Is It Fair For Liberals To Call Him "Taliban Dan?"
I had a call today from a trustworthy ally asking me why we're not supporting the reelection of the most endangered Democratic House incumbent, Tom Perriello, someone we helped get elected in 2008. I don't want to go into this in any great detail-- since I have before-- other than to say he got Blue America to endorse him by specifically and unambiguously lying to us about protecting women's right to choice. That's a bright red line in the sand-- bright blue line?-- that progressives just cannot get around. If women don't have control over their own bodies, there is no chance for Democracy to thrive. And that's exactly what conservative patriarchal ideologues are aiming for. And that brings us to... Taliban Dan down in Orlando. Digby has been writing quite a lot about him, just today, in fact, here and here. (Actually that second "here" refers to Taliban Dan's dangerous and radical mentor, Bill Gothard and we'll get to him very soon.)
Group Think Inside-the-Beltway among "liberal" pundits and would-be Broders-- quotations around liberal because, of course, a blue team shirt doesn't really mean "liberal" anywhere but... Inside-the-Beltway-- tell us that protecting Perriello (who lied and betrayed women by voting for the Stupak Amendment and who boasts an overall ProgressPunch score of a very dismal 47.11, just fractionally above Blue Dog elder Gene Taylor, the Mississippi Dixiecrat who called for the ouster of Nancy Pelosi as Speak this week) is a "must." And this same Group Think is mortified, just mortified, that Alan Grayson called out Taliban Dan for his extremist views on women's rights, views that would be more at home in the most backwards reaches of Afghanistan than in Orlando-- or even Kabul! "Women's issues" don't seem to mean much to these fellas. Never does.
But they sure are worked up that FactCheck.org, a tenuous source of "truth" in the best of times, attacked Grayson's Taliban Dan ad as less than factual. Let's start with a powerful rebuttal from a far more trustworthy and authoritative source, Sarah Posner, author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, and an associate editor of Religion Dispatches. She points out that FactCheck's point was that the Taliban Dan quotes in Grayson's ad were taken out of context. But FactCheck botched it.
Grayson's campaign argued that Webster seemed to be supporting submission in his comments to an audience of conservative men, whom he directed to pray that they would better fulfill their biblical duty to love their wives, and leave prayers about women's submission to their wives. However, the emphasis of these remarks, as those familiar with Christian rhetoric could recognize, is not on the optional nature of wives' submission. Wifely submission is part of an often-unbalanced equation to Christians who subscribe to "complementarian" or "patriarchal" marriage roles, where men must "love" and women "obey." Saying that a woman should pray for God's guidance in submission, if she wants to, is not leniency, but rather standard evangelical language that emphasizes individuals must obey biblical mandates regardless of how others around them behave. So, Webster is saying, men must be accountable to God for their responsibility to love their wives regardless of whether she submits-- that they must pray to do right, even if she doesn't.
However, the much more relevant application of this principle on following God's orders despite your circumstances is on women. Submission is a contentious and tricky issue even within conservative evangelical churches. Most churches promoting submission make certain to couple demands for submissive wives with those for loving, servant-leader husbands. But at the end of the day, it's women who bear the brunt of the principle; their obligations are to God, not to a husband who may or may not keep his end of the contract. Accordingly, the message is impressed by countless women's ministries and leaders that women must continue submitting even when their husband doesn't show love, because they owe their obedience, above all, to God. In circles that take submission seriously-- as does any organization associated with Bill Gothard-- that's what wives' options really look like.
What's more, Factcheck.org fails in a much broader context to describe what the IBLP is really about, describing it as a "non-denominational Christian organization that runs programs and training sessions."
Sounds sweet, doesn't it? It isn't, as Time reported way back in 1974 in a feature, Religion: Obey Thy Husband:
It is a metaphor that infuriates both liberated women and spirited youth. God holds in his hands a hammer (symbolizing a husband). The husband/hammer bangs a chisel (representing the obedient wife) that "chips away the rough edges" to turn a diamond in the rough (a teenager) into a gem.
God to husband to wife to child. That is "God's chain of command," the most controversial of the "universal, underlying, nonoptional principles" of family life that are being proclaimed by the Rev. Bill Gothard, 39, to mass audiences in two dozen cities from Seattle to Philadelphia... Children must be totally obedient. A religious teenager, for example, should not attend a church college if atheistic parents order him not to. As for a man's wife, she "has to realize that God accomplishes his ultimate will through the decisions of the husband, even when the husband is wrong." Citing I Thessalonians 5:18 ("In every thing give thanks"), Gothard even advises a wife whose husband chastises her to say, "God, thank you for this beating."
...Besides following the chain of command in the family, Christians should also be obedient to their employers and their government, Gothard asserts. Only if an order from a parent, the state or a boss conflicts with God's explicit commandments may it be disobeyed. But first the Christian is supposed to follow six complex steps, beginning with an examination of his own bad attitudes.
Taliban Dan has every right in the world to his own peculiar, primitive religious beliefs. But he's running for the U.S. Congress. When he was in the Florida legislature he attempted to pass a bizarre and arcane Bible-inspired bill that would prevent women from divorcing abuse husbands. It failed, of course, but Taliban Dan is even more extreme now than he was back then. He has been on record as wanting to put his literal interpretation of the Bible into actual practice-- just the way the Taliban does in the areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan where they've managed to gain a foothold. Taliban Dan has admitted to the St. Petersburg Times that Gothard is "a major part of my life... What he has said I believe to be the truth."
But even if you're a Beltway Boy and would-be David Broder manly man aspirant, there's a reason you don't want Taliban Dan and other Republican fanatics like him getting a foothold in our government. You see, it isn't just women they hate. They also hate working people. Here are a couple of Bronze Age passages they take quite literally and think should be part of the American legal system:
Peter 2:18 "Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh."
Ephesians 6:5 "Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ."
It explains why so many religious fanatics in our country, like Taliban Dan, hate labor unions with such intensity and such vehemence. Daniel Webster has a long history of narrow-minded extremism and religious fanaticism, as well as a record of palling around with like minded Christian Reconstructionists, the very definition of the American Taliban.
For the political right to demonize Obama with racist slurs, compare him to Hitler, claim he's illegitimate, call him a Muslim, a socialist, a fascist and a communist-- and have it echoed 24/7 on Fox and by Hate Talk Radio... well, that's fine. But for a fighting Democrat to give them a tiny taste of their own medicine? Oh, Mabel, get my smelling salts. Taliban Dan claims he's getting a flood of American Taliban dollars this week from religious fanatics all over the country. This might be a good time to let Grayson that we admire what he's doing... and that we have his back. Please, if you can, contribute to America's best congressman here.
UPDATE: Oh... And Taliban Dan's Guru Wants To Stone Astrologers... And People Who Have Sex Before Marriage
Digby just put up the whole horrifying revelation. "Another expert on the Religious Right, Bruce W. Wilson who writes at Talk2Action, has delved into Daniel Webster's ties to Christian Reconstructionists and writes this fascinating piece for Alternet. He notes Webster's continuing association with Bill Gothard, (at whose Institute Webster was recorded making his remarks about women submitting to their husbands in 2009):"
As an August 5, 1996 article in the Gainesville Sun quoted Webster, ‘I respect (Bill Gothard) as much as anybody...
Bill Gothard, in turn, was a close ally of R.J. Rushdoony, considered the father of Christian Reconstructionism and founder of the movement’s flagship institution, the Chalcedon Institute.
As Vice President of the Chalcedon Institute Martin Selbrede stated in the Institute’s March/April 2010 issue of Faith For All Of Life, the only reason Bill Gothard didn’t agree to use Chalcedon founder R.J. Rushdoony’s monumental Institutes of Biblical Law tome in Gothard’s sprawling evangelical empire is that the two couldn’t agree on divorce. Rushdoony’s Institutes was a template for instituting Biblical law in government... [W]while Gothard was categorically opposed to divorce, Rushdoony, a virulently racist Holocaust denier who espoused Geocentrism, was a little more liberal on divorce. In other words, the two men were otherwise in substantial agreement-- except for the sticking point of divorce, they both agreed that Rushdoony’s vision for Biblical law should be imposed upon America.
That vision included instituting stoning as a form of capital punishment for rape, kidnapping, murder, heresy, blasphemy, witchcraft, astrology, adultery, “sodomy or homosexuality,” incest, striking a parent, extreme juvenile delinquency, and “unchastity before marriage.”
Daniel Webster’s association with Bill Gothard’s Institute For Basic Life Training has continued into the present, and a speech Webster made at a Nashville IBLP conference in 2009 has now become a source of controversy due to a new Alan Grayson campaign ad. Grayson is currently taking a media drubbing because of a campaign ad that calls Grayson’s political opponent, Republican Daniel Webster, “Taliban Dan.”