Right wing religious extremism

… what I’m willing to do, which the mainstream church is not, is to denounce the Christian right as Christian heretics…what they have done is acculturate the worst aspects of American imperialism, capitalism, chauvinism, and violence and bigotry into the Christian religion… I think the great failure of the liberal tradition that I come out of is they were too frightened and too timid to stand up. I don’t know why they spent all the years in seminary if they didn’t realize that when they walked out the door they were going to have to fight for it. And they didn’t fight for it. Chris Hedges on Christian Heretics, Truthdig.com, Nov 2, 2013 -

How Christian Delusions Are Driving the GOP Insane

‘Republicanity’—The GOP Transformation is Nearly Complete By Gary Laderman, ReligionDispatches.com, July 17, 2011   …The Republican Party is no longer a political party—it’s a full-fledged religious movement. The political ideology fueling this movement is religious to the core… it offers an unequivocal command: followers are children who must be obedient in the face of authority.…It is like the most narrow and conservative religious cultures in its absolutist ethical positions and refusal to tolerate any difference of opinion….

How the Unholy Alliance Between the Christian Right and Wall Street Is ‘Crucifying America’

American Theocracy — Clear and Present Dangers by Alan Brinkley, March 20, 2006 by the New York Times

The Reli­gious Right and The Repub­li­can Plat­form, by Lau­ren Feeney, BillMoyers.com, August 31, 2012 — …The forty-year time­line below traces the increased inclu­sion in the plat­form of the lan­guage and ideals of the Reli­gious Right…1976: first men­tion of abortion1976 Fol­low­ing the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade deci­sion, the Repub­li­can plat­form calls for “a posi­tion on abor­tion that val­ues human life.” It also asserts that “Our great Amer­i­can Repub­lic was founded on the prin­ci­ple: One nation under God, with lib­erty and jus­tice for all.”…2012: first men­tion of the “war on reli­gion” 2012 This year, there’s a resur­gence of reli­gious rhetoric and ide­ol­ogy. The party’s plat­form con­tains 10 ref­er­ences to God, 19 ref­er­ences to faith and the first ref­er­ence to a “war on reli­gion.” Cit­ing what it calls the Obama administration’s “attempt to com­pel faith-related insti­tu­tions, as well as believ­ing indi­vid­u­als, to con­tra­vene their deeply held reli­gious, moral, or eth­i­cal beliefs regard­ing health ser­vices, tra­di­tional mar­riage, or abor­tion,” the plat­form accuses “lib­eral elites” of try­ing to “drive reli­gious beliefs — and reli­gious believ­ers — out of the pub­lic square.”

Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party by Juan Gonzalez, Democracy Now! September 5, 2009


The Pundits and the Dominionists by Julie Ingersoll, ReligionDispatches.com, August 26, 2011 …The increase in coverage of the religious right’s longterm strategy to transform American culture has led to a number of responses charging “leftists” with fearmongering… Reconstructionists themselves  hold a view of knowledge that says that there are really only two possible worldviews (a biblical one and a humanist one that comes in several varieties) and that both worldview are in a conflict for dominion (so in their view “we” are fighting for it too)……These broad cultural changes have developed, in part, from a longterm strategy…the most important component of which is the education of children (theirs and insofar as is practical other peoples’ as well). It is not fearmongering, paranoia, or religious bigotry to try to understand their goals and strategies. In fact, it’s irresponsible not to. 

Religion wars

The Spiritual and Political Warfare of the New Religious Right by Bill Berkowitz for Buzzflash at Truthout, July 9, 2013 – As many of the pre-Reagan era Religious Right leaders retire and/or die off, beware of the new breed. Lou Engle is one of the new breed…the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), the charismatic evangelical political and religious movement that he has come to personify, has made such a splash that it threatens to drown out the more traditional voices of the Christian Right.…Rachel Tabachnick wrote in a long essay titled “The Christian Right, Reborn: The New Apostolic Reformation Goes to War,” in the Spring 2013 issue of Political Research Associates’ The Public Eye… “Engle has staged more than 20 similar rallies, and each has attracted tens of thousands of participants to stadiums across the United States. He and his organization have also become deeply involved in U.S. politics, especially in anti choice and antigay organizing,” …What the movement is really after is “to unify evangelical and all Protestant Christianity into a postdenominational structure, bringing about a reformation in the way that churches relate to one other, and in individual churches’ internal governance.” Engle calls for massive “spiritual warfare” that will result in a complete worldwide “political and social transformation”: “The revolution begins, they believe, with the casting out of demons, Tabachnick states…Demonic activity has caused the downfall of society, both at home and abroad. “The sources of demonic activity can include homosexuality, abortion, non-Christian religions, and even sins from the past.” …To achieve its goals, the NAR aims to have its apostles seize control over every important aspect of society, including, the government, military, entertainment industry and education.” If the NAR falls short of world denomination, it intends, as a minimum, to “turn America back to God.”…

Right-Wing Religion’s War on America By Rob Boston

10 Ways Right-Wing Christian Groups Will Likely Shove Religion Down Your Throat This Year By Simon Brown, Church & State Magazine, January 4, 2012

How the Fundamentalist Mind Compels Conservative Christians to Force Their Beliefs on You By Valerie Tarico, AlterNet, March 7, 2012

Why It’s Okay to Criticize Fundamentalist Evangelicals by Tom Eggebeen

Policy wars

How the Religious Right Is Fueling Climate Change Denial

How Pro­pa­gan­dists for the 1% Are Manip­u­lat­ing Chris­t­ian Teach­ings to Rob the Mid­dle Class

With Millions in Assets And Hundreds of Attorneys, Christian Right Is Waging War on the Church-State Wall, By Rob Boston, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, posted on Alternet.org, March 5, 2013 

Christian fundamentalist extremism

The Tragic Story of Christianity: How a Pacifist Religion Was Hijacked by Rabid Warmongering Elites By Gary G. Kohls, Consortium News, January 30, 2012

The Wild Hypocrisy of America’s Conservative Christians By David Sirota, AlterNet.org, April 20, 2012

Group Behind King James Bible Congressional Resolution Thinks Obama Might Be Antichrist by Sarah Posner, Religion Dispatches, April 26, 2011

The Christian Fascists Are Growing Stronger by Chris Hedges, Truthdig.org, June 8, 2012

The Biggest Religious Movement You Never Heard of: Nine Things You Need to Know About Rick Perry’s Prayer Event by Paul Rosenberg, AlterNet, August 6, 2011

End times

Of Course Michele Bachmann Believes the End Times Are Here by Abby Ohlheiser, Atlantic Wire, Oct 7, 2013

The End Times come to prime time by Jeanne Halgren Kilde, StarTribune, April 13, 2005


The Radical Christian Right and the War on Government  by Chris Hedges, TruthDig.com, posted on CommonDreams.org, October 7, 2013

The Values Voter Summit doesn’t own God

In Head and Heart: A History of Christianity in America

The Delu­sional Is No Longer Mar­ginal by Bill Moy­ers, pub­lished as “There Is No Tomorrow” By Bill Moy­ers in the Jan­u­ary 30, 2005 Star­Tri­bune, Min­neapo­lis  -  One of the biggest changes in pol­i­tics in my life­time is that the delu­sional is no longer mar­ginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power… For the first time in our his­tory, ide­ol­ogy and the­ol­ogy hold a monop­oly of power in Wash­ing­ton. The­ol­ogy asserts propo­si­tions that can­not be proven true; ide­o­logues hold stoutly to a world­view despite being con­tra­dicted by what is gen­er­ally accepted as reality.……What has hap­pened to our moral imag­i­na­tion?  The news is not good these days. I can tell you that as a jour­nal­ist I know the news is never the end of the story. The news can be the truth that sets us free — free to fight for the future we want. And the will to fight is the anti­dote to despair, the cure for cyn­i­cism… the capac­ity to see, to feel and then to act as if the future depended on you. Believe me, it does.

AS TEXAS GOES By Gail Collins reviewed by Erica Grieder

New York Times, July 2, 2012

Everything There Is Big, Stereotypes Included  By ERICA GRIEDER

How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda267 pp. Liveright Publishing/W. W. Norton & Company. $25.95.
.“Texas! Amazing, right?” Gail Collins writes midway through her new book about the state. The reader who senses a touch of sarcasm would not be wrong.  Texas is America’s most controversial state, and particularly since Gov. Rick Perry’s ill-fated bid for the Republican presidential nomination last year plenty of people have wanted to take it down a notch.

To its defenders Texas is an economic powerhouse, the only big state that weathered the recession with aplomb, a place where people from all over the world can still pull themselves up by their bootstraps. The critics argue that Texas has managed that by selling itself for parts; the state may have low taxes and lots of jobs, but at a serious cost to its schools, infrastructure and environment.

Ms. Collins, a columnist for The New York Times, is among the critics. Her book, “As Texas Goes… ,” pays particular attention to the state’s staggering inequality, casual embrace of crony capitalism and creaky educational pipeline. These are problems for Texas, of course, but Ms. Collins’s concern is that Texas itself is everyone’s problem. “Personally, I prefer to think that all Americans are in the same boat,” she says. “And Texas has a lot to do with where we’re heading.”

Texas is big, that is, and growing, and powerful. Despite deep-rooted support for states’ rights, Texans have rarely hesitated to lead, either by example or by wriggling into national office. Much of the book is devoted to how its influence has been realized; it was Texans who led America’s push for financial deregulation, who engineered the passage of the No Child Left Behind law, and who entangled us in the occasional war.

A native of the great state of Ohio, Ms. Collins allows that she wasn’t interested in Texas until recently. This is not a writer who’s likely to have been stung by a fire ant recently, or to have followed directions that tell you to stay on the highway for the next 400 miles and turn left at the Dairy Queen. To get up to speed she hit the archives, visited the state and spoke to dozens of Texans — politicians, demographers, activists and historians.

Such a process is bound to be patchy, and so the problem with this book is one that has dogged other outsiders’ accounts: stereotypes about Texas are so strong that they may trump the record.

On the first page Ms. Collins quotes Mr. Perry quoting another governor, Sam Houston, at a 2009 Tea Party rally in Austin: “Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may.” This was the moment, she says, when she became fascinated with Texas. “When Houston made that remark,” she writes, “he was definitely attempting to break away from the country to which Texas was then attached.”

He definitely was not. Houston — who had also been the hero of the Battle of San Jacinto and president of the Republic of Texas — was a leading advocate for the state’s annexation during the nine years that the ramshackle republic was repeatedly rebuffed by Washington. After the annexation was finally muscled through a bitterly divided Congress, Houston became the only Southern governor to oppose secession and left the office rather than serving in the Confederacy, as Ms. Collins notes.

Houston was complaining that Texas’s interests were getting short shrift in the wake of the Mexican-American War. His point wasn’t that Texas might leave the United States because its rights were under attack. His point was that Texas had rights because it was part of the United States.

Mr. Perry might not have put it that way, but his argument was similar. Every time writers suggest that he was actually calling for secession, as Ms. Collins does, they’re doing him a favor. He’s been using the po-faced media as a punch line for years now.

Of course Texas is largely to blame for its own reputation. The uneasy intersection of sex and religion, for example, is a recurring theme in modern politics and an area where Texas has been generous to the nation’s wags. Ms. Collins, who has a good eye for absurd details, recalls a painful 2010 exchange Mr. Perry had with Evan Smith, the editor of The Texas Tribune, about the state’s support for abstinence-only sex education. Mr. Smith pressed the governor to explain why that was a good idea. “I’m sorry, I’m going to tell you from my own personal life,” the governor said, visibly glazing over. “Abstinence works.”  

As Ms. Collins says, Texas has one of the highest teenage birthrates in the country, and three of the four state-approved health textbooks never mention the word “condom.” It’s possible, however, that Texas teenagers are nonetheless aware of what condoms are. According to 2009 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 42 percent of sexually active teenagers in Texas reported that they didn’t use a condom during their most recent sexual encounter. Around the enlightened nation the figure was not much better, at 39 percent. In any case, even in Texas, school districts are moving away from abstinence-only policies.

And if the larger point is to tackle the issue of teenage pregnancy, rather than tease Republicans, the Texas example does make clear that it would be worthwhile to look at demographics rather than just sex ed. The rate of teenage births in the United States, and Texas, has been declining for years, among all ethnic groups. Ms. Collins does touch on some of the state’s economic and policy barriers to reproductive health care, but the more contentious parts of the picture turn out to be a distraction.

A needlessly ominous distraction at that. It sometimes seems like Ms. Collins is more impressed with Texas than Texas itself is, which is saying something. Yes, Texas is an important state, and worth keeping an eye on, even for people outside its sprawling borders. But in opting for the easy jokes, Ms. Collins misses the chance for a more substantive critique.

Erica Grieder, the Southwest correspondent for The Economist, is working on a political history of Texas.