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Religion & Politics: Hypocrisy Included

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An entire sub-genre for religious-political debate has risen up in recent years as a result of the Right's curiously-framed arguments that they are not being allowed to practice their religion and share their beliefs. Evidence amassed by those who study this issue in more detail than I demonstrates just as clearly that such allegations are both hypocritical and appropriately massaged to raise points which facts would not justify.

Not surprising that facts tend not to matter much to religious extremists....Given that the significant majority of them lean far to the right politically, that should surprise exactly no one. Those tilting that far starboard to begin with don't seem to have a problem manufacturing beliefs and/or rules without those annoying facts if they get in the way of their curious, narrow-minded objectives. It is quite the system!

That much of the discourse stems--as least as far as progressives are concerned--from a tenuous link to facts and reality is yet another obstacle. The Christian Right seems hell-bent on making their case with or without facts on their side, and much of what passes for rationales regarding their fears about religious persecution and denial of liberty indeed are fact-free.

None of these "but-we're-being persecuted/our-religious-freedoms-are-being-denied claims do anything to temper the partisan rhetoric flying across the great separation between progressives and conservatives. Widening the divide between the two camps is not exactly a benefit to most of us unless winning an argument today--however loose the standards--is the sole objective. Problems and challenges--economic, cultural, and political--will not step aside because we haven't found paths to bridge the disunity and antagonistic nature of what passes for public debate. We actually do not need any more polarization. We have quite enough as it is, and we must be close to maximum nonsense allowed in public debate and problem-solving.

While that is certainly a time-saver and an efficient negotiating strategy, it's a bit light on integrity and respect-worthiness. Unfortunately, too many of those same extremists are particularly untroubled by that lack. They have a case to make to preserve their interests, others be damned. God's Word? [If so, perhaps an Update might be worth considering?]

I have come to the conclusion that the rise of politicized religious fundamentalism may have been the key ingredient in the transformation of the Republican Party. Politicized religion provides a substrate of beliefs that rationalizes--at least in the minds of its followers--all three of the GOP's main tenets: wealth worship, war worship, and the permanent culture war....
The religious right's professed insistence upon 'family values' might appear at first blush to be at odds with the anything but saintly personal behavior of many of its leading proponents. Some of this may be due to the general inability of human beings to reflect on conflicting information: I have never ceased to be amazed at how facts manage to bounce off people's consciousness like pebbles off armor plate. But there is another, uniquely religious aspect that also comes into play: the predilection of fundamentalist denominations to believe in practice, even if not entirely in theory, in the doctrine of 'cheap grace,' a derisive term coined by the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. By that he meant the inclination of some religious adherents to believe that once they had been 'saved,' not only would all past sins be wiped away, but future ones, too--so one could pretty much behave as before. Cheap grace is a divine get-out-of-jail-free card.

Harsh. True, but harsh. Also worth pondering? That permanent Get-Out-Of-Hell-And-Condemn-All-You-Want card should be harder to earn.

A major component of the "leadership's" strategy, in addition to their passing nod to facts, is that keeping the faithful suitably fearful, anxious, and agitated over the relentless--albeit manufactured--threats to their freedom to not just practice their pseudo-faith without interference, but to insist that others must do so as well, also prevents those same loyal followers from asking themselves too many questions about the what, the why, and the how. Some are certainly benefiting from the misleading nonsense, but it would be death to those same leaders' interests if followers realized they weren't the ones so blessed.

And so onward and upward go the Christian soldiers to fight the good fight, unfettered from those pesky truths which get in the way of their unverifiable religious mandates.

So while the loyalists may be too distraught over the prospects of one disaster or another always just around the corner, the rest of us, burdened as we are by truths and the like, have their own duty to make sure future generations are allowed to carve out successes and benefits without having to pay homage to nonsense.

Adapted from a blog post of mine

 

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Looking Left and Right: Inspiring Different Ideas, Envisioning Better Tomorrows I remain a firm believer in late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone's observation that "We all do better when we all do better." That objective might be worth pursuing (more...)
 

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