Sunday, February 25, 2007

"Christian" Political Priorities

The New York Times reports on its front page today about a recent meeting of the innocuously and vaguely titled Council for National Policy. There is nothing innocuous or vague about the group’s agenda, however. Formed in 1981 by Timothy LaHaye (co-author of the Left Behind novels), the group met this month at a Ritz-Carlton resort in Florida to seek a Christian conservative front-runner for the 2008 presidential race. Members include James Dobson, Grover Norquist and Jerry Falwell.

They're worried; Paul Weyrich told the Times there is “great anxiety” because “there is no outstanding conservative.” They’re not fooled by McCain. They have “declared their hostility” to Giuliani “because of his liberal views on abortion and gay rights and his three marriages.” I guess they don’t know about the cross-dressing yet.

They don’t like Romney; “members have used the council as a conduit to distribute a dossier prepared by a Massachusetts conservative group about liberal elements of his record on abortion, stem cell research and gay rights.” (Unmentioned by the Times or any of the interviewees, but surely a factor in this demographic, would be opposition to the idea of a Catholic or Mormon president.)

So who’s left? Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas? No, he “faced resistance from the limited-government, antitax wing of their movement.” Defender of Marriage, Denier of Global Warming and Evolution Foe Sam Brownback of Kansas? No, “foes of illegal immigration objected to his support for a temporary guest worker program, and some faulted him for touching only briefly on the threat of Islamic terrorists.”

The agenda that these men (and, they are all men) would legislate for this nation in the name of the Bible bears no resemblance to Biblical priorities. Homosexuality? Jesus didn’t mention it. Immigration? Exodus says, “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” (For emphasis, the verse reappears with a slight variation in the next chapter.) The most famous of all Jesus’ parables is the Good Samaritan. Taxes? See here and here. Yet Grover Norquist has given the candidates “a pledge not to raise income taxes.” (See what the Bible says about oaths.)

We should be seriously concerned about the focus on “Islamic fascism,” especially since there is no such thing. Yes, the terrorist threat from radical Muslims – and others; let us not forget Oklahoma City or the Unabomber or, this stuff – is real and serious. But if you understand the “theology” that drives this particular group, you will understand that they have no interest in solving the problems or even genuinely combating the threat. They want to provoke it. They want to edge us ever closer to World War III with Jerusalem as “ground zero” in order to trigger “the Rapture.”

These are the priorities of the religious conservative “kingmakers” – an apt political term these days if ever there was one. Each day, 30,000 people around the world, mostly children, die from starvation and curable disease. The United Nations has established a series of Millennium Development Goals to combat this and other related issues, which can be achieved if the governments of wealthy nations contribute just 0.7% of their GNP to the project. (The US has neither met this modest goal nor pledged to do so.) But while all of these candidates believe the government should be used to regulate what women do with their bodies or what consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedroom, none of the candidates received any praise (nor would they) for advocating the government use its power and resources to eradicate poverty. Given that Tim LaHaye believes that the Antichrist will manifest himself as Secretary General of the U.N., it’s not likely this group has any interest in cooperating.

Andrew Sullivan defines a “Christianist” as someone who holds “the view that religious faith is so important that it must also have a precise political agenda. It is the belief that religion dictates politics and that politics should dictate the laws for everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike.” If only the agenda advanced by the Council for National Policy reflected Biblical priorities, it might be an apt description. These guys are just frauds.


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Gino said...

the biggest fraud is that they call themselves conservatives, but that is a different argument for a different time.

as for triggering the rapture: this is why no fundi, or jew should be in charge of foriegn/israel policy. ever.
and why no jew should be elected to serve in federal govt.

Andy said...

Ummmm...Gino? Seriously not acceptable.

DJRainDog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gino said...

you're right, a little too exclusive.

we need to be careful of placing israel-commited jews in office.

jews, by nature of their faith, are too commited to israeli. it is an easy conflict of interest. there is a reason why only US born citizens are allowed to be president. the same conflict easily applies to jews.
to be fair, this applies to most jews, but not all. many of the great non-interventionist thinkers are/were jews.

The Law Fairy said...

jews, by nature of their faith

So you're talking religious Jews, rather than ethnic Jews? Because there is a difference.

The problem is you're using the term indiscriminately in a manner that makes your statements appear disturbingly racist.

Not that saying we should "not vote" for someone simply because of his/her religion (rather than based on, say, POLITICS) is all that much better. Imagine, voting for or against people based on relevant characteristics...

Gino said...

ok LF,
how about we ask all jews running for office just how deep is their commitement to israel?

you cant separate the notion of zionism, a jewish nationstate, from judaism itself.
no more than the existence of a savior can be excluded from christianity.

much of our foriegn policy that is influenced around the christianist hope for a rapture also ties to the belief of many jews that israel much survive, even if to the detriment of all others.

the zionists make great freindship with the christianists in our political system. i've seen it first hand. and is evidenced in much of the right-wing jesus media.

(why do you think pat robertson had the direct line to arial sharon's office?)

The Law Fairy said...

how about we ask all jews running for office just how deep is their commitement to israel?

Better idea: how about we ask everyone this? As you note, there are plenty of non-Jews who are crazy pro-Israel.

Seriously, Gino, are you playing devil's advocate here? Because I'm more than a little creeped out by how nonchalantly you'll just throw around this "down with Teh Jews" stuff like it's the sort of thing you'd say in a normal political conversation.

Andy said...

Hmmmkay, I think this thread is getting slightly hijacked. There's no need for a ban or ideological litmus test for candidates; in a democracy, anyone can be a candidate and advance any views and the people get to vote on them. I know where you're going with this and I share many of your concerns, but it's clumsily phrased. What Israel needs are American politicians who care enough about Israel to be fair and objective, instead of looking the other way in the face of myriad human rights violations.

Gino said...

yes, andy...
my phrasing is very clumsy, and for that i need to apologize.

"What Israel needs are American politicians who care enough about Israel to be fair and objective, "
but i will disagree with this. israel, to be ligitimate, must stand on it own without aid from the US.
but this is the problem: israel needs american politicians.

but does america need zionophiles in its govt? THIS is the legitimate question that americans need to ask themselves.

in my view,whether they be jew, or christian, its bad for america.

we need our govt, left or right, to be loyal to its own self interest.

even you, andy, or myself, who struggle to pay our own rent, are still taxed to provide housing and benefits for jews relocating to israel, and israel, though the smallest of nations, is the largest single recipient of US aid.

Andy said...

Well, I think you raise points that are definitely worthy of discussion. Even though support for Israel probably, in this instance, be categorized under the "Islamo-fascist threat," I think I'm going to play referee and judge it sufficiently off-topic for this particular post. It touches on too many issues that are specific and not entirely related to the subject presently at hand.

The Law Fairy said...

Andy, you're totally right -- sorry for getting dragged off-track... I'll try not to get distracted next time ;)

Somewhat related to this issue (hopefully sufficiently so, but apologies if I'm taking us further off track), I've found myself numerous times in a situation where people expect me to "explain" myself because 1) I am a Christian (and identify myself as one), and 2) I hold decidedly non-wingnut views. I've had people (both friends and total strangers) actually presume to tell me I am "not a Christian" because I hold views out of line with the extreme religious right. Indeed, I had a friend just the other day express shock at my mere USE of the term "religious left," as though she hadn't realized such a thing existed.

It's interesting to me how this far-right rhetoric has so consumed the public view of Christianity that, for instance, people are surprised to find that Christian right condemnation of homosexuality is based on a few scattered verses that don't clearly condemn it (rather than condemning, say, idolatry).

It's incredible to me how the far right has so been able to co-opt our religion, that it bears little to no resemblance of the mercy-based, vaguely communist early church. Instead, it's evolved to a point where it's based entirely on barely-scriptural dogma, uncritically accepted, and a bizarre and allegorical reading of a single book written about a strange dream experienced by an apostle who may or may not have ever met Jesus face to face.

Gino said...

i have to admit, i once thought the same way. that a true christian who didnt vote a certain way wasnt really a christian.(becoming a catholic actually had a moderating influence on me)

now, i believe the religious right as well as the left, are equally skewed. a political belief is only that, and neednt be defended by religion.
i prefer to find common ground in the humanity of those christians who see things, and their solutions, differently than i do.
and save the politics for the ballot box.

Matthew said...

I direct line to Ariel Sharon's office wouldn't be much use seeing as he has been in a coma for quite some time. However, he may appreciate the thought, as it is his birthday.