Thursday, November 8, 2012

Election Reveals Cracks in Religious Right



For months prior to Tuesday election, right-wing conservatives in this country, led by the Tea Party, trumpeted nonstop about their religious values and then supported Mitt Romney, whose Mormon faith is considered a Christian heresy by many evangelicals.  In contrast, they opposed Barack Obama, who is a pious member of the United Church of Christ and whose actions were openly guided by his religious principles.

Is this a great country or what?

Naturally, the far right prayed that God direct voters to the “true” path.  That approach clearly has limitations.  For example, the fervent guys who came up with the messiah concept and fervently prayed for a great leader to be sent by God to overcome nonbelievers were decimated by the Romans around 70 C.E. and vanished into history.  

Besides, Obama won, in part by garnering more votes from white evangelical Christians in key states than he did in 2008.  

Moreover, in this election, God is proving to be amazingly ecumenical.  In Hawaii, Democrat Mazie Hirono became the first Buddhist to join the U.S. Senate.   Also in the Aloha State, Democrat Tulsi Gabbard (left) became the first Hindu to win a seat in Congress.
Tulsi Gabbard

Seems like Congress is going to need a few extra non-Christian chaplains.  

In addition, to the complete consternation of right-wing Christians, voters in two states also approved gay marriages, directly contradicting evangelical tenets.  Wisconsin also elected the first openly gay candidate to the U.S. Senate.  Tammy Baldwin is also the first woman the state has sent to Congress.  Voters in Florida convincingly thrashed a state constitutional amendment that would have allowed states taxes to be sent to religious organizations. In Minnesota, voters decisively turned back issue 1, a constitutional amendment that would have limited marriage to a man and a woman.

Mohler
A few conservative leaders understood the significance of those votes.  Albert Mohler from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary tweeted that the votes for same-sex marriage suggested that “we are witnessing a fundamental moral realignment of the country.”

Some of that can be credited to the rising percentage of Americans who do not belong to any religious organization.  Edwina Rogers of the Secular Coalition for America, commented that “we are seeing that the ‘nones’ are growing rapidly – and one thing they agree on is that they do not want religion inserted into government.” 

More young people voted in 2012 than in 2008, adding support for the anti-religious effort.  “Young people … see organized religion too caught up in the past, fighting the last century’s battles, blind and deaf to the needs of an ever so rapidly approaching and potentially calamitous future,” explained Rabbi Arthur Green, rector of Hebrew College Rabbinical School.

That helps explain why voters nationwide also dashed the hopes of a long string of religion-tainted Tea Party heavyweights.  Many of their candidates lost, except in Texas where Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz won.  However, Texas already inflicted George W. Bush on the country, so it’s pretty obvious voters there lack any perspective.

The rest of the country was more discriminating.  In Indiana, for example, Richard Mourdock was sent home.  Naturally, Tea Party leaders defined the loss not on the party’s irrational stances, but on an “intemperate remark” Mourdock made – about a pregnancy resulting from rape being part of God’s plan.  That same kind of absurd comment also ended the hopes of the Tea Party’s Todd Akins in Missouri.

Bachmann
The close fight Tea Party champion Michele Bachman (ledt) barely survived to retain her House seat obviously didn’t shake Tea Party regulars, probably because virtually everything Bachmann says is either intemperate or irrational.  Nor did it matter that she won by about 1 percent of the vote in Minnesota’s most conservative district despite outspending her opponent by a ratio of 12 to 1.

In Florida, Tea Party champion Rep. Allen West lost his re-election bid.  West accused Democrats of being “closet Communists.”  He never provided proof, but evidence has never been a strong point for irrational claims in either religion or politics.

Gunta
In New Hampshire, Rep. Frank Gunta, another Tea Party stalwart, lost.  Gunta (right) wanted to pull the U.S. from the United Nations and end Social Security.  No one cares what he thinks now.

The string of defeats is not likely to have any impact on the closed minds of religious conservatives, so devilishly convinced of their own rectitude.  They have already issued a host of platitudes about overcoming adversity, guaranteeing another satanic crusade in the coming years despite the obvious evidence that God didn’t answer their prayers or that polls show that only 33 percent of the population supports their extreme views.

The religious right does have one thing going for it – they believe that God may make the journey hard, but that He will help them in the end.  They don’t give up.  They just stay on their knees a little longer and turn another cheek.

To emphasize that point, the Romney campaign ended its long campaign with phone calls claiming that Obama is “a real threat to our religious freedom.” 

Wrong again.  The real threat comes from Christian conservatives hell-bent to remake this country in their warped image.

Long-time religious historian Bill Lazarus regularly writes about religion and religious history.  He also speaks at various religious organizations throughout Florida.  You can reach him at www.williamplazarus.net.  He is the author of the famed Unauthorized Biography of Nostradamus; The Last Testament of Simon Peter; The Gospel Truth: Where Did the Gospel Writers Get Their Information; Noel: The Lore and Tradition of Christmas Carols; and Dummies Guide to Comparative Religion.  His books are available on Amazon.com, Kindle, bookstores and via various publishers.  He can also be followed on Twitter.

You can enroll in his on-line class, Comparative Religion for Dummies, at http://www.udemy.com/comparative-religion-for-dummies/?promote=1





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