With the advent of Ted Cruz, America is cruising towards a new Jonestown USA – unless the far right is effectively resisted and rejected by the less passionate majority that shows a weak compulsion to hold its own, much less mount an all-out assault on the crazies. Of course, Cruz is not the only false prophet to lead the nation to the brink (along with its metastasized cult). The trend has been in progress for at least 40 years. But Cruz has become the latest personification of the religious right’s dominionist movement.
The impact of the rabid religious right is remarkable. It has turned America into a nation of snake-oil salesmen and religious charlatans – not mutually exclusive. The lawless Wild West is a vision of where the religious right would like the US to end up – a place only the strongest and most corrupt survive.
The recent Discovery Channel documentary, Gold Fever, is a reflection of vulture capitalism, murder, and chaos. Gold Fever is one of the most interesting TV series to-date. That era in American history depicts the “good ol’ days” fundamentalists of today covet.
THE RIGHT-WING HIJACKS AMERICAN RELIGION
I remember those days.
The Charismatic Renewal swept the US and world beginning around 1967 with an “outpouring” at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh. As an advancing sign of the movement's strength, thousands gathered from most denominations at Notre Dame, South Bend, in 1968. Division seemingly was erased, they claimed, by the common bond of Christ's love. It was the age of “Ecumenicalism.” Not only diversity of religious faith was embraced, but racial lines were reduced. It seemed to have been a true Christian revival similar the great awakenings of the19th century.
However, beginning around 1972, a new off-shoot derivative began to infiltrate the Charismatic Renewal which was called “THE WORD OF FAITH MOVEMENT.” The founders taught what was called “prosperity theology” – that wealth was a sign of godliness and poverty was an indication of being out of sync with God (and thus sinful in some manner and, as further consequence, hell-bound).
Health and well-being were thrown into the mix. The theology that healthy bodies were a sign of God's approval and sick ones were an indication of God's disapproval spread like wild fire across the country. Faith-healers, such as Benny Hinn , Kenneth Copeland, and Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael, became recognized leaders of the faith movement.
Not only religious leaders, but political, have become outspoken advocates for the dominionist faith movement, including Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and Ted Cruz. Yes, that’s where their “fire” originates.
The principal scripture upon which the faith movement unearthed their doctrine was: "Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers." – 3 John 1:2
This one verse is crucial; all others revolve around the emphasis "that you may PROSPER and be in HEALTH."
To be fair, most doctrines orbit around one or two core verses, and denominations develop in this manner. While one church emphasizes John 3:16, the church next-door highlights Acts 2:4 and so forth.
But in order to uphold its key prosperity/health doctrine, the faith movement was forced to diminish the basic teachings of Christ such as: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you." (Gospels of Matthew 5 and Luke 6)
Thus, the teachings of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount were discarded and the traditional Pentecostal mantra “blessed are the poor” was gradually phased out. The new teaching left room for hate and condemnation, sure fruits of false doctrine.
No longer were the homeless and less-fortunate looked upon with compassionate eyes; for they were now victims of their own sins and subject to reproach and ridicule.
In addition, the new rightwing church felt victimized itself – put upon by un-American, undocumented immigrants and minorities (especially of brown and black hues), disparaged by secularists, and banned from the public square by big government – so detested by the right. The “persecution complex” set in, evolving into a major factor in American politics. Then the election of Barack Obama threw fuel on the fire by only serving to exasperate their fears and hate. Many white Christians now feel threatened; they sense their country slipping away from under them – stolen by “others.”
A national healthcare system, although actually delivered by private insurers, is a threat to the Tea Party (consisting almost exclusively of the religious right) because it offers medical coverage to the less fortunate, thus violating their prosperity theology. The less fortunate, according to their doctrine, are undeserving and out of the grace of God. For, evidence of godliness is prosperity and health. Those outside the boundaries are either lazy or conducting a high-risk lifestyle (drugs, alcohol, dangerous sex).
This all may seem bizarre to outsiders, but the religious right culture is part of today’s reality. Democrats, for the most part, overlook or even dismiss this uniquely American phenomenon to their own peril. If it’s not dealt with, the result could be devastating for the country.
In January 1978 on my 28th birthday I suffered a massive stroke caused by a congenital defect in the heart, and in July 1978 I underwent open heart surgery to correct the anomaly. Dr. Denton Cooley was my surgeon. I recovered from the stroke incredibly; doctors and therapists did not expect as full a recovery as what transpired.
Several friends (who were now part of the “faith movement”) came by to visit me in the hospital. They questioned, “Loren, what did you do wrong to get out of God's favor?” To me, this was very clear evidence the movement had distorted their thinking and, most importantly, I viewed this as indication of heresy.
The faith movement, in my estimation, is sacrilege. Disciples of the movement teach “confession” as a means to achieve that which is not visibly apparent. By “confessing,” they mean “to speak words that will be transformed into reality.” For example, if one “confesses” sincerely and steadfastly enough, then “blessings” will appear: new home, new car, health, prosperity, babies, etc. Vice-versa, if one “confesses” gloom and doom, then gloom and doom will materialize as self-fulfilling prophecies.
Many outside fundamentalist circles do not recognize what an impact this false doctrine is having, not only on the church, but on American politics. Why do I state such? Because the very ones who have misled our nation into shut-downs, gridlock, wars based on absolute lies and greed are advocates of this doctrine and believe that anything they “confess with their mouths,” whether true or false at the time, will come into “fruition” in due time if they just “stay the course” and believe Jesus favors them.
This is also the core belief of Tom DeLay, Don Evans, and the right-wing religious radicals who are the majority of Republicans. John Hagee’s religious organization, the Cornerstone Church of San Antonio, which promotes ethnic cleansing in Israel (evict the Palestinians) and Armageddon, is the home church of many of these followers and has hosted in the past such key guests as the late Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu – reassuring Christian Zionists their doctrine is correct.
This is, in part, what energized George W. Bush. He believed with all his heart that God called him to be president in 1999 over the objection of the 2000 electorate. Hence, voters are irrelevant.
He believed God ordered him to attack Afghanistan and Iraq. He believed he was on a MISSION FROM GOD to eradicate dictators all over the world of his choosing and to destroy the Democratic Party because it brought infidelity upon the United States (abortions, same-sex marriage, gay rights).
Yes, George W. Bush claimed to be part of this movement you've probably never heard about. The same cult-like crusade continues in Tea Party Republicanism.
Around 1974, the FAITH movement captured a majority of the once-dynamic trans-denominational Charismatic Renewal. Not surprisingly, at the same time they embraced the politics of the Republican Party.
This is the heart of political turmoil and gridlock today. You probably couldn't put your finger on it one time, but here is the revelation. America is in the midst of a massive deception, a great delusion, which is rooted in the faith doctrine (http://www.biblebb.com/files/WRDFAITH.HTM and http://www.letusreason.org/Wf19.htm) that has transformed the fundamentalist movement into a Republican tool.
Do you see where America is heading as a result?
If our hope of resistance rests exclusively with Obama or Harry Reid, I’m afraid we’ll be sorely disappointed again. Barack Obama became a “Bush-light” after he was elected – continuing NSA spying on citizens and allies, failing to close Guantanamo, catering to Wall Street, renewing the Patriot Act, and putting Social Security on the chopping block as a “goodwill” gesture to Republicans. His pre-election campaign promises and well-crafted words meant nothing after assuming office.
The threat from the right is made more menacing as a result. Progressives have not had a true voice since John F. Kennedy, and anyone that attempts such would be character assassinated by the right or worse.