Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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dogemperor [userpic]
A wake-up call to the sane majority


This Arkansas Democrat-Gazette op-ed asks some tough questions of the Religious Right. This article is notable that it's in a very right wing paper in a very red state.

Does it strike you as odd that persons calling themselves Christians are furious that the U.S. Supreme Court found executing juveniles unconstitutional? Do you find even odder that such individuals describe themselves, straight-faced, as adherents of the "culture of life"? Are you surprised to learn that people called conservatives would quote Joseph Stalin? Yes, that Joseph Stalin, the former Soviet dictator and mass murderer. And no, I am not making this up. It happened recently at a Washington conclave held by something called the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration. If not household names, many in attendance were familiar controversialists, representing right-wing groups like the Family Research Council, the American Conservative Union, etc. Catholic anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly spoke, along with unsuccessful GOP Senate nominee Alan Keyes and Alabama’s Judge Roy" Ten Commandments" Moore. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, having fled the jurisdiction—er, left town to attend the pope’s funeral, addressed the group on TV. But the real headline-maker was Edwin Vieira, allegedly an expert in constitutional law.

Vieira attacked the theological right’s latest whipping boy, Ronald Reagan-appointed Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. True, Kennedy supplied the swing vote in Bush vs. Gore, the 5-4 decision that gave the 2000 election to George W. Bush. But he also wrote recent majority opinions invalidating Texas’s anti-sodomy law and forbidding the execution of juveniles.

In so doing, Vieira insisted, Kennedy upheld "Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law."

And the solution? If not impeachment, Vieira said that his "bottom-line" solution for renegade judges was Stalin’s: "He had a slogan, and it worked very well for him, whenever he ran into difficulty: ‘ No man, no problem. ’"

The audience reportedly didn’t gasp. They laughed. "‘ No man, no problem, ’" he repeated for emphasis. "This is not a structural problem we have. This is a problem of personnel."

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank supplied the full Stalin quote, which is quite famous: "Death solves all problems: No man, no problem." He speculated that Vieira couldn’t possibly be urging the killing of Supreme Court justices. But he put the remark in the context of recent threats by DeLay, who said that "the time will come for the men responsible for [Terri Schiavo’s death] to answer for their behavior," and Texas Sen. John Cornyn, RTexas, who mused that unpopular judicial decisions could lead people to "engage in violence."

Assuming Vieira’s not actively delusional, however, what would be the point of invoking one of the 20th century’s great monsters if not to sanction violence? The avowed goal of this outfit is "Christian Reconstructionism," the notion that the U.S. government derives its ultimate authority not from "the consent of the governed," as Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, but from the Bible as interpreted by Puritan divines.

The U.S. Constitution forbids Congress from establishing an official faith. If these people get their way—and Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Sam Brownback, RKan., a recent convert to Opus Dei, an authoritarian Catholic sect, have introduced a bill to strip federal courts of the power to rule on religious issues—an established church would be exactly what we’d get.

What kind of church? Well, the late R. J. Rushdoony, spiritual father of Christian Reconstructionism, favored a Taliban-like, Old Testament moral code, with homosexuals, abortion doctors and women guilty of "unchastity" put to death.

No, that’s not going to happen. Even so, such rhetoric should be a wake-up call to what it’s tempting to call the Sane Majority. "True Believers" are an enduring human type. Zealous theocrats afflict every society from Afghanistan to Arkansas. They always know the absolute truth and strive to inflict it on others. Their obsessions usually revolve around sex, like those zealots in Saudi Arabia’s religious police who prevented 15 teen-aged girls from fleeing a school fire because they were improperly dressed. For years now, the national discourse has been driven by persons whose moral/theological views are somewhere between childish and insane. Most others either tend toward partial agreement on "wedge issues" like gay marriage or are too polite in the ecumenical sense to argue. Instead, they wait quietly for the metaphorical pendulum to swing toward the center. Hence, politicians like DeLay and Bush never pay the price for consorting with extremists. It’s time to remind these jokers that regardless of how "devout" they claim to be, this is the United States of America and the rest of us are not obliged to pretend that their political opinions are sanctioned by God, nor even that they are sane.

—–––––•–––––—Free-lance columnist Gene Lyons is a Little Rock author and recipient of the National Magazine Award.

People are starting to pay attention!