Is it possible that Crap Christianity -- based on ignorance and savagery -- is finally on the defensive?
"It's that the entire moral landscape has changed. An increasingly secularized America understands our positions, and has rejected them."
-- R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern
Baptist Theological Seminary (in Louisville, KY)
Baptist Theological Seminary (in Louisville, KY)
I've been nursing this story for more than a week now, waiting for an opportunity to explore and augment it, and speculate and counterspeculate, but it doesn't look as if any of that is going to happen anytime soon, so let's just go with this NYT report by Laurie Goodstein, "Christian Right Failed to Sway Voters on Issues," the source of the quote above from R. Albert Mohler Jr., which I for one can hardly believe I'm hearing from the mouth of the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The NYT piece actually goes a good deal further than the timid headline suggests, providing grounds for thinking that:
(1) The Religious Right, which for so long now has seemed impervious both to reality and to challenges to its rampaging immorality, is kind of shook up over what happened on November 5.
Christian conservatives, for more than two decades a pivotal force in American politics, are grappling with Election Day results that repudiated their influence and suggested that the cultural tide -- especially on gay issues -- has shifted against them.And: (2) Noncrazed voices from the world of faith are finally starting to be heard pushing back above the roar of Crap Christian craziness.
They are reeling not only from the loss of the presidency, but from what many of them see as a rejection of their agenda. They lost fights against same-sex marriage in all four states where it was on the ballot, and saw anti-abortion-rights Senate candidates defeated and two states vote to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
It is not as though they did not put up a fight; they went all out as never before: The Rev. Billy Graham dropped any pretense of nonpartisanship and all but endorsed Mitt Romney for president. Roman Catholic bishops denounced President Obama's policies as a threat to life, religious liberty and the traditional nuclear family. Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition distributed more voter guides in churches and contacted more homes by mail and phone than ever before.
Meanwhile, religious liberals are gradually becoming more visible. Liberal clergy members spoke out in support of same-sex marriage, and one group ran ads praising Mr. Obama's health care plan for insuring the poor and the sick. In a development that highlighted the diversity within the Catholic Church, the "Nuns on the Bus" drove through the Midwest warning that the budget proposed by Representative Paul D. Ryan, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, would cut the social safety net.Oh, reporter Goodstein quotes a healthy share of eternally implacable voices of the Crap Christian Right -- dunderheads like Bob Vander Plaats and Ralph "Sure, I'm a Crook, but So What?" Reed declaring that while something-or-other seems possibly to have happened in this election, it's just a technical glitch, and nothing will deter them from the lifelong struggle to see the triumph of ignorance, hatred, and indecency.
And she quotes "Christian leaders" who "pointed to other factors that may have blunted their impact in this election." You know, stuff like the shocking outrageousness of buttholes like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock. The problem with this "defense" is that it ignores how overwhelmingly the Crap Christian Rightists believe exactly the same things but are merely more tactful about saying so. As we know, on matters of sexual policy, there is no difference whatsoever between, say, Akin and Great White Hope Young Paul Ryan.
However, even those "religious leaders," says Goodstein,
acknowledge that they are losing ground. The evangelical share of the population is both declining and graying, studies show. Large churches like the Southern Baptist Convention, which has provided an organizing base for the Christian right, are losing members.And Goodstein takes pains to indicate that the problem extends beyond the evangelical twits to their new peas-in-a-pod allies, the bedrock of Crap Christianity, the Roman Catholic hierarchy.
"In the long run, this means that the Republican constituency is going to be shrinking on the religious end as well as the ethnic end," said James L. Guth, a professor of political science at Furman University in Greenville, S.C.
The election outcome was also sobering news for Catholic bishops, who this year spoke out on politics more forcefully and more explicitly than ever before, some experts said. The bishops and Catholic conservative groups helped lead the fight against same-sex marriage in the four states where that issue was on the ballot. Nationwide, they undertook a campaign that accused Mr. Obama of undermining religious liberty, redoubling their efforts when a provision in the health care overhaul required most employers to provide coverage for contraception.I'm strictly an observer on Catholic issues, but I've been shocked by how far, how insanely and openly far, the U.S. bishops have lurched to the right -- clearly under heavy pressure from the recent run of devil-popes, John Paul II and his successor, Pope Cardinal Ratguts. They have given themselves over so wholeheartedly to insanity, hatefulness, and blind immorality that if I were an American Catholic, I would "just say no" to any word that comes out of their debased mouths.
Despite this, Mr. Obama retained the Catholic vote, 50 to 48 percent, according to exit polls, although his support slipped from four years ago. Also, solid majorities of Catholics supported same-sex marriage, said Dr. [Robert P.] Jones, the pollster [chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute].
Goodstein has noticed.
Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, who serves on the bishops' domestic policy committee, said that the bishops spoke out on many issues, including immigration and poverty, but got news media attention only when they talked about abortion, same-sex marriage and religious liberty. Voters who identify as Catholic but do not attend Mass on Sunday may not have been listening, he said, but Catholics who attend Mass probably "weigh what the church has to say."I'd like to believe that American Catholics were as shocked and appalled as I was by the U.S. bishops' savage organized assault on American nuns, the only group inside the walls of Catholic officialdom which is demonstrating an understanding of and commitment to real Christian values -- you know, the kinds of things that Jesus preached. (See Garry Wills's remarkable April NYRB blogpost "Bullying the Nuns." My post about it seems to have disappeared, but not the May follow-up, "Bullying the nuns (cont'd).")
"I think good Catholics can be found across the political spectrum," Bishop Soto said, "but I do think they wrestle with what the church teaches."
Like the rest of the modern-day Right, the Crap Christians have become so divorced from reality that they really appear to believe they can have their way no matter how far over the edge of sanity and decency they plunge. If they had as much as one working brain amongst the whole lot of them, they would be on their knees to the nuns, begging them to save them -- from themselves.