Got the cable bill yesterday (owie) but stayed up late to catch the Daily Show, hoping that it would make it feel more "worth it" to shell out $47 bucks of my hard earned cash.
It helped. Stewart's running commentary on Justice Sunday II was priceless. I particularly enjoyed the fact that most moments didn't need commentary. There was this one really fat preacher guy, Rev. Jerry Sutton of Tennessee, who they kept showing, who actually said the title of this post (in reference to the "fact" that India is the most religous country, and Sweden is the most irreligious . . . and that somehow that makes the above statement appropriate.). The evening's "Moment of Zen was actually the opposite of Zen for me- it was Sutton bloviating further on the image he has of modern America:
"It's a new day . . ." What? Sunday? No, pretty sure that one has been around a while. You of all people should know that.
"Liberalism is dead." You folks just keep telling yourselves that.
"The majority of Americans are conservative." Well, I guess if you can define Pi as 3, you can call 30% a "majority."
"You can count on us for showing up and speaking out." Well goody for us.
"And ... let the church rise." Yep, right into the ceiling fan for all I care.
What kills me about Justice Sunday is the sheer mythology upon which the entire Evangelical Right bases its arguments. I'm not talking about the mythology of the Bible- everyone knows that they'd just as soon ignore that completely in order to acheive their political ends. I'm talking about the collection of beliefs that have emerged in recent years that feed their continued political fire.
1. There is a group of evil leftists that want to shut up the religious right. This group alternates between the ACLU, the NEA, Amnesty International, PETA (for some reason), NOW, MoveOn, etc etc. The ambiguity here is due to the fact that none of these groups actually care to eliminate the Christian voice, but whenever there is an issue at hand in which any group opposes the Right, they call "persecution" and claim that it's all part of a bigger scheme to eliminate God from public life. I'm sure we'd all like it if Rev. Sutton would shut up, but hey, it's his right to make idiotic comparisons between the U.S. and India.
2. America is a "Christian Nation." OK, most Americans do identify as "Christian." Fair enough (although Christians in general are down 8 percent since 1990, blowing away the notion that the Christian Right is growing). But when you ask people whether or not religous belief should be mandated by the government, they tend to disagree. Americans may be a Christian people (about 80 percent), but as a whole they are not crusaders, theocrats or witchburners. Like John Stewart said after a clip of Zell Miller decrying the fact that there are warning signs against smoking by gas pumps but no way to warn people of the consequences of a sinful life: The government SHOULD try to keep us from being engulfed by flames in this world, and that's pretty much it.
3. The best way to improve a nation's morality is to impose it upon them by law. Uh huh. They really believe this. Why else would a group of evangelicals gather to try and change the course of government? Because they believe the best way toward a moral nation is to make religious dogma into law. Of course, the really slimy evangelicals like Dobson may only be in this for the cash, it's entirely likely, probable even that he and other megachurch folks just know that Christ is good business. But there are the freaky folk like Zell Miller who kept coming back to the idea that we need Christianity to be mandated by the Supreme Court- or at least, pseudo-Christian ideals like abortion bans, school prayer mandates and prohibitions of same-sex unions. They want to see this because they believe that this kind of control will be better for everyone- leaders and led alike.
But what's so nutty is that the evil, irreligious places like Sweden and Western Europe (what Dobson referred to as "that most liberalist place on the planet") have the kinds of social tranquility that evangelicals can only dream of. Low crime, low rates of teen pregnancies, low divorce rates.
But, of course, those evil liberals are getting results by doing things the wrong way- by creating open and permissive societies rather than regulated and constricted societies, so they are all still going to Hell. So it's really better if we all just shut up and let the evangelicals take over, so we can all lead moral lives over which the government has ultimate control. Because there is no better way to profess one's faith than to cram it down the throats of others.