Archive for April 2006

It’s Not Going to Stop with Evolution

April 21, 2006

A right wing religionist objects to some textbooks adopted by a Chicago school district.

One parent who reads the textbooks and provides the board with input is also a board member: Jim Caulfield. In September, he took issue with a biology textbook that he said presented an agenda of contraception, promoted embryonic stem cell research and showed disdain for evolution non-adherents.

The board approved the book against Caulfield’s recommendation. But officials did approve a policy he proposed that now puts any teaching materials containing content covered in the sex education component of health classes under greater scrutiny.

But on April 17, Caulfield disapproved of the district’s choice of textbooks for an Advanced Placement world history course because it cast Christians in a bad light in some instances.

He also voiced concerns about Advanced Placement environmental science textbooks that present opposing views of controversial environmental issues.

Fortunately this guy doesn’t have any power in the situation and textbooks are getting approved even if they do show accurate information about evolution, sex education and history. But this little incident provides a very nice example of the right wing religious agenda. They routinely try to suppress or ban literature reading lists for various blue-nosed and political reasons. Biology, in their book, is right out of the question. It’s not going to stop with evolution and the works of Tony Morrison and Maya Angelou. They dream of the day public schools will be required to teach creationist history, creationist sociology, creationist geology and creationist physics along with creationist biology and creationist reading lists in public schools.


Who are the Dominionists?

April 19, 2006

Ed Brayton over atDispatches from the Culture Wars has a thoughtful article about theocracy. He writes in response to a Joe Carter essay:

Here’s an excerpt. It’s well worth reading the whole thing.

So who are the theocrats? They are people who hold to a position called, variously, Christian reconstructionism, dominionism (aka dominion theology), or theonomy. Generally speaking, they are post-millenial in their eschatology, though not always. They divide the Old Testament law into two types, moral and ceremonial. Ceremonial law, they argue, was made obsolete by Christ’s coming to earth, but moral law they view as applicable in all times and all places. Thus, they would institute the Mosaic moral law as the civil and criminal law in the US and around the world, unless such law was explicitly overturned in the New Testament.

The leaders of this movement include: Greg Bahnsen (though he is now dead, he remains enormously influential in Calvinist circles in particular); Andrew Sandlin, head of the National Reform Association; Gary North of the Institute for Christian Economics; Gary DeMar, head of American Vision; RJ Rushdoony of the Chalcedon Foundation (in many ways, the founding father of reconstructionism); John Lofton, Howard Phillips and the Constitution Party leadership; and Howard Ahmanson, a billionaire philanthropist whose money funds a wide range of religious right organizations. As we will see, these are not obscure men; they are deeply involved in religious right groups across the nation and prominent in politics as well.

One of the primary religious right groups that few have heard of is the Council for National Policy. The CNP acts as a sort of central steering committee for other religious right organizations. Founded by Tim LaHaye, who also co-founded the Moral Majority with Jerry Falwell and Paul Weyrich, the CNP’s behind-the-scenes influence among the religious right can hardly be overstated. To give you an example of how this all integrates with politics, consider that Weyrich is also the co-founder of the Heritage Foundation and the Free Congress Foundation.

The list of members of the CNP reads like a Who’s Who of conservatives, especially religious conservatives, from Jesse Helms to Jack Abramoff to Ollie North to Pat Robertson. But it also includes a large number of reconstructionists. The CNP Board of Governors and executive committes have included Howard Ahmanson (also a major funder of the Discovery Institute), Howard Phillips, Weyrich and many others with close ties to theocracy movements.

Some of these men are also high officials in the Republican Party itself. David Barton, who has very close ties to reconstructionism, is the vice chair of the Texas Republican Party and was a key advisor to the 2004 Bush campaign. Many others, including DeMar, are regular guests on conservative talk shows like Hannity and Colmes, or write columns for influential conservative outlets. So while it may be unfair to consider most religious right folks as theocrats, they at least make common cause with them often.

Comedy Central under Sharia Law

April 14, 2006

The censorship of South Park has become an injustice that somehow pinches much harder than the cartoon riots and the subsequent appeasement of the violent and bloody-minded adherents of the religion of “peace.” (Corpses are very peaceful, have you ever noticed that?

There is a report of the most recent violation of our American principles over at Dispatches from the Culture Wars:

Comedy Central Censors South Park
Category: Liberty
Posted on: April 13, 2006 3:37 PM

Last night’s South Park episode, as usual, contained a premise that was brilliant satire on multiple levels at the same time. First of all, they actually helped promote a show on another network, by having Kyle convince the head of the FOX network that he should show an episode of the Family Guy that includes a scene with Muhammed in it. Not an insulting scene, not a mocking scene, a totally innocuous scene where Muhammed hands something to the Family Guy.

Kyle tells the FOX executive, “”You can’t do what he wants just because he’s the one threatening you with violence…Yes, people can get hurt. That’s how terrorism works. But if you give in to that, Doug, you’re allowing terrorism to work…If you don’t show Mohammed, then you’ve made a distinction between what is OK to make fun of and what isn’t. Either it’s all OK or none of it is. Do the right thing.” So the FOX executive decides to show the scene, but then as the guys are watching the show and it gets to that scene, the screen goes black with this message on it:

“In this shot, Mohammed hands a football helmet to Family Guy.”
At first, I assumed that this, too, was satire, that the South Park guys were making fun of Comedy Central, which would have been even more brilliant. Alas, no. Comedy Central really did censor the show and they’ve now released a public statement saying only:

“In light of recent world events, we feel we made the right decision.”

So the killers are winning. The terrorists are winning. They are winning not because of who they are but because of who we are not. We are not the America we thought we were.

A History Lesson

April 11, 2006

Over at Talk2Action MainStreamBaptist has provided a little history lesson for those who like to think this country was founded as a Christian nation.

When you look at the early history of this nation you see what theocracy will look like if the right wing ever are allowed to establish it.

Roger Williams founded the colony of Rhode Island and established the first Baptist church in America.
Williams was not the only Baptist to suffer such persecution. John Clarke, pastor of the Baptist Church at Newport, Rhode Island published an account of religious persecution in New England in his Ill News from New-England(1652). In it he told how in the summer of 1651, Obadiah Holmes, John Crandall, and John Clarke — all members of the Baptist Church at Newport, Rhode Island — were arrested and imprisoned for holding an unauthorized worship service in the home of a blind Baptist named William Witter who lived at Lynn, Massachusetts outside Boston. They were sentenced to be fined or whipped. Fines for Clarke and Crandall were paid by friends. Holmes refused to let friends pay his fine and was publicly whipped on the streets of Boston on September 6, 1651


As bad as it was for Baptists, it was worse for Quakers.
Sydney Ahlstrom records some of the ways that the authorities dealt with Quakers, “In July 1656 the ship Swallow anchored in Boston Harbor. It became known quickly that on board were two Quaker women, Mary Fisher and Ann Austin, who had shipped from Barbados. The authorities moved swiftly. The women were kept on ship while their belongings were searched and more than one hundred books confiscated. Although there was as yet no law against Quakers in Massachusetts, the two were hurried off to jail, stripped of all their clothing, and inspected for tokens of witchcraft. After five weeks, the captain of the Swallow was placed under a 100 pound bond to carry them back to Barbados.” A Religious History of the American People, p. 178.

When these efforts failed to keep Quakers out of the colony, they resorted to more drastic measures. William Robinson, Marmaduke Stephenson, and William Leddra are listed among the Quaker martyrs in Massachusetts. The last Quaker martyr in Massachusetts, Mary Dyer, was hanged in the Boston Common on June 1, 1660. All died in defiance of a law banning Quakers from Massachusetts Bay Colony.

A statue of Mary Dyer now stands in front of the State Capitol in Massachusetts as a constant reminder of the Colony’s shameful legacy of religious intolerance.

Christianists, reconstructionists and theocrats long for those “good old days” of religious intollerance. In fact they believe they are so entitled to such an iron-fisted rule, they are “persecuted” if we oppose them.

The Phony War on Christians

April 10, 2006

In this report on the “War on Christians” convention (or rather hate-fest) Elizabeth A. Castelli gives us a view from the inside. Notes from the War Room is a must-read.

Here is a quote:

Other speakers were more modest in their efforts to connect the situation of American conservative Christians to the circumstances of Christians in other parts of the world, reminding the audience that Christians in China, North Korea, or “the deepest, darkest recesses of the Middle East” are, indeed, worse off. But such admissions also became the ground for dire prophecies: “Things aren’t so bad here…yet,” Tristan Emmanuel, a Canadian activist and author of Christophobia: The Real Reason Behind Hate Crime Legislation, commented from his post as the moderator of the Christian persecution panel. Yet, when Tom DeLay, the former majority leader of the House of Representatives who is currently under indictment for violations of campaign-finance laws, arrived on the second day of the conference to a standing ovation, Scarborough asserted that DeLay’s criminal indictment was simply the result of his being “the target of all who despise the cause of Christ” — in short, DeLay is clearly another persecuted Christian. (Scarborough punctuated DeLay’s speech with the comment, “God always does his best work just after a crucifixion,” implying that DeLay’s prosecution is just such an act of imperial violence and judicial activism.)