Sunday, April 24, 2005
In his video presentatrion at "Justice Sunday: Stop the Filibuster Against People of Faith," the circus foetissimus brought to you by ringmasters Tony Perkins (of the Family Research Council) and James Dobson (of Focus on the Family), presidential hopeful Bill Frist managed to walk the high-wire without mentioning religion. That task he left to the knuckle-draggers whose votes he hopes to collect in 2008:
Putting more evangelicals on the court will mean rulings more in tune with the religious convictions of churchgoers, said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville.Unlike Messrs. DeLay, Cornyn, Vieira, et al, Frist took pains to remind his overly excitable audience that judges, even the non-evangelical ones, deserve "respect, not retaliation." But his plea may have fallen on unreceptive ears; hatin' on the judiciary is a longstanding tradition of the right, as David Neiwert of Orcinus reminds us:
"We are not asking for persons merely to be moral," Mohler said. "We want them to be believers in the Lord Jesus Christ."
In fact, this very subject -- especially the rhetoric involving "black robed traitors" and "betrayal of our Christian heritage" -- has long been a hoary staple of the extremist right in America. You used to hear this kind of talk all the time at militia meetings ten years ago, and at Aryan Nations congresses ten years before that. Hatred of the judiciary is a centerpiece for the Posse Comitatus, the tax-protester extremists and Identity adherents like the Montana Freemen, and the Bircherite paranoids who have accused the judiciary of harboring Communist subversives since the days of, well, Brown v. Board of Education. Funny, that.From Colbert King of the Washington Post:
Nowadays, these themes enjoy much more powerful -- and supposedly mainstream -- proponents, as well as their respective audiences.
Angered by Democratic opposition to some of President Bush's judicial nominees, Perkins's group has also put out a flier charging that "the filibuster . . . is being used against people of faith." To suggest Democrats are out to get "people of faith" is despicable demagoguery that the truly faithful ought to rise up and reject.We close with a quote for your contemplation. One dollar American (minus 37 cents for postage and a nominal handling fee of $0.85) to any Zemblan patriot who can identify the source:
But will that occur in American pulpits tomorrow? The Christian right counts on the religiously timid to keep their mouths shut. So why not exploit religion for their own ends? They will if we let them.
And that's just it. Americans of faith -- and those lacking one -- ought to vigorously resist attempts by power-hungry zealots to impose their religious views on the nation. That means standing up to them at every turn.
It means challenging them when they say of Americans who support a woman's right to choose; the right of two adults to enter into a loving, committed, state-sanctioned, monogamous relationship; the right to pursue science in support of life; the right of the aggrieved to launch aggressive assaults against racism, sexism and homophobia, that they are not legitimate members of the flock. Where do those on the religious right get off thinking they have the right to decide who is in and who is out? Who appointed them sole promoters and defenders of the faith? What makes them think they are more holy and righteous than the rest of us?
They are not now and never will be the final arbiters of Christian beliefs and values. They warrant as much deference as religious leaders as do members of the Ku Klux Klan, who also marched under the cross.
Any era, any worldview, needs firm foundations. When these are open to discussion, the idea is already questionable and has lost its finding force and strength. An age that discusses its foundations is sawing off the branch on which it sits. It loses its good conscience, its self-confidence — and perishes. The cathedrals of the Middle Age would never have been built if Christianity had asked itself why it had the right to claim exclusive truth for its faith by eternalizing it in stone. The idea justifies itself through its fruitfulness. It rules the consciousness of those people who set the direction of their age. It is seen as foundational, formative, the bringer of the future. And throughout history it leaves creative ideas and deeds on the altar of immortality.Answer here.
This demonstrates the deepest roots from which a worldview draws its strengths: from faith. Great times rest on a great, absolute faith. Only those with faith, with mountain-moving strength and joy in action can fulfill an historic mission. Values that are truly believed, not merely recognized and discussed, are the foundation of creative strength. In era of decline, however, everything is open to discussion and therefore to denial. When God is a question, one no longer builds cathedrals. Where people have no living faith, they do nothing great, nothing that lasts.