“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets” – Voltaire
Millions of dead people. All because they gave the wrong answer to the god Question – George Carlin
You may remember Glenn Beck’s post-election meltdown; then again, it may have been lost in the seemingly endless parade of post-election Republican meltdowns. There were so many. And so many of them were spectacular.
Beck’s, however, struck me more powerfully than some. Part of it was Beck’s inherent sense of melodrama. As Right Wing Watch reported at the time, Beck said that “America is on the verge of reaping God’s wrath and declared that if the American people are ‘so dead inside that they can no longer see the difference between good and evil’ and re-elect a demagogue like President Obama, then ‘we have to be destroyed because we will be a remarkable evil on this planet.’”
The ability of people belonging to a religion which has killed more people in a cause than Hitler and Stalin combined, to see themselves as the “good” on this planet and the rest of us – their victims – as the evil – has always staggered me. I have used this comparison before and I will use it again:
Constitutionally, we are Americans, all equal before the law. Biblically, we are Canaanites: rejected and outside the law, all of us who do not adhere to what Leah Burton calls the ReBiblican message. And you know what happened to the Canaanites in the Old Testament. And look, to understand what is going on here, you have to understand that the New Testament and Jesus both got tossed under the scythed wheels of the ReBiblican bus some time ago.
This isn’t the party of “gentle Jesus meek and mild,” kids. If Jesus is here at all, he is the Jesus of the Teutonic Knights or the Knights Templar. This is the Jesus of Colonel (and Methodist minister) John Chivington, who at Sand Creek cried out, “Kill them all, big and little! Nits make lice!”
But mostly Jesus is gone. Mostly, what you are seeing is a sort of pseudo-Christianity, best referred to as aberrochristianity, because it is an aberrant (deviant) form of the religion, a pastiche of beliefs cobbled together as a framework and justification for racism and bigotry.
It is not an ancient, 2,000 year-old religion. It is hardly a religion at all, except in their own minds. Remember, this is a “religion” that claims to be Christian but puts far more focus on the Old Testament than on the New. This is a “religion” that says it wants the Ten Commandments, Mosaic Law as it is more properly described, to be the law of the land, though they themselves pick and choose which elements of the Law they want to obey.
They have cherry-picked what they claim is God’s Law to decide which parts God really wants them to obey and which ones have become irrelevant, ignoring along the way Jesus’ own assertion that not one iota of the law will pass away on his account: “until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law” (Mt 5:18).
Not one iota. If you know anything about the Greek, it is the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet. Iota means, ‘not the slightest amount’.
The law, said Jesus, was to remain intact.
But these ReBiblicans have re-imagined the law, just as they have re-imagined Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and other famous liberals, and American history itself. They have excused themselves from the restrictions on shaving, for example, but decided that the prohibition against homosexuality, which in the Biblical list of don’ts, is no more wicked than failing to shave to eating shellfish, and decided that God has a special hatred of homosexuality.
These are people who don’t read their own Bibles. They aren’t really Christians because they have managed to find a form of Christianity without Jesus, who despised the rich, in order to be a religion that not only admires wealth but which thinks it will become wealthy if it only prays enough. They have become a “religion” which thinks in Old Testament fire and brimstone terms rather than in love your enemy and turn the other cheek terms.
But they don’t understand that they themselves are neither Jews nor Christians, that they stand outside the religious tradition of both religions. They are not the exemplars of Christian tradition they hold themselves up to be.
They are phonies.
But they are rich and powerful phonies, who, as Leah Burton wrote here (and at God’s Own Party?), who now control the U.S. House of Representatives. They are phonies who, as I said here before the election, wrote the 2012 Republican Party Platform.
They are phonies. But they are not phonies we can dismiss. The Religious Right is not dead. As I said a few days ago, they have been declared dead countless times.
And they are not happy that we re-elected Barack Obama. And of course, in the age-old way of humans who think they speak for God, if they don’t like something, God must not like it either. Enter Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son.
If Franklin Graham is right, Glenn Beck may get his wish and be able to (finally!) stop crying (John Boehner too, bless his orange skin). Graham, who didn’t quite endorse Mitt Romney, now feels that God must have.
As Right Wing Watch reports, Graham told “David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network…that Obama’s second term will ‘usher in the largest changes in our society since the Civil War.’ He later maintained that Obama’s re-election is proof that Americans have ‘turned our back on God,’ and said that ‘we need someone like a Jerry Falwell to come back and resurrect the Moral Majority movement.’
Strong words coming from a guy who assured us via his father’s ministry that God had labeled Mormonism a cult – in other words, a bunch of heretics. A heretic being a person who has made the incorrect choice about the divine.
Conveniently, a few days before the election, God changed his mind about Mormons. But you know God, never one for patience, always smiting and vomiting people forth from the land and all that.
Odin’s ravens, man! I turned my back on your god in 1979! No pillar of salt here. Thor wards me well. And people who do not worship your god can’t turn their backs on him, particularly if they don’t believe in him in the first place. Thomas Paine despised your religion as a historical phenomenon and Thomas Jefferson was no big fan either, correctly (and presciently) pointing out that it has turned you into an idiot:
In Query XVII in his Notes on the State of Virginia, Jefferson said,
“Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned: yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites.”
“To support roguery and error all over the earth,” he added.
Look folks: it’s time to be blunt here. I make jokes about these people and their roguery and error because I think they’re idiots. They’re eating a crap sandwich and they want you to eat it too. They shoved the same crap sandwich down the throats of our ancestors – ALL our ancestors – at the point of a sword, the coercion Jefferson mentioned. Nobody wanted their damn religion in the first place. People were not jumping at the chance to be Christians of any type. The Christians who actually followed Jesus minded their own business, got along with their Pagan neighbors and turned the other cheek like Jesus told them to.
But the meek and mild don’t prosper when there are predators on the prowl. Glenn Beck, Franklin Graham, all the freedom-hating ass-clowns at the American Family Association and Focus on the Family and other groups like this, are predators. They are fools and hypocrites. They are not Christians. They don’t follow Jesus. They don’t give a shit what Jesus said or thought and probably couldn’t tell you what Jesus said if put to torture.
But here’s the thing: they are powerful. Though only 24 percent of the electorate is Evangelical, these people have power all out of proportion with their numbers. Team Obama put boots on the ground but these people have been putting boots on the ground since 1964, and they’re not going away any time soon.
As big a threat as they manifestly are, many liberals laugh and giggle and fail to take them seriously. But Germans failed to take Hitler seriously too, and it was Hitler who got to say, in the end, those who were laughing then are not laughing now:
“I am a prophet and people have been laughing at me continuously. But very many of those who laughed previously do not laugh anymore and those who are still laughing today perhabs won’t do so in the near future. This fact will be known throughout Europe and the rest of the world.”
No, they weren’t. And once you lost the right to laugh, you don’t get it back.
Freedom does not survive contact with this ideology. History teaches us that. We can laugh at the stupid things they do and say, but we should never underestimate them. Democrats in the past have been noted for lacking political will. This is one thing of which nobody will ever accuse the Religious Right: they do not lack for political will. And they do not lack for money.
We have been at the gates of theocracy since 2001, folks, since George W. Bush was elected President. Go to TheocracyWatch.org if you want all the ugly details of that close call. And we have had our hands on either side of the door pushing back ever since. But behind us are arrayed the forces of theocracy, trying to push us through. And if we let go, if our attention lapses for even an instant, we will be through.
And there is no going back this side of the grave. The First Amendment is under assault. The Constitution itself is under assault. And we cannot afford to treat the threat like a joke. We turned them back in 2012 at the highest level. I said before that I hope this will be their high-water mark. Their strength in the House is in part a consequence of redistricting, but no group that represents only 24 percent of the electorate gets that kind of power without money and organization. Believe it, folks. Hitler didn’t have the numbers either. But the had the organization and he had the money. And he did it. And he laughed last.
Let’s not let idiots and hypocrites get the last laugh on American democracy in 2013. And no, not talking about them won’t make them go away. Sticking our heads in a hole in the ground will just make it easier for them to throw the Constitution on a bonfire – right before we go in ourselves.
Photograph © 2011 by Hrafnkell Haraldsson