If you want to see what the new Republicanism looks like economically, take a glance at Detroit. If you want to see what it looks like religiously, take a glance at the U.S. House of Representatives banning atheist chaplains, or at Alabama, where the Alabama Public Service Commission started a meeting about power rate structures with a prayer against Marriage Equality.
You’d think they’d be praying their power rates down, but no.
Watch courtesy of Right Wing Watch:
It was at a regulatory meeting concerning Alabama Power rates that Public Service Commission President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh let Prattville Baptist preacher John Jordan give an invocation that ended with, “We’ve taken you out of our schools, we’ve taken you out of our prayers, we’ve murdered your children, we’ve said it’s OK to have same-sex marriage, God. We have sinned.”
And it’s not just the prayer; it is that Jordan asked those attending the meeting if they believed in the power of prayer. Imagine being the lone atheist or secularist in such a room.
According to Jesus, they shouldn’t even have been talking about prayer in public. Jesus said only hypocrites pray in public (did you miss that part of the Bible, Pastor Jordan?).
Jesus and his teachings, of course, don’t figure prominently in Republican discourse, though they sure like to invoke his name.
People will argue that it’s always been this way: legislatures have always opened meetings or sessions with prayer. Ever since the days of the Founding Fathers!
Yes, they also owned slaves in those days, both black slaves and white indentured servants who were treated no better than slaves and sometimes worse. By that argument, it is okay for us to own slaves today. We know how they feel about indentured servants. That’s what Mexicans are for!
Though presumably not the ones Rep. Steve King (R-IA) fantasizes about. You know the ones, the 130-pound Mexicans with “calves the size of cantaloupes.”
(Though I bet they make great gardeners!)
They also tarred and feathered people in the days of our Founding Fathers, an excruciatingly painful and sometimes fatal procedure. Should we do that today to people in our communities we don’t like?
As the Freedom from Religion Foundation points out, “It is inappropriate and coercive for public officials—many of whom have tax-paid positions and all of whom take an oath to uphold secular constitutions—to schedule prayer at government functions, or open government meetings with prayer and religious ritual.”
Government of the people, by the people, for the people, is only by some of the people for some of the people and it’s really more a government of corporations now. And the line between corporate and religious plunderers of Americans’ dreams is really quite blurred.
Bad as all this is, we have to keep in mind that sometimes religion is used by a cover; the Bible can be used as a club to beat us up over how or whether we pray to a certain god, but it can also be used as a shield by those who have other nefarious, thirty pieces of silver-type activities in mind.
Columnist John Archibald of the Birmingham News points out that the event was not really about religion or sectarian prayers:
She [Cavanaugh] gets – and Alabama Power gets – exactly what they want. They want the issue lost in passionate belief, an ideological tussle designed to pit tree-huggers against coal miners, conservationists against those concerned with jobs, liberals against conservatives.
Not because this issue really divides along those lines, but because those are the shiny things that everybody in Alabama can grab hold of.
Archibald writes that it’s best “to remember what these hearings are about,” which is not abortion or marriage equality but about Alabama Power’s rate structure, a structure that allows “the company to write of an $8 million salary for CEO Charles McCrary as Operations and Maintenance, at a government-regulated monopoly.”
It lets the company take a return on equity 30-40 percent higher than the national average, according to testimony today that was not disputed, and allows it to take hundreds of millions in higher profits that could be saved by ratepayers and pumped back into the economy.
It is not shiny. The numbers are complex and the methods dull. But that is what it is about. Not prayer or Cavanaugh, the liberal agenda or a war on coal.
It is, writes Archibald, “about Alabama Power’s really good deal.”
America and Americans are under attack. Both from the forces of religious intolerance and by corporations. The Tea Party combines and embodies the worst of both. It is not without reason that Pastor Jordan, who gave the invocation, was at the meeting to testify on behalf of the Tea Party.
But in Republican America, corporations are more important than people and Christians are more important than everyone else. And despite all their claims about being champions of small government, they aren’t afraid to write that America into law.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.