Evangelical politics and the Gospel According to George
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Journal Contributing Writer
Dec 9, 2005, 00:51
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
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 Advocate.com 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 365Gay.com 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
�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.
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
Williams, a former aide to Supreme Court Justice Clarence
Thomas, was also shilling antigay �news" for the administration, as
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.
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
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 . . .
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
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