Sunday, June 28, 2009

Kingdom Coming

Kingdom Coming, the Rise of Christian Nationalism, is Michelle Goldberg's first book, published in 2006, and it's a good one. I just finished reading it yesterday on the bus while on my way to give blood once again, in response to President Obama's call for another national day of service. He's always asking for that, the man just can't get enough!
Everyone who is concerned for the future of our country, and the world, should read this book. Even members of the Christian Nationalist Movement, though inherently they would dismiss it out of hand because, as Ms Goldberg, concisely and elegantly points out, Christian nationalists live in a different reality than the rest of us.
What is Christian nationalism? I'll let Michelle answer that when she was asked the very same question: "Christian nationalists believe in a revisionist history, which holds that the founders were devout Christians who never intended to create a secular republic; separation of church and state, according to this history, is a fraud perpetrated by God-hating subversives. One of the foremost Christian revisionist historians is David Barton, who, in addition to running an organization called Wallbuilders that disseminates Christian nationalist books, tracts and videos, is also the vice-chairman of the Texas Republican Party. The goal of Christian nationalist politics is the restoration of the imagined Christian nation. As George Grant, former executive director of D. James Kennedy's influential Coral Ridge Ministries, wrote in his book "The Changing of the Guard:"
"Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ -- to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness.
But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice.
It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.
It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.
It is dominion we are after.
World conquest. That's what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish."
The following quote from Thomas Jefferson, generally regarded as one of the "founders" of our country, and sited by Ms Goldberg in the conclusion of her book, has no meaning to the Christian nationalists: "History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes."
Now I'm an atheist, and happily so. I will discuss, or debate the issue of a supreme being with anyone who wants to, and when I do on occasion, I rarely change anyone's mind or attitude, even though my arguments are valid, logical, and backed up by reputable scientific evidence. I believe this is because most people's ideas on religion are deeply ingrained, and have been so since childhood, and of course the Sunk-Cost Effect (see, The Sunk-Cost Effect). But that's okay. I don't feel any great need to change anyone's mind, or to convert them to my way of thinking. I am not an evangelical atheist. I respect other people's opinions, though I may disagree strongly with them.
Christian nationalists are not like that. They want everybody to think and feel the same way that they do, and will do just about anything to make that happen. They are so insecure in their own beliefs, that they constantly need the reinforcement of others to maintain their status in their lives.
They do this by a variety of methods. Brainwashing their young through home schooling. If Creationism (and its offspring, Intelligent Design) is not allowed to be taught in public schools, then they'll take their children out of the public school system, and teach it themselves, with the goal of making little Christian nationalists after them.
They will use wedge issues to promote their political agenda, such as denying gays the right to marry, or form civil unions, stating that homosexuality is an abomination in the eyes of God, and that abstinance is the only safe and effective means of birth control. The results of this type of stringent and intractable thinking are often hideous (these people insist on speaking on God's behalf, as if they had an exclusive hot line to heaven where they are getting the latest instructions from the all mighty. I submit that is a very sorry and weak God that would need to have these people as press representatives. And why does anyone who believes in an all powerful, divine, omnipresent, being, need anyone to speak, or do their work for them? Surely a strong God can do anything he, she, or it wants to do without the help of mere mortals).
Former President Bush, through his Office of Faith Based Initiatives, has furthered the CN cause by pouring millions of dollars of tax payer money into mostly Christian organizations, and then allowing them to work under special rules, like allowing discrimination in hiring policies, only employing those of the same faith and religious ideology, or not requiring the same professional standards to be met as other, secular organizations, ofttimes resulting in abuse and neglect of their clients, and at expense of these proven secular organizations that are not similarly subsidized.
The bottom line is that these people cannot rest until they have taken over the country. They do not care that abstinance is ineffective. They do not care that Jesus never mentioned homosexuality (only the Old Testament mentions homosexuality, the Jewish Testament, the same people the Christian nationalists would deny the kingdom of Heaven). They only care that they are right and the rest of us are wrong! They say so themselves.
The CN's political arm is the Republican party. Through it they wish to pass laws furthering their cause, elect or nominate judges who are sympathetic to their cause, and to flood Congress, and the presidency with members of their cause. They are the worst form of subversives, attempting to take over the government, and the nation, one little bit at a time. They should be dealt with as subversives.
I see no major differences between religious fundamentalism within the United States, or abroad . I would be as frightened if the Christian Nationalist Movement archived their goals, took control of our government, and had nuclear weapons at their disposal, as I would if these weapons were in the hands of Osama Bin Laden. With that in mind it was with a sigh of relief that I witnessed George Bush finally take leave of office.
The failure of the Bush administration and the election of President Obama, has slowed their efforts... for the time being. Still... the Office of Faith Based Initiatives still exists.
I will let Ms Goldberg conclude, as she did in her book:
"It makes no sense to fight religious authoritarianism abroad while letting it take over at home. The grinding, brutal war between modern and medieval values has spread chaos, fear, and misery across our poor planet. Far worse than the conflicts we're experiencing today, however, would be a world torn between competing fundamentalisms. Our side, America's side, must be the side of freedom and enlightenment, of liberation from stale constricting dogmas. It must be the side that elevates reason above the commands of holy books and human solidarity above religious supremacism. Otherwise, God help us all."

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