Thursday, April 28, 2005

Why You Must Buy This Magazine 

Returning to the issues raised by lambert's, farmer's and my posts recently, and in the ongoing effort to highlight the truly wonderful journalism of Harper's, here is a post I did earlier this week on my own site, on the recent convention of the National Religious Broadcasters:

"An infinite God ought to be able to protect himself without going in partnership with State Legislatures." --Robert Green Ingersoll

Almost as if it were planned that way, the new edition of Harper's (no, they haven't got the cover up yet) and the "Just Us Sunday" carnival trumped up by the National Religious Broadcasters and the Family Research Council are coming into my home at the same time. I say almost because newly-released mags usually take a couple months to publish, and this Frist-frosted dust-up over the filibuster has only arisen in the last couple weeks. Yet weirdly, Harper's cover piece is actually two stories on the "Soldiers of Christ": one on the New Life Church and its founder Ted Haggard (talks to George Bush every Monday!) done by Jeff Sharlet, and the other by Chris Hedges on the NRB.

And what does Hedges reveal to us about the NRB? He takes us inside their recent convention, a stronghold of about 1600 radio and television affiliates, and introduces us to their president, Frank Wright, who appears proclaiming that the 130 members of the House are now "born-again". He declares the struggle of the country toward cultural and ethnic diversity an attack on Christian truth, and promises to fight to block hate-crime legislation (can't stand in the way of good Christian hate, can we?), and vows to fight the Fairness Doctrine tooth and nail. Too bad no one told him Reagan killed it way back in 1985. Hedges goes on to draw a portrait of a movement that rallies around a fiercely homicidal god, and stirs up its own murderous impulses with plenty of paranoid speechifying about Christian persecution. And then the money quote:
"What the disparate sects of this movement, known as Dominionism,, share is an obsession with political power. A decades-long refusal to engage in politics at all following the Scopes trial has been replaced by a call for Christian "dominion" over the nation and, eventually, over the earth...
America becomes, in this militant biblicism, an agent of God, and all political and intellectual opponents of America's Christian leaders are viewed, quite simply, as agents of Satan."
There are more pleasant elements as well, such as setting up a theocracy in which adulterers can be stoned to death along with heretics, gays, and witches; literal interpretations of the Bible will be required teaching in sciences classes; taxes will be paid to churches; and the government will be "drowned in the bathtub" to merely protecting property rights and enforcing homeland security. It's not going to be enough just to be Christian--one will have to adhere to their brand. Sounds like a Margaret Atwood novel, doesn't it? Surfacing again and again like a money shot on a pornographic closed loop tape are vignettes of the Dominionists' hatred for homosexuals, Muslims, and their cynically opportunistic use of Jewish support. He reminds us that:
"...too many liberals fail to understand the power and allure of evil, and when the radical Christians (come, liberals will) undoubtedly play by the old, polite rules of democracy long after those in power had begun to dismantle the democratic state."
Dismantling the democratic state? Like getting rid of the filibuster rule? Playing by the old, polite rules of democracy, like caving to the Republicans and hoping they play nice in the future?

Hedges also reminds us that prior to World War II, American industrialists, sick of the New Deal, gave support to the fascist Mussolini and flirted with his authoritarian approach to running the country, and that when Hitler promised to restore moral order, the first thing he did upon taking power was to target homosexuals. Everybody else came later.

The first thing we must do is to join with religious progressives across the country, many of whom are the so-called mainstream churches of our childhoods, to stand up against this attempted coup, protect our nation, and protect our nation's churches. It is foolish and self-destructive to take the tack, as so many bloggers and commenters have, that if it says "religion", it's the enemy. If the protective barrier between church and state dissolves, we will all suffer, religious and non-religious alike. People of faith everywhere have been watching open-mouthed as these fascist maniacs have grabbed the mantle from them and declared themselves the only true "christians", and the Christians I know, both friends and family, are appalled. See here, and here, and here, and keep watching. It doesn't always have to be this way.

corrente SBL - New Location
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