In response to an online Raw Story article looking back on the craziest Christians of 2014, my friends Dave and Eileen wrote, Yikes!
Which is surely an appropriate way to sum up much of what we heard in 2014 and will be dealing with in the foreseeable future right here in “The Greatest Country on Earth,” aka Dumfukistan (Thanks, Dave!). The religious-right madness is probably headed for a crescendo ere we shuffle off this mortal coil. (As usual, The Bard said it best.) Win or lose in their fanatical crusade, the religious right are hell-bent on taking us liberals down hard or die trying. Or, as they envision it in their fevered, infantile brains, watching us all get hurled into the fiery pit while they cheer the carnage from their assigned air-conditioned box seats in the clouds. They really believe that shit, just like they really believe global warming is all part of God’s plan.
Or something like that. I’ve never had the patience or stomach to actually read more than a few of the lurid details. Nor have I been able to finish any other part of the primitive prattle in their scripture. Except I did read the beatitudes once and immediately saw they had no relationship to Christianity as it’s practiced by the right-wing faithful. Adhering as I do to something akin to two-level consequentialism and pragmatism, I don’t think anyone should regard the beatitudes, or any system of rules, as moral absolutes. Except for arrogant Dominionists, who would be doing all of us a big favor if they adopted the prescribed humility, forgiveness, and pacifism.
Beatitudes, commandments, or just about any stories in scripture, are either false or irrelevant (forbidden to eat shellfish, for Christ's sake!); or incoherent, revoltingly sexist, or utterly unpersuasive because they are dogmatic and simplistic, i.e., lacking in the complexity and nuance needed to understand human concerns and make sensible and effective decisions about real-world problems.
Consider the beatitude, “Blessed are the meek: for they will inherit the earth.”
Yeah they will . . . six feet of it. You sure don’t see Christian right public figures practicing anything akin to meekness.
There’s a pretty good chance in the coming elections that the religious and political right will gain control of all three branches of the federal government, along with the majority of governorships and state houses they’ve already locked up. In that event there’s also a chance we'll be subjected to the expanded influence of a vindictive “Christian Taliban” spreading their authoritarian hatred and oppression far and wide, with the support of conservative allies who depend on their votes. Just where Libertarians will fit into all this remains an interesting question, considering the vast, ideological gulf (in theory, anyway) separating them from the religious right; but that’s another rant. Somehow, this weird, conservative clown army hangs together and keeps marching toward Armageddon, while liberals carry on like Keystone Cops.
Hopefully the U.S. won’t end up as a theo-corporate oligarchy; but we all know what they say about hope. To have any hope, we must not continue to underestimate the degree to which these religious ideologues are deadly serious and determined in their all-out, remorseless pursuit of an insane agenda. There is reason to think they would rather see the U.S. collapse than succeed as a result of rational, evidence-based policies and practices that do not comport with their infantile superstitions. (I started to use the word “stupid,” which aptly describes so many of their beliefs and practices. It certainly doesn’t describe their political strategies and tactics. Of course they have the perfect, low-information, angry and aggrieved army of the faithful primed to carry out their marching orders. And they have powerful allies who need them, for now.)
In terms of their fanaticism and potential to inflict damage on humanity, they’re right up there with the Nazis of the 1930’s and 40’s (and no, I don’t think that’s hyperbola). They put their religious beliefs far above the Constitution and will readily distort and disregard its clearly stated proscriptions whenever and wherever they can get away with it – all with the likely support of a right-wing Supreme Court.
I didn’t just make that up. Dr. Steve Jonas, author of The 15% Solution, sees something along those lines as a likely scenario. When I think about the possibilities, one phrase keeps coming back to haunt me: “Who woulda thought?” Steve Jonas did, and he was one of a very few, back in the day. Others, like Sam Harris, sounded the alarm much later. Even now, few political figures on the mainstream left seem to have connected the dots; or if they have, they’re afraid to alienate easily offended religious groups. All the while, moderate Christians continue to enable the fanatics through inaction and by lending them the credibility of inclusion in the larger Christian family. Steve Jonas and Sam Harris got it right: Listen to what they say they believe and intend to do! Marginalizing them ought to be the highest priority – naming and shaming, not demonstrating solidarity with them at National Day of Prayer ceremonies.
Here’s one possible scenario that is preferable, sort of like going from 10 to 7 on a ten-point pain scale: The fanatical religious right will soon come into open conflict with their allies, the corporatist “owners of America” and the libertarians, neither of which wants the U.S. to implode. So at some point the moneyed elite may pull the plug and turn on the religious crazies. This is preferable in the sense that it’s hard to imagine anything worse than a theocracy run by delusional lunatics lusting for end times.
Speaking of power, I urge – make that implore – you to familiarize yourself with the fundamentalist Christian takeover now in progress in the U.S. Military. The present, appalling state of affairs in the Air Force is a harbinger of state-condoned coercion, not just in all branches of the military but in American society as a whole. Harassment of enlisted servicepersons who don’t pass a fundamentalist litmus test is being defended on the political right as free speech, for god’s sake! Christian parents of students who harass gay peers are using the same argument.
Anyway, that’s enough fundamentalist religion, if anyone cares to call it that. Personally, I prefer to call it malicious, fanatical, collective mental illness.