Friday, September 26, 2008

"PULPIT FREEDOM SUNDAY," CHURCH-STATE ENMESHMENT, AND THE SEDUCTION OF FASCISM

Please read this article in its entirety. If we haven't been concerned about the enmeshment of reactionary "religion" with the most reactionary elements of civil society, this article should do the trick!

Here is a brief excerpt from this article:

"On Sunday, Pastor Jody Hice of Bethlehem, Ga., a man who takes the Bible literally and has never committed a crime, will stand before God and the 1,300 members of his congregation and willfully break the law.

"Hice is one of 35 religious leaders from 22 states who this weekend will intentionally violate a ban on church leaders making political speeches from their pulpits, in hopes of forcing the issue into the federal courts.

"'On Sunday, I'll be endorsing John McCain. I believe that endorsement will be a religious statement more than a political statement. But, the IRS says that for me to speak Biblical truth is against the law,' Hice told ABCNews.com.

"Churches and other nonprofit groups such as charities and state-run universities do not have to pay taxes."

Part of what I wrote in my July 7, 2008 post entitled, "It's Not About Issues; It's About The Reactionary Mind-Set Of The Power Elite And Its Allies," reads:

"Hostility toward LGBT people has less to do with such issues as same-sex marriage and full and equal rights than it does with a Reactionary mind-set shared by those who have a tenacious adherence to the status quo, as long it they perceive that it profits them. These people are either members of, or allies with, the Power Elite!

"The Power Elite is comprised of the people who who have a vested interest in the status quo which they control and from which they mightily profit. Moreover, its members, in order to maintain that control, use assorted dupes and those who want to share in that power, even vicariously, in order to support it and its interests, and such dupes and allies include most of the institutional Church and its members, and all others who buy into the self-serving ideology that this Elite purveys through the media which it controls, and through the credibility that it enjoys in society.

"The Power Elite possesses a reactionary mind-set as that mind-set serves its own best economic, political, and material interests. However, what is especially ironic and pathetic is that it uses those who lack critical thinking skills to serve its self-interests, making them think that it is their own interests that are being served. Moreover, most of the institutional Church, by the very fact that it is comprised of bureaucracies, attract and promote into leadership positions those who possess this reactionary-mind set!

"So, we have professing Christians all too often enmeshing what they consider to be "Christianity" with the militarism, capitalism, Americanism, and jingoism that serve the Power Elite well, and they fuse what is frequently called "evangelical Christianity" with the very interests of the Power Elite, in direct contradiction to the teachings of Jesus!

"And this surreal phenomenon is considered and touted by them to be the hallmark of 'traditional,' 'conservative,' 'evangelical Christianity!'"

It is this warped view of "Christianity," that seeks to align and enmesh itself with the most reactionary forces within secular society that is causing untold harm both to the image of Christianity on the one hand, and to the very fabric of our Democratic Republic on the other. This harm can be seen in many ways, not the least of which is the all too willing embracing of "Fascism" within our Democratic Republic, creating an ignorance of what that Republic really depends on for its very existence.

As one of our Founding Founders (I forget which one.) said, we cannot have a democracy without an enlightened electorate and, I'm afraid, we don't really have an enlightened electorate. This phenomenon has been aided and abetted by most of institutional Christianity's embracing of reactionary politics to justify its single-minded attempt to exert its ungodly will to power within secular society; to justify its rejection of Jesus' admonitions to us to care for the poor and brokenhearted; to lend, and count on, its undeserved credibility in supporting the most reactionary forces within the political arena.

The seduction of Fascism can be traced in large part to the desire for certainty in a very uncertain world; to the desire to absolve oneself from responsibility for the consequences of our personal and corporate actions; for its appeal to our Reptilian Brains that are engaged by fascistic, black and white, thinking and rhetoric that construct "an enemy" against which that Reptilian Brain can either fight or flee.

In an article I wrote on the day that George Bush was re-elected President, entitled, "The Roots of Fascism: Its Homophobic and Other Religious and Political Manifestations", I stated the following, and I have not had any occasion to change my mind:

"When there is a nation largely composed of people with uncritical intellects; people who are trained by assorted advertisers and other media savvy people to be gullible and develop 'false needs,' there is no need to impose fascism on them. They willingly, gladly, embrace fascism as a salve, an antidote to their fears and perceived needs that are inculcated and reinforced by those who seek to gain and maintain power over them.

"Some of this embracing of fascism is neurobiological, as the author, Arianna Huffington, pointed out in her article, 'Appealing To Our Lizard Brains: Why Bush is Still Standing,' published before the 2004 Presidential election. [AlterNet, October 13, 2004.] She stated: 'Deep in the brain lies the amygdala, an almond sized region that generates fear. When this fear state is activated, the amygdala springs into action. Before you are even consciously aware that you are afraid, your lizard brain responds by clicking into survival mode. No time to assess the situation, no time to look at the facts, just: fight, flight or freeze.' 'The strutting, winking, pointing and near-shouting that marked Bush's town hall debate performance all sent the same subconscious message to our fear-fogged brains: "I'm your daddy…I've got your back. So just go to sleep and stop thinking. About anything."'....

"...it's in the interests of those who want to obtain or maintain power to create out-groups so that in-group cohesion can develop around them. Even though they themselves created the out-group(s), the uncritical, gullible, self-interested, fearful public bonds with them if they, either verbally and/or non-verbally, promise them deliverance from their fears. Hence, by creating gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people as 'out-groups' to be feared in that they are made to be seen as seeking to 'destroy the sanctity of marriage' by wanting the same rights as any other citizens, many people were motivated to vote for the person in the 2004 Presidential election who was seen as 'standing in the gap' between heterosexist supremacy and the 'danger' of same-sex marriage. The same phenomenon can now be seen in the infamous Proposition 8 in California that will appear on the November ballot, seeking to overturn the California Supreme Court's ruling that same-sex couples have a right to marry within the state of California.

"'Fundamentalism' of all stripes capitalizes on this phenomenon! When the imprimatur of 'Christianity' is placed upon a person, rhetoric, and deeds, that person and his or her acts become not merely credible, but seen as righteous, and even biblical and Godly.

"Rhetoric is crucial in this endeavor! Coupling what is implied or stated as the equivalent of 'God's will' by a person in power or by a person who seeks power to a citizenry that is fearful and seeks, even if irrationally, a person who promises them deliverance from their fears, with an agenda that, to a rational person, even contradicts his or her statements and policies, lends credence and respectability to that person's agenda, regardless of how irrational and horrific that agenda is."

The Alliance Defense Fund organized "Pulpit Freedom Sunday." This is an organization allegedly founded to counter the work of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Most of the reactionary forces within the institutional Church, and most of those churches that would likely participate in "Pulpit Freedom Sunday," identify the issue of abortion as the litmus test for "morality" and for one's standing as a "Christian," in the minds of many professing Christians and others. Such as stance seeks to justify their already likely affinity with the politics of McCain/Palin, and they feel free to endorse that ticket by appeal to their interpretation of the Bible, and use their view of Christianity as their stated justification for that endorsement.

Such a concentration might well be seen as a diversion from examining far more destructive practices institutionalized within our society, the addressing of which would not serve their Reactionary mind-sets at all well!

Indeed, such immorality as initiating an unprovoked war against Iraq; about forty five million Americans without needed health insurance; corporate heads making multi-millions of dollars in salaries and perquisites, and given multi-million dollar golden parachutes even when their companies default, letting investors hold the bag upon which they frequently relied for their economic security in their older age; increases in unemployment and underemployment; the falling Dollar that puts us at the mercy of other countries, and represents an economy that is going into the tank as we speak, due to machinations of fiat money backed by no intrinsic wealth and the greed of assorted institutions and individuals, seem to hold no interest for Reactionaries.

Rather, the construction of "enemies," reinforced by simplistic sound bites, designed to engage the Reptilian Brains of people who desire certainty in a very uncertain world, who have a great intolerance for ambiguity in life, make it possible for most of the institutional Church to unembarrassingly seek to enmesh itself with, and exert its ideological influence within the rubric of, the most reactionary elements within the political and social institutions in secular society.

The Gospel of grace, or God's ummerited favor, and faith in God's sovereignty, have been perversely replaced with most of the institutional Church's desire to support reactionary politics either through rhetoric and/or action or silence and inaction; have it serve as a handmaiden to the Power Elite and, even more perversely, the most reactionary aspects of that Elite.

Hopefully, there will be sufficient revulsion expressed because of "Pulpit Freedom Sunday," and other such likely Sundays to come, to give the IRS the guts to revoke all tax exemptions for all religious institutions and ministries in the very near future!
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4 comments:

genevieve said...

My whole premise is that Christians are to bring the gospel to the lost. This is where some churches have failed. Many times I wonder they are more interested in maintaining their way of life than reaching out to the lost. The mistreatment of LGBT people by the instituional church goes against everything that Jeus stands for. This is why so many GLBT people have rejected God and the bible.

Jerry Maneker said...

I really believe that this is why so many people, LGBT or not, have turned away from Christianity. These legalists and judgmental biblical literalists don't reach others with the Gospel for the simple reason that they don't really know what the Gospel is: Grace, or unmerited favor. Jesus told all those who would follow Him to love and not judge others. What these Reactionaries who preach their politics of exclusion do is to take their animus and cloak it with the trappings of what they call "Christianity," and only someone who understands the Gospel can separate the wheat from the weeds. Most of these types are wolves in sheep's clothing, and make possible intelligent, sensitive, decent people turning away from even seriously considering Christianity as "a reasonable faith," to use the phrase of C.S. Lewis.

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

As we watch fundamentalist radicals fall over one another as they run to endorse Republican candidates, let's not forget who it really was who killed our Savior, Jesus Christ. Not the Jews. Not the Romans. 'Twas POLITRICKS (my spelling of "politics") and POLITRICKIANS that nailed my Lord to the cross. And you know what? If the Savior was walking and preaching among us today, THEY'D DO THE SAME DAMN THING.

Jerry Maneker said...

You're absolutely right, Don Charles! They figuratively do it every time they preach their "theology" of hate and exclusion, and the tragedy, beyond that, is that they defame Christianity so that intelligent, decent, and sensitive people all too often want nothing to do with it. The media is saturated with the legalists who preach a false gospel diametrically opposed to the Gospel of Christ! Since when was Jesus a Reactionary? Far from it, and he saved his harshest words for the reactionary religious leaders of His day, and if the reactionaries really understood Jesus and what He said, they'd be quaking in their boots!