Thursday, August 18, 2005

We're a nation of Indians, ruled by Swedes!

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.

These beliefs:

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.


  1. when are they going to notice that they more or less already won?

  2. For the record, I'm more of a Lapplander.

  3. Actually, the America is a Christian nation myth is also often backed by assertions that our Founders wanted this country to be a Christian nation.

    Actually, our Founders did indeed write some stuff along the lines of "we should ensure this place stays religious so that the masses are kept in line", but that to me hardly sounds like an endorsement of religious belief (indeed, that the Christian right leadership so happily quotes these sorts of passages seems to demonstrate what religion is really about for them). Still, many of our Founders were not, shall we say, Trinitarian Christians. So how/why did they want to establish a Christian country?

  4. Adult Christianity. Enjoy!

  5. Not a porn site Vestal Vespa. You will like it. Here's a taste:

    In a sermon of October 1831, Episcopalian minister Bird Wilson said,

    Among all of our Presidents, from Washington downward, not one was a professor of religion, at least not of more than Unitarianism.

    The Bible? Here is what our Founding Fathers wrote about Bible-based Christianity:

    Thomas Jefferson:

    I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology. Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the earth.

    by John E. Remsburg, letter to William Short

    Jefferson again:
    Christianity...(has become) the most perverted system that ever shone on man. ...Rogueries, absurdities and untruths were perpetrated upon the teachings of Jesus by a large band of dupes and importers led by Paul, the first great corrupter of the teaching of Jesus.

    More Jefferson:
    The clergy converted the simple teachings of Jesus into an engine for enslaving mankind and adulterated by artificial constructions into a contrivance to filch wealth and power to themselves...these clergy, in fact, constitute the real Anti-Christ.

    Jefferson's word for the Bible?

    John Adams:
    Where do we find a precept in the Bible for Creeds, Confessions, Doctrines and Oaths, and whole carloads of other trumpery that we find religion encumbered with in these days?

    Also Adams:
    The doctrine of the divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity.
    Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli. Article 11 states:
    The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.

    Here's Thomas Paine:
    I would not dare to so dishonor my Creator God by attaching His name to that book (the Bible).

    Among the most detestable villains in history, you could not find one worse than Moses. Here is an order, attributed to 'God' to butcher the boys, to massacre the mothers and to debauch and rape the daughters. I would not dare so dishonor my Creator's name by (attaching) it to this filthy book (the Bible).

    It is the duty of every true Deist to vindicate the moral justice of God against the evils of the Bible.

    Accustom a people to believe that priests and clergy can forgive sins...and you will have sins in abundance.

    The Christian church has set up a religion of pomp and revenue in pretended imitation of a person (Jesus) who lived a life of poverty.

    Finally let's hear from James Madison:

    What influence in fact have Christian ecclesiastical establishments had on civil society? In many instances they have been upholding the thrones of political tyranny. In no instance have they been seen as the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty have found in the clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate liberty, does not need the clergy.

    Madison objected to state-supported chaplains in Congress and to the exemption of churches from taxation. He wrote:

    Religion and government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.

    There's more there. All legit.

    Seen you at S,N. I'm a fan.