On behalf of Venezuela's working poor, I am offering up a six pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon and 15 dollars in non-sequential bills to whomever ices Pat Robertson. I call it a pre-emptive rapture of the church. We just push Pat to the front of the line.
On second thought I will renounce violence and offer the same deal for whomever can convert Pat Robertson to Wiccan first. A cold six of PBR and some cold cash awaits you should you accept this mission.
And now that I got your attention, a little primer I wrote on the Christian Right in the extended copy....
Christian conservatives, or the "religious
right" is a growing force in American politics,
particularly within the Republican Party. The
religious right is comprised of Christians who
have adopted a fundamentalist worldview and
who believe that America should be shaped
around their interpretation of the Bible. While
there is some diversity within the religious right, most members of the Christian right promote a so-called "family values" agenda.
Under the rubric of upholding "family values,"
Christian conservatives generally oppose
any form of contraceptive or safe sex education
in favor of teaching abstinence only, and
they oppose premarital sex. They view a twoparent
(one male, one female) family as the
only true family and are critical of single-parent, unwed-female-headed households as
immoral. Christian conservatives oppose gay
rights and believe that homosexuality is an
abomination that should be criminalized.
Most Christian conservatives oppose abortion and believe it is murder. They share this same view about euthanasia, and recently they actively fought the removal of feeding tubes from Terri Schiavo. The religious right strongly supports school prayer and a Christian curriculum.
Not only do they advocate teaching Christianity, but they also oppose teaching scientific theories that conflict with their worldview. Nowhere is this more apparent than in their approach to the teachings of the origins of life. Christian conservatives promote teaching creationism (or its close cousin intelligent design theory) and oppose the teaching of evolution as contrary to their biblical interpretation. Some Christian conservatives reject carbon dating, geology and paleontology and assert, for example, that the Grand Canyon was created by God 6,000 years ago and not by forces of nature long before that. Many Christian conservatives also reject stem cell research, cloning and other scientific advances as "playing God."
In the Beginning ...
The contemporary Christian right traces its origins to the 1970s with the establishment of Jerry Falwell's moral majority. Later, they were instrumental in electing Ronald Reagan president in 1980. As Falwell's influence declined, the 700 Club's Pat Robertson became the Christian rights' torchbearer. Robertson, along with Focus on the Family's James Dobson and the Family Research Council's Gary Bauer, is among the leading spokespersons for today's Christian right. The Christian right has a wide following, despite intemperate rhetoric such as Pat Robertson's absurd claims that lesbians and gays were to blame for the September 11th attacks on the Trade Towers, as if somehow Mohammed Atta and Osama bin Laden were carrying out God's will in a re-enactment of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
In the political realm, the Christian Coalition has enlisted the support of the Republican leadership in promoting a Christian Right agenda. Republican leaders, such as George W. Bush, Tom Delay, Bill Frist and Rick Santorum, have acted on behalf of the religious right during their tenures in office.
In 2004, Karl Rove catered to the Christian right by helping foment opposition to gay marriage
and making it a centerpiece of the 2004 election. In 13 states, including Missouri, the religious right came out in force to amend state constitutions to ban gay marriage. Turnout among white evangelical Christians was unusually high as a result of these ballot measures. Whether Rove and Bush cynically manipulated Christian conservatives for votes or were motivated by their own passions, it is abundantly clear that the political marriage of the Christian right to the Republican Party is today a reality.
Foreign Policy and Armageddon
Christian conservatives are somewhat divided on foreign policy and America's role in the world. Pat Buchanan and David Duke, among others, promote isolationism and are anti-Zionist. A growing number on the Christian right, however, seems to be adopting a militant view that calls for the United States to conquer other nations.
Some Christian conservatives embrace an end-of-times conflict and gloriously hope for Armageddon and the rapture of the Church. Many on the religious right believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible that relies heavily on the Book of Revelation. Many have read the Left Behind book series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, and they support war in the Middle East as fulfillment of prophecy that will hasten the Armageddon they long for.
Violence is Righteous?
While many Christian rightists seek to advance their agenda peacefully through the political realm, they have inspired a number of extremists who take their viewpoints a step further and who violently promote the cause. Eric Rudolph, who took to bombing family planning clinics and gay nightclubs, stands out as an example of the extremes some on the Christian right will use to promote their worldview. James Kopp, who made his "pro-life" stand by assassinating a doctor who performed abortions also comes to mind.
While many on the Christian right see themselves as persecuted victims of a secular culture,
tolerance has been lacking among many of the Christian right's adherents, and Christian love has been conspicuously absent. Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, for example, had this to say: "I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good ... Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a Biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this country. We don't want equal time. We don't want pluralism." Hypocrisy has not been absent either as the dogmatic "family-values" Terry filed for divorce after it had been revealed that he had been engaging in multiple extra-marital affairs for 15 years during his marriage.
Another extreme Christian rightist lacking in tact or tolerance is Kansas preacher Fred Phelps.
Phelps's "God hates fags" campaign travels the nation interrupting gay pride parades at times, but more disturbingly also shows up at funerals of gays and lesbians with anti-gay messages,
some of which proclaim "your son rots in hell" to grieving families, including the family of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was murdered by anti-gay bigots in Wyoming.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that Congress shall make no law establishing
a particular religion. The Christian Right has made it their mission to establish their brand of Christianity as law, and in this respect they have much in common with fundamentalists in the Middle East who wish to establish their version of Islam as law in nations like Iran or Nigeria. Citizens should be allowed to exercise their faith freely, but they should not use the legal apparatus of the state to impose their religion upon others with the sanction of law.
As the Christian right flexes its muscle in the political arena with upcoming Supreme Court nominations, they will undoubtedly make their mark on American politics for years to come with their perverse brand of piety. Progressive and moderate Christians, people of different faiths, and secular humanists will have to unite to combat the theocrats of the Christian right or face the prospects of watching our own nation spiral into a new era of bigotry, intolerance, misogyny and anti-intellectualism. We must not yield control to the charlatans and dominionists on the Christian right who bear a peculiar resemblance to the Taliban, albeit of a slightly different faith and in a very different context. We cannot let the "wave of hatred" wash over us.