Radical Religious Right: Then and Now

From a chain letter going around the Internet this week:

“Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek

while our courts strip us of  all our rights. Our parents and

grandparents taught us to pray before eating, to pray before

we go to sleep.  Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing.

Now a handful of people and their lawyers are telling us to

cease praying. God, help us.  And if that last sentence

offends you, well, just sue me”.

“It’s time we tell them,  “You don’t have to pray; you

don’t have to say the Pledge of Allegiance; you don’t

have to believe in God or attend services that honor Him.

That is your right, and we will honor your right; but by golly,

you are no longer going to take our rights away. We are

fighting  back,  and  we  WILL  WIN!”

———————

An alternative perspective.

There is no law current or pending that discriminates against individuals practicing or expressing religion, even many thoroughly wacko pseudo-religions created expressly for the purpose of tax dodging.   There is however, a lot of legal impediment to religious ideals impacting politics, for at least two good reasons.

1.  If politicians profess to follow the dictates of their prayers to God for guidance, that deity tends rubber stamp the politicians’ desires pretty much wholesale, but there is no way to validate the influence from an imaginary friend. In the hilarious book “God Knows” (Joe Heller-1984).  Biblical figure David asks God if it’s a good idea to go down into the valley and kill all those Philistines. God says “Sure….knock yourself out”.

2.  Speaking of killing people, there has been more mass murder and mayhem at the hands of the then radical religious right  than any other ideology in history.  Religiously motivated groups attemped to spread their faith by violence or to suppress another group because their religious beliefs varied. The Muslim conquests, the French Wars of Religion, the Crusades, and the Reconquista are frequently cited historical examples. “Deus vult! (God wills it) became the battle cry of the Crusader. The death toll from the Crusades is said to be about a million people, about 2% of the world population.

The “Crusades” were a series of thinly veiled military campaigns that took place during the 11th through 13th centuries, sanctioned by the Papacy in response to the Muslim Conquests. In 1095, at the Council of Clermont, Pope Urban II raised the level of war from “bellum iustum” (“just war”), to “bellum sacrum” (holy war).

The bloodthirsty propensity for mass murder in the name of one imaginary friend being more potent than another reached its apex with The Albigensian Crusade (or Cathar Crusade) (1209-1229). A 20-year military campaign initiated by the Catholic Church to eliminate the Cathar heresy in Languedoc. 20,000 people were slaughtered in the city of Beziers alone after the Abbot of Citeaux, in charge of the assault, when asked how to distinguish heretics from Catholics, replied “Caedite eos! Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius”.  (Kill them all, God will know his own.)

That’s the history. Now cut to the present.

Unlike Nancy Grace, Glenn Beck, Maury and anyone named Kardashian, the English language contains the words that accurately portray their contemptibility quotient, so here goes………

Upgraded to 21st Century politics, there isn’t much convincing evidence that the current radical religious right is much different in 2012 than in 1212. Sarah Palin would have no problem mounting a religious war, but she’s too vacuous to organize it. However, Michelle Bachmann, aided by her fiercely intolerant husband would do a very passable job of it.  Behind the ruthless self-promotion, empty platitudes and open ended criticism of opponents, both Palin and Bachmann are dangerous people.

Bachmann has an extensive and well documented of history of flaky and intolerant behavior. Everyone used to laugh every time she opened her mouth and there are web sites dedicated to collecting her malapropisms. But for unclear reasons, she seems to be getting credibility in 2011, possibly as a replacement for the fading glory of Sarah Palin.  And again, If it were not for Clark’s Law (#2) (the further to one side a President is, the further the other side is willing to explore to get rid of him), there would be no Bachmann or Palin. They are extremes the other side is drawing on to combat what they consider the other extreme is.

Palin was never electable, and at some level she’s figured this out and quietly faded, insuring her highly paid punditing is preserved in the process. She knows the media would tear her apart and she also knows she has no protection from them because every time she opens her mouth, she sticks her foot in it, and her fund of knowledge for anything politically meaningful is 5th grade level.

Bachman is a Palin clone that I think is serving as a replacement as the faithful has figured out Palin isn’t going to throw herself to the wolves. She’s close enough to the Tea Party line that she’ll replace Palin just fine, and she’s more impervious to the kind of treatment the Press will instill upon her once the initial hormonal response fades, which will be pretty quick. Once the media starts digging into her past history of non sequiturs, they’ll rip out her eyeballs like grapes and stomp on ’em. And, unlike Palin, she”’ fight to a draw”, then the voters will get tired of the fighting and start getting interested in someone smoother, smart enough to avoid all the shitstorms and more moderate as to avoid future Clark’s Law (#2) from the Democrats.

You really ought to watch Bill Maher (Friday nights 10 pm HBO).  He always have interesting people on and he allows them to pontificate on things he personally disagrees with, and some very interesting facets of politics come out. Last Friday it was David Carr (New York Times) and a female “Republican Strategist”, I forget her name, and they had some interesting things to say.

Even Maher who hates Republicans like snakes is now coming around to agree that the Obama style of leadership leaves something to be desired in terms of the ideal. They all agreed that Obama has a base of 40% that will vote for him because he’s Obama, 40% that will vote against him because he’s Obama and 20% in the middle.  It’s the 20% that will tell the tale in 2012, that 20% will make the decision depending on two factors: 1) whether they think he is actually leading and the country is following, and: 2) How undesirable the alternatives are.

As to # 1, leadership will be proven by improvement in the economy. Carr says, and I agree, that if the economy can be proven to be improving, voters will assume leadership no matter what the style and Obama cannot be beat. As to #2, if nothing else, Obama has proven that someone on the fringe incites more fringe activity from the opponents to neutralize him. I think the voters will eventually understand that if they elect another fringe person, there will be a lot of fighting and no forward motion will occur like 2010-2012.  I think the voters don’t want to do that again.

The Tea Party has some grass roots support from radical die-hards, but they don’t have the organization, the money and the support from the power structure. And the candidates they support all have something that can be dredged up from their pasts that make them look damaged. The Rank and File will pay lip service to them but they won’t put them into high gear. That said, the Tea Party cannot win, but they can definitely cause the GOP to lose.  The real danger is if the GOP decides to put really damaged goods like Palin or Bachmann into a VP position to get Tea Party votes without actually allowing them any power.  There is no political position in politics more worthless than VP, but it would give either of those very dangerous persons clout for the future.

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