BY WILLIAM C. HENRY The following can be found in in Pastors Policy Briefing which was held in Des Moines, Iowa on March 24th? Must have been written in disappearing ink. Conferences under the same guise have been held over the past few years in 14 other states and attended by more than 10,000 Right Wing pastors and numerous like-minded Right Wing would-be-presidential-candidate invitees.of the U.S. Constitution: No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. Really? That being the case, I wonder why I can’t find corresponding language EXEMPTING participants in such “intercourses of congenial spirits” as the two-day all-expenses-paid (by their congregations no doubt)
Let me make something perfectly clear from the outset: I have never been a big fan of religion, and I find myself even less so now when I see it used so repugnantly by pulpits and politicians on the Right. How fortunate I was to have had Gibran-like parents who believed in “exposure to” rather than “force-feeding of.” All children should be so lucky. But I digress.
The stated purpose of the conference(s) was/is “to develop strategies to combat the ominous secular (as in anyone other than those of the Christian faith) assault on evangelical Christian verities like the sanctity of male-female marriage, the humanity of the unborn, and the divine (you’re about to learn why, in this one word, lies the crux of the entire matter) right to LIMITED government.” Well, if you think that last one seems a bit incongruent given the previous two, you sure as hell aren’t alone!
Forever the skeptic, it always amused me how these holier-than-thows managed to reconcile such disparate designs. Just how DO you (with a straight face) reconcile wanting to get government out of people’s PRIVATE lives with wanting to legislate a person’s choice of permanent partner?! How do you reconcile wanting to get government out of people’s PRIVATE lives with wanting to legislate what they can do with their own bodies, not the least of which includes denying them the right to decide when and how they may END their own lives?! I mean, how CAN you do all of that without sounding–or, in fact, BEING–well, DUPLICITOUSLY HYPOCRITICAL?!
It turns out that the answer to that pesky little conundrum was to be revealed through the doggedly determined efforts of one of the religious Right’s own far-removed forebears. Millenniums ago in a distant Christian commonwealth a convention of the faithful was convened. The steadfast flock was beseeched to meditate mindfully on the matter and come up with an absolutely unassailable solution. After what must have seemed like an eternity of mind numbing anguish and angst amidst heaping helpings of dejection and dismay, VOILA!, a fellow in the last row leapt to his feet and exclaimed: “What about interpolating the spirit of divineness”?! And thus was introduced the ultimate “fixer” for any and all Christian exhortations that could in any way be construed as confusing, confounding, contradictory, or even IRRECONCILABLE! Oh what a rapturous moment of divine intervention it was! The shackles were broken! The burden was lifted! They finally had their ACE-IN-THE-HOLE!
And that is what remains to this day the really BIG duplicitously hypocritical LIE. It’s the very thing that allows these Right Wing fib flingers, preachers and politicians alike, to look you straight in the eye and tell you EMPHATICALLY that they SINCERELY want to get government out of your PRIVATE life. It’s their very own specially cooked-up chicken soup cure for all of those dastardly little IRRECONCILABLES that would have the audacity to assert themselves from time to time. It’s that always-on-call–albeit somewhat capriciously discriminatory (obviously a divinity has every right to pick and choose just which rights it may or may not elect to weigh in on)–fall guy that blame can be shifted to whenever the truth seekers ask them to, as Desi so aptly put it, “splain” themselves.
Throughout the time I worked on this commentary, I couldn’t help but be constantly reminded of the oh-so-true Goebbels’ quote of some 70 years ago: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the state.” You don’t have to change many words to realize how apropos it is to the subject at hand and Right Wing politics in general.
I’ll leave you with a few quotes from assorted attendees at some of these Christian assemblages referred to above. David Barton, a Christian historian, argued that the country “was founded as explicitly Christian” (he also insists that Jesus is against the minimum wage and Capital Gains Tax) Newt Gingrich commented that “constitutional liberties like the right to bear arms were ordained by God,” and that “America is exceptional because its founding documents enshrine rights ‘endowed by our Creator’.” He also instructed the crowd that “it was their Christian duty to fight for the ‘truth’ by exposing threats like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Obama health care law that will put the country on the road to dictatorship.” Breakout groups discussed “how to promote biblically informed political advocacy by churchgoers within the confines of federal tax law.” Michele Bachmann challenged the pastors to “be the voice of freedom.” David Lane, a born-again Christian from California delivered what was perhaps the most “enlightening” commentary of all when he said, “What we’re doing with the pastor meetings is spiritual, but the end result is political.” I’d like to believe that the founding father who penned that precious little addition to the Constitution shifted just a we bit in his grave when he heard that.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fed up early stage septuagenarian who has actually been most of there and done most of that. Born and raised in the picturesque Pocono Mountains. Quite well educated. Very lucky to have been born into a well-schooled and somewhat prosperous family. Long divorced. One beautiful, brilliant daughter. Two far above average grandsons. Semi-retired (how does anyone manage to do it completely these days?) and fully-tired of bullshit. Uncle of the Editor-In-Chief.