This Week in Blogging the Religious Right: Taking Action Edition
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Sep 01, 2006 at 04:33:03 PM EST
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The religious right you shall always have with you.  At least for the rest of the lives of anyone reading this -- the latest of my more-or-less weekly round-ups of interesting and significant posts about the religious right, from the Greater Blogosphere.  

There are those who run around predicting the imminent demise of the religious right, citing this or that reading of the tea leaves. For a quarter century, such people have been wrong, wrong, wrong (and not necessarily in that order.) So umm, don't listen to such people. They epitomize the culture of ignorance and politial expediency that has enabled the rise of the religious right for a generation. If people who profess to be concerned about the religious right, and any of the attendant issues, were more like Terrence (see on the flip) at The Republic of T, our country and by extension, the world, would be a better place.

The Republic of T

Terrence  discusses the theocratic movement in the U.S. -- and links to a lot of well-selected news stories and blog posts.  

I could go on, believe me, but I'll stop lest I come off as paranoid. I'll just add that it was items like the laundry list above that inspired me to add Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, The Baptizing of America: The Religious Right's Plans for the Rest of Us , and American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century to my reading list earlier this year, with the thought that I'd read them as a means of gaining some insight into the people, policies, and propaganda behind all of the above.

After reaching a critical mass... I decided not to wait for the paperback editions, bought the books one by one, and read them to see what they could tell me that I didn't already know. The answer? Plenty. Afterwards thought that I might eventually post a review of all three...   I recommend all three, but with a warning that it might whet the appetite for more.

We Unite Ohio

mylifeasadog discusses the remarkable lies told by Cincinatti religious right leader Phill Burress in a public debate with author and journalist Michelle Goldberg.

To say that "Mr. Burress" spoke untruths at the Goldberg/Burress dialogue (some of which are documented by Michelle at , in Cincinnati this past Tuesday evening is to be kind indeed. While Michelle dealt in facts, his only goal was to come across as a concerned family man, truth be damned. As is usual these days, we steamed as he dissembled.

Wall of Separation

Jeremy Leaming debunks a silly screed by the editors of the Wall Street Journal that he says is "alarmist, riddled with egregious falsehoods and does little more than parrot long-discredited claims by the Religious Right" regarding effort by the IRS to compel non-profit, tax exempt organizations especially churches, to obey law proscribing electioneering with tax-exempt funds.

Daily Episcopalian

The Episcopal Church has been a prime target of the rightist Institute on Religion and Democracy and various satellite groups that have been systematically organizing to undermine the church and foment dissention and schism. Here is a report on two new organizations of progressive Episcopalians that have been formed to fight back.

Blog from the Capital

Don Byrd posts Brent Walker's, (executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs) condemnation of recent statements by Florida GOP Sentate Candidate Katherine Harris:  

Rep. Katherine Harris' ill-informed comments-calling the separation of church and state a lie, bemoaning our nation of secular laws, and suggesting only Christians should be elected to office-show a complete lack of respect for the religious diversity that is a hallmark of our nation.

Americans are a religious people. And, yes, Christianity has influenced our civic values and public policy. The separation of church and state does not require a segregation of religion from politics, God from government or Christians from duties of citizenship. But our civil compact-the Constitution-is a secular document. It never mentions Christianity and refers to religion only once and then to ban a religious test for public office.

America is one of the most religious and religiously diverse nations on earth. Despite our religious passion and pluralism, we have been able to avoid the religious conflicts that have punctuated history and plague much of the world today. This is so precisely because we have not allowed government to take sides in matters of religion.

Baptists, from Rhode Island-founder Roger Williams to Colonial evangelist John Leland in Virginia to former Pres. Jimmy Carter have championed the separation of church and state as an essential corollary to the overall goal of achieving genuine religious liberty for all.

In calling church-state separation a lie, Harris disregards history. In bemoaning our nation of secular laws, she misrepresents the nature of our government. In saying that non-Christians will only "legislate sin," she sets up her own religious test for office and maligns a whole class of public servants.

Street Prophets  

Pastordan, as usual, cuts through the fog of Beltway Insiderism. The Democratic Party, weirdly obsessed with appealing to conservative "moral values voters" has turned away from engaging the religious right.  While the occasion for Pastordan's piece is a dicussion of the latest Pew poll that shows that the Dems have made no progress with the public in appearing to be more "religion friendly" to the public (but the GOP is sinking in this regard) -- it is this odd tightening of the beltway around the brains of people that seems to prevent them from finding appropriate ways to discuss the role of religion in public life that connects with their values -- and puts them in a mood to fight for them against the rightist populism of the religious right.

Again as I've said before, the Democratic party doesn't have a religion problem. They have a consulting problem. What voters have learned from the inside-the-Beltway types is that Dems don't listen to their concerns. They've been asking Dems to be Dems for years now, to stand up to the Republicans on economic issues and the war. It's no wonder they're disgusted, considering the response they've gotten. Until the party learns to beat the perception that its leaders don't actually give a fig for what voters want, all the positioning in the world isn't going to help them.

The key to the puzzle of religion and politics won't be found at the top of the party, then, but in its grassroots. Barack Obama and Amy Sullivan can talk until they're blue in the face about "being friendly to religion," but until the ordinary Dem in the street can make that sale to the people he or she meets every day, they won't get much traction with it. The sooner we start rebuilding from the bottom up, the better. Amen.

People who find the Beltway is wound too tightly around their heads -- please see Pastordan.

undermining mainline denominations, this week has seen further developments in  conservative churches leaving the PC(USA).  Along with the Episcopal Church and United Methodist Church, the PC(USA) is at the top of the IRD's hit list.  

The New Wineskins Movement, a covenanting group of conservative churches, formed a few months ago in response to the GA's decision to give Presbyteries more autonomy in interpreting necessary standards for individual candidates for ordination (leaving the door open a crack for out GLBT clergy to be ordained).  In the intervening months, several small churches have voted to leave the denomination (which can open their pastors and officers to church disciplinary procedures as well as legal battles for their buildings).  A few days ago, Kirk of the Hills PC in Tulsa voted to disaffiliate with the PC(USA) and seek affiliation with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.  At 2700 members, Kirk of the Hills is the largest church thusfar to vote to disaffiliate, but more than a hundred others may follow suit.

by Rusty Pipes on Sat Sep 02, 2006 at 02:26:59 PM EST

This sounds very similar to the group Faithful and Welcoming that John Dorhauer has been writing about. It is by all appearances an effort to gather dissident churches and churches leaning toward schism, into a formation outside of the denomination itself, and move them to the point of decision.

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri Sep 08, 2006 at 12:01:20 AM EST
Today's Fresh Air on Christian Zionism features TTA contributor, Max Blumenthal, along with Gershom Gorenberg and John Hagee:

Gershom Gorenberg on Christian Zionism
On today's show we look into the Christian Zionist movement, made up of evangelical Christians who see the rebirth of Israel as a prelude to the second coming of Christ. Journalist Gershom Gorenberg is former associate editor and columnist for The Jerusalem Report.

 Max Blumenthal on Christian Zionism
Max Blumenthal is a Puffin Foundation writing fellow at the Nation Institute, based in Washington, D.C. His work has appeared in various publications, and he is a research fellow at Media Matters for America. He has written extensively about the conservative movement, and the Christian right. His recent article in The Nation is "Birth Pangs of a New Christian Zionism."

 Christian Zionism: A Believer's Perspective
John Hagee is the founder of the Christian Zionist group, Christians United for Israel. He is the senior pastor of Cornerstone Church an evangelical church in San Antonio, Texas. He is also the author of a number of books; his most recent is Jerusalem Countdown: A Warning to the World.

by Rusty Pipes on Mon Sep 18, 2006 at 04:14:51 PM EST

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