February 13th, 2006

"Thank Heaven For The American Religious Right"

This was an interesting column by John Brummett that appeared in the 2/12/06 Las Vegas Review-Journal (as well as the Pahrump Valley Times, per the link) about how the Christian Right here in America (except for the gay bashers and abortion clinic bombers) don't have the violence tendencies at the same level as fundamentalist Muslims. I agree, for now, because the Christian Right has yet to acquire the political muscle here in America that Islam has in Arab states. Bear in mind, Mr. Brummett, most Muslims have lived in theocratic states all of their lives. This is what the Christian Right wants for us, and it's starting with all of the antihomosexual legislation on the part of ten states in the 2004 elections.

Sure, they aren't flying planes into buildings now, but watch your back. Thank the Wahabbis for showing us what fanaticism is capable of. Let that be a lesson so that we can keep a close eye on all fundamentalists.

And now, the article:
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"Let's say a good word for America's extreme Christian conservatives, those of arrogantly narrow minds who want to remake our free and open society into an intolerant one imposing on public policy their simplistic religious opinions about what God thinks and Christ meant.

Not satisfied to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's
(reference to the Bible Book of Romans, chapter 13), they want to be Caesar.

That wasn't the good word, by the way. That was the boilerplate.

It happens that I got an e-mail the other day from one of those extreme American Christian conservatives. In it he complained that in a recent column I had "caricatured" his particular outfit, which will soon hold an oxymoronic "Reclaiming America for Christ" conference in Fort Lauderdale.

That word - "caricature" - is not lost on me.

Cartoons are caricatures. In September, cartoonists in Denmark drew, and a Danish newspaper published, caricatures of the prophet Mohammad, father of the Islamic religion.

Just lately, fundamentalist Muslim extremists - people who pervert the profoundly peace-loving religion they claim to a degree exponentially dwarfing the extent to which America's extreme Christian conservatives pervert their profoundly tolerant one - have burned buildings and hurled bombs. They've generally advanced the cause of arrogant, insular and intolerant chaos, not to mention mindless inhumanity.

The Danish cartoonists have found it necessary to hide. The Danish newspaper has found it advisable to apologize. The Danish prime minister has found it best to plead for reason and explain that, in a free speech society, a government can no more apologize for a free expression than it can sanction it.

Arab leaders of usually reasonable persuasions have found it wise to let the angry demonstrations happen, so cowed are they by internal violence and the oppressive power of religious extremism.

Quite to the contrary, my e-mailer did not demonstrate at my door or threaten to kill or hurt me. He and his band of Christian reclaimers have as yet gone on no rampage, to my knowledge.

Our government, generally friendlier to his thinking than mine, at least for the moment, has not asked me to apologize. So far as I know, it has not wiretapped my phone or reviewed my Web site visits. (Thought it conceivably might have, and perhaps done the same to you, which is precisely why it's way too much to ask of us to trust George W. Bush to spy domestically without the formality of warrants.)

My e-mailer, in fact, invited me to attend the forthcoming conference, where, I'm confident, I'd be safe from physical harm, if perhaps not sanctimonious nonsense.

I may go. I may not. This is a free country, that being my point.

My e-mailer thought maybe he and I would chat down in Fort Lauderdale and that I could explain my "path," the one that started in a fundamentalist church and made me this weird way I am.

He probably thinks he can convert me. He probably considers it a commandment to try.

He's more than welcome to take his shot.

A little global perspective never hurt anybody. Elsewhere, a caricature of a religious icon can get you killed and set off great unrest. Here in America, a television network can unveil a program with a laid-back Jesus, and the worst the extreme American Christian conservatives will do is demand that it be taken off the air.

I wish the extreme American Christian conservatives knew better. I wish they understood and honored the dire need to place more value on preserving free expression and on tolerating the views of others. I wish they'd work on their homes and churches and leave the public square to a melting pot of broad values instead of trying to serve everyone their own single, unleavened dish.

But everything being relative, I'll take them right now - in a heartbeat. Literally."