt through American history from "Bowling for Columbine", and suddenly it makes sense why these Christian Soldiers demand not only Angelic armour and guns, but real ones too.

    I also vehemently disagree with the surrender-monkey thinking that says: "secede", or "abandon the South". Look again at the county-by-county map. Lots of purple. I've lived in Texas, and while I found the fundamentalism frightening and alien, I also knew plenty of liberal, progressive, pagans or rationalists... we just kept a low profile; it was like being in an "underground". The Texas I lived in had easily the same range of diversity I find in San Francisco... only we were just spread thinner in a vast sea of White Baptists. Plus the Fundies weren't bad people-- and I got to know quite a few--, they just had ideas I find very scary. We cannot abandon all non-Christians to their fate in the South. They need us... and we need them.

    I'm trying to treat the Christian Warriors like people who have been indoctrinated into a cult, which is exactly what they are. We need to deprogram them. It's our solemn duty; I daresay our sacred duty.

    I got the impression from reading your post that the most powerful and compelling element of the Southern Baptism is the tremendous sense of community, of belonging, of being together with others of like mind, of getting together every week. Someone in a different thread said "being churchless is a unfortunate as being homeless". I understand that; I certainly see that in just about every religion... it's a big extended family. Tribal ties are a basic human need, and in the modern suburban world of everyone locked in their own cars and houses in front of their TV's and not knowing their neighbors, people hunger despearately for them. The Fundamentalists exploit (I daresay "prey upon") this need.

    I suggest that, to match and oppose the political might of the Christian Right, we must establish the same kind of real-world, face-to-face communities and strong social bonds. That's hard for me, because I'm not a people person, and I suspect many in the "reality-based" community aren't either, especially the more intellectual and bookish. So what. We're gonna have to knit our progressive community together into an unbreakable social bond; a family that holds us together throughout the long years ahead. When we accomplish that, and turn ourselves into a real community-- and do so as inclusively as possible--, then we'll at least be able to match the power of the Fundamentalists... and maybe even be able to start "converting" a few.

    •  How do you deprogram 59 million people? n/t (none)

      Proud Member, Controversial Daily Kos Extremist Group

      by DC Pol Sci on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 01:25:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  you start (none)
        by realizing that they aren't a monolithic group.

        then you figure out what the various constituencies in their coalition are. Then you find common ground with some of them to form new coalitions.

        You won't win them all over.  We won't get the Fundamentalist - we will get those who change their minds.

        And in fairness - how many of us will they win over - darned few - but there are some who, for whatever reason - change their mind.  

        Does that mean we stop talking?

        My Grandparents were Catholic on my mom's side and Lutheran on my Dad's.   They didn't mix.   My mother "leaving the Church" was a major issue in her family at the time.  But things changed - the family reconciled - other kid's "left" the Church - and frankly all their faith grew as the accepted each other's different paths.

        My Lutheran Grandmother told stories of how despised Catholics were when she was a kid.  When I was a teenager I seriously studied Catholicism for several years (sort of a rebellion period).  My Grandmother was thrilled I had returned to religion - but asked "why catholic"

        Now she and my nearly vegetative Grandfather live in a care homes run by the Catholic diocese - and her best friend is a retired Nun.

        Things change folks.  

        It's not black and white and it's not set in stone - that's what "they" think.  

        We keep talking, thinking, and working.  Nobody said it was supposed to be easy.

      •  You can't understand the matrix (none)
        until you realize that, "there is no spoon."
  •  Yes, that is the face of the enemy (4.00)
    That sweet little old lady is like thousands of sweet little old ladies before her.  She loves her children, takes care of her grandchildren, supports her country, and is absolutely convinced her fairy tales are better than everybody elses.  And as a result, she sends cookies to the Eastern Front, fails to see human hands sticking out of the cattle cars, thinks she got a great deal on the old Jew's real estate, and ignores the stench coming from the "camp" down the road.  What do you think, that all evil is perpetrated by 11-foot tall giants with red eyes and humps?  No, it is performed by sweet little old ladies too.
    •  Indeed... it's true. (none)
      My grandparents are the sweetest, nicest people around.  And I'm sure people who are members of all white country clubs bake cookies for their grand kids and give to the salvation army.

      Except that my grandparents' afterlife country club has very narrow membership requirements.  So narrow, that they don't mind admitting that most of the world's population will end up burning forever in a perpetual lake of fire.  

      And as for the "camp" down the road... well all those people must have done something wrong or else they wouldn't be in there...

  •  Where I'm coming from on secession (none)
    Secession talk is not defeatist nor "surrender monkey-ish" (god, what a phrase).  I'm looking at this from the long historical perspective.

    Fact is,  the North and South have been profoundly distinct, usually antagonistic regions since the colonies were founded.  They were founded by completely different groups and incubated completely different cultures whose main point of similarity was language (though they had trouble understanding each other's accents and often still do).  It is no exaggeration to say that they really were different countries before the Revolution, and then the Constitution, forcibly yoked them together.  That's why the Civil War happened.

    The Far West is a micro-culture of its own, but its cosmopolitan coastal orientation makes it more in line with the North than the South.  

    Look, I'm a born and bred Southerner who has spent most of her adult life in the blue states.  I've traveled between those two worlds my whole life, and unless you're deeply involved with both cultures I don't think you can understand how deeply ingrained the differences are.

    The purple map shows the extent to which Southern mentality has encroached in Northern areas and vice versa, which is good -- but it's not enough to obviate the profound discontinuity between the two regions.  

    Historically, regions with opposing cultures and goals usually don't stay hitched in their shotgun marriages more than a couple of centuries or so, if that.  I'm not being a wild-eyed tinfoilist here; I just genuinely wonder if a parting of the ways is in our best interests.  

    •  In the Onion last week (none)
      There was a little feature on different election-related questions. One of them was "The two Americas: should they hold separate elections"? We got a little chuckle out of that one.


      "The country we carry in our hearts is waiting" --Bruce Springsteen.

      by bdizz on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 01:39:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  agreed (none)
      I'm also a born southerner who's spent most of my adult life in the northern blue, and i understand completely. I really think that there are two (or more) countries in America. Sometimes I think that without fast food and malls for common ground, fractures would've happened long ago.

      From the election maps, it does seem more of a rural/urban split. I wonder how much urban blues and rural reds have in common between regions. If secession happened, how much migration would happen? Would Atlanta liberals move to Philly? Or is secession grinding the same old 19th century ax?

      OT: If most of the national population lives in urban areas, and most urban areas are blue, why is the rural red walking away with the elections? Who are these 130 million non-voters that can't be bothered? I'm almost becoming more angry at them than anyone else.

    •  Yeah you know I have to say I find that (none)
      particular "surrender-" phrase fairly offensive.

      1.5 million Frenchmen died fighting to defend their country in WWI alone. The US has never even come close to anything like that sacrifice.

      Thus even the logic of that particular right-wing expression never made any sense in the least to me, and overall would be a good one to just lose,IMO.

      •  Yeah you know I have to say I find that (none)
        I agree with your criticism of the "surrender-" phrase. You are right that the US didn't lose that many in combat on American soil. Your comment reminded me of something Molly Ivins wrote in Bushwhacked and that was while the "surrender-" language might play well on American talk radio, it doesn't play quite so well in the international arena.
    •  But "Tinfoilist", now that I like (none)
      very much. I think we should adopt it.
  •  A Republican's perspective (3.66)
    I am a 30-year old Republican (I live in NYC).  My father, my mother, my 4 uncles and 6 aunts, my 12 cousins are all Republican.  They all live in Iowa.

    I want to affirmatively state that the majority of Bush voters are not Christian fundamentalists.  I have been a Republican all my life and the influence the Christian fundamentalists seem to have in Bush's White House almost caused me to vote Democrat this election (hell, I even donated $100 to Howard Dean in the primaries because it was so NICE to hear someone who spoke from his heart so passionately, even if you disagreed with some of his positions).  At the end of the day, I held my nose and voted for Bush, clinging to the thought of the Republican party I have had when I grew up.  A party of opportunity for everyone; where those who work hard to better themselves will be justly rewarded.  A party that believes in limited government and does not legislate morality (naive I know).

    If Bush gives in to the Christian fundamentalists, wait and see what happens.  For instance, if Rove v. Wade gets overturned, the Republican party will break up.  Period.  I will leave it.  My mom, sister and 1/3 of my other family members will leave it as well.

    For those economic conservatives who are not secular or rarely attend church (this number is MUCH higher than people give credit), there is not much holding us to the Republican party any more.  Bush's tax cuts are about it.  The problem is he is spending like a drunken sailor.  If Christian fundamentalists become a dominating force in the Republican party, Republican moderates like myself will leave.

    •  If Roe v. Wade gets overturned... (none)
      ...the republican party will break up.

      So, should we give it a push?

      Roe v. Wade doesn't much help the Blue states. Nobody where I live will notice the difference. Have someone push it as a states-rights issue to ensure that each state can choose. Then watch the fun.

      Worthwhile, perhaps?

      •  We don't need to push (none)
        his nonminees at at the fringe and that's saying a lot given the right ward tilt of the national party. We just need to sit back with popcorn and watch
        •  hmmm (none)
          i really like this idea. i've always thought they'd overplay their hand, but roe v. wade would be the proverbial straw. that and Iraq - the next 4 years might be worth sticking around to see afterall!!

          All extremists are irrational and should be exposed

          by SeanF on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 03:15:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Ralph Reed and the fundamentalist (none)
      have a HUGE influence on Bush. They made it clear last week, that they want their pound of flesh. They asked, if not now, then when? Bush is not in my mind one of them, but uses their language, which is dangerous. He's born-again (although an equally dangerous kind b/c as my friend the seminar student put it- he believes that his actions are ordained by God- in other words that if he does it, God must approve of it) and neocon (which I think is also dangerous because that is just another name for being idealogical in a situation that requires pragmaticism not grandiose ideas of freedom that have no connection to the people in question- the only time Democracy has ever been imposed was in Japan, and that took decades, had  one party rule for a long time and required total American commitment (and that's only one country- he's talking about a region- we don't have the resources or resolve for that).  Back to the main point- I don't think the Fundies are going anywhere- they intend to get their due. If you don't see the handwritting on the wall- let me point to Arlen Specter who last week said he would appoint justices who would uphold Roe v. Wade and he received swift rebuke from the WH and various right Christians (he made these statements after the election).
    •  god I hope you're telling the truth (none)
      about this, and thank you for that post. But so far, I have to tell you, there's not a lot of evidence to give us faith in what you just said. Arlen Specter gave a much needed glimmer of hope with his similar vow - and then retreated like a frightened deer the very next day as if the inquisition was hunting him. This to me was almost more depressing than the election itself. People assure you with lies, and then cave the moment the bigots-that-be rumble in their direction.

      Thus, thank you, but also, to paraphrase the house member who gave that stunning speech (whose name I forget for the moment, apologies to him) - forgive us if we're skeptical. The so called social moderates like Giuliani and Arnold have put enormous efforts into electing a President who will try and overturn Roe as soon as take a breath. I think they're the most to blame in fact, as the hypocrites that they are, selling their beliefs for future votes.

      So I surely hope you're telling not only the truth now, but that you'll have the nerve at the crucial time to do just what you wrote here, you and others like you. I also hope that you'll do everything you can to spread the word among your fellow moderate Republicans, starting now.

      Because one other thing, if you wait until they overturn Roe v. Wade -  it's already too late.

      Thanks for the post, I'm skeptical but it helps to hear it.

    •  I'm sorry, but . . . (none)
      I'm not quite buying that.

      I want to affirmatively state that the majority of Bush voters are not Christian fundamentalists.

      While there is a tendency to overblow this values religion thing, it is central to Bush's coaltion and strategy.

      I agree that they don't define the Republican Party and even conservatives, but make no mistake, they know that this is their time. It's not just them who want to overturn Roe v Wade, it is the Catholic Right and they will do it.

      •   I'm sorry, but . . . (none)
        I think you're right. I also think that Bush will be in no mood to accommodate his critics. Bush and Cheney think they received a mandate with only a 3% majority of the popular vote. My uneducated guess is that the economy and Iraq will make Bush's second term hell.  
    •  Well... (none)
      "If Christian fundamentalists become a dominating force in the Republican party, Republican moderates like myself will leave.",

      Who dominates the GOP now if not the Fundies? I think your perception of their power may be skewed by a love for ideals that really aren't that much in evidence in today's GOP. My own observation is that the Fundies have tended to practice a "stealth" methodology of code words while they coopt the GOP--and I think you may be surprised at the next 4 years now that they have a firm grip on power and can be overt. Are you a fan of expanded "faith-based" subsidies to churches? Anyways, we'll all have our eyes open to see what happens here, and I honestly hope my concerns are overblown.

      But the question I have for you is why not vote Democrat? Would you feel like you betrayed the GOP and family voting tradition? Is the Democratic party not about opportunity in your eyes? How do you percieve corruption in the GOP generally?

      I think a deeper explanation of your POV would be a real valuable thing to discuss here at dKos. What if the Dems took on a course of becoming more of a "Liberaltarian" party emphasizing states' rights at the expense of Federal authority, "personal liberties" allowing civil unions and abortion, and poverty-based affirmative action over race-based affirmative action? What are the 3 main planks you would like to see in that platform? What are the 3 main thing you wish the Dems would jettison? Where do you come down on healthcare? Do you have opinions on immigration policy you want to share? Foreign Policy? Interested in your POV.

    •  LMAO! (none)
      So you voted for the republican party candidate you have in your mind as the ideal republican, despite the reality of a candidate who stands opposed to your very ideals.  Fiscal discipline.  Reproductive freedom.  Limited government.  On and on and on.  

      DIdn't it ever occur to you that by voting for Bush, you're helping to destroy the republican ideals you cherish?  If Bush had lost, then there would have been a chance for the true republican wing of the republican party, embodied in men like McCain, to regain control.  Instead you've helped elect a religious nutjob who cares nothing about republican values or even American values.  

      "You go to your TV to turn your brain off. You go to your computer to turn your brain on." - Steve Jobs

      by Subterranean on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 07:43:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The thing I wonder (none)
    is why so many people think that because so much of the country is religious that this is inherently a bad thing.  It makes no sense to me to espouse pure securalism since this is really what the those who are really religious fear the most.  Instead wouldn't it be a better idea to sit down with the bible for a while and try to construct an argument using the bible that supports liberal causes.  This is not hard.  

    If democrates in the south normally went about putting their message in religous terms then we would see very quickly a fragmentation of the religous voting block that the republicans have created.  Placing the democrats constantly on the side of securalism alienates, very quickly, a lot of natural allies.  Now this does not get the democrats away from the wedge issues that republicans like to use but I think by first placing policy ideas in religious language people would be much more willing to listen to the other arguments about abortion or gay marriage or whatever else the republicans can come up with.  

    For example, saying something, in a debate, right after the opponent says something ridiculous like all abortions are evil and should never happen, ask how as a christian one could look into the eyes of a husband and tell him, after his wife has just been told that his wife will most probably die if she goes through with the pregnancy or that the baby has develeped without a brain, that he cannot sit down with her and pray to god in order to decide what to do.  Say that you as a christian cannot rob either of them of that choice.  Say that you would sadly support them if they decided to have the child and sadly support them if they didn't.  

    It is important to make the religous see that the world is made up of moral choices that we each individually have to make and show that by voting democrat you are validating that moral choice.  

    This won't get them all but I'm damn sure it'll split them after about ten to fifteen years.

    Liberals need to realize that the war is not against the policy proposals or the general idea of helping people.  It is agianst the perceived Godless securalism that liberals embody.  The way to take the south back or at least make it a battle ground is to destroy that image.

    •  did you read the guys diary above (none)
      I already said to one other guy in this diary- it's nice to expouse what you hope will happen- but how does that fit with the actual people that he is talking about? One guy for instance above said let's change the subject to their economic concerns- now you think talking exactly like them will work. beyond the church/state issue and the fact that a lot of dems already do talk like this down south but still lose- i dont know much more than can be done specifically about the people that he is talking about- they are textualist.
      •  In part (none)
        what I'm trying to say is that we need to frame the debate in such a way as will reach out to those who right now see liberals as godless commies but which also reaches out to those who share the ends.  I think the real issue is that the message is getting lost and no ammount of of screaming about how people don't think about their own well being is not going to help a thing until we are better able to put the message in a form that people are willing to hear.  

        The actual people he's talking about are not in, necessarily, with much of the economic program and the social issues that the republicans do.  What they are there for is the validation that their religion and their way of looking at the world is within the power structure.  The fact that the republicans have been able to get their votes for years and years with nothing tangible to show for it indicates to me that it is not a matter of policy but a matter of inclusion.  If we can make them believe that democrats are on the same wave length as them in terms of a fundamentally religious world view then we have split that voting block and have a greater chance of winning in the south.  

        I live in South Carolina, I know these people.  They'll agree in certian respects about the democratic platform when put in religious language but it really comes down to the fact that they feel that the republicans are part of them.  And nothing, not hell or high water, is going to make them stop believing that completely until democrats can be an alternative that does not offend their sense of us agianst them.

        •  Well said! (none)
          "And nothing, not hell or high water, is going to make them stop believing that completely until democrats can be an alternative that does not offend their sense of us agianst them."

          Exactly! Religious fundamentalists (I was raised one) assume that Dems do not respect them. All too frequently they are right. But if we learn to listen to them and frame social issues in Christian terms that they can identify with, many may come around. For example, what about Christ's teachings to feed the poor and visit those in prison? What about the book of Acts, where Christians shared property and looked after one another? Fundamentalist Christians understand community. We can show them we're serious about building one.

  •  Religion and democracy (none)
    Some folks here seem to think we are dealing with a mere difference of opinion among citizens in a democracy.  We are not.  What we have is people who are determined to impose their own religious views on the entire country at any cost.  While the news story below is unrelated to politics, it makes clear the destructive power of religious ideology.

    TULARE, Calif. (AP) - A Tulare couple face charges of manslaughter and child abuse in the death of their 10-year-old daughter.

    Wesley and Laronda Hamm have pleaded innocent.

    Their daughter, Jessica, died last March after having flu-like symptoms for three days. She was the couple's third child to die under similar circumstances, according to court records. The earlier cases occurred in other states, and no charges were filed.

    The couple belongs to a church that rejects medical care.

    According to court records, Laronda Hamm told police that members of the family's church - the Church of the Living Bible - rejected medicine and doctors because they don't have faith in man or medicine. Instead, she said, they believe that if they pray, God will heal the sick.

    According to court documents, the Hamms lost two older boys - one in Indiana and one in Arkansas - under similar circumstances. No criminal charges were filed in either case. Authorities said both children died of natural causes.

    Americans are entitled to have any religious belief they want, and much religious belief is not destructive.  But religion is not politics.  Politics is about building a common life, self-government, freedom, and the welfare of all.  

    We know if a child is fed. We know if people have good health care and are well-educated.  We know whether folks have good jobs and are able to make ends meet.  We know how much money we spend on the military. We know if a tax system is equitable.  We can see whether a society is racist.  We can recognize those facts, evaluate them against our democratic values, and make policy to make a better world.

    Faith is something else.  We don't have the same god.  We don't have the same holy books.  And many find talk of god (and, demons, satan, angels, and on and on)incomprehensible. Many proponents of religion in public life offer first amendment defenses:  It is just another form of speech and must be protected.  And there is much merit to that claim.

    However, the religious right seeks no marketplace of ideas.  It seeks the theological and religious equivalent of Halliburton's no bid contracts.  There is no common ground in faith - beyond our respect for the right of all to believe and worship according to their conscience and our commitment to a society in which neither government nor vigilantes violate our privacy.  Democracy owes us all our civil liberties, so that we can worship as we choose. It does not give us the right to harm or oppress others in the name of religion.  In politics, the shift from civic discourse into religious and theological terrain is to give up the fight for a democratic society.

  •  Dead on (none)
    I was raised in a independent fundamental church AND school. If anything my experiences are even more radical. Took me 5 years from 1st SERIOUS questions(I had questions on this or that for many years before that) before I finally shed that crap.
  •  Good for democracy? (none)
    To the writer who asked why religiosity is necessarily a bad thing for a democracy, well, let's look at the facts.  
    We already know that religion prefers faith over facts - how good is that for a democracy?  
    Among religions, monotheistic religions are defined by the smug belief that they alone represent the "true god" - how does democracy fare under that?    
    Among monotheists, Christianity is driven by the command to convert. Is there anything in the Christian bible that endorses respect for other beliefs or even the basic freedom to choose what you believe?  Of course not.  It's all about the thunder and revenge of a jealous "I'm-the-only-God" god (a god who punishes non-believers in the most heinous way imaginable: eternal torture) - do you really think Christians can rise to behave better than their own god?    

    So, you combine a faith-based reality with the notion that their own club speaks for "God" and then you add the compulsion to convert (i.e. rid the world of non-believers).   How well do you think a pluralistic democracy founded on freedom - and functional only with an informed, fact-based electorate -- fares under that combination?  

    •  It's a disaster (none)
      ...for democracy.  We should be focusing on what is common to everyone, ie, evidence-based reality.  I wish people would distinguish carefully between belief and what can be known -- demonstrable facts -- that which is common to all and thus truly universal.  It is only those universal things that have any business being the basis for public policy.  
  •  rghojai, could you (none)
    offer a link to the original?

    I'd like to direct some people to it.  

    O it is excellent to have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous To use it like a giant--Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, Act II

    by ogre on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 06:24:34 PM PST

    •  Done, at the top. (none)
      I did the diary in the wee hours of the morning and should have included the link from the git go.

      I ain't got no damn job. Need a writer/editor/Web guy? Have brain, will travel.

      by rghojai on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 09:58:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good Post (none)
    linkimg for further study
  •  n/t (none)
    A very moving and very enlightening diary.On a personal level I feel a great deal of sympathy for those brainwashed into this way of thinking and my heart does go out to all of them. The net effect though is to make me more determined to do everything within the law to oppose  all flavors of fundamentalism and support all forms of religion that allow freedom of thought.
  •  Correction (none)
    Dude, that's not a man - that's my friend Aja, and she is definitely a she.

    Sorry, just had to correct that. I'm really glad to see her post getting passed around. It's really important for people to see - I've been feeling a distinct and worrisome hatred of (a) the South and (b) Christians among liberal Dems, and that's no good.

    Frodo has failed - Bush has the ring!

    by Flourish on Sun Nov 07, 2004 at 09:05:40 PM PST

  •  Everything you say is truthful (none)

    and yet, in my opinion- humbly proffered- there is a larger truth a step beyond the level you speak from.

    As a matter of strict theology, the belief system you describe is technically an occultic one.  All religions can be corrupted in this fashion, and it's a pretty universal feature of American Conservative Christianity.  As you note, American Catholicism is being similarly corrupted.   It seems most Christian denominations that resisted occultization so far- the Baptists split early, in the Civil War- have been going into schism in the past generation or two.  Look at the Episcopalians, for example.

    Sure, American Conservative Christianity hasn't reached pure Manichaean or Marcionite formulations among the general populace.  Yet you note the struggle of these denominations with the clear-cut 'cults'.  And we have the forever controversial problem of the Mormons- when a 'cult' reaches a certain size it's beyond interdenominational politicking's power to suppress it.

    The basic features of occultic religion are: access to a Source by all members that constitutes a Complete Knowledge, exclusion or disqualification/censorship of all other possible sources, different levels of initiation, a doctrine of omnipotence of the Will (aka 'faith') of the true and advanced initiate.  Unembattled occultic belief systems tend to focus on healing and prediction/'prophesy'.  Embattled ones tend to create a Dark/Light demiurge ideology (Jesus/Devil) and Death becomes the meaningful aspect of God.  Reality- in particular, science- must be rejected at some level throughout if not completely.  And like leaving a 'true' cult, all of which are intensively occultic in their methods and belief scheme, it all takes a long time to overcome all of the many pieces to it all.  You're doing well for eight years.  It took me about the same, and more to get to the realization that it was the occultic method and misreadings rather than any actual Biblical substance that made it so difficult.

    I think there is an argument to be made that ignorance/stupidity is a partial, and significantly valid, way of characterizing the rejection/denial of reality involved.  There are few or no Nobel Prize winning Conservative Christians.  Their hypothesis of absolutist salvationism and rejection of progressivism- the progressive redemption of the world- can only be hypocrisy, because its logical end is suicide.  (The usual perverse compromise between the two is immoralism.)

    Again, this is a typical feature of occultic religion.  Groups resort to occultism in the face of historical defeat/destruction- it provides power to resist the world, and yet it places Death at the center of the group.  The ideology of Conquest/oppression, of colonization of e.g. North America, is also always occultic- occultisms' ingroup/outgroup scheme (Warriors for Christ, Aryans, etc) simply works too well.  Of course, it involves denying the spiritual reality of other human beings' lives and their part in the revelation of i.e. The Divine.  But as anyone knows who has been told they'll be going to Hell, that does not constitute a moral dilemma to the Believer.

    The problem, as any person who has ever escaped the clutches of such a doctrinal system realizes, is that the God of these systems is inhumane, is less than human, is Too Small to be given full deference.  God is downsized and corrupted, is more Death rather than more Life.

    So the key religious objection to all these groups is this: they are gross and grotesquely ignorant of the spiritual lives and revelation given to other human beings.  They assume their own grandeur and others' depravity on minimal information.  From the other side, the way they appear is that they are ignorant of who we are and obstinate in their denial of the spiritual authenticity to it.  That becomes oppressive and offensive once the political choice to no longer permit tolerance is made.

    But that is to take it all personally.  In the history of the nation, we are partially out of the colonial/settlement economic system now (after much agony).  We are changing its social system, and thereby have now come into full and direct conflict with the psychological arm of the colonial/settlement/expansion heritage- the 'Christianity' of the conqueror/settlement society that its defenders consider endangered in its domination.

    There's still a lot more to say about this 'Christianity', e.g. that its politics are about defending the tenets of pre-Christian paganism that were syncretized in in late Roman-era Europe, at the Christianization of the various 'heathen' societies.  Abortion and gay rights prominently.

    So, all you say is truthful.  My experience is similar in many ways, and it was in the 'liberal' Northeast.  But from the next step in the analysis it all is a horrid legacy that must largely be partitioned off, broken away from and confined to the Past.  I don't think the older generations- into the first half of the Boomers- who grew up in the society while it was uncontested can be greatly converted.  Most of the ones that are with us are either breakaways who are truly free- and with us until they die- or people who it will reensnare and who we will, sadly, bleed off to the Other Side in due course.

    I've been arguing on other forums that it's crucial for social progressives/liberals to start systematic work on dissuading the sub-30s from Conservative religion.  The time for it is clearly arriving, they're largely willing and able to live in the Modern, post-theist, world.

  •  God Votes in Mysterious Ways (none)
    God Votes in Mysterious Ways White T-Shirt
    Get it while supplies last.

  •   neutralize issue by emphasizing rate of abortion (none)
    There was an article that 25% of Bush supporters flirted with Kerry but moral issues and terrorism issues prevailed.

    I still think we can bring back religious former democrats if we just frame abortion isssues better emphasizing more on policies to reduce abortion rate, making it rare. And making sure they understand that making abortion illegal is ineffective to decrease the rate.

    We can start doing it quietly  by  e-mail these religious leaders, pro-life groups, the Church heirarchy so they can get a different perspective.  We should start the conversation now instead of during the election.

    My sister was telling me there are 6.8 million babies being murdered.  My answer to her was even if abortion is illegal there will still be 6.8 million babies murdered plus 6.8 million mothers if you dont tackle the reasons for unwanted pregnancy.

  •  Universial Frame (none)
      You seem to describe an all-encompassing frame in witch Southern Baptists view the word. Like they have only one way to think: the battle of good vs. evil. They will choose the candidate who, as they perceive, is the candidate battling on the side of good. Period. End of discussion. Is that right? I hope it's not because I can't think of any way to change their thinking. Facts don't matter. Rebuild their entire frame structure? That would take a year of deprogramming. Nothing would changer her mind, even it Bush was caught rapping a Girl Scout with pictures.
      Do you think that they are a majority nationally? There are probably a few states that they have a majority.

    Suppression of a political opinion leads to it's violent expression.

    by Bryce in Seattle on Mon Nov 08, 2004 at 01:57:00 AM PST

  •  The best diary I have read in a long time. (none)
    The Southern Baptist movement (SBC) really is a cult.  It's a real work of art.  More on this below.

    But first, let's talk about something else.  I've been struggling to find the right theological jargon to describe what has happened with Bush.  Is it blasphemy?  Heresy?  I think the right word may be idolatry.  And I realize, many non-Christians will tune out when we begin discussing things like this.

    There was a truly horrific scene in an episode of Nightline just a couple of nights before the election.  Allow me to describe it.

    A TV set is rolled into a church somewhere in America.  A film is played for the congregation -- a film about George W. Bush.  I believe it was "Faith in the White House," a film that highlights the faith of Bush and makes insinuations about a greater religious meaning in his role as president.  You can read the review by Rich on the NYT site.

    At one point, some members of the church express disgust with this misuse of their church.  And well they should have.  This was a true "Throw out the money-lenders" moment if ever there was.  Christian churches are for the worship of Jesus Christ, not George Bush.  At some point, the conflation of Bush and Jesus becomes nothing less than Old Testament idolatry.  It should shock and horrify any Christian!

    It reminded me of a great old 50's movie called "Satan Never Sleeps," starring William Holden, based on a novel by Pearl Buck about the Communist insurgency in China.  Rent it if you can.  

    There is one scene in the film of particular interest.  The altar boy, a former Catholic, has joined the Communist Party as an operative.  The priest walks into the church and discovers that the crucifix has been removed and replaced with an enormous painting of a beaming Chairman Mao.  Perhaps it doesn't come across as powerfully to hear me describe it -- you need to see it.  

    This is how I see things.  I am offended as a Democrat.  I am offended as an American.  And I am also horribly, horribly offended as a Christian by what these people are doing.

    There has been a lot of talk in recent days about how the Democratic Party might assume more religious rhetoric in coming years as a reaction to the election.  If this rhetoric is a sop to the Christian Right movement, then their victory is complete.  

    However, there is a very important and significant role for Christians in this country, and it's time for us to move in and speak up.  Christianity is not a right or left wing movement.  (Actually, many argue, based on the Gospels, that Christianity is more leftist than rightist, but that's too heavy for me to grapple with.) When Christianity is hijacked in such a transparent and evil way by a political party, the message of Christ is corrupted and lost.  Christian warriors cannot allow that to happen.

    Now, some words about the SBC.  The SBC has been for decades little more than an excuse for bigotry.  My grandparents were Southern Baptists.   My grandpa was a full-fledged hood-wearing member of the KKK.  I received a big snootful of biblical teaching from my grandmother, back in the 60's, about Southern Baptist beliefs, as practiced in Arkansas in the 20's and 30's.  And it was pretty sick stuff.  

    For instance, Genesis speaks of Ham seeing his father's nakedness, and for this, he and his children are to be punished by God henceforth by being servants and carriers of water.  This means that blacks are meant to have an inferior and supportive role in society, the role of a people morally inferior from birth according to God.  There are other passages in the Bible purported to be about the sins of miscegenation.  

    Being a kid, in the 60's, I knew my grandmother was a little out of touch and did not take it very seriously; I found it a little amusing and eccentric.

    The point is, it is easy for a willing people to take their own vanities and social taboos and interject them into the Bible through clever interpretations of Bible passages.  That is the heritage of the SBC.  They have straightened out their message in regard to a number of these things over time, but the willingness is still there.  Look at Jimmy Swaggart boasting about how he'd like to kill a homosexual.  (Actually, JSM is not SBC, but, same difference).  What does all this extreme homophobia have to do with Christianity?  Even if it is a sin, so what; it's just one of many.  So is boinking prostitutes using church money.

  •  Nationalism (none)
    When you blame the voters who chose Bush, you are completely mistaking what is happening in our country today.  Bush did not win the election based on ignorance and stupidity.  He won the election based on a belief system that has been determinedly advancing across the country because Christians believe it is their spiritual duty to bring people to Christ.

    Sorry, but you're wrong there.  The entire belief system of conservative Christians is ignorant and stupid.  You're whole description of how their beliefs of Us vs. Them (evil) functions is a study in willful ignorance and stupidity.  

    One could also use the Nazis as an example of a diseased belief system.  Among the Nazi party there were certainly intelligent people, but in hindsight they were not exercising their intelligence with regards to thinking about the party and what it stood for.  It's a sort of willful stupidity that we see much of today, and not just among religious freaks.  Paul Wolfowitz, for example, is by most measures a very intelligent man, but in his lust for imperial ventures he's become willfully stupid.  

    What do all of these examples (Nazis, Neocons, Fundagelical Christians) have in common?  Nationalism.  These people are all overwhelmingly certain of America's righteousness and greatness, and convinced that it is their duty to liberate the rest of the world from all that sucks.  You hear it all the time in our national discourse--every politician, when talking about foreign policy, feels compelled to affirm that "this country is the greatest nation on the face of the Earth in all of history!"  What arrogance!  When people start believing that the US is the holiest of holies, it isn't long until the warmongering starts, to save the rest of the miserable world from its pathetic self.  

    I don't know enough of history to know whether the degree of nationalism that currently festers within the US is reversible by non-violent means.  The only examples I can remember all entail hyper-nationalistic nations being bloodily smacked down by the rest of the world.  I sure hope there's some other way for us to get out of this fever.

    "You go to your TV to turn your brain off. You go to your computer to turn your brain on." - Steve Jobs

    by Subterranean on Mon Nov 08, 2004 at 09:55:22 PM PST

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