Posts Tagged “healthcare reform”

Pastor Wiley S. DrakeThis past summer I blogged about the creepy but popular southern California preacher Wiley Drake praying for God to kill Barack Obama. With the passage of healthcare reform, he’s added to his list of imprecatory-prayer targets, as the Daily Beast reports (WebCite cached article):

As Randy Neugebauer cops to shouting “baby killer” on the House floor, a pastor who ran for VP with Alan Keyes has asked for the death of all 219 Democrats who voted for yesterday’s bill.

The vitriol stemming from yesterday’s health-care vote—from Randy Neugebauer’s shout of “baby-killer” aimed at pro-life Democrat Bart Stupak on the House floor to slurs shouted at John Lewis and Barney Frank from crowds outside the Capitol building—has reached a new apex: a call for the death of all 219 Democrats who voted for the bill, through the power of prayer.

Orange Country Pastor Wiley Drake fired off an email to his supporters this morning, telling them that all 219 Democrats have been placed on the “imprecatory prayer list.” “We’ll remember in November and pray Psalms [sic] 109 while waiting,” he urged, before listing each offending congressman by name in “Satan’s domain in Washington D.C.”

Here’s a link to Psalm 109, if you care to read it. It’s essentially a long, whiney prayer that God strike down some horrible enemy and leave his children fatherless and his wife a widow (Ps 109:9). I discussed this particular psalm and its political uses earlier; have a look, if you wish.

What a marvelous, enlightened, compassionate sentiment from “the Religion of Love” (i.e. Christianity), which was founded by the man who famously delivered the Sermon on the Mount.

As I’ve blogged before, Wiley is not some “fringe” preacher that no one pays attention to. He is, in fact, quite influential, and well-known and respected in Religious Right circles. He’s served on the board of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant organization in the country and the “flagship” denomination of the Religious Right. He was also Alan Keyes‘ vice-presidential candidate in 2008 (on the “America’s Independent Party” ticket).

I’m not quite sure why Drake is concentrating solely on the 219 House representatives who voted for healthcare reform and isn’t praying for the deaths of the Senate members who voted the same way … but I’m sure he has his reasons. Those reasons may not make sense, but I’m sure he has them.

Also, Jesus Christ himself was a healer, so I’m not sure how or why Drake views healthcare as “Satanic” … but he does. Again, I’m sure he has his reasons, but I doubt they’d be comprehensible to anyone but another ferocious, delusional fundamentalist Christian religionist like himself.

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If you haven’t already figured it out by now, the Religious Right has gone insane. Completely, totally, and utterly insane. They were driven to this state by sheer frustration at having been voted out of control of Congress (in 2006 with further losses in 2008) and the White House (in 2008). They’re so insanely angry that they no longer even understand what they’re saying or doing. An example of their crazy outrage can be seen in their comparison of healthcare reform with Herod’s massacre of the innocents, as reported by Sarah Posner at Religion Dispatches:

Religious Right: God Should Kill Health Care Reform to Save America from Herod

It’s no secret that the religious right is opposed to health care reform (a.k.a. “death panels,” “government takeover,” or “Obamacare”) but as the Senate races to the winter recess with its bill that’s controversial even to progressives, the religious right is using new Christmas-themed rhetoric to rally the base to oppose it. …

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference whom Sojourners’ Jim Wallis has labeled “one of the most hopeful young Christian leaders of our time,” led the charge for this narrative in last night’s “prayercast” co-sponsored by the Family Research Council and The Call. (For more on The Call and its leader Lou Engle, see my account of its spiritual warfare movement in opposition to gay marriage from last year.) Other participants on the prayercast included FRC’s Tony Perkins, Republican Senators Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Sam Brownback of Kansas, Reps. Todd Akin (R-MO), Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Randy Forbes (R-VA), and Mike McIntyre (D-NC); as well as Shirley and James Dobson; Bishop Harry Jackson, who recently led an unsuccessful crusade against gay marriage in the District of Columbia; and Pastor Jim Garlow, a leading proponent of California’s Proposition 8 who claimed last night the health care bill violates the Ten Commandments. …

In the prayercast, Rodriguez prayed:

Heavenly father, righteous God, in this season as we celebrate birth of our savior, the one who came to give us life, everlasting life abundant, we come in His name to intercede for that very gift of life. Father, the same spirit of Herod who 2000 years ago attempted to exterminate the life of the Messiah today lives even America. …

Get it? If you’re pro-choice, you’re like Herod, trying to wipe out an army of anointed ones, a battalion of Esthers — you’re a co-conspirator on a massive death panel for Christianity.

I hardly know what to say about this, except that it doesn’t surprise me. The Religious Right has been flirting with collective psychopathology almost since its inception. They have existed in a virtual state of denial about reality, for decades now. It only stands to reason that their electoral collapse, which began some 3 years ago now, has driven them over the cliff of emotion, and into the abyss of raging, sanctimonious, paranoid insanity.

As far as I’m concerned, they no longer can be reasoned with. There is no amount of rationality that can reach people who think this way. The Religious Right must be written off as collectively mentally ill and beyond redemption. We have no other choice … because we just cannot allow people this insane to be running our country. It just can’t be permitted any longer.

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Roman Catholic bishops in the US have become more militant than ever, over the last several years. (My own guess is that this is a push-back campaign in the wake of the pedophilia scandal.) At any rate, they have become more strident, sanctimonious, and intolerant. The recent healthcare-reform debate has particularly aroused the bishops’ ire. But in the midst of their having dictated legislation to suit their whims, word comes that they have — for several years — been using their positions as spiritual leaders to attempt to control the country politically.

This revelation is a product of the tension between the Kennedy family and the Roman Catholic Church to which they belong. CNN reports on this most recent development:

Rhode Island’s top Roman Catholic leader has asked Rep. Patrick Kennedy to stop taking Communion over his support for abortion rights, the diocese said Sunday.

In a statement issued Sunday, Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin said he told Kennedy in February 2007 that it would be “inappropriate” for him to continue receiving the fundamental Catholic sacrament, “and I now ask respectfully that you refrain from doing so.”

The really sad part about this debacle is that Patrick’s uncle, John F. Kennedy, was the first Catholic elected president in the US, in part because he thoroughly disavowed that his Catholic allegiances would turn him into a puppet of the Pope (which had, during the 1960 campaign, been an accusation leveled at him by Protestants). In his famous “religion speech” that year, the eventual President Kennedy had said:

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote. …

I’m curious to know exactly how things have changed so much over the nearly 50 years since then. For the past few decades, Protestant ministers have been telling people whom to vote for; and now, the Catholic bishops have started delivering marching orders to their own members, including those in Congress.

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Of all the crazy things to be included in the healthcare reform proposals, this one may be the craziest. It’s so crazy, I had to check it out to be sure it was true … and it seems to be genuine (unlike Sarah Palin’s famously false “death panels” scaremongering). The Los Angeles Times reports that prayer treatments may be included in universal healthcare:

Backed by some of the most powerful members of the Senate, a little-noticed provision in the healthcare overhaul bill would require insurers to consider covering Christian Science prayer treatments as medical expenses.

The provision was inserted by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) with the support of Democratic Sens. John F. Kerry and the late Edward M. Kennedy, both of Massachusetts, home to the headquarters of the Church of Christ, Scientist.

The measure would put Christian Science prayer treatments — which substitute for or supplement medical treatments — on the same footing as clinical medicine. While not mentioning the church by name, it would prohibit discrimination against “religious and spiritual healthcare.”

That’s right folks. Prayer could be funded as a treatment (or rather, more accurately, as a substitute for treatment). Of course, Christian Scientists* are thrilled and have no idea why anyone would object:

Phil Davis, a senior Christian Science Church official, said prayer treatment was an effective alternative to conventional healthcare.

Of course, clinical studies of prayer as a medical treatment show it to be anything but “an effective alternative” … but hey, when you’re a religionist, little things like “facts” hardly ought to get in your way. The story goes on to point out other problems with this:

Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a group of atheists and agnostics that promotes separation of church and state, said the opportunity to receive payment for spiritual care could encourage other groups to seek similar status.

The problem is not solely limited to religion. It could be used to force the government to reimburse for any unproven treatment; all someone has to do is set themselves up as a religion (even if it isn’t really one), make the treatment — whatever it is — a basic tenet of the (phony) “faith,” and force the government to pay for it.

Nice going, Senator Hatch. Every kook and oddball with some goofy idea for a medical “treatment” is going to declare him- or herself the “prophet” of a new religion and force government to pay for it … based on your precedent.

Note: Despite the name of their church, there is nothing “scientific” about Christian Science. It is not a “science,” it’s a religion. Period.

Hat tip: Religion Dispatches blog.

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For veteran cybernauts like me (I started on Compuserve in the late 80s, and dabbled in the Internet in the years when Gopher was one of the chief ways to get around and there was no World Wide Web), Godwin’s Law is an old concept whose wisdom has repeatedly shown itself over the years. This “rule” as it was originally stated by Mike Godwin — back in the days when Usenet was the only significant venue for Internet discussions — averred that, if a discussion lasted long enough, someone involved will eventually mention Hitler and/or the Nazis. It was Godwin’s humorous way of pointing out a tendency for people to use Hitler and the Third Reich in their argumentation (aka argumentum ad Hitlerum).

Over time, the Internet community has expanded the meaning of Godwin’s Law, and applied it outside of Usenet; it’s commonly said that, once someone invokes the Nazis in any Internet discussion, the argument is over and the person who made the appeal to Nazis has lost.

The furious debate over healthcare reform in the United States has, as I’ve pointed out already, included a great deal of immaturity. It was only a matter of time until people started making accusations of Nazism at each other, over it. And in turn it was only a matter of time before the mass media finally picked up on this trend.

Hence, the New York Times Opinionator blog has observed that Godwin was right, and the inevitable invocations of Nazism have popped up all over the place:

Godwin’s Law has the health care debate in a hammerlock. …

In this brief interview, an older protester outside the Raleigh, N.C., office of Rep. Brad Miller, a Democrat, delivers the basic Obama-as-Hitler charge: “Hitler got rid of his undesirable citizens through ovens. Obama wants to get rid of people like me through hospice. . . . If [people] are a certain age, grim reapers calling themselves as counselors will go and tell them to take a pill and just die.”

It is, of course, true that Hitler and the Nazis disposed of people they were opposed to, and in large numbers, but this comparison is flawed, because no one has proposed that “death panels” or euthanasia be a part of any reform measure. The Opinionator blog entry provides a laundry list of people invoking the Nazis in this discussion, including accusations that some of these invocations are feigned, attempts to discredit the opposition:

Just who introduced Hitler in to the town halls has been the subject of not inconsiderable debate itself: “Nancy Pelosi started it,” says Powerline. Another theory has is that folks carrying the Obama/Hitler signs are Democratic plants. Pamela Geller wrote yesterday at Atlas Shrugs, there is a “fifth column manufacturing smears and lies.” Others on the right have tried to use confirmed reports that Lyndon LaRouche supporters are sporting Obama/Hitler posters at protests to distance themselves from the Obama-is-a-Nazi charge.

So what’s going on here is a “he-started-it; no, she-started-it” schoolyard-style spat among a bunch of sniveling whiners who are all too juvenile to stop with the caterwauling and start discussing the matter like grown adults.

Full disclosure: Many times in this blog I’ve used the term “religionazis” to describe people who want a religious takeover of the country. I confess that in doing so, perhaps I ran aground on Godwin’s law myself. I devised the term because in one simple compound word, it conveys a very striking picture of what I’m talking about. Any other phrase I could think of, would be too unwieldy to be concise and effective. I think I will use the slightly-milder “religiofascists” from now on. If I’m going to condemn people for invoking Nazism when it comes to things they don’t like, the last thing I should do, is keep doing exactly the same thing myself, no matter my reasons for doing so. Yes, the Nazis were fascists, so maybe this is a transparent substitution … but while it’s true that all Nazis are fascists, not all fascists are Nazis. There are variations of fascism.

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Right on the heels of my last post about an example of inexcusable childishness in the mass media, I happened to read about the growing confrontation over healthcare reform in the US. Things have escalated to outright violence, according to this story by CBS News:

Violence Breaks Out at Democratic Town Halls

Angry mobs protesting health care reform continue to crop up at Democratic town halls across the country, with shouts and shoves most recently exchanged in both Tampa, Fla. and St. Louis, Mo.

At a Tampa forum, Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor struggled to make herself heard and eventually cut her appearance short as dozens of people shouted “Tyranny! Tyranny! Tyranny!” reports the St. Petersburg Times. Amid the crowd of about 1,500, the newspaper reported, other chants rang out like, “Tell the truth! Tell the truth!” “Read the bill!” “Forty-million illegals! Forty million illegals!” …

Meanwhile, six people were arrested Thursday night in St. Louis, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, after health care reform protests broke out at what was intended to be a forum on aging with Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan. Three people were reportedly arrested for suspicion of committing peace disturbances, two for suspicion of assault and one for resisting arrest.

Clearly people feel they’re allowed to do anything they wish to prevent healthcare reform — ranging from simply lying about it, to outright violence as in these cases. I’m not sure where this notion of being “above the law” came from, but it’s now present in this discussion. This has happened because the ideologues (i.e. politicians and pundits) have told their followers that they are entitled to get their way at all times, that their wishes carry a moral imperative, that their ideological enemies are to be destroyed, and have thus infantilized them. They’re no longer able to control themselves, so they feel free to throw tantrums and beat the opposition when their will is thwarted.

I ask, again, the same question I asked in my previous blog entry, which is, What useful purpose is served by all this childishness? It’s not evident to me, so someone is going to have to explain it.

Oh, and one more thing. Politicians love to hold “town hall meetings” and the mass media love to call them that. However, I grew up in, and live in, a town in Connecticut which is one of the few left in the country which has a truetown meeting form of government.” I can tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, that these carefully-orchestrated events … complete with confederates in the audience, planted or filtered questions, etc. … are absolutely nothing like a true “town meeting,” such as the many I’ve attended in my hometown over the years. It is dishonest for politicians to call them that, and journalists — who ought to know better — have no business continuing to use this term to describe them. It’s a trend that needs to stop, because it’s a lie. A flat-out lie.

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