Theocrat of the Week
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Dec 24, 2007 at 05:45:15 PM EST
Our Distinguished Panel of Judges has been overwhelmed of late. What with the surge of aspirants for Theocrat of the Week, I cannot blame them.  (Who can choose from day-to-day, (let alone week-to-week) between even Huckabee and Romney?) What's more, they (the members of Our Distinguished Panel of Judges, that is) sometimes find themselves baffled by the paradoxes of the means and ends of theocracy itself, and can become quite lost in mystical contemplation of same. But then they sometimes suddenly find themselves rudely awakened.  And who better to rudely awaken them than Richard Mellon Scaife?
Sometimes it is only in the tawdriest episodes that we come to recognize theocratic greatness -- as we have seen in such recent honorees as Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and Richard Roberts (son of Oral). Indeed, theocrats all recognize the need to control the views and behavior of others in order to gain conformity to doctrine. To accomplish this requires power in its many and myriad forms. They understand that this is what is of transcendent import -- not their own beliefs or behavior.

Back in the 70s, many of theocratic bent and their allies in neoconservatism recognized that the so called mainline Protestant churches were apostatic roaders, heretics, and even feminists.  They had been among the leading institutions that tarnished the glorious war against Godless Communism in Vietnam.

Richard Mellon Scaife, heir to a vast family fortune and in control of several family related foundations, became one of the principal financiers of the instutions of the conservative movement in and Beyond the Beltway, most famously the Heritage Foundation. Later, he was among the founding funders of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, and has continued to provide large grants over the years.

His largess has contributed signficantly to the errosion of the influence of the mainline churches over the past two decades and, as IRD critic John Dorhauer has pointed out -- has driven and exaccerbated divisive internal battles. This in turn, contributed to members, tired of the conflicts, or alternatively, whipped-up into theocratic frenzies, taking leave.  Sometimes whole congregations departed.  Theocrats of all sorts and of all nations rejoiced!

That is why, in the view of Our Distinguished Panel of Judges, it is fitting that Richard Mellon Scaife be recognized as our Theocrat of the Week. He has not only made the world safer for theocracy but he has acheived all this while similtaneously indulging in various violations of the Ten Commandments as a serial adulterer. Our Distinguished Panel of Judges seek not to pass judgement here, but to note how remarkable are the lives of The Great Ones of Our Time. Let us consult The Washington Post's understated report on the divorce of Mr. Scaife, which it describes as a "fabulously tawdry and surpassingly vicious spectacle...".

Remember him? The cantankerous, reclusive 75-year-old billionaire who's spent a sizable chunk of his inherited fortune bankrolling conservative causes and trying to kneecap Democrats? He's best known for funding efforts to smear then-President Bill Clinton but more quietly he's given in excess of $300 million to right-leaning activists, watchdogs and think tanks. Atop his list of favorite donees: the family-values-focused Heritage Foundation which has published papers with titles such as "Restoring a Culture of Marriage."

The culture of his own marriage is apparently past restoring. With the legal fight still in the weigh-in phase, the story of Scaife v. Scaife already includes a dog-snatching, an assault, a night in jail and that divorce court perennial, allegations of adultery.

At some point in late 2005, Ritchie [Mrs. Richard Mellon Scaife] started having suspicions about her husband and hired a private investigator named Keith Scannell, a specialist in high-end surveillance for insurance companies. In December of that year, Scannell followed Richard Scaife to nearby North Huntingdon, home of Doug's Motel, a place where the TVs are bolted to the furniture and rooms can be rented in three-hour increments, for $28. (It's now under new management and renamed the Huntingdon Inn. Head east on Route 8, then east on Route 30.) There, according to Scannell, Scaife spent a few hours with Tammy Sue Vasco.

Why a billionaire would shack up at Doug's Motel, of all places, is a mystery. Ditto his choice of companions. Vasco is a tall, blond 43-year-old mother who in 1993 was busted in a sting operation after showing up at a Sheraton hotel and offering to have sex with an undercover cop for $225, the Post-Gazette reported.

Social Register material she is not, but Vasco and Scaife seemed to have a relationship that went beyond the purely professional. The two usually met each other twice a week, for months, at the motel, says an employee of the motel. Scaife would show up in a chauffeured car, dressed in a suit, wearing cuff links, always bearing flowers. Vasco would be waiting in same room every time, Room 5 on the ground floor, facing the parking lot, said the employee. Mr. Dick, as he was known at the motel, would stay for two hours or so, then get back in the car, which had been waiting, and leave.

Yes, this is the man who made the renewal movement possible; the man without whom right wing American Angelicans might never have gotten to know and to accept Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria as their spiritual leader.  This is the man whose largess made possible the career of the late IRD leader Diane Knippers -- who once famously declared that rather than celebrating the 50th anniversary of the National Council of Churches, that they should be holding a funeral. Our Distintuished Panel of Judges got a kick out of the way that her 2001-2004 strategic plan for IRD titled: Reforming America's Churches Project called the NCC "the Religious Left." Scaife, who specifically helped to fund the project, has certainly gotten his money's worth -- dividing these pseudo Christian obstacles to various business and political empires against themselves, using the defense of traditional marriage as what the liberals call a "wedge issue."

That Scaife himself has come out of all this politically unscathed and able, like Senator David Vitter (R-LA) and others, able to carry on the necessary theocratic works of our time, is a considerable acheivement over and above a lifetime of theocratic accomplishments. This is why Richard Mellon Scaife stands head and shoulders above the field for Theocrat of the Week.

UPDATE:  Word has reached Our Distinguished Panel of Judges (via Newsweek) that Scaife has met privately with former president Bill Clinton (aka Satan himself, to some) and reportedly emerged not only with a peace treaty, but a "mutual admiration society."




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Some paint, some sculpt. Dry sarcasm is your art form.

by Bruce Wilson on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 01:18:38 PM EST
What I am going for in Theocrat of the Week is a little healthy satire. I will no doubt dip into any number of eddies of humor along the way.

by Frederick Clarkson on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 02:48:35 AM EST
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Can we get any more idiotic that this article (and this subject). Have we become so scared and full of hatred that we choose to pick on persons who support religion, yet do not lead perfect lives?  It is so much easier to take the road of "no faith", which then means we can't be subject to moral values (which those of faith try to live by). Since there is no God, we have nothing to be scared of in the after-life. That allows us to do whatever we want in this life, as there is no consequences...
We can then poke, prod and make fun of those who do believe; we can ridicule them for their sins, since we have nothing and no one to behold too...
If you choose not to be a believer, that's fine... I won't ridicule you; make fun of you at your expense; tell you how stupid or pathetic you are for not being one of faith...
Yet you choose to attack others for their beliefs, even though they have done nothing to you personally to provoke such hatred; and then you wonder why those of faith get so angry... You call religion evil, and continue to say religion is the cause of war and mass murder (even though the acts you speak of were done hundreds of years ago; by those who didn't fully understand the true meaning of faith and compassion). Yet our recent mass murderers; Stalin, Hitler, Mao - Athiests who killed a hundred million people, receive no ridicule because of their "lack of religious belief"... Isn't it nice how some choose to quickly point out any fault by a religious figure, and then blame religion as the cause... Yet those who commit outrageous acts; acts that would certainly be pounced upon by non-believers; are "dismissed" of any non-religious causation; since, of course, religion can be faulty, but non-religion can't be an issue.

by Hollywood297 on Fri Dec 28, 2007 at 04:24:58 PM EST
What do you know of my beliefs, or lack thereof, and what evidence do you have for your assertions? When have I ever called religion evil?

How do you know that Richard Mellon Scaife is, in fact, religious?  Did I make any criticism of him based on his alleged faith?  

Do you actually support the purposes of this site, or did you register just to call me "idiotic;" "scared and full of hatred;" and by implication, immoral and hypocritical? (If its the latter, you lied when you checked off the little box saying that you do support the purposes of this site.)

Oh yeah, and do you frequently register for blog sites to issue calumnies under assumed names? And if so, what kind of person does that make you?

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri Dec 28, 2007 at 07:36:13 PM EST
Parent

It is safe to say, by the use of the "bias" Washington Post article, that you were upholding their belief (as well as your "panel of judges") of wrongdoing by Mr. Scaife. You brought up the fact that Mr. Scaife supports (by large grants), religious organizations, and then conveniently tied the two together... As if someone who supports religion should be above making mistakes (or should, atleast be ridiculed by doing so).
I don't "support" any site I view... I only respond to what I read... Whether it be your article, or any comments that follow. If you choose to ridicule someone, you should expect a response... Is the "purpose" of this site to make fun of religious people; or of religion itself? Or is it to provoke thought and discussion?  I assumed it was the latter... and therefore, you got my response...
So... that should tell you what kind of person I am... I'm the kind that will commend you if I agree with you, or challenge you if I don't... The article on its face is hateful towards religion; as if all who believe should be above ever "indulging in various violations of the ten commandments"... If my assertion that you are not a person of faith is wrong, then by all means I do apologize... But I can only reach this conclusion based on the context of what you write... And as far as I can see, this article does nothing more than make jest of a religious supporter who may have made a bad error in judgement (as we all do; but apparently making fun of non-religious figures for doing so just isn't good reading).

by Hollywood297 on Fri Dec 28, 2007 at 10:26:18 PM EST
Parent
that you are a liar and a troll. You signed up for this site under false pretenses. We make it very clear that when you check off the little box, you are indicating that you have read and agree with the site's stated purposes and agree to abide by the site guidelines.

As for Mr. Scaife, he bankrolls an organization that is not so much religious as one that seeks to pit people of faith from ancient traditions against one another for political gain. One of their tools is inflaming people over matters of the defintion of marriage.  Seems only reasonable to me to point out that the patron of said organization is unable to live up to the kinds of orthodoxies they push so hard on others.

Meanwhile, you claimed (among other things) that I view religion as "evil" -- based on your own fetid imagination, and no more.

We have written a great deal on this site about IRD and the troubles it foments. Much of this writing has been done by Christian ministers -- John Dorhauer, Andrew Weaver and Steve Martin. Clearly they are not writing from an antireligious bias.  

So next time -- it won't be here -- you join a site, try reading the terms of service before you sign up; and read around a bit before you attack the "idiocy" of a site owner.

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri Dec 28, 2007 at 11:03:43 PM EST
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