Tuesday, June 20, 2006

"Jesus is Not a Republican"

This brilliant essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education by evangelical Christian Randall Balmer is one that deserves the widest circulation. Balmer is appalled at the alliance the Religious Right has made with a corrupt, morally bankrupt Republican Party. He says that evangelicalism in turn has been corrupted as the major Religious Right leaders seek to impose, by means of government compulsion, their own vision of a theocratic America on a pluralistic society. Balmer demonstrates that the moral compromises being made are completely and utterly distorting the true message of the Gospel. A key passage demonstrates the force of Balmer's critique:
And what has the religious right done with its political influence? Judging by the platform and the policies of the Republican Party — and I'm aware of no way to disentangle the agenda of the Republican Party from the goals of the religious right — the purpose of all this grasping for power looks something like this: an expansion of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the continued prosecution of a war in the Middle East that enraged our longtime allies and would not meet even the barest of just-war criteria, and a rejiggering of Social Security, the effect of which, most observers agree, would be to fray the social-safety net for the poorest among us. Public education is very much imperiled by Republican policies, to the evident satisfaction of the religious right, and it seeks to replace science curricula with theology, thereby transforming students into catechumens.

America's grossly disproportionate consumption of energy continues unabated, prompting demands for oil exploration in environmentally sensitive areas. The Bush administration has jettisoned U.S. participation in the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which called on Americans to make at least a token effort to combat global warming. Corporate interests are treated with the kind of reverence and deference once reserved for the deity.

The Bible contains something like 2,000 references to the poor and the believer's responsibility for the poor. Sadly, that obligation seems not to have trickled down into public policy. On judicial matters, the religious right demands appointees who would diminish individual rights to privacy with regard to abortion. At the same time, it approves a corresponding expansion of presidential powers, thereby disrupting the constitutionally mandated system of checks and balances.

The torture of human beings, God's creatures — some guilty of crimes, others not — has been justified by the Bush administration, which also believes that it is perfectly acceptable to conduct surveillance on American citizens without putting itself to the trouble of obtaining a court order. Indeed, the chicanery, the bullying, and the flouting of the rule of law that emanates from the nation's capital these days make Richard Nixon look like a fraternity prankster
Yes, the Religious Right has indeed made a deal with the devil. It has done so in the hopes of establishing official government sanction for its leaders' theology. Dobson, Falwell, Robertson, Reed, and all the other corrupt, power-mad Pharisees of the Right want to sweep away the whole of America's political and philosophical tradition and do nothing less than establish a theocracy, a theocracy that will elevate Christian fundamentalism to a dominant political force that can never be legally challenged. I shudder at this possibility.
I urge you to read Balmer's entire essay. And I also urge you to share it with others. In this time of impending social disaster, it is vitally needed.

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