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 Post Posted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 11:10 am 
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I think the problem is the religious right doesn’t represent Christianity as most of us understand it. As others have said, Christianity promotes inclusion, understanding and brotherly love. The religious right in the US represents a viewpoint that could be called ‘Neo-Calvinism’. In Calvinism, there was a predetermined group of people, the elect, who where going to heaven by virtue of the gift of grace. Since grace is a gift from God and cannot be attained through good works, the elect would go to Heaven and all others would go to Hell regardless of how they acted in life.

Mix this idea with a little bit of materialism and you get the “new elect”. The basic principles are that God loves good people, and shows his love for them by bringing them success in life, while showing his scorn for everyone else by giving them only failure. Clearly then, those who are wealthy and powerful are beloved by God, and those who are marginalized for whatever reason have God’s enmity and deserve whatever misfortune they receive. In fact, helping the poor and disenfranchised might even be a sin, and further degrading them a virtue, since that is what God wants. The added benefit is that as the new elect, they don’t have behave ethically, their privileged position shows their status. They only have to be Moral they don’t have to actually live Morally.

This is clearly a pernicious creed, and it is never explicitly stated, but it underlies much of the religious rights policies. It is not a philosophy that I care to compromise with. The religious right uses the machinery of democracy without having any respect for the institution itself. Because of their Neo-Calvinist bent, they don’t really care about the wishes or interests of the majority; they are just using the existing political process to further their agenda.

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 Post Posted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 12:25 pm 
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Weremensh wrote:
The_Confused_One wrote:
There is a bad and a good side to politics, just like most things in our system. Religion has always been in American politics and it is here to stay, I just dont think it is that bad a thing as long as it is balanced.

No, not quite. Piety and morality may have a place in politics; but those are quite distinct from Religion (though they may be informed by it). Religion is an institution; and it's the institution that the Constitution specifically forbid a seat at the table. As is all too clear from looking at the Religious Right and the history of other state churches (and wannabe state churches); it's tragic for both the state and the particular religion whenever they get a sniff of temporal power.


There is no institution at the table. I do not see the Christian Coalition fomring policy right now, and even that is more of an interest group than an institution. There is no one institution, evangelism and the religious right is not a monolith. You may argue there is to much religion in politics, but there has been no violation of the constitution.

And religion is balanced, first evangelists are only 25% of voters, so another 25% had to vote for Bush, second the democrats are a balance of power, and third, the religious right does not have full reign in the Republican party itself. How much control they do has scares me a little as a moderate Republican. If they were to get too much control and prevented Guliani or McCain, two posisble 2008 candidates, you might see me vote democrat for president, as long as it wasn't someone like Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich, or Al Sharpton.

And Bode Darkly, I can't defend what you say about the religious right, because I dont know their stance in depth. But again evangelism and fundamentalism occupies a wide range of ideas, and you are defintely over generalizing. Yes, they want to push their morals because they believe they are right and will eventually help to save people. I dont agree with what they want to do, but I see nothing wrong with doing this.

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 Post Posted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 12:37 pm 
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I got 6 too...but to be fair, out of context they all pretty much just sound like "We're Godly and Right, they're Ungodly and Wrong."

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 Post Posted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 3:40 pm 
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The_Confused_One wrote:
There is no institution at the table. I do not see the Christian Coalition fomring policy right now, and even that is more of an interest group than an institution.

Cast your eyes upon Israel, then. Was it in America's (or Israel's) interests for the imperialist wing of Israeli politics to come out on top, and trash any hope of American propaganda reaching the Arab world while forcing another economy wrecking Intifada? Heck no. So why has Dubya so slavishly stuck with Sharon? Because the religious right wants him to (it's certainly not because he cares what the American Jews think). This is a pretty straight forward example of setting policy.










(Lengthy, and not terribly complimentary, rant follows. Be warned.)












So why do they want this policy set? Because according to their mythology, the end of the world is coming; but before it can do so, several things must happen. One of them is the ingathering and elimination of the Jews; all of which is supposed to take place in lands currently owned by Israel. Now, any reasonably sane person who happened to believe all of this would just sit back and let things take their course; but these people aren't reasonably sane. They want the world to come to an end, and they want it now. They want it so badly that they're willing to take active measures towards that end; jogging God's elbow, as it were. Basically, they're death cultists; and it's towards their ends that the US foreign policy towards Israel now works (or anyway, that's what Dubya tells them).

Of course, the Israelies knows perfectly well that the American religious right wants the same thing the SS did; the complete elimination of every Jew is the world (though the Nazis didn't want to die themselves immediately afterwards; for them, it was an end instead of a means). It's even discussed occasionally (though without the N word) in the op-ed sections of the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz. However, the Zionist right quite cynically take the support; openly reasoning that their God (which is the only real one) isn't going to be a hitman for a bunch of red neck heretics, so why not use their stupidity to proper Zionist aims?

As for the Christian right not being an institution; you'd only think so if you never really looked at them. The leaders of the movement are all in bed together, and all in the pockets of the political right. It's a lot like a handful of `seperate' companies run by an interlocking board of directors; what looks like multiple organizations to the incurious is really just a trust; and they speak with a remarkably unified voice during the weekly meetings where every conservative outlet in America has their talking points agreed upon.

Of course, not all of this takes place behind closed doors. Take a look at the Southern Baptist Convention. A few years back, they were a representative body of Southern Baptists; finding common ground among people who's political views ranged from the left to the right. Then they got taken over by a bunch of racist, sexist, power hungry right wingers in what amounted to a parlimentary coup. Very shortly thereafter, the number of congregations associated with the SBC plummeted; as any group which didn't think that Jesus was particularly racist, sexist, or interested in political power left (and founded other umbrella groups, all of which are currently outside the GOP sphere). What was left in the SBC, though officially seperate congregations, was in fact more unified than the Catholics behind the political aims of their leaders; and quite willing to overlook any doctrinal differences with other groups that would help them gain political power.

Of course, Republican loyalty isn't worth the paper it's printed on. During the last Presidential campaign, the GOP tried to get their hands on the congregation lists of the various Baptists churches; in an open attempt to cut out the middlemen (the ministers and the SBC). Not unwisely, the middlemen squawked; and the GOP failed. Then they tried it, equally unsuccessfully, in Catholic congregations. I'm sure they'll try again; after all, this is what happens when you politicize religion...you become little more than a branch of some political movement. Which is much of what the Constitution tried to avoid by keeping Religious groups from getting political power.

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 Post Posted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 4:05 pm 
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It seems to me, that they were just trying to appeal to the congregations directly, you know like talking to union members without talking to the leaders of the unions. The religious right is like an interest group, a powerful one at that but not unlike unions or buisness. The problem is you dont like religion. In its role now, the goevrnment has not endorsded or established any religion, I still see no sign of it. The only thing you see is things like "In God we Trust" and "under God" in the pledge, which just acknoweldges the existence of God which the founders did want, and most people today still want.

And people have looked at the constitution and religion, and they put the establishment clause tnot to exclude religion in politics but to actually make it stronger, to prevent government from interefering with the power of the church. This comes from Religion and American Politics by Mark a Noll, well he is the editor of the book. But it is not the only sourc eof this. If you look at the federalists, they were very much in favor of religion in politics.

Nothing against the Constitution is occuring, and your rant did nothing to prove that. Yes, the religious right is looking for power, just like unions, business, and other interest groups. People just get more scared of it because they dont understand it. Yes I will admit Falwell and few others do scare me and they seem corrupt to me, but I think of lot of my fear and the fear of others is because they dont undersatand religion, or understand it to be something that scares them even more which may or may not be wrong.

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 Post Posted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 6:25 pm 
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The_Confused_One wrote:
It seems to me, that they were just trying to appeal to the congregations directly, you know like talking to union members without talking to the leaders of the unions.

Oh, please. Unions exist specifically to let labor bargain on an equal footing with capital; which can only happen when labor bargains as a unit, the same way capital does. Bypassing the union management is simply an attempt to destroy the union, in order eliminate that equality (so the workers can be more efficiently screwed by management). Unless you want to admit that you see Churches as purely political entities; then bypassing the pastors in order to do politics directly with the pews is in no way, shape, or form a similar assault on the organization.

However, the pastors (and leaders of groups like the SBC) do see their churches as purely political entities; and eliminating the middlemen as a direct threat to their position. That's why they complained so loudly and in chorus; indeed, it's the only reason they could have a complaint.

As for my not liking religion; I have no use for it. So long as they acknowledge that whatever they believe doesn't give them any rights to my time or attention, those that do need it should live and be well. However, this isn't about Religion as an institution; what we have here is a bunch of theocrat wannabes in bed with the GOP; and you can only claim that you don't see it because the GOP isn't currently bragging about it here in New York (though they are in, say, Alabama). It's not that well hidden; you just have to make the slightest of efforts to go find it (by, say, reading Pat Robertson's threat to form a religious right party if the GOP crosses him). It's hard to find a clearer indication of a purely political movement than a realistic threat that it could form a third party (with or without Mr Robertson).

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 Post Posted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 7:58 pm 
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Weremensh wrote:
The_Confused_One wrote:
It seems to me, that they were just trying to appeal to the congregations directly, you know like talking to union members without talking to the leaders of the unions.

Oh, please. Unions exist specifically to let labor bargain on an equal footing with capital; which can only happen when labor bargains as a unit, the same way capital does. Bypassing the union management is simply an attempt to destroy the union, in order eliminate that equality (so the workers can be more efficiently screwed by management). Unless you want to admit that you see Churches as purely political entities; then bypassing the pastors in order to do politics directly with the pews is in no way, shape, or form a similar assault on the organization.

I'd see it more as an attempt to get the union vote and to prevent them from exercising a block of voters, while that is diffrent the concept is similar.

I'd doubt Pat Roberston would be successful even if he did form another party and as I said, if Robertson got to the level of supreme power with the Republicans, I would probably vote Democrat, but that waits to be seen. But this a democracy, you dont want religion to influence politics vote against it, but it is not unconstitutional.

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