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« In Which We Vent About Arrogant Ignorance The RantsCruise is Crazy, Even Without the Placenta Au Gratin »

Unstoppable Force, Meet Immovable Object
2006.04.19 (Wed) 22:23

Over on UTI, Brent Rasmussen turned our attention to an early April article by Elizabeth A. Castelli over on the Revealer website:

A ballroom at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., was the setting last week for a conference called "The War on Christians and the Values Voter in 2006," sponsored by Vision America, an organization committed to the project of "restoring the original American vision." As Vision America's president, Rick Scarborough, put it in his welcome letter to participants, "The goal of this conference is to contribute to a genuine revival of the Christian faith in America and to advance a proper understanding of the role of the church in American life." There to help 400 Christian conservative activists achieve this understanding was Tom DeLay along with fellow Texan Senator John Cornyn and a stageful of conservative Christian powerbrokers, among them Rod Parsley, Phyllis Schafly, and Gary Bauer. Senator Sam Brownback was scheduled to speak but couldn't make it, forcing former presidential candidate Alan Keyes to fill his time.

Elizabeth braved the potentially contagious waters of frothingly fanatical faith to let us know just what was going on over there. As Brent points out, it is a must-read for anyone trying to understand the yawning chasm between folks who like to use rational reason and compassionate coexistence as their moral compass and those who rely wholly on their (or, more often, someone else's) arbitrary interpretation of a millennia-old book.

Some choice bits...

The historical narrative moves inexorably forward, touching upon the Civil War -- but with no mention of the now-inconvenient role of literal biblical interpretation in the feverish defense of slavery. Indeed, by contrast, these contemporary conservative Christians cast themselves as the rightful heirs to abolitionism (and the women's suffrage movement and the civil rights movement and so on). The story passes silently over the closing years of the 19th century and opening years of the 20th -- years when American empire was, some would argue, coming into its own -- and moves quickly instead into World War II ("when the New World rose up to save the Old," as one conference speaker put it), the Cold War, and America's inevitable contemporary global role, "thrust upon it by history and providence." The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution? Christian documents. The destiny of America? To be a Christian nation in possession of -- possessed by? -- a special, divine commission.

So these folks can just sit there and actually believe the shit they completely make up — because it "feels good." It paints folks like them as the good guys throughout history...even though such a perception is blatantly and demonstrably false. But hey, just rewrite history and it will say what you want it to say, right? Simple. The really scary part is, if these fucks actually "win," then history essentially will be what they say it is.

Some speakers read graphically explicit material found on gay websites to the conference, apologizing profusely for the shock and disgust they knew they would be generating but insisting that it was necessary for the participants to confront this material. By the end, one was left with the distinct impression that the organizers and participants in the conference spend far more time than the average gay person thinking about, talking about, and fantasizing about gayness.

Apparently, if you can't lick 'em, but you really want to lick 'em, just fixate on them like a bee humping a floral stamen. Sounds like somebody's putting Venetian blinds up in their glass house, and still throwing stones.

And what about all those "activist judges" we hear so much about (from whoever is on the downside of their particular scales of justice)?

Representative Todd Akin (R-Missouri) mused, "we haven't impeached a judge in a while, it might be fun!"

Yeee-hah, cowboy! Because, as we all know, judicial impeachment isn't supposed to be about enforcing a judge's obligations and responsibilities or punishing those who stray from the letter and/or spirit of the law...it's just about havin' a rip-roarin' good time. Hey, everybody come on over this weekend — we'll grill some steaks, drink some brews, play horseshoes and impeach a judge or two!

But when it comes right down to the problem with these frightening zealots, here's the kicker:

Tom Crouse, a Massachusetts pastor who has inaugurated a "Mr. Heterosexuality" contest in his town, spoke of his persecution by officials who billed him for the increased police presence required at his contest when "rabid homosexual activists" showed up at the event. (Crouse also characterized persecution as "a blessing and a joy," and advised the audience that, "If you are not persecuted," you have to ask yourself, "are you living a Christian life?")
[our emphasis]

There's a reason why Christians are scarily fascinated with the crucifixion of Christ — they all seem quite keen on being crucified themselves, because, as their Happy Fun Book tells them, getting crucified can give you superpowers if you're just the right person. And it's quite human and natural to think that you are just the right person; it's just a little unnatural and irrational to assume that getting nailed to a tree — literally or figuratively — will make you the Incredible Hulk. Better than gamma rays, persecution is a drug to these people. So, if they aren't being persecuted, they must be doing something wrong. And if they can't find some persecution, no matter how much they act like assholes, well, they can just pretend.

Elizabeth Castelli's article has a lot to say about the fundamentalist Christian persecution complex. Our take is a simple one: how the fuck do you compete with that kind of worldview? See, there's no way there can ever be a compromise with freaks who think like this, because challenging their views and positions only lends strength to their absolute faith in the belief that you are attacking them...and "therefore" they are right, both that they're being persecuted, and that they are being singled out for persecution because of their godly righteousness.

It's akin to Ford Prefect's theory about Krikkit:

"We're not obsessed by anything, you see," insisted Ford.


"And that's the deciding factor. We can't win against obsession. They care, we don't. They win."

Except...the rational, moderate, compassionate folks — particularly the ones we've encountered in our short time wandering the blogosphere — do care. And so do we. But these fundamentalist nightmares are, well, programmed just like Krikkit robots; or duped, just like the Krikkiters themselves. They can't be easily stopped, because anything you can do that would normally stop somebody — somebody who hasn't been so completely brainwashed — simply feeds their programming loop and reinforces it. It's fucking terrifying, when you think about it.

Imagine being suckered into a game of "Stop Copying Me" by a six-year-old — the one who will mimic everything you say except stuff like "I'm a little dork," at which point he'll agree that you are, in fact, a little dork. Anything you try, no matter how "clever," is a losing move, because it just reinforces his inane game and gives him strength for another go-around. Now imagine that this six-year-old has an incredibly strong political lobby, and a hugely powerful influence on legislation. Like we said: fucking terrifying.

Almost as terrifying as the fact that most of these scary religious automatons actually believe all of this shit...and the rest will use that belief to get whatever the fuck they want.

— • —
[  Filed under: % Religion  ]

Comments (3)

ed, 2006.04.20 (Thu) 01:54 [Link] »

I suppose the fact that none...NONE...of the Founding Fathers had anything like their beliefs won't affect them at all...or even register with them, really.

I'm with Jefferson

glintir, 2006.04.20 (Thu) 13:39 [Link] »

My knee jerk reaction to her article is the same reaction I would use on a kid imitating me. Smack the crap out of them. You want to be persecuted? Here's some real persecution for you.

Unfortunately, I'm a moral person, and can't just kill people who disagree with me. I wish they could say that.

Jeff from the Two Percent Company, 2006.04.20 (Thu) 16:46 [Link] »

It's a struggle, glintir, but yeah...I guess we can't just kill those who disagree with us, even when that's exactly what they disagree on. Your reaction reminds me of a frustrated parent in a toy store: "Stop crying, or I'll give you something to cry about!"

ed — yup, there's just no making a dent with these folks. The very thing that makes them "these folks" as opposed to any other folks is the thing that makes them dent-proof. Religion is a strongly self-sustaining meme, insulating itself from attacks by making such insulation an integral part of its structure. Thanks, too, for the Jefferson quotes; one of my favorites:

I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent.

Sounds suspiciously Two Percentish to me....

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