Column for 29 October, 2006
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit, you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”
Of all the myriad sins of this venal, incompetent and brutal Administration, likely the worst is its subversion of the church to camouflage its true agenda, a radically anti-Christian and un-American economic philosophy based on the disgraced ideology of Social Darwinism, or “survival of the richest.” Of course, any subversive movement requires help from within. The Republic Party did not batter down the doors of the church and take over by force. No, they were invited in by false prophets, those who have sold out the Bride of Christ for thirty pieces of silver and whose lust for worldly power gives them much more in common with Dick Cheney or Tom DeLay than Christ and His Apostles. There are, sadly, many false prophets, nearly all of whom can be seen regularly on television, perverting the Scripture and hawking their snake-oil, but three of the worst offenders are the Unholy Trinity of James Dobson, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. These three have, since the late 1980’s, worked diligently to transform the Church into a mere propaganda arm of the Republic Party, tossing aside doctrine in favor of the party line, much like the “official churches” established by Communist dictatorships and run by traitors and collaborators. The odious strategy of these religious Quislings has been to act as mouthpieces for the GOP strategy of shouting “homosexuals!” or “abortion!” every election cycle, to strike fear in the hearts of the faithful and encourage them to support “God’s Own Party.” These issues have the added bonus of allowing the false prophets to completely gloss over the New Testament, with all its’ embarrassing concern for the poor and downtrodden, in favor of the Old Testament, where damnation and hell-fire are called down upon sinners. Another example, and probably the most grotesque, of the misuse of the Church involved disgraced Republican bag-man Jack Abramoff and his fleecing of several Indian tribes. First, he was enlisted (and paid handsomely) to help the Mississippi Band of the Choctaw Tribe with their casino gambling operation. In order to prevent competition, Abramoff used his connections (including then-Congressman Tom DeLay) to prevent the tiny, impoverished Tigua Pueblo in Texas from opening their own casino. He then accepted money from the Tigua to fight for their right to open gambling parlors, thus playing both ends against the middle. The Church was dragged in when Abramoff called upon Ralph Reed, former executive director of Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, to mobilize Evangelical Christians against casino gambling, at least casino gambling by tribes that Abramoff disfavored. In this way, Church leaders took advantage of their flock, manipulating people with sincere religious convictions against gambling to serve the ends of Washington power-brokers. Sadly, of course, this was not the first time Christianity has been used against the Indians.
Now, however, there are some hopeful signs that the scales are falling from the eyes of Evangelical Christians and they are beginning to learn how the Tele-Pharisees have sold them out. Ralph Reed went down in flames in the Republican Primary election for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia, due mostly to his ties to Abramoff. Some Evangelicals are daring to ignore the GOP script and learning that environmentalism is not only compatible with Christianity, it is a commandment. Bill Moyers recently had a fascinating PBS special on this very topic. Other Evangelicals, such as David Kuo, former head of the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives in the Bush White House, are speaking out about the manipulation of people of faith by the Republic Party. In his book “Tempting Faith,” Kuo outlines how Karl Rove referred to the very Evangelicals Bush assiduously courted in 2000 and 2004 as “the nuts,” and cynically exploited them for votes. Even conservative pundit and bad dancer Tucker Carlson has acknowledged that Republican elites hold Evangelicals in “pure contempt.” Perhaps the obvious boot-licking of the GOP by the tele-Pharisees has simply become too much for Christians of conscience to stomach, such as James Dobson playing down former Cong. Mark Foley’s repulsive digital seduction of teenage boys as mere “pranks.” Dobson, you may recall, is normally so hyperbolically homophobic that he has accused Sponge-bob Squarepants of promoting what he ominously refers to as “the homosexual agenda” (no doubt Spongebob and Tinky-Winky are planning a civil union if the nefarious Nancy Pelosi gets her way). But even “gay bashing” must give way to marching orders from Republic Party headquarters, just as it did when Dobson meekly obeyed when directed to stop obstructing Bush’s nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Perhaps the rank stench of hypocrisy wafting from the pulpits of the tele-Pharisees is why religious whites, who normally favor the GOP over Democrats by twenty percentage points or more, are now evenly divided between the parties, though it should be noted that not all Evangelicals’ faith in their partisan masters has been shaken.
However, Liberals should not fool themselves into thinking that Evangelicals will be flocking to the Democratic Party anytime soon. Their effect of the 2006 elections will likely be due more to their absence than their presence, but they could easily return to the Republic Party in large numbers once the worst hypocrites are cleaned out. Abortion and sexual morality are still important issues to this committed block of voters. Many have felt alienated and marginalized by the media and Leftists who belittle and mock their faith, portraying them as ignorant buffoons crowded together in the “Flyover States.” The politicization of Faith has as much to do with Liberal arrogance and militant secularism as it does with Conservative cynicism and exploitation. While religion in America has never been completely non-partisan, the levels of polarization today cannot be healthy for a democracy. There is a reason why America has avoided the kind of bloody religious wars that even today blight Northern Ireland and the former Yugoslavia. It is high time that both parties heeded the words of Abraham Lincoln, “…my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right.”