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Religion Last Updated: Dec 31st, 2005 - 13:52:10

Evangelical politics and the Gospel According to George
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Dec 9, 2005, 00:51

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America likes to believe it believes that all citizens are equal, but that's as delusional as Young Earth Creationists' belief that T. rex was a passenger on Noah's ark. The Bush administration owes its existence to the evangelical Christian Right. Their common ideology and tactics derive from the worst that politicized religion has to offer.

In Western history, religious dogma expressed politically has been a wellspring of lies, bigotry, hate, torture, and death. Even among the faithful, some were deemed inherently inferior. For example, in the Christian tradition women were seen as the root of all evil, as was noted by St. Paul in First Timothy when he ordered Christians �suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence" because �Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, was in the transgression." And some people had to be eliminated ad majorem gloriam Dei. The Cathars were the first to be exterminated by Christendom's Holy Inquisition. Cathars were heretics, theologically and politically. They believed all men and women were equal, theologically and politically.

In 2004, four landlords in Allentown, Pa., refused to rent to gays, thereby violating a city anti-discrimination ordinance. They were sued. But a section of Pennsylvania's Home Rule Act, which includes Allentown, prevented the city from requiring businesses and employers not to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender, so the landlords won the case. Their crusader attorney commented after the decision: �It's a complete victory. . . . It allows them to exercise their religious conscience in the way that they see fit. "Exercising their �religious conscience" as they saw fit was exactly what the alleged 9/11 terrorists did.

Bush's main supporters are the politicized Christian Right and their leaders who wrap themselves in the flag as they preach hate and discrimination. Rev. Lou Sheldon and his Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) come immediately to mind.

Dr. James Dobson and his Focus on the Family (FOF) also come immediately to mind. That antigay organization recently severed ties with Wells Fargo because, according to FOF, the bank supported �the radical homosexual agenda"(aka �the equality of all Americans�). The statement by Focus on the Family president and chief executive Jim Daly made an assertion that rivals Bush's lie about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction: �We at Focus on the Family respect the worth and dignity of every human being."All one need do is have a quick look at Dobson's 2004 book, Marriage Under Fire, to see his views about the �worth and dignity of" gays and lesbians and their families.

In commenting on FOF's action, Glennda Testone, spokeswoman for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, was blunt: �Let's just call this what it is -- another attempt by an antigay group to try to intimidate companies into not supporting or doing business with gays and lesbians.�

�We need to find ways to win the war," Karl Rove told a gathering of the Family Research Council in March 2002. The Family Research Council is one of the most virulently antigay organizations in the Christian Right. Rove wasn't talking about the war on terrorism. He was talking to cohorts about their crusade against civil society and certain Americans and their families.

Then there's boycott king Rev. Don Wildmon who runs the American Family Association (AFA). They target any company that treats its gay and lesbian employees equally or that contributes to organizations that promote equality. Their recently �called off" boycott of Ford Motor Company is a case in point. In May 2005, AFA began its attack on Ford for the company's egregious policies of supporting efforts to increase gay and lesbian diversity in the workplace, supporting events and organizations that promote civil equality, and supporting gay and lesbian media by advertising in them. While the details of the �reconciliation" are not yet clear, Ford spokesman Mike Moran did confirm to that �the company would no longer advertise Jaguar and Land Rover products in the gay media, saying that the decision was strictly 'business.'" However, �a recognized authority in the advertising industry, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told that the decision to end advertising in the gay media was made 'at the highest level' and was in reaction to the AFA threat.�

Ford's in trouble and plans to shut down five North American plants that employ approximately 7,500 workers. Leave it to the ideologues of the Christian Right to �kick a guy when he's down." And what's their motivation for doing so? To disenfranchise and, thereby, demean gays, lesbians, and their families.

All these "pro-family" religious leaders and their ideological organizations have common tactics and goals. They use concocted, perverted religious dogma to encourage hatred of and discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans in order to enhance their own political power. And in the Bush administration, political power is what they have. That's obvious, as is their perversion of �Christianity." The latter was poignantly illustrated by the United Church of Christ's television ad. It was banned by NBC, CBS and UPN, but recently won the Association of National Advertisers' 2005 Multicultural Excellence Award. Then again, "multiculturalism" and �diversity" are anathema to the evangelical Christian Right.

�I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good . . . Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a Biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this country. We don't want equal time. We don't want pluralism.� --Christian political activist Randall Terry

Of course all these �men of God" and their political organizations fully support George W. Bush. As Maureen Dowd noted in an October 21, 2004, New York Times column, �evangelicals call the president a messenger of God." This �messenger of God" used massaged intelligence to justify taking the country to war. Lying seems to be a �traditional value� for the Christian Right and their �messenger of God."

When Pennsylvania representative John Murtha joined the anti-war movement, Bush lashed out and accused those who oppose his stay-the-course Vietnam mentality of �rewriting history." Repeating and rewriting history is precisely what Bush was doing in his 2005 Veterans' Day speech. More offensive was the fact that he was doing it hiding behind the memory of those he sent to their deaths: the same tactic once used to defend the Vietnam war.

A few days later, Bush did the same thing in Alaska. The New York Times commented in a November 15, 2005, editorial:

Yesterday [November 14, 2005] in Alaska, Mr. Bush trotted out the same tedious deflection on Iraq that he usually attempts when his back is against the wall: he claims that questioning his actions three years ago is a betrayal of the troops in battle today. It all amounts to one energetic effort at avoidance. But like the W.M.D. reports that started the whole thing, the only problem is that none of it has been true. . . . The reports about Saddam Hussein's weapons were old, some more than 10 years old. Nothing was fresher than about five years, except reports that later proved to be fanciful. . . . Mr. Bush said last Friday [Veterans' Day speech] that he welcomed debate, even in a time of war, but that �it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began." We agree, but it is Mr. Bush and his team who are rewriting history.

The observations of W. David Jenkins III bear repeating:

Members of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) were well aware that intelligence coming out of Iraq did not stand up to the claims they were making. There was no evidence of WMD or al Qaeda ties no matter how many times certain members of the White House demanded that the CIA go back and try again. There are reports by intelligence staffers of Cheney and Libby making multiple visits to CIA Headquarters -- during the run up to war -- and demanding a more aggressive interpretation of the supposed threat posed by Hussein. How interesting that those who rewrote intelligence are now accusing their critics of rewriting history.

But why bother rewriting? The faith-based Bush administration has cast a darker shade of yellow over journalism.

Just as the Christian Right cobbled together their own political scriptures, the Bush administration paid �journalists" and PR firms to create the Gospel According to George. From The New York Times report:

Federal auditors said on Friday [September 20, 2005] that the Bush administration violated the law by buying favorable news coverage of President Bush's education policies, by making payments to the conservative commentator Armstrong Williams and by hiring a public relations company to analyze media perceptions of the Republican Party. In a blistering report, the investigators, from the Government Accountability Office, said the administration had disseminated �covert propaganda" in the United States, in violation of a statutory ban. . . .

Congress tried to clarify the ban on �covert propaganda" in a bill signed by Mr. Bush in May. The law says that no federal money may be used to produce or distribute a news story unless the government's role is openly acknowledged. [italics mine]

Williams, a former aide to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, was also shilling antigay �news" for the administration, as reported in mid-October 2005:

The US Attorney's office has begun an inquiry into the use by the Bush administration of anti-gay commentator Armstrong Williams to promote its so-called marriage initiative. . . . In a column following the November 2 election Williams linked gay rights advocates with organized crime.

�Despite the rhetoric that you hear from the homosexual Cosa Nostra, the lack of support for the gay marriage amendment has nothing to do with prejudice," he wrote.

�It's not about trying to dictate to adults what they should do in the privacy of their own homes. Let's be clear about that. Opposition to the gay marriage amendment isn't about disallowing homosexuals the same basic rights we extend to everyone else. It is about recognizing that marriage between man and woman is the bedrock of our society. It is about the citizens of this country saying, en masse, that they are unwilling to deconstruct certain basic and essential norms in our culture and society.�

After Williams was exposed the White House pulled the plug on the operation, but sources close to the investigation say that Williams did not return any of the money, nor did the administration request it. [italics mine]

As has been shown in Massachusetts and elsewhere in the world, same-sex marriage has no effect on marriage between men and women. Quite the contrary. The �bedrock" institution may be strengthened by new participants and their commitments. But the Gospel According George is not interested in reality, honesty or truth. Current headlines -- and cartoons -- confirm that. From the December 1, 2005, New York Times report by Jeff Gerth and Scott Shane:

Titled �The Sands Are Blowing Toward a Democratic Iraq," an article written this week for publication in the Iraqi press was scornful of outsiders' pessimism about the country's future.

�Western press and frequently those self-styled 'objective' observers of Iraq are often critics of how we, the people of Iraq, are proceeding down the path in determining what is best for our nation," the article began. Quoting the Prophet Muhammad, it pleaded for unity and nonviolence.

But far from being the heartfelt opinion of an Iraqi writer, as its language implied, the article was prepared by the United States military as part of a multimillion-dollar covert campaign to plant paid propaganda in the Iraqi news media and pay friendly Iraqi journalists monthly stipends, military contractors and officials said.

The article was one of several in a storyboard, the military's term for a list of articles, that was delivered Tuesday to the Lincoln Group, a Washington-based public relations firm paid by the Pentagon, documents from the Pentagon show.

�Storyboard." What an appropriate term. George W. acknowledged that in 1989: �You know, I could run for governor but I'm basically a media creation. I've never done anything. I've worked for my dad. I worked in the oil business. But that's not the kind of profile you have to have to get elected to public office" unless, of course, you use theocratic evangelism and its long, bloody history to set American against American, religion against religion, and nation against nation.

The Gospel According to George was fervently preached by �Take Him Out" Pat Robertson: �I really believe I'm hearing from the Lord. It's going to be like a blowout election in 2004. It's shaping up that way. . . . The Lord has just blessed [George W. Bush]. I mean, he could make terrible mistakes and comes out of it. It doesn't make any difference what he does, good or bad, God picks him up because he's a man of prayer and God's blessing him."

An interesting notion. Actions don't matter, only prayers. But the Gospel According to George is not selling well these days, and for good reason. Actions do matter . . .

�Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.� --George W. Bush, August 5, 2004

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