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dogemperor [userpic]
Interesting recording of religious interference at USAF Academy


Jews on First has a link to a recording of a leader of a fundementalist Christian faculty group who is disparaging investigation of religious coercion at Air Force Academy. It's quite interesting. Link to Quicktime MP3 recording

Mikey Weinstein is the individual being discussed in the early part of this recording. He runs the Military Religous Freedom Foundation which is dedicated to "ensuring that all members of the United States Armed Forces fully receive the Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom to which they and all Americans are entitled by virtue of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment."

From Jews on First:

The leader of a fundamentalist Christian faculty organization at the U.S. Air Force Academy brushed off the headline-grabbing investigation of religious coercion by the school's faculty, attributing the probe to complaints by one individual. In a presentation to a Campus Crusade for Christ faculty conference last June, Air Force Academy Professor James Pocock assured his audience that, absent an activist individual, an investigation of religious intolerance was unlikely at their schools.

Pocock then went on to detail how successfully the Christian Leadership Ministries (CLM), which he leads at the Academy, has organized the faculty and staff -- and how important it is to proselytize at the school.

CLM is the faculty arm of Campus Crusade for Christ.

dogemperor [userpic]
Right Wing Authoritarianism and the Religious Right


I read a very interesting post this morning by [info]bradhicks, who talks about an online book he was encouraged to read.

It's The Authoritarians by Bob Altemeyer, and it is a very profoundly chilling look at Right Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) and Social Dominence Orientation (SDO).

I quote Brad with permission:

Anyway, the backstory to this book is that former Nixon chief counsel and convicted Watergate co-conspirator John Dean noticed something a couple of years back: even as bad as he now realizes his former boss and some of his former co-workers were, there's just plain something "off" about the 21st century Republican Party, something that would lead them to a scandal that he insists is Worse than Watergate. The thing that was inexplicably weird to him wasn't just the criminal and impeachable fraud (in his opinion as a lawyer who's been through it) by which the Bush administration lied us into Iraq, but more importantly how strangely few people in the Republican Party had any kind of a problem with it.

The Republican Party that he knew was the one that rebuilt itself from the ground up off of the work of deeply principled thinkers like William F. Buckley's 1951 God and Man at Yale and more importantly Barry Goldwater's 1960 The Conscience of a Conservative. The Republican Party, after decades of electoral disaster, re-invented itself as the party of principles. The Democrats, from FDR on, were (and mostly still are) the party of pragmatism and of outcomes. And the public was, understandably, grateful for such outcomes as repairing the Dust Bowl, ending the Great Depression, creating the "land grant" colleges, founding Social Security, winning World War II, creating the whole modern economy through the GI Bill, and eliminating polio and smallpox. But at the bottom of it, the Republicans' electoral strategy was to convince the voters that the then-ongoing corruption of the post-Prohibition America, the mafia dominance of so much of our politics, was an inescapable result of a politics of pragmatism, a politics without absolute moral principles. By 1980, that sounded really good to Americans, and the Republicans have dominated the American political landscape pretty thoroughly, if not always completely, ever since.

But what Dean was noticing was the the Republicans under George W. Bush had for all practical purposes sacrificed every shred of commitment to any kind of a principle other than one: a "principled" commitment to gaining and holding power at any cost. And in his reading to try to figure out just where America went wrong, he stumbled across the academic work of Bob Altemeyer and began corresponding with him, and Altemeyer's analysis of authoritarianism forms the theoretical framework for Dean's latest book, Conservatives without Conscience (or so I'm told, I haven't read it). So after the moderate success of Dean's book, it occurred to Altemeyer that he wanted a much broader public to understand the scientific and experimental basis for the claims that Dean was making, to learn just what social psychologists have discovered over the last 60 years of verifiable scientific research into what makes authoritarianism possible. And being only a few years short of retirement, he obviously felt no particular unhappiness that Internet web pages don't count as publication credit towards tenure, or not enough to slow him down. To try to get a bigger audience for his book than an academic press would bring him, he's giving it away free.

Yes, he's giving this book away free- all you have to do is download it. It's in PDF format right now, but we hope that he might make it available in HTML and/or ASCII format at a later time. It is also available for purchase at Amazon.com under the title of The Authoritarian Specter.

Brad continues:

A Right Wing Authoritarian is Altemeyer's subjective label for someone who want very badly to believe that their parents' and grandparents' ways were the best, that society is at all times seriously threatened by dangerous outsiders (usually foreigners, homosexuals, and identifiable ethnic groups within the country), and that any political leader who isn't one of those dangerous outsiders or allied with them is never wrong and should be obeyed absolutely, unhesitatingly, and uncritically. Such people are putty in the hands of people who combine sociopathic indifference toward outsiders and unlimited willingness to lie who believe that it is a law of nature and a law of God that some groups of people will always dominate other groups and who cannot ever feel safe unless their group is one of the ones doing the dominating. Those who share these interrelated beliefs about how the world works are said to display Social Dominance Orientation. Social psychologists have spent decades now fine-tuning diagnostic questionnaires for both conditions, and in both cases have come up with short lists of statements that very tightly correlate with each other for one, and a separate list for the other. That is to say, if someone scores very high on the RWA scale, if they agree with a very unusually high number of the statements on that test, they will also demonstrate the behavior of seeking to find an authoritarian leader to uncritically follow. If someone scores very high on the SDO scale, they will also demonstrate the behavior of seeking to dominate others at all costs.

Why is this important to readers here? Brad explains:

Oh, and come to think of it, people over on [info]dark_christian probably do need to read this book. When he gets around to addressing the link between Biblical fundamentalism and Right Wing Authoritarianism, he addresses the question of how people who claim to be Biblical literalists can still maintain attitudes that are explicitly and repeatedly contradicted by scripture, such as racism or hatred of the poor. To oversimplify his answer, it's because as an appeal to the traditions of our elders, Fundamentalism is inherently attractive to RWAs. And that study after study has shown that RWAs are very prone to faulty syllogisms and other logic errors, even more so than the general population, and are very very good at "compartmentalizing" what they know. [Chapter 4 -ed]

So an RWA in the Fundamentalist movement who's viciously racist will "know" that the Bible condemns oppressing the poor and oppressing foreigners who have come to your country while they're studying that part of the Bible, their talent for compartmentalization as a psychological defense of their own need to be right and their own need to fear outsiders ensures that they don't "know" that when it might affect their decision making.

This is definitely worth a visit and a good study. If you want to understand the kind of people we're dealing with, it is definitely worth your time to read these things.

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