Theo-political prostitution: Bush and the Christian Right
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Oct 20, 2006, 01:10

David Kuo is a conservative Christian. Until 2003, he was deputy director of President Bush�s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Even before his new book Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction was released (pertinent excerpts from the book are now available), fallout from the nuclear detonation -- or �nu-cu-lar� as linguistically-challenged George W. would say -- was being reported:

A former Bush aide claims that evangelical Christians were embraced for political gain at the White House but derided privately as �nuts,� �ridiculous� and �goofy.� . . . Kuo's account of how the faith-based office has been regarded inside the White House recalls that of another high-level alumnus of the program. John J. DiIulio Jr., the faith-based office�s first director, who quit in 2002, told Esquire magazine that �Mayberry Machiavellis� led by Rove based policy only on re-election concerns.

The evangelical Christian Right thought they�d finally found their messiah in George W. Bush who would lead them to the promised land of their New World Order. What they got was a screw-up who most of the world considers the greatest threat to global peace and whose domestic policies have been fiascos, failures, or both.

But Rove and Bush got what they wanted: a voting block that would support and serve them, as long as they promised to work to fuel the faith-based bigotry that underwrote the good old days of the Dark Ages when Christian dogma reigned supreme and with an iron fist.

First step toward that goal: use selective biblical readings to deny civil equality to gay and lesbian Americans. After all, the Christocratic New World Order would need someone to demonize, despise and persecute. As �Mayberry Machiavellis� knew, that was also exactly what was needed to fuel Bush�s �election� and re-election campaigns. They had nothing else to work with except, as the late Ann Richards would put it, a vacuous candidate �born with a silver foot in his mouth.�

As Kuo�s book documents, the Bush administration is not really happy with the fanatical leaders of the evangelical Christian Right. And as numerous posting on websites of the evangelical Christian Right document, they�re not exactly happy with George W. and his administration�s perceived �failure� to push their pro-discrimination agenda.

The flap over Condoleezza Rice�s recent comment at the swearing in of a Bush-appointed gay man as the nation�s new global AIDS coordinator underscored the Christian Right�s intolerance of anything or anyone that doesn�t totally surrender to their dour dogmatic fanaticism. It also demonstrated yet again the inevitable divisiveness and bigotry generated when religion and politics are conjoined:

The ceremony involved Secretary of State Rice and the swearing in of Mark Dybul, an open homosexual, as the nation�s new global AIDS coordinator -- a position that carries the rank of ambassador. An Associated Press photo of the ceremony also shows a smiling First Lady Laura Bush and Dybul�s homosexual �partner,� Jason Claire. During her comments, Rice referred to the presence of Claire�s mother and called her Dybul�s �mother-in-law,� a term normally reserved for the heterosexuals who have been legally married. . . .

Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy at the Family Research Council, says the secretary�s comments were �profoundly offensive� and fly in the face of the Bush administration�s endorsement of a federal marriage protection amendment . . .

�We have to face the fact that putting a homosexual in charge of AIDS policy is a bit like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse,� says Sprigg. �But even beyond that, the deferential treatment that was given not only to him but his partner and his partner�s family by the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is very distressing.�

Sprigg says in light of the Foley scandal, �it�s inexplicable that a conservative administration would do such things.� He also notes that Rice�s comments defy an existing law on the books protecting traditional marriage. �So, for her to treat his partner like a spouse and treat the partner�s mother as a mother-in-law, which implies a marriage between the two partners, is a violation of the spirit if not the letter of the Defense of Marriage Act,� the FRC spokesman states.

One blogger made the appropriate comment about Sprigg�s �henhouse� reference: �Gee, that�s funny. Bashing a fag and people with AIDS in the same breath -- can the n-word jokes be far behind?�

Pastor Wiley Drake, second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention and a long-time Republican political activist in southern California, was right upfront with his ignorance and bigotry:

�I think it�s a tragedy to have a sodomite living with another man and being the AIDS coordinator,� says Drake, �because we all know that if we do away with sodomy we�d almost eradicate AIDS."

Apparently the pastor is unaware that heterosexual couples (including married ones) also engage in sodomy -- �anal or oral copulation with a member of the same or opposite sex� -- as well as the fact that HIV can be passed in a number of other ways.

Following Rice�s comments, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins asked �Has the social agenda of the GOP been stalled by homosexual members or staffers?� Translation: is our pro-discrimination agenda being rejected by a growing number of people and politicians, including the faith-based Republicans whose strings we thought we pulled?

But what really galled the Christian Right was that Dybul�s partner held the Bible on which the oath of office was sworn.

Why is the Bible used to swear in officials of a secular, civil government that�s based on a Constitution the First Amendment of which begins �Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion�? Shouldn�t a copy of the Constitution -- not the Christian Bible -- be used to swear in public officials?

While admitting he was not surprised that derisive comments were made about leaders of the evangelical Christian Right, Mr. Perkins also acknowledged the theo-political prostitution: �I see it really as a marriage of convenience. We are not without significant gains by working with this administration.�

A recent New York Times editorial, titled �Faith-Based Profits,� summarized some of those profitable prostituted �gains�:

Mary Rosati, a novice training to be a nun in Toledo, Ohio, says that after she received a diagnosis of breast cancer, her mother superior dismissed her. If Ms. Rosati had had a nonreligious job, she might have won a lawsuit against her diocese (which denies the charge). But a federal judge dismissed her suit under the Americans With Disabilities Act, declining to second-guess the church�s �ecclesiastical decision.� . . .

 . . . the wall between church and state is being replaced by a platform that raises religious organizations to a higher legal plane than their secular counterparts.

Day care centers with religious affiliations are exempted in some states from licensing requirements. Churches can expand in ways that would violate zoning ordinances if a nonreligious builder did the same thing, and they are permitted, in some localities, to operate lavish facilities, like state-of-the-art gyms, without paying property taxes. . . .

 . . . under pressure from politically influential religious groups, Congress, the White House, and federal and state courts have expanded this principle beyond all reason. It is increasingly being applied to people, buildings and programs only tangentially related to religion.

In its expanded form, this principle amounts to an enormous subsidy for religion, in some cases violating the establishment clause of the First Amendment. It also undermines core American values, like the right to be free from job discrimination. It puts secular entrepreneurs at an unfair competitive disadvantage. And it deprives states and localities of much-needed tax revenues, putting a heavier burden on ordinary taxpayers. [italics added]

The Times editorial was a follow-up to a series of articles by Diana Henriques, two of which were titled �As Religious Programs Expand, Disputes Rise Over Tax Breaks,� and �Religion-Based Tax Breaks: Housing to Paychecks to Books.�

�Putting a heavier burden on ordinary taxpayers�: middle-class Americans -- regardless of their religious beliefs, affiliations or lack thereof -- are footing the bill. They are the ones burdened with ever-increasing taxes that go to advance Christian fundamentalism and support theo-political lobbying groups and �faith-based� organizations.

While the Republican party will undoubtedly continue to cater to the wealthiest Americans, will they -- can they -- continue to sodomize the Christian Right? Will the Christian Right continue to willingly take it? Can these self-righteous �moralists� afford not to continue prostituting themselves? Can the GOP afford not to be their political �Johns�?

Or is the �marriage of convenience� over?

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