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AdLib On February - 16 - 2012

God may not be a registered Republican and may not even be a US citizen but He seems to be the most powerful lobbyist and power broker in American politics.

Apparently, He wants old white men who are Catholic Bishops and Republicans to dictate to women what they will and won’t be allowed to do with their own bodies, He told Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry to run for President (He can be a bit of a practical joker at times), He is both supporting and opposed to Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon, He doesn’t want gay people to marry (did he create LGBT folks in His own image), He does wanty dead people to be baptized as Mormons, He is on the defensive against President Obama’s war against him and in general, He wants Republicans to take over the country and take it back in time and out of reality, to a fictional 1950’s when no one except married people had sex and women, blacks and others in minority races and religions knew their place, subservient to the Great White Male.

Man…God must be a real dick, right?

Well fortunately, as I text with God quite often, I can tell you that He is not in fact behind any of these things and is considering suing many of these people for slander and copyright infringement.

Even so, it is undeniable that despite The Founders’ best attempts to keep a separation between them, religion is very entwined with our democracy.

It’s ironic that America as a country technically began from a group of religious people who came here because they were oppressed by those in the majority religion who ruled their country…and their literal or figurative descendents are dedicated to taking power so they can oppress those not in their religion(s) which is now represents the majority.

It’s basically the rule of, “When anyone who isn’t me abuses their power to affect the lives of others saying “It’s for the greater good”, it’s a moral outrage. When I do it, it’s for the greater good.”

In 2008, Obama’s religion was a massive issue and it almost derailed his campaign. “Reverend Wright” was turned into a pejorative, like “commie” and “terrorist” though the Repubs still used those classic hits in referring to Obama. At the same time that he was attacked for belonging to Wright’s Christian church, he was simultaneously attacked for being a secret Muslim who would, if elected, follow up his inauguration with the time honored Muslim tradition of beheading white people along Pennsylvania Avenue.

Today, Obama remains accused of being secretly Muslim, a corrupt Christian programmed by the radical Reverend Wright and an anti-religion secularist who wants to kill God with an abortion tool.

The ability to to carry multiple conflicting hatreds or fears simultaneously in most other countries would be referred to as “schizophrenic” but in America it’s called “The Core of the Republican Party”.

And in the rationalization tool chest of the Right Wing, there is no tool more powerful than religion. If it can be sold to the base that a hateful position has a religious underpinning, their deflector shield against reason can be expanded to encompass it.

There’s a saying I’ve adopted,  “If people didn’t use reason to arrive at an opinion, you can’t use reason to convince them out of it.” As frustrating as it is to those of reason, that there must be some way to convince those who are part of the Religious Right of reality and out of believing Republican falsehoods, you can lead a sheep to water but you can’t make him brush aside the wool that’s been pulled over his eyes so he can see the water and drink.

Which is one big reason why the GOP relies on religion so strongly to rally their base and win elections. Religion is all about faith and faith means believing in something without regard to provable fact. Faith can and has been invaluable to so many fantastic accomplishments by individuals and groups as it has been the cause of some of the worst atrocities in human history.

So faith in itself is not a good or bad thing, it’s how it’s used that makes for good or bad things. Faith in the hands of the 9/11 hijackers was horrible, faith in the hands of Obama voters in 2008 was a great and historic thing (even emoprogs have to admit that a President McCain and VP Palin would have brought the Mayan prophecy of the world’s destruction in 2012 to fruition).

In most other democracies such as those in Europe, the idea that someone running for the top leadership position in a nation would bring their religion in as a reason to support them, would be offensive. After all, when one is running to be President of all people of all religions in a country, the issue that matters is the expertise, vision and the fitness of that person to run the country, not their fidelity to a particular religion nor their commitment to enforcing their religious beliefs on those who have different beliefs.

The hypocrisy of the religious politician is almost comical. Rick Santorum blabbers on and on about the contraception issue as being heinous because it infringes on the beliefs of others while declaring that his religious beliefs about contraceptives should be the law of the land, taking away the freedoms of all who don’t subscribe to his religious beliefs. In other words, “Freedom is when I’m free to do what I want and when you’re free to do what I want.”

Is the GOP really so outraged about contraception? Of course not, it’s just a way to whip up their ignorant base who blindly trust their sincerity. In actuality, it’s just a BS back door to trying to undermine the Affordable Care Act (so-called “Obamacare”) so that their insurance company contributors can be less regulated and regain more power over dictating to Americans what care they can have, if any…which will translate into bigger profits and bigger political contributions.

Mitt Romney’s religion has been a meaningful factor in his candidacy. A poll from late last year stated that 22% of Americans say they won’t vote for a Mormon for President. Romney has worked hard to avoid talking about being a Mormon, mostly referring to himself publicly as a Christian. Though there are a number of reasons to have issues with the Mormon religion (such as baptizing dead people who were never Mormons, without prior consent from the deceased or a family member), how exactly would Romney’s being a Mormon make him any crazier as President than Santorum, a Christian, who declares that God told him to run for President and is rooting for The End of Days to come ASAP (though Romney is rooting for End Times too)?

I would make the case that those who don’t make religion a reason to vote for them are far more spiritually centered than those who would be so superficial about their religious beliefs to cheaply exploit them just to get elected. Would a Christian who truly sees his/her beliefs as sacred and personal, publicly prostitute them?

However, we can’t criticize the religious hypocrites out there for ignoring reality and do it ourselves. We must accept that for a majority of Americans, religion is unfortunately intertwined with their political decision making.  Nearly half of Americans state that they would not vote for an atheist. So consider that someone who is a member of a right wing faction of a religion that would seek to oppress half of the population (women) and in fact, 99% of the population in serving the top 1%…has a better chance of getting elected in America than an atheist who supports the rights of women and bringing the 99% economic justice. Is that really what Jesus would do?

It’s part of the grand hypocrisy that the Right Wing religious zealots running for office and involved with the Tea Party, pound their fists about being Constitutionalists and going back to running the country just as the Constitution says…er…except for the sections that conflict with their religious beliefs (in those cases, the Constitution is an outrage that needs to be changed).

Progress and religion are not always compatible. Sure, you had Ancient Greece and the Renaissance and many other periods in world history where religion fostered creativity and progress yet coming from the more fundamentalist religious groups, there is often oppression of progress because the permanence of their religious dogma is threatened by the changes that progress presents.

Better understanding astronomy undermined the concept that stars were the light of Heaven shining through the canopy of the night sky. Better understanding the planet we live on undermined the concept that Hell was a physical place beneath the Earth’s surface (at least for many). The examples go on and on, the more progress that is made by humankind, the more that beliefs created thousands of years ago, before there was real understanding of much of existence, fall away as allegory instead of standing as truth.

So naturally, to those fundamentalists with petrified religious views that their religious text is 100% literally true in all instances, there is a built in resistance to progress out of fear it will continue to disassemble their religious beliefs. To those with progressive religious views, progress can open one’s mind up and actually deepen one’s belief in God and one’s religion. This seems to be why we see such a difference between those who are religious in the middle and Left who seek and welcome progress and those who are religious on the Right who battle against it.

Choicelady is a marvelous advocate for the Progressive Faith community, which is far less recognized in this country than the Religious Right but it is important to consider that there are many millions of Americans with deep and strong faith who support and fight for progress every day. To these folks, the religion of a candidate is less important than their conscience. So religion in itself is not necessarily an enemy of progress but in the wrong hands, it could be.

Which brings us back to why having religion so marbled through our politics hobbles our ability to make progress on many crucial issues.

The Republican Party is run by the wealthy, for the wealthy. They represent less than 1% of Americans and voters. How could they win elections all by themselves? So, after Lyndon Johnson alienated the Religious Right when they were Democrats, by passing the Civil Rights Act, the GOP, especially under Nixon, came up with the Southern Strategy.

The Southern Strategy is the only way Republicans can ever accomplish national victories in elections. It is premised solely on pandering to the Religious Right in the South which entails whipping up racism and religious victimization to get these “rubes” to vote Republican under the scam that Republicans actually care about religion and the plight of poor white people.

In actuality, the last thing the GOP would want is for Roe v. Wade to be overturned and for the illegal immigration problem to be solved. That’s almost all the buttons they have left to manipulate the lower class to vote for empowering and enriching the top 1%.

The ignorance of voting against one’s own interests comes from such overpowering issues of race and religion. Why are poor, unemployed white people in the South and midwest voting for a party which is dedicated to blocking jobs bills that would give them paychecks and taking away their unemployment checks, Social Security and Medicare? How could such issues as gay marriage, abortion and birth control, none of which negatively impact their lives directly, get them to vote for having their only income cut off and being evicted from their homes?

It does seem crazy, voting for those who openly declare they will prevent you from getting money to pay your bills and feed your family. However, the GOP has become quite adept at hitting the religious/racist override button in these people’s brains and they react like trained seals, lining up to support the frauds wearing the robes of religion during elections…only to discard them as usual after they win.

Unfortunately, this trend seems to only be growing, religion is so often and openly mixed into our politics that there isn’t much surprise or push back to it anymore. Perhaps the positive thing is that through the insincere overuse of religion to manipulate voters, there may come a time when it loses its effectiveness precisely because of its overuse.

Until then, as happened with the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s religious attack on Planned Parenthood and the support for Obama on the contraception coverage issue, those on the Progressive side and in the middle, religious or not, who believe in America progressing and becoming a better place for future generations, will have to stand up against those manipulated by their religious beliefs to be The Army of the Wealthy.

At least that’s what God told me after urging me to run for President (at least I knew he was joking!).

Written by AdLib

My motto is, "It is better to have blogged and lost hours of your day, than never to have blogged at all."

12 Responses so far.

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  1. SueInCa says:

    Great piece Adlib. I have been staying away from posting sites for a week or so but I have been on Twitter. Something tells me Bito is missing from the twitter site. I just hope everything is ok with him and I am wrong.

    Doesn’t it drive you crazy trying to make sense of what the RR does? It has been driving me crazy for a long time now but I could not have put this piece in any better light. Good going. And I am tweeting the stuff here from my account

  2. I have said this more than once, but I’ll say it again because it fits your article well. Religion doesn’t corrupt men, men corrupt religion.
    A lot of religious leaders and faux religious political leaders are, as you know well, threatened by science. A good example of this would be the science of psychiatry. Many acts by people that used to be attributed to demons and many “sins,” can now be explained by the science of psychiatry. Tons of statistical and biological evidence concerning the explanation of behavior that used to be blamed on the devil, now exists and banishes the devil to some theoretical and archaic realm of “belief.” This is a threat to those religious leaders who depend heavily on the fear of hell as a behavioral modification tool. In order for god to exist, there must be a devil, or anti-christ. The whole theory of “sin,” relies on there being some demon or devil that can be rid of by giving one’s self to god. By employing god as a sort of moral hitman if one would only accept and give one’s life over to “him.” The fear of god is actually fear of the devil and/or being crushed by god himself.

    • AdLib says:

      Agreed on this, Killgore. There were and still are those who hold on desperately to destructive superstitions that have been wholly disproved by science out of an apparent need to have simplistic and unchanging explanations of the world around them.

      It is uncertainty about the way things are that seem to frighten them most, as long as they can put everything into a convenient but flawed little box they feel more assured about life.

      I find a lot of evil perpetrated, intentionally and unintentionally, throughout history through the use of the superstition about The Devil and demons possessing people.

      You nailed it, the fear The Devil, Demons and Hell generate is a powerful control tool used by some higher up in religions to manipulate followers, perfectly mirrored by the GOP who use fear in the same way, to get people to vote against their own interests.

      When the Catholic Church child abuse cases and the coverups and protections of child rapists by the Catholic bishops was going on, it seemed to me to confirm that the priests who committed these crimes and the bishops who tried to protect them from justice (and allowed them to continue their abuse of children), either didn’t truly believe that there is a Devil and Hell or believed that no matter how horrible the things are that they do in life, as long as they confess and repent, they’re going to Heaven.

      Either way, the fear of The Devil didn’t keep those priests and bishops from doing evil things and I doubt they would say they did what they did because they were possessed by demons.

      The fear of Hell is for the little people, for some of the priests and bishops in the Catholic Church, they sure didn’t seem to be concerned about Hell in the way someone would who truly believes in it.

  3. Good article AdLib I just take one small exception (with a big explanation). It’s more a pet peeve of mine so I just want to clarify a meme I always hear from folks. please don’t be bothered much.

    In most other democracies such as those in Europe, the idea that someone running for the top leadership position in a nation would bring their religion in as a reason to support them, would be offensive.

    It really depends on the country because that has happened in Europe. The left and right continue to characterize Europe incorrectly given the shift in their governments.

    Europe is no longer a paragon of liberalism, even regarding religious politics since the Berlin Wall fell. There are big influence from Christian Democratic parties especially in the old Soviet block countries but in all of Europe. The US would never have a major party at least call itself a ‘Christian’ party because of our Constitution and origins.

    Right now Turkey has a strongly religious government that would never happen in the US and other European governments have big ruling Christian Democratic parties.

    Coalition governments in Germany, France, Lithuania, Poland, Austria, Romania, are headed by center right to far right coalitions with major Christian Democrat party influences. Not as extreme as the GOP but they could in the future especially if more countries go down the path of continued nationalism and xenophobia. A few very eastern European governments are worse authoritarian governments than the Bush government by far.

    The Netherlands, the UK, Armenia, Denmark, Spain, Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, Estonia, all have center right to right wing coalition governments with some parties have Christian Democrat roots like Spain.

    The biggest party in Switzerland are right wing populists but they have large center right and center left Christian Democrat parties and even a growing evangelical party.

    Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina are more center left coalitions.

    Norway, Belgium, Check Repubic, Sweden, Portugal have more socialist leadership coalitions.

    Belarus is similar to Russia but much more authoritarian. Ukraine has a pro-Russia authoritarian government.

    Italy and Greece are in flux with several governments in a short time.

    Turkey is run by a Islamic religious right party.

    Now we know center right parties in Europe are not as far right as the GOP. But like Kalima writes every day in MB parties like the Tories are moving right and some in a big way like the ruling party in Switzerland. While a couple Eastern European governments are flat out dictatorships.

    There are concrete examples too of religious intolerance like all the anti-Islamic laws that Sarkozy passed in France, like not allowing burkas. The anti-immigration laws are getting more and more severe in Europe as well.

    I know allot of work for a pet peeve but I guess I just want to make the point that the way the left and right view Europe in this country is simplistic and very inaccurate based on the fact that over two thirds of Europe has moved right. It’s a little hypocritical of me to point it out as well because my analysis is overly simplistic too. If you want to sum up Europe it’s moving right and away from liberalism in many cases.

    To solve our problems we must make the GOP a marginal party until they change. Frankly I would rather have our problems even with the draconian GOP than have the problems they have in Europe with their zillions of political parties moving right and the resulting malaise on the left.

    Obviously this has been bothering me but the only reason I pick on your good article AdLib is because I know you won’t take it personal.

    • Kalima says:

      Hi K, I’d just like to point out that Germany’s CDU is made up of members who are Democrats and Conservatives, non-believers and of many other religions as well as Christians, and was formed after the fall of the nazis to counter the years of horrors that had happened there. The Christian Democratic Union is not basically what its name would suggest, and people are not elected to office for their beliefs. They just saw no reason to change the name of the party, and I remember that my grandparents always voted for them. I also don’t think that the Merkel led government is especially Right leaning, and would worry much more about a country like France where the daughter of the former leader of the National Front Party, Marine Le Pen, with her father just being convicted over his disgusting WW2 remarks, is gaining such popularity over there. Now that is disturbing.

    • AdLib says:

      No worries KQ!

      I would still disagree with you about the point I was making. Though you do provide a great overview of religious influence and prejudice in the politicians and parties that get elected, my point is that they don’t run on loyalty to their religion when seeking office.

      Naturally, the same human nature abides in all of us, whatever country we are born in. Prejudice, discrimination, self-righteousness, oppression, no society is immune from it.

      I would suggest that the US is quite unique from Europe and even Canada when it comes to campaigning upon one’s religion. Here, it is a determining factor, as the poll on atheists show.

      On one hand, we elected an African American to lead our nation before any European country did (their racial provinciality is hard to surmount) but I would wager that a nation in Europe will be the first to elect and atheist as their leader before America would.

      • SallyT says:

        AdLib, I can’t see the US electing an atheist (well, knowingly) as President for a very long, long time. However, I think they already have but that is another topic. Where do you think in Europe that might happen first?

        • AdLib says:

          I think you’re right, Sally, the US has likely elected atheists (even recently) but never knowingly.

          I could imagine perhaps Germany electing an avowed atheist before the US. In any case, I’d bet on the US coming dead last in history when it comes to Western countries electing someone who is known to be an atheist.

  4. choicelady says:

    I really depend on your conversations (well, OK -- text messages) with God. He does have a snark with us now and then, doesn’t he? He picked a very good amanuensis in you, AdLib.

    Nothing most of these folks rely upon is Biblical unless it’s Old Testament laws you can use to pound someone else with. It’s why the only Bible verse I ever memorized, “Jesus wept”is increasingly useful.

    I am sick of the phony debate. Everyone has moral values, family values, ethics. If mine are different from yours, well, your family is different from mine, too. So bloody the hell what?

    It just strikes me that this is VERY convenient timing. The policy has been around for months, so why now? Well, in the past month or so, two Catholic bishops were arrested for not filing notice with law enforcement concerning child sexual molestation cases in their jurisdictions. Back in 1984 four such cases hit the front page of the Providence (RI) paper. At that point the church leaped into action -- and excommunicated the woman who was head of Planned Parenthood.

    So I see this uproar over contraception to be the same sleight-of-hand: deflect attention from the corrupt institutional acts and focus on a NON issue over which great action is demanded against a president the Bishops SHOULD admire for his commitment to social justice but can’t quite admire for his stand on those burning sexual justice issues.

    I know that could be just cynicism on my part, but hey. Patterns matter.

    I bet God is peeved but not at Obama. God always appreciates someone trying to do the best for the common good, and that would be this president.

    Thanks for the insights, AdLib. Say hi to God for me. Please tell him I’m workin’ on this.

    • AdLib says:

      Thanks CL, getting the nod from you on these things is very valued.

      I don’t think it’s cynicism, I think this was an outrageously political gambit by the Catholic bishops to grab power and empower the RW in the GOP.

      Amazing how conditional their moral outrage is. When states do it, not a big deal but when the black, moderate president does in an election year, it’s an attack on religion.

      I do have a huge problem with Catholic bishops howling about not having the freedom to prevent women from receiving health care after their track record on preventing the victims of pedophile priests from being protected.

      God tweeted that he thinks Republicans and some of these bishops are merely laboring under a misconception.

  5. Parsifals says:

    I always enjoy your pieces, and this is no exception. Living myself in the world of ignorance, elephants and yes, the church-going, my neighbours have not offered me any printable explanation for their votes or opinions that could or would take us to the next level--of sanity.

    Thanks, Adlib.

    • AdLib says:

      Parsifals, thank you for the very kind words!

      To people of reason, it is just bewildering how people can be so mindlessly conformist in adopting and aggressively promoting opinions.

      They confidently exhibit, “We don’t need no stinking’ logic!”


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