Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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More anti-religious hysteria

Over at The Corner, Jonah Goldberg offers some commentary on this op-ed, which equates Wahhabi Muslim extremists with Christian conservatives. If you wish to submit yourself to a longer and even more tiresome version of the same argument, you can go here.

Rather than belabor the whole piece, I’ll restrict myself to a couple of observations. First, there’s the now-hackneyed observation that there are multiple versions of the Ten Commandments, which is supposed to be an argument against their public display. If governments all over the country acquiesce in the display of different versions of the Ten Commandments, in some cases noting their variety and variability, then how could this be establishment? Not only, of course, is there no coercion involved, but the very plurality of displays militates against any exclusivity.

Of course, the most offensive portion of the op-ed has nothing to do with the Ten Commandments. Here it is:

The Ten Commandments are used as a wedge to put across what is essentially a cultural protest against social change, but in the bitter disputes that have followed these seemingly ridiculous arguments the message of the commandments is usually lost. The Christian Right pretends to be concerned about the life of an unborn fetus, but expresses little interest for the fate of the living child who emerges from an unwanted pregnancy, and is even ready to kill or at least destroy the careers of those who do not agree with them. Although the commandments prohibit killing, and Christ advised his followers to leave vengeance to God, the fundamentalists seem to delight in the death penalty, and in reducing welfare support to unwed mothers who are struggling to deal with the results of pregnancies that they could not control and never wanted to have.

You read that right: "The Christian Right...is even ready to kill or at least destroy the careers of those who do not agree with them." Say what? Aside from the ridiculous distance between "killing" and "destroying a career," I see no evidence of the first and little of the second, unless you count working hard to see that someone is not elected or re-elected (which I thought was permissible within the ordinary confines of our system) as career-destroying.

Tom Englehardt, the proprietor of the site, adds his two cents’ worth in introducing the op-ed:

We also have a President who is in the process of casting off the constraints of any presidency, while placing religion with powerful emphasis at the very center of Washington’s new political culture. He is now adored, if not essentially worshipped, by his followers as he travels the country dropping in at carefully vetted "town meetings"; and the adoration is often not just of him as a political leader but as a religious one, as a manifestation of God’s design for us. It’s in this context that the modest Ten Commandments cases are being heard; in the context, that is, of the destruction of what’s left of an authentic American republican (rather than Republican) culture.

This is, of course, also silly, flying in the face of almost everything President Bush says about religious freedom and his own humble humanity.

I suppose we should wish these members of the un-reality-based community bon voyage on their flights of fancy, were it not for the fact that not having a responsible opposition is unhealthy. So I say instead: come home, blue America; actually pay attention to what folks in the churches and Rotary Clubs are saying; don’t demonize them and they may actually be willing not only to converse with you but to consider voting for (or with) you when you offer a responsible and reasonable alternative to the Republicans.

Discussions - 4 Comments

"The Christian Right pretends to be concerned about the life of an unborn fetus..." and the rest you know. I have grown so tired of these kind of slanders. I makes me wonder if guys like this are TRYING to stay uninformed.

In our church, we care deeply about turning people away from abortion as a choice. We also care for the born children. Many among us have adopted children. Many donate to help single moms and thier burdend families. I wonder if this block head writer even attends a church, if for nothing else, to interview believers to see just what they actually believe, and practice. And the whole "worship Bush" thing is just kooky tinfoil hat stuff.

And of couse, Joseph’s comments are spot on. Well done. But then again, this kind of article is bunny slope of faith bashing.

I don’t doubt that the vast majority of pro-life/anti-abortion people are sincere in their concern for the life of an unborn fetus. But I think there’s a case to be made that a lot of that group does seem far less concerned once that fetus/baby emerges from the womb. Here’s an interesting piece from the article, that was originally in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Say...is this Claremont Graduate University connected to the Claremont Institute? I know you NLT guys are frequently citing and lauding Claremont something-or-other...):


"Five years ago, political scientist Jean Reith Schroedel, a professor at Claremont Graduate University, published a book -- "Is the Fetus a Person?" -- that examined state policies throughout the country, comparing their restrictions on abortion to their support for poor children. She found that the states that imposed the most restrictions on access to abortion were also those that put the least money into health care or day care or housing assistance for poor children.

"Pro-life states are less likely than pro-choice states to provide adequate care to poor and needy children. Their concern for the weak and vulnerable appears to stop at birth," she wrote."

---

Does the article say how much private money and assistance is rendered to the cuase? No. That might undermine the main point, which you pick up and run with. Are there cops who steal? Are there marraige councelors who get divorced? Are there doctors who smoke? Of course. We can look and find any group of people with hypocrates in it. But would you say Cops steal, or doctors smoke...as a rule? The argument is false on its face: "Sure some christians are good people, but look at this person, or look at this (incomplete) study that shows some are not so good." I am here to tell you that every state is F’d up in its priorities when it comes to child care. This has precisly ZERO to do with christian beliefs. In fact, it’s the state that is trying to divorce christian values from public policy. If christians had their way, funding for such things as at-risk children and single moms would be a priority. But then, that study wasn’t presented in the article either.

“The Ten Commandments are used as a wedge to put across what is essentially a cultural protest against social change”
Hitler changed his society. Darn those people who opposed him! (I feel the need to say I’m just kidding!)
“The Christian Right pretends to be concerned about the life of an unborn fetus, but expresses little interest for the fate of the living child who emerges from an unwanted pregnancy, and is even ready to kill or at least destroy the careers of those who do not agree with them.”

How much more “in the dark” can these people be? It seems inconceivable that they do not yet understand how most Christians see no distinction between the fetus and the "living child".

An unwanted pregnancy? Why isn’t their program for curing “unwanted pregnancy” working?

And the killing of careers is usually done by the owner of the career.

“Although the commandments prohibit killing, and Christ advised his followers to leave vengeance to God, the fundamentalists seem to delight in the death penalty . . . “
I’ve never met a Christian that “delights” in the death penalty. One of the reasons Christians advocate avoiding drugs, alcohol, fooling around with married people and other vices is that these things have a tendency to end up hurting people. Penalty under law, even the death penalty, is not vengeance. By committing a crime punishable by death a person forfeits his life. By taking a life not their own they give control of their life to the society they offended. It is by law, not Christianity, that society is required to keep the bargain; enforcing the contract bound by the offender. Law is not vengeance.

". . . and in reducing welfare support to unwed mothers who are struggling to deal with the results of pregnancies that they could not control and never wanted to have.

Where the evidence that Christians are responsible for reducing welfare support? Empty charges.

G.M.

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