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Andrew Sullivan writes: "That's how I explain the current GOP. It can only think in doctrines, because the alternative is living in a complicated, global, modern world they both do not understand and also despise. Taxes are therefore always bad. Government is never good. Foreign enemies must be pre-emptively attacked. Islam is not a religion. Climate change is an elite conspiracy to impoverish America. Terror suspects are terrorists. When Americans torture, it is not torture. When Christians murder, they are not Christians. And if you change your mind on any of these issues, you are a liberal, an apostate, and will be attacked."

Thousands attended 'The Response,' a religious event organized by Republican Gov. Rick  Perry in order to pray for God to help save America: 'a nation in crisis,' 08/06/11. (photo: Brandon Thibodeaux/Getty Images)
Thousands attended 'The Response,' a religious event organized by Republican Gov. Rick Perry in order to pray for God to help save America: 'a nation in crisis,' 08/06/11. (photo: Brandon Thibodeaux/Getty Images)




Is the GOP a Religion?

By Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Beast

12 September 11

 

he Dish covered the remarkable web essay of Mike Lofgren, but I didn't comment myself because it so closely follows my own argument in "The Conservative Soul" and on this blog, that it felt somewhat superfluous. But I want to draw attention to the crux of the piece, because if we are to understand how the right became so unmoored from prudence, moderation and tradition and became so infatuated with recklessness, extremism and revolution, we need to understand how it happened.

It is, of course, as my shrink never fails to point out, multi-determined. But here is Lofgren's attempt at a Rosebud:

How did the whole toxic stew of GOP beliefs - economic royalism, militarism and culture wars cum fundamentalism - come completely to displace an erstwhile civilized Eisenhower Republicanism?

It is my view that the rise of politicized religious fundamentalism (which is a subset of the decline of rational problem solving in America) may have been the key ingredient of the takeover of the Republican Party. For politicized religion provides a substrate of beliefs that rationalizes - at least in the minds of followers - all three of the GOP's main tenets.

That too is my view: that the GOP, deep down, is behaving as a religious movement, not as a political party, and a radical religious movement at that. Lofgren sees the "Prosperity Gospel" as a divine blessing for personal enrichment and minimal taxation (yes, that kind of Gospel is compatible with Rand, just not compatible with the actual Gospels); for military power (with a major emphasis on the punitive, interventionist God of the Old Testament); and for radical change and contempt for existing institutions (as a product of End-Times thinking, intensified after 9/11).

Lofgren argues that supply-side economics attaches to the fundamentalist worldview purely by coalition necessity. The fundamentalists are not that interested in debt or economics (they sure didn't give a damn as spending exploded under Bush) but if their coalition partners insist on a certain economic doctrine, they'll easily go along with it, as long as it is never compromised. If it's presented as eternal dogma, they can handle it - and defend it with gusto. If it also means that Obama is wrong, so much the better. Most theo-political movements need an anti-Christ of some sort; and Obama - even though he is the most demonstrably Christian president since Carter - fills the role.

And so this political deadlock conceals a religious war at its heart. Why after all should one abandon or compromise sacred truths? And for those whose Christianity can only be sustained by denial of modern complexity, of scientific knowledge, and of what scholarly studies of the Bible's origins have revealed, this fusion of political and spiritual lives into one seamless sensibility and culture, is irresistible. And public reminders of modernity - that, say, many Americans do not celebrate Christmas, that gay people have human needs, that America will soon be a majority-minority country and China will overtake the US in GDP by mid-century - are terribly threatening.

But all these nuances do not therefore vanish. The gays don't disappear. China keeps growing. The population becomes browner and browner. Women's lives increasingly become individual choices not social fates. And this enrages and terrifies the fundamentalist even more. Hence the occasional physical lashing out - think Breivik or McVeigh - but more profoundly, the constant endless insatiable cultural lashing out at the "elites" who have left fundamentalism behind, and have, on many core issues, science on their side. So within this religious core, and fundamentalist mindset, you also have the steely solder of ressentiment, intensified even further by a period of white middle and working class decline and economic crisis.

That's how I explain the current GOP. It can only think in doctrines, because the alternative is living in a complicated, global, modern world they both do not understand and also despise. Taxes are therefore always bad. Government is never good. Foreign enemies must be pre-emptively attacked. Islam is not a religion. Climate change is an elite conspiracy to impoverish America. Terror suspects are terrorists. When Americans torture, it is not torture. When Christians murder, they are not Christians. And if you change your mind on any of these issues, you are a liberal, an apostate, and will be attacked.

If your view of conservatism is one rooted in an instinctual, but agile, defense of tradition, in a belief in practical wisdom that alters constantly with circumstance, in moderation and the defense of the middle class as the stabilizing ballast of democracy, in limited but strong government ... then the GOP is no longer your party (or mine).

Religion has replaced all of this, reordered it, and imbued the entire political-economic-religious package with zeal. And the zealous never compromise. They don't even listen.

Think of Michele Bachmann's wide-eyed, Stepford stare as she waits for a questioner to finish before providing another pre-cooked doctrinal nugget. My fear - and it has building for a decade and a half, because I've seen this movement up-close from within and also on the front lines of the marriage wars - is that once one party becomes a church with unchangeable doctrines, and once it has supplanted respect for institutions and civility with the radical pursuit of timeless doctrines and hatred of governing institutions, then our democracy is in grave danger.

If you ask why I remain such a strong Obama supporter, it is because I see him as that rare individual able to withstand the zeal without becoming a zealot in response, and to overcome the recklessness of pure religious ideology with pragmatism, civility and reason. That's why they fear and loathe him. Not because his policies are not theirs'. But because his temperament is their nemesis. If he defeats them next year, they will break, because their beliefs are so brittle, but will then reform, along Huntsman-style lines. If they defeat him, I fear we will no longer be participating in a civil conversation, however fraught, but in a civil war.

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+181 # CL38 2011-09-12 22:38
The right hides behind religion and uses fear-based ideology to impose its hate-filled views on the country.

It's time to take away the tax-exempt status of those churches, religious organizations and non-profits that are not authorized to engage in politics. They've been using religion to promote their anti-everything views for 40 years.

Enough is enough!
 
 
+13 # SouthBrun 2011-09-13 05:16
A cult is a religion with no political power. -Tom Wolfe, author and journalist (b. 1931)

Thus those people have political power and are not mere cults.
 
 
+29 # jerryball 2011-09-13 16:48
Not only are they using religion to promote devisiveness, they're doing it with tax-free dollars. They have NO SKIN in the game and are making their play to take over our country. Just like the Ayatollas took over Iran.
 
 
+10 # Ellisdtripp 2011-09-14 10:06
Quoting CL38:
The right hides behind religion and uses fear-based ideology to impose its hate-filled views on the country.

It's time to take away the tax-exempt status of those churches, religious organizations and non-profits that are not authorized to engage in politics. They've been using religion to promote their anti-everything views for 40 years.

Enough is enough!


To quote Frank Zappa, "Tax the f*** out of the churches!"
 
 
+17 # Cassandra2012 2011-09-14 14:44
Also, it is time we stop collaborating in allowing them to call themselves 'conservatives' ... they are conserving nothing. What they are is Rightwing RADICAL [as in tearing out by the ROOT] extremists.
The GOP stands for nothing grand or old... but rather The Greedy Oil Party?
or The Greedy Oligarchic Plutocrats?
They all seem to be shills for the neo-fascist corporatists. (although a some of the Dems , like Baucus are also in that category, as he was a shill for the ihealth insurance 'industry')
 
 
+99 # angelfish 2011-09-12 22:49
If it is, the poor Basta**ds have been suckered by the Anti-Christ as evidenced by their mean spirited, penny-pinching, "I got MINE, Try to get Yours" philosophy! Christ would RePudiate them if He were to return and they would probably Crucify Him all over again because He actually CARES about human beings, something that has become Anathema to the ReTHUGs! They are, in reality, Moneytarians. They Worship money and wealth, they husband it, hold it close to their chests, and God forbid, NEVER give it to ANYONE who might NEED it to survive, but give it freely to their Wealthy Masters who don't need it, I imagine in hopes of it being thrown back at them. Why they want to go back to the Pre-Christan Era, when those in power held Life and Death in their hands and could have people maimed or Killed on a whim, I don't know. I don't even think THEY do, only they WANT the Power to tell EVERYBODY else WHAT to believe in, WHO to believe in and adopt THEIR values or lack thereof. REAL Americans will Fight them tooth and nail to return this Country to sanity and Reason where ALL citizens are treated with equity and respect. It can't come soon enough for me!
 
 
-177 # Gnome de Pluehm 2011-09-12 22:52
Not only the GOP or the Tea Party, but the Progressives as well. Politics is the religion and religion is a mere pastime.
 
 
+79 # kalpal 2011-09-13 03:15
Quoting Gnome de Pluehm:
Not only the GOP or the Tea Party, but the Progressives as well. Politics is the religion and religion is a mere pastime.


Here we go again with "If we are scum so are our opponents," meme. Surely anyone who disagrees with the right wing is every bit as evil as the right wing, fails to compute for anyone with a working brain.
 
 
+7 # Billy Bob 2011-09-13 19:47
Thank you!
 
 
+11 # Glen 2011-09-13 05:24
The religion is the new system of governing, and that system can be as nebulous as having faith in something with no evidence, as religions demand.

U.S. governing is only representative of those in power, not an agency of substance. As has been said, it is a stage show and all participants (both parties) rehearse endlessly, keeping citizens entertained rather than considering the real intent of those in power.
 
 
+60 # tclose 2011-09-13 07:41
Mr. Gnome - you make a lousy point, as evidenced by such a big negative rating. You are no doubt trying to make the point that people are more passionate about politics than religion. True enough but it doesn't address the issue raised here: that religiosity has hijacked the GOP, but not the "Progressives" who still adhere to the enlightenment principle of secularism in politics.
 
 
0 # Glen 2011-09-14 08:14
It may be "a lousy point", tclose, but possibly the intent was to point out that in spite of the religious show being performed, that the serious end of the business in real time governing has the same agenda. Citizens, once again, are being diverted with outrageous behavior and events, taking attention away from the serious/deadly policies being performed by those already elected.

Nobody really likes the display of militant religiosity, but keep things in perspective when assessing both parties and how they govern.
 
 
+1 # Ellisdtripp 2011-09-14 10:27
This shows how little difference there is between the parties. Sure, there are alleged policy differences, etc, but when it comes to governing the US, it is obvious that the corporate plutocracy controls the government. Look at Obama's presidency. We are still in two wars and complicit in wars in Libya and a de facto war in Pakistan. It's the military/indust rial/corporate plutocracy pulling all the strings and raking in mountains of profits on deaths of mostly brown and non-Christian people. Congress is completely unresponsive to the needs of the people but completely responsive to the will of the plutocracy.
 
 
+1 # Glen 2011-09-14 16:19
Yes, Ellis. Thank you for injecting a bit of common sense and lack of emotion. You are quite right. Everything else is for show.
 
 
+134 # Joan Manning 2011-09-12 22:57
Very well put, indeed. I voted for Eisenhower twice, and in those days it was a rational thing to do. But the party has been poisoned by those who are greedy for power and willfully ignorant about the consequences of their acts. The feeling of unity we had during WWII and the prosperity that followed is long gone, and if we don't get it back
we will have lost America.
 
 
+76 # Ralph Averill 2011-09-13 02:21
My parents were Stevenson Democrats. Ike's party has indeed devolved into irrational zealotry. Even the paranoid Richard Nixon is a picture of cool rationality compared with the slate of candidates the GOP is foisting onto the nation today.
 
 
+5 # Ellisdtripp 2011-09-14 10:29
Quoting Ralph Averill:
My parents were Stevenson Democrats. Ike's party has indeed devolved into irrational zealotry. Even the paranoid Richard Nixon is a picture of cool rationality compared with the slate of candidates the GOP is foisting onto the nation today.


And who ever thought we could look at Nixon as any model of rationality and reasonable behavior? In the end, the worst thing he did was botch a third-rate burglary. What have we become?
 
 
+1 # Gurka 2011-09-13 04:47
Well spoken!
What about founding a new party: The New Republican Party.
 
 
+16 # Rick Levy 2011-09-13 00:04
Is GOP a religion? More like a cult. Well, same difference.
 
 
+35 # cadan 2011-09-13 00:14
Andrew, your article is very interesting, but one small correction. The GDP of China is already nearly 50% that of the US (look up "GDP by country" in the wikipedia). They are gaining by double digit percentages every year and are at peace with all their neighbors while we make war all over the planet and are flushing our dough down the toilet in Afghanistan and Iraq.

They will overtake us long before mid century.
 
 
+46 # Kiwikid 2011-09-13 00:48
'If you ask why I remain such a strong Obama supporter, it is because I see him as that rare individual able to withstand the zeal without becoming a zealot in response, and to overcome the recklessness of pure religious ideology with pragmatism, civility and reason. That's why they fear and loathe him. Not because his policies are not theirs'. But because his temperament is their nemesis.'
Beautifully put! - something we all could do well in aspiring to
 
 
+68 # webfoot doug 2011-09-13 01:35
Unfortunately Sullivan speaks the truth.
"Unfortunate" because this makes them so much more difficult to deal with. They seem impervious to rational arguments.

In fact, in their blind devotion to their T.P. Cause they have elements of being a cult.

I first began to notice this a few years ago with old friends who started forwarding me incredibly nasty and easily disproved PR-created email attacks upon Democrats, liberals, the government, the media, Muslims and other minorities, unions, the poor, H. Clinton, higher education and science, and of course Obama.

No matter how many time I told them I found them offensive and ill-informed they just kept trying to jam them down my throat (computer, that is.)
Reminds me of certain religions who push their beliefs door to door, though they at least are good hearted.

I wonder if other liberals/progre ssives have had similar problems with old friends who got converted to the Church of the Dogmatic Republican Right.

The ultimate irony is that their Ayn Randian Social Darwinism is the total opposite of the Christianity they profess to worship.
 
 
+9 # chick 2011-09-13 22:07
Webfoot I know what you mean. I also get a lot of poison mail about bills, Obama etc. I always look up the bills and return the correct answer.
What I get is oh, I didn't know. But then another one comes. Again I return the correct answer and again, the same crappy answer.

And this is supposedly from a smart gal, I have told her please do not send me any more crap but she continues even though I have proved everything she has sent is either incorrect or was put out by Bush not Obama.

Truthfully I think they just do not care.
 
 
+30 # universlman 2011-09-13 01:57
brilliantly crafted piece, patient, urgent and alarming - there is a thief in the house
 
 
-52 # SchenectadyScott 2011-09-13 03:11
Boy I feel the hate...This is a good example of bigotry..you need to vote for the person not the party...The party system flawed and corrupted by special interest groups. We need an abandonment of selfishness or we will have continued loss.Gnome and Joan hit it right on the head! We are individuals and when you loose your identity you are prey to the propaganda..lef t or right.
 
 
-23 # Glen 2011-09-13 08:17
I agree. The entire system has been perverted and citizens fooled into thinking there are huge differences in the two parties. Citizens have become extremely emotional about it all.

The only difference in the two parties is style. In the past, regardless of the sins of either party, such as starting unnecessary wars, I defended democrats for doing some good for the country. Certainly they sometimes still do, but we are under a new scenario of governing and if any will dig deep into what Obama is doing, they will see that he is following a line of action that is true of both parties. Obama just doesn't punch you in the mouth with it as George W. did. Nevertheless, it is the PNAC agenda.
 
 
+27 # ABen 2011-09-13 10:21
Glen, if you can't see a difference between the two parties, you need to clean your glasses or blow your nose.
 
 
0 # Glen 2011-09-13 12:40
Check into deeper aspects of the activities of both parties. What began years ago has finally culminated in domestic and international policies and agendas that Obama is following through with. George W., of course got the ball rolling after Clinton made preparations.

The foofahrah occuring now, as I say is a side show. Not that there aren't some serious and drastic bills being proposed in various states that are directed by the religious right, but there are religious democrats that agree with such as banning abortion, etc. I live in an area where both parties agree on religious dictates.

My main concern is national government. Check into the reasons for continuing to attack countries, for rebuilding or building military bases in South America, sending a rocket into the moon last year, and sending an expedition to the moon for soil analysis. Read some bills that were passed under Bush, such as John Warner and Ted Kennedy's, declaring the militarization of space by the U.S. How about the Patriot Act, Homeland Security, and increasing surveillance on the population and on and on and on.

No difference in the parties there. While the tea party people are having debates and behaving like dickheads, the government keeps on rolling.
 
 
-2 # Glen 2011-09-13 13:20
ABen, go to the newer essay, The Government Might Know You Are Reading This, read it, then read the following comments.

The government is THIS government, the democrats, not a Tea Party or GOP.
 
 
+39 # Isar 2011-09-13 07:07
The biggest reason for any religion is based in fear. Fear of dying. Fear of the world ending. Fear of our life changing. Fear Fear Fear.....and the Republican Party uses Fear most effectively. We have lots of very frightened people in this country running to the Mega-churches, hoping that they will be told something that will irradicate their fear. Ironically, they are entertained for an hour and feel good about themselves, but they go home and Fear is still living within them. Roosevelt knew what he was saying.."We have NOTHING to fear but fear itself."
 
 
+37 # artful 2011-09-13 07:21
Thanks for this summary. It seems accurate and scary both. I fear that these Christian Taliban may well take power in 2012, and, if they do, we are finished as a nation.
 
 
+53 # kyzipster 2011-09-13 07:25
I see the GOP as more like a fascist personality cult resembling the Nazi Party in its rise to power. I don't see this as a cheap shot, invading and occupying Iraq was not unlike Hitler's invasion of Poland and the rightwing war mongers would support a continuation of that nightmare across the Middle East. I think that few members of the cult would speak up if conservatives rounded up their enemies and placed them in internment camps: Muslims (terrorist suspects), illegal immigrants, gays with HIV. We've already crossed the line during the Bush years of ignoring international standards and our own Constitution and incarcerating 'enemies' without due process. Obama has done little to reverse this course.

Christian fascism undoubtedly plays a role but it is only one cog in the machine. I see the media as the biggest problem we're facing, they continue to allow the lies and propaganda to go unchecked giving undeserved legitimacy to the right's extremism. It's been going on for so many years that we've absolutely lost the center. The right defines 'liberal' and 'conservative' and the media is its tool. There are rarely any consequences for the constant stream of lies coming from the Republican side or even for its criminality.
 
 
+24 # MainStreetMentor 2011-09-13 07:39
Life and lifestyles all depend on what our core beliefs are. Broadcasted propaganda and continuously repeated dogma and doctrines do have an effect. When the media is controlled by the likes of Rupert Murdoch, and the remainder of what used to be journalism has been “bought off”, save for the internet news organizations, focused, orchestrated, fanaticism is the result. Perceptions created via those means are nearly impossible to counter with any high degree of success. When those twisted views are repeated in pulpits across our land, and the line between church and state has been violated, the transition from democracy to theocracy has become fact – and that spells doom for America as a nation. Until journalism reasserts itself back into the honorable and totally truthful position it once held, the right-wing propaganda won’t stop, and the American people will remain the most entertained yet most poorly informed nation of citizens on this planet.
 
 
+28 # stonecutter 2011-09-13 08:07
"Religion has replaced all of this, reordered it, and imbued the entire political-econo mic-religious package with zeal. And the zealous never compromise. They don't even listen."

Andrew, you're not describing a "religion". There are still religions (i.e., The United Church of Christ, Episcopalians) that preach the penitent, inclusive version of Christianity as it's practiced by believers in the penitent Christ actually represented by the Bible.

The current GOP's extreme right, Triumphalist, Dominionist, "Seven Mountains" crowd is the tentacle of a CULT, not a religion. They've succeeded in turning their obedient prayer warrior Bachmann into a media whore on the campaign trail (with Palin in the wings), feeding red meat to legions of obese, red-state imbeciles who embrace and defend her roadshow and the empty "hellfire 'n brimstone" rhetoric that goes with it, and couldn't care less about the pollution of presidential politics by "zealous" members of an effing CULT. They want to JOIN!

Frankly, it all reminds me of Jim Jones and his tragic band of mouth-breathing , desperate followers in the People's Temple. We can thank them for our venerable idiom of total personal capitulation (just short of ritual suicide), "They drank the Kool Aid".

Rick Perry is a blow-dried, slick, cynical Jim Jones: He will be exposed.
 
 
+40 # wwway 2011-09-13 08:17
In 1976 I left the religius right because I was tired of being told what to believe, when to believe and how to believe it. I left because they wanted to turn this country into a theocracy. Back then Falwel and others were punding the pulpit that christians needed to run for office and take over school districts, local, state and top offices across the country to "save America for God!" Long about the 1980's the Republican Party began to adopt the preacher rhetoric and style and I knew it had gone to bed with the devil.
I ask right wingers, "Do you have to be a Christian to be a Republican or a Republican to be a Chrisitian?" They won't answer or they'll just laugh. They won't admit that they really believe that to be a Christian you have to go along with and be faithful to the Republican party.
 
 
+12 # retiredman 2011-09-13 08:25
We believe in one God, the Republican Pary, creator of all things rich and successful. We believe in one Political party, maker of small government and low taxes. We believe in one Republican president, bible branded and funded by all things rich and influencial. Through them and with them the government will get out of the way and we will ruled according to the wims of the religious right. For us and our salvation he came from Texas and was annointed by the Tea Party as a true believer. May goodness and large political donations follow him for the rest of his days in power. Amen
 
 
+22 # Jane Gilgun 2011-09-13 08:38
The radicals in this country seem so stupid because they do not see the consequences of their acts. If the rest of us are so smart, why do the radicals have so much power. At least 15% of the population is suffering because of radical politics. Reagan asked if we are better off than we were before. With the radical politics that began with him, we are not. We are in decline. People suffer.
 
 
+7 # karenvista 2011-09-14 00:19
[quote name="Jane Gilgun"]The radicals in this country seem so stupid because they do not see the consequences of their acts. If the rest of us are so smart, why do the radicals have so much power.

Fom personal experience and from watching the abusive relationship we have had with the Bush/Cheney administration and now with the Republicans-

We may be smart and they may be stupid by academic or logical standards BUT they are sociopaths. We are like two different species that can't communicate.

We approach problems and attempt to come up with fair compromises. They approach the same situations and figure out how to rob us blind, take us hostage and kill our family. We don't have the same objective. We're Elizabeth Warren, they're Bernie Madoff. We'd probably beat them on an IQ test but they'd walk away with our wallets.
 
 
+5 # Ellisdtripp 2011-09-14 10:11
Indeed. Anyone who would be an Eisenhower Republican in these times would be considered radical left by the Repubs. Even Ronald Reagan would be.
 
 
+24 # head out the window 2011-09-13 08:50
Must be why every tea partier feels it necessary to tell me immediately before or after their announcement of their political philosophy that they are a "Christian".
 
 
+2 # Ellisdtripp 2011-09-14 10:13
Quoting head out the window:
Must be why every tea partier feels it necessary to tell me immediately before or after their announcement of their political philosophy that they are a "Christian".


"Christian " is something one IS by the way they live their life, not something one professes to be. When someone feels the necessity to tell me they are a "Christian" I make certain i do not bend over in front of them because I know what will happen.
 
 
+37 # Larry 2011-09-13 08:55
OF course the GOP is a religion. It has been that way ever since the mass re-alignment of southern democrats into the Republican Party after JFK sent the National Guard to desegregate schools in Alabama, and LBJ committed the unpardonable sin of sponsoring the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and the Equal Housing Act.

The recent ancestors of some southern republicans were lynching black people on Saturday night, and flocking to their evangelical Christian church on Sunday morning. There, they heard sermons extolling the "purity" of the white race, demonizing Jews (I personally witnessed this), and presenting scripture as a divine mandate to keep the races separate, with blacks of course subordinate to whites. Nixon's "Southern Strategy" welcomed these bigots into the Republican Party with open arms. They and their "socially conservative"(r ead: racist)progeny remain there to this day, living the gospel of racism, greed, fear, and the unshakeable conviction that they are doing God's will. Some of them have now formed the even more radical-fundame ntalist tea party.
 
 
+20 # Vardette 2011-09-13 09:14
And thid morning it was just reported on NPR that 50% of Americans don't have health insurance- But if they get sick will God make them better?
 
 
+26 # reiverpacific 2011-09-13 09:14
Remember the late Jerry Falwell's "Moral Majority", on which coattails Reagan rode partially to his presidency (and he was hardly an avid church-goer, it was just part of his necessary* act)? That's the type of phony nonsense we are presented with by the current crop of "Grand Old Party" types on the right, the noise-makers who take reason prisoner.
I need hardly reiterate that (in my estimation) spirituality in it's many manifestations, is deeply personal but with few exceptions, (a few have been pointed out here and may I add the Quakers on that side of the ledger), organized religion is, LIKE POLITICS, the desire to have power over as many of the populace as possible, to demand their unquestioning allegiance and a goodly cut of whatever resources they can "Sacrifice" to the deity's alleged earthly representatives.
I admire my conservative friends who have resisted this fundamentalist push and are indeed horrified by it, and know of a popular Catholic priest who often likened Jesus' life to a humanitarian progressive's, after which he was admonished and banished to an obscure parish in Appalachia, against the wishes of his parishioners.
*Paradoxically and sadly, it's a continuing glaring fact that anybody without some church affiliation hasn't a prayer of being elected to high office in this country which constitutionall y separates church and state!
 
 
+26 # humanmancalvin 2011-09-13 09:16
The right plays the religionists like a toy fiddle. There are no bounds or gutters to deep to sink too in order to gain a vote. These faux-Christians have perverted the teachings of a peaceful figurehead to suit their diabolical ends to rule America with an iron hand. This scenario plays out in many uneducated third world countries much to the detriment of their citizenry. Wake up America & smell the hateful takeover before it is too late.
 
 
+22 # castaway5555 2011-09-13 10:00
There is nothing new here ... the far-right has been working on this for a hundred years, and longer. Please see Darren Dochuk's monumental work: "From Bible Belt to Sunbelt" and John Fea's "Was America Founded as a Christian Nation." Both authors shine the bright light of inquiry on what has been shaping religion in America for a long time, but has hardly registered on the media radar in any substantive way, other than when one of the looneys does something bizarre. Other authors who are doing similar work to bring this to light: Frank Schaeffer, Chris Hedges, Jeff Sharlet. Liberals can moan and groan all they want, but nothing will change the deep roots of what we see emerging in the GOP and the pervasive impact it has, and will have (I fear) on America's life.
 
 
+25 # fredboy 2011-09-13 10:20
The GOP is now a cult. I covered cults and the budding evangelical movement in the early '80s. The comparative approaches and mass persuasion dosed with fear and hatred tend to lock in beliefs, values, attitudes, and awareness processes. Remember, this is not only reinforced by right wing media--Fox, hate radio, etc.--but it is also continually reinforced in homes and churches. Yes, it is a most dangerous presence, threatening all of us and our nation.
 
 
+14 # PatriotPaul 2011-09-13 10:41
So many of these GOPers are PLIFs*


*People Living In Fear:

A reference to conservative or fundamentalist followers of any religion that leads them to be fearful of any questioning of their religious doctrine or to be open to creative, new ideas. Because psychologically fear is such a crippling emotion, psychologically healthy people tend to try and control and recognize this in themselves. Those who don't tend to rely on more dictatorial or authoritarian leaders whether they be in the form of a political leader or their own chosen God.

Paul Harris
Author, "Diary From the Dome, Reflections on Fear and Privilege During Katrina"
 
 
+17 # ABen 2011-09-13 11:04
I agree with Sullivan's assertion that the Teabagger movement has all the earmarks of a religious cult and is potentially as dangers as other such fear-based cults--think Taliban here. The baqger talking points are nothing more than an agglomeration of deep seated fears and prejudices conveniently directed at liberal and/or progressive ideas in general and the current president in particular. While the baggers are clearly in control of the GOP primary process, I seriously doubt that they are in control of the institutional/c orporate core of the GOP. This all looks, smells, and feels like the campaign of 1999 all over again. Progressives and Liberals need to be just as relentless with arguments based in rational thought, scientific examination, and humane principles. The only way the baggers win is if Liberals and Progressives give in to fear mongering and intimidation. What is at stake here is our democratic, civil society.
 
 
+16 # Dale 2011-09-13 11:15
Human evolution took a wrong turn. The Neanderthals are back! They call themselves Republicans. But they are Zombies, raised from the grave of history and now chasing homo sapiens with their big sticks, clubbing every social advance of human kind, torturing and killing non-white peoples in distant lands, jailing and deporting those considered aliens in their heartland.
The Zombie machos drink tea spiced with Texas bourbon, cooled with Alaska ice and served by a stylish Haus Frau. Through their control of yellow journalism they force those with residues of tolerance and humanity to swallow the piss and bile of once defeated anachronisms.
The Zombies, bankrolled by their friends in corporate board rooms, prepare to remove the Nation´s heart and replace it with a made in China machine. They coerce and blackmail the reasonable among the politicians to appoint the plutocrats and murderous Generals to controlling government bureaucracies and to follow their dictates to roll back social progress. The bankers succeed in reversing the American dream and immiserating the masses. Big Money and their Stooges inspire economic suicide while Fox News and Pentagon programmed militarism imprison the valiant, torture reason, degrade the noble and strain to devour what remains of civilization.
The Zombies have no human sensibility but yes one modern vice, greed.
 
 
+3 # MylesJ 2011-09-13 11:19
Some people are more perceptive than others. Go find the lyrics to Zappa's 1981 paean to Jim and Tammi Bakker. Search for Zappa Bakker Jerk
 
 
+7 # CragJensen 2011-09-13 12:05
Strangely enough - I knew both Frank and Tammy Faye. And Tammy was not, believe it or not, very fond of the religious right. She knew what they were up to because of her being an evangelist and she considered them to be the modern-day equivalent of Nazis.

Frank saw what was happening from outside the movement and came to the same conclusion. He also feared, way back in the eighties that these zealous bigots would eventually take over the country if they weren't stopped.
 
 
+11 # CragJensen 2011-09-13 12:33
Christianity and Islam have caused more mischief in the last two millennia than I care to think about.

And they both become the most dangerous when they are given any degree of political power.

Witness the Crusades, Three Inquisitions, modern-day terrorism, Christianity's never-ending battle against science, people being beheaded in Saudi Arabia for having committed adultery or having consumed alcohol, the ancient Buddha statue blown to pieces in Bamiyan, the destruction of the great library in Alexandria, the bloody reign of Justinian the 1st, the Salem Witch trials etc. etc. etc.

God help us if Obama loses to one of these religious radicals the Tea Party has foisted upon the political landscape in recent times. And Andrew Sullivan is more-than-likel y correct in his assumption - civil war may very well be the end result.
 
 
+4 # webfoot doug 2011-09-13 13:46
To understand why the three "religions of the book"---Christi anity, Judaism, and Islam have caused so much trouble for themselves and the rest of the world, one only has to go back and read the incredibly violent and ethnocentric"Ol d Testament."

The miracle is that in spite of this Theology of Force, many members of all three faiths are actually kind and decent people. Never forget that.
 
 
+3 # CragJensen 2011-09-14 08:46
It is amazing how many good people belong to these three religions that follow the vitriolic, jealous, petty and blood-thirsty god of the ancient Hebrews.

Most of these people do so because of family tradition though...
 
 
+24 # ABen 2011-09-13 11:43
"If fascism comes [to America],it will not be identified by any shirt movement, nor be an insignia, but it will probably be wrapped up in the American flag and heralded as a plea for liberty and the preservation of the Constitution."
-James Waterman wise Jr; 1936 (often attributed to Sinclair Lewis)
 
 
+5 # mazaranne 2011-09-13 13:18
I used to work with developmentally disabled people. We employed behavior-modifi cation programs to encourage socially acceptable behaviors and to eliminate harmful or detrimental behaviors. Almost invariably, whenever a new program was initiated to deal with negative behaviors, those behaviors would intensify before eventually improving. The behavior of Christians as a whole seems to be mirroring this phenomenon. Science and rationality naturally erode blind faith, hence the antipathy towards education and secularism. One can only hope that the behavior modification program of education and enlightenment will start to work before we destroy ourselves.
 
 
+10 # David Starr 2011-09-13 13:34
A great, memorable line in the article that sums up the reactionary/fan atical influences in the GOP: "It can only think in doctrines, because the alternative is living in a complicated, global, modern world they both do not understand and also despise."

And this really isn't new with them, it's just now more out in the open.
 
 
+11 # DLT888 2011-09-13 14:11
What I've seen in 'Republicans' (aka Fascists) mirrors what I read in an article I read yesterday by John Dean about Dick Cheney and his book. He talked about the inability to understand anyone else's point of view was prominent as well as an inability to reason. I've seen these same qualities in every 'Republican' I've come across --including a cousin and an aunt. It's a spoiled-brat feeling of superiority and you may as well bang your head into cement before you will be able to reason with them. I now see their brains do not have the ability to reason. So I just see them as souls who have not yet evolved to a point where they can live in a higher society. They still enjoy the dark side of themselves and want everyone to do the same. Anyone who tries to pull them toward light or reasoning is treated like the priest in the Exorcist. Green pea soup is spit all over you. They are mentally, morally, and sick people who should never be in power.
 
 
+5 # Tom Camfield 2011-09-13 15:41
The GOP certainly likes to present itself to the public mind as an all-encompassin g religion. It's standard-bearer s can be situational Baptists, Lutherans, Catholics or whatever whenever votes are within range of their vision. They an even use out-of-context little quotes out of the Bible . . . much in the same way they utilize the U.. S. Constitution. Some day they may even get around to actually reading both. Maybe even begin actually acting in accordance with the basic tenets of both.
 
 
+12 # fredboy 2011-09-13 17:46
Remember, healthy religions invite, inspire, and even appreciate and consider doubt. Cults do not.

The GOP cult affixation is so complete that it has cost my wife and I the friendship of her brother and my sister. They think we are evil for simply not agreeing with their dogma, despite our lifelong commitment to sharing goodness and helping others. Yes, the GOP is not only dividing a nation--it is destroying families.
 
 
+6 # webfoot doug 2011-09-13 22:50
Fredboy, this is tragic, it is happening all over America exactly as you describe it, the same type of friend and family-dividing cult-like clannishness, similar to extreme religious sects as the Rajneeshees or Jehovah Witnesses (and I mean no disrespect to the latter, who proved their courage and compassion in Nazi concentration camps.)

Even worse, it is starting to feel a bit like the Spring of 1861 when Secessionists turned against their own friends and families in their passion to destroy America to preserve their world of White Supremacy and Plantation Aristocracy.
And Fredboy, don't think you will win them over by "sharing goodness"---in their Social Darwinism, they despise "do-gooders."
 
 
+4 # Paul Scott 2011-09-13 17:54
Christianity has no part in what many republicans are involved in; this would more fit 2nd Thessalonians 2 in the New Testament. Anyone that is a Christ follower would know from Scripture not to fall in love with any political movement; no matter what system of government they are subject too.

Remember Christ says at Matthew 7: 16 “Ye shall know them by their fruits. ---” And what are those fruits?

KJV Galatians 5: 19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Galatians 5: 22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

Now what I’m hearing from the GOP religion is listed under “the works of the flesh” certainly not “the fruit of the Spirit.”

Christians are sinners, but they are not practicing demons and devils.
 
 
+7 # webfoot doug 2011-09-13 23:12
Well, that's one way to view the Bible; but then there is this passage sometimes quoted by hardnosed Christian prosecutors to justify harsh punishments:
Romans 13:1-4
It begins "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities"... ......and ends "He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoers."

While it sounds like the Ayatollah, it's really in your Bible, read it and weep, as it's likely going to guide the penal policy of a President Bachman, Perry, or Palin.
So I'm afraid that while the beautiful passages Paul Scott quotes may guide many moderate Republicans, the Cultic Right is influenced more by that passage from Romans-- and the Old Testament.
 
 
+6 # Ellisdtripp 2011-09-14 10:17
Quoting webfoot doug:
Well, that's one way to view the Bible; but then there is this passage sometimes quoted by hardnosed Christian prosecutors to justify harsh punishments:
Romans 13:1-4
It begins "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities".........and ends "He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoers."

While it sounds like the Ayatollah, it's really in your Bible, read it and weep, as it's likely going to guide the penal policy of a President Bachman, Perry, or Palin.
So I'm afraid that while the beautiful passages Paul Scott quotes may guide many moderate Republicans, the Cultic Right is influenced more by that passage from Romans-- and the Old Testament.

Paul the apostle wrote that and he was a convert. Converts can be extremely radical. Christianity would be so much better off if Paul had been drowned at birth.
 
 
+4 # tarantilla 2011-09-13 20:09
Religion is a series of beliefs, not amenable to logic or fact. That is the GOP. They have an aim, however: get government to give public money to business, in return for political contributions. The GOP wants to control where government money is spent, and who gets it. That is power. They NEVER give government jobs/money to Democrats.
 
 
+3 # Lucius 2011-09-14 16:39
"If they defeat him [Obama], I fear we will no longer be participating in a civil conversation, however fraught, but in a civil war."

Ya, I've read this before from those who see the cards stacked against them in the secular v fundmentalist culture wars. But it's just hyperbole. A real civil war means guns. And liberals and progressives are out-gunned; that's just simple math. So who's gonna have this war, matey?

The fact is that in a war of ideas and facts, the left can hold its own, and even prevail. But rhetorically they are no match for Limbaugh and the fundmentalist teaparty nitwits who have usurped the GOP. This has been well documented, most recently by Michael Tomansky in the NYRB (Sept. 29).

Unless the left takes to the streets and organizes more strenuously than teabaggers did and elect people who truly represent their intersts, we are doomed. There will be no 'civil war', the religious nuts will simply take the field, and liberals and progressives will be powerless to stop it as they argue amongst themselves as to why people are prejudiced and ignorant.
 
 
0 # Paul Scott 2011-09-15 14:16
Webfoot doug
There simply is, but one point of view of Scripture; God’s. Romans 13: 1-4 should not be considered the subject matter spoken of in that chapter, but a part of the chapter. If one is listening to a teacher and is not hearing Galatians 5: 22-23 coming through, when talking about the Biblical no-no laws; odds are their listening to the wrong teacher. God explains this clearly at Galatians 3: 24-25 “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

Also the Christian will display the fruits of the Spirit regardless of whether they are republican, democrat, progressive, Arab, Jew, or any other name they may be called, in this lifetime; and from anywhere on the planet that they may reside. A Christian is not a judge (Matthew 7: 1-2 “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”)

Religion is accusatory, full of contradictions; and demands obedience or death. Religion is a core vote for the Republican Party; therefore, we have our own religious mess in this nation. One should never accept a verse or two as the Wholesome Word of God, always defer to Scripture; I recommend the KJV.
 
 
+4 # Psyche 2011-09-16 14:05
Would like to share a story with you. I consider myself a liberal with a very progressive attitude. I live in the southeast smack dab in the Bible belt and have acquaintances and friends who range from liberal to right wing fringe, dogma saturated ideologues. Back when the t people were just beginning, I heard they were going to start a chapter here. Out of curiosity I went.
The time was at the genesis of the movement & I knew nothing about them. There were 16 people there counting me. Two of the individuals were not from around here. The theme from the outset focused on, let me say, Obama's skin color. The comments I heard there did not refer to him as A.A. or Black, if you catch my drift. Most of the interaction centered on Obama being a godless Muslim and how he was going after Christians, and was the enemy of Christianity.
Needless to say, I never went back. It is interesting to see how they have evolved or should I say devolved.
I still have difficulty juxtaposing Christian fundamentalist with Ayn Rand. In my opinion conjoining these 2 entities emerge from ignorance and lack of the ability to engage in rational thought. The republican party here in my area is most definitely a religion.
I just joined rsn after reading it a lot. Looking forward to coming back to comment.
 
 
+2 # Paul Scott 2011-09-17 17:27
Psyche
That you knew not to go back is a credit to you; all should do the same. You say not whether you are a Christian that is liberal; if not a Christian you are a liberal that knows more about God than those claiming to know God. Since these folk say they get their beliefs, from the Holy Scripture, then what does the Holy Scripture say about the matter.

Mark 12: 30-31 “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”
1st John 4: 20-21 “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”

KJV Matthew 7: 21 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22) Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
 

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