Posts Tagged “2008 election”

At long last, there is at least one national voice that’s as fed up as I am over the way the presidential candidates are bowing and scraping at the altar of American Hyperreligiosity. Syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker offers this, in the wake of Pastor Rick Warren’s attempt to abscond with the 2008 election in the name of rabid Christian evangelicals:

At the risk of heresy, let it be said that setting up the two presidential candidates for religious interrogation by an evangelical minister — no matter how beloved — is supremely wrong.

It is also un-American. …

For the past several days, since mega-pastor Rick Warren interviewed Barack Obama and John McCain at his Saddleback Church, most political debate has focused on who won. …

The winner, of course, was Warren, who has managed to position himself as political arbiter in a nation founded on the separation of church and state.

The loser was America.

Parker includes some kindly comments about Warren and understates his obvious theocratic bent, as if she doesn’t want to be too harsh on him … I’d have preferred she call him what he is: A transparent opportunist trying to leverage this election so as to give evangelicals even more political power than they already have, regardless of who wins. Nevertheless, she wraps up with an excellent point:

For the moment, let’s set aside our curiosity about what Jesus might do in a given circumstance and wonder what our Founding Fathers would have done at Saddleback Church. What would have happened to Thomas Jefferson if he had responded as he wrote in 1781:

“It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

Would the crowd at Saddleback have applauded and nodded through that one? Doubtful.

By today’s new standard of pulpits in the public square, Jefferson — the great advocate for religious freedom in America — would have lost.

It’s ironic, of course, that the Religious Right™ generally claims to be obedient to the Founding Fathers and their “intent” — even though the Founding Fathers were not evangelicals like themselves … mostly because modern Protestant evangelical Christianity didn’t exist in the late 18th century, and also because most of the Founding Fathers were actually freethinkers, not religionists.

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Pastor Rick Warren, multi-millionaire author of the insipid and trite “Purpose-Driven Life” book franchise, is hosting both presidential candidates for some kind of forum (it’s not a debate, exactly … I have no idea what it is … I’m not even sure they know what it is). Warren is setting himself up as the nation’s pastor, with the tacit approval of the media, as seen for example in this Reuters story:

It’s the evangelicals, stupid.

Commentators who have written off U.S. evangelical voters as a relic of the Bush era should take notice of this Saturday’s “Civil Forum on the Presidency” moderated by famed evangelical mega pastor Rick Warren at his Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California.

Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama and his Republican rival John McCain will each spend about an hour taking questions from Warren and will only share the stage briefly. …

Evangelicals account for one in four U.S. adults making them the country’s largest religious group and a key battleground faith.

Other media outlets are running stories about Warren becoming something of a religious “elder statesman” in the US. Supposedly Warren is opening the door for the candidates to introduce themselves to evangelical Christians, who largely distrust McCain as being not-religious-enough, and consider Obama too liberal for their taste.

This marks a new strategy by the Religious Right™. Previously their tactic had been to select one political party — in 1980 they chose the Republicans — to promote and push into power, then use that party to impose their religiosity on the country and build a theocracy. With the collapse of the GOP, Warren has modified this tactic, to embrace both parties’ candidates. No matter who wins in November, Warren will be able to take credit for that victory in the name of America’s evangelicals, and force the winner to adopt the evangelicals’ agenda.

I must say it’s clever, and Warren is not without critics among the Religious Right™, but I know the rise of dominionism when I see it … and now you do, too.

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