Monday, November 10, 2008

Why Fundamentalists Insist on Making Us All Righteous (no matter what we want!)

I wrote this some months back-- before the elections. Since I am "putting it in the que" for Nov. 7, and today is Oct. 31, I do not know who has won. It may seem a bit dated, but the major premise remains. One might view it as a bit of a retrospect...

Another election year. It is a time when our country has the opportunity to go in a different direction or stay on the same well-worn path. Too many years of neo-con philosophy. Too many years of the failed policies of George Bush. We have seen our nation led down the path to economic collapse. We have seen our country led into a war costing thousands of American lives and (by conservative estimates) tens of thousands of Iraqi civilian lives on the basis of sloppy intelligence at best and lies at worst. We have seen a lack of concern for the "common people" and tax breaks and economic advantage for the rich. We have seen the decline of America's public schools and the use of public funds to support private and religious schools.

A large part of the Republican base is made up of social conservatives. A large segment of social conservatives are found among the ranks of the Christian Right. The Christian Right is mainly comprised of fundamentalists and evangelicals. Therein lies much of the Republican base. The power of fundamentalism in our nation is real. As a voting block, evangelicals and fundamentalists are a force to be reckoned with. The Southern Baptist Convention alone represents nearly seventeen million members. Currently, members of fundamentalist denominations and churches outnumber those of the traditional mainline churches such as Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and the Disciples of Christ. Liberal and moderate voters ignore the Christian Right to their peril.

Fundamentalists are, unfortunately and surprisingly, rather deceptive. They have tried such tricks as voting in the Democratic primaries, though the GOP is without a doubt the party of the righteous faithful. They vote in the Democratic race and support the candidate they think is least likely to win in November. Another deception is to push the emotion buttons related to gay marriage and abortion. While they do so, they are well aware (they must be) that many thousands innocent civilian lives are being lost in a war initiated and prosecuted by a Republican administration, the darling of the Christian Right. Where is the concern for life so vocally proclaimed, as is the case with abortion? Granted, the unborn are important, but what about the "already born?" Our righteous friends will fight to preserve traditional marriages and traditional families while those they support put forth policies that make it difficult for such families to make ends meet.

One must admit; some of what they have achieved is a stroke of genius. Why do they do it? Very simply, they must work to make America a "godly nation" (as if it ever was). Fundamentalists and evangelicals are compelled to see to it that we collectively walk the "sawdust trail." It is a matter of duty. They must save us. Further, they are the representatives of God to save a corrupt American society. That is their task. It is their understanding of the Great Commission. They are not satisfied to "Go and make disciples of all nations." They must make fundamentalist disciples. So, by hook or by crook, they must make us all righteous. That applies to politics as well.

Many, if not most, fundamentalist churches distribute "so-called" unbiased voter guides. These guides aim to show which candidates will support fundamentalist causes. This ranges from school board member (or maybe dog catcher) right on to the highest office in the land. This time though, it may backfire. The neo-cons and the Christian Right have had their way for eight years. It hasn't been a pretty sight. They have had their day and rather made a mess of things. In addition, I sincerely doubt they have succeeded in making many of us more moral. Fundamentalists cannot take no for an answer, but many Americans are tired of being lied to, bullied, and misled.

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