Monday, June 26, 2006

Jesus Is Not a Republican

Randall Balmer, professor of American religious history at Barnard College, and an evangelical christian, thinks that the machiavellian political machinations of the religious right in the US undermine the basic Christian beliefs they profess to hold. (Brian Tamanaha has posted extended extracts at Balkanisation). On torture, for example,

"Following the revelations that the U.S. government exported prisoners to nations that have no scruples about the use of torture, I wrote to several prominent religious-right organizations. Please send me, I asked, a copy of your organization's position on the administration's use of torture. Surely, I thought, this is one issue that would allow the religious right to demonstrate its independence from the administration, for surely no one who calls himself a child of God or who professes to hear "fetal screams" could possibly countenance the use of torture. Although I didn't really expect that the religious right would climb out of the Republican Party's cozy bed over the torture of human beings, I thought perhaps they might poke out a foot and maybe wiggle a toe or two.

I was wrong. Of the eight religious-right organizations I contacted, only two, the Family Research Council and the Institute on Religion and Democracy, answered my query. Both were eager to defend administration policies...

I'm sorry, but the use of torture under any circumstances is a moral issue, not a public-relations dilemma.

And what about abortion, the issue that the religious right decided in the early 1980s was its signature concern? Since January 2003, the Republican and religious-right coalition has controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress — yet, curiously, it has not tried to outlaw abortion. Why? Could it be that its members are less interested in actually reducing the incidence of abortion itself (in which case they should seek to alter public opinion on the matter) than in continuing to use abortion as a potent political weapon?"

Watch out for the reaction of the religious right's pr machine, as Balmer will be villified as a traitor and all sorts of other things, no doubt. Very Christian behaviour?

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