The antagonists are none other than those who claim to be the innocent victims of this “war;” those of the Christian conservative movement. Not all, but a small but very vocal minority who seem to be telling everyone else, “We are being threatened by those godless atheists and Muslims, and we are defenseless.”
Those words, however, have a caveat – “We’re right and you’re wrong. Remember that and you will be saved from eternal damnation and our temporal wrath.”
One can go back to the beginning of the Christian era when all non-Roman religious groups were persecuted. This included Jews, Christians and other religions of the Palestine. Like the Holocaust was not limited to the six-million Jews but included another six-million that the NAZI party deemed subhuman, the new Christians were not alone being persecuted, tortured or killed because of their beliefs in the 2 century, C.E.
Fast forward to the new nation of the United States and the mid-term elections of 1798. It was here that both the two party system was born and negative advertising in was first used in American politics. By the election of 1800, the two-party system was established and the religiosity of both Adams and Jefferson was deeply questioned.
Partisan newspapers, much like today’s FoxNews and MSNBC, supported their candidates with often misleading or incorrect information. Some even lied! (Unbelievable.)
Each would speculate on the opposed candidate’s ability to govern based on their religion alone. It was this speculation and lies concerning Adam’s “Christian beliefs” and that “atheist” Jefferson that was meant for the ears and eyes of the constituents.
Nothing has changed in 212-years since, except the speed the religious accusations spread via the Internet, and the availability to partisan Web sites, as well as those of extremists and conspiracy mongers.
Allow me to use Rick Santorum as an example. In 2008, Santorum spoke to the students and faculty Ava Maria University. About Ava Maria, from their Web site;
The Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Florida, established Ave Maria University as a Catholic University according to the guidelines of the Code of Canon Law. The recognition of Ave Maria University as a Catholic University is granted upon the University’s commitment to continue to be guided by the teachings of the Catholic Church and faithfulness to the apostolic constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae. [From the Heart of the Church.]
“If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age? There is no one else to go after.”
On February 22, 2012 ABC reported that “Rick Santorum has said that… President Obama has a ‘phony theology’ – a statement Santorum’s spokeswoman later said was directed at Obama’s ‘radical Islamic policies’.” If it were not for the new technologies of communication, most Americans would never have known this.
Earlier in February responding to the President’s announcement concerning the availability of contraceptives via group health insurance policies, Santorum said that Mr. Obama was “trampling on a constitutional right,” that he was “imposing his ideology on a group of people expressing their theology, their moral code.”
But it is the headlines concerning Santorum’s use of religion as both a political propaganda tool and as a qualifier for the Office of the President that caught my attention, via Think Progress. Though they do define themselves as “non-partisan,” they are also very proud that they were voted as the “Best Liberal Blog, in the 2006 Weblog Awards and chosen as an Official Honoree in the 2009 Webby awards.”
Alongside the contraception issue, women’s rights versus religious rights, and renewed suspicions of Obama’s religion (is he a Muslim) or place of birth (anywhere but in the United States), this becomes yet another battlefield that appears to be designed by those claiming to be attacked.
But this war is not a “fake war.” It is very real, at least in the minds of those who believe that their religion, the core of their beliefs, are being threatened by outside forces.
Kenneth Miller in his ground breaking Finding Darwin’s God: A scientist’s search for common ground between God and evolution, speaks to this very problem.
In his opening chapter, Miller suggests that the various scientific discoveries made over the last two millennium have shaken the very foundation of the Christian beliefs; that man and Earth were the center of the universe, that other planets had moons, that the sun was the center of our own solar system, culminating in the mid-1800s with Darwin’s “threat” of the very existence of God by showing that nature, through her own affairs is responsible for all that we see and are. God was not needed.
This is one of the primary reasons why Darwin’s The Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection; or, the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life was banned, dismissed, negated, or otherwise discredited. Even today, the theory of evolution is being attacked by Christian-conservatives, who favor creationism in its various forms and incarnations, though science continues to find that Darwin was right.
Any threat to the status quo becomes a threat to the closed societies that believe otherwise. It becomes an emotional issue, one that is deeply engrained into our belief systems; that there is no absolute truth except the “One truth of our true God.”
By elevating the War on Religion to a new height, the Christian conservative movement is using the very fear mongering that keeps their congregations lock-step. The fear that they are the only ones being persecuted, that they are the only ones who know “the truth,” and that they are the only ones their God will bless after death.
And if a member of the “true belief” leaves the fold for whatever reason, their immediate punishment is that of eternal damnation in the depths of Hell, or abandoned in Purgatory with no means to escape.
To paraphrase President George W. Bush, you’re for Jesus or against Jesus. That if you fall into the latter, you have become “them” and “they” are the enemy.
To Christians, this is a war about the survival of their religion. It does not matter if their belief is right or wrong, myth or real, or even being misinterpreted by their high priests.
For me, it is watching deeply indoctrinated Christian conservatives, not all mind you, but a vocal few, violating their own religious moral of peace and acceptance. It is these same Christians who seek vengeance instead of mercy and forgiveness.
This is the same persecution that many Christian, Jews and others came to the New World to escape. Yet we seem to be completing the circle with one religious order seeking to dominate all others through threats, intimidation and propaganda.
David Rosman’s newest book, A Christian Nation? An examination of Christian nation theories and proofs is now available through Amazon.com in paperback or eBook versions.
You can invite David to speak to your group or organization. For more information, please contact him at Speaker@InkandVoice.com