Gov. Perry’s True Believers
I spent an hour or so this afternoon looking at photos of Gov. Rick Perry’s prayer rally that were taken last weekend, and reading through the event’s website.
I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but I’m completely skeeved out by what I saw and feel the need to (re)emphasize why the religious aspect is bothering me so much, so please humor me.
THE SNAKE OIL SALESMEN
Rick Perry and the snake oil salesmen backing The Response see the brass ring of the American Presidency within their reach and they have every intention of making a grab for it. They’ve made that crystal clear in both word & action. We can mock them and pooh-pooh the notion that they could ever be successful, but they are dead serious and if we ignore or underestimate the danger they present, it is at our own peril. The Christian right has been steadfastly working towards this moment for over 50 years. This is the closest they’ve ever come to the prize, and they’re playing for keeps.
This isn’t some paranoid, hysterical conspiracy theory, it’s a reality staring us right in the face. The religious right and the politicians who pander to the public on their behalf have dropped all pretense. No longer do they pay lip service to a belief in the separation of Church and State. No longer do they hide their bigotry and intolerance towards other religions. No longer to they pretend to be “compassionate conservatives”. They shamelessly rewrite history at their whim in ways that serve their purposes, and they demonize anyone who disagrees with them. These are not Christian leaders truly concerned with the well-being of their flocks (much less non-Christian Americans), they are men & women making a naked grab for power, and they are using people’s fears, gullibility, and ignorance to their advantage.
Anyone who isn’t gravely concerned about this situation, or who would vote for one of these people on purely partisan grounds is—to borrow from our own dear member SanFransicoZionist—mortally stupid.
Photos: Selling the Snake Oil
THE TRUE BELIEVERS
As most regular LGF members probably already know, I spent the majority of my teenage years around a parent, my mother, who was a “born again” evangelical charismatic Christian (she no longer is). I’m talking about visions, speaking in tongues, the laying on of hands, being “slain in the spirit”, the whole nine yards. I know these people only too well. They are true believers and 100% sincere. They mean well, but their unrestrained fervor can quickly make other people’s lives miserable, sometimes doing irreparable damage to family relationships.
What you have to understand is that they interpret the Bible very subjectively. Sure, all religious people do the same with their sacred texts a certain extent, but most major religions have some body of traditional exegesis that has been developed over centuries based on the writings of religious scholars—no so with evangelicals, at least not the ones I knew. Please keep in mind that I’m talking about hard-core, extreme evangelicals as they run the gamut just like any other group
The evangelical interpretation is spontaneous, based on whatever God is “telling” the individual at the moment. You hear this from Bachmann all the time. What’s so bad about that you may ask? Plenty of traditional interpretations of other religious texts can curdle one’s blood, so what difference does it make? Well, let’s take a look.
These messages or revelations from God come in different forms: a thought or “inner voice” during prayer, a “vision”, a “sign”, etc. These messages are never wrong because God is speaking to the person directly from within his or her own heart, therefore whatever was heard must be true. After all, no one would (consciously) lie to themselves, and surely God wouldn’t lie to them, therefore whatever they heard must be good and right and pure. This sets up a binary worldview.
Problems arise when non-believers (that is, non-evangelical Christians) disagree with them—they can move instantly from smiling sweetness & light to glaring indignation & righteous outrage. Not only are you, an unbeliever, questioning them, but you’re also questioning God (who spoke through them). Only one entity dares to buck God: Satan, the enemy. By disagreeing, by refusing to submit, you become an agent of Satan by default. (This is binary, remember?)
When presented with a problem like this, one of two things can happen: 1.) You, the unbeliever, can be saved through prayer and the laying on of hands to cast out the satanic demons that are controlling you (effectively an exorcism), or 2.) They must valiantly battle against you until you repent and submit. There are no other options—this is God vs. Satan, light vs. dark, heaven vs. hell, and everyone’s immortal soul is at stake. They know whose side they are on.
This constant epic struggle of good vs. evil is very real for them, very personal. Because of that, it also involves a lot of intense emotion; emotion which, IMO, is mistaken by many (of them) for “spirituality”. So you have a mixture of strong belief, intense emotion, and a you’re-either-with-us-or-against-us attitude. The snake oil salesmen know this and they know how to speak the language that will reassure the believers that they’re with them 110%, unlike the corrupt “others”.
Photos: True Believers Battling Satan
Look carefully at the high level of emotion in all the faces and note that, unlike at Tea Party events, the crowd here is diverse
I’m more than a little baffled as to why the Israeli government doesn’t thwart people like Glenn Beck and the other Christian “Zionist” types that have made inroads there. I’m beginning to think they don’t fully comprehend what they’re opening the door to. This isn’t a game to the Christian far right. As a matter of fact, it’s not even a matter of life & death to them, it’s a matter of eternal salvation & eternal damnation.
The end they’re pushing for ultimately leads to Israel becoming a Christian nation—to the entire world becoming Christian—and the means is grabbing the reins of power of one of the most formidable nations on earth, the United States. I don’t understand why the current lineup of GOP candidates doesn’t scare the crap out of Israel, especially since some on the Israeli far right fringe have recently met with American politicians like Rep. Louie Gohmert. It’s even more disturbing when you think about the connections between others on the American far right and the Euro-Fascists.
Yes, I know Israel is surrounded by enemies and faces daily threats, and that the Islamists would also do away with Jews and force the entire world to become Muslim, but none of the threats currently posed by Muslim countries (not even Iran or the instability in Pakistan) can compare to the proverbial gun that might be held to Israel’s head should America fall into the hands of Christian Dominionists.
For their own sake, I hope someone over there is closely watching developments here and taking things very seriously.
I’m not saying that the sky is falling; it isn’t. The 2012 elections are still 15 months away and I trust (and hope and pray) that Americans have enough sense not to put a potential theocrat in the White House.
What I am saying is that we have an unprecedented situation here: Not only do we have several potential presidential candidates blurring the line that separates Church and State, we also have our first sitting black President who has been demonized beyond all reason, a severely damaged economy that’s causing fear & unrest, a press that has in large part ceased performing due diligence where government & politics are concerned, and access to technology that somehow seems to have put a world of information at our fingertips while simultaneously causing us to have tunnel vision.
It’s an exciting & scary brave new world we’re living in, and we need to be cognizant of that. The 1950’s are gone and they’re not coming back. Ever. There’s nothing wrong with having a fond nostalgia for the past, but we need to adapt to present realities posthaste, regardless of how uncomfortable or distasteful we might find such a task. Others—including the snake oil salesmen—are already rushing ahead trying to mold the future in their likeness, so if you don’t want to go extinct, then you’d better evolve. Soon.