Monday, September 12, 2011

The GOD Party

For a long time, I've freely interchanged the word Republican with the term Christianist. To me, today's Republican Party is completely indistinguishable from the Evangelical Christian church (by this I mean those hard right Evangelical churches who see America as a Christian country and believe in the church's dominion over all levels of American and global society. It is the movement that spawned Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry today, or Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed in decades past. It has its roots in the earnest but misguided influence wielded by Billy Graham (witness this ditty about apocalypticism from Graham's daughter remembering 9/11):
But the alarm did not fade away. Instead, I have heard it reverberating throughout the past 10 years: from Hurricane Katrina to the record-breaking floods, forest fires, tornadoes, droughts, and snow storms; to the collapse of our major financial institutions; to the economic recession; to the inability to win the war in Afghanistan. The alarm keeps resounding because so many people have not heeded, or even heard, the warning.  
And what is the warning? Simply this: It is five minutes to midnight on the clock of human history. Judgment is at the door. Jesus is coming! It's time to wake up and get right with God! Are you listening?

Contrast that with Bachmann's earlier exhortation about divine signals:
I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said, "Are you going to start listening to me here?"

Or the fact that Rick Perry hosted a "non-denominational" gathering in Texas prior to entering the presidential race to pray for the future of America. That he and Bachmann are furiously courting the Evangelical vote, and how that vote would bolt in a second to Sarah Palin if she declared, tells you just how powerful the Christianist right is in the GOP, and the country.

Sullivan has a powerful blog post on the matter today, pivoting off a TruthOut essay by Mike Lofgren. Andrew's money quote:
[Today's GOP] can only think in doctrines, because the alternative is living in a complicated, global, modern world they both do not understand and also despise. Taxes are therefore always bad. Government is never good. Foreign enemies must be pre-emptively attacked. Islam is not a religion. Climate change is an elite conspiracy to impoverish America. Terror suspects are terrorists. When Americans torture, it is not torture. When Christians murder, they are not Christians. And if you change your mind on any of these issues, you are a liberal, an apostate, and will be attacked.... 
My fear - and it has building for a decade and a half, because I've seen this movement up-close from within and also on the front lines of the marriage wars - is that once one party becomes a church with unchangeable doctrines, and once it has supplanted respect for institutions and civility with the radical pursuit of timeless doctrines and hatred of governing institutions, then our democracy is in grave danger.

The only hope -- for all Americans, not just Republicans, or Democrats, or Independents -- is for the GOP to formalize the schism that already exists within its ranks, between the radical religious fundamentalists and the socially moderate but fiscally conservative old-school Republicans, whose worldview is "rooted in an instinctual, but agile, defense of tradition, in a belief in practical wisdom that alters constantly with circumstance, in moderation and the defense of the middle class as the stabilizing ballast of democracy, in limited but strong government...."

Something I've been writing about for nearly three years.

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