Posts Tagged “affair”

Former Congressman Mark SouderA “social conservative” Republican Congressman from Indiana, Mark Souder, resigned from Congress today. The reason? He had an extramarital affair to which political operatives were tipped off recently, as the Washington Post reports (WebCite cached article):

Indiana congressman Mark Souder’s resignation, announced Tuesday, came after anonymous tipsters called his aides and his opponents in a Republican primary to say he was having an extramarital affair with a part-time staffer, according to sources familiar with the calls.

The conservative Christian congressman’s chief of staff, Renee Howell, confronted him last week over the rumored affair with Tracy Meadows Jackson, according to a source in the office. …

The affair began after Jackson was hired in 2004, according to the source in the office. Jackson, who is married, was to be a guest host with Souder for a daily radio spot he recorded for WFCV, a Christian radio station in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Souder is not your garden-variety ardent Religious Rightist, however. As pointed out by Avi Zenilman at Vanity Fair, Souder once railed against extramarital sex during a hearing where Zenilman’s father — then a doctor working for the CDC — testified (WebCite cached article):

Souder ultimately responded by saying that teen sex needs to be aggressively confronted, like date rape, because out-of-wedlock sex always leads to pregnancy and ruins lives.

Once again, a Religious Right politician shows he can be a Hypocrite for Jesus — in spite of Jesus’ own clear, unambiguous, explicit orders to his followers never to be hypocritical.

What makes Souder’s resignation even worse, however, is his “I’ve sinned” version of the classic non-apology apology (as transcribed by Fox News, with a cached version):

I sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff.

In the poisonous environment of Washington, D.C., any personal failing is seized upon, often twisted, for political gain. …

The ideas we advocate are still just and right.

America will survive and thrive when anchored in those values.

Human beings, like me, will fail, but our cause is greater than individuals.

It is based upon eternal truths.

Gee, I dunno … a sitting Congressman who advocates forcing Puritanical behavior on American adolescents, having an extramarital affair and thus engaging in incredibly hypocritical — and therefore thoroughly non-Christian — behavior, while at the same time claiming to be a warrior in a “right” and “holy” cause which is inarguably and incontrovertibly true, for all eternity … doesn’t seem like some tiny little thing that’s being “twisted for political gain.” It seems, instead, like a very serious personal moral collapse! It also suggests that, perhaps, these “eternal truths” somehow aren’t quite “true” enough to get people who claim to hold them, to actually obey them.

What a creep. Good riddance.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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It’s often said that you can use the Bible to justify almost anything you want. It’s got enough words in it that if you take any issue or situation and sift through its pages long enough, you can usually extract a quotation somewhere in it, that supports it. Shakespeare even famously observed, “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose” (Antonio to Bassanio, The Merchant of Venice I.iii). This point has been hammered home by none other than the famously straying South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, who — almost unbelievably — used the Bible to justify himself (as reported by the New York Daily News):

Earlier, the latest Luv Guv apologized to his staff Friday during a bizarre cabinet meeting during which he compared himself to the Bible’s King David – who continued to lead after sleeping with another man’s wife, Bathsheba.

“What I find interesting is the story of David, and the way in which he fell mightily … but then picked up the pieces and built from there,” said the governor, who did not address growing calls from Republicans and Democrats that he resign.

That’s right, folks … if it’s good enough for King David, it’s good enough for Mark Sanford! (The full story of David’s brazen infidelity can be found in 2 Samuel, chapter 11.)

I’ve blogged twice already (first here, and then here) on this pathetic character. The rest of the Religious Right continues to show us its moral fibre (or more to the point, its lack thereof!) by steafastly refusing to disavow the creep.

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I blogged earlier on South Carolina’s Republican governor Mark Sanford, who’d been carrying on an affair with a woman in Argentina for at least a year, and pointed out the brazen hypocrisy inherent in a man who strays in his own marriage but who, while in Congress, had condemned then-President Clinton for having strayed. I further pointed out that, while such hypocrisy is common in the Religious Right no one else in the Religious Right ever seems to have a problem with it. One wonders how hypocrisy in Christians can be acceptable to other Christians, since Jesus himself explicitly and clearly forbid his followers ever to be hypocritical. It’s almost as though they’re unaware of Jesus’ orders on the matter, even though they’re right there in scripture for all to see.

But it turns out that the Religious Right does not view the hypocrisy of others in the Religious Right as true “hypocrisy.” Rather, they view it as an external imposition by infernal outside forces. “The Devil made me do it” is an expression that encapsulates this notion. Recently something akin to this was proposed in defense of Gov. Sanford, by none other than Rush Limbaugh, Lord High Champion of all things Conservative and Religious. According to Limbaugh, Obama’s stimulus package caused the affair! Blogs around the world have flared up on the matter, such as the following:

The manner in which the Religious Right rationalizes and/or explains away their own transgressions, is astounding. Limbaugh’s rationale in particular is factually impossible, since Sanford had begun his affair long before Obama was even elected. Therefore it cannot possibly have been the product of Obama’s stimulus package (and Sanford’s own irrational rejection of it).

What would be better, of course — and grant the Religious Right some genuine credibility on the matter — would be for others in the R.R. to reject Sanford and his sniveling excuses, to say there is no good explanation for his adultery, to say that adultery is anti-Christian, and for them to blame Sanford and his mistress only for the adultery.

But they won’t … and we all know they won’t … because ultimately they are not actually interested in morality; they’re interested, instead, in running the country according to their own metaphysical beliefs, and that means they cannot jettison Sanford — a heretofore successful politician — because that might impede their goal of ruling the country.

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Folks in the Religious Right love to trumpet “morality” as a reason why everyone must be religious — i.e. adherents of their own religion of course. They consider non-belief to be unacceptable because — in their minds — non-belief is amoral. This is, of course, very wrong, as I explain in my Agnosticism FAQ. Nonetheless they love to claim to be the sole arbiters of morality in the world.

An interesting phenomenon, then, is when one of them stumbles along the the path of morality. The most recent example of this is the furiously conservative governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, who disappeared for a week, and returned today to hold a press conference (reported by the AP, via Yahoo News):

After going AWOL for seven days, Gov. Mark Sanford admitted Wednesday that he had secretly flown to Argentina to visit a woman with whom he was having an affair. …

“I’ve been unfaithful to my wife,” he said in a bombshell news conference in which the 49-year-old governor ruminated aloud with remarkable frankness on God’s law, moral absolutes and following one’s heart. He said he spent the last five days “crying in Argentina.”

The governor’s disappearance had been a mystery even to many of his own friends in government, and had become a rather serious matter (see this timeline for more information, courtesy of the Columbia (SC) State). Sanford, you may recall — as this AP (Yahoo News) report explains — had once been a vocal proponent of marital fidelity:

As a congressman, Sanford voted in favor of three of four articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, citing the need for “moral legitimacy.”

Hmm. “Moral legitimacy”? I guess when you’re a card-carrying member of the Religious Right, you can be as hypocritical as you want … even though Jesus Christ himself explicitly and unambiguously ordered his followers never, ever to be hypocritical.

The AP (Yahoo News) report also mentions that U.S. Senator John Ensign, R-NV, had also recently revealed an affair of his own:

Sanford’s announcement came a day after another prominent Republican, Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, apologized to his GOP Senate colleagues after revealing last week that he had an affair with a campaign staffer and was resigning from the GOP leadership.

The question is, are folks in the Religious Right going to rethink their support for Sanford or Ensign — or will they ignore these massive moralistic failures and let them get away with them?

More to the point, it’s examples such as this that fly in the face of the Religious Right’s basic position that Christianity makes people more moral. It turns out that this is not actually the case. Now … the R.R. can certainly argue that “people will still be people, Christianity or no,” and that “we’re all sinners anyway,” and all of that. But these are just excuses for why Christianity is not capable of actually making its own followers into upstanding, moral people. That it does not do so, is nonetheless significant. If Christianity is “right” because it makes people moral, how, exactly, do events such as these not contradict that?

Don’t worry, I don’t expect anyone will answer that question. No one has yet, so I’m not expecting they ever will.

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