By Loren Adams, 3 June 2012
“Pride comes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” – Proverbs 16:17
Pride bubbles up in the Rogers family (Hank, Mary Lou, Billy and Lou Ann) as they march into Muskogee’s Victory Family Worship Center. Heads held high with Bibles smugly tucked under their arms, they enter the lobby to greet smiley faces of like-minded parishioners who see themselves as “true patriots,” unlike the damned liberals supporting Obama that want to bring the country to its knees – replacing Judeo-Christian values and codes of justice with Sharia law.
In fact, VFWC members are proud to have influenced the Oklahoma Legislature to put a constitutional initiative on the ballot banning Sharia law. The successful drive, supported by 70% of Oklahomans, is meant as a pre-emptive strike against the impostor Muslim President from forcing his undisclosed religion on them.
How’d they arrive at such a crazy concoction? Was Obama or some other left-leaning federal judge actually trying to impose Sharia? Again, chain emails planted by extreme rightwing operatives did the trick. Plus FOX and right radio fueled the fallacy. It’s all part of the plot to keep the principal base (religious right) in line for bigger battles ahead. Keep them stirred with absurdities so when crucial conflicts arrive, they’ll provide a knockout blow to the other party. It’s all a game to those behind-the-curtains, and evangelicals are but silly putty in the master wizard’s hands.
They’re simply a part of Karl Rove’s scheme to establish a permanent Republican majority insurmountable at any point in the future. In addition to relying on the religious right as base, Rove practices his impish talents to engineer voter suppression in 33 states. Nearly 10 million voters in 2010-12 are unknowingly thrown off the rolls. After all, it’s not the objective of conservatives to increase the vote but to subdue it in order to win.
Unfortunately, the religious right cannot see because it has no desire to do so. Like shopping for merchandise, followers buy what they want and reject what they don’t. They claim their decisions come from the Word and voices from “God.” But are they?
In truth, their “Bible-based” beliefs are not Bible based. Where in the Bible does it state the planet is merely 6,000 years old? Most evangelicals have not read the Bible, much less studied it along with the required history and various translations dating back to the Septuagint and Torah. It’s too tedious and time-consuming to do the homework, isn’t it? They’d rather get their religious and political “nutrition” from evangelistic cheerleaders that serve delicious fast-food which coincidentally goes along with their eating habits at McDonald’s. Little do they realize they’re being served poison. “So what?” snidely asks the faithful. “If it feels and tastes good, do it.” Fast-food religion kills like dogs attracted to anti-freeze.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross,” – Sinclair Lewis, 1935.
Driving the Muskogee Turnpike, one cannot miss the three giant crosses and the over-sized American flag floating above Victory Family Worship Center (VFWC). The new glass-enclosed sanctuary alone seats 10,000 – a large edifice considering Muskogee’s population is only 39,000.
On one wall inside the VFWC’s high-rafted glass lobby hangs an enormous painting rendition of Jesus Christ carrying the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Behind Jesus are the nation’s founders and politically selected leaders from 200 years, depicted as mere side-line spectators to the creation of divinely inspired sacred documents.
The picture speaks more volume than a thousand words – how America and its founding documents were not crafted by mere mortals, but by divinity. Thus boosts American “exceptionalism,” another trigger term evoking nation worship.
The painting further depicts liberals (to Christ’s left) as attempting to crush democracy and Christianity.
Nationalism is a form of idolatry for which America has succumbed through its massive and growing evangelical and Mormon movements. The cross, Bible, flag and national documents are forms – as is Mount Rushmore where millions pay homage rather than honor four of our great leaders. We are humans like all the other billions on God’s blue planet. Yet the right would have us see Americans (principally WHITE ones) as special and “exceptional” – not dissimilar to Hitler’s anthems of praise to an Aryan Nation long dissolved.
Oklahoma should have learned from Timothy McVeigh – extreme right religion and politics lead to disaster. McVeigh had attended a rightwing “Christian” cult compound in eastern Oklahoma before his climatic day of April 19, 1995 when bombing the OKC Murray Building – sending 168 souls to eternity. Tim was obsessed by guns, the Bible, government-hate, Turner Diaries, and Waco – how federal agents had ransacked a religious compound two years prior. He was possessed by righteous indignation when taking it out on Oklahoma innocence that fateful day. Yet, he expressed no remorse before execution and to the very last breath felt his actions patriotic.
The Tea Party movement 15 years later mirrors McVeigh’s delusions. Oklahoma is dominated politically by the same spirit that destroyed so much of it in 1995. How could this be? Religion.
The giant crosses, enormous flag, and mammoth painting of Jesus holding the Constitution somehow boosts the spirits of the Rogerses, a family barely making it on slim incomes (although all are working including the kids). Their home is on the verge of being foreclosed.
Voting against their own personal interests is common with the religious right like the Rogers family. Because dogma trumps individual need; plus the false prophets indoctrinating the sheep have an agenda of power and wealth. Who can forget Jim & Tammy Faye’s $50,000 doghouse, Richard Roberts redecorating his house 11 times, or Swaggart’s whores? America’s short-term memory span allows these and other tell-tale incidents to be long-forgot. Corrupt manifestations are simply dismissed as liberal, secular influences.
Who knows what VFWC’s wealthy ministers are doing in secret? Who cares? They drive limos, fly private jets, and make $300,000 plus perks. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But aren’t the chosen immune from such?
Churches in America weren’t always so flashy back in the day when substance meant more than surface and humility was a Christ-like virtue, not a weakness. And the topic of politics was verboten from the pulpit [not by government edict, but by ecclesiastic ethic]. Now rightwing politics dominate; no one misses the message. The Gospel has been bastardized for the sake of rightwing politics and power. Prosperity theology replaces Christ’s directives.
In addition, these external symbols pollute church culture. Waving the flag, sporting crosses, and Bible-bashing somehow make one more “Christian” and “patriotic.” On the other hand, those refusing to adorn themselves (and their properties) with these symbols are suspected of disloyalty or worse, treasonous.
When Hitler’s hordes stole Germany, they stormed town-halls across the Fatherland carrying their sacred symbols of nationalism reinforced by a distorted form of Christianity that lent moral credence to mob rule. In fact, Nazism could not have risen had it not been for German evangelicals and fundamentalists embedded within the various religious sects and denominations. German Christians were seduced by the allure of national pride, and in doing so, the flag, eagle, and swastika became select idols of that time – images so sacred anyone caught desecrating them were put to death.
The pageantry, lively music, and massive torch-bearing ceremonies were spectacular – even by today’s standards. Joseph Goebbels and Albert Speer were the Fuhrer’s designers, serving as Minister of Propaganda and Adolf’s Chief Architect, respectively. Commissioned by Hitler in 1934, TRIUMPH OF THE WILL, the propaganda film of all time, displayed seductive pageantry and overt symbolatry (idol worship of symbols). German evangelicals who succumbed to this idolatry comprised the base of the right-wing movement, same as American evangelicals are the base of the right-wing today in the U.S.
Yes, there are parallels between Nazi Germany and 21st Century right-wing America determined more than ever to recapture the government after managing to destroy Obama and congressional Democrats. Let no one deviously persuade otherwise: Fascism was never a left-wing movement, only a right, and America’s right-wing is again on the march – using white evangelicals (seduced by symbols and “Christian” idolatry) to do its bidding – advocating and condoning violence, preaching the gospel of the “free market” (corporatism/fascism), and promoting militaristic monarchial/theocratic rule. The symbols mean more than mandates Christ issued to the Church: caring for the needy, feeding the hungry, and healing the sick. Where’s love when hateful self-righteousness dominates?
If the U.S. is to succeed to a fresh Renaissance, evangelicals (that comprise one-third the population) must return to the Christ of the Gospels.
NOTE: The Oklahoma church described in the article does not exist but is a parody of the hundreds, if not thousands, of rightwing megachurches that have sprung up over the nation.