Monday, October 12, 2009

When politics becomes a religious experience

THE OCTOBER ISSUE of Church and State has a detailed account of the 2009 Values
Voter Summit in Washington, a sort of fun-filled, let's-show-those-godless socialists event sponsored by a number of right-wing politico-religious organizations. If that's how they want to spend a couple of days in the shadows of the Lincoln Memorial, that's fine with me. Besides, we've all heard it before.

But the annual haloed conference of true believers is also an enormous magnet for the Republican Party's worst and dimmest who would doubtless be expelled from the rolls of Judeo-Christian (mostly Christian) safe passage to the next election if they didn't turn up with bless-you smiles.

I mean, this isn't a case where a GOP pol with a few battle stripes is invited to be the keynoter that would provide the big photo-op for Fox News. Rather, they eagerly arrive en masse to see and be seen. All leaves are cancelled, even if it means giving up a brother-in-law's funeral or a day at the races to be counted at the conference. In return, their pictures are posted in the program and can be quite heartwarming for those who are deeply attached to these sorts of family reunions.

Check them out: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader John Boehner, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, ex-presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, ex-presidential-candidate Mitt Romney, ex-Ohio gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell, ex Miss California candidate Carrie Prejean, Bill O'Reilly and, of course, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. There were many more, but you get the point. All of these folks have bags and will travel without much encouragement. There was one glaring exception: Sarah Palin, who tentatively agreed to come, was a no-show.

When you hear the damning comments from these speakers, it only gets worse. I've picked out a few from the magazine's report. (The magazne is published by Americans United for Separation of Church and State.)

Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota: "Keep the faith, and have heart, because remember, God is the God of all. He's the God of the White House, of the Congress, of state capitols, of school board meetings, city council meetings, all of it." (Does anybody doubt that Pawlenty is running for president on the God ticket?)

Blackwell: Calling upon his audience to convert Americans to fundamentalism, he declared: "If we don't do it, America in its third century will be redefined." (And I thought we were fighting religious fundamentalists in the Middle East!)

Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey: Calling Obama the "abortion president," Smith complained: "I believe Obamacare represents the greatest threat since Roe Vs. Wade itself."

Ok, so we have the issues laid out for the 2012 presidential race - and sooner: Anti health care reform, anti stimulus package, anti abortion, anti moderate-to-left politicians and pro-fear of "socialism" and Big Brother.

As Frank Rich aptly pointed out in his Sunday New York Times essay, the war in Afghanistan is now costing us $2.6 billion a month. Let us pray that the religious conservatives will take note of that when they complain about the financial burdens that we are placing on the next generation.


Anonymous said...

I heard they were angry at the Value Voters Summit because their nominee, Dick Cheney, didn't make it to the finals list for the Nobel Peace Prize. Their argument for him was that he sought peace through annhiliation-destroy your enemies at all costs and you shall have peace. They'll try again next year under a different guise.

Grumpy Abe said...

I think that Cheney's many draft deferments convinced his apologists that he was against war and therefore a man of peace. It was corrupted Aristotelian logic.

PJJinOregon said...

You got it wrong, Abe. The topic is "When a religious experience become politics." Remember the too-short coverage of C-Street? There's a lot of background in "The Family" by Jeff Sharlet. I've just begun reading it, and I've puked three times. De gustibus.

Grumpy Abe said...

Sharlet's book is a troubling account of the religious zealots who are influencing public policy. I keep it handy for reference material. No longer can we talk seriously about the separation of church and state. As Sharlet warns, the two entities have become a single entity. Walking the halls of Congress may seem more and more a pass-through of somebody's church.