March 31, 2006

Saving the Republic from the forces of perversion.

This past weekend, Christian right-wingers gathered in Washington for a conference called 'The War on Christians and the Values Voter in 2006.' ['Values voter', you'll recall from the 2004 US election, is the code word that the right uses instead of 'religious fundamentalist' or 'fundamentalist Christian' — neither of which are very palatable to non-fundamentalist voters.] Obviously unbothered by the question of whether there can be a 'war on Christians' in a country where the religious right is a major force in the current administration, right-wing Christian leaders and GOP politicos spent the conference trying to figure out how to rally the Christian fundamentalist rank and file and keep the forces of darkness from gaining control of the country in this year's midterm elections.

DeLay comes to Jesus

Embattled GOP congressmember Tom DeLay comes to Jesus
during the 'War on Christians' conference.
[Photo: Win Mcnamee/Getty Images]

Journalist Michelle Goldberg had the strong nerves needed to attend the conference, and she's written up her account of the proceedings over at Salon. If you're not already scared by the hard-core Christian right, you will be after reading her story.

I was especially struck by the following:

Laurence White, a bearded Lutheran pastor in a clerical collar who followed DeLay, repeated a quote that he, like many before him, erroneously ascribed to Alexis DeTocqueville: "America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will also cease to be great."

"My friends," White said in a stentorian voice like burnished oak, "America is no longer good. Unrighteousness, evil, corruption, perversion and death are now standard operating procedure in the United States of America. If we do not put an end to it now, in this moment of divine destiny, then God will and God should judge America."

This was remarkable language to hear at a political forum. Imagine if Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi gave a conference address that was followed by a furious condemnation of her country. She would have to scramble to distance herself from it and would be excoriated in the press regardless. But it's not unusual to encounter this kind of thing at one of Scarborough's events because they manage to bring together congressmen ... with some of the most radical elements of what was once the right-wing fringe.

That last phrase — 'most radical elements of what was once the right-wing fringe' — points to what this magpie finds so scary about this lot. Even back in the 1970s, religious fundamentalism of this stripe was way out of the mainstream. Nobody took these folks seriously then because their beliefs were so wacky. But move ahead a few decades and those same folks are now within a heartbeat of gaining control of the country and forcing their brand of theocracy on all of us.

We don't dare underestimate them.

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Posted by Magpie at March 31, 2006 12:20 PM | US Politics | Technorati links |

Pastor White, a decade ago, was obviously concerned about abortion back then, seeing it as the most abject failure of secularism and who compared the failure of the Lutheran community to address this issue to the failure of the German Lutheran church in the 1930s to confront Nazism.

He also, however, was once equally devastating in his critique of modern-day American evangelicals, declaring in 1997, "This theological black hole of doctrinally indifferent, man-centered, feeling-founded, consumer-oriented religion threatens to swallow up Lutheran and Calvinist, liberal and conservative alike."

Sounds like it digested him, sadly.

What worries me more, though, is the growing appearance of impropriety between Delay and Kurt Senske, head of Lutheran Social Services of the South, with respect to Delay's dubious trips to Russia and, potentially, his involvement in spearheading at least a portion of the humanitarian response to Katrina.

Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Social Services provide more non-governmental aid to the needy throughout the world than any other organization, period. If it appears that Senske's actions with Delay harm the character and thus the long-term fundraising capability of LSS through an attempt to become yet another skimming operation for the Republicans, as a faithful member of the Lutheran church, I'm personally going to introduce some righteous fury on both their asses.

Posted by: palamedes at April 1, 2006 10:59 PM

Mr White is completely correct, of course (IMAO aside from the religious window dressing), and it would be wonderful to hear that sort of language from the Democrats. Unfortunately, I suspect White is completely happy with the real corruption, perversion, and death, and is actually trying to distract from the real problem by making a fuss about harmless fun between consenting adults.

Posted by: felice at April 2, 2006 06:07 PM