S18E37: The religious right and politics

On Monday’s podcast, I mentioned a couple of things that progressives and people watching politics should be aware of.  In the past I saw what was happening with Mitch McConnell and his obsession with filling the courts with conservative judges as an attempt to simply roll back all the legislation from the civil rights era. 

To be clear, absolutely nothing is going on in the senate today. Hundreds of pieces of legislation from the House of Representatives are being ignored. All that is being done are votes in the judiciary and votes in the senate on judges.

But two things (actually three) made me rethink this issue.  One was watching the Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country and The Family (which I recommend everyone watch).  Two was the appointment of Paula White to the Trump administration.  And three was the behavior of senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz.

As I said in the podcast, I am now convinced what we are seeing and what we will see in the future, is an all-out assault on the separation of church and state.  This attack, breaking down the barrier between Christian theology and US legislation,will be the first steps to what I believe will be a Christian theocracy in the United States.

Listen here:

Josh Hawley

Josh Hawley evangelical senator

Josh Hawley, in particular, as a junior senator has been bold and outspoken when it comes to his vote on judges.  The Missouri Republican has made it his business to block judges he does not deem conservative enough.  

Hawley recently sparred with a potential judge whom he thought, as a lawyer, was hostile to Catholics. The event made the news in mainstream media and conservative papers.

The nominee, Mike Bogren, was defending his client, the city of East Lansing, against a business refusing to service homosexuals. The litigant was arguing that the forcing of businesses to service everyone no matter their religious belief was illegal.

Bogren rightly compared the turning away of homosexuals to turning away blacks in pre civil rights era. This is what Hawley grabbed hold of. And apparently the ruse worked and the right wing, federalist society lawyer, asked his name be withdrawn from consideration to the court.

Even some on the right are beginning to tire of Hawley’s behavior. On the left, Ed Kilgore wrote of Hawley, his behavior and thinking is:

“entirely consonant with a European brand of right-wing authoritarianism that drew on precapitalist strains of religion-based hostility to liberalism in economics as in culture, and contemptuously rejected modern liberal democracy while utilizing its institutions to seize power whenever possible.”

Listen to the podcast! As I said, this is all about Republicans hatred of progressive policy. It’s not about skill, rule of law, respect for precedent or bi-partisanship. When will democrats come to understand this? Moderate democrats: they’re just not that into you.

It’s all about birth control

The shiny object for the media is Roe vs Wade.   This ruling by the Supreme Court basically established that women have a right to an abortion. This single issue animates the religious right, conservatives, judges and Republicans like no other.

The evangelical movement is intent on loading the courts with judges that will reinterpret the constitutionality of Roe v Wade. But attacking a woman’s right to an abortion is only the start. Many Christian evangelicals believe the real issue stems out of the “free love” culture of the 60’s.  That culture gave rise to the pill and birth control.

Indeed, Obamacare has helped bring the issue of birth control to the forefront.  The Donald Trump administration, a surprising hero of the Christian religious right, has ordered an end not just to abortion, but to birth control under the Affordable Care Act.

Cecile Richards, in 2017, as head of Planned Parenthood, wrote:

“The Trump administration just took direct aim at birth control coverage for 62 million women. This is an unacceptable attack on basic health care that the vast majority of women rely on. With this rule in place, any employer could decide that their employees no longer have health insurance coverage for birth control.

We’re talking about a fundamental right — to be able to decide whether and when you want to have children.

“Birth control is not controversial — it’s health care the vast majority of women will use in the course of their lifetime. Two million women rely on Planned Parenthood health centers each year for birth control. Nine out of ten women of reproductive age will use birth control in their lifetime.  This administration is carrying out a full-scale attack on birth control— eliminating insurance coverage for birth control, eliminating programs that help women with low incomes access birth control, and moving to prohibit health care providers from even giving women information about birth control or abortion. We cannot allow President Trump to roll back the progress women have made over the past century.”

The rule proposed by the Trump administration today would change that, allowing any employer (nonprofit, small business, large corporation, private or publicly-held), school, or other entity to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage for religious or moral reasons — a standard unprecedented in its vagueness.

Expect that last part to be the death knell of Medicare for All in the courts by the way.

Paula White

The Evangelical administration

Donald Trump recently added Paula White, a blonde ,white evangelical female, to the administration.   According to many, White preaches a brand of Christian belief that some call the “prosperity gospel”. The gospel, in a nutshell, says you’re rich because God wants you to be reach.  And if God wants you to be rich it’s cause you have great faith.

As Michael Horton, a theologist, wrote for Washington Post:

The prosperity gospel — the idea that God dispenses material wealth and health based on what we “decree” — is not just fluff. It’s also not just another branch of Pentecostalism, a tradition that emphasizes the continuation of the gifts of healing, prophecy and tongues. It’s another religion.

Paula White and Prosperity

It’s not confusing to see why a rich person would want to subscribe to this so-called Christian belief.  It justifies their wealth and allows wealthy people to be seen as most favored by God.  

Ms. White ironically got much of her start in the black church. She has talked about her past failed marriage, a stroke and subsequent addiction to drugs.

White uses her past struggles and current success as an example of God’s work in her life. According to reports, she has preached on her show: “There is creative power in your mouth right now. God spoke and created the universe; you have creative power to speak life and death! If you believe God, you can create anything in your life.”

For this White has been called by some “a charlatan”  but she says:

“I do not believe in the ‘prosperity gospel’ as I’ve been accused of believing it,” White told The Christian Post. “I do believe that all good things come from God, and I also believe that God teaches us so much through our suffering.” 

Ms. White, like many evangelicals who have sided with Trump, has asked those who follow her to pray for Trump’s re-election and has prayed to God:

“Let every demonic network that has aligned itself against the purpose, against the calling of President Trump, let it be broken, let it be torn down in the name of Jesus,” 

Why it’s heresy? – An Opinion

The prosperity gospel is heresy because not only does it misuse scripture, but it moves the focus away from the spirit and more to the material.  It prizes money and material wealth and health over spiritual growth.

It also distorts the relationship between man and God. The prosperity gospel is magic. I view the difference between magic and faith is that magic compels God to act in accordance with one’s desires. Faith compels us to act in accordance with God’s needs and His desire for us.

Christian terrorists

Anothing thing I would like to point out is the dangers of christian splinter groups that rise up out of the religious right. They remind me of similar groups in, for instance, islamic religions. But they can be found in any religious group.

Dr. George Tiller, one of the few abortion doctors left in Kansas, was murdered. He was killed by a man who was linked to the Army Of God, a terror group that came out of the religious right.

The killer, Scott Roeder, was a self avowed born again Christian that became obsessed with the idea that abortion is murder – something the president lies about in horrific detail in front of religious crowds.  

That obsession lead him to plot, for years, on how to kill Dr. Tiller. There is nothing in the bible about abortions.  But there are a number of passages in the Bible that are against killing and murder.  In other religions we see extremists views backed by religious doctrine woven into law.

In Islam there is Wahabi Islam. It has driven believers to do extreme things in service of their faith.  Those extremist we now call terrorists. In this country we have struggled with labeling christians who murder for their faith terrorists.

But as with Islam, here in America we are seeing extremist look to add their brand of discrimination in to law. And with these relgious right judges they are gaining ground. Expect future challenges that start with a woman’s right to chose, to continue to contraception. Expect the denial of homosexuals due to “deeply held religious belief” to begin to chip away at the right for a business to service or fire blacks or jews.

The question is: are moderate democrats going to wake up before it’s too late?