The Rising Tone of Violence
Living in one of the bluest of the blue states has its rewards to be sure. Besides its breathtaking natural beauty, Washington, or at least my little corner of it, is so far removed from the increasingly hostile tone of the red state religionists who are finally beginning to show their true colors. With such a disproportionately large share of political leverage firmly in their hands and the prospects for a handpicked federal
judiciary never brighter, the fundamentalist demagogues have not hesitated to turn up the intensity of their bombastic tirades against â€œGodless liberalsâ€? and â€œMarxist leaning activist judges.â€?
The assault force cadres of the new Christian nation have done their jobs well. Anyone in Congress or in a position of real public authority knows all too well that there is a
steep price to be paid for being viewed as antipathetic or obstructive to the legislative agenda of â€œvaluesâ€? and â€œGodliness.â€? Defying Christâ€™s many admonitions to His disciples not to force His name on non believers, todayâ€™s promulgators of Christian supremacy seem to revel in the rhetoric of fear and vengeance.They promise the faithful that the swift and savage hand of God will punish the willfully evil who seek to plunge the nation into a sea of hedonistic sin.
Such voices are not new to American evangelism. As far back as the 1830â€™s, the prophets of the Apocalypse preached a populist but rather narrow theological perspective to those who would listen and accept their call to salvation. It is widely agreed that modern Christian fundamentalism was popularized in early eighteenth century England by ecumenical groups such as the Plymouth Brethren. Incepted by one John Nelson Darby, these early adherents to a literalistic biblical interpretation sought to reform what they considered to be the socially liberal Anglican Church. Darby, an Irish, ex-Anglican priest, became preoccupied with the bibleâ€™s end times prophecy, claiming to have discovered a hidden biblical code which foretold of seven dispensations, or thematic historical periods through which the Christian church would pass until the rapture, tribulation and eventual return of the Messiah to rule on earth for a thousand year reign.
Exported to a largely rural America over the next few decades, evangelism (as it came to be known) spread throughout the dirt poor regions of the country. With its emphasis on the conversion experience and subsequent renewal of the spirit the effect was cathartic and immediate on a population that clung to the promised rewards of eternal blessings and riches that surely awaited the true believer as he took his rightful place in the heavenly afterlife.
If there was ever a people that needed the comfort of a better life ahead it was the conquered white farmers and scratch poor in the American South that had suffered so mightily during the civil war. Towards the end of the great struggle, especially within
the decimated confederate armies, there arose a â€œgreat awakeningâ€? as it was called, and by the hundreds the tattered and demoralized men in Leeâ€™s and Johnstonâ€™s armies came to the Lord at impromptu â€œrevivalsâ€? where itinerant stump preachers sounded out the message of mercy and redemption for a defeated nation. The abuses and excesses of Yankee Reconstruction only added fuel to the religious fire as most of what was lef of the white south struggled to feed their families while at the same time having to endure the often spiteful boot heal of the northern occupying troops that were garrisoned throughout the various southern states. Life was damn hard and the grief of having lost so many in their
holy cause only added to the widespread despair of the common folk. It was in these miserable conditions that the roots of modern evangelism took such a tenacious hold and, along with Its charismatic offshoots, it flourished and grew in great leaps and bounds throughout the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Whether it be the threat of retribution from newly freed slaves following the civil war or in defiance of determined voter registration campaigns by â€œnorthern agitatorsâ€? of the early 1960â€™s, the fundamentalist Christian lay and clergy formed the backbone of the brutally repressive backlash against efforts to legitimize and franchise the large black population of the Jim Crow south. It was these devout Christians who organized and directed the violent terror campaigns against African American farmers and share croppers who dared to cross a white man or demand even his most basic civil rights. I find it ironic that so many of the black pastors of today are willing to jump so eagerly into bed with the historical and biological descendents of the same murderers and bigots that imposed the worst apartheid
system in modern history on their own recent ancestors. They ought to be ashamed of themselves. Of course, they have no capacity for shame, the reasons for which are fodder for another, future essay.
Their black congregations would do well to consider the truism that, at least in this world, the lamb is never quite so close to peril as when he is deceived into beleiving that he and the lion shall lie together in peace.
It was white Christian pastors that preached the doctrine of â€œstates rightsâ€? in the early days of the civil rights movement and it was from the fundamentalist theology that the moral justification for the concept of racial purity (code for: white supremacy)was drawn. It was obvious to the bible believing southerner that God had never intended for the races to intermix. The supporting scriptural references were readily supplied to the doubtful and any white man or woman who dared to march or protest
was to be considered fair game for any punishment up to and including death. Never forget that the Ku Klux Klanâ€™s regalia and artifacts were (and still are)dripping in Christian symbolism.
I grew up in the civil rights era South. Alabama, to be precise. The belly of the beast, one might accurately say. As a child with a precocious streak as wide as the lower Mississippi delta I asked lotâ€™s of uncomfortable questions about the blatant inequalities
between black and white in my everyday world. More often than the not, the banal bigotry that framed the answers I got was laid at the feet of the baby Jesus upon whose name all manner of atrocities were heaped.
Miraculously, within ne short lifetime, the main body of evangelical doctrine has shifted from embracing outright racism of the worst sort to a new message of open arms
to all people of color and the complete lifting of the long standing taboo on inter-racial marriage. Why this rather sudden and radical change in attitude? One doesnâ€™t have to look very far to find the answer. In order for fundamentalist core belief in the pre-millennial, revelations prophecy (whereby Christ returns to earth to rule His kingdom for a thousand year reign.) there have to exist various â€œsignsâ€? or â€œsealsâ€? in order to usher in the new dispensational order. These indicators depend heavily on the vision of earth firmly in the hands of Satan as evidenced by widespread hedonism and various forms of false religions. Welcome to the homosexual agenda to advance the cause of Godlessness and state sanctioned perversion which is to signal the beginning of a
dark period of persecution for all believers and in which the faith of all Christians will be tried and tested in order to prepare them for the Rapture.
Evangelical Christianity requires a constant supply of â€œevil doersâ€? in order to justify its own rather parasitical existence. It feeds off of the fears and prejudices that distill
themselves down to the base level of our lowest common denominator. Rarely does it appeal to the higher, more noble aspirations of humankind. Fatalistic and condeming
of man as a whole for being lost in the suffering of his own sin, his only redemption after conversion is in the return of Christ to save an unworthy planet from being consumed by its own propensity to evil. Not a very uplifting religious ideology by any standard.
Furthermore, as the script for mankindâ€™s agonized fate was written thousands of years ago and it virtually unalterable, there is really no use in trying to improve earthly conditions or avoid global holocaust. Such efforts are viewed with disdain by evangelical theologians as in their eyes they are nothing more than the arrogant indulgences of the wickedly prideful. They view Jeffersonian democracy much in the same light and tolerate it only
when it serves there traitorous purpose. In fact, it is my belief that there is almost a pathological streak of resentment towards the creative genius that designed our nation and protected it from the meddling of the â€œnot quite brightâ€? so that it would not
go the way of every other previous attempt at democratic self governance. It riles them to no end that our constitution is so conspicuously without reference to any of the Christian icons.
The nation is, I believe, in great danger. Those who would doubt the ruthlessness of tdayâ€™s well financed and highly politically leveraged zealots need only to reflect on the rather tarnished and tawdry history of modern Christian fundamentalism. Whether Reconstructionist, Dominionist or Evangelical in name, there is a single common thread that all of these various factions share which is a predicated belief in the bible as absolute and inerrant truth and, in particular, an eschatological fixation as revealed in the book of Revelations. Because it is hard for any rational and free thinking individual to conceive of such a blind and unquestioning belief system there is a tendency to dismiss the fundamentalists as cultists or deluded to be sure but hardly dangerous. How could such an extremist movement ever gain a serious grip on the levers of American political power? Such thinking is foolish at best and, certainly by this late date, belies an underlying unwillingness to confront the unpleasant truth. We are much further down the road to theocracy than most people realize.
Donâ€™t think for a second that the hardened core of their leadership class is not willing to go to any length or stoop to any deed in order to accomplish their ultimate goal of a
â€œChristianizedâ€? America. They have proven time and again that they will, even violently if necessary, remove anyone who stands in their way. The GBLT Community happens To have been unfortunate enough to become the target of choice for the evangelical propaganda machine and it is my personal view that, ultimately, in a more formally Christianized society, they would be subject to the worst kinds of marginalization and persecution. When one really pays attention to the intensity of hate and condemnation of homosexuality in general that has crept into the national dialog in recent years it is not a great leap to imagine
the most horrific of possibilities. Unfortunately, the rhetoric has become even more strident in recent months as the circling sharks smell the blood of their prey, soon tobe finished off for good. With a zealot federal judiciary the deal is as good as done.
It may take some time (although I highly doubt it) but it is my firm conviction that we would see passing legislation designed to remove any remaining civil rights that identified gays may still possess. Witness some of the more extreme legislative
efforts in recent months such as the gay book ban bill that was recently floated in the Alabama state legislature. If enacted, the bill would forbid all state libraries (including those at state universities) to buy, reference or lend any book which so much
as mentioned homosexuality or had been authored by anyone known to be homosexual.The legislator who submitted the bill has been a frequent visitor to the White House in recent months, I might add.
In summary, we are on the verge of becoming a one party state, controlled by a hardened, totally committed cadre of ideological fanatics. They are un American, un democratic and could give less than three fourths of a flying fuck about the constitution or our Bill of Rights. If you are tempted to minimize the potential for disaster at the hands of these would be Theocrats then please, take the time to read about them in their own words.The following are two excellent sources of well documented and accurate information about the real agenda of the religious right. http://www.theocracywatch.org and
There is so much more to the promise of America than what these moral cowards would allow. I never miss the opportunity to counter their usually slimy sales pitch.They absolutely hate me here locally because Iâ€™m not afraid of them. They have no
real courage of their own convictions and if cornered will back down every time. America is far better than to have the likes of Pat Robertson, Franklin Graham or, for that matter, GW Bush elevated to leadership status in any capacity. Personally, I hope there really is a God or mercy on that fateful day of judgment that we all must face because the bloodguilty of the evangelical rank and file are gonnaâ€™ need it when God gets finished counting the dead children of Iraq and, God knows, sinner that I am, mercy would be the last thing on my mind.
from a lonely outpost in the far reaches of the Blue State Intifada.