I’m neither against religion, nor am I against Christianity, or Islam as religious faiths. While I’m a Jew by predilection and heritage, nevertheless I consider myself a Deist in the same sense as most of the Founding Fathers of this nation. What I am against and what I must admit rouses me to anger, are fundamentalists of all religious beliefs. The problem with religious fundamentalist beliefs, as it has played out in this world since the 18th Century, has been that it has caused a reign of death, destruction and human misery in its wake. Whenever humans believe that their particular beliefs are the only correct way to see the world and that all beliefs conflicting with theirs are evil, then inevitably conflict due to intolerance follows. This obviously arises because “true believers” will seek to impose their vision on all of their particular society, seeing non-believers as uninformed, or just plain evil. Christian Reconstructionists for instance, “advocate a theocratic government and libertarian economic principles. They maintain a distinction of spheres of authority between family, church, and state. For example, the enforcement of moral sanctions under theonomy is carried out by the family and church government, and sanctions for moral offenses are outside the authority of civil government (which is limited to criminal matters, courts and national defense). However, these distinctions become blurred, as the application of theonomy typically increases the authority of the civil government; prominent advocates of Christian Reconstructionism have written that according to their understanding, God’s law approves of the death penalty not only for murder, but also for propagators of all forms of idolatry, active homosexuals, adulterers, practitioners of witchcraft, and blasphemers, and perhaps even recalcitrant youths.
This movement was founded by a man named Rousas Rushdoony, Rushdoony’s parents were Armenian immigrants who had fled the 1915 Armenian Genocide by the Turkish government. Like Ayn Rand, whose parents fled the Russian Revolution this child of immigrants developed a lifelong distrust of government. The difference was that Rushdoony came from a family that had produced members of the Christian ministry for a claimed 1,700 years, so his choice was for Christian Fundamentalism, while Rand chose Atheism. Both though eschewed Democracy.
While some claim that the Christian Reconstructionist movement’s influence has waned in recent years and many on the Christian Right deny any influence by the Reconstructionists, others including me see them as the basis of Christian Fundamentalist thought in the U.S. and its connection with Right Wing politics. An article at Alternet: How a Fringe Theocratic Movement Helped Shape the Religious Right As We Know It is the result of an interview by Sarah Posner, with the author of “Building God’s Kingdom,” Julie Ingersoll. It begins this way:
“Christian Reconstructionism is a twentieth-century theo-political movement whose influence—on the contemporary religious right, in particular—is little understood. Moreover, when Reconstructionism does come up in public conversation it is often in the context of some of its most extreme (and alarming) tenets: think biblical defense of slavery, the stoning of homosexuals.”
The article shows how Reconstructionist thought has influenced the Right Wing Christian movements in this country by providing certain theological concepts that have resonated with the Fundamentalist Right. I say “Fundamentalist” because there is a similarity of belief that runs through all fundamentalist thought whether Christian, Jewish, or Moslem. These main concepts provided by Rushdoony are:
- “Christian Reconstructionists argue that the Bible must govern every aspect of life. In their framework, known as “jurisdictional authority” or “sphere sovereignty,” God delegates biblical authority to three distinct, and severely limited, spheres of “government.” There is family government, ecclesiastical (church) government, and civil government, each with its own authority and sphere of legitimate influence.”
- “In this view, education is entirely within the purview of the family government, not civil government. Reconstructionists believe public education and even regulation of private education by the civil government violates biblical law.”
- “Reconstructionists believe that economic activity is a function of the family’s call to dominion, economic regulation by the government is considered unbiblical—a fundamental tenet of what is known as biblical economics.”
- “Reconstructionists do not seek to unite church and state but they do seek to bring the civil government under biblical authority. In fact, they seek the complete transformation of every aspect of culture to bring it into alignment with what they believe the Bible teaches.”
- “A Reconstructionist would say that the very permissibility of same-sex marriage is a violation of the religious liberty of Christians who oppose it.”
You can see in those five beliefs bulleted above from the Alternet article, the framework of what we see today in the broad Christian Fundamentalist Movement and its increasing inter-relationship with Republican Party and their corporate sponsors.
In the United States we have seen a merger between those of Fundamentalist faith, with wealthy corporatism and right wing political activists. I believe that if unchecked the political activism of the Christian Fundamentalists will transform this country into a rigid repressive society and dis-empower its citizens. We see the repression of societies like Saudi Arabia and Iran as the result of Islamic Religious Fundamentalism. We see the impact of Jewish Religious Fundamentalism on Israel and we have seen it warp the political process in the United States. It makes me angry and impels me to speak out against it.
What follows are three examples from current news stories concerning the right wing Christian Fundamentalist movement in this country. They all display the destructive, medieval beliefs, characteristic of this movement, which return us from modernity to ignorance. The first of these stories concern sexual advice being given to “Christian” couples. To my mind it reflects not only a medieval view of women that belongs to the biblical era, but also is actually destructive to the institution of marriage itself and may well explain the reason that America’s Bible Belt consistently has the highest rates of divorce in this country.
“A website that gives sex advice to married Christians argues that women can never give their spouses “a flat no” when asked for sex because “her body does belong to her husband.”
The anonymous founder of the Biblical Gender Roles website, who says he is a white male in his 40s, came under fire earlier this month after he wrote an article titled, “Is a husband selfish for having sex with his wife when she is not the mood?”
“Feminists and even some women who would not consider themselves feminists believe it is selfish for a man to have sex with his wife, knowing she is not in the mood,” the writer explains. “In fact some claim if a man has sex with his wife when she is not the mood this is rape… Here we will try to answer this very important question, from a Biblical perspective.”
Although the author insists that he would not advocate “for a husband to force himself physically upon his wife,” he says that “a Christian wife should never give her husband a flat no, BUT she can humbly and gently ask for a delay.”
And any request for a delay “must be done humbly and respectfully, and always with the attitude in mind that her body does belong to her husband.” Here.
Not only is this “marital advice” sheer nonsense reflecting an antediluvian view of women being subservient to men, but it is destructive to the very institution, marriage, that it purports to serve. It puts a premium on “male sexual urges” and discounts any sexuality that women may have. My guess is that the only marriage situations where this would be workable would be one where the sexual preference of both partners would be the sexual fetish of domination/submission. However, even among those whose preference is for D/S, the mainstream view is that both partners equally agree to run their sex life in that manner and that bespeaks choice, not biblical fiat.
In the second news story I would present to you as evidence of the excesses of Christian Fundamentalism comes from deep in the heart of one of the most deranged States in our Union, Texas. It has to do with a Dallas Megachurch and a couple where the husband has been discovered to be a pedophile. This “Church of God” threatened to “discipline” the woman if she filed for an annulment of her marriage:
“A Dallas megachurch has backed off and issued an apology to a former member of the church who was placed “under discipline” by church elders who believed she was acting hastily when she sought an annulment from her pedophile husband.
According to Crosswalk, Karen Hinkley (formerly Root) and her husband Jordan were recalled from their missionary service in South Asia by the Dallas-based Village Church after Jordan confessed that he had viewed online pornography involving children
Upon returning to the U.S., the church turned the information they had on Jordan Root over to the police who, in turn, turned it over to the FBI which later declined to prosecute him. In addition to withdrawing financial support for Root, the church restricted him to certain portions of their Dallas campus — keeping him away from all youth activities — while he undergoes “a season of intentional pastoral care” in an attempt to get right with God again.
While the church said they would continue to financially support Karen Hinkley through August of this year, church elders were disappointed that she wanted to have her marriage to Jordan annulled and felt she was acting hastily.
In an email sent to “Covenant Members” of the church, Pastor Matt Chandler lamented the fact that she filed for annulment
“We have reached out to love and support her during this time, but unfortunately she has chosen not to accept our attempts to care for her and provide counsel. Instead, Karen limited her communication with The Village and has now stopped responding entirely,” he wrote. “This began less than four weeks after Karen’s return to the US when she filed for an immediate annulment of her marriage to Jordan apart from the counsel of the church and requested to be placed back in the mission field. We encouraged Karen to slow down and allow us to walk with her in a season of healing before making these life-altering decisions, but she declined to take this step.”
Chandler added, “Karen’s decision to pursue immediate annulment, to decline an attempt of reconciliation, to disregard her Membership Covenant and pastoral counsel, and to break fellowship with the body has led her into formal church discipline.” Here.
This woman missionary discovers during their mission to preach Christianity that her husband is sexually aroused by children. This could definitely cause strife in a “Christian” marriage. She eschews pastoral counseling for reconciling with her husband and files for an annulment. The church elders threaten her for having the temerity to not follow their methodology and only when this becomes public, decide they might have happened hastily. To me this case instantly reminded me of the Duggar Family and their efforts to try to cover up the incestuous pedophilia of their oldest son. In fact here is another story with malodorous whiffs of Duggars:
“On “The Kelly File” of FOXNews some months ago , host Megyn Kelly and Fox News media analyst Howard Kurtz attacked the “liberal media” for trying to link the Duggar family to the Republican Party in order “to score cheap political points.”
The pair accused Duggar critics of making hay of the situation, even as the web has been peppered with photos of accused child molester Josh — formerly of the anti-LGBT lobbying group FRC Action — canoodling with the 2016 Republican presidential candidates. Furthermore, Duggar family patriarch Jim Bob, ran for the Arkansas state senate as a Republican in 2002.
The segment began, however, as an advertisement for Kelly’s upcoming interview with the family. In a statement, the family said that they would speak to Kelly in order to “share our hearts with you about the pain that we walked through as a family twelve years ago, the tears we all shed and the forgiveness that was given.”
After playing a clip from “The View” in which the panelists applauded Fox News for sending Kelly to interview the Duggars because she is “tough but fair,” Kelly said that while she’ll “take that reputation…this isn’t going to be a cross-examination of a family, it’s going to be an interview.”
“She said that she merely wants what America does — to hear the Duggars’ side of the story. “What’s remarkable to me,” she said, “is how many in the media have handled it, from jumping from ‘they’re the worst, a house of horror, sick, sick sick’ to this woman on CNN trying to make this the problem of the Republican presidential field.” Here.
Recently of course we have the Ashly Madison website for those searching for partners in infidelity being hacked and it seems Josh Duggar had not one, but two Ashly Madison accounts: “Josh duggar’s Ashly Madison Problem”
First of all these paragons of Christian purity, the Duggar Family, allowed their oldest son to sexually abuse his younger female siblings and their reaction to it was to send him to live with a man later exposed to be a pedophile himself. They used their Republican political prominence in Arkansas to cover up their son’s crimes. However, this is FOX News, the Republican propaganda station, and so Megan Kelly wants us to know that all she wants is to give the Duggar’s side of the story and also to distance them from the Republican Party, when in truth father Duggar was a Republican politician and the family has worked for the party for years.
My last story also concerns the Duggars and their persistent opposition to equality for the LBGT community, as counter imposed with their own issue of protecting Josh Duggar. It calls them out on their dangerous hypocrisy:
“The rhetoric of religious freedom and the ‘war on Christianity’ — so often used as a justification for discrimination against LGBTQ people — has nothing to do with religion or faith. While it is painted to look like an argument for the freedom of conscience, it is a medieval attempt by a group of people with money and power to assert control. How do I know this? Just ask yourself how many times right-wing ‘religious freedom’ activists stood up for the rights of Muslims. Oh, wait, you can’t remember the last time that happened? Is it because the people who shamelessly claim to be victims are the same who opposed the Ground Zero mosque? Or burned Qurans? Or sponsored armed rallies in which white people gleefully resisted radical Islamists by drawing racist cartoons of Mohamed? Or created and fostered the idea that our president was a Muslim, with no other evidence beside his skin color and his father’s country of origin?
Or, let’s look at the story of Josh Duggar. Multiple Republican presidential hopefuls were photographed with Duggar, as far as I know these all happened before the story of his molestations broke. To be fair, these candidates take pictures with an insane number of people. Also, I would note that conservatives from the CNN commentator Ben Ferguson to Rick Santorum have made strong statements repudiating Duggar. But the condemnation of Daggar’s actions by conservatives does not negate their approval of his politics or those of the Family Research Council — a group recognized by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. They are happy to tout the scientifically disproven idea that children are best off with opposite-sex parents. Moreover, Diggar’s story highlights some of the many reason why the United States is growing more tolerant, even among young Republicans, and why conservatives are increasingly desperate to cling to the delusion that they haven’t completely and utterly lost the culture wars.
The Duggar family, the Republican hopefuls and their conservative base like to promote the idea that opposite-sex couplings are required to raising healthy and successful children. They ignore multiple long-term studies that show children are most successful with same-sex parents than with opposite-sex parents. This same talking point — that kids “deserve” a mom and dad in a committed marriage and only an opposite-sex couple can make a “real” family — is echoed by most of the fringe groups these hopefuls pander to and it contributes to the hostile environments that lead to so many LGBTQ teen suicides. While the Duggars encouraged the idea that gay people are somehow morally suspect, inferior or outside of ‘God’s plan,’ they kept their own son’s predatory behavior a secret until after the statute of limitation expired. Perhaps they were trying to protect their child. However, they also succeeded in protecting the family’s brand and the political brand of its patriarch and former member of Arkansas’ House of Representatives. Instead of facing the allegations and granting dignity to Duggar’s victims, they chose to allow his predation to remain hidden and exposed their children and community to the danger that Michelle Duggar would later project onto trans people.”
This insightful article goes on to show the what is really going on with the Duggars and with the Fundamentalist Christian Movement they represent:
“The real question for me, then, is what purpose does condescension and condemnation by the Duggars, conservative pundits and Republican hopefuls serve? It isn’t religious freedom. No one is infringing on the Duggars’ right to worship or free speech. On the other hand, many people who hold similar beliefs don’t run for office or get in front of a camera. This is then about power and control. Their use of their fame as a tool for expanding their platform in the field of politics makes that clear. They could, instead, be drawing attention to our broken foster care and adoption systems, the suffering of starving children here and abroad or bring attention to people suffering under unjust authoritarian regimes. Instead, they’re interested in elections and imposing their conservative social values on public policy.”
This is the essence of danger that these medieval minded Fundamentalists pose to our country and to the World in general. They cloak themselves in religious piety; maintain the pretense that they are highly moral people trying to do good in this world and in fact what they are is moral hypocrites, whose aim is to impose their beliefs on everyone else. They are judgmental, intolerant, bigoted and in the end not representative of their Savior, in fact they represent the antithesis of the teachings of Jesus. Their Christianity has been informed by the beliefs of people who reject the last four hundred years of intellectual and scientific growth. They actually despise the beliefs of our Founding Fathers as the constructed this Republic’s Constitution and have tried to rewrite the history of this country into a vision of medieval, theocratic feudalism.