Nel's New Day

October 15, 2017

Right v. Left in Religion

For almost a year, people have questioned how Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) could have 80 percent of the evangelical support to be elected U.S. president. He is a serial womanizer, divorced twice, married three times, brags about sexually assaulting women, and finds his biological daughter sexually attractive. (In addition, he’s autocratic, violent, vain, impulsive, and ignorant—but that may fit the evangelical lifestyle.)

A reason for evangelical support of DDT is that he can deliver what they want in turning the nation back to fundamentalist Christians. That support was evident last week when he began to make contraception illegal and came out against LGBTQ rights. A stronger reason for the evangelical belief in DDT, however, is that he shares their values. Money and wealth are gauges of human value and worth in the “prosperity gospel” as the rich are God’s “elect.” DDT promotes racism and white supremacy in accord with fundamentalist Christianity while he works to destroy the nation’s social safety net.

Background for these values is the DDT’s dogmatic approach, also in accord to fundamentalists. Dogmatic people are less skilled in analytical thinking and less likely to view situations from a variety of perspectives. Therefore, they believe that facts are “fake” unless they follow their personal beliefs. Dogmatic people are far less likely to believe in science because of their lack of understanding and their refusal to consider anything outside their narrow understanding. Politics for conservatives have now become a religious fundamentalism. They operate on faith in both arenas, clinging to beliefs that cannot be proven through empirical means.

Last week, the “Awaken the Dawn” rally filled the Washington National Mall with worship music and prayer in a three-day event. The organizer, Independent Network Charismatic (INC), has held other events, for example one in Houston where former Texas governor Rick Perry and current Secretary of Energy, prayed for rain. The “apostles” of INC have close links other U.S. politicians such as Newt Gingrich, Bobby Jindal, and DDT.

Instead of building churches, INC builds networks through media, conferences, and education for its control. The goal is to put their believers into all of society’s powerful positions. The fastest-growing Christian group in the nation increased 3.24 percent a year from 1970 to 2010 while Protestant church attendees dropped by 0.05 percent each of those years when the nation’s population was annually growing by 1 percent.

An appeal of INC for young people are impromptu supernatural healing sessions in a hospital ER room, the casting out of demonic spirits in ministry school classes, and teams in public places to relay divine messages. Instead of creating congregations and joining people in worship services, INC wants heaven, God’s perfect society, on Earth through their leadership control of the “seven mountains of culture”: business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, family, and religion.

INC believers in DDT’s administration—including Rick Perry, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and Secretary of HUD Ben Carson—are part of the plan.

Evangelicals have become more and more obsessed with collecting money as James Hudnut-Beumler wrote in his book, In Pursuit of the Almighty’s Dollar: A History of Money and American Protestantism. The first automated teller machine (ATM) was installed in a London church 50 years ago to add to the alms boxes (alms for the poor) in the back of churches. Evangelical churches added the ATMs to their churches to increase donations a dozen years. Donations went from $100,000 the first year to double that the second year in an 18-percent increase over pre-ATM times. The next step was the “automatic tithing machine” that deducted cash from the giver’s account to move it directly into that of the church. The church’s argument for giving this money is that it frees the donor. The money becomes sacred.  The givers, though, can’t use credit cards because it’s not the same; the sanctuary requires cash.

The “prosperity gospel” includes committing fraud. The founder of the Word of Faith Fellowship in North Carolina, currently being investigated for enslaving foreign believers after luring them to the U.S., is encouraging members to file fraudulent unemployment claims to keep tithing and giving to the “church.” Jane Whaley told contractor Randy Fields that this fraud is “God’s plan” after he asked to cut back on his tithing after his business was in trouble. Fields said that several other members and fellowship employees committed fraud because of Whaley’s demands. The false claims may be provided the church hundreds of thousands of dollars during the past six years. A church member also led 30 parishioners to attack and beat a gay church member to “expel his demons.”

DDT’s war on athletes protesting racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem follows the beliefs of fundamentalist Christianity. Pastor Allen Joyner of the Sweet Home Baptist Church, who announces football games at McKenzie High School (Alabama), told his crowd that anyone who didn’t stand for the national anthem should “line up over there by the fence and let our military personnel take a few shots AT you.” The school denounced his statement, but his church supported the belief.  Joyner has resigned from his volunteer position at the high school.

Evangelism of personal piety from over a century ago has been replaced by Christian Reconstructionism that tries to control all the Earth and eradicate any secular, humanist society. All non-fundamentalists will be silenced, imprisoned, or killed, and the mission of government is to protect property and wage war. Churches, in charge of social welfare, can deny help to the poor, and people can be executed for “moral crimes.” The United States is well on its way to this philosophy: almost 40 percent believe in creationism, and almost one-third are evangelical Christians. Only God can save evangelicals, who must overcome all others in any way possible. People in the evangelical movement consider themselves victims of all the “others”—racial, religious, etc.

While the religious right seems to be taking over, the “religious left” is not sitting back. Progressive faith leaders are not only opposing DDT’s actions in supporting his “values voters” but also opening their worship places and even homes to undocumented immigrants risking DDT’s deportations. Growing more nervous about the movement, the religious conservatives are attempting to discredit and condemn the Religious Left. Last July, Fox network treated one of the left’s leaders, Rev. William Barber II, after he accused right-wing pastors of hypocrisy, that their actions constituted “a form of theological malpractice bordering on heresy.” When Linda Sarsour called on her fellow Muslims to a nonviolent “jihad” for social justice against DDT, Fox joined other conservative media to accuse her remarks as “terror.” (Jihad means a spiritual struggle against evil.)

In addition to attacking individuals, conservative media claims that progressivism and religion are not compatible. Cal Thomas, vice president of the Moral Majority from 1980 to 1985, blame declines in church affiliation on liberal people of faith who engage in politics. Mark Tooley, head of the right-wing Institute of Religion and Democracy, described the “Christian left” as “unreflective.” The National Review claimed the Democratic Party is actively hostile to religion.

Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons theorizes that the religious right is killing religious belief in the United States. He writes that the same percentage of people unaffiliated with religion—97 percent—believed in God in 2014 and 2007. The reason for declining church membership, according to Graves-Fitzsimmons:

“Americans aren’t rejecting God, they’re rejecting harmful religion….

“Religion in America looks little like the Golden Rule and much more like Westboro Baptist Church.”

The reason for withdrawal from organized religion is that the religious right has established themselves “as the only legitimate religious voice.” The media incessantly reports on their activism so it appears to be the only religion. The rejection of people for fundamentalist Christianity furthers the belief that it is the only Christian belief. Progressive Christians then shy away from being identified with religion because of its negative perspective from conservatives.

“Progressive people of faith have been on the front lines of the racial justice, environmental justice and immigration justice movements,” writes Graves-Fitzsimmons. The media no longer views these movements as Christian in the way that they view anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-women’s rights.

The right-wing group in religion and all other matters proudly call themselves “conservatives,” but they are the opposite from this philosophy. Conservation is preserving natural resources and heritage. Yet today’s conservatives are determined to destroy the planet, history, and human rights. They should be called destructionists.

1 Comment »

  1. I’ve been confused for a while about the conservative Christians supporting Trump, and all I can think of is that they must love money more than they love their “morality.”

    Like

    Comment by eurobrat — October 15, 2017 @ 8:50 PM | Reply


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