Sunday, July 31, 2005

Rage of the Religious Wrong

During the middle ages, the church exercised ultimate control by taking advantage of ignorance. The church insisted Latin was the only acceptable language for the Bible and religious ceremonies, thus keeping the uneducated faithful in a permanent state of baffled devotion. Unable to read the Bible for themselves, the general populace had to rely on priests to tell them not only what the Scriptures said, but what they meant.

Questioning the assertions of the clergy -- even suggesting something as mild and obvious as translating the Bible into the vernacular -- equalled heresy.

We see these tactics employed today by the radical right. Spouting overtly religious rhetoric, they equate patriotism with evangelical orthodoxy, dissent with blasphemy.

Growing out of a literalist tradition that allows for no interpretation of Scripture, they have anointed the Republican party defenders of the faith. This permits the Bush administration's fatwas to go unchallenged, and indeed become a sort of modern evangelical catechism. Once again we have found ourselves at war in the land of the ancient crusades, with the powers that be insisting that we are locked in a righteous conflict of Good vs. Evil, while they revel in a vile orgy of self-aggrandizement, enriching themselves through the plunder of natural resources.

Fortunately today, Americans are hearing voices of dissent from within the faith communities. And that has conservatives very, very nervous.

Witness a recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal by Joseph Loconte, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. This nonsensical screed is a study in rank hypocrisy. It opens invoking "the growing number of religious liberals incensed by the political influence of Christian conservatives," but later claims the movement has "no obvious grass-roots constituency," despite rattling off a tally of progressive faith-based organizations.

Describing the goals of the liberal Christian Alliance for Progress, Loconte wagers that "some students of the Gospel may be surprised at how neatly such an agenda fits the Democratic party platform," which according to Loconte includes gay marriage. Odd, isn't it, then, that John Kerry opposed marriage equality, as did Howard Dean and Bill Clinton.

Some students of the Gospel might also be surprised by an agenda that demands confirmation of Bush judicial nominees and excommunicates Democratic voters.

Loconte faults liberals for an "impulse to leap directly from the Bible to contemporary politics," as if there isn't a conservative movement out there to post the Ten Commandments in court rooms.

He describes the liberal faith movement as having "little room for political philosophy, or civil society, or even an appreciation of the different roles of church and state," accusing Democrats of adopting the language of faith to promote "culturally out of step" policies.

The vitriolic hypocrisy that seeps through Loconte's words betrays his nervous desperation. The propaganda machine that conservatives have so carefully built is about to become undone.

Perhaps George W. Bush's greatest lasting legacy will be the self-destruction of the radical right.


Jess said...

I hope you're right. That would be a lovely legacy. :)

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps George W. Bush's greatest lasting legacy will be the self-destruction of the radical right."
If only...