Secular Baiting: Retake The Final Exam
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu May 12, 2011 at 08:44:45 AM EST
GOP presidential aspirant Newt Gingrich's ridiculous secular-baiting claim on Fox New in 2008 (re-surfaced by Media Matters for America) should remind us that this has been the stuff of which the Religious Right was made, and versions of which have crept into the Democratic Party. Here is What Gingrich said on The O'Reilly Factor:

"Look, I think there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, to use harassment."

What follows is a slightly revised version of the multiple-choice test, which combined the quizzes "Who's Secular Now?" parts one and two, published in 2006.

I have been writing lately about how the Religious Right has for a generation, framed the principal struggle in America as one between Christianity and secular humanism. The wording varies, but the frame remains the same. Variations include faith vs. secularism; people of faith vs secular fundamentalism, and so on. We also hear a variation on the frame when we hear people speak of "secularists" or "the secular left," supposedly trying to drive expressions of faith from "the public square." The alleged perpetrators, whether individuals or organizations, are rarely, if ever named. Thus strawmen are repeatedly knocked down in colorful rhetorical barrages. These are not minor issues of phrasing, but reflect deeply held views. Unfortunately, the frame has been internalized by people who are not part of the Religious Right, most notoriously by author Jim Wallis, and by Sen. Barack Obama, in his speech at a recent conference sponsored by Wallis' organization Call to Renewal. Obama's usage in particular shows the way that that term and its variants are routinely used to disparage rather than to describe as the speaker works off of the frame.

After taking Obama and Wallis to task for their counter-productive contributions in this area, (while also acknowledging other of their good words and good works), I followed up with a two quizzes that sought to show the various ways that the terms are being used and abused. They may mean very different things depending on who you talk to. And we can see that sometimes it is difficult to tell the Republicans from the Democrats; and the religious right from the religious left. While I will have more to say on these matter over the next little while, I thought as long as I had collected so much interesting material, I would pull it all together as a Final Exam.

It is my hope that people will avoid the temptation to get knee jerk about this; the matter of seeing the way that the right has loaded the language is something for all of us to take very seriously. The religious right has been doing very well for quite a while, and if we are not careful in how we frame these matters, as George Lakoff has made very clear, we risk a great deal.

On that note, enjoy your exam. Good luck!

Some of you may have missed the relevant diary and the quizes. If so, you will just have to take the plunge and do the best you can. You have 20 quotes (5 points per quote) taken from a pool of 25 prominent Americans. Self-scoring -- Honor system!

David Brooks -- Columnist, New York Times.
George W. Bush -- Then president of the U.S.
Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) -- Now deceased.
Bob Casey -- Then, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate from PA. Now, Senator.
Wesley Clark -- Retired General, U.S. Army.
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) -- Now U.S. Secretary of State.
Ann Coulter -- Conservative author and commentator.
John Danforth -- Former GOP Senator from Missouri.
Jerry Falwell -- Televangelist and founder of the Moral Majority. Now deceased.
Tim LaHaye -- Co-founder of the Moral Majority and co-author of the Left Behind series of novels.
Rev. Dr. D. James Kennedy -- Televangelist, Coral Ridge Ministries. Now deceased.
Richard Land -- Head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention.
Daniel Lapin -- Conservative rabbi, head of Toward Tradition.
G. Gordon Liddy -- Conservative broadcaster.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT)
Michael Lerner -- Progressive rabbi, head of the Network of Spiritual Progressives.
Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) -- Now president of the U.S.
Bill O'Reilly -- Conservative broadcaster.
Cardinal Sean O'Malley -- Boston
Pope Benedict XVI
John Roberts -- Senior correspondent, CNN.
Pat Robertson -- Televangelist and founder of the Christian Coalition.
Antonin Scalia -- Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Rev. Rob Schenk -- President, National Clergy Council.
Jim Wallis -- Progressive evangelical, head of Call to Renewal and Sojourners.

1) "The greatest threat to religious freedom in America, are secular fundamentalists who want to ghetto-ize religious faith and make the wall of separation between church and state a prison wall keeping religious voices out of political discourse."

George W. Bush
Richard Land
Barack Obama
Pat Robertson

2) "The secular fundamentalism of the left is as much a problem as the religious fundamentalism of the right."
Hillary Clinton
John Danforth
Antonin Scalia
Jim Wallis

3) "The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this [9/11] because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad.I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays  and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU,  People for the American Way - all of them who have tried to secularize America-I point the finger in their face and say "you helped this happen."

Jerry Falwell
D. James Kennedy
Tim LaHaye
Pat Robertson

4) "I have no question the devil is behind what the apostle Paul called 'the wisdom (philosophy) of this world' and controls many of our courts and other areas of influence... in the nineteenth century this anti-God secular man-centered philosophy conquered the universities of Europe, trained journalists, educators, and entertainers, and today controls the countries where the church is impotent...  Europe, once the center of evangelical Christianity, Bible translation and distribution, and even revival, has bought into the philosophy of secular humanism. That philosophy is based on atheism, evolution, autonomous self-centered man, and socialism."

Robert Byrd
Tim LaHaye
Pat Robertson
Antonin Scalia

5) "Today, there are new fundamentalists in the land.  These are the "secular fundamentalists," many of whom attack all political figures who dare to speak from their religious convictions. From the Anti-Defamation League, to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, to the ACLU and some of the political Left's most religion fearing publications, a cry of alarm has gone up in response to anyone who has the audacity to be religious in public. These secular skeptics often display amazing lapse of historical memory when they suggest that religious language in politics is contrary to the "American Ideal."

Robert Byrd
Jerry Falwell
Tim LaHaye
Jim Wallis

6) "Similarly, many Jewish organizations and even many individuals of Jewish ethnicity who possess the title "rabbi" are not guided by the principles Judaism found in the Torah. Instead, like the NAACP and NOW, they are guided chiefly by the principles of secular fundamentalism. Nothing else can explain their dogmatic and ideological commitment to causes such as homosexuality and abortion."

Jerry Falwell
Daniel Lapin
Michael Lerner
Gordon Liddy

7) "We contend today with both religious and secular fundamentalists, neither of whom must have their way. One group would impose the doctrines of a political theocracy on their fellow citizens. The other would deprive the public square of needed moral and spiritual values often shaped by faith."

John Danforth
Michael Lerner
Sean O'Malley
Jim Wallis

8) But what I am suggesting is this - secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square... To say that men and women should not inject their "personal morality" into public policy debates is a practical absurdity; our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition."

George W. Bush
Wesley Clark
Barack Obama
Antonin Scalia

9) "The most alarming thing about this pair of rulings is that the decision to accommodate a Ten Commandments display donated by a nongovernmental source only won 5-4, which shows the degree to which this court has embraced secular fundamentalism as its religion...  The Kentucky courthouse decision shows that, as Justice [Antonin] Scalia said in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas opinion [striking down state anti-sodomy laws], the majority of this court has 'taken sides in the culture war,' and it's the side of secular fundamentalists."

David Brooks
Robert Byrd
Richard Land
Joe Lieberman

10) "But unfortunately, secular humanists very often act as though they have no tolerance - except that of a person on a higher plane looking down at the poor inferiors below them who happen to have a different religion than their religion. So the criticisms that I have... are for those who are "secular humanist fundamentalists." The fundamentalists are those who think they have all the truth, and that nobody else has any truth. Just as I'm very critical of Christian fundamentalists, Jewish fundamentalists, Muslim fundamentalists, and Hindu fundamentalists, so I'm also very critical of secular humanist fundamentalists."

Hillary Clinton
John Danforth
Michael Lerner
Joe Lieberman

11) "Secular nations have one thing in common - mass graves, and the reason is that they believe the government is the final arbiter of right and wrong and good and evil."

George W. Bush
Pope Benedict
Bill O'Reilly
Rob Schenk

13) "Like many countries . . . Canada is today suffering from the pervasive effects of secularism... One of the more dramatic symptoms of this mentality, clearly evident in your own region, is the plummeting birth rate."

Pope Benedict
Bob Casey
D. James Kennedy
Bill O'Reilly

13) "And the question was, "Are you promoting religion by using people's, taxpayers' money?" And I said, "No, I'm promoting lower recidivism rates, and we will measure to make sure that that's the case."

A results-oriented world says "let's achieve some common objectives and some common goals," and if teaching Bible study or the Qur'an is a method that works, we should welcome it, so long as it's a voluntary program and people, of course, there is going to be a secular alternative that's called 'regular jail.' But so long as the prisoners can pick and choose."

George W. Bush
Hillary Clinton
Joe Lieberman
Jim Wallis

14) "I would like to see him [Bush] level the playing field and eliminate the mood that's been inflicted on America... that the struggle in America is between an aggressive dangerous Christian theocracy and a benign secularism that's good for everybody. That isn't true.

And I think George W. Bush, not in any way that will make anyone uncomfortable, except perhaps those who were desperately eager to see more secularism in America, all he's going to do is say the struggle in America today is between two competing faiths: the faith of the Judeo-Christian traditions, and the faith of aggressive, fundamentalist secular liberalism."

David Brooks
Bob Casey
Daniel Lapin
Gordon Liddy

15) "Now, America is a divided country. We are fighting a fierce war on terror overseas, and an intense culture war at home. No longer is the "American way" something to be proud of... It is also the product of the rise of a well-funded and well-organized secular-progressive movement in America.

The secular-progressive philosophy would rattle even Superman. Led by moneymen George Soros  and Peter Lewis who have bought enormous internet access, the secular-progressives are  selling the theory that the USA needs radical change, a complete overhaul. Think about it: Almost every day, the secular-progressive press bombards us with messages that America violates human rights, that it is bigoted against gays and other minorities, that the rich control everything and don't pay enough tax, and that the rights of women are trampled if any restrictions are placed on abortion."

Ann Coulter
G. Gordon Liddy
Pat Robertson
Bill O'Reilly


16) "Certainly, on the world scene, the forces of secularism are something that the Church has got to deal with. To be able to evangelize and teach the faith in a society which is no longer a Christian society, that has the same way of looking at reality -- I think that is a big challenge."

David Brooks
John Danforth
D. James Kennedy
Sean O'Malley


17) "For years, Democrats, unlike Republicans, have been afraid to wear religion on their sleeve.  It's to the point that they're perceived as a party of secular snobs, and it turned off a large slice of America. But now, they want to try to win that slice back."

Hillary Clinton
Joe Leiberman
Bill O'Reilly
John Roberts

18) Next has come the effort to expel [Sen. Joe] Lieberman from modern liberalism. In a dark parody of the old struggle between Eugene McCarthy and Hubert Humphrey, the highly educated, highly affluent, highly Caucasian wing of the Democratic Party has turned liberalism from a philosophy into a secular religion, and then sought to purge a battle-scarred warhorse on the grounds of insufficient moral purity."

David Brooks
Michael Lerner
Barack Obama
John Roberts

19) "God forbid that we who were born into the blessings of a Christian America should let our patrimony slip like sand through our fingers and leave to our children the bleached bones of a godless secular society. But whatever the outcome, one thing is certain: God has called us to engage the enemy in this culture war. That is our challenge today."

Jerry Falwell
D. James Kennedy
Sean O'Malley
Pat Robertson

20) The Left is dominated by secular humanists who do not believe in God and have advocated for a misinterpretation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution's prohibition against the establishment of religion by the federal government as a "wall separating church and state." No where in the Constitution is there any mention of a wall separating church and state."

G. Gordon Liddy
D. James Kennedy
Rob Schenk
Jim Wallis




Display:
I only guessed 5, so at 25% I guess I flunked!

All my life I have heard these words (secular, humanist) and interpreted them differently than how they should be understood. Like the word 'liberal' I always took it as an insulting and degrading word. I have only renounced my conservative roots fairly recently in my life and it is hard, but exciting, to find a whole new world in front of me of which I wasn't previously aware. It's funny how conservatives like I was could throw around these words and not even know the correct meanings. Here are the definitions from dictionary.com:

SECULAR:
   1. Worldly rather than spiritual.
   2. Not specifically relating to religion or to a religious body: secular music.
   3. Relating to or advocating secularism.
   4. Not bound by monastic restrictions, especially not belonging to a religious order. Used of the clergy.
   5. Occurring or observed once in an age or century.
   6. Lasting from century to century.

HUMANISM:
   1. A system of thought that centers on humans and their values, capacities, and worth.
   2. Concern with the interests, needs, and welfare of humans: "the newest flower on the vine of corporate humanism" (Savvy).
   3. Medicine. The concept that concern for human interests, values, and dignity is of the utmost importance to the care of the sick.
   4. The study of the humanities; learning in the liberal arts.
   5. Humanism A cultural and intellectual movement of the Renaissance that emphasized secular concerns as a result of the rediscovery and study of the literature, art, and civilization of ancient Greece and Rome.

Not only do I not see how these are insults or bad in any way, but it strikes me that this is exactly the philosophy our founding fathers were trying to set up in the creation of the constitution and bill of rights, et al.

It's funny, but frustrating, how we can all speak English and yet interpret everything so differently.

by Tin Soul on Sun Jul 16, 2006 at 04:48:46 AM EST




WWW Talk To Action


Cognitive Dissonance & Dominionism Denial
There is new research on why people are averse to hearing or learning about the views of ideological opponents. Based on evaluation of five......
By Frederick Clarkson (5 comments)
Will the Air Force Do Anything To Rein In Its Dynamic Duo of Gay-Bashing, Misogynistic Bloggers?
"I always get nervous when I see female pastors/chaplains. Here is why everyone should as well: "First, women are not called to be pastors,......
By Chris Rodda (4 comments)
The Legacy of Big Oil
The media is ablaze with the upcoming publication of David Grann's book, Killers of the Flower Moon. The shocking non fiction account of the......
By wilkyjr (0 comments)
Gimme That Old Time Dominionism Denial
Over the years, I have written a great deal here and in other venues about the explicitly theocratic movement called dominionism -- which has......
By Frederick Clarkson (4 comments)
History Advisor to Members of Congress Completely Twists Jefferson's Words to Support Muslim Ban
Pseudo-historian David Barton, best known for his misquoting of our country's founders to promote the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation,......
By Chris Rodda (6 comments)
"Christian Fighter Pilot" Calls First Lesbian Air Force Academy Commandant a Liar
In a new post on his "Christian Fighter Pilot" blog titled "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan......
By Chris Rodda (0 comments)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors' -- UPDATED
Today, Donald Trump appointed C-FAM Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti to the US Delegation To UN Commission On Status Of Women. (C-FAM is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Controlling Information
     Yesterday I listened to Russ Limbaugh.  Rush advised listeners it would be best that they not listen to CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS and......
By wilkyjr (4 comments)
Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?
In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (3 comments)
Ross Douthat's Hackery on the Seemingly Incongruous Alliance of Bannon & Burke
Conservative Catholic writer Ross Douthat has dissembled again. This time, in a February 15, 2017 New York Times op-ed titled The Trump Era's Catholic......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
`So-Called Patriots' Attack The Rule Of Law
Every so often, right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan lurches out of the far-right fever swamp where he has resided for the past 50 years to......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
Bad Faith from Focus on the Family
Here is one from the archives, Feb 12, 2011, that serves as a reminder of how deeply disingenuous people can be. Appeals to seek......
By Frederick Clarkson (6 comments)
The Legacy of George Wallace
"One need not accept any of those views to agree that they had appealed to real concerns of real people, not to mindless, unreasoning......
By wilkyjr (6 comments)
Betsy DeVos's Mudsill View of Public Education
My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman's work in explaining Betsy DeVos's long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If......
By Frank Cocozzelli (7 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (21 comments)

Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it? After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- http://www.talk2action.org/story/2016/7/21/04356/9417 I thought about what he explained......
MTOLincoln (5 comments)
Fear
What I'm feeling now is fear.  I swear that it seems my nightmares are coming true with this new "president".  I'm also frustrated because so many people are not connecting all the dots! I've......
ArchaeoBob (6 comments)
"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (6 comments)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (8 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (5 comments)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (3 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (5 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (3 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (2 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (13 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (5 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (7 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (2 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (2 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (3 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.