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Tuesday, 25 August 2009 01:22

Fundamentalists Derail More Important Messages

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It grows more difficult all the time to extract what is truly outrageous from what is just devious and perverted. The minority party obstructs and lies about everything the president undertakes. However, by failing to articulate his goals with specificity and ardor, he has provided opponents with an opportunity to just make things up while leaving supporters without the invigorating spirit that drove them to his camp originally. The moral imperative of one’s positions must be constantly and emphatically reaffirmed.


But what muddies the waters and strains the limits of our entire system is the religious dogma that has become an adjunct of political dialogue. As Jeff Sharlet, author of the book The Family- - the Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power explains, visitors to and inhabitants of “C Street House, the secretive religious enclave on Capitol Hill” are not just religious practitioners; they are essentially lobbyists working to advance political agendas in the name of religion. The same rationale prevailed years ago, for example, when Jerry Falwell, founder of “the moral majority”, seemed as intent on attaining political power as in promoting piety among his followers.


Sharlet, who spent time as a C- Street House insider, got to know its residents, many of whom are members of Congress. Apparently, the organization considered registering as “a lobby for God’s Kingdom” but felt they “could be more effective working personally with politicians.” Curiously, the C-Street house has been granted tax-free status as a religious institution. More secretive than most church groups the hymn “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee” could serve as its slightly ironic theme song.


Political members of “The Family” swear to uphold and defend the Constitution when elected but are at odds with that document’s stricture that no religious credo be required to hold office. Jim DeMint, John Ensign, Chuck Grassley, Tom Cornyn and James Inhofe, among others, display an arrogance that seems to represent a confluence of political belief with a sense of spiritual entitlement. Senator Pryor explained the family’s interpretation of bi-partisanship to Sharlet by saying “Jesus didn’t come to take sides. He came to take over” and by Jesus, “the Family means the Family.”


Attempting  to operate from a position that doesn’t derive its legitimacy by claiming to be directed by God is a mountain that shouldn’t have to be scaled in a democratic society such as ours. George Bush used to say he felt his presidency was endorsed by The Creator, John Ashcroft performed religious cleansings before assuming his duties, and Michelle Bachman says God will tell her if he wants her to run for president. Those who take such nonsense seriously submit to mindless acceptance of policies that lead the country not down the path of righteousness for its own sake but into a morass of confused and dangerous political absolutism.


By claiming direction from a higher power some politicians make logic and knowledge incidental to the public debate. After all who can argue with instructions from above? However, while many religions assert that God made man in his image, people tend to create a God who resembles them, not the other way around. The tag line of an old shaggy-dog tale about someone’s encounter with God is “oh, and by the way, did you know she’s black?” That joke throws a lot of believers into a tizzy, but it makes a point about the most-favored religious presumptions.


For Many in "the Family" invading Iraq was presumably what Jesus would have done if he’d been around. And, when it comes to health-care reform, feeding and housing the poor, the social-security safety net, such things are socialism plain and simple, not Jesus-like at all. Surely he would embrace today’s money lenders and captains of industry as God-directed leaders. That bit about him throwing money lenders out of the temple was probably just a momentary lapse of judgment.


The moral high ground isn’t about narrow belief systems; it is a reaffirmation of the basic principles that define us as a nation. Progress is hard to achieve when so many congressional stalwarts advocate religiously for “…the Family’s real mission: business as usual, fortified by faith in more power for the powerful and privilege itself a form of piety.” Sharlet, The Progressive Populist, 9/1/09. The president and his supporters need to deal with the reality of what they are up against.



Read 2294 times Last modified on Tuesday, 25 August 2009 11:44