Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Christian Right in America Want "Special" Treatment

In an article published January 3rd on, Paul Rosenburg wrote about the Christian right's delusions of persecution.  First, he pointed out that the only way the Christian right could think they are being persecuted in the U.S. is if they think most Christians aren't really Christians.  In other words, Christian dominance of America in most ways is so obvious that he can feel marginalized only by thinking that other Christians aren't really Christian.  There may be some truth to that, but I think there is a more insidious explanation.  Rosenburg comes close to what I think is going on when he points out that the pervasive dominance of Christianity in American life doesn't make the Christian right feel "special" enough.  They want more.

Rosenburg is right that their complaints are all about the needs of their egos, but he misses the point that, even though their religion is clearly dominant in the U.S., they are deeply disturbed by the fact that it isn't dominant enough.  What they want is theocracy with blasphemy laws and the usual accoutrements that come with it.  In fact, Rosenburg was responding to an article written by one of the most far right Christian nationalists, Gary Bauer, otherwise known as "scary Gary" because of his extreme views, who was lamenting the fact that Christians don't get the "respect" in the U.S. that Muslims get.

Bauer's point is a bit laughable and reveals an incredible obtuseness--or, rather, an incredible self-centeredness.  The U.S. is dominated by Christians--constantly bullying any other Americans who don't agree with them.  Muslims who come here are like guests in our homes--we make an extra effort to be polite because of that dynamic.  Bauer thinks this is because of their religion rather than their status as guests.  He also thinks that his religion should elevate him to a higher status even in his own country.  Apparently, it's not enough to simply be dominant; he wants "special" treatment, too.

One of the most insightful observations made by Rosenburg was this:
"Thus, for example, we have a "Christian right" that revolves around two issues about which Christ never spoke a recorded word--abortion and homosexuality--while being intensely hostile to the welfare of the "least among these", about whom Christ spoke constantly.  The more deeply self-contradictory their "Christianity" becomes, the more tightly the cling to it, and the more they distrust other Christians who may not see things their way. This is what tribes do.  It is how they reshape whatever comes to hand--the Bible, the Constitution, American history, whatever--to serve the purposes of the tribe."
There are a couple of very good points in this observation.  First, Rosenburg has noticed the extent to which religion, especially Christianity, is an expression of the believers' Freudian anal retentive complexes.  They are obsessed with power, authority, and controlling their private parts--and everyone else's.  That is why Christianity today is so obsessed with abortion and homosexuality--to the exclusion of Christ's actual message.  In fact, they are actually hostile to Christ's actual message because actually following his teachings would require them to give up power.

Second, he is pointing out the extent to which their delusion becomes all pervasive, not only touching upon everything in their lives but twisting their perception of everything so that it serves their need for power and dominance--even their religion itself.  The fact that the needs of their egos causes believers to twist their own religion is not surprising, given that it exists for that purpose in the first place.  The problem, as Rosenburg points out, is the extent to which the religious will twist objective facts to serve the same purpose.

A person who will twist the facts to serve his ego and ambition is a person capable of anything because, as I pointed out before, at least twice, a willingness to be dishonest undermines all morality.

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