Culture Warriors category archive
The Des Moines Register’s Rekha Basu comments on a proposal in the Iowa legislature to teach Bible studies in Iowa public schools. The studies will masquerade as “historical.”
The promoters of the bill argue that the Bible is central to American heritage, when, in fact, it is not. With the exception of the Massachusetts Puritans and the Rhode Island Baptists (who founded Rhode Island to escape the oppression of the Puritans–look it up), most of the colonists were spectacularly apathetic to religion; they were more interested in gold than in godliness. (Religion did not become a significant factor in American public life until the “Great Awakening” of the 1830s.)
Here’s a bit of her column:
So my worry is the opposite of Zahn’s (the primary sponsor of the bill–ed.). It’s that with all these politically motivated versions of truth being floated out there, including denials about evolution and climate change, Americans are at risk of confusing religious beliefs with provable fact. That could really put our democracy in peril.
Zahn’s contention that American values “did not spring from the cornucopia of ‘world religions’ but specifically from the Judeo-Christian scriptures” hints at something else, a mindset that America is not a place for a new immigrant population of different faiths. It has disturbing echoes of Rep. Steve King’s contention that America can’t restore its civilization with “someone else’s babies.”
In The Denver Post, Chuck Plunkett recounts a conversation with a leading Colorado evangelical “Christian,” Jeff Hunt; he finds the exchange–er–distressing. Here’s a bit:
I like Hunt and find him affable and accommodating, sincere and forthright. Also, hailing from an evangelic upbringing, I do not wish the community harm. But there is danger here. When it comes to politics, Hunt has one of the worst cases of true-believer syndrome I’ve ever seen. Again and again, his defense of Trump is purely partisan, no matter the violent conflict it creates with Christian values and beliefs.
Given the opportunity to share gripes about Trump’s bad behavior, Hunt demurs. He disputes that Trump is a constant liar or that his actions are racist. He denies that Trump’s actions are intentionally divisive. He dodges questions about Trump’s treatment of women and his unorthodox business practices while president. He blames the media.
Much more at the link.
Charles Matthews tries to figure out what happened to the “Gospel of Love” among white “Christian” evangelicals. His piece is well worth a read. Here’s a snippet:
White evangelical Christians like guns, for example, and do not especially like immigrants. Compared to other demographic groups, we’re excited about the death penalty, indifferent to those who are impoverished or infirm, and blind to racial and gender inequalities. We claim to read the Bible and hear Jesus’ teachings, but we think poor people deserve what they (don’t) get, and the inmates of our prisons deserve, if anything, worse than the horrors they already receive. For believers in a religion whose Scriptures teach compassion, we’re a breathtakingly cruel bunch.
Andrés Miguel Rondón, a Venezuelan now living in Madrid, sees parallels between Donald Trump and the late Hugo Chavez and offers advice on understanding Trump and the Trumpettes:
If you’re among the majority of Americans who oppose Trump, you can’t understand why. And it’s making you furious. I saw the same thing happen in my native Venezuela with the late Hugo Chávez, who ruled as precisely the sort of faux-populist strongman that Trump now loves to praise. Chávez’s political career (which only ended with his untimely death) seemed not only immune to scandal, but indeed to profit directly from it. Why? Because scandal is no threat to populism. Scandal sustains populism.
Normal politicians collapse in the face of scandal because the scandals show them dozing on the job or falling back on their promises. . . .
However, like all populists, Trump offers a much different deal — “Vote for me: I will destroy your enemies. They are the reason you are not rich/have less rights/America is not great anymore.” Scandal is the populist’s natural element for the same reason that demolishing buildings makes more noise than constructing them. His supporters didn’t vote for silence. They voted for a bang.
Follow the link for the rest.
Mike discusses the latest antics of Jim Bakker, pretend Christian. (Warning: language.)
Thom and his guest discuss why right-wing “evangelical” Christians support Donald Trump, who’s conduct is–er, how shall I put it delicately?–problematical.
Betsy Biesenbach reviews the year in sexism and offers a disturbing prediction. A snippet (emphasis added):
With all the allegations that are coming out against powerful men, it almost seems there will be no men running anything when this is over. But of course there will. No matter how powerful a few women become, men are still in charge and will be for the foreseeable future. The next step in this movement will undoubtedly be a backlash against the women who have come forward, and the end result will be that we are silenced once again.
In the meantime, how many men are afraid for their reputations and their careers? Ironically, women who have resisted unwanted advances have always been just as afraid for theirs. It’s a taste of what women feel every day — with the additional knowledge that their very persons aren’t safe.
In a tangentially related piece, Marty Klein, at Psychology Today Blogs, explores why some persons are so uptight about anything sexual, even when it’s not actually sexual. Here’s a bit:
Like kids in a candy store or at a scary movie, people obsessed with erotic imagery are simply not emotionally equipped to ignore what they see. These people deserve sympathy, but they don’t get mine because they deal with their upset in such an aggressive way. They want to cleanse the public sphere of sexuality—and they imagine the public sphere as practically the whole world. It includes Greek statues in City Hall, radio ads for birth control, string bikinis on the beach, vanity license plates, lube in the drugstore—the list is almost endless.
I argue that the piece is related because it sheds some light on why, when confronted with news of sexual misconduct and harassment, some folks don’t want to hear or believe them. Follow the link to determine whether you think I have a point.
PoliticalProf muses on separation of state and religion as viewed by the framers of the Constitution. The piece is short and worth your while.
Remember, when the Founders wrote drafted the Constitution, witch trials were still within living memory and religious wars with their grandparents’ memories. (Yes, I know that, in “religious” wars, religion is often be a proxy for, or, at least, mixed with other things, such as economic oppression, and bigotry, even population pressure; we can see that today, too.)
I live about two miles from a street called “Witchduck Road.” It has that name for a reason.
In The Charlotte-Observer, attorney Jim Bolin excoriates the argument that refusing to a wedding cake to a customer because one does not “endorse” the customer’s views or identity is somehow “protected speech.” A snippet:
It is telling that during Supreme Court arguments, Phillips’s lawyers refused to offer any limiting principle for their position. If baking is protected as free speech because it involves creativity, then so are services such as devising a menu or styling hair. If Phillips’s legal argument is correct, then a wide range of businesses will be able to refuse to serve interracial couples, Jews or other groups on the grounds that the seller does not “endorse” that customer’s views.
In The Hartford Courant, Susan Campbell reminds us that there once was a war on Christmas, and it was waged by Calvinists with a religious agenda, not by wingnuts with a political one. A snippet:
His (the Rev. Lyman Beecher, (father of Harriet Beecher Stowe–ed.) antipathy toward Christmas was not weird for his time. Many Protestants looked askance at Christmas as a papal holiday to be avoided. If they celebrated at all, it was with a piece of candy solemnly handed to the nearest child on Christmas morning. No tree. No lights. No carols.
“Republican Family Values” has always been a con and a scam.
Republican politicians make “used car dealer” and “real estate developer” look like honorable professions.