The radical right in America is rising with the force of a tsunami — and threatens to be just as destructive. Using feel-good catch phrases like “protecting American families” (who wouldn’t want that?) and “defending freedom”, the new Christian right is riding on a wave of media euphoria where even its most extreme, unelectable candidates and demagogue pundits are injecting terrifying new voices into American political discourse.
Like Bryan Fischer from the American Family Association.
Not content with calling for a moratorium on mosque construction, Fischer ventured into scary territory (audio) this week on NPR:
“The country needs to…be brought back to the same cultural and social values of the founding fathers…The Tea Party movement…they’re not going to be able to claim the mantle of the founding fathers unless they affirm that morality and religion are indispensible supports of political prosperity.”
Really? We need to be brought back to the 1800s? When Thomas Jefferson himself proposed the country’s sodomy law, saying “whosoever shall be guilty of…Sodomy with man or woman shall be punished, if a man, by castration, if a woman, by cutting [through] the cartilage of her nose a hole of one half inch diameter at the least.”? We want to go back to “states’ rights” meaning women can lose the right to vote (as they did in every state but New Jersey by 1787)? (We’re not even going to talk about what “state’s rights” can mean for minorities.) When Abigail Adams asked that equitable laws for women should go into the new legal system for the republic, John Adams replied that he refused to be subjected to the “despotism of the petticoat”, saying “we know better than to repeal our masculine systems”.
An often-repeated line on the radical right, when speaking about “radical Islam”, is that Muslim nations have horrible records with human rights – pointing to the barbaric executions of gays by hanging in Iran, and of female genital mutilation in African Muslim nations. While these are true and repulsive accounts of blatant abuses of humanity, what would a radical Christian regime in America do? I mean, Michelle Bachmann herself is connected to a ministry which has called executing gay people ‘moral‘ — when confronted with a radical Muslim group who wanted to carry out such laws in America!
Strictly from a Scriptural perspective, to quote human-administered “Biblical penalties” for homosexuality is, by definition, taking the verse out of context — ancient death penalties were conferred by panels of 71 judges who operated according to strict laws of court procedure and jurisprudence, not the freestyle theology and nebulous “morality” we hear here. One would have had to fulfill many conditions to qualify as a witness even before testifying, and even then, there was a long judicial process from “I saw this sin” to “their blood is upon them” (Leviticus).
Enter Christine O’Donnell, who just picked up the win in the Delaware primary for the upcoming midterm elections. Known for her vocal statements against masturbation, she has now called for “sexual purity”, saying that women who watch porn are not “sexually pure”. Sharron Angle said that if a girl is raped by her father and gets pregnant, she should carry the baby to term.
I don’t want to legislate halacha (Jewish Law). I’m not trying to make America into a halachic state. New York State has recognized Jewish divorces (gittin) and various states have definitions of “kosher” (which, in my opinion, are unequivocally good things), but very few Orthodox Jews would really want to morph the U.S. Code into the Shulchan Aruch. And I don’t think that legislating Sharia Law in America is on the agenda of anyone but the most extreme. However, the radical Christianist Right is trying to legislate its views (based on its version of “what the Bible says”) on how millions of Americans should lead their daily lives. No one wants to live in an immoral society. We all would like to live in an America which adheres to some sort of ethical code. However, the radical Christianist Right is saying, “our interpretation of our Holy Book should decide how everyone in this land’s life is lived” – a claim not unlike that of Saudi Arabia or the Taliban’s Afghanistan.
In this sense, the threat posed to our current way of life by radical Christianity is as real and as imminent as that posed by any radical Islamist. Probably even with similar death tolls — if not in the regime itself, then in the transition to such a regime. Like Lizz Winstead said on MSNBC responding to Glenn Beck’s lunatic warning of “violence from the Left”, those of us who oppose their Christian Talibanization of America are so apathetic at this point, we border on pathetic. We need to get motivated. Because change does not just happen because of an election result.