Archive for November 2005

The Culture of Fear

November 16, 2005

On the “700 Club” TV on 11/10/05, Pat Robertson said this:
“I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city… And don’t wonder why He hasn’t helped you whhen problems begin, if they begin. I’m not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that’s the case, don’t ask for His help because he might not be there.”

Barbara O’Brien (author of Blogging America) said in answer to the question of why religion, particularly conservative Christianity, has flourished in the US.

“And to this day, much of ‘Christianity’ as found in the United States is based on fear. The God of fundies is more like the fearsome primal deities who wanted virgins to be tossed into volcanoes than the benevolent Providence of, say, Albert Schweitzer. The fundie God must be catered to and appeased, as opposed to a more progressive God who calls on people to be good human beings and love one another. Therefore, lies, deceit, and smears in His name seem justified.

“It is important to recognize that these [fundamentalist] theologies and ideologies are rooted in fear. The desire to define doctrines, erect barriers, establish borders, and segregate the faithful in a sacred enclave where the law is stringently observed springs from that terror of extinction which has made all fundamentalists, at once time or another, believe that the secularists were about to wipe them out. The modern world, which seems so exciting to a liberal, seems Godless, drained of meaning and even satanic to a fundamentalist.”

I’ve been thinking that the upsurge of fundamentalism of the last few decades are in response to the end of the cold war and, of course, 9/11. The end of the cold war left the world without a clear enemy. That’s pretty scary to a certain kind of person. It robs life of meaning. Fundamentalists have always done a hard sell on “meaning” (defined by them, of course).

The 9/11 fundie surge is a direct response to fear. Fundies always act like they know what to do. Liberals don’t. They want to learn about the problem and work at root causes rather than coming down like a hammer. When you are frightened, a hammer looks a lot better to you than diplomacy and CARE packages.

It’s going to be difficult to shake loose from the fundies who are only in it for wealth, political power and personal aggrandizement. The Dover house-cleaning was very reassuring. I’m hoping it’s a sign of things to come. People are just a lot less frightened than they were even a year ago. Americans think of themselves as members of a democracy. It takes a while to figure out that fundamentalism is totalitarian–utterly anti-democratic. Anti-democracy fundamentalists like to use the democratic process as long as it serves their ends. Eventually, they have to tip their hand. There’s been an awful lot of hand-tipping lately from Bush & Co., Dover, Kansas School Board, etc. and people aren’t happy with what they are seeing