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IN THE NAME
OF THE LORD
By David Podvin
American fundamentalists have repudiated the Jesus of the bible who blathered on endlessly about peace and love and all that other leftist crapola. Their savior is a militaristic elitist smitten with the rich and disdainful of the poor, a martinet determined to cleanse subversive individuality from humankind. Although they do not realize it, the icon that holy rollers are actually worshipping is Generalissimo Francisco Franco.
Yet Franco really is still dead, and if it turns out that Christ is the resurrected Son of God the reactionary religionists will ultimately be serving (extremely) hard time for blasphemy. Invoking the Lord’s name, the Religious Right is conducting a merciless terrorist campaign that has effectively prohibited abortion in most of America. Having achieved excellent results by murdering disobedient doctors, the sanctimonious vigilantes are now turning their deadly gaze towards disobedient jurists.
The zealots have already terrorized scientists engaged in stem cell research, pharmacists who sell contraceptives, educators who teach Evolution, museum owners who display controversial art, authors who write irreverent prose, and documentary filmmakers who prioritize facts over superstition. Some Americans who fall into disfavor with the fundamentalists find their home addresses posted on the Internet, while less fortunate dissidents have bounties placed on their heads.
The vicious offensive launched against law-abiding citizens is fascism dressed as fundamentalist religion, although a costume change is hardly required for they are one and the same. Religious zealotry has always been the blood enemy of rational thought. Once the devout conclude that they have received marching orders from the Almighty, what invariably follows are search and destroy missions designed to eradicate the satanic abominations of logic and reason.
A major front in the holy battle against Beelzebub involves determining who must die and when. Religious conservatives have enthusiastically backed every war in our nation’s history and strongly support the death penalty. At the same time, fundamentalists are adamant that terminally ill people must be denied the right to die on their own terms. Since the law does not sustain this callous viewpoint, the zealots are employing their old reliable technique of intimidation.
Even though conservatives were unable to prolong indefinitely the existence of brain dead Terry Schiavo, their intrusion into the matter produced a classic example of winning by losing. Just as the Religious Right has lost in the courts but won in the streets on the issue of reproductive rights, the Schiavo case represented a practical victory for the regressive forces that oppose euthanasia.
Michael Schiavo heroically spent seven years seeking treatment to revive his stricken wife before medical experts finally persuaded him that the situation was hopeless. When he attempted to carry out Terry’s previously stated desire to die rather than languish in an irreversible vegetative state, religious conservatives and their corporate media allies cynically exploited the situation with a despicable smear campaign. A well-coordinated legion of disreputable fanatics was summoned to demonize Mr. Schiavo as being a gold digging sadist who was torturing his defenseless wife to death.
By whipping the faithful into a frenzied state, right wing Christians and their Orthodox Jewish sycophants were able to generate numerous death threats against Michael Schiavo, making his already painful experience even more agonizing. After a traditionalist Catholic priest falsely claimed that Terry was begging to live, the judge in the case was also targeted for death. In the end, the reactionaries accomplished their primary goal of demonstrating that to disobey them carries with it excruciating personal consequences.
It is coercion rather than legality that often prevails in the United States. Most fundamentalists do not explicitly support the violence of the terrorists, but that should not be confused with explicitly opposing it. Following Dr. Bernard Slepian’s slaying by an anti-choice activist, prominent religious conservatives empathized with the frustration of the murderer who could no longer tolerate “infanticide”. This public harmonizing with lawlessness is a staple of the right wing religious movement.
Relatively few operatives engage in the terrorism that furthers the theocratic cause, while the vast majority of conservative religionists feign opposition to the criminality even as they welcome its beneficial effects. When evangelist Pat Robertson prayed for the death of pro-choice judges, he was communicating to worshipful gun-toting crackpots the desired length of those judicial lives. Despite the winking disclaimers from the anti-choice movement that violence is not the way, its leaders have never organized a rally to condemn the murder of physicians who perform legal abortions.
A primary tenet of fundamentalist religiosity is the unrelenting hatred of females that is marketed as an embrace of traditional values. Traditionally, of course, females have been brutalized: stoned by Orthodox Jews for immodest dress, subjected to clitoral castration by fundamentalist Muslims, and designated as chattel by conservative Christians. The barbarians exalt women as the “backbone of the family” while simultaneously insisting that the Lord dictates they must submit to men. This principle is cited by religious conservatives in opposing government funding of spousal abuse clinics. As Jerry Falwell has said, some things are best left within the family, and from the traditional religious perspective physically abusing the “backbone of the family” is one of those things.
The Religious Right is adamant that the Scriptural condemnation of homosexually must be taken extremely seriously, as opposed to the equally harsh Scriptural condemnation of adultery, which apparently was divine deadpan humor. Until the literalists start terrorizing serial adulterer Newt Gingrich in retaliation for destroying the moral fabric of society, it is safe to assume that bigotry rather than devotion to principle motivates their vendetta against gays. And in a nation where half the marriages end in divorce, the “matrimony is sacred” argument used to oppose legalizing homosexual unions reeks of excessive consumption of sacramental wine.
Fundamentalists despise anyone who disagrees with them, but are especially hostile to liberals, whom they have long tarred with labels ranging from “nigger lover” to “baby killer”. The slander currently in vogue identifies progressives as promoting a “culture of death”. The right wing version of events is that wherever there exists a viable fetus or helpless invalid, bloodthirsty leftists lurk seeking the optimal moment to strike a lethal blow. As improbable as the scenario may seem, it is repeated endlessly (especially on talk radio) and serves to saturate the faithful in paranoia and rage.
During the course of American history, that same paranoia and rage have motivated deeply religious people to burn dissidents as witches and to advocate slavery and to oppose women’s suffrage and to support Jim Crow. These crimes against humanity have always been committed for the stated purpose of glorifying God. The unyielding malice of pious reactionaries renders any respect for their theology entirely inappropriate, as does their end game.
Christian fundamentalists do not yearn for peace on Earth and goodwill towards man. They ache for the glory of Armageddon, the ultimate moment in the human experience that will commence when Russia launches an apocalyptic attack against Israel. According to the zealots, this catalyst will cause Jesus to descend from the firmament, bringing with Him a fiery climax to history that results in non-believers cascading into hell as the faithful ascend to heaven.
From the perspective of the righteous, the preceding is the best-case scenario for the human race. The dogmatists who accept this fantasy include among their ranks virtually everyone who is governing America. It is impossible to reason with people who cherish such nonsense, which explains why religious crusades never end of their own accord. History demonstrates that the crusaders must be confronted and defeated, at which point they retreat to the comfort of the biblical world where their delusions are praised as revelations.
In the United States, that confrontation has yet to occur. Secularists are understandably less than enthusiastic about engaging irrational primitives in a conflict that is guaranteed to be gruesome, but in this situation the alternative to conflict is surrender. Compromise is not an option because religious conservatives regard disagreement as being demonic. It is essential to realize that the forces of sanity are either going to win a no-holds-barred fight against those who are crazy or lose one.
The outcome of the culture war will determine this nation’s future. Religious fundamentalists are on a mission from God, but unlike the Blues Bothers they don’t hate Illinois Nazis… they resemble them. Consumed with hatred and unconstrained by decency, the theocrats are fanatically committed to establishing a fascist state. They will not stop until they achieve their goal of eliminating heresy.
The rest of America must now decide whether it is going to stop them.
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