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In his book, The End of Faith, Terror and the Future of Reason, Sam Harris writes, "Religion is nothing more than bad concepts held in the place of good ones for all time. It is the denial -- at once full of hope and full of fear -- of the vastitude of human ignorance."
Whether we agree or disagree, it should give us cause to re-think, with clarity of mind, the effects at least one religious movement is having on American society.
The recent announcement of the Ted Cruz presidential candidacy makes sentiment in an article by Chris Hedges, even more timely. In it he argues, "U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz--whose father is Rafael Cruz, a rabid right-wing Christian preacher and the director of the Purifying Fire International ministry--and legions of the senator's wealthy supporters, some of whom orchestrated the shutdown, are rooted in a radical Christian ideology known as Dominionism or Christian Reconstructionism. This ideology calls on anointed "Christian" leaders to take over the state and make the goals and laws of the nation "biblical." ["] It fuses with the Christian religion, the iconography and language of American imperialism and nationalism, along with the cruelest aspects of corporate capitalism.
It should concern us all that this well-funded movement is pressing science, intellectual discourse, and reason out of the public domain and attempting to replace them with pre-enlightenment thinking or, in Harris's words, with "a vastitude of ignorance."
From the climate change deniers to creationists attempting to pass off religion as science, this movement threatens us far more than the terrorists of ISIL. They insist the Bible be the basis of our legal system: A book that cannot even reconcile the conflicts in its own morality.
So although it would be easy to accept as fundamental the liberal media's claim of the extreme right's hate of a black president, it is a red herring. Their accusations of his alleged un-Americanism, Islamism, socialism and radicalism are priming the pump of distrust and dissatisfaction that will lead more and more people into the hands of the Christian right extremists.
We live in a time of enormous scientific achievements. We've cured illnesses that were a death sentence a mere hundred years ago. We are exploring space, examining the DNA that contains the very blueprint of life on this planet, plumbing the depths of our reality to find a world of quantum phenomenon that defies human logic, and beginning to explain our origins that started with a cosmic event 13.7 billion years ago.
Yet this movement wants to take us back to a time when there was no need for critical thinking. Instead, faith was the only requirement and intellectual competence an unnecessary encumbrance: Faith in religious stories about gardens with apple trees and talking snakes, global floods, arks carrying two of every species and angels with trumpets who blew down stone walls.
But to be sure, in the same book, Harris also writes, "A kernel of truth lurks in the heart of religion, because spiritual experience, ethical behavior and strong communities are essential for human happiness. And yet our religious traditions are intellectually defunct and politically ruinous."
Religion per se is not the problem. It is the "intellectually defunct and politically ruinous" thinking like that found in the ranks of the extreme religious right Dominionist movement who dominate the Republican party.
From the Huffington Post by author Frank Schaefer, "Church and state are no longer separated. They have been folded into one deadly destructive, economy-threatening entity by the Republicans. It's time to stop being any less forcefully truth-telling about religion than we are about politics. The shutdown is a slow motion religious extremist attack on America no less deadly than a suicide vest attack. It's time to call these people out on their own terms for what they believe before they take us all down with them."
Is it too late? We're on a very slippery slope as long as reasonable people, Christians, Muslims, and Jews, the true children of Abraham, allow themselves to be represented by the lunatic fringe.
Robert De Filippis