Religion Under Attack
John Dorhauer printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Jan 23, 2006 at 11:34:13 PM EST
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Religion is under attack.

Let me be more precise: moderate and progressive religious voices and traditions are under attack from a strident, right-leaning, theocratic minority that has found a way to spin vitriol into virtue.

Believing the ends justify their means, they harbor fantasies about an end that -frightening in its scope - is not unwilling to leave anything in its wake. Well funded, strategically adroit, politically connected, and evangelically zealous the radical right has sunk its teeth into moderate and progressive institutions and ideologies with no intent to let go until all enemies have been vanquished, and Jesus himself can return in all his glory.

The art of compromise, upon which any political body must build its own successes; the virtues of tolerance, love, and acceptance, out of which almost every religious philosophy proceeds (save the extremes of which we speak); the notion of equality, upon which foundation America's constitutional history has been built are all perceived by these extremists as tools of the devil:

"The creation mandate was precisely the requirement that man subdue the earth and exercise dominion over it. There is not one word of Scripture to indicate or imply that this mandate ever was revoked. There is every word of Scripture to declare that this mandate must and shall be fulfilled. Those who attempt to break it shall themselves be broken." (Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, 1973, p.14)

Language about mandate, subjugation, submission, and dominion drive their own ideology, and they proceed from the mouth of a God who for them will never accept compromise, moderation, or tolerance.

Knowing that such ideologies will not yet play well in an America whose genetic material is still replete with the proscriptions for individual liberty, personal choice, and freedom of expression in all things political and religious, most of the work of these extremists is done covertly. Their strategies include an array of clandestine tactics, coded language, and political deception that have gone unnoticed and unchallenged for far too long. Although offered in a much different context, the words of Linda Loman in Arthur Miller's classic Death of a Salesman seem appropriate here: "Attention must be paid."

And this is what I propose to do: pay attention. Jesus once disclosed to his disciples: "So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known." (Mt. 10.26) Having spent years now tracking the radical religious right; having watched the horrors they have wrought upon otherwise innocent and fruitful congregations; having known first-hand their hatred and vitriol I wish in this space to tell what I have known and experienced. Their attacks, their tactics, their words will be made known: it is my belief that what abides in their darkness cannot long endure the light of day.

Stay in touch. Each Tuesday I will write about those things which I, and others, have experienced watching local churches, judicatory authorities, and entire congregations endure one attack after another. This isn't right. It needs to stop.

That America was birthed out of the cauldron of the excesses of European political and religious intolerance; that our creative and fertile imagination for something new emerged out of the shadows of Inquisition, Crusade, and Tyranny; that we dreamed possible a government that would ensure certain inalienable rights for all god's people: these have all come to shape an ideology of acceptance, of liberty, and of mutual respect that is now under attack.

Fools are we if we let the attacks go unnoticed and unchallenged. That progressives and moderates have waited this long to open their eyes to what has been going on around them is an indictment against them. Evidence of complacency and ignorance is not hard to find: but no more.

It is time we speak of what we hear, and to listen more intently to what is being said. It is time we show that which we see, and to look more intently into the dark corners from which will emerge unpleasant truths. And it certainly is time we drop the façade of naiveté and innocence and realize that, as Andrew Weaver (Associate Publisher of Zion's Herald magazine) is fond of saying: "They are playing by a different set of rules. While we think we are playing a game of touch football, they are playing tackle."

Religion is under attack: and they are beating us at our own game.




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by Bruce Wilson on Tue Jan 24, 2006 at 12:19:38 AM EST

You aptly quote Jesus saying to his disciples,

"So do not be afraid of them."

This is very important. We are talking here about human beings and human institutions, not monsters or supernatural beings.

The people who we call the religious right, or any of its parts, are just human beings. But if we say we say we fear for the future of our country, or fear that reproductive rights will be rolled back, it is a generalized kind of fear, more like a concern. Even a deep concern. Yet sometimes people are tempted to write about these things in ways that are intended to induce panic in people; to urge people to become irrationally afraid of the religious right as if it were a mass of incomprehensible, all powerful space aliens. That is wrong thinking, wrong language, and wrong leadership.

To be sure, many divisive and hateful things have been done by elements of the religious right.

You are correct to shine a light into the dark corners and help us to better understand and to come to grips with the challenges of our time. We can do this if we are not afraid ourselves and if we encourage others to be strong, and to be unafraid.

by Frederick Clarkson on Tue Jan 24, 2006 at 12:38:51 AM EST


and I am also happy to be here. Dorhauer's diary aptly describes what happened at a supposedly mainstream "Baptist" church this past Sunday.
  After the fearful "sermon", I found out the church is aligned with the SBC.
  Fellowship and hymns did not vary from my childhood VBS and Sunday attendance experiences. The preacher began his sermon innocently enough and I once again felt the need to eat candy or fall asleep.
  My mouth dropped open when pulpitman yelled, "There's an attack on Christians! They want to get rid of us and our houses!"  
  Again, he repeated, "Christianity is under attack!"  "The world is cruel to us! But I've got the power of God."
  Then, he blathered on about loving "him" more than your husband, wife or children.  Things went downhill from there. The message was, "Who cares if your house is being foreclosed and you lose everything but the shirt on your back as long as you believe in Jesus.
  The official church pen is adorned to resemble the American flag. I realize the preacher may have been speaking figurately rather than literally, but his audience lovingly amen-ed his talking points.
  I daresay mr. preacher does not have to worry about his mortagage or his bills. "...a hymn called faith and misery."
  And their AWANA focus catering to children--the lesson of Revelations. I am not making this up.  I e-mailed Frederick about this religious-right insanity because the good people at KOS thought I was joking.
  It is not a prank.  Huge, black ribbons adorned the "we are a non-profit corporation" Calvin Evans bushit business after he died. I am sure his oxymoron lives on, but the poor, blind, illiterate people follow that "Vote for Godly candidate" routine.
  The religious right moves stealthily (is that a word?) here.  And it is not just one. My children awakened me to their antics before the 2004 election.
 All I need to verify that is to look at my childrens' textbooks--Heh! My youngest son's english book features Dumbya holding up a "balanced budget" ledger. My oldest child's textbook features Samuell Sewall as a hero. Anne Hutchison moved to NJ and was not hanged by the neck by rich white men.

 

by concerned ohioan on Tue Jan 24, 2006 at 01:28:52 AM EST


One of the reasons I post here is that, quite honestly, I'm sick of being afraid.  (I grew up in a dominionist group and know all too well of what would happen if they got control. :()

One of the reasons I speak out, too, is that--the problem isn't Christianity, it's coercion (as I like to tell people).  Dominionists are, by and large, promoting a spiritually abusive and coercive theology that--if you strip the Biblical imagery away--is no different at its core than any other spiritually abusive group.  (I personally am of the strong opinion dominionism shouldn't even be referred to as Christianity, but properly labeled spiritually abusive, just like Scientology, the Moonies, Aum Shinrikyo, the Taliban, etc.)

Much of why I speak out is that--especially at the roots of the dominionist movement within the pentecostal community--not a whole lot is really well known by even most experts in dominionism as a political movement.  (A lot of serious study started with the Southern Baptists being hijacked or the Christian Coalition, but very few realise that the actual roots of dominion theology lie within the pentecostal movement, specifically within the "word-faith", "spiritual warfare" and "latter rain" movements within the Assemblies of God and other pentecostal groups--and some of the basis of it dates all the way back to the 1930's.)  Especially concerning the theological justifications for dominionism and its history, a lot of info is largely available only through various apologetics sites detailing history of things like the "Brownsville Revival" and such.

I come from a little bit of a unique perspective, being not only a survivor of dominionism but also doing my best to educate folks on the history of the side of dominionism I've seen (which is, admittedly, the older and scarier side).  I'm hoping maybe people can find multiple ways to fight dominionism, both by "inocculating" their churches against being infiltrated by dominionists (and trust me, they do; "sheep stealing" is seen as perfectly acceptable), educating people on dominionism, organising against them, and even reaching out to people on the edges of the movement who might not realise they were recruited into something harmful (or who were raised in it, like me, and have serious questions and doubts).

by dogemperor on Tue Jan 24, 2006 at 11:41:06 AM EST


Fear is their weapon. We must understand this, and point out their tactics and underhandedness every time we see them. We must not be afraid to shout "Hypocrite!" when someone preaches something outrageous, and those who are churched who are seeing this rot creeping into their congregations and sermons must not be afraid to stand up and point it out- and throw the rot out.

We must fight fear with facts.

I am glad to see you here, and I look forward to your future articles.

by Lorie Johnson on Tue Jan 24, 2006 at 12:48:24 PM EST


<<The art of compromise, upon which any political body must build its own successes; the virtues of tolerance, love, and acceptance, out of which almost every religious philosophy proceeds (save the extremes of which we speak); the notion of equality, upon which foundation America's constitutional history has been built are all perceived by these extremists as tools of the devil:>>

I don't believe anyone in any sector of Christianity looks at your list of virtues as tools of the devil. The problem with your list is that you raise them to the highest level, when in Christianity they are under forgiveness, repentance, justice, and truth. Love in the earthly sense is preceded first by love of God and is followed by love of self and your neighbor. Acceptance is preceded by justice being satisfied through forgiveness. Tolerance is preceded by responding to evil with good, but not accepting evil as good. Equality is preceded by not giving favoritism to the rich over the poor or giving the poor favoritism over the rich under just laws.


by Vaclav on Tue Jan 24, 2006 at 08:00:12 PM EST

in the sense that John clearly meant it, was constitutional and legal equality.

Theological debates are off topic in this site.

by Frederick Clarkson on Tue Jan 24, 2006 at 08:30:31 PM EST
Parent



Thanks John for your thoughts.  I would agree that we are facing folks with an ideology that is absolute in its perspectives on politics and theology.  The worldview confronts anyone in its way as to be destroyed or to be pittied based on the perceived power of the individual or the organization they are facing.  

I helped found an organization CrossLeft (http://www.crossleft.org) that has been active on Talk2Action that seeks to organize moderate and progressive Christians to take back our religion and have our

Let's get keep talking, but let's also make sure we're moving to action around these issues.  

by Stephen Rockwell on Tue Jan 24, 2006 at 09:01:27 PM EST



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