Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Gene Lyons...God I love this guy!! (In a literary way, of course...)

Embattled faith needs enemies for focus

Gene Lyons

Posted on Wednesday, November 17, 2004

To hear the TV preachers tell it, the Lord ordained George W. Bush’s
election over Sen. John Kerry. Fundamentalist divines and their media
accomplices haven’t sounded this smug since Prohibition. Indeed,
possibly not since 1928, when Herbert Hoover crushed "blue state" Roman
Catholic Democrat Al Smith of New York. (Ironically, Deep South states
loyal to segregationist Democrats supported Smith when even his home
state did not.) Anyway, we all remember how well that worked out. "This
was Providence," said former Nixon aide Charles Colson, Watergate era
jailhouse convert. "Anybody looking at the 2000 election would have to
say it was... a miraculous deliverance, and I think people felt it
again this year." Bush’s second term, Colson thinks, is God’s way of "giving
us a chance to repent and to restore some moral sanity to American life."

Had Kerry prevailed, maintained Southern Baptist leader Richard Land,
who meets regularly with White House political strategists, it would
have signaled that God had cursed the United States. "The Bible says
godly leadership is a sign of God’s blessings and a lack of godly
leadership is a sign of God’s judgment," he opined. "I don’t see Kerry
as a godly leader."

Now call me anything you like, but I see no evidence that God ordains
the winners of elections any more than football games. (I’ve yet to see
a quarterback point heavenward after throwing an interception.) But
having lived in the Bible Belt for many years, I’ve learned a few things
worth keeping in mind as we stumble toward the second term of God’s own

First, fundamentalist Christianity is an embattled faith, requiring an
ever evolving enemies list to keep its focus. One year it’s Satan
worshippers, "secular humanists" the next. Panic over supermarket bar
codes allegedly harboring the Mark of the Beast yields to worry that
Harry Potter novels may seduce America’s youth into witchcraft. This
year’s enemy is Democrats. Even secular pundits have taken up the cry.
The soulless pseudo-sophisticates of Boston and Seattle, we’re told,
must henceforth take moral instruction from backwoods Mississippi.

Lest you think I exaggerate, here’s one GOP thinker’s question. If no
longer the party of Truman and Kennedy, "who, apart from effeminate
latte drinkers in New York cafes, Hollywood airheads and gangsta
rappers in inner-city ghettoes, do the Democrats represent now?"

By "Hollywood airheads," he presumably doesn’t mean Mel Gibson or
Arnold Schwarzenegger, and certainly not the sainted President Ronald Reagan.
The rest requires no translation. The 49 percent of Americans who voted
against Bush, see, aren’t "real Americans" like you and possibly me.
They are perverts, subversives, heretics and mongrels, fit for kicking.

It’s the secular version of a recent open letter addressed to Bush by
Rev. Bob Jones of Bob Jones University: "You owe the liberals nothing.
They despise you because they despise your Christ."

Which brings up another aspect of the Falwell/Robertson/Jones/Dobson/LaHaye
world view certain readers may
find controversial. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Apart from the timeless topic of Other People’s Sex Lives, nothing gets
fundamentalist Christianity’s spiritual entrepreneurs going like
vengeful Old Testament tribalism. The basic con is to insist upon the
literal, historical and scientific accuracy of every syllable in the
Bible while focusing selectively on passages confirming pre-existing
phobias. Hence, they rarely are more dogmatic than when they are
ignoring, if not actively contradicting, the essence of Christ’s

I recently read much of Rev. Tim La-Haye’s "Left Behind" series of 12
novels about the coming Apocalypse for an essay in the November 2004
Harper’s. Nowhere did I find any of that sentimental rubbish about
blessed peacemakers, turning the other cheek, loving your enemies or
judging not lest you be judged. Nothing about caring for the poor and
afflicted or warning sinners against casting the first stone.

To read the series’ roughly 1 million words, you’d never know that
Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount—or that he specifically and repeatedly
warned his followers against idle speculation about the "End Times."
Yes, Leviticus calls homosexuality an abomination. Also wearing
garments of two fabrics, eating pork and shellfish, and planting two crops in
one field. It recommends stoning to death anybody who works on the Sabbath.
Exodus stipulates how to sell your daughters into slavery. My point is
simple: Faddish fundamentalist tribalism is currently riding high for
several reasons, real fear and genuine moral confusion among them. Lost
on America’s perpetual frontier, millions yearn for a faith that
promises the comforts of certitude and the enchantments of sorcery in a
single beguiling package. Historically, however, these jokers have
always overplayed their hand; I’d say they already have. Meanwhile, the
millennium has passed, the End remains as near and far as ever, and the
best argument against these ecclesiastical con men remains a moral
vision they only pretend to honor.

•• Free-lance columnist Gene Lyons is a Little Rock author and recipient
of the National Magazine Award.



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