Sunday, October 21, 2007

American Christian Right: Wandering through the Desert

"We've just been used and abused and lied to and betrayed enough ... We're like the biblical Jews, who couldn't get to the Promised Land until that leadership of the Jews of that time had passed from the scene. Conservatives are not going to get to the political Promised Land until we get new leadership ... [And] we're not going to wait for them to pass from the scene, we're gonna push them."
~Richard Viguerie, a conservative activist, in an interview with Salon

The Values Voter Summit concluded its two-day review of the (Republican) presidential candidate's values yesterday, but values voters are still no closer to finding their Joshua.

Little wonder, since the ideal resume of their candidate is demanding. That "ideal resume" is shaped by organizations such as the Family Research Council, the heavy-weight sponsor of the event, whose mission statement includes "[championing] marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society" and "promotes the Judeo-Christian worldview as the basis for a just, free, and stable society."

To meet the demands, candidates earned easy applause lines with promises to control immigration, fight "Islamofascism," support home schooling, clean-up pornography, and appoint Supreme Court Justices who will swear on their mother's lives to overturn Roe v. Wade. Most of these promises are either currently in action (and faltering at a heavy price), are a mute point (by definition there is little one can do to "support home-schooling"), or pointedly futile (even the tenacious Anthony Cromstock, without modern obstacles like television, Internet, and camera phones, could not curb the American enthusiasm for "the flesh").

But at least these issues gave Rudy Giuliani the chance to show the voters he was "nothing to fear." He meekly explained that "I don't easily publicly proclaim myself as the best example of faith, possibly because I grew up in an environment where faith was considered, if not private, at least separate from political life"; but assured potential voters that, "My belief in God and reliance on his guidance is at the core of who I am."

But other candidates were more successful than Giuliani as they took turns flashing their "Judeo-Christian" credentials. Mitt Romney drove home his point about the importance of family with Psalm 127:5, "We have been taught from our youth that marriage is ordained of God and that 'children are a heritage of the Lord; happy is he who hath his quiver full of them.'"

Sen. John McCain who, speaking of his stance against torture, daringly invoked the Bible in a plea to his audience to see the humanity in their enemies "who refuse to acknowledge our humanity." McCain explained, "The Bible's call to do just that reminds me of the saying that Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, so much as it has been found difficult, and not tried."

But Mike Huckabee, who came only 60 votes behind Romney in the straw poll, takes home the Bible Bending Prize.

Huckabee divided his speech into three sections: our freedom is threatened, our families are threatened, and our faith is threatened. Huckabee was especially critical of those unwilling to change the words of the Constitution but willing "to change the word of God as it relates to marriage" and received a standing ovation when, explaining why he would not "accommodate" the sexual behavior of unmarried youth (presumably by supporting comprehensive sexual education), he said: "We do not have the right to move the standards of God to meet new cultural norms, we need to move the cultural norms to meet God's standards."

For his closing thoughts, Huckabee attempted to galvanize voters by comparing them to "the prophets of old" and encouraging them to go back to their communities and "be true to your faith, to your convictions." His words are a true Bible bending tour de force:
You see, I was lead to believe it was better to be with David, that little Shepard boy with five smooth stones, than it was to be with Goliath with all his heavy armor. I was taught that it was better to be with Daniel than with it was a whole den of lions because Daniel would come out better than those lions who went to sleep before it was all over. I was taught that it was better to be those three Hebrew children, then it was to be those fiery flames of the furnace, because, with God's power, those flames couldn't even leave the smell of smoke on the lives and clothes of those three Hebrew Children. I was taught that it was better to be Elijah with an altar that had been soaked not once, not twice, but three times with water, than it was to be 800 prophets of Baal who were screaming and yelling all day long for the fire to fall on Mt. Carmel. I was led to believe that we serve a god who stood in the middle of a boat in the sea of Gailalee in the midst of a storm who ordered the storm to stop and it did. For Jesus took mud and put it in the eyes of a blind man, and he could see again. And one who could take two little fish, and five biscuits and feed a crowd of 5,000 people and have enough leftovers that it would make the disciples realize that there was no end to the supply of what our god could do when our people had faith. A savior, who in fact could go to the tomb of a dead man named Lazarus, so dead that scriptures say he was already stinking--that's pretty blunt, folks--and he made him live again. I don't ever want us to chose expediency or elect-ability as the new value. The new value needs to be the old value.

1 comment:

James F. McGrath said...

The most ironic thing I see is that it was the people themselves, not the leaders, that were the focus of the divine injunction to have them wander in the wilderness until the whole generation had died off. Moses was left to at least see the promised land. They've got it backwards, and that is not surprising, since one of the favorite uses of Bible-bending techniques by the irreligious right is blame-shifting.