Church and state—Texas-style:
Lt. Col. Brian Birdwell offered a greeting to delegates to the Republican convention. "It's great to be back in the holy land," the Fort Worth native said to the cheers of the party faithful. For the 4,500 delegates at last week's biennial gathering, it was both an expression of conservative philosophy and religious faith, a melding of church and state.
At Saturday morning's prayer meeting, party leader Tina Benkiser assured them that God was watching over the two-day confab. "He is the chairman of this party," she said against a backdrop of flags and a GOP seal with its red, white and blue logo.
The party platform, adopted Saturday, declares "America is a Christian nation" and affirms that "God is undeniable in our history and is vital to our freedom."
…At Saturday morning's prayer meeting, ministers delivered prayers, gospel singers sang, and the Rev. Dale Young, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Laredo, picked up the convention's dominant theme of immigration.
"Lord, your words tell us there's a sign that this nation is under a curse, when the alien who lives among us grows higher and higher and we grow lower and lower," he preached.
You know, it’s been awhile since I read the New Testament, but I can’t recall Jesus saying anything about signs Americans should watch out for to confirm their nation is under a curse. You’d think I’d remember something like that.
I also don’t remember God being the chairman of the GOP, but I did only minor in Christian theology, so I guess there are a few things I could have missed. Plus, I was taught by Jesuits, and everyone knows that they’re way more interested in education and social justice than real Christian pursuits like gay-bashing and killing abortionists.
The hat tip for this goes to Griffin, who says, “God, this is fucking scary. I'm betting that there will be violence before this is all over.” I wish I could say I thought that was hyperbolic alarmism, but I don’t—because these people are nuts when they’re winning. They were chomping at the bit to get their war on even when they thought George Bush and the two GOP-led houses of Congress were going to fulfill their every psychotic fantasy and deliver Dominionism to America once and for all. As the reality of that pipe dream has finally started to sink in, they’ve only gotten more agitated; some of the movement leaders claim with regularity that we’re already at war. If progressives start making electoral gains, enabling some progressive policy victories, they’re really going to go apeshit. And, sadly, we know all too well what it looks like when fundies go apeshit. The horror of 9/11 has been cynically invoked so frequently by Bush, to my continual chagrin, that I was reluctant to use that image. But it’s the right image to use. Religious extremists zealously insistent on theocratic rule, infused with a heady dose of xenophobic nationalism and fueled by antagonism toward women and gays, were the architects of 9/11—and they’re the attendees of the GOP convention described above, too. The religions are different, but the avowals of god’s allegiance, the self-righteousness, the asserted moral imperative to oppress,and contempt for equality and diversity are the same. One might even say that the Texas GOP-ers above hate the rest of us for our freedom. Ahem.
Ever so slowly but steadily, one of our two major political parties has become a party of very scary, and very dangerous, extremists. And history tells us that, left unchecked, it will inevitably lead to violence. There was another group of well-known extemists who claimed to have god on their side, and held an unrivaled hatred of non-Christians, Christians who disagreed with them, ethnic minorities, trade unionists, lefties, the LGBT community, and anyone else who could be labeled an enemy of the state. They turned Germany into the site of one of the greatest atrocities humankind has ever witnessed. What stood between the Nazis and six million slaughtered Jews was a complacent populace who feared to confront the tyranny that marched across their land carrying a cross and wrapped in a flag.
This will escalate. The Dominionists are not going to fade away because God’s Own Party loses a couple of elections. The question is: What are we going to do about it?