Showing posts with label Religious Right. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Religious Right. Show all posts

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Romney, Gays, Grenell and the Politics of "Religious" Hate

As noted in the Huffington Post, "The Romney campaign told Grenell to 'be quiet and not to speak up until it went away,' said a source familiar with the matter, referring to criticism of his sexual orientation." The "IT" that had to "go away" was the religious right's vicious reaction to Romney daring to work with a gay man. Then the Romney campaign bowed to the religious right they told  Richard Grenell -- working for them -- to shut up. Their token gay man had to keep his mouth shut to appease the bigots. As the New York Times noted:

"The day after Mr. Grenell was hired, Bryan Fischer, a Romney critic with the American Family Association, told  nearly 1,400 followers on Twitter: "If personnel is policy, his message to the pro-family community: drop dead." The next day, the conservative Daily Caller published an online column that summed up the anger of the Christian right, linking Mr. Grenell's hiring to the appointment of gay judges to the New Jersey Supreme Court."

... which brings up the context of the Romney punch-the-token-gay fiasco...

If you came to earth from another planet right now as the proverbial "visitor from Mars" and tried to figure out what most religions all seem agree on and care about most you'd conclude that it was about keeping women down and bashing gays. Call this the "ecumenism of oppression."

From the pope slapping down American nuns for being too tolerant to the rise of the incidence of woman abuse by Islamist fundamentalists in Turkey, to Orthodox Jews in Israel spitting on young female children who are wearing dresses that are "too short" to the American Roman Catholic bishops working with far right evangelicals (like the late Chuck Colson) to redefine depriving women of access to contraception and depriving gays of rights to marry as "religious liberty" issues... one message is loud and clear: Fundamentalist religion of all kinds fears women and gays.

(By the way ever wonder how anything can be called a civil rights issue when it is about depriving someone else of their civil rights?)

The worldwide practice mostly in Islamic "conservative" countries of mutilating women by slicing off their clitoris' so they may be "protected" from sexual pleasure, the hubris of the Roman Catholic Church that has wrapped up a fifty year period of presiding over a network of pedophiles only to make the pope that protected the institution rather than the children - John Paul II - a "saint," the bashing of gays in the anti-gay marriage surge of activity.... none of this would be believed unless it actually happened.

It did happen. It is happening. It is politics raw and naked power politics at that masquerading as religion.

It just seems so ludicrous that religion of all things should be the leading voice to deprive people of human rights. And that the people leading the charge are the same people that have also been fighting of legal suits over decades of child abuse and other multitudes of hypocrisy only makes the situation all the more tragic.

Frederick Douglass writes in "An American Slave" (Chapter 9)  a good example of everything that is wrong with relying on religion instead of on your heart. When it comes to justifying bad behavior Captain Auld reminds me of today's Roman Catholic bishops, the evangelical anti-gay activists and the women haters in Islamic countries:

"In August, 1832, my master [Captain Auld] attended a Methodist camp-meeting held in the Bay-side, Talbot county, and there experienced religion. I indulged a faint hope that his conversion would lead him to emancipate his slaves, and that, if he did not do this, it would, at any rate, make him more kind and humane. I was disappointed in both these respects. It neither made him to be humane to his slaves, nor to emancipate them. If it had any effect on his character, it made him more cruel and hateful in all his ways; for I believe him to have been a much worse man after his conversion than before."

If you asked the visitor from Mars who this Jesus was that these misogynists from Captain Auld to today's bishops were "following" based on the evidence of their actions he'd conclude that Jesus must have founded an anti-woman child abuse cult to replace (or augment) the cult of racism and slavery that similar white men propagated before them.  The Martian visitor might also note that these child-abusers and women haters and gay-bashers have an odd habit of telling everyone else what to do while they seem to have no ethical rules at all.

How odd it is that if you read about what the actual Jesus said and who his friends were (powerless women and outcasts) you'd conclude that he was a revolutionary in his patriarchal times and a pro-woman and pro-child leader in every instance.

Can you really picture Jesus defining religious liberty as the right to deprive women and gay men and women of their basic rights to employment, marriage equality and family planning?

Jesus healed on the Sabbath just to piss off the "bishops" of his time. He took the side of the woman adulteress against the "popes" of his day. He hung out with whores when "good men" didn't do that and in a time when treating women as equals was as unlikely then as it would be now for conservatives to accept the fact that to be born gay or female is as normal as to be heterosexual or male and as God-blessed too. I don't see Jesus telling Richard Grenell to shut up in order to keep the religious leaders and other bigots happy!

Between the Roman Catholic anti-contraception, anti gay marriage bishops, the Islamic fundamentalists mutilating their daughters and the American evangelicals trying to force women to have children they don't want (and trying to force Romney to join the religious right) our visitor from Mars will fly home with the news that religion of the bishops', pope, Islamists, and evangelicals is really a misogyny/homophobic cult. He might also report that this cult of hate and fear is also a practitioner of politics masquerading as religion.

Friday, March 2, 2012

My Father's Influence on Present Day Politics Explained in the New York Times

March 1, 2012, 10:23 PM

Leaps of Faith

For the past three and a half years, Republicans have struggled to explain a great conundrum. If they are the party of authentic America with a mystical connection to the will of the people, then how, exactly, did Barack Obama get elected president?
Some Republicans have come up with an answer that allows them to avoid facing the unpleasant reality of their own party’s failures: Obama must be a great deceiver. He won the White House by subterfuge.
Claims that Obama concealed nonnative birth or faith in Islam failed to gain mainstream traction, but conservatives like Sean Hannity were more successful in labeling Obama as covertly “anti-American” based on his association with the incendiary pastor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. By this logic, Obama was a paragon of Christian piety. He “savored” every word on Sunday mornings and would surely govern by these traitorous principles: his beliefs were dangerous because, well, he really believed them.
Now his critics have reversed course: they say Obama is a sham Christian. He thinks religion is not heartfelt belief that demands full expression, but only a matter of showing up at church. He is not the first president to stand so accused: in the election of 1800, one clergyman charged Thomas Jefferson with “disbelief of the Holy Scriptures,” and Abraham Lincoln battled the suggestion that he was a “scoffer of Christianity.”
But Obama’s opponents have a new twist on this old allegation. They find evidence for his unbelief not by exposing his biblical illiteracy or shoddy church attendance, but in his failure to support “religious freedom.”
Religious freedom is as American as apple pie, isn’t it? How could anyone oppose it? Because — this line of reasoning goes — Obama is not who he says he is. He claims to be a true Christian and a true American, but his actions prove otherwise.
The charge that the president is a faker on religious freedom is the most recent iteration of the ongoing attack on his legitimacy: it is the new “birther” movement. It’s also a decades-old rhetorical tool of the culture wars intended to depict the entire left as frauds who supposedly stand for a tolerant open society, but who are in fact disciples of a secular pseudo-religion intent on quashing Christian influence in America.
The Rev. Franklin Graham, who has always been more provocative than his prudent father Billy, told MSNBC last week that the president lacks sufficient outrage over the plight of persecuted Christians. “Islam has gotten a free pass under Obama,” Graham said, adding that the Muslim world sees Obama as “a son of Islam” who will not challenge religious oppression. “The Muslims of the world — he seems to be more concerned about them than the Christians that are being murdered in the Muslim countries – that’s what bothers me.” (Graham offered a half-apology on Tuesday, saying he regretted any comments that “cast any doubt on the personal faith of our president.”)
During the recent outcry over the Obama administration’s new rule requiring religious employers to cover birth control in their insurance plans, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney blasted the president too: here was proof of Obama’s aim to oppress religious expression and trample constitutional rights.
Last week, at a rally at a Christian college in Michigan, Rick Santorum called the president “particularly weak” on religious freedom. He insisted that “freedom of religion” is much more than “freedom of worship” confined within a church’s four walls, which even “tyrants” support. “When you have the president of the United States referring to freedom of religion and you have the secretary of state referring to the freedom of religion, not as the freedom of religion but the freedom of worship, you should get very, very nervous,” he warned.
When conservatives cry “freedom of religion” and insist they mean something more than “freedom of worship,” this is what they mean: religious freedom is not just the freedom to gather in a room and pray one morning a week. It is the freedom to impose one’s own religious values on others. Free expression of religion entails the right to reason from religious principles in the public square and — with sufficient electoral support — to enshrine those principles in law and social institutions. If Obama does not support this view, they argue, then he is hardly a true American.
Over the course of American history, “religious freedom” has been a shape-shifter invoked just as often in the name of prejudice (in 19th-century Protestant campaigns against Catholic schools; in fundamentalist colleges’ racial discrimination a hundred years later) as on behalf of liberty. It is a code phrase alternately benign and sinister, much like that other clever cloak for bigotry, “states’ rights.” In the context of the 2012 race, the charge that Obama subverts religious freedom is a code meant to label the president as an impostor, a blasphemer of the American gospel who adheres to another religion entirely.
Santorum has hit this theme the hardest, warning that conservative Christians must not be fooled by the president’s efforts to play the neutral statesman who treats all believers equally. On the contrary, he obeys a false religion with nonnegotiable assumptions of its own. Santorum described Obama’s environmentalism as a “phony theology” and a “worldview.”
This is an attempt to paint as irrationally ideological a president who has proven himself to be not very ideological at all (much to the frustration of his supporters on the left). It is a culture warrior’s maneuver to cast American politics as a Manichean battleground between two worldviews — red-blooded Christian America pitted against the secularist stranger — worldviews so captive to their own logic that they cannot possibly compromise on anything.
This obsession with “worldviews” has been a favorite tactic of the Christian right. In the 1970s, Francis Schaeffer and other activists taught evangelicals to organize against the “secular humanist worldview” that was denaturing America’s Christian values in an acid bath of “humanist religion,” “an exclusivist, closed system which shuts out all contending viewpoints” (that’s the “phony theology” that Santorum was talking about).
Schaeffer’s admirers often note that he defends religious freedom in his 1981 book, “A Christian Manifesto.” But after Schaeffer called for “general religious freedom” for all faiths, he went on to lament the left’s manipulation of the First Amendment to encourage a “new concept of pluralism” in which “there is no right or wrong; it is just a matter of your personal preference.”
To recover America’s biblical foundation, Christians had to “do battle on the entire front:” not just in church, but in the courts, classrooms, outside abortion clinics and everywhere else, Schaeffer wrote. The emerging Christian right asserted that this was the true meaning of “religious freedom” in America: freedom to institutionalize Christian dogma in American society and law. Freedom of religion — a phrase that sounds at first blush like a bipartisan nod to our common political heritage — is a weapon of culture war.
Slogans like this have political power. Voters on both the right and the left have little sympathy for politicians who reason through problems and recognize ambiguity (conservatives won’t forgive Romney for his honeststruggles with the abortion issue, and Obama faces liberal wrath for his nuanced approach to economic recovery). Wonkish debates are boring and complicated, and not very good for separating the sheep from the goats. What matters are your “presuppositions,” your “worldview.”
Conservatives’ accusations that Obama disrespects religious freedom have little to do with the White House’s actual policy: his administration has a strong track record in supporting faith-based organizations and ensuring that prisoners have access to religious literature, for example. They have everything to do with resurrecting old challenges to the president’s legitimacy and framing the 2012 campaign as a battle between honest Christian Americans and atheist subversives. “Enemy of religious freedom” is shorthand for a deceiver who is not one of us: in Gingrich’s words, one who “played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president.”
Molly Worthen teaches religious history at the University of Toronto.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Gurus of the Religious Right Who Wrecked the Republican Party

 Note this piece was first published by the Huffington Post 

Romney is a fake religious right "conservative." But the fact that he has to pretend to be to the right of the Pope on "social issues" tells us all we need to know about the intellectual climate inside today's Republican Party.

How did the Republicans get to be this way?

Reading and watching media coverage of the 2012 elections you'd never learn the answer. That is because the media seem to have never heard of the intellectuals who fed the movement on far right religious hysteria. So the media cover the Santorum outbursts and Gingrich paranoia and Romney genuflecting to the social agenda of the Roman Catholic bishops as if they are illogical and odd. They are both but they are also coming from someplace. And to not know what that place is is like discussing the old Soviet Union with never a mention of Karl Marx.

When Rick Santorum - who is the real thing when it comes to authentic hate-driven misogynistic religious delusion  -- talks about how the idea of the separation of church and state, as articulated by President Kennedy, made him want to "throw up," he was channeling the late Richard John Neuhaus. He even uses Neuhaus' pet catch phrase "the naked public square" to describe religion being "driven" from public life by "radical secularists" intent on using colleges to brainwash kids into pro-abortion, gay-hugging liberalism. 

When Gingrich, Romney and Santorum defined President Obama's reasonable attempt to make insurance companies pay for women's access to contraception as being "anti-religious" and "anti-religious freedom" they were channeling Professor Robert George of Princeton University, Charles Colson, and my late father Francis Schaeffer and his collaborator Dr. C Everett Koop on the movie series and book that started the Protestant pro-life movement called "Whatever Happened to the Human Race?".

When all the Republican candidates referred to "life beginning" at conception and backed many anti-abortion initiatives (like forcing women to have ultrasounds before gaining access to abortion) they were channeling Dr. C Everett Koop as well as Charles Colson, Nixon's hatchet man and born-again convert to far right religious homophobic and anti-woman politics. 

But reading media commentaries and watching the talking heads on TV you would never know that the radical right's takeover of the Republican Party has its roots in the work and writing of a few men and women who became the enablers of a radical religious ideology that they made respectable in far right circles.  You'd also never know that places like Princeton University are providing intellectual "respectability" to radical far right theocrats like Robert George or that "mainstream" evangelicals like the editors of Christianity Today magazine regard far right homophobe Colson as a hero. 

Professor of Jurisprudence Robert George and former McCain adviser, is an antiabortion, anti-Obama, anti-gay-rights, and anti-stem-cell-research "profamily" activist, and he has found ways to effectively carry on the loony Reconstructionist/Theonomist (put America "back" on Biblical law aka "natural law) crusade started by some far right fundamentalists in the 1970s. (I explain who these "Reconstructionists" were in my book Sex, Mom and God)

George's brainchild: the "Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience" was published in 2009 as an anti-Obama manifesto, and many Evangelical leaders signed on. It was written as a direct reaction to the Obama Presidency. It was a trap that launched a fishing expedition to find any issue that might gain traction with which to beat the President in 2012. That could have been gay rights, or stem cell research. It turned out to be contraception.

The "Manhattan Declaration" reads:

"We will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life actnor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar's. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God's."

In case you've never heard of George, he's been a one-man "brain trust" for the Religious Right and the Far Right of the Republican Party as well as for the ultraconservative wing of the Roman Catholic Church. Here's how the New York Times introduced him to its readers:

"Robert George] has parlayed a 13th-century Catholic philosophy [the natural law theory] into real political influence. Glenn Beck, the Fox News talker and a big George fan, likes to introduce him as "one of the biggest brains in America," or, on one broadcast, "Superman of the Earth." Karl Rove told me he considers George a rising star on the right and a leading voice in persuading President George W. Bush to restrict embryonic stem-cell research.Newt Gingrich called him "an important and growing influence" on the conservative movement, especially on matters like abortion and marriage. "If there really is a vast right-wing conspiracy," the conservative Catholic journal Crisis concluded a few years ago, "its leaders probably meet in George's kitchen."

I met George when we were both on a panel discussion entitled "Campaign '08: Race, Gender, and Religion" at Princeton University. We butted heads over what he'd been mischaracterizing as presidential candidate Obama's "proabortion" position.

At the time we met on that (six-person) panel, George was one of McCain's key advisors and I (a former Republican) was blasting George's man for having sold out to the Religious Right, which McCain had once called "agents of intolerance."

In introducing myself to the Princeton audience, I mentioned that McCain had written a glowing endorsement for one of my several books on military-civilian relations.  I also admitted that I'd actively worked for McCain in the 2000 presidential primaries against W. Bush by appearing--at McCain advisor Mark Salter's oft-repeated urgent request--on several religious and other conservative talk shows (for instance, on Ollie North's top-rated talk show) on McCain's behalf. (In those days McCain was being attacked by the likes of Religious Right leader James Dobson for not being "pro-life" enough.)

George's trap for the President, the "Manhattan Declaration" was instantly signed by more than 150 American "mainstream" (mostly Evangelical) conservative religious leaders. They joined to "affirm support for traditional marriage" and to advocate civil disobedience against laws contradicting the signers' religious beliefs about marriage and/or the "life issues." The drafting committee included Evangelical Far Right leader Charles Colson. In fact in close contact with Operatives like Karl Rove this whole group began to pump their followers up for the battle to come for the 2012 elections.

It is not coincidence that Colson was assigned by these extremists to be the point man for the anti-Obama crusade. He put his name on a piece crafted by the Robert George group when it came to the bogus "Obama is anti-religious" charge.

To ramp the case up Colson teamed up with a Catholic bishop and wrote (or had Goeorge write for them) in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal after the "story" (a trumped up fabricated story at that) about Obama's "anti-religious" stance broke. Then throwing red meat to the faithful Chuck Colson wrote in an open letter to his fellow believers on Wednesday (Feb. 8). Where he compared the administration birth control mandates to policies enacted in Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler.

In the WSJ op-ed Colson and the Catholic bishop blew their cover, they cited their own creation as proff that they had grass roots support when of course (like the Tea Party) they had had their "issue" created top down. they write:

"At this critical moment, Americans of every faith, as guardians of their own freedom, must, in the words of the First Amendment, "petition the government for the redress of grievances." That's why over the past two years more than 500,000 people have signed the "Manhattan Declaration" in defense of religious liberty. They believe, as do we, that under no circumstances should people of faith violate their consciences and discard their most cherished religious beliefs in order to comply with a gravely unjust law."

It was a neat trick: Write a deceleration, get 150 leaders to sign it then use Fox News etc to promote it "grass roots" then come back and use the fact that it's been signed off on by the pro-life movement as "proof" that the President is out of step with religious freedom!

There are a number of leading American extremist "conservative" Roman Catholics, like Professor George, who are part of a strange, informal, anti-contraceptive, anti-abortion alliance that Santorum has drawn his ideas from. One such Far-Right Roman Catholic ideologue wrote a book calling on Christians to join Muslims in a Jihad against the secular West.

In Ecumenical Jihad: Ecumenism and the Culture War my old friend Peter Kreeft called for "ecumenical Jihad." ( Ignatius Press, 1996) Kreeft's was not a plea for blowing people up. He was calling for winning elections and, failing that, for undermining the election results when they are judged "wrong" by religious people.

Kreeft called for an alliance of fundamentalist Protestants, Catholics, Jews and Muslims, to prosecute a culture war against what he called the "demoniacal Western cultural elite." The book was (tellingly) dedicated to several key Far Right leaders: e.g., Chuck Colson, Michael Medved and (of course) the reactionary's reactionary, Richard John Neuhaus.

The late Roman Catholic convert priest, Richard John Neuhaus and I often talked when Neuhaus was starting his far right First Things journal. I contributed several articles to some of the early issues of First Things. (This was before I left the religious right, the Republican Party and my evangelical background).

According to what Neuhaus told me back then First Things was supposed to be the pro-life/Catholic version of the Norman Podhoretz's Commentary magazine.  Podhoretz who, at first, was friendly with  Neuhaus broke with him over Neuhaus's extremist anti-abortion -- and extremist anti-American - views. This was after Neuhaus started openly describing the U.S. Government as an illegitimate "regime." As the Washington Post noted:

"Father Neuhaus played a central role in forging an alliance between evangelical Protestants and Catholics and in bringing conservative Christians into the Republican conservative coalition in the 1980s and 1990s. During that same period, he began an institute and published a journal, First Things,  that reflected his interests in religion and public policy. Mary Ann Glendon, the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, said Father Neuhaus was a guiding force in the creation of faith-based initiatives -- private religious groups given government funding to carry out social policy -- that have become identified with President Bush's White House. Father Neuhaus set the groundwork for the idea in two books, To Empower People written with Peter Berger, and Christian Faith and Public Policy (both 1977)."

As I Alexander F. Remington, The Washington Post,  January 9, 2009 noted, in 2005, Time magazine named Father Neuhaus one of the 25 most influential Evangelicals in America "Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium," which advocates a strategic union  of Catholics and evangelicals on a social agenda that included opposition to abortion and support for government funding for religious schools.

"Where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed," Father Neuhaus once wrote. It was a stance that was at times too rigid for many conservatives. After President Bill Clinton vetoed in 1996 a ban on a procedure critics call partial-birth abortion, Father Neuhaus said, "We are at a point at which millions of conscientious American citizens are reflecting upon whether this is a legitimate regime." That same year, he sponsored a symposium on "The End of Democracy? The Judicial Usurpation of Politics."

Colson and Neuhaus were the moving force behind the "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" initiative/manifesto  which  called for a (non-violent) holy war against secularism. And that "initiative" took the Far Right Reconstructionist ideas of Rushdoony, dropped the most inflammatory rhetoric, and made them "mainstream," thus moving the so-called mainstream Evangelical enterprise to the Far (anti-government) Right.

The groups Kreeft, Colson and Neuhaus had in mind to "bring together" were alienated Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews and conservative Roman Catholics, wallowing in their sense of victimhood, to which Kreeft added Muslims. Of course the ultra-conservative Kreeft and extremist Neuhaus were against contraception and equated it with abortion. Thus the logic of their argument was that of my fathers' too: the United States Government was enabling murder, was disparaged as a "regime" that needed to be overthrown.

These neo-conservative/Roman Catholic "intellectuals" helped set the stage for the anti-contraception Quiverfull Movement and for the Patriarchy Movement, giving a gloss of intellectual respectability and aid and comfort to what were nothing more than oppressive ideas rooted in an anti-Constitutional theocratic Far-Right wish list for changes that were supposed to roll back the parts of the democratic processes - say Roe v. Wade, women's rights and gay rights -- that Far Right Catholics and Protestants didn't approve of.

People like Professor George with his "Manhattan Declaration" are just carrying on where Kreeft, Colson and Neuhaus left off. And the climate these "thinkers" have contributed to has  provided what I'll call the ideological background noise accompanying the rise of the rube white hate fringe/militia movement and lone wolf government-haters and conspiracy theorists who, of course, have probably never heard of anyone like Neuhaus or Professor George nor read their work.

Nevertheless, there is a connection between people like Neuhaus and the loony violent Right's reaction to the election of President Obama which exacerbated the right's virulent mistrust of our government. It's a question of legitimacy and illegitimacy. What the Religious Right, including the Religious Right's intellectuals did, was contribute to a climate where the very legitimacy of our government is questioned.  The Evangelicals may have begun by only questioning Roe and Bolton, gay rights, and school prayer rulings.  

To the extent that Santorum and the rest of the Republican field this year have alienated most Americans we can thank the "intellectual" enablers of off-the-wall right wing radicalism. Just how crazy are these people? How radical are they?

To plumb the depths of the tortured "reasoning" behind the Roman Catholic Bishop's anti-contraception movement, consider the writing of Roman Catholic philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe. She's a heroine to today's leading conservative Roman Catholics including to Cardinal Dolan (who is close to Robert George and Colson) and the Vatican. She wrote passionately in defense of the papal prohibition of contraception:

"In considering an action, we need always to judge several things about ourselves. First: is the sort of act we contemplate doing something that it's all right to do? Second: are our further or surrounding intentions all right? Third: is the spirit in which we do it all right? Contraceptive intercourse fails on the first count; and to intend such an act is not to intend a marriage act at all, whether or no we're married. An act of ordinary intercourse in marriage at an infertile time, though, is a perfectly ordinary act of married intercourse, and it will be bad, if it is bad, only on the second or third counts.If contraceptive intercourse is permissible, then what objection could there be after all to mutual masturbation, or copulation in vase indebito, sodomy, buggery (I should perhaps remark that I am using a legal term here--not indulging in bad language), when normal copulation is impossible or inadvisable (or in any case, according to taste)? It can't be the mere pattern of bodily behavior in which the stimulation is procured that makes all the difference! But if such things are all right, it becomes perfectly impossible to see anything wrong with homosexual intercourse, for example.If you are defending contraception, you will have rejected Christian tradition.It's this that makes the division between straightforward fornication or adultery and the wickedness of the sins against nature and of contraceptive intercourse. Hence contraceptive intercourse within marriage is a graver offence against chastity than is straightforward fornication or adultery." (G. E. M. Anscombe, "Contraception and Chastity" (London: Catholic Truth Society, 1975).

Here is how Robert George lauded this insane "argument" in his gushing Anscombe obituary:

In 1968, when much of the rest of the Catholic intellectual world reacted with shock and anger to Pope Paul VI's reaffirmation of Catholic teaching regarding the immorality of contraception, the Geach-Anscombe family toasted the announcement with champagne. Her defense of the teaching in the essay "Contraception and Chastity" is an all-too-rare example of rigorous philosophical argumentation on matters of sexual ethics. Catholics who demand the liberalization of their Church's teachings have yet to come to terms with Anscombe's arguments. Robert George, "Elizabeth Anscombe, R.I.P.: One of the 20th Century's Most Remarkable Women," National Review, February 3-4, 2001.

It was the Evangelicals and Roman Catholics like my father, Neuhaus, George and Kreeft who  first released the poison of suspicion against our government into the air in its post-70s radical incarnation. And today the more educated leaders of the far right may scorn their rube gun-toting blue collar counterparts, but (post-Roe) at root they have the same view of the U.S. government.

And now with Romney (the fake) Santorum (the true believer) and Gingrich (the inscrutably weird) doing all but quoting these religious leaders openly and verbatim, and with the ultra-conservative Roman Catholic bishops parroting their mentor Robert George in anti-Obama rhetoric and with Romney having to pretend that he agrees... the Republican Party is now firmly in the hands of people like George who believe that a madwoman like Anscombe was brave and right to describe contraception as: "contraceptive intercourse within marriage is a graver offence against chastity than is straightforward fornication or adultery." And George and Colson and company are still at it trying to keep the myth alive that President Obama is anti-religion.

 The Republicans will lose in 2012 because the American people are not as crazy as the sublimely wacky religious fanatic "intellectuals" who's fingerprints are all over the imploding Republican Party. The Democratic Party should send Colson, the Roman Catholic bishops and George thank you notes because the candidates like Santorum and Gingrich that most closely follow their medieval "natural law" script are turning off the American people in droves. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Proof Psitive: The Tea Party/Religious Right are the Dumbest People in the World

Here's an article that says it all. What do you think? Please add your own horror stories in the "How Stupid Can These People Get?" category in the comment section below. Thanks!

Activists Fight Green Projects, Seeing U.N. Plot

(From the New York Times)

Across the country, activists with ties to the Tea Party are railing against all sorts of local and state efforts to control sprawl and conserve energy. They brand government action for things like expanding public transportation routes and preserving open space as part of a United Nations-led conspiracy to deny property rights and herd citizens toward cities.

Many are suspicious of environmental initiatives. Ed Elswick, a county supervisor, voiced criticism at last month's meeting.

They are showing up at planning meetings to denounce bike lanes on public streets and smart meters on home appliances — efforts they equate to a big-government blueprint against individual rights.

“Down the road, this data will be used against you,” warned one speaker at a recent Roanoke County, Va., Board of Supervisors meeting who turned out with dozens of people opposed to the county’s paying $1,200 in dues to a nonprofit that consults on sustainability issues.

Local officials say they would dismiss such notions except that the growing and often heated protests are having an effect.

In Maine, the Tea Party-backed Republican governor canceled a project to ease congestion along the Route 1 corridor after protesters complained it was part of the United Nations plot. Similar opposition helped doom a high-speed train line in Florida. And more than a dozen cities, towns and counties, under new pressure, have cut off financing for a program that offers expertise on how to measure and cut carbon emissions.

“It sounds a little on the weird side, but we’ve found we ignore it at our own peril,” said George Homewood, a vice president of the American Planning Association’s chapter in Virginia.

The protests date to 1992 when the United Nations passed a sweeping, but nonbinding, 100-plus-page resolution called Agenda 21 that was designed to encourage nations to use fewer resources and conserve open land by steering development to already dense areas. They have gained momentum in the past two years because of the emergence of the Tea Party movement, harnessing its suspicion about government power and belief that man-made global warming is a hoax.

In January, the Republican Party adopted its own resolution against what it called “the destructive and insidious nature” of Agenda 21. And Newt Gingrich took aim at it during a Republican debate in November.

Tom DeWeese, the founder of the American Policy Center, a Warrenton, Va.-based foundation that advocates limited government, says he has been a leader in the opposition to Agenda 21 since 1992. Until a few years ago, he had few followers beyond a handful of farmers and ranchers in rural areas. Now, he is a regular speaker at Tea Party events.

Membership is rising, Mr. DeWeese said, because what he sees as tangible Agenda 21-inspired controls on water and energy use are intruding into everyday life. “People may be acting out at some of these meetings, and I do not condone that. But their elected representatives are not listening and they are frustrated.”

Fox News has also helped spread the message. In June, after President Obama signed an executive order creating a White House Rural Council to “enhance federal engagement with rural communities,” Fox programs linked the order to Agenda 21. A Fox commentator, Eric Bolling, said the council sounded “eerily similar to a U.N. plan called Agenda 21, where a centralized planning agency would be responsible for oversight into all areas of our lives. A one world order.”

The movement has been particularly effective in Tea Party strongholds like Virginia, Florida and Texas, but the police have been called in to contain protests in states including Maryland and California, where opponents are fighting laws passed in recent years to encourage development around public transportation hubs and dense areas in an effort to save money and preserve rural communities.

One group has become a particular target. Iclei — Local Governments for Sustainability USA, an Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit, sells software and offers advice to communities looking to reduce their carbon footprints. A City Council meeting in Missoula, Mont., in December got out of hand and required police intervention over $1,200 in dues to Iclei.

At a Board of Supervisors meeting in Roanoke in late January, Cher McCoy, a Tea Party member from nearby Lexington, Va., generated sustained applause when she warned: “They get you hooked, and then Agenda 21 takes over. Your rights are stripped one by one.”

Echoing other protesters, Ms. McCoy identified smart meters, devices being installed by utility companies to collect information on energy use, as part of the conspiracy. “The real job of smart meters is to spy on you and control you — when you can and cannot use electrical appliances,” she said.

Ilana Preuss, vice president of Smart Growth America, a national coalition of nonprofits that supports economic development while conserving open spaces and farmland, said, “The real danger is not that they will get rid of some piece of software from Iclei” but that “people will be too scared to have a conversation about local development. And that is an important conversation to be having.”

In some cases, the protests have not been large, but they are powerful because officials are concerned about the Tea Party.

On the campaign trail, Mr. Gingrich has called Agenda 21 an important issue and has said, “I would explicitly repudiate what Obama has done on Agenda 21.”

The Republican National Committee resolution, passed without fanfare on Jan. 13, declared, “The United Nations Agenda 21 plan of radical so-called ‘sustainable development’ views the American way of life of private property ownership, single family homes, private car ownership and individual travel choices, and privately owned farms; all as destructive to the environment.”

Jeremy Rabkin, a professor of law at George Mason University specializing in sovereignty issues, said there were “entirely legitimate concerns about international standards that come into American law without formal ratification by the Senate.”

But some local officials argue that the programs that protesters see as part of the conspiracy are entirely created by local governments with the express intent of saving money — the central goal of the Tea Party movement.

Planning groups, several of which said they had never heard of Agenda 21 until protesters burst in, are counterorganizing.

Summer Frederick, the project manager for the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission in Charlottesville, Va., which withdrew its dues to Iclei and its support from a national mayors’ agreement on climate change late last year after a campaign by protesters, now conducts seminars on how to deal with Agenda 21 critics. (Among her tips: remove the podium and microphones, which can make it “very easy for a critic to hijack a meeting.”)

Roanoke’s Board of Supervisors voted 3 to 2 to renew its Iclei financing after many residents voiced their support.

“The Tea Party people say they want nonpolluted air and clean water and everything we promote and support, but they also say it’s a communist movement,” said Charlotte Moore, a supervisor who voted yes. “I really don’t understand what they want.”

Published: February 3, 2012 New York Times

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Christians" Killing Children For Jesus

Frank Schaeffer


Religion and Child Abuse

Posted: 11/7/11 04:07 PM ET

The convergence of two news stories should be a wakeup call to alert us to the fact that there is a brutal movement in America that legitimizes child abuse in the name of God. One story involves a judge whipping his daughter with a belt on a YouTube clip that has gone viral. The other involves books by Evangelical leaders on child rearing that advocate spanking, even beating.

But what many people don't seem to realize is that in the Evangelical alternative universe of the home school movement, tightly knit church communities and the cult following of a number of bigtime leaders and authors, physical punishment of children has been glorified for years.

As a story in the New York Times illustrates -- "Preaching Virtue of Spanking, Even as Deaths Fuel Debate" -- a famous Evangelical author and his co-author wife, Michael and Debi Pearl, are being tied to several deaths of children killed by parents alleged to be using the Pearls' "methods" advocated in their book To Train Up a Child.

And according to ABC News, a prominent Texas judge who was filmed beating his disabled daughter with a belt and cursing at her said he was merely disciplining his child and did nothing wrong. He may or may not have read the Pearls book but his "methods" and "I-was-just-disciplining" reaction to his outing as an abuser should make us all ask ourselves about just what some "experts" on child raising are not only telling people to do TO children but the routine abuse they have legitimized in far right "conservative" and Evangelical circles.

"No, in my mind I haven't done anything wrong other than discipline my child," Judge William Adams told KZTV Wednesday after the YouTube video went viral on the internet.

Hillary Adams, the daughter who is seen being beaten in the video, secretly recorded the beating and uploaded it to YouTube Oct. 27. "I just wanted somebody to see it and tell me, 'no, Hillary this wasn't right and I'm glad you were able to grow up and move on past this' and 'no, your Dad wasn't right,'" Hillary Adams said told ABC News' Chris Cuomo.

If Hillary wants someone to tell her what her father did wasn't right she will look in vain to the Evangelical Religious Right. It is some of the most respected Evangelical discipline gurus that have made beating children not just "respectable" in conservative religious circles but even turning it into an "I'm just disciplining my child" godly activity.

In 1977 James Dobson, founder of the "Focus on the Family" religious empire and radio program, wrote a book called Dare To Discipline whose purpose was to get parents to beat their children.

Beating was the way God "wants" mothers and fathers to "discipline" children from toddlerhood on.

Perhaps Dobson wrote his perverted, sadistic book because he was beaten as a child and was damaged as he then damaged millions of others through his "ministry" later.

In his book Dobson glorified a sadomasochistic/spiritual ritual of "discipline." He said he wanted to stop a "liberal" trend in America that was moving away from the godly thrashing of infants. He wanted to help "restore" America to God and the good old days of child hitting. This fit in well with God as Retributioner-in-Chief that evangelicals endorse.

Dobson isn't alone. Evangelical "family values" guru Bill Gothard, with a following of millions, also has tought "discipline." As reported by The Cincinnati Beacon, Matthew Murray, the young shooter who killed a bunch of churchgoers in 2007, had been raised according to the teachings of evangelist Bill Gothard.

"I remember the beatings and the fighting and yelling and insane rules and all the Bill Gothard rules and then trancing out," he wrote Dec. 1 under the monicker "nghtmrchld26" on a Web forum for former Pentecostal Christians.

Bill Gothard is the founder of the Institute in Basic Life Principles in Illinois, which promotes a Christian home "education" program. As quoted in the Beacon article Murray said "I remember how it was like every day was Mission Impossible trying to keep the rules or not get caught and just . . . survive every single (expletive) day."

It was no coincidence that the judge was mercilessly beating a young girl. Women must submit to men according to Evangelicals. And nothing is worse than a "rebellious" woman!

Keeping women down is a Dobson theme along with child beating. So James Dobson also endorsed and helped the "Silver Ring" movement begin wherein fathers make their daughters pledge chastity to them in a ritual known as "purity balls" that mimic proms, only with dad as the "boyfriend" standing in for Jesus. And if the daughter won't submit, well, there's always that handy belt.

Dobson extols his view of child beating in The Strong Willed Child. (Living Books 1992) He makes a parallel between beating children and beating dogs:

[Our dog] Siggie is a member of our family and we love him dearly. And despite his anarchistic nature, I have finally taught him to obey a few simple commands. However, we had some classic battles before he reluctantly yielded to my authority. The greatest confrontation occurred a few years ago when I had been in Miami for a three-day conference. I returned to observe that Siggie had become boss of the house while I was gone. But I didn't realize until later that evening just how strongly he felt about his new position as Captain. At eleven o'clock that night, I told Siggie to go get into his bed, which is a permanent enclosure in the family room. For six years I had given him that order at the end of each day, and for six years Siggie had obeyed. On this occasion, however, he refused to budge. You see, he was in the bathroom, seated comfortably on the furry lid of the toilet seat. That is his favorite spot in the house, because it allows him to bask in the warmth of a nearby electric heater. . .

When I told Sigmund to leave his warm seat and go to bed, he flattened his ears and slowly turned his head toward me. He deliberately braced himself by placing one paw on the edge of the furry lid, then hunched his shoulders, raised his lips to reveal the molars on both sides, and uttered his most threatening growl. That was Siggie's way of saying. 'Get lost!'

I had seen this defiant mood before, and knew there was only one way to deal with it. The ONLY way to make Siggie obey is to threaten him with destruction. Nothing else works. I turned and went to my closet and got a small belt to help me 'reason' with Mr. Freud.

What developed next is impossible to describe. That tiny dog and I had the most vicious fight ever staged between man and beast. I fought him up one wall and down the other, with both of us scratching and clawing and growling and swinging the belt. I am embarrassed by the memory of the entire scene. Inch by inch I moved him toward the family room and his bed. As a final desperate maneuver, Siggie backed into the corner for one last snarling stand. I eventually got him to bed, only because I outweighed him 200 to 12!

But this is not a book about the discipline of dogs; there is an important moral to my story that is highly relevant to the world of children. JUST AS SURELY AS A DOG WILL OCCASIONALLY CHALLENGE THE AUTHORITY OF HIS LEADERS, SO WILL A LITTLE CHILD -- ONLY MORE SO." (Emphasis Dobson's)

[I]t is possible to create a fussy, demanding baby by rushing to pick him up every time he utters a whimper or sigh. Infants are fully capable of learning to manipulate their parents through a process called reinforcement, whereby any behavior that produces a pleasant result will tend to recur. Thus, a healthy baby can keep his mother hopping around his nursery twelve hours a day (or night) by simply forcing air past his sandpaper larynx.

Perhaps this tendency toward self-will is the essence of 'original sin' which has infiltrated the human family. It certainly explains why I place such stress on the proper response to willful defiance during childhood, for that rebellion can plant the seeds of personal disaster." (p 87)

In cheerfully telling about beating Siggie -- a story that should have put Dobson in prison for animal cruelty -- Dobson is telling his readers to similarly beat their children -- something he's advocated as "spanking" until a child collapses in tears into a parent's arms.

And Dobson is mild compared to the popular Evangelical authors Michel and Debi Pearl. In their bookTo Train Up a Child (1994) they advocate beating babies.

In the book they recommend "switching" a 7-month-old on the bare bottom or leg 7 to 8 times for getting angry. (p74) If the baby is still angry to do it again until he gives in to the pain. The "switch" for an under 1 year old they recommend is from a willow tree and/or a 12 inch RULER!

And the real scandal is not just the sick author's ideas but that the leadership of the evangelical world from Billy Graham to the editors of Christianity Today magazine or the mega church pastors like Rick Warren, have not called for the banishment of abusers like the Pearls, Dobson or Gothard. These people remain in good standing.

And in the Pearl's case this is after actual criminal complaints have been brought against some parents who have killed their children and who have been following the "methods" in the To Train Up a Childbook. And this disgusting book can nevertheless be found in thousands of "respectable" Evangelical bookstores. Here's what the evangelicals approve by their silence and complicity, as noted in theExaminer and many other media sources:

A California couple has been charged with murder and torture after their discipline methods caused the death of one of their children and critical injuries for another.

Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz of Paradise, California, are accused of murdering their 7-year-old adopted daughter during a "discipline session." The couple is also charged with the torture of their 11-year-old adopted daughter and cruelty to a child for signs of bruising discovered on their 10-year-old biological son.

The parents allegedly used a 15 inch length of plastic tubing used for plumbing to beat the children, a practice recommended in the book "To Train Up a Child" by Michael and Debi Pearl of "No Greater Joy Ministries."

The same plumbing supply tools were linked to a North Carolina child's death in 2006, when a devotee of the Pearls accidentally killed her 4-year-old son by suffocating him in tightly wrapped blankets.

Police later found out about the Pearls' recommendations to beat children with this type of plumbing supply tubing from a Salon Magazine article, "Spare the quarter-inch plumbing supply line, spoil the child."

Mr. Pearl, who has no degree or training in child development, writes in his book that he and his wife used "the same principles the Amish use to train their stubborn mules" -- namely, "switches."

On their web site, the Pearls write that "switching" or giving "licks" with a plumbing supply line is a "real attention getter."

And it is not just individuals who are abused. Whole "Christian" organizations are alleged to be abusing children methodically. According to a report by Channel 13 WTHR Indianapolis (and many other media sources over the years),:

At first glance, the Bill Gothard-founded and run Indianapolis Training Center looks like an ordinary conference hotel. But some say there are dark secrets inside. "They're not here to play," Mark Cavanaugh, an ITC staffer tells a mother on hidden-camera video. 'They're here because they've been disobedient, they've been disrespectful.'
He's talking about young offenders who are sent to the center by the Marion County Juvenile Court. Critics of the program here, however, have another view. "This is sort of a shadow world where these kids almost disappear," said John Krull, executive director of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union. On theGothard web site the pitch for the centers says that they were founded by Gothard because:
At the age of 15, Bill Gothard noticed some of his high school classmates making unwise decisions. Realizing that they would have to live with the consequences of these decisions, he was motivated to dedicate his life to helping young people make wise choices.

The WTHR report goes on to detail how they help these young people make "wise choices":

But Eyewitness News has learned of disturbing allegations about the center, including routine corporal punishment - sometimes without parental consent - and solitary confinement that can last for months. And just last week, Child Protective Services began investigating the center. That investigation involves Teresa Landis, whose 10-year-old daughter spent nearly a year at the center - sent there, according to Judge Payne, after she attacked a teacher and a school bus driver. What happened next outrages her family and critics of the ITC. The girl allegedly was confined in a so-called "quiet room" for five days at a time; restrained by teenage "leaders" who would sit on her; and hit with a wooden paddle 14 times. At least once, the family contends, she was prevented from going to the bathroom and then forced to sit in her own urine.

Dobson, the Pearls and Gothard all have big followings in Rick Perry's hang-em'-high "Christian" Texas where the daughter-beating judge presides over court when not beating a child. And Texas is where Evangelical leader Gary North is based as he writes and preaches his Reconstructionist/Dominionist theology about applying literal Old Testament law -- including the execution of "incorrigible youths" as mandated by the Bible. (This is something I describe fully in my book Sex, Mom and God.) So even Dobson is "mild" by comparison to the Reconstructionists that did so much to influence the far right "Christian" politics the likes of Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry.

Here is how Evangelical "man of God" Dobson describes how to beat a child using his own as a guide.

He writes:

"The day I learned the importance of staying out of reach shines like a neon light in my mind. I made the costly mistake of sassing her when I was about four feet away. I knew I had crossed the line and wondered what she would do about it. It didn't take long to find out. Mom wheeled around to grab something with which to express her displeasure, and her hand landed on a girdle.

Those were the days when a girdle was lined with rivets and mysterious panels. She drew back and swung the abominable garment in my direction, and I can still hear it whistling through the air. The intended blow caught me across the chest, followed by a multitude of straps and buckles, wrapping themselves around my midsection. She gave me an entire thrashing with one blow! But from that day forward, I measured my words carefully when addressing my mother. I never spoke disrespectfully to her again, even when she was seventy-five years old. (p. 23-24, The New Dare To Discipline)

Dobson likes being recognized by the powerful Republican elite (not to mention the far right "1%"). He was W. Bush's chief religious "adviser" among other things. Check out all the pictures of Dobson with leaders displayed on his website. And prior to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq Dobson appeared as a guest on CNN's Larry King Live to make a case for the invasion. In 2007 Dobson served as a Bush propagandist up to the point that he wanted Richard Cizek, then vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, fired for saying that global warming was real in contradiction to the Bush anti-science Religious Right policies.

So when you see a belt wielded on a defenseless young "rebellious" disabled woman, think of Dobson, the Pearls, Gothard and all the Religious Right leaders and all those good God-fearing folks who want to "Bring America back to God."

That video of a weeping child begging for mercy is what our country will look like if the Religious right ever gets their way. Just check out the "child rearing" sections of your local "Christian" bookstore. And if that's how they think God wants them to treat their children just imagine how gays, liberals and anyone else of the "Other" will do in their theocracy.

Meanwhile the Evangelical leaders who embrace Dobson, the Pearls and Gothard -- in other words the people trying to stop humane gay couples from marrying and adopting and caring for otherwise unwanted foster kids -- will continue to tell the rest of us how to live "moral" lives while thousands upon thousands of American children are beaten in the name of Jesus.

Frank Schaeffer is a writer. His latest book is Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible's Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics--and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway.

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