More and more born-again Christians are being elected to Congress and state houses.
I can’t find a statistic on how many born-again Christians have been elected to governorships or Congress, but I know it’s significant. John Thune, senator from South Dakota; Tim Pawlenty, former governor and probable presidential candidate from Minnesota; Michele Bachmann, 6th District Congresswoman from Minnesota; Sarah Palin; Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, and Rick “Secesh” Perry, governor of Texas, just to name a few. Even democrats have taken that route since the media gave evangelicals credit for Bush’s victory in 2004. Heath Shuler, former NFL quarterback and North Carolina congressman, comes to mind. He might as well be a Republican; after the Tucson shooting he started carrying a gun at meet-and-greets with constituents.
Most evangelicals, if not all, believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, which precludes the argument that God was responsible for the Big Bang. Many are overt theocrats, claiming that America was founded as a Christian nation. It wasn’t. Massachusetts Bay Colony was, but that was in 1620 and they were about as tolerant of other Christians as Americans are of atheists. Evangelicals also have a fondness for the Book of Revelation, which just barely made it into the New Testament. When Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity he called the Council of Nicaea in an effort to stop bickering among different Christian sects. He also directed bishops to agree upon a canon of holy readings which would ultimately become the New Testament. St. Augustine opposed the Book of Revelation, but eventually agreed to it if it would be taught as symbolic. Its author John of Patmos expected Jesus to return within his lifetime; the beast in Revelation is obviously the Roman emperor; the seven hills of Rome are only thinly disguised. John of Patmos also stressed that his work was meant to be symbolic. And yet we have churches like the Seventh Day Adventists and authors like Tim LeHay who insist Revelation is literal. That 144,000 number in Revelation, those followers who will be saved, should be a bit problematic even for fanatics like Bachmann. There are something like sixty million evangelicals in the United States and who knows how many throughout the world. Are the remaining fifty-nine million 800 thousand plus to be punished as non-believers with the rest of us during the millennium?
However, not all evangelicals are mean-spirited. Pastor Rob Bell of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has published a book entitled LOVE WINS that denies the inevitability of hell for non-believers. Pastor Chad Holtz of United Methodist Church in North Carolina agreed and lost his job as a result. So did Carlton Pearson, a black televangelist, with a huge Tulsa following, when he preceded Bell with the same argument. The concept of hell is such a handy weapon. You can scare believers into behaving; you can scare them into tithing ten percent or more of their salaries.
Of course some Pentecostals deny the Council of Nicaea ever happened, just as they deny the world is billions of years old rather than only six thousand. Apparently this number is based on the “begat” sequence in the Bible. But there’s no historical evidence any of these people existed. There’s no evidence the Jews were ever slaves in Egypt. For that matter, the only historical mention of Jesus is from Josephus, a Jewish Roman historian, who had no reason to mention him (Some theologians dispute this reference as being the work of a scribe). A Roman historian would see someone like Jesus as a religious zealot, guilty of “superstitio” which was a crime in ancient Rome. Religion had to be utilitarian; even Julius Caesar was a religious leader on his way to the top.
There’s a new book out that may render the argument moot. Really, if there was no Garden of Eden there would be no devil or no original sin, right? BEFORE THE DAWN by science writer Nicolas Wade shows through DNA research that most modern people, excluding most Africans, descended from the San tribe in Africa. Even the Semites in Israel and the supposed holy land of the Tigris and Euphrates bear the mutation markers of the San tribe. According to Wade, a 150 hunter gatherers left Africa on the south end of the Red Sea, traveled along the coast of Saudi Arabia into India and dispersed from there. Genetic drift explains why Chinese and other “races” have distinct features. They were isolated by the ice age and intermarried, emphasizing certain traits. The Hubble Space Telescope has also given us a pretty good indication that the Big Bang is not just a theory. We can see other galaxies racing away from us as would have happened with the Big Bang. Evangelical leaders claim what we see through the telescope is just an illusion. Another “illusion delusion.” They also believe that the Grand Canyon was created during the Flood in the Bible.
Here lies the danger in electing people to congress who believe the world is only six thousand years old. This idea defies science, and without science there will be no progress. At one time Christians viewed science as the province of the devil. Galileo was put under house arrest for arguing that the earth revolved around the sun. During the Middle Ages the Catholic church ruled supreme; a king of England, Henry IV, had to wear a hair shirt and stand in the snow barefoot in sublimation to the Pope. The Inquisition tortured and murdered thousands of unbelievers; Huguenots were massacred in France. Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin were first ministers in France. In England you had religious wars following Henry VIII’s takeover of the Catholic church. In the modern era we have Iranian religious zealots murdering their own people who dare to demonstrate against their authority.
Christian politicians also seem to look for scapegoats. Homosexuals, Mexican illegals, public employees unions, atheists and agnostics, women, pro-lifers, moderate Republicans, and the poor all come under their baleful stare.
We can see what happens when these people take power in Texas. The State Board of Education has decided to rewrite history, giving Jefferson Davis equal time with Abraham Lincoln, among other ludicrous changes. The danger here is that the textbook industry uses Texas as a guideline for the rest of the country because of their large population. An evolutionary scientist testified at the Scopes III trial in Dover, Pennsylvania, that the first Scopes trial influenced science education to this date, which is why ordinary Americans think it’s only a theory. Scopes III ruled that Intelligent Design is a religion, much the same as Creationism, and can’t be taught in the public schools. The irony is that the judge was appointed by George W. Bush based on a recommendation from former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, one of the most conservative senators. Didn’t stop conservative from calling him a liberal. People should read the transcript; it’s available on the Internet.
George W. Bush also appointed numerous graduates to his administration from schools like Liberty, Bob Jones, Pat Robertson’s Regent University, and Patrick Henry College, all of them bent on creating a theocratic government. One of them was involved in the Albert Gonzales scandal where he excluded democrats from applying for Federal prosecutor appointments. Ronald Reagan met weekly with Jerry “Teletubby” Falwell, despite the fact that he rarely attended church himself. Reagan saw those sixty million votes and had an orgasm.
Another area of concern is scientific research. Conservatives in general have opposed Stem Cell research, attempts to combat global warming (think oil company lobbyists), and attempts to popularize renewable energy like electric cars, compact fluorescent light bulbs (Michele Bachmann really hates these). Everybody should watch a little documentary entitled “Kids on Fire.” It’s about this woman named Becky Fischer and her summer workshop for evangelical kids Devil‘s Lake, North Dakota (Is that an appropriate name or what?). Ironically she uses rock and rap music as a ploy. I say that because evangelicals once viewed rock and roll as devil’s music and referred to rhythm and blues as “nigger music.” Becky Fisher pines for the day when she can leave this “nasty old world” and go to heaven, and she’s trying to make it happen sooner than later. These are just not nice people and they will do anything and say anything to achieve their goals.
I wonder how many people know that John McCain not only flip-flopped on his immigration legislation but also “converted” from the Episcopalian church to become a Southern Baptist. Some people will do anything to get elected.
Perhaps most dangerous of all are the innumerable conservative think tanks, many founded by evangelical pastors. The Council for National Policy, founded by LEFT BEHIND author Tim LaHaye, meets three times yearly behind closed doors, attracting a few hundred of the most powerful conservative leaders. NATION magazine describes them as “a secretive organization that networks wealthy right-wing donors together with top conservative operatives to plan long-term strategy.” Then you have the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute. The Cato Institute was recently in the news in connection with Governor Scott Walker’s effort to eliminate public employees’ right to negotiate. Oil magnates David and Charles Koch are founders. The Coors family was one of the financers of the Heritage Foundation. Among other things, the Cato Institute would like to see private companies have the right to refuse service. Think 1960’s civil rights riots. These people never give up. Anyway, LaHaye’s little think tank sure does sound like a “vast conservative conspiracy,” doesn’t it? Strange behavior for conservatives so concerned about The New World Order, The Trilateral Commission, and even The United Nations. Once again the irony is lost on them.
Nobody likes a “holier-than-thou” acquaintance. Why would you want to vote for one to represent you in Congress? Theocrats want to make you behave. They’ve proven it with abortion legislation. How does this compare with their freedom platform? Big government wants to take away their freedom, but it’s okay when they do it. That’s hypocrisy. Legislation of morality just doesn’t work. We should’ve learned that with Prohibition. Abortion is older than the pyramids. Rich women will still be able to get theirs. Poor women will go underground, but legislation will not prevent abortion. The morning after pill might; male contraception might, but they oppose those alternatives, too.
In more ways than one, the Christian Right tends to see things in black and white. You’re either with them or against them. It’s their country right or wrong, their political party right or wrong, and that’s just not the foundation on which this country was built.
Dave Schwinghammer's published novel,SOLDIER'S GAP, is available on Amazon.com.