welcomes our new American Taliban overlords

"Please don't misunderstand the title: the Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party. This site is not about religion, nor about Christianity, nor about Republicans. This site is about how a small group of Republican strategists targeted a religious constituency to expand the base of their party, and how a small group of religious extremists targeted the Republican Party to bring the United States government under religious control."
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19 Responses:

  1. jaygray says:

    ...reminds me of Germany in my grandfather's youth ;-)

  2. patrick says:

    Are you listening to the pop will eat itself remix album of dos dedos mis amigos? Or is this a different collection of PWEI remixes?

  3. this scares the shit outta me. i gotta move to europe before it's too late.

  4. wsxyz says:

    Here's a quote from Tocqueville's Democracy in America (1834) thanks to Project Gutenberg:

    Religion in America takes no direct part in the government of society, but it must nevertheless be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country; for if it does not impart a taste for freedom, it facilitates the use of free institutions. Indeed, it is in this same point of view that the inhabitants of the United States themselves look upon religious belief. I do not know whether all the Americans have a sincere faith in their religion, for who can search the human heart? but I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or to a party, but it belongs to the whole nation, and to every rank of society.


    Whilst I was in America, a witness, who happened to be called at the assizes of the county of Chester (State of New York), declared that he did not believe in the existence of God, or in the immortality of the soul. The judge refused to admit his evidence, on the ground that the witness had destroyed beforehand all the confidence of the Court in what he was about to say.e The newspapers related the fact without any further comment.

    The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other; and with them this conviction does not spring from that barren traditionary faith which seems to vegetate in the soul rather than to live.

    [Footnote e: The New York "Spectator" of August 23, 1831, relates the fact in the following terms: - "The Court of Common Pleas of Chester county (New York) a few days since rejected a witness who declared his disbelief in the existence of God. The presiding judge remarked that he had not before been aware that there was a man living who did not believe in the existence of God; that this belief constituted the sanction of all testimony in a court of justice, and that he knew of no cause in a Christian country where a witness had been permitted to testify without such belief."]

    • Surely all that proves is that it was the exception in 1831.

      • wsxyz says:

        That is only one data point. To move closer to the present time, do you suppose that Prohibition was passed in 1920 without any religious beliefs influencing political decisions?

        In any case, the point is that the USA has never had a separation of religion and politics, so it is simply false to argue that religiously motivated persons are trying to change the historical nature of US politics and government or that it is somehow "unamerican" for political expression to be driven by religious motives.

  5. drjohn says:

    My mother was a Texas Republican precinct chairperson in the 80's. At the state convention when they were hammering out the "planks" on the platform, it ran very late due to people hemming and hawing on tiny semantic issues. Most people went back to their hotels, including my mother (well past her bedtime).

    In the morning, a look at the now-official platform showed that, once they had a quorum, an stealth faction had rammed a bunch of prewritten planks through with zero review. These were topics that they had previously taken a more middle path on or avoided: statements against abortion, clumsy pro-Christianity values statements, etc.

    While these are probably not too far from status quo now, there was shock that the tone of the document had been utterly changed by a tiny minority, with no debate and now no recourse.

    We were scared by the zeal.

  6. flipzagging says:

    Krugman (channelling Kissinger, of all people) notes that a big problem is the underreaction to a "revolutionary power" -- one that denies the legitimacy of the system they are trying to take over.

    The reasonable people don't believe that the leadership will do what it says, because it would be institutionally suicidal. And it is -- that's the whole point. The leadership's loyalties are elsewhere.

    Found this great post looking for the Krugman link:

    "I just wake up in the morning and tell myself, 'There's been a military coup,' and then it all makes sense," said one veteran foreign service officer.

  7. deviant_ says:

    Here's an interesting parallel where one might not expect for it to be possible: the same thing happened in the Southern Baptist Convention.

    • wsxyz says:

      And yet only 5% of the churches in the Southern Baptist Convention chose to leave after "the takeover". That implies that the vast majority of baptists are happy with the "fundamentalist" leadership. Furthermore, since there is nothing stopping "moderates" from bussing in supporters to conventions and participating in voting for the various offices, the conclusion that they simply didn't have the numbers to win the elections is difficult to avoid.

      On another subject, the article claims that Bush isn't really for a two-state solution in Israel/Palestine. That is nothing more than the author's speculation, of course, since the author is not capable to reading anyones mind; but that doesn't stop him from asserting it while failing to mention the non-speculative, documented fact that not a single Palestinian organization is for anything other than the eradication of Israel from the map. Hamas says it outright. The PLO says that the two-state solution is an acceptable "interim solution" but that only acceptable long term solution is a single Arab state consisting of all of the territory of Israel and occupied territories.

      • wfaulk says:

        Having been an attending (albeit reluctantly so) member of a SBC church in the affected time period, I believe that it has more to do with the fact that most churchgoers don't really see the influence of the Convention. Churches still choose their own ministers, have local deaconate, local budgets, etc. They are automonmous, even if, I'm sure, the Convention would like to alter that arrangement. The Convention only really come into play when sending money off to them, as far as I know, and that money goes into a void anyway. (I think it's supposed to go to support missionaries, in addition to whatever administrative function it has, but I was never sure.) I remember seeing various SBC literature when I was younger, but never, or at least seldom, saw any as a teenager.

        However, there was a rift in our specific church. Many of the fundamentalist members (Billy Graham's daughter, Anne Lotz, being one of them, perhaps their leader) apparently tried to take over the direction of the church. They eventually left and started up their own church (which was and still is, fifteen or twenty years later, located in what used to be a Holiday Inn; it's kinda creepy).

        The point being that there was enough resistance to it within our church to keep it from happening to us, but I don't think there was enough knowledge or wont about the Convention's similar situation to extricate themselves. In fact, there is another quite liberal church in town (they have wed gay couples, even if it isn't legally binding, for example; a search for "Pullen Baptist" pulls up some stuff of interest) which was associated with the SBC before all of this and they got kicked out rather than voluntarily withdrawing. Perhaps they wanted to exact a re-liberalization of the SBC rather than giving up. I don't know the politics involved. Perhaps they just wanted to embarrass the SBC by forcing them to forcefully remove a church.

        • wfaulk says:

          I feel obliged to update and correct this. According to someone who still attends it, it turns out that my old church did leave the SBC, which would explain why I no longer saw that SBC literature. It also negates my point. I would like to point out that while I consider myself quite liberal, that church was not. It was quite moderate, except for that faction that left. So it's not that all those churches that did leave were particulary liberal, even if some were.

          It was also pointed out to me that the Baptist Seminary in Wake Forest, NC is controlled by the SBC and people I know were ousted from there for being non-fundamentalist. So not only was the administration taken over, but the new clergy will be steeped in that newthink as well, cementing the fundamentalists position.

          Also, I dislike using the word “fundamentalist” in this context, as their stand is against the original fundamentals of the SBC, which, I'd like to point out, at least was not associated with the no-dancing, snake-handling, tongue-speaking Baptists we're all familar with through popular stereotypes. I don't know about now.

      • deviant_ says:

        I see your point, but the conclusion seems a bit off. Just as a start, being happy with the way things are is far from the most common reason for not doing something about it. Have we learned nothing from all of the people who bitch about things on livejournal instead of doing actual work toward the causes they believe in?

        And isn't inaction the very nature of any person or group who can be considered "moderate"?