Never run with the crowd. They're probably headed over a cliff.

The Religious Wrong and The Republican Retreat

Limbaugh was calling it, “…the end of the Democratic Party.” And so it might have seemed in 1994 to a party awash in victory and full of the hubris that comes with it. President Clinton had overreached with his gun control measures and secret health care meetings. His past was catching up with him – the affairs, the secret trysts, the not-so-secret trysts. He was lifting the ban on homosexuals in the military, giving the go-ahead on state-funded abortions, and had placed a number of far-left liberals in cabinet positions. The knee-jerk was swift with the Senate and the House of Representatives swinging to Republican control in an unprecedented single election.

And what was the overriding campaign message of the Republicans who swept to power? Family values. Almost to a person they claimed strong Christian values and a need to return to honesty and temperance in politics. And they were right. The flood was vast and nationwide at all levels of government, religious conservatives took offices from dog catcher all the way to Speaker of the House.

For a few years it seemed the nation had made a good choice. Certainly honest politicians are better than dishonest ones. And the old guard Democrats, in power for forty years, had lowered the bar of corruption to new depths. But in the end it was all an illusion. The Democrats who’d become so corrupt weren’t corrupt because they were Democrats, they were corrupt because their party had been in power for forty years and that’s what happens to any party in power for forty years. The Chinese have a saying, whom the gods wish to destroy they give forty years of success. Except in the case of the Religious Right it only took about fifteen.

So what happened? How did the Religious Right turn out to be the Religious Wrong? Within a few short years the new conservatives had become every bit as corrupt as their Democratic counterparts with affairs, lies, and scandals, even to the point of invading the wrong country! That’s a pretty big mistake. For a party with God on its side the fall was precipitous and catastrophic.

The answer is really quite simple and is based on the difference between religion and spirituality. While it is unfashionable to discuss politics and Bible in the same breath in this country, it is impossible to understand either without doing so. Religion is a system of rites and practices which dictate the practices of a group. Spirituality is a deep-seated, philosophical viewpoint that defines the worldview of an individual. Religion is a group activity. Spirituality is individual. The Religious Right was religious but not spiritual, a fact that is easily proven by their habits.

There was a time in this nation when the term Christianity went hand in hand with moderation. Not moderate in the political sense, but moderate as an approach to life, which is the basis of the message given by the founder of Christianity, none other than Jesus. Whether or not one believes Jesus was the son of God, it is very difficult to deny his historicity and his message of love and moderation. Indeed, one of his more well-known statements is that it is harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven. He went on to say that this didn’t forbid wealth, but that wealth made the Christian walk very precarious.

In my experience with Christians over the last few decades however, very few of them practice moderation at any level in their lives. Indeed, they consider wealth – the very thing that Jesus said would keep them out of Heaven – as a blessing from God. From their houses, to their lifestyles, to their cars, to their kids, there are no practical differences between Christians and non-Christians. There is a lower incidence of sexual promiscuity among Christians and a mandatory Sunday morning club meeting, but that’s about it. And since they are every bit as fixated on wealth as their non-Christian counterparts, they also lack the one thing that Jesus said would set them apart from others; love.

The Religious Right that took over Congress in 1994 brought very little of the L-word to Washington. They did bring a lot of ideas about how a person should live their life, but other than their mandatory Sunday morning meeting and a strong outward revulsion to homosexuality, there was very little difference between them and their Democratic counterparts, many of whom also went to Church regularly.

I’ll go back to the Bible again. And this is important because whether or not you believe the Bible, it describes the lifestyle and philosophy that the Religious Right claim to embrace. Love, the Bible says, is essential to everything a Christian does. Indeed, without love, the scriptures go on to say, everything else a Christian might do will sound like a clanging cymbal. Now my son plays the cymbals in band, and I can tell you right now there is nothing more jarring and cacophonous than him walking through the house bashing those things together. The only thing you want is for him to STOP. And that was the reaction to the Religious Right when they came to town with their seemingly chaste lives yet were just as hooked on riches as anyone else and entirely devoid of love. They were a clanging cymbal. And it got old.

To make matters worse, they also brought a healthy dose of self-righteousness. While the Bible clearly states that it is those who are poor in spirit who will receive the Kingdom of Heaven, our new leaders and their ardent supporters across the hinterland were utterly convinced that God was on their side. And nowhere was this more apparent than in the actions of George II and many of his supporters who, I believe, felt he was ordained by the Almighty to smite the Arabs. It was on this basis that, even when it was glaringly obvious that he had invaded a nation unjustly and hundreds of thousands died, he remained convinced he had done the right thing. It wasn’t his decision, it was God’s, so how could it be wrong. After all, he prayed about it.

There are those who believe in a God and those who don’t. Those who profess Christianity and those who don’t. But for any of these groups it can’t be debated that true Christian behavior – social habits which are often practiced by other religions too – results in more efficient government, more honest business practices, and more peaceful interaction between people. Honesty, kindness, and mercy go a long way. But love and moderation are central to Christianity, and when you leave these out the philosophy becomes nothing more than a way to control groups of people and gain an advantage over them, which various governments the world over have been doing for over 2,000 years now.

 That is why the Religious Right became the Religious Wrong. And why they failed not only themselves but the entire nation. It is why they are no longer in power and indeed, why so many in the country and the world look at the Religious Right and turn their eyes from Christianity in general. Are they Christians? That’s not really up to me to decide, I’m not in charge of Christianity. But the next time you see some guy quoting from the Bible while trying to get himself elected just remember what Jesus had to say about politics: “     

-Futbol Guru,


Rob Mason said:

Excellent in every way.  This article is excellent and indeed hits the nightmare of the past eight years right on the head. I pray the far right's actions won't keep too many from seeing the love of God thru Christian's.  The far right with the religous right tied up the Souther vote for decades.  Claim your for the religous right, say you hate abortion, embrace the NRA keep away from civil rights issues and presto 13 states vote your way.    

 As a Christian thank you very much.

# March 17, 2009 11:51 AM

FutbolGuru said:

Nightmare of the last eight years - I couldn't have said it better myself, Rob. Thank you.

# March 17, 2009 1:22 PM

P Calvert said:

I liked the blog entry--very good points, but I question the comment from Rob Mason.

How can a Christian NOT hate abortion? How can a Christian vote for men/women that supports murder of babies? Isn't it ironic that pro-abortionists are not marching for the right to be prostitutes? After all, it's her/his body?

And how can a Christian support a party that blatantly supports totally unbiblical principles like allow gays to marry??? I'm NOT a homophobe, but I cannot support any politician that wants to say to my kids through the laws it passes that homosexuality is 'OK'! Love the sinner and hate the sin--- but don't legalize the sin and thereby make it OK.

Nor can I support any politician that wants to remove my right to own guns--- that's one of the 1st things Nazi Germany did-- remove arms from it's citizens.

Also the last 8 years are but a fraction of the decades of the lack of Christian leadership and prinicples in Washington. These principles left town sometime in the early 1800s... how easy and convenient to blame everything on the Religious Right....

# March 18, 2009 8:13 AM

FutbolGuru said:

I don't believe Mr. Mason was advocating rule by the left, I believe that he was wanting another option. Who do we turn to? The left is, well, the left. The right has blown it and their pro-religious stance is just that - pro-religious. Period. The Pharisees were the most religiously chaste group of their day, they supported all the pro-Jewish causes, kept the law, and did all they could to undermine Roman rule - and yet Jesus called them white-washed tombs full of dead mens bones.

# March 18, 2009 8:56 PM

P Calvert said:

Who do we turn to? Fine question. If you mean in Washington, we're flat out of luck until someone like Reagan or TR arises from the ashes/masses again. In the meantime, (and I think this is the crux of our problems), we have to quit looking to men for answers and instead look back toward God as a nation. Until we do, we are a ship without sail and without a keel. I'll grant that this seems near impossible when we see what is happening in our country, and indeed, around the world.

Re your Pharisee point-- roger that, but don't forget Jesus did not destroy the law but rather fulfilled it. 'Go and sin no more', not 'Go and do as your hormones lead you to do'.

My apologies to Mr Mason for my misunderstanding of his comment...

# March 19, 2009 7:34 AM

FutbolGuru said:

TR, Theodorous Rex, I would vote for him!

# March 19, 2009 11:40 AM