Friday, May 27, 2005

THE NEWSWEEK SOAP OPERA


THE NEWSWEEK SOAP OPERA:
HOW THE BUSH REGIME MANIPULATED THE CORPORATE - OWNED MEDIA TO DISTRACT FROM LEGITIMATE ISSUES

By Brandon and Advocate 1


The continuing drama of the Bush Regime and its ongoing attempt to dominate our obsequious, corporate-owned media is beginning to sound like a sleazy afternoon soap opera; another Machiavellian episode of The Misguiding Light.

First, the London Times released the incriminating Downing Street Memo (see http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1593607,00.html ) which disproved the Administration’s fallacious excuses for invading Iraq in the first place. The story didn't receive a great deal of coverage, but is was beginning to gain legs, having been run in the Chiacgo Tribune and a few other outlets. But then the May 9 edition of Newsweek featured an allegedly inaccurate story which claimed that a Koran had been flushed down a toilet at Guantanamo Bay--supposedly resulting in riots and 15 deaths in Afghanistan. As if to distract from the potentially devastating effects of the Downing Street Memo, the sole, anonymous source behind the Newsweek story decided to recant his allegations, prompting Newsweek to first, back away from, and then, to officially retract the entire story.


The central plot became more complicated , when the American people were given yet another opportunity to see just how spineless the fourth estate had become. In the days following the retraction, our servile, corporate-owned media engaged in an act of public, self-flagellation which bordered on the masochistic: “Yup, that’s us; we’re the biased, left wing press; Newsweek blew it; we screwed it up again; we can’t do anything right.” Whereupon, the Administration, in a stunning example of duplicitous chutzpah, had the audacity to demand that Newsweek work with Bush and his fellow Necons to repair some of the damage which had been done in Afghanistan--a demand which sounded more like a GOP diktat for Newsweek to become an official mouthpiece for the Necon war machine than a legitimate request to help with reparations.

In the meantime, other media outlets, such as the BBC, UK Guardian, and UK Daily Mirror, were reporting about similar incidents of both, Koran and prisoner abouse at Guantanamo and elsewhere. Indeed, on May 26, Dan Eggen and Josh White of the Washington Post reported that as early as April 2002 detainees were telling FBI investigators that the Koran and prisoners alike were being abused by their American captors. On the same day, Amnesty International (see http://web.amnesty.org/report2003/Usa-summary-eng ) released a report in which it referred to Guantanamo as “the gulag of our time,” and the United States as a “leading purveyor and practitioner of torture and mistreatment.”

To divert public attention from the Amnesty International Report (and quite probably from the distinct possibility that Newsweek might not have blown it so badly after all), the Pentagon claimed, with little in the way of actual proof, that the prisoner who had leveled the accusation of Koran abuse had been on May 14 and not corroborated his earlier claim: which makes you wonder. Did the prisoner really refuse to corroborate his original statement on May 14, and if so was he rubber hosed until he did so?

If that sounds cycnial it's probably because this administration has been so dishonest in its dealing with both, the American people and the reporters that I find it difficult to take it seriously. In fact, I have more or less come to the conclusion that the only way this Administion will ever tell the truth about anything will be if it does so by accident. Call me distrusting, but when a government goes to war under false circumstances; and when that same government condones a female interrogator smearing ink on the face of a Mulsim detainee and then tells that detainee that the ink is menstraul blood, I tend to think that the government in question wouldn't be too upset if a Koran were flushed down a toilet. It isn't all that difficult. You could easily flush the entire book piecemeal, page by page, until the entire book had been disposed of. Such a tactic would prolong the spiritual and psychological distress of the Muslim detainee and it would certainly be in character with the other types of abuses which have surfaced during the past few years.

Through it all Assistant Propaganda Minister—ur ah—White House Press Secretary, Scott McClellan had been holding increasingly irrelevant press conferences in which he offered meaningless, unsubstantiated doublespeak about how the allegations of Koran and prisoner abuse are “ridicules and unsupported by the facts,” claiming that the Bush Regime is going out of its way to “protect human rights and dignity.” Of course, McClellan’s explanations and denials beg the obvious question:

"If that’s the case Scooter, then why don’t you and the President put your money where your mouths are give the press greater access to the prisoners?"

But that would require courage and independent thinking, as well as a basic enthusiasm for discerning the truth, and if we know anything about our corporate-controlled journalists it's that they aren’t about to push this administration on anything. That much became obvious when Newsweek editor, Mark Whittaker made those God-awful comments about how the Pentagon hadn’t warned the magazine about the hostile reaction that the story might produce. Translated into modern English, the American press should help the American government cover up corruption and allow sadism coupled with sexual perversion to go unreported. So much for indepth reporting. When American journalism sinks to the point where it's reporters and editors believe that they are obliged to submit copies of news reports to the various branches and agencies of the federal government for prior approval, then we might as well replace the American Constitution with a dog-eared copy of Mein Kampf and admit that the Necons have achieved their longterm goal of destroying both, the United States Consitution and representative government. Hyperbole? Not at all. What the right wing bloggers and spin masters don't want to admit is that the Pentagon had actually been allowed to read the story before it was published and offered to no criticism nor denials. It wasn't as if the portion about the Koran were somehow burried in a lengthy article. This was not a 300 page document. It was only ten sentences long, so I think we can safely assume that the individual or individuals who read it actually knew what the story was about. And, if that weren’t sweet enough, in the days following the Afghanistan riots, Air Force General Richard Myers of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (see http://usinfo.state.gov/is/Archive/2005/May/13-299433.html ) openly admitted that the Newsweek article had not been primarily responsible for the death and destruction.

The soap opera plot took an unexpected twist on Friday, May 27 when a Washington Post story by Josh White and Dan Eggen revealed that allegations of Koran abuse at Guantanamo were in fact true. To quote the Post:

Brig. Gen. Jay W. Hood, commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, said investigators have looked into 13 specific allegations of Koran desecration at the prison dating to early 2002 and have determined eight of them to be unfounded, lacking credibility or the result of accidental touching of the holy book. Of the five cases of mishandling, three were "very likely" deliberate and two were "very likely accidental," he said. But Hood declined to provide details, citing an ongoing investigation.

Granted, Hood refused to admit that Newsweek had actually gotten it right, but in retrospect it seems as if Newsweek had more right than wrong.

And yet I am not completely satisfied. The real story here is not Newsweek. It isn't even the Koran abuse nor the riots in Afghanistan. We're talking about Muslim extremists here. It wouldn't take a lot to stir them into action anyhow. No, the real issue here is the Downing Street Memo.

Throughout the late 1990s we were told that Bill Clinton wasn't being impeached because of his personal affairs but because he lied under oath. Well, if Bill Clinton could be impeached because he lied under oath then what do you do with a President whose lies resulted in the deaths of more than 1,600 Americans and thousands of innocent Iraqis? What do we do with a President whose lies and inept bungling have stretched the United States military too thin and diminished our pretige and honour across the face of the earth?

The degree to which the regime in Washington manipulated the press and hid behind the Newsweek Koran story is proportinate to just how revealing and destructive the Downing Street Memo truly is. The Downing Street Memo proves that Bush and the Necons did not want a peaceful soultion. Whether Bush and the Neocons were motivated by economics, geo-politics, or personal psychology is irrelevant. The Downing Street Memo shows that Weapons of Mass Destruction were the excuse, the pretense that this Administration would use to invade a sovereign state. The Downing Streer Memo shows that this Administration had lied during the build up to the war. The Downing Street Memo shows that Bush and his merry band of sociopaths had no intention of giving diplomacy a fair chance.

The Downing Street Memo raises the ultimate question.

If Newsweek had to retract a story because it was based on an unrreliable source and faulty information, then shouldn't the Neocons retract the Iraq War and the Bush Presidency which created the war in the first place?

Stay tuned for tomorrow's fact-twisting episode of The Misguiding Light, starring Dick Cheney, Donald Rumfeld, and George W. Bush.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

WHAT IS THE GOP DRINKING IN WISCONSIN?

WHAT IS THE GOP DRINKING IN WISCONSIN?

By Advocate 1 and Abraham S


I just learned that the Republican State Legislature in the State of Wisconsin will consider a bill that will lower the legal drinking age for members of the United States Military. If approved this asinine measure would allow young men and women, ages 19 and 20, who are members of the United States Military to legally drink in Wisconsin taverns. Luckily, the measure is being opposed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and I can’t say that I blame them.

Of all the measures that the Republican-controlled State Legislature could have considered this must rank as one of the most destructive that I have ever heard of.

Where should I begin?

In the first place, the United States military already has an acknowledged problem with alcoholism and has been forced to take steps to remedy the situation. In the second place, we’re going to be seeing more young men and women who will come home from this war of choice with depression and/or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which means that many of these young men and women will resort to self medicating—the drug of choice being (you guessed it) alcohol.

Contrary to Republican attitude problems, young people are quite literally our hope for the future, a valuable commodity which should be protected, not thrown away in wars of choice nor encouraged to self -destruct through half-baked, ill-conceived social policies. And yet, for some bizarre reason the GOP seems to think that it is protecting our hope for the future by encouraging young people to drink and drive. True, the sponsors undoubtedly want us to believe that they are rewarding young people in the militay by allowing them to have a couple of beers before they drive home, but you really need to wonder if making it easier for a an adolescent to run his or her car into a 50-year-old maple tree over a middle aged pedestian is a hardly a "reward. "

In other words, this bill actually encourages drunk driving. It doesn’t allow for drinking in the privacy of ones house. Instead it allows 19 to 20-year-olds to drink in taverns. Well, I have news for the sponsors of this bill. In order to go to and come home from a tavern someone is going to have to drive and unless there is a designated driver that means you’re going to have more drunk drivers on the road. Granted, the proposed legislation would forbid young men and women from leaving the premises with liquor, and it does require that they show both a military and a state ID (which was probably designed to prevent Wisconsin from becoming a watering hole for young people from surrounding states), but that doesn’t change the fact that the sponsors seem determined to transform young members of the military and their vehicles into weapons of personalized destruction.


Why, if you didn’t know better, you’d have to wonder if the GOP urge to pander to the Wisconsin Tavern League weren’t more important than the proverbial 3-year-old who might be struck dead by a young and inexperienced driver. Moreover, it seems as if the Republican backers of this asinine move have forgotten that alcohol and tobacco are gateway drugs to harder and more addictive substances. Of course you might argue that young people are already drinking at young ages, but then you really need to wonder why the Wisconsin State government should be making it even easier for them to get their hands on the stuff. In fact, it’s a little like saying: “My house is on fire—I think this would be a good time to douse the front porch with gasoline.”

The irony here is that this Republican-inspired move is actually harmful to the young men and women to which it panders. And to make the situation even sweeter, the Republican sponsors have resurrected the hippy rhetoric that was being bantered about during the 1960’s and 70’s when state legislatures were arguing over whether or not they should lower the drinking age. In other words: “If young people are old enough to go to war then we should allow them to have a beer.” Well, we saw the damage that caused during the 1970’s. Can you say increased levels of drug addiction and alcoholism?

Of course you could turn the whole situation on its head and ask the opposite but obvious question. Instead of lowering the drinking age to match the age at which we brainwash young men and women into killing other human beings, why don’t we raise the age of majority to age 21 and ban participation in the United States Military for those under age 21? That would create the same balance that Mister Pettis and his fellow warmongering sociopaths are so determined achieve, and it would reduce the threshold at which young men and women could be indoctrinated (brainwashed) into killing another human being. Under normal circumstances it takes a great deal of coercion, of psychological abuse to convince a normal, mature human being to kill another human being. This of course is why the United States Military is so determined to get its hands on young people and why No Child Left Behind (i.e. No Child Left Unmonitored By The Armed Services) allows military recruiters to get their hands on our children’s personal information—because young people respond more effectively to the military philosophy of destroying and rebuilding their psyches.


But we seem to have digressed. We really haven't asked the obvious question here. And perhaps, more tellingly, the GOP members of the Wisconsin State Legislature isn’t asking the question either. And the question is: Doesn't this move seem to be just a little hypocritical?


Once again the GOP has revealed the basic contradictions within its own belief system. On the one hand they claim to support the troops On the one hand the GOP claims to support family values and on the other it supports a pro drunk driving measure that could tear families apart. On the other they want to make it easier for them to get their hands on an addictive substance which could turn both young members of the military and their vehicles into weapons of personal destruction. On the one hand they claim that we must wage a drug war to protect America’s youth but then they turn around and encouraged young people in uniform to drink alcohol which is America’s drug of choice.

It’s almost enough to make you wonder. Just how old were the sponsors of this bill when they began drinking. And perhaps, more to the point, what were they guzzling when they wrote this inebriated legislation?






Thursday, May 19, 2005

MORE LUNACY FROM COLORADO SPRINGS

You may or may not realize this, but your public tax dollars are being used to support a virtual theocracy at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. As difficult as it may be to comprehend, this once proud institution has been taken over by born again, Protestant, evangelical "Christians," who are using the power of the federal government along with your hard earned dollars to impose a very narrow, bigotted interpretation of the King James Bible on non-Christians and non-believers alike.


How bad is it?


Let me put it this way. This was the same institution which, until recently, had been struggling with approximately 150 allegations of sexual harassment. Indeed, the issue began to gain national attention in 2004, when Kristin Leslie, an ordained Methodist minister and assistant professor in pastoral care and counseling at the Yale Divinity School, led a group of six Yale graduate students to Colorado springs to watch basic training at the Academy. Initially intending to investigate the climate which had led to the allegations of sexual harassment, Leslie and the students discovered another problem as they watched some of the Academy's chaplains in action. What they found was revolting to say the least.

Instead of creating an atmosphere of religious tolerance which is necessary for cohesion among the cadets (and for that matter among soldiers in general), the Protestant, evangelical chaplains had crossed the fine line between spiritual counseling and every day ministry and were engaging in outright proselytization, creating division among the cadets and not a required spirit of cohesion.

How bad was it? Consider the following examples.

*Twelve years ago, when James Dobson opened his campus in Colorado Springs, the Wings of Blue parachute team parachuted out of an Air Force airplane onto Dobson's campus: not to protect the country; not to provide an act of national defense; but to present Dobson with the proverbial "Keys to Heaven." Indeed, Focus on the Family's James Dobson, and Ted Haggard's New Life Chruch seem to be exerting an unhealthy and disproportionate amount of influence over the academy as a whole.


*In March 2004 fliers advertising a showing of Mel Gibson's anti-semitic The Passion of Christ were distributed throughout the Academy, even in the mess hall.

*Senior Cadets allegedly harass and harangue their inferiors in matters regarding religion. Jewish cadets were allegedly called "Christ killers" or "------- Jews."


*In at least two cases highly qualified individuals were discouraged from attending the academy after they learned about the climate of bigotry and intolerance that the Radical Christian Right has brought to the institution as a whole.

*Professors have allegedly introduced themselves to their classes with off color lines such as "Welcome, to proselytizing 101. My Name is Major John Doe. We're going to have a great time this semester. I'm a born again Christian and I hope you will be too by the end of the semester."

*Christians who haven't been "born again" are informed that they will be burn and hell.

*Cadets are encouraged to evangelzie (proselytize) their bunk mates.

*During high rope classes Protestant, evangelical cadets frequently encouraged their fellow cadets by telling them that Jesus would get them through it.

*A 90 minute RSPV (Respecting Spiritual Values of all People) video was created to counter the increasing climate of bigotry and intolerance. Part of the video discussed and demonstrated the religious beliefs and practices of non-Christians to introduce the cadets to different religious beliefs and to create an atmosphere of understanding and tolerance. Incredibly the video was cut down to 50 minutes and the non-Christian religious issues were removed and replaced with material from Mel Gibson. To make matters worse, a Protestant evengelical chaplain had the audacity to complain why the original 90 minute version hadn't shown Christians winning.

*In November 2004, the academy football coach, Fisher DeBerry placed a banner in the atheltic department which read: "I am a Christian, first and last. I am a member of team Jesus Christ." Apparently, the Banner comes from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and reads in its entirity: I am a Christian first and last; I am created in the likeness of God Almight to bring him glory; I am a member of team Jesus; I wear the colors of the cross; I am a competitor now and forever; I am made to strive, to strain, to stretch, and to succeed in the arena of competition;I am a Christian competitor and as such, I face my challenger with the face of Jesus Christ.

*
The Air Force Academy has its own installation publication, "Academy Spirit." Shortly before the Christmas holiday, the back page of the publication featured a full page ad which read as follows: "We the undersigned are here to state that the only real hope for mankind is Jesus Christ. If you'd like to talk about Jesus, come bu and talk to one of us." This appeared in large letters and below it young cadets found the names of sixteen academic department heads, nine permanent professors, the (then) current dean, the present dean, the (then) current vice dean, the director of the athletic department, the above-mentioned football coach, and 250 other Academy leaders and their spouses. No cadets were listed but the ad did include divissive, New Testament passages, which non-Christians and non-believers found offensive.

*Of equal interest was a now infamous Brown Bag Lunch. In January 2004 the event was advertized through fliers which were posted up at key locations throughout the academy. Included was a message which read "This is an official Air Force Academy Event. Do Not Take Down this flier." The theme of this particular Brown Bag Lunch, was, "WHY WE CANNOT LET YOU HAVE YOUR GOD WHILE WE HAVE OURS."

* Fliers advertizing an official Academy RSVP program (Respecting Spiritual Values of all People) again, included fliers which warned readers not to take down the flier. The theme for this particular program was: "DANGERS AND WARNING SIGNS TO THE FOLLOWERS OF JESUS: PLURALITY AND SECULARISM."


*When 48-year-old Captain Melinda Morton (A Lutheran Minister with degrees in Divinity and Law, and herself an Academy Chaplain) spoke out against the abuse which was being inflicted by the Protetsant Evangelicals, she was relieved of her position and informed that she would be transferred to Okinawa in July 2004.

Why is that a problem?

It’s a problem because the mission of a military academy is to create intelligent, dependable, and honorable soldiers who will know how to conduct themselves during a time of war—not to create mindless theocrats to please the religious whims and delusions of the evangelical fanatics in the surrounding community. Moreover, events such as these do not take place in a vacuum. Imbecility like this takes place because there has been a breakdown in authority and leadership. And by leadership I do not mean the Academy chaplains, although they are certainly a part of the problem. No, I mean the chain of command—from the Powers that be at the Academy itself right on up to the Commander and Chief in Washington. At some point someone should have stepped in and put an end to this nonsense before it became a part of the Academy’s culture. Instead, the lunatics were allowed to run the asylum. The Chaplains and the command structure at this academy seem to have lost sight of the fact that their prime directive is to create a cohesive fighting force—not to offend and humiliate cadets of differing religious beliefs because the prevailing culture in Colorado Springs is one of pseudo-Christian intolerance.

Moreover, there seems to be a dangerous blending of religious fervor and official government power here. This may come as a shock and a revelation to the so called Christians in Colorado Springs, but it is not the job of the Federal government, nor of the United States Military to promote Protestant fundamentalism as the official religious faith of the United States Air Force. Contrary to the likes of Dobson and Haggard, the American military has one mission and one mission only—to protect the United States—not to spend tax payer dollars on the conversion of non-Christians and non-believers. That is a blending of religion and federal government which, as we have just seen is too dangerous to go unchecked.

In a sane universe—not the one that exists in Colorado Springs—the Chaplains who crossed the line between pastoral care and every day ministry into proselytizing and harassment would be removed from their positions and Captain Melinda Morton would be returned to her position to restore order and sanity to the Air Force Academy. And if that or something similar doesn’t happen, then I would suggest that the United States government should shut that evangelical pop stand down and move the academy to a better neighborhood--preferably one that is far removed from Dobson, Haggard, and their evangelical street fighters as is humanly possible. .













Thursday, May 12, 2005

We Are All People Of Faith: Why Fundamentalism Does Not Exist

WE ARE ALL PEOPLE OF FAITH:
WHY FUNDAMENTALISM DOES NOT EXIST

By Trevor Alexander MacKenzie
Editted by Brandon Alexander Geraghty-MacKenzie

In recent weeks it seems as if the ultra fundamentalist right has become addicted to the phrase “People of Faith.” As a former pastor and as a recovering religionist it seems to me that the term, while initially intended to describe people who believe in a higher power, has been bastardized by the ultra fundamentalists themselves into an emotional, politically correct buzzword to describe what my son, Brandon, refers to as the Radical Christian Right. In other words, the ultra fundamentalists* are the true believers, the genuine “People of faith,” who have the Truth while everyone else is disciple of the Anti Christ.

To be honest I was a little surprised to see such an innocent term transformed into a rhetorical weapon of hate and chauvinism. But then again, we’re talking about the Radical Christian Right, and if we know anything, it is that this particular constuency is long on tribalism and bigotry, but short on logic, reason, and basic human compassion. They really do believe that they have found The Truth. And in their often totalitarian mindset, they have come to accept the dubious fact that they have embraced a form of Christianity that is so pure, and so perfect, and so in keeping with what Christ himself taught, that they somehow of a right and a duty to impose that form of Christianity on others.

But what the ultra fundamentalist right has yet to understand is the fact that no one can be a fundamentalist, religions invariuably being impure and watered down versions of what the original prophet had to offer. Indeed, when it comes to the subject of religion, no one can be a fundamentalist; not a fundamentalist Christian, not a fundamentalist Jew, not a fundamentalist Muslim, not a fundamentalist anything. Simply stated fundamentalism does not and cannot exist. Moreover it is foolish to argue about which form of Christianity, or Judaism, or Islam, or any other faith is the one and true version because there is no such thing as a one and true faith. Eveyone is a person of faith. Whether he believes in Jehovah, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Shiva, ancestral spirits, nature, or secular humanism, all people are people of faith. And yet, at the same time, no one is a genuine person of faith.

I realize by now the readers must be scratching their heads and asking themselves a few questions. “How can I be going to worship services once or twice a week and not be a good Christian? How can I pray, read my Bible, and engage in all these wonderful church activities and not be a true believer? How can I be a Catholic, or a Southern Baptist, or a Seventh Day Adventists, or a Pentecostal, or a Methodist, or a Presbyterian, and not be a Person of Faith?

Well, my friends, the answer is really quite simple.

Religions remain pure and true while the founding prophet is alive and able to communicate his message in person to his or her followers. But once the founder passes away, the faith which he or she founded becomes a matter of hearsay and from that moment on exists in a variety of similar and yet entirely different sects. Each will claim that it is following in the path of the prophet’s true intentions, but each will invariably contaminate the original faith and intentions with a myriad of personal and cultural biases. It is foolish to talk about a true version of any faith when, in actuality, there are as many different versions of a particular faith (Christianity included) as there are individual practitioners. All will use the name of the founding prophet to support their beliefs. Each faith, each individual will quote various scriptures and theological treatises to convince the masses that its, his, or her interpretation (or bastardization) is the only acceptable version; but beyond fervent or even deceptive rhetoric, the desires of the founding prophet can never truly be known. New situations, new dilemmas will arise that the founding prophet had never foreseen. New discoveries, revelations, and information will come forth to disprove or alter the founding prophet’s most cherished axioms. And in the end only one truth will be obvious: the founder’s original faith is dead, gone forever, replaced by a series of new theologies which are based on, but not identical to the original belief system.

The idea that any modern religion is in any way true to its original version, is the greatest irony of all. Contemporary Christianity, fundamentalism included, is not the religion of Jesus Christ. It is the religion of Peter and Paul; of the Neo Platonists who infused it with the intellectual and mystical flavor of the ancient Greeks; of the early Church fathers and Roman/Byzantine Emporers who were trying, often in fierce competition with so called heretics, to establish an overall orthodoxy of Christian thought. It is the Christianity of statesmen and theologians who have brought their personal beliefs and ethnic biases to the many versions of the Christian faith. It is the Christianity of countless cultures which have embraced and influenced the teachings of Jesus Christ for more than 2000 years of written and unwritten history. We are talking, after all, about a belief system that has been shaped and molded by numerous debates and councils; Crusades and Holy Wars, Inquisitions and Witch Hunts; Renaissance movements and Reformations; scientific advancements and Enlightenments.

Christianity? Would it not me more acceptable to talk about a multitude Christianities instead of a single, monolithic institution? Of course it would.

Defenders of the status quo—or more precisely, those who wish to impose their “true” beliefs on others, will invariably claim that the intentions of the founding prophet can be discerned through holy texts and religious treatises, but such documents only takes the debate to a written level. Again, there are as many different interpretations of the written texts as there are individual readers. And, yet again, the founding prophet, Jesus in the case of Christianity, is not present to explain to the theologians exactly what he meant when he or she said X, Y, or Z.

Take for example the Orthodox teaching on the nature of Jesus Christ.


In the New Testament Christ offers little in the way of explanation as to how he can be both divine and human at the same time. Indeed, he seems to be rather schizophrenic on the topic. During the course of his ministry, when he seems to be intent upon gaining a substantial following, he openly flaunts his divinity: driving out devil’s, healing the sick, feeding thousands from limited resources, ad infinitum. But when his teachings finally collide with the religious and political Powers That Be of the Roman Empire, he becomes a bit more hesitant when he is asked to offer comments about his divinity. When asked directly by Pilate if he is divine he says either “Thou sayest it” (Luke 23.3 and Mark 15.2) or “Thou sayest.” (Matthew 27.11). Only in John 18.33-36 does he offer a longer response to Pilate’s question, but even there he couches the answer in nebulous, almost legalistic terms, which according to today’s standards, might well read “I refuse to answer on the grounds that it may tend to incriminate me.”

His answers to the High Priests and Elders are somewhat different. In the 18th Chapter of John, we get yet another legalistic answer in which Christ basically tells his accusers to ask witnesses what he has already stated on the subject. In the 26th Chapter of Matthew he resorts to the kind of legalistic jargon that he will later use on Pilate, but then adds “nevertheless I say unto you, hereafter ye shall see the son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of Heaven. In the 22nd Chapter of Luke he issues a similar statement: “Hereafter shall the Son of Man sit on the right hand of the Power of God.” And in the 26th Chapter of Matthew he tells us: “I say unto you, hereafter ye shall see the son of man sitting on the right hand of Power and coming in the Clouds of Heaven.”

The ultra fundamentalists will invariably say that the Gospels are in harmony, but that clearly isn’t true. When confronted by the Jewish religious establishment of his time, Christ offers basically the same response in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but a second and more legalistic response in John. Moreover, his response in Matthew, Mark, and Luke is compromised when he later confronts Pontius Pilate. Only in John do the answers to the Jewish religious extablishment agree with what he later tells Pilate: and in that case he is engaging in a legalistic cat and mouse game so as to avoid torture and execution, not specifically claiming that he is divine.

Nor is this the only area in which the Bible self-contradicts itself. Throughout the Bible there are many examples of God’s love and compassion for humankind. But for every example of God’s love and compassion there is another example of God’s tyranny and barbarism. In one passage he tells the ancient Hebrews not to kill, not to commit murder. A few chapters later he tells them to commit war crimes against their neighboring tribes. One moment he sounds like a gentle, loving father; a few pages later he rants and raves like an obsessive, jealous lover. (One thing you have to say about the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition--seldom has there been such a human-acting God!)


And the contradictions continue well into the New Testament. We all familiar with Christ’s gentleness with and compassion for children; how he fed the poor, comforted the sick, and spoke incessantly about loving God and neighbor; about turning the other cheek and forgiving past wrongs. But there are also passages in which Jesus comes off as petty and as self-absorbed as a spoiled 11-year-old. Consider Mark 14.7: “For he have the poor with you always and when-so-ever ye while ye may do them good, but me ye have not always.” And then there’s that little matter of Matthew 10.34-38, when Jesus seems to spit in the proverbial faces of the contemporary “family values” crowd: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth. I come not to send peace but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s foe shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross and followeth me, is not worthy of me.”

So what does this have to do with the nature of Christ and the validity of sacred text? As I suggested before, the New Testament offers little information on which to draw a conclusion. Jesus did offer a few oblique comments about his human and divine natures, but he never come right out and said how the two natures exist or coexist in a single entity. One would have thought that if he were indeed divine, if he were in fact the Son of God, that he would have had an inner track to this kind of information, that he would have shared that information with his many followers. But for reasons we do not fully understand, he never shares that information. He never came right out and said that he was both, truly God and truly man. He never explained that the two natures are in perfect unity without division, confusion, or separation. Nor do Saint Paul and the Apostles offer detailed explanations either. Instead that particular secret was left undecided for hundreds of years while the quasi Christians in subsequent centuries argued and haggled over the often nebulous meanings of key scriptural phrases, debating and agonizing over the issue until such time as a “rational solution could be concocted at the First Council of Nicea.
(see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arianism for additional details ab out the Arian heresy .) And to make the matter even more complicated, the Church had to convene yet another Council, The Council of Chalcedon, in 451 AD to further refine the issue. (Go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monophysite for more information on the Monophysites.)

In a similar vein, the early church experienced differences of opinion over everything from icons, to the nature of the Papacy , to the relationship between Rome and the Eastern Church, to the power balance between church and state. And through it all the various factions found increasingly innovative ways to use Holy Scripture and theological treatises to support their conflicting stands on the issues.

And why wouldn’t they? In a work as long and as complicated as the Holy Bible, self-contradictions are a given. Now add to that the human proclivity for interpreting information as the individual sees fit, and you are guaranteed a confused mish mash of ideas and theologies. Is it any wonder that the early church fathers had a difficult time determining which books should be canonical (e.g. there were major debates over the book of Revelations). Should we be surprised by the fact that Catholics and Protestants use different versions of the Bible? Catholic Bibles, after all, include a number of apocryphal books or sections of books, in the Old Testament, which are not considered canonical by most Protestants (although I must confess, I have always liked “Tobit” and, my personal favorite, “Susannah and the Elders,” ). Undoubtedly, the fundamentalists would claim that the basic message remains the same regardless of Biblical versions, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Bible, in fundamentalist thought, is supposed to be the literal word of God. And if it is the literal word of God, as they claim, then we should be asking ourselves why different versions of the Bible exist at all if God’s word is definitive.


The answer, again, is obvious. Jesus, the founding prophet, is no longer here to offer his personal advice on the matter. The Bible self contradicts. The theologians offer conflicting opinions on important matters of doctrine, practice, and faith, resulting in as many interpretations of the written texts as there are individuals who are reading it. Meanwhile, the ultra fundamentalist Protestants have lost sight of the fact that the Reformation—a watershed event without which they could not even exist—created an opportunity for the individual to interpret the Bible as he or she sees fit. A fact which Radical Right Wing Christians “conveniently” forget as they attempt to impose their pseudo literal interpretation of the King James Bible on a nation of more than 280 million people and more than 2000 different faiths.

In closing I would like to suggest that the term “People of Faith is just another in a long line of underhanded tactics which have been designed to denigrate mainstream Christians, non-Christians, and nonbelievers alike as somehow subhuman or undeserving of civil liberties. And the ultimate irony is that the accusation is coming in the form of a rhetorical secret handshake from self-claimed fundamentalists who are intellectually unable to recognize the fact that fundamentalism is itself a myth. They are no more in tune with the wishes and desires of Jesus, their founding prophet than anyone else. They may claim that they deity sits up and night to admire them, but the only truth in religion is that the original version of a given faith dies when the founding prophet dies. And no act of political, rhetorical, or sociological necromancy will bring the prophet and the original faith back to life.





*Regarding the word"fundamentalist," I would like to share what my friend, Jeff told me to do a few years ago, regarding an alternative definition of the word itself Get a copy of a good dictionary. I’ve always been impartial to the various editions of Merriam Webster’s Collegiate, but that’s a personal choice. In any event look up the root words f the word fundamentalist:

Fundament\n [Middle English from old French from the Latin fundamentum, from fundare to found, from fundus] (13c) 1. and underlaying ground, theory, or principle. 2.. a: BUTTOCKS b. anus 3. the part of the land surface that has not been altered by human activities.

Mental\adjective [Middle English from Middle French from Late latin mentalis from Latin ment, mens mind—more at mind] (15c) 1 a: of or relating to the total emotional and intellectual response of an individual to external reality b: of or relating to intellectual as contrasted to emotional activity c: of, relating to, or being intellectual as contrasted with overt physical activity d: occurring or experienced in the mind: INNER e: relating to the mind in its activity, or its products as an object of study: (IDEALOGICAL f: relating to the spirit or idea as opposed to matter 2 a: (1) of, relating to, or affected by a psychiatric disorder (2): mentally disordered: MAD, CRAZY b: intended for the care or treatment of persons affected by psychiatric disorders 3: of or relating to telepathic or mind reading powers.

Put the two together and you can create some truly non traditional, but highly accurate descriptions of the fundamentalist right, my favorites of which are: “butt thinkers,” “ass thinkers,” and, my absolute favorite, “CRAZY ass thinkers.”







Friday, May 06, 2005

Hooke on Ignorance Works For Some: The Coming Dark Ages

Welcome to the dawning age of ignorance!

As many of you may know, the State Board of Education of Kansas is presently hearing testimony from so called experts who are advocating the teaching of intelligent design in Kansas schools. I don’t know about you, but I for one see this as just another trend, another step towards the long dark night if ignorance that is presently engulfing the United States while the rest of the world looks on in both amazement and horror. And to make matters worse, the scientific community, in a truly stupid demonstration of obstinacy, has decided to boycott the proceedings and to allow the forces of ignorance to go unchecked and unchallenged. In a way I can understand their frustration. The State School Board in Kansas is controlled by a narrow minded clique of superstitious dolts who have yet to move forward out of the 13th or 14th Centuries; and the so-called “philosophers,” and “scientists” are hardly recognized by the vast majority of legitimate scientists as in any way knowledgeable in the topics about which they will testify. But that doesn’t mean that you give up without a fight. If the truth is to be told, and if ignorance and superstition are to be countered than reasonable, intelligent people must speak out. Or to paraphrase the late Carl Sagan, science should be used as a candle in the dark.

Well, if the scientific community doesn’t want to defend its beliefs then perhaps, just perhaps others need to question and challenge the beliefs of the opposition

It seems to me that instead of questioning the so called “theory” of evolution that we should be questioning the self contradictory fairytale that the Bible presents in the opening chapters of Genesis. At least when scientists talk about the theory of evolution they are talking about something about which there is physical, concrete proof while the so called creationists cherry pick scientific findings and twist results to fit the Biblical fantasy of creation. But the thing that never ceases to amaze me is the fact no one wants to question the self contradiction in the Bible which proves that the Judeo Christian Creation Myth is just that—a myth.

If we take the Bible literally then we must be prepared to accept two different stories of creation. That’s right. You aren’t seeing things. Contrary to what the Religious right would tell you the Book of Genesis presents not one, but two creation myths. The literalists would have you believe that the two versions are covering different aspects of the story, but when you read the stories in the original Hebrew you discover that the two versions use different names for God, and, more importantly, are written in different literary styles, indicating that they were not written by one man (Moses according to the literalists), but rather, by two different authors.

In Genesis Chapter 1, God creates the Heaven and the earth; after which he creates night and day, divides the waters and continents etc. Of more interest, however is the creation of humanity. In Genesis 1; 26-28 God creates man in his own image, but he does it in a rather unexpected way. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sear, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him, male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth, and subdue it…” Note the plurality. The author is not saying that God created a man and then a woman from out of a man’s rib. The author has specifically stated that God created man and woman together.

Now skip ahead to Genesis 2; 6-25 Suddenly the whole story is beginning all over again. We have a mist coming up out of the earth (mists usually represent confusion in mythology). We have God creating Adam (alone) out of the dust, followed, a few verses later, by the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib. This, of course, is the myth that the fundamentalist right likes to drag out whenever they want to denigrate women as unfit for just about anything from police work to serving as members of the clergy. But the fact remains that this is a second myth that was layered on top of the first myth.

To make the story even more fascinating, this obvious conflict in the text gave ancient fundamentalist Jews a major headache. On the one hand they wanted to take the text literally, and yet if they were to take the text literally they would have to accept not one, but two stories of creation. Ultimately the question came down to just who God had created in the first version. It clearly wasn’t Eve, so just who was the woman in Genesis Chapter 1? And what happened to her?

The answer was obvious. Then woman in Chapter 1 was Adam’s first wife, Lilith.

In many ways the story of Lilith is even more interesting that the traditional versions in Genesis. Not only because her story is a very nontraditional example of what happens when literal interpretations are carried to their (il)logical extreme, but because she provides a rather interesting example as to what can happen to a strong-willed woman in the fundamentalist mindset. According to mythology, Lililth actually rebelled when Adam decided to take the dominant position during the sexual act. “You shall lay beneath me and I shall lay on top of you.” Lilith was not amused, to say the least. Angry and defiant, she went to the Lord God and said something to effect of: “What’s the deal here? You created us together. That tells me the two of us should be equals. Why does he get the dominant position?” God, in his ever mysterious way, told Lilith to go back to Adam, talk it out with him, and settle it with him. Now obedient, Lilith did so. But when Adam tried to assume the dominant position again, Lilith again rebelled and again took the matter to the Lord God. And, once again, God told her to work it out with Adam and sent her on her way. After Adam tried to prove his dominance a third time, and after Lilith took her complaint to God for a third time, God finally lost patience, realized this was not going to work, and sent three angels to banish Lilith from the Garden of Eden. With Lilith out of the way, God proceeded to create Eve, Adam’s second wife. ( Kind of sounds like an afternoon soap opera, doesn’t it? Especially when you consider the fact that the men who were writing this baloney had such low opinions of women.)

So what happened to Lilith? Depending on the mythology you read, she either went on to become a regular character on the NBC sitcom “Cheers,” or, more likely, became a Queen Mother of Demons, giving birth to the little Hell raisers at the rate of 10,000 per day.

The upshot here is obvious. If we’re going to criticize evolution—with its many physical and verifiable proofs, then we should at least be willing to examine the alternative for the clear and obvious contradiction which proves its fallacy.* The fact of the matter is that the Bible, while in some regards, is a good book, is not the only book, and it is not always true on a literal basis. Rather, the Bible is the inspired word of God. It was written by ancient, primitive people who knew little about the scientific nature of the world in which they lived.

And the degree to which the a literal interpretation of the text is accepted as scientific fact by the State Board of Education in Kansas should tell us that there are still enough primitive people alive today to drag us back into a more ancient time.

With one scientific theory denigrated, you really need to wonder what other theories the fundamentalist right will attempt to bastardize. Theories, after all, are the most profound statements that one can make in the scientific world. Maybe we should get rid of the germ theory of disease? Maybe we should teach that the sun orbits around the earth. Better yet, we can teach the unsuspecting children of Kansas that the sun orbits around a flat earth! Hey, maybe with a little luck we can go back to blood letting, leeches, and exorcisms instead of science.

In fact, I think I have a solution that will finally, finally, make the fundamentalist right happy.

We should ban any and all technical, industrial, or medical advancements that were made after Christ ascended back to heaven. No, I am perfectly serious. We don’t really know if Jesus would have approved of electricity, or antibiotics, or computers, or automobiles, ad infinitum. So to keep in line with the Bible we can scrap evolution, germ theory, and the spherical earth. We can go back to an earth-centered universe. We’ll junk all our cars and go back to horses and buggies. Better yet, we can throw out our computers, replace them with clay tablets or papyrus scrolls, and use homing pigeons instead of emails. And that’s just the beginning. We could burn any and all medications that were created after Christ’s ministry on earth, and go back to herbs, beads, rattles, and exorcisms, surgical procedures being strictly banned Power lines could be chopped down and oil lamps used instead of electric lighting. Likewise, telephone poles could be toppled, long distance communication being carried on my youthful messengers or smoke signals.

Of course we’d have to go back to stoning witches and heretics in the public square, and we just want to pass laws which prevent women from speaking in our churches.

But aside from unsafe living conditions, abuse of religious dissidents, and massive death and the fall of civilization as we know it, the State School Board in Kansas may well be on the right track.

Hooked on ignorance works for some.





*I for one an constantly amazed by the fact that Moses, in the book of Deuteronomy, goes so far as to discuss his death and subsequent burial in a "valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor." Deuteronomy 34; 5-7.








Thursday, May 05, 2005

If You Thought Robertson and Dobson Were Nuts, Meet Ted Haggard and the New Life Church

If you think James Dobson and Pat Robertson are bad then let me tell you about Ted Haggard and the New Life Church!

For all intents and purposes Ted Haggard and James Dobson are engaged in an evangelical game of "good cop/bad cap," with James Dobson of Focus on the Family playing the proverbial bad cop, while Haggard, with his smooth style, and deceptively friendly, utgoing personality plays the part of the proverbial good cop.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the New Life Church (and you’ve been blessed by God if you haven’t!) , it's an 11,000 member strong megachurch in Colorado Springs, where bigotry and dreams of a Christian utopia on earth reign supreme. . It began in 1984 when Haggard was driving through the area, stopped his car, and had a vision in which he saw himself turning Colorado Springs into another New Jerusalem, a utopian society based on Christian (i.e. theocratic) values.

Initlally little more than 20 members meeting in a basement, the movement grew quickly through truly fascinating (read disturbing) tactics. This is a church that created its own propaganda by forming prayer vigils outside the homes of gays, lesbians, and wicans with the expressed purpose of forcing them to move. And the frightening thing is that it worked. After identifying and targeting 15 homes as being occupied by Wicans (witches, as Haggard calls them) 10 out of the homes were abandonned simply because the residents could no longer take the constant praying –or, if you will, preying. I believe in the real world we might be more inclined to call this harassment.

The thing which few people want to talk about is the fact that institutions like the New Life Church, Focus on the Family, The Christian Coalition, and the National Asociation of Evangelicals all see prayer less as a means of glorifying and worshipping God, but rather as a spiritual weapon in a culture war. To be succinct, they view prayer as a means by which to destroy their enemies. In sharp contrast with Mainstream Christianity, the New Life Church openly admits that it is not a Social Gospel Church. It is more interested in converting people than it is in operating soup kitchens or building projects for the homeless. Of course you need to remember that Haggard thinks that Jesus would have embraced free markets--this inspite of the fact that while Jesus walked the face of the earth he and the Twelve Apostles lived communally--sharing everything and owning very little. And it makes me wonder: Shouldn’t someone should tell these Bible-bastardizing buffoons that Christ never bothered to accumulate personal wealth during his earthly ministry? Why it’s enough to make you wonder if we shouldn't require our clergy to take oaths of poverty Of course you have to remember that depriving people of their civil liberties and demonizing them Desciples of Satan comes with a heft price tag. So I can understand why they would spell the name of the Savior as JE$U$ CHRI$T. In short, Haggard and the New Life Church are more interested in controlling what people do in the privacy of their own homes--banning premarital sex and homsexuality--than ity is in feeding, clothing, and sheltering poor hungry children. Yup. I'm sure Jesus would be REAL proud of that.

In addition this church, like so much of modern fundamentalism, has a highly militant streak to it. Even their rhetoric has overtones of violenceand destruction, incorprating assinine phrases such as "exploding the Gospel for Christ," or openly admitting, and even admiring the "fact" that The Bible is a violent, bloody book, while ignoring the parts which emphasize peace, forgiveness, and loving ones neighbors. Worse yet, the praise the fact that certain American GIs have disturbuted 900,000 Bibles in Iraq at a time when the President is trying to tell the Muslim World that our invasion of Iraq is not a crusade.

Like most fundamentalist organizations the New Life Church depends on pageantry and symbolism, but in this particular case the symbolism has become truly bizarre, indeed, overtly sexual. Visitors to the church will discover a large statue called "The Defender.” This is a monster piece of “art,” a deformed monstrosity in the form of a muscular angel, its face locked in an angry, defiant expression while the angel itself swings an actual sword, a broadside at unseen foes. . And then there's a painting, "The Vessel," which featuures realistic, large breasted, white angels pouring an earn of honey over a muscular, bronze-skinned naked man who is collecting the honey in a bowl before his crotch. The idea here of course, is that this is God's love pouring down from Heaven to mankind, but the images are so starkly homoerotic that you really need to wonder if this church hasn't obsessed over the idea of homosexuality in particular and over sex in general. Or for that matter if there aren't a few unresolved latent urges here--if you get my drift. There is, afterall, a theory tht says the most visceral of homophobes are actually trying to deny their own inner impulses by persecuting others with smilar behaviors and characteristics. But it’s just a theory.

Hypocrist not withstanding, we are after all, talking about a group that wants to roll back protection for gays, lesbians, and nonchristians. Indeed, their persecution (there just isn't another way to say it) of Wicans proves conclusssively that they have no respect for freedom of religion either. Any group that would attempt to drive someone out of his or her home based on a literal interpretation of the Bible would almost certainly perform a repeat of Kristallnacht if they ever given the opportunity.

So just why in the hell are people like Haggard so dangerous?

In a representative democracy like America you’d think that their delusional world view would be enough to mark them as the phony Christians and real life fascists that they are. Well, my pets, life is never that simple. Would that it were. Clowns like Falwell, Robinson, and even Dobson, are oafs. They couldn't make an eloquent statement if they tried. And whenever they have tried they have only succeeded in making Osama Bin Laden sound moderate and have ended up offering apollogies to mainstream America. In addition they are just plain nasty. But people like Haggard, on the other hand are reasonably attractive. They know which face to wear when they deal with the public--and it isn't the one with the proverbial 666 on the forehead. They know how to couch their visceral hatred for Jews, Gays, Lesbians, Muslims, Hindus, nonchristians and nonfundamentalist ("nomonal") Christians in polite, Orwellian double talk. (Hitler did the same thing while he was running for office—even brutal, hate-mongering psychopaths know how to “behave themselves” when doing so will promote their otherwise sociopathic agenda.) People like Haggard understand pop culture (think grunge bands and hip hop performances) and they know how to milk the media.

More importantly, Haggard has a direct link to the Whitehouse, talking to President Bush via conference call every Monday morning. This might not be a problem if it weren't for the fact that this administration has all but cut itself off from mainstream Christianity and nonchristians -- a fact which is reflected in funding for faith- based initiatives where the money is being deliberately channeled to right wing Christians, seldom secular or nonchristian groups. When seen in this particular light one must conclude that the left has it right. The present wave of fundamentalism is indeed trying to destroy the United States government by funding a shadow, Faith Based government that is intended to superecede the Republic of our Founding Fathers.
And they don't even need to do it through Faith Based Initiatives. The New Life Church can collect up to $200,000 per sermon. Mainstream Christians who still comprise a majority of the religionists in the country, are lucky if they can collect $200,000 for a national effort, much less per sermon.

Luckily a majority of Americans still have a softer and gentler view of Jesus Christ and of religion overall, but that doesn't mean that we can sit on our asses and do nothing while these delusional theocrats work to create a Fascist Christian State. I for one believe it is time for the IMMORAL MAJORITY to stand up and take back its rights. We've given these societal perfectionists enough power as it is. We have to get organized, my pets. We need to send these would be dictators and theocrats back to the Dark Ages that they came from.

Ciao

Daniel

(For more on the extreme nature of modern day fundamentalists, please be so kind as to scroll down to Brandon's excellent post about The Radical Christian Right, and then proceed to Sam's equally enlightening piece about the "Reverend" Pat Robertson.)

THE RADICAL CHRISTIAN RIGHT: THEY SHALL BEAT THEIR CROSSES INTO SWASTIKAS AND THEIR PLOUGHSHARES INTO SCIMIATARS

THE RADICAL CHRISTIAN NIGHT:
AND THEY HAVE BEATEN THEIR CROSSES INTO SWASTIKAS AND THEIR PLOUGHSHARES INTO SCIMITARS

By Brandon



"For such are false apostles, decietful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." 2 Corinthians 11: 13-14 (King James Edition)


What will it take for the spineless left in this country to recognize the fact that it isn't only allowable, but necessary to speak out against hate, bigotry, and fanaticism? Why do so-called liberal Democrats not understand that being intolerant of intolerance itself is a good thing, an honrable American value, not something to be ashamed of or frightened by? When will the American people stop deceiving themselves and recognize the present wave of right-wing fundamentalism for the traitorous fifth column that it actually is?

After watching Justice Sunday, (a travesty of decency which, in the name of honesty, should have been called “Fascist Sinday”), I am again perplexed by the attitudes of my fellow liberals, Democrats and other wise. For some baffling reason or reasons, there are actually people on the left who believe that they can extend a compromising hand to the Radical Christian Right in the hope that they might be able to extract a few votes from what, for all intents and purposes, is a neo-fascist movement with the name of Jesus Christ attached to it for the sake of public consumption. John Edwards talks about the meaning of and importance of his church in his personal life; Hilary Clinton delivers political speeches which sound as if they were lifted from a Sunday morning sermon; John Kerry, at the end of the 2004 election, informed is that he had morals and that he often prayed. It’s almost as if these normally astute politicians genuinely believe that the Radical Christian Right is actually interested in, or is somehow capable of compromise.

It seems to me that liberals, Democrats in particular, simply do not understand the nature of the beast with which they are dealing. They either cannot or will not accept the fact the Radical Christian Right is the greatest threat to American Democracy since the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in the 1920s and 1930s. In the past the evangelical community was content to warn us about the dangers of secularism, and their rhetoric, while occasionally bucolic, tended to center itself around the joys and benefits of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the bliss that could be found in salvation. But the type of fundamentalism that we see today is nothing like the fundamentalism that we saw prior to the late 1970s.

Beginning in the early 1980’s we saw a new breed of fundamentalism, and wasn’t the conservative, Bible-based faith of our fathers and grandfathers. Unlike previous generations, the new and improved fundamentalists were no longer content to wait for the Second Coming. They actually believed that they could create the Kingdom of God here on earth before Christ made his reappearance. In other words, we are dealing with a group of people who truly believe that they have been selected by God, and who consequently believe that anyone and everyone who refuses to accept their very narrow interpretation of the King James Bible is a part of a Satanic plot.

And if you think that’s bad, just hold on, because it’s about to get a hell of a lot worse.

These people quite literally believe that they have been chosen to prepare the way for Christ. In their warped theology, they have a sacred duty to transform America into, a Christian Republic, a Global American Empire which will spread their decadent, hate-filled Gospel across the face of the earth. This became all too aparent in the days after George W. Bush was elected as President in the year 2000, when Pat Robertson resigned as the head of the Christian Coalition and changed the name of his university to the Regent University.

By now you may well be asking, “So what has that got to do with anything? How does this affect my every day life?" The answers are both complicated and yet obvious.

Radical Right Wing Christians genuinely believe that they should be training a Christian cadre that will eventually rule a Christian Republic here at home, and quite possibly, an American Christian Empire abroad. They truly believe that we are approaching the End of Days and that America will be dominated by a series of twelve Regents who will rule the earth (or at least the United States) until such time as Christ decides to make his last and most impressive appearance.

And now for the weird part: Some poor, deluded souls actually believe that George W. Bush is the first of these so called Regents.

So what’s the problem? Why does this movement represent such a threat?

Think about it.

This wild-eyed pack of self-appointed moralists has come to believe that they have been selected by God and that everyone else is a servant of the Anti-Christ. When you strip away the religious rhetoric you find an intensely paranoid and hate-filled movement which is essentially fascist in its world view and overall attitude towards dissidents in general. In many ways the present group of Millenialists or Dominionists or whatever else you choose to call them, are a direct outgrowth of right wing extremist groups such as the old Anti-Communist League, the John Birch Society, and the Ku Klux Klan, the last of which had chaplains for each of its local chapters. Not surprisingly, the ultimate goal is to create a parallel government which will gradually strangle out the government that was established by the Founding Fathers in 1787. To that end we see "Faith-Based Initiatives," which, for all intents and purposes, are designed to replace everything from state and federal social services, to public education, to the very legal system which protects the rights of both the religious majority and the religious minority. Often touted as a sincere effort to “help people,” faith –based initiatives are, in fact, designed first and foremost to weaken the power of the federal and state governments. Indeed, we already have an alternate media in the form of Christian Broadcasting which effectively issolates the every day "Christian" follower from the debate that is taking place within the corporate-owned mainstream press. In other words, they can see and listen to what ever lies and propaganda the Spin Masters on the (Radical Christian) Right want to spread as the truth and they won't ever know the difference.

It is no accident that Pat Robertson’s Regent University is operating both, law and journalism schools for future Christian leaders in a proverbial Christian Reich. Moreover, the intense effort by Carl Rove and his merry band of Bible-thumping fanatics to dismantle church-state separation and to smear any and all nonbelivers as unpatriotic, antichristian, or unamerican, is not an accident either, The Domionists, really do have a chilling overall objective, which, as I stated earlier, is to overtthrow the present government and to replace the Constitution with a Creationism, Social Dawrwinism, and a literal interpretation of the King James Bible.

In short, when you peal away the phony religious rhetoric, you end up with nothing less than good old fashioned totalitarianism; the same kind that this country went to war against in World War II. The only difference, is that American Fascists, instead of wearing swastikas and SS uniforms, are now wearing crosses and every day street clothing. And the "good" news is that their only enemies are: Jews; Muslims; human secularists; gays, lesbians, agnostics, atheists; “nominal,” mainstream Christians, and just about anyone else who is either brave or foolish enough to cross their theocratic path. And when you're dealing with a totalitarian mindset like that, discussion, debate, and compromise become the theo-political equivalents of heresey. That's an awefully dangerous belief in a representative Republic such as the United States, because American government was founded on compromise and continues to function on compromise.

In many ways the idea that we need to establish a Reich-Wing Regency while we wait for Christ to return, is a disturbing blend of both, fascism and communism. As some of you may recall, certain Marxist theories actually maintained that a given nation would have to go through a period of dictatorship before the proverbial workers paradise could be achieved here on earth. Now flash forward to the year 2005. Today we have the Radical Christian Right telling us that we'll have to go through a divinely-inspired, dictatorship before Christ will come back to establish his Kingdom. You have to give the Radical Christian Right credit--only they could embrace the worst aspects of both, fascism and communism. Which makes me wonder: Doesn't their delusional dream for the future sound more like the reign of The Anti-Christ than the reign of anything even remotely divine?

I didn’t think it was possible, but on Fascist Sinday, every loose nut, pseudo patriot, and Apostate from Hell was given the freedom to rant and rave (often hysterically) about individuals or groups that he or she had chosen to single out for unsrestrained hatred. Historically speaking this is how fascist mvements operate. They exploit our fears; play on our emotions through pageantry and symbolism. Their time-tested tactics worked for The Duce, Paul Josef Goebbels, and his beloved Fuhrer, and they seem to be working just as well for Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Tony Perkins, and James Dobson as well.

And the thing that "amuses" me to no end, is the fact that these people really do believe that they are Christians. They really do believe that they are doing God's will. Despite the fact that Christ never harmed another living being during his time here and earth; despite his pleas for peace, love, and forgiveness, and turning the other cheek, they really do believe Christ was a warrior. Despite the fact that Jesus Christ refused the temptation of political and temporal power while he walked on earth, the Radical Christian Right craves political, temporal power in the same disgusting manner in which a heroin addict craves the next fix. Despite the fact that Christ himself never hoarded material wealth and often consorted with the poor and repressed the Radical Christian Right truly believes that if you are poor you are somehow not right with God--a belief which stems less from The Bible than from the often bizarre rantings of John Calvin.

It seems to me that the Radical Christian Right, or the Fundamentalists, or the Millenialists, or the Dominionists--or whatever to hell you want to call them--have only succeeded in bastardizing the Deity that they so shallowly claim to love and adore. Through a delusional process of historical revision they have transformed our secular Constitution into a Theocratic blue print. Through outright prevarication they have distorted the King James Bible into a Gospel of Hate. Or to be glib they have beaten their crosses into swastikas and their ploughshares into scimiatars.

And it's about time that we took their demented world view a little more seriously.

"For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect."Mark 13:22 (King James Edition)