Trump and the Fundamentalists

After you finish a book as meaty, as full of detail and attribution, as Shadow Network by Anne Nelson, it requires more than one take on the author’s revelations to do justice to the contents. I have not talked about the juiciest bits of this book, (which makes them sound like they are gossip, but they are real). These are the places in the book where the author talks about the fundamentalists and the moment when Donald Trump entered the campaign, and furthermore, the bits where the fundamentalists see that he will most likely win the nomination.

The Council for National Policy had its roots back in the 70’s. It began as a small group of religious leaders and pastors who were worried that the decision to end school prayer (1962) was responsible for a moral nosedive in America. This Council grew in influence and many Republicans and religious leaders have been members and past presidents, although they are not all household names. The CNP inspired many similar organizations of conservative fundamentalists and these groups began to formulate a “wish list” of laws to pass and laws to overturn and courts to stuff. They added a Leadership training program that was very effective and a long list of related groups. Once they knew what they wanted, they decided to analyze fundamentalist voters. They began to devise ways to reach out to fundamentalists and other Christians who would become “Values voters,” to make sure they registered to vote and went to the polls and voted for the candidates the fundamentalists backed.

In the 2016 elections evangelicals (fundamentalists) backed candidates like Ted Cruz and Ben Carson. They certainly did not favor Donald Trump. Anne Nelson tells us that “a group of female conservatives…had sent an ‘anyone but Trump’ letter to Iowa voters, stating, “as women, we are disgusted by Mr. Trump’s treatment of individuals, women in particular.” (pg.191)

She goes on to say, “as far as the movement’s key issues were concerned, Trump’s loose-cannon rhetoric had been all over the place; he was on record saying he didn’t care to challenge same-sex marriage, and he was wobbly on abortion. His religious credentials were spotty, to put it mildly.” For a coalition that depended on getting out the fundamentalist vote, these were poor optics indeed, says Nelson.

But George Barna, who had done the get-out-the-vote groundwork, an enormous investment of time and organizational strategy, technique and networking, Nelson says, could sense the “taste of victory was turning to ashes. Barna claimed his efforts were more successful for taking place, quite unintentionally, off the national radar.”

“If fundamentalists/Republicans won the presidency and kept the Senate in 2016, they would hold the power to reshape the American judiciary and real change would unfold. They could roll back abortion rights, gay marriage and gun laws, revoke environmental regulations, abolish entire federal agencies, assail the IRS restrictions on the tax free status of churches, make decisions on gerrymandering, and redistricting to set the scale for many elections to come.”

She goes on to say, “[b]ut Trump broke through, riding on his uncanny charisma, the caché of celebrity, and a powerful backlash against political business as usual…but with the disadvantages of a seat-of-the-pants organization, lack of donors and infrastructure, or any ground game.” (pg.192)

Nelson tells us that, “[i]n May, soon after Ted Cruz acknowledged defeat, Time magazine’s Elizabeth Dias reported that Tony Perkins (CNP), Ben Carson, and Bill Dallas had begun organizing a closed-door meeting for Trump and fundamentalist leaders.” (pg. 193)

She describes Trump’s speech in January, 2016 at Liberty University (founded by Jerry Falwell) sprinkled with the words ‘hell’ and ‘damn’, so “shocking to young fundamentalist ears”. This was the Two Corinthians moment, she reminds us. Nelson sums it up, “Fundamentalists measured a man’s worth by his church attendance, marital fidelity, and knowledge of the Bible, Trump came up short on every count.”

Nelson tells us that conservatives and fundamentalists did not trust Trump’s business sense either and that Charles Koch even considered voting for Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Barna, the fundamentalist vote-technician, refused to see all his hard work go to waste. He called in a fundamentalist named Ralph Reed, who had been cultivating Trump for years as revealed by Elizabeth Dias of Time magazine. Reed scheduled a dress rehearsal for Trump at a June, 2016 Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington, D.C. at which “Trump praised the right people and listed the correct goals.” (pg. 195)

Then they hosted the big event on June 21, 2016, “A Conversation About America’s Future with Donald Trump and Ben Carson” at which over 1,000 fundamentalist leaders came from all over the country to the ballroom of the NY Marriott Marquis. Ben Carson said, “this is like a chess match and God is the great grand master, sometimes he uses a pawn.” Nelson also recounts ‘Franklin Graham’s back-handed support – Was Trump a sinner? Well, Graham reminded his audience, the God of the Old Testament worked through lots of sinners, Abraham lied, Moses disobeyed God. David committed adultery and had a man killed.”

And then Trump said: “this election is about the Supreme Court. The next president will appoint 2, 3, 4, or possibly 5 life-term Justices…He said all his judges would be vetted by the Federalist Society.”

In the end, Nelson tells us about a man, James Robison in these words, “The movement had come full circle. Robison had brought Reagan to Dallas, and now he delivered the fundamentalist war council to Trump. This was a man who made history yet few Americans outside fundamentalist circles had ever heard of him. (pg. 227)

She finishes this tale about the ultimate acts of rationalization on the part of the fundamentalists and how they came to support this particular American president that, it could be argued, they bequeathed us, by saying,

“As of 2017, Republicans held all the cards, they controlled the White House, both houses of Congress, and thirty-three state legislatures. Furthermore their ranks were filled with fresh blood; the average age of the Democratic House leadership was seventy-two and the Republican was 48.”

“Now with the Republican Senate behind him and the Federalist Society nominations in hand, Trump prepared to fill the vacancies in the courts in record time.”

The Koch brothers wrote a paper called, “Advancing Principled Public Policy” which is essentially a victory lap, “the new administration had overturned the Bureau of Land Management’s Stream Protection Rule, rescinded the fracking ban on federal and Indian lands, and initiated the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Climate agreement. Justice Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to the Supreme Court.”

From the Koch point of view “it was ultimately about money, in the form of the Republican tax bill.” (pg. 228) The “victories” Republicans won as a result of agreeing to back Trump have been worth all their compromises in their eyes, but Nelson’s book tells us of the less transparent role fundamentalists played in Trump’s election, and while he may be an affliction to some us, he has not been perceived that way in religious circles to our everlasting astonishment. It’s lucky for these folks, I guess, that now the world is operating under New Testament rules.

See, I told you the story has a lot of juicy bits. All these righteous men being yanked around by want and greed. I did not want you to think that Anne Nelson neglected to write about Trump or neglected to expose hypocrisy in her book, Shadow Network: Media, Money and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right Wing.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – The New Republic

Shadow Network: Media, Money and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right Wing by Anne Nelson – Book

I was attracted to the book Shadow Network: Media, Money and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right by Anne Nelson because I already knew that Evangelicals (white evangelicals in particular) shared Republican ideology, and liked this ideology better as it got more extreme. What I did not know is that Evangelicals, also called Fundamentalists, were prime movers in turning Republican politics into a well-oiled voter turnout machine.

Anne Nelson is on the faculty at the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs. She acknowledges the help of colleagues and students in the end notes. Although I have written on these subjects many times Anne Nelson had access to resources I did not. Her work is important to me because it offers proof that my “cheap seats” interpretations of recent events in our government have merit. It would be more satisfying if the truths did not back up the facts that the church has been meddling in our federal government and that they grew from scratch into a very effective organization, using tools both legal and possibly illegal to get Republicans elected.

Southern Baptists were not leaving the church the way other Americans were. The advent of church-on-TV had given birth to the megachurch phenomenon. Pastors with large numbers of followers became almost religious rock stars. For decades there had been a strong church presence on the radio, especially across the South and Midwest. Stardom can go to your head, at least that seems to be what happened. At first churches met, “convocated,” held conventions, and church leaders talked about the moral decline which they linked to the decline in religious observance in many parts of America. They felt that religion would cure our moral “slippage.” They were angered that it was no longer legal to pray in school. They began to understand that their numbers and their media network gave them power to change the things they did not like about America. Their natural allies were the Republican Party, even more so with the advent of the Tea Party.

Evangelicals began to found a series of social organizations which were ostensibly formed to deal with aspects of America’s slippage, things like the disintegration of the nuclear family, abortion, contraception, the exclusion of religious teachings from school, the increasing concentration of power at the federal level when it could benefit the church’s ability to thrive if power was concentrated instead at the state level (small government).

Evangelicals came to see that if they could get Republican voters to the polls they could get everything they wanted because the Republican agenda matched the Evangelical wish list. They eventually went digital and collected data on a house-by-house basis in places that leaned right.

One problem with this (among many) is that these groups are classified as 501 c3 (nonprofits for religious reasons) and 501 c4 (nonprofits for social welfare reasons). These groups, in order to keep their tax exempt status, are not supposed to be partisan or participate in getting members of any particular party elected. These groups, in an incestuous relationship with the Republican Party and rich Republican donors like the Koch brothers and the DeVos family, were violating their tax exempt status, not to mention colluding to have an outsized effect on our national, state, and local politics. This story is essentially a political thriller, except its real.

Anne Nelson’s very interesting book may not be to everyone’s taste but should be read by anyone who believes that we should participate in our democracy/republic.

NB: This is even more relevant given that an article in Christianity Today backed removing Trump from office.


Engineering the Apocalypse

endofdayssatan big Monster Legacy

Republicans find it difficult to believe that human activity can affect earth’s climate. They have their own reasons for this point of view, which seem to depend more on economics than science. They argue that puny humans are like fleas to forces as great as the ones that run the cosmos. (Well tell that to the sea birds who are feeding their babies plastic pellets.) But apparently, Evangelicals have more power at their command than the average human. They believe they can engineer the apocalypse.

So when Evangelicals (not all, some) try to move the pace of world events along more briskly in order to hurry along the “end times” as depicted in Revelations, they are happy to believe that certain Christian humans can speed up the pace of the universe and make the Rapture and the Millennium happen now – predetermination be damned. Suddenly puny humans are not depicted as quite so helpless.

No wonder Evangelicals are all smiles now that Trump has moved the American Embassy to Jerusalem. Palestinians have no role in the events leading up to the “end times”. However, Israel, according to whoever authored Revelations (of course, with divine input), has an enormous role to play in the end times. Even though Jews who refuse to convert will not survive, the establishment of a Jewish state in Jerusalem is key to the apocalypse, which follows the saving of the saved, the 2ndcoming of the Messiah, and the 1000 years of theocracy that precede the apocalypse on the “end of days” timeline.

An article in the Daily Beast examines this particular corner of the Evangelical movement. Apparently these beliefs have been held to be secrets, although Michele Bachmann used to go on about “the Rapture” with a big old stoned-looking rapturous smile on her face as her party shut down the government. Secrecy is hardly an issue, though, when the timeline of events leading up to the return of the Messiah and subsequent events are available for anyone to see in the Bible and in the 497,000 hits on this topic which result from an internet search.

According to Candida Moss, writing on 5/19/2018 in the DailyBeast this particular set/sect of Evangelicals believes that Hitler did Christians a favor when he killed the Jews in the Holocaust because the backlash against his actions gave the world the state of Israel, an important step towards the end of days. (Except, I always believed that Christians, who follow the examples of Jesus, could never be this self-absorbed.)

I remember some awe expressed in religious circles when the EU was formed – another prerequisite met on the way to the Rapture. Evangelicals are certain that they will be taken up to heaven right then and there, before mass destruction is even on the menu. There are a few pesky details about the number of nations who have to be in the EU to meet the requirements for the end of days. There is a bit of a debate about whether the number has been met. Did Brexit mess up the grand design of the Evangelicals?

These fairly extreme Evangelicals are, sadly for us, quite political because, in order to tamper with world events, they need governments to help. They apparently believe that Donald Trump will help speed up the 2ndcoming because he has promised to do just that. They have fed Donald their “party line” and he buys it. No wonder he is not worried about climate change. He may also be waiting for the Rapture.

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Surely God will bring us the end times before climate change can rob God of his dramatic finale. Donald understands show business. He seems willing to help speed up the milestone events that will lead to those end days, the days that Evangelicals say will favor them above all others. This time they think they are the “chosen ones”. And they seem to have made Donald an honorary Evangelical.

However, we wonder, can Evangelicals make the end arrive faster by having humans engineer the steps on the pathway to apocalypse, or do they have to occur organically? If human activity cannot cause climate change how can human scheming hasten the end the Lord has designed? If you see Evangelicals piling on to events that seem unrelated to them, check your Bible. We’re very close apparently. This sounds like a conspiracy theory but it might be an actual, although wacky, strategy.

I don’t know about you but I have never wanted to live in a theocracy, so I am fairly certain where I will be heading come the Millennium. If these people, with their Evangelical privilege, are correct about their place in the Christian hegemony I will be more than happy to miss that spectacle.

This video explores some other possible relationships between Evangelicals and Trump:


Conflicting Freedoms

Our culture is moving forward very rapidly in some
areas; zip, zip, zip, and especially in the new Supreme ruling on gay marriage.
And in many ways most of us feel that it is about time. I think many of us
became convinced when someone we knew who was LGBT? had to be treated in a
hospital and their partner, no matter how long they had been together, could
never have the solace of being considered a family member.
Many same sex couples wanted to raise a child,
having worked hard and built a good life and a stable home, and yet the child
could not be adopted by both partners regardless of how long they had loved
each other. Situations like this also forced us to sympathize with colleagues
or friends. If a couple was paired female-female, one or both of the pair could
be artificially (or naturally) inseminated. But could the child ever really
belong to both parties in the eyes of the law? I think that has been
problematic. For couples paired male-male a surrogate probably had to be
involved if they decided not to adopt or if the option was not available where
they lived. And once again I am guessing there was no legal right to shared
So what may seem like it happened zip, zip, zip to
some Americans probably feels like it took forever to others. That Supreme
Court decision to uphold marriage for all American couples regardless of gender
(and also race just in case it ever came up again) took a certain segment of
America by surprise, although it is sort of nice to think for once that “love
wins”, as the current meme goes.
So, my questions are many. What do we do when
granting the rights of one group of Americans seems to curtail the rights of
another group, no matter how intolerant and unenlightened that second group
If we separate government and religion, but live in
a government that believes people are free to pursue the religion of their
choice, does that mean that equal rights to your own religion suddenly do not
count because of the court’s decision? How can we tell if someone’s objections
truly are religious in nature, or if religion is just being used as an excuse
to deny someone else a right because their expression of that right makes you
feel uncomfortable? How would a system of exceptions work? Is there a chance
that gay couples might be willing to steer clear of enlisting the services of
someone with a genuine religious issue to wrestle with?
Obviously public servants should not be able to opt
out, but what if every private business in a given state wanted to opt out?
That would look an awful lot like that state’s refusal to obey the law of the
land. In the case of Roe v Wade, we already know states that try to get away
with taking away a legal freedom from everyone in that state simply because
they say it is against their religious views. And in the case of abortion we
are not forcing anyone to anything but mind their own business. How would this
not be the same?
When it came to a celebration like a wedding I would
want to hire someone who was enthusiastic about making my day wonderful. I
would feel terrible asking someone to perform services they did not want to
perform. But, again, suppose you encountered someone who did want to opt out?
Will exceptions take the teeth out of the law? Would a business just put a
cross (or other religious emblem) in the window so people would never be
embarrassed? Would they have to go before some kind of board to get an
Equality and freedom are great concepts in the
abstract, but they are hardly ever absolute in reality. One person’s absolute
freedom can often run afoul of another’s. How do we offer the maximum amount of
freedom to each party while granting an equal amount to both? We would need a
full-time referee. Obviously that is where the courts come in, but we will have
some very busy courts and people will have to wait a long time for decisions.
It seems to me that this is a thorny issue that we
need some guidance on from our philosophers. I have no problem fighting against
the establishment of a theocracy in America, but individual rights are a
different matter and are protected by our Constitution. Fundamentalist
Christians are unhappy and likely to make the rest of Americans quite unhappy
unless we can strike a balance somehow.
Perhaps we have made such a giant cultural leap that
some have genuinely not caught up, or maybe there are some who are quite
disingenuous and are just using religion as an excuse to prevent changes they
don’t personally like. I don’t know how to solve this argument over conflicting
freedoms, but I hope everyone will give it some thought and discuss it with
respect until we can reach some form of agreement that allows all groups to
feel somewhat like they won, or that creates two camps where almost no one
feels like a loser. Am I nuts? Well, perhaps that is another question for
another time.
This is the view from the cheap seats.
By Nancy Brisson

Is God Running on the Republican Ticket in 2016?

The Republicans have the Democrats going up against
God in the 2016 election. How is that a fair fight? They seem to be convinced
that they have read the Book, they have studied the Book, and they know God’s
will. In fact they are so confident that they are God’s messengers in America that
they believe that anyone who argues with them is Godless, a nonbeliever.
We are astonished as we see Muslim nations trying to
live out a literal interpretation of the Koran. We perceive the Koran as being
out-of-step with a world that is populated by over 7 billion people. We cannot
see how the people in 2015 could live by rules written in ancient times and for
a desert people.
However, isn’t it true that Fundamentalists in
America expect us to do the exact same thing? They expect us to live out a literal
interpretation of the Bible, which was also written in ancient times and for a
desert people. The Jewish people also, in orthodoxy, live as if the world is
unchanged since well before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. (There is, in fact,
no truly literal interpretation of any of the books that are sacred to any
of these faiths. All contain passages that are open to more than one meaning
and all have been studied by religious scholars for centuries.)
As the Evangelicals would have it America is on the
path to losing its religion. Our moral fiber is being tested and we are
definitely being found wanting (yes, I’m quoting A Knight’s Tale). The Bible tells us that homosexual love is wrong,
they say; it tells us that gender differences are mistakes that one must battle
in one’s soul. I’m not sure where the Bible says this, as many commenters say
that the Bible does not address these issues directly, although in the Old
Testament, God did wipe out Sodom and Gomorrah. Was it ever made clear what
kinds of sins were being committed in these two places?
Perhaps Evangelicals can ignore science, but I (and
many others) cannot. There is evidence in people’s genes that we are born as we
are born. Do Evangelicals believe that birth is a gift from God? Do they
believe that God makes mistakes? Does he have lots of “oops” moments?
Evangelicals do not put their faith in science. So how do they explain the
evidence before their eyes that some people cannot change to match a norm that we have perhaps outgrown. Will God wreak his vengeance on us because love
Can a culture be moral even though it decides to
separate religion and government? Evangelicals seem to believe that it cannot.
I don’t believe the true issue is necessarily about religion. It is really
about freedom. Are we just as free to make bad choices as we are to make good
ones? Should our love of freedom force us to tolerate things like hate speech?
What if, at some future moment, people define ordinary speech as hateful? If we
curtail freedom of speech to try to shut up negative messages will those laws
turn around some day to deny us the right to say things we now perceive as
positive speech? If we allow Evangelicals to decide what is moral and what is
not, then what happens to our freedom? What happens to our equality?
Republicans are angry about many things that are not
about religion also. But the issues around women’s health and those around
gender and marriage freedom are the two issues where they invoke God and
Morality has to do with how we treat each other.
Isn’t it enough to follow The Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have
others do unto you)? Do we require a religious moral leader at the helm of
America making laws based on the Bible (or someone’s interpretation of the
Bible)? In so many ways America is still a moral nation. We do strive to
consider equality. We do strive to understand and respect differences. We do
try to legislate fairness to the best of our abilities in any given moment.
Are there strains present in modern culture which
test our moral behavior? Why are our children bullies in our schools? Why don’t
children have more tolerance for our differences? Is it because they were just
born and are therefore closer to knowing God’s will in these matters? Or is it
just that they are little magnets who pick up on how those around them feel and
then, because they have no filters yet, sometimes use what they have learned to
hurt other children? Our children should not be teaching us; it is our job to
teach them the values that help keep society civil.
Does killing people over and over in video game
rooms inure our young people to killing or make them insensitive to the idea
that when you die you are dead, forever, the end. Do young people have enough
judgement, especially given the effect of video killings, to be trusted with
guns? Should blind people have guns? The Bible doesn’t help us here; it does
not clearly spell out who should own a gun, because there were no guns when the
Bible was written.
Republicans want some religion back in our nation.
They want us to declare ourselves a Christian nation and they believe this
would be fine with our forefathers because everyone in America in colonial
times belonged to a sect of Christianity. They want to legislate morality and
they want to legislate genetics. Where do our ideals of freedom and equality
fit into their view of America’s future? These changes in our culture are not
necessarily easy for any of us, but they are consistent with what we believe as
Americans and these beliefs are the very things we love most about America.
Republicans don’t want to take back America. They
want to rule America and they are staking the claim that God is on their side.
How far are we willing to let them go?
By Nancy Brisson

The New Law in Indiana – What were Governor Pence’s Intentions?

Governor Pence of Indiana is having a very bad week
(or two). He backed a bill that passed the Indiana legislature and all heck
broke loose. (The Evangelicals might be offended if I used anything stronger.)
It is a law against religious discrimination (Religious Freedom Restoration Act
or RFRA). Someone was apparently worried that a person of Jewish persuasion
might be forced by the Federal government to sing at a Catholic wedding. OK,
that was just one example of a joking remark from Hardball on MSNBC last night
of how “fascist” (my wording) our government might become if the states (Red
states) don’t keep the “nanny state” in check.
I guess Governor Pence thought that he was just kind
of making it clear that Indiana agreed with the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby
decision and wanted to expand it. Most of the fear, in red states with a strong
Evangelical Christian bent, has centered on the issues of abortion and
contraception. Evangelicals believe that abortions are murder and as such are
against God’s Commandments. In real life not everyone is certain that God (if
there is one) wants to visit needless pain and misery on women, families, or in
fact, on children born into less than nurturing situations. In real life
opinions vary about when a fetus becomes a child. In real life not everyone is
even a Christian.
Evangelicals also believe that contraception causes
minor abortions of fetal cells that are just beginning to divide (is it a baby).
Most birth control pills, we are told, do not work this way, but we know how
Evangelicals feel about science. Science is basically an entirely bogus field
invented by Satan to challenge the Faithful.
States, especially Red states, feel that the Federal
government is meddling in state business that it has no right to meddle in
according to the Constitution. Red states are rebelling all over America about
following Federal laws they do not agree should be laws. They have become very
inventive with their TRAP laws about skirting around the rights of women as
spelled out in Roe v Wade. Some states have been able to make it almost
impossible for the women to get an abortion in the state in which they reside.
They have done the same thing when they have passed voter restriction laws as
soon as Federal law dropped the clearance section of the Voting Rights Act that
governed these actions.
What exactly did Governor Pence of Indiana have in
mind when he sent this Religious Freedom Restoration Act to his legislature?
Perhaps he wasn’t thinking about women’s issues at all. Perhaps he is just one
of our new Federalists who believe that the Federal government has become a
monster and is eating the states, but almost everyone except the Heritage
Foundation seems to think there is another agenda operating here. Whatever he
had in mind, those who have just recently tasted a burgeoning equality, folks
who fit into the group we have labeled “gay” (now LGBTQ+) noticed that this law
was stated in such a way that it could be used to roll back some of that newly
acquired equality. (Courts in Indiana forced Indiana to accept “gay” marriage
just last year.) It could be interpreted as a law that businesses could use to
avoid serving anyone who challenged the beliefs of that business (in other
words, as a way to deny gay marriage in spite of the ruling of the court).
Governor Pence was standing by this law until people
doing business in his state such as corporations and sports franchises like the
NCAA threatened to pull their business out of Indiana if this law is not
amended or overturned. Thirteen other states are planning to pass similar laws
and will, I hope, face similar boycotts. Governor Pence has now sent the bill
back to his legislature for clarification but he maintains that the bill does
not allow the things critics say it does.
But why are so many states so obsessed with
religious freedom and why are they so worried that the Federal government will
take away their religious freedom? What exact freedoms are we talking about? In
a diverse nation allowing one group complete religious freedom might deprive
another religious group of its freedoms. The Supreme Court upheld freedom from
discrimination for businesses owned by one owner with certain religious
beliefs. The Indiana law wants to extend this religious protection to all businesses.
This whole brouhaha does not seem to be about women’s health issues or
Obamacare. Since the human rights issue currently being dealt with is gender,
or gay, or LGBTQ+ rights it does seem appropriate to conclude that this
particular religious fervor is a way to remove the teeth from the Federal equal
rights laws that allow gay marriage.
Is Governor Pence truly disingenuous or is he just
acting that way? Regardless of the answer to that question if businesses
boycott Indiana he will probably have to bring his religious freedom
restoration act or RFRA in line with the laws that have been passed in other,
not so red, states.
This whole ruckus makes me more nervous than ever
that we are headed for a Christian Theocracy. One of our Evangelical potential
candidates (it might have been Mike Huckabee) said that the Constitution says
that government should be separate from religion, but not that religions must
be separate from government. I think it is just double-speak and that a
logician would rule this little piece of “logic” invalid. I know that I did not
sign up for an Evangelical Christian state.
I guess the Evangelicals think this is their moment.
American voters, what do you think?
[The thinking I have attributed to Mike Huckabee is
actually a common right wing meme. He did not invent it and he didn’t state it
in these exact words either, but he meant the same thing. Here it is stated
clearly in an online paper entitled True
“The next step is to determine the intent of the First
Amendment. Critics point to the part of the First Amendment that says
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of
religion…” to show that separation of church and state was in fact the intention
of the Founding Fathers. However, our Founding Fathers had a very specific
intent in making the establishment of a religion an unconstitutional act, and a
very specific definition of what that means. Most of them came from England
where the government gave preference to and provided money and support for one
of the Christian religions (the Anglican Church) and chose it as that country’s
“official” religion. They did not want the government establishing a
national religion here. They wanted the government to stay out of religion, not
for religious principles to be eliminated from government. Their desire was for
the United States to be a nation with it’s values and laws based on Christian
principles, but did not want the government choosing one Christian religion
(Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, etc.) over another and establish it as
it’s “official” religion.”]
By Nancy Brisson

Shaking in My Boots

Evangelical Christians seem to have an effect on our national dialogue that is out of proportion with their actual numbers. These days we are told almost every day about the agenda the Evangelicals have in store for Americans when their candidate is elected. The odds are greater than ever that this will eventually happen because, it seems, in order to be a Republican these days, you must pass muster with the Evangelical Christians. I am a Christian, although with a sort of “universalist” bent, but I have difficulty with the issues the Evangelicals have on their agenda. They want to use Congress to impose morality through the rule of law. They have a certain arrogance that is at odds with the humility that Christians usually embrace. Their dialogue suggests that they are the self-appointed quintessential American Patriots and that all of the rest of us are not. They imply or declare outright that non-Evangelicals are ruining America. They speak as if they have a direct line to the forefathers and to God, that they are the moral high ground, and that they intend to pull America “up” to their level of Fundamentalist behavior as dictated in the Bible.
Yet our forefathers did not choose to found a Theocracy, in fact, they deliberately argued for the separation of the church and the state. Many had been persecuted for their religious beliefs in the countries they fled. We object to Muslim Fundamentalists because many of the ways they interpret their religion are incompatible with the human rights that Democracy believes in and protects. Christian Fundamentalism, if it has its way with our laws, will interfere with human rights in many of the same ways as Muslim Fundamentalism. Government that is moderate allows for the greatest respect for human rights and the greatest freedom for human endeavor. Government should always strive to stay away from extremes.
In fact, this very insistence on an Evangelical Christian “takeover” of America is one of my greatest problems with the most recent incarnation of the Republican Party (although, as you probably already know, it is not my only problem with the GOP). I also reject their assessment of how to stimulate the economy and I reject their insistence that laziness and poverty are caused by reliance on social programs. Republicans cannot really speak to these matters because their current position as the party of the affluent represents a conflict of interest when it comes to decisions about the economy.
I do tend to “shake in my boots” whenever I contemplate an Evangelical Christian takeover of our American government. I hope there are lots of other Americans who feel the same way.