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Religion Last Updated: Feb 24th, 2006 - 22:49:12

The Christian Right has gone over the edge
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Feb 24, 2006, 22:45

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The Agape Press headline said it all: �Grandmother Gets Help Asserting Preschooler�s Right to Share His Faith.� The story was even more bizarre.

Four-year-old �Zachariah� was apparently �sharing his faith� with classmates at his preschool when the teacher told him he could not talk about religion at school. Grandma got pissed off and contacted the American Family Association Center for Law and Policy, where Steve Crampton, �a specialist in constitutional law,� took up the case.

Crampton is notorious for making outlandish statements, such as the one he made following the 2003 Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling that �equal� means �equal� in relation to all civil institutions, including marriage: �Unless the people of the State of Massachusetts rise up with one voice in opposition to this lawless and socially destructive behavior [marriage], it will destroy society as we know it.�

More recently, when the University of Florida began offering health care coverage to same-sex domestic partners -- all 25 couples who initially signed up -- he had this nonsensical response: �Steve Crampton, chief counsel with the American Family Association Center for Law & Policy, says, in this case, homosexuality appears to be the preferred lifestyle of the State of Florida . . ."

Crampton�s parent organization, Don Wildmon�s American Family Association (AFA), has been busy raising its profile among dogmatic fanatics -- albeit with little if any finesse -- by calling for boycotts of companies that treat their gay and lesbian employees equally, organizations that promote equality for all Americans, and television shows that offend their delicate and distinctly humorless �Christian� sensibilities.

Now, the legal arm of AFA is defending the constitutional right of a 4-year-old to dispense theological truths in the playground:

In this case, Crampton notes, �The teacher was basically insinuating herself into a private conversation between Zachariah and one of his classmates. The over-zealousness on the part of this teacher is extraordinary, and I�m sure she thought she was doing a good deed, trying to protect the school. But, in fact, she was interfering with Zachariah�s own constitutional rights.�

A 4-year-old�s cognitive capabilities don�t extend much beyond Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, and are certainly not capable of comprehending theological scholarship or understanding the convoluted, man-made complexities of religious dogma. So aside from possibly scaring his classmates with tales of fire and brimstone, �Zachariah�s� evangelical message was essentially like talking about the �old woman� in �Hansel and Gretel� or the bogeyman under the bed.

What isn�t harmless or amusing is AFA�s and Crampton�s campaigns to deny certain adult Americans their �constitutional rights� as equal citizens deserving of equal access to all civil institutions, including the one called �marriage,� while striving to protect the �constitutional rights� of a 4-year-old to �share a faith� he is incapable of understanding.

The Christian Right has gone right over the edge. They�ve become a caricature of themselves. A serious hoot was provided by Edward F. Blick�s article �Laughing at Evolution� that appeared on the website of �The Christian Underground.� Blick was identified as �Emeritus Professor of Engineering, Univ. of Oklahoma.�

Dr. Blick began his treatise with this: "We all love to laugh, it�s good medicine. We laughed at the Queen in Lewis Carroll�s 'Alice in Wonderland.' She 'sometimes believed in six impossible things before breakfast.' Similarly, I laugh at Darwinian professors who teach impossible fairy tales to their students. [italics added]

Professor Blick�s Christian Underground article went on to make preposterous �leaps of faith,� absurdly inaccurate statements in childish language, and to blame all of America�s �ills� on evolution: "In the last half century, evolution hijacked America and its schools and inflicted a great defeat on American culture. Crime has skyrocketed, homosexuality and gay marriage have been mainstreamed, and our morals have submerged into a cesspool. Why? Kids brainwashed with this kooky nonsense are taught that they evolved from apes, there is no God and that morals are relative . . ." [italics added]

Blick�s �teach impossible fairy tales to their students� and �kooky nonsense� would perfectly describe a course approved at Frazier Mountain High School in Lebec, California. As the New York Times reported last month, �A group of parents are suing their small California school district to force it to cancel a four-week high school elective on intelligent design, creationism and evolution that it is offering as a philosophy course.� [link added]

Since creationism and intelligent design are definitely not science, a philosophy course might seem an appropriate venue, however, �the parents, represented by lawyers with Americans United for Separation of Church and State, contend that the teacher is advocating intelligent design and �young earth creationism� and is not examining those ideas in a neutral way alongside evolution.�

Young Earth Creationism is an even more �kooky� version of creationism. It claims that dinosaurs played with human children in Eden and that Mr. and Mrs. Tyrannosaurs rex were passengers on Noah�s ark. But here�s the real hoot: "In their suit, the parents said the syllabus originally listed 24 videos to be shown to students, with 23 'produced or distributed by religious organizations and assume a pro-creationist, anti-evolution stance.' They said the syllabus listed two evolution experts who would speak to the class. One was a local parent and scientist who said he had already refused the speaking invitation and was now suing the district; the other was Francis H. C. Crick, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA . . ." [italics added]

Francis H. C. Crick died on July 28, 2004, yet the syllabus for this supposedly �academic� course claimed he would be speaking to a class in 2006. That�s quite a trick.

But perhaps the best line in Prof. Blick�s article was �Darwinists know they have to hide their atheist religion.� Any dictionary illustrates that lexicological chicanery. I used the eleventh edition of Merriam-Webster�s Collegiate Dictionary:

Atheism: a disbelief in the existence of deity.

Religion: the service and worship of God.

�Atheist religion� is an oxymoron.

Amusing oxymorons also came from Colorado: �Saying they were motivated by love, a coalition of religious and family groups formally kicked off a drive Wednesday [February 1] for an amendment to the state constitution that would ban gay marriage.� Huh? How could �love� motivate a desire to prevent the ultimate expression of love, �marriage�?

If that doesn�t make sense, ponder this statement from Bishop Phillip H. Porter, Jr., of All Nations Church of God in Christ, one of the �loving� backers of the anti-love amendment: �We can have it [love]. We are all called to have that love even when it hurts us, even when it hurts others.� Huh? Who�s being hurt by gays and lesbians getting married? And if by some strange delusion same-sex marriage �hurts� Bishop Porter, he did say that hurt is okay with him: �even when it hurts us.�

The tragic love story of Brokeback Mountain has been a frequently discussed topic in all media outlets. What the film is about has been very well publicized. However, some of the members of the Crossroads Community Church in Bedford, Indiana seem to have a lot of trouble understanding what everyone else does:

Two members at the church went to Bloomington a few weeks ago to catch a film. They weren�t familiar with the content of �Brokeback Mountain,� and watched it based on the playbill.

�About halfway through it, they decided they needed to leave because they were getting physically sick . . . ,� [associate pastor Phil] Thorne said. �We feel like other than what�s been in the media about it, the advertisements have not been clear and have not really told what�s actually being shown in the movie.� [source link added]

Assuming the parishioners of the Crossroads Community Church get and read newspapers and magazines, have and watch television, have and use the Internet, how could Brokeback�s numerous �advertisements� -- not to mention the ubiquitous stories about the film�s content -- have been unclear?

Thorne also made another comment: �We feel this [Brokeback Mountain] is an anti-biblical stance.� One can only presume, therefore, that Rev. Thorne and his parishioners obey all the death penalty biblical laws in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. If not, he and his congregation are just homophobic hypocrites. If they do obey all those biblical laws, the population of Bedford must be very small and dropping fast.

The dogma so rife in the Christian Right�s rhetoric often ends up amusingly arguing against their point. In answering a question from a reader about how genetic evidence would -- or should -- affect society�s view of homosexuality and treatment of homosexuals, someone at James Dobson�s Focus on the Family (FOF) responded with comments like these: "What if it could be demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that homosexuality is, as activists claim, genetic, biochemical, and neurological in origin? We would still want to know, so what?"

Who cares about the American covenant that we don�t discriminate against people for things beyond their control? Theocracy is Dobson�s and FOF�s goal, with the �kingmaker� in charge, of course, and nothing in the media but evangelical preachers saying �God� needs your money.

One comment in the FOF response provided the punch line: "I know of no instance in Scripture where God winked at evildoers because of their flawed inheritance . . ."

Who the �I� was giving the response was never made clear, but think about the statement. If �God� specifically created each person -- as the Christian Right dogmatically maintains -- wouldn�t �flawed inheritance� mean �God� screwed-up? It seems far more likely that man-made, politically motivated �dogma� perverted spirituality and common sense, not to mention the belief in civil equality for all Americans.

You have to wonder if any of the leaders of the Christian Right or their political and legal brethren ever saw Kevin Smith�s 1999 film Dogma. And if they did see it, did they understand it? Probably not given their continued �dogmatic� rants, such as the one enshrined in a February 21 Agape Press article. �Homosexual Activists� War Against Christianity� by Ed Vitagliano of the American Family Association. You remember Mr. Vitagliano: the AFA�s homophobic �researcher� who began the whole SpongeBob fiasco.

While Mr. Crampton is busy protecting the Constitutional rights of a 4-year-old to evangelize at preschool, I suggest the dour, sour leaders of the Christian Right who take offense at just about everything have a look at The Christian Humor Hotline: �We believe that our God is a laughing God, and God who enjoys Himself, and that this joy extends to us as believers.� While all the sections on the site are good, I particularly like the �Bulletin Bloopers and Blunders (a compilation of actual Church Bulletin and Service bloopers).� Here�s a brief sampling:

  • The Lutheran men�s group will meet at 6 p.m. Steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, bread and dessert will be served for a nominal feel.

  • Our next song is �Angels We Have Heard Get High.�

  • Don�t let worry kill you -- let the church help.

  • Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.

  • This afternoon there will be a meeting in the South and North ends of the church. Children will be baptized at both ends.

  • Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. there will be an ice cream social. All ladies giving milk will please come early.

  • Thursday at 5:00 PM there will be a meeting of the Little Mother�s Club. All ladies wishing to become �Little Mothers� will meet with the Pastor in his study.

  • This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Lewis to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.

  • The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind. They can be seen in the church basement Saturday.

  • The senior choir invites any member of the congregation who enjoys sinning to join the choir.

  • Pastor is on vacation. Massages can be given to church secretary.

  • The associate minister unveiled the church�s new giving campaign slogan last Sunday: �I Upped My Pledge -- Up Yours.�

I wonder how the sanctimonious leaders of the Christian Right would react to these if they didn�t know their source. And even if they did know, might Don Wildmon and the American Family Association launch a boycott of the Christian Humor Hotline for mocking Christianity and being anti-Christian?

NB: For those who would enjoy some laughable Republican ranting, I suggest Ted Baiamonte�s �Dumb Democrats� website. His latest hoot began with �In the last week I happened to catch six Democratic sound bites each one of which speaks to the obvious need for a Constitutional Amendment to make Democrats illegal.� No, he�s not kidding. He once wrote �I hate Democrats because they hate freedom, and you should too.�

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