Dangerous Stuff

emember John Hagee?

He was the freaky and bigoted pastor from Texas whose endorsement John McCain sought in 2008 and whose endorsement he got in 2008 and whose endorsement was eventually rejected by John McCain in 2008 because, well, the guy is part of the Christian Taliban.

This year Hagee is conducting what he calls “40 Days of Prayer,” going on until the election on November 6.  Evangelicals are big on large prayer meetings, especially when a Muslim is sitting in the White’s House. Hagee’s prayer, don’t you know, involves repentance for “the sin of idolatry“:

…we have under the banner of pluralism and hedonism, embraced and worshipped the gods of this world…

Our silence has produced a secular nation and all nations that forget You, shall be forsaken. We ask that You hear our cry, for we need You, in these desperate times, to lead us out of our politically correct fog of constant confusion and take us back to Your moral clarity.

Among the election results Hagee is praying for is the defeat of Barack Obama, although he doesn’t use his name. But we know it is Obama  because, well, just read it for yourself:

O Lord our God, You have promised to raise up righteous leaders into high places and to remove those who have displayed unrighteous authority. We earnestly pray that You will once again exalt the upright and expose the deeds of the ungodly…

We pledge to exercise our God given rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” in voting for future leaders from the county courthouse to the White House who obey and honor Your Word.

We pledge to vote the Bible in selecting those that will govern our country.

Gee. I wonder who he means by “remove those who have displayed unrighteous authority“? To which party is he pledging his—and his followers’—vote?

But that last line, “We pledge to vote the Bible” should trouble any thinking American, those that haven’t been poisoned by Talibanic teaching. What the hell does “vote the Bible” mean? What can it mean? The Bible is a rather large book, full of contradictory claims and prescriptions.

Monday night on The Last Word I saw remarks made by another member of the Christian Taliban, but this one is not a loopy pastor in Texas. He is Paul Broun, a Republican who hails from, where else, Georgia. Broun has called President Obama “a Marxist” who “is destroying everything that’s made this country great,” but that’s not what is so disturbing about him.

Broun sits on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.  Yes, Science, Space, and Technology, the same committee with a member named Todd Akin, of legitimate rape and creepy gynecological theory fame.

Just as Pastor Hagee and countless evangelical and fundamentalist Christians do, Paul Broun has a Supreme Boss, an Iron Age book, which leads him to a startling conclusion:

God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that all that stuff I was taught about evolution and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell.

This would be a good time to remind you that he sits on the Science, Space, and Technology committee in your House of Representatives. More:

And it’s lies to try to keep me, and all the folks who were taught that, from understanding that they need a savior. You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young earth. I don’t believe that the earth is but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.

Science, Space, and Technology, people. More:

What I’ve come to learn is that it’s the manufacturer’s handbook, is what I call it. It teaches us how to run our lives individually, how to run our families, how to run our churches. But it teaches us how to run all our public policy and everything in society. That’s the reason as your congressman, I hold the Holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I live in Washington, D.C, and I’ll continue to do that  [raucous applause].

Besides the obvious, the Science, Space, and Technology committee has jurisdiction over “scientific research, development, and demonstration, and projects therefor,” as its website puts it.

Just why would Republican leadership put men like Todd Akin and Paul Broun on such an important committee? Because evangelicals have taken over control of the Republican Party, my friends. People who think the earth is nine bleeping thousand years old are in positions of power in our government, and are threatening to take the whole damn thing over.

I know these people. I know who they are and how they think and how much they hate anything that contradicts their interpretation of the Bible. This is dangerous stuff in terms of the future of the country. These folks mean business when they say that what science teaches, like evolution and the Big Bang theory, are “lies straight from the pit of hell.” These are not just crowd-pleasing one-liners. Paul Broun means it with all his heart.

And he means it when he says that the Bible will be his guide to governance because “it teaches us how to run all our public policy and everything in society.” The Bible is our teacher. The Bible, a book that is a collection of tales and claims written by ignorant and scientifically illiterate men living in an age when the wheelbarrow represented an advancement in technology and a time when men scribbled their divine thoughts on papyrus.

I have said this countless times, but I will continue to say it. We, you and me and other Americans not shackled by Iron Age theology, have to mount an aggressive rhetorical offensive against these fundamentalist reactionaries whenever and wherever we encounter them, on the street, in the workplace, in school, or, uh, in church. I repeat: this is dangerous stuff.

It’s our job as good citizens to point out the scandal of a Paul Broun, who thinks climate change is a hoax, or a Todd Akin, who thinks women have special rape-sperm recognition devices, sitting on, dare I say it again, the Science, Space, and Technology committee in this the twenty-first century.

Mainstream journalists won’t do it. Most politicians won’t do it. We The Thinking People have to help scientists defend science, as Bill Nye, commenting on Paul Broun’s claims, is doing:

Since the economic future of the United States depends on our tradition of technological innovation, Representative Broun’s views are not in the national interest. For example, the Earth is simply not 9,000 years old. He is, by any measure, unqualified to make decisions about science, space, and technology.

Unqualified, and dangerous.

Watch another Republican congressman invoke the Bible in a discussion about public policy followed by Paul Broun:

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15 Comments

  1. ansonburlingame

     /  October 10, 2012

    I will for sure admit that some of the supporters of the Romney candidacy are as depicted above. My guess is there may be 25 Million votes for Romney coming from that crowd just like there will be a similar number of votes coming from left wing “nuts” (like supporters of OWS, etc) for Obama. So what???

    Go back and watch last weeks debate. There was not a HINT of a religious zealot in that debate. Romney said time and time again, here are MY PRINCIPLES and not once did you hear anything close to something that say Santorum would have said in such a setting or God forebid an “Akin”.

    You are again using the same scare tactics used by the “Chicago machine” campaign rhetoric against Romney and it is failing to stick now that we see and hear, unvarnished, the REAL Romney, a man of deep principles that are shared by many Americans that have nothing or very little to do with their faith and how they practice it.

    Wheeler for example, months ago, tried to imply that Romney was a “secretive Mormon” and God only knows what his REAL beliefs might be and how he might govern as a result. Yet he and others have NEVER shown cases where Romney LEAD things in business, the Olympics or as a governor using “secret Mormon beliefs”.

    So why don’t you just run some old Akin tapes to imply that “There is the real Romney” based upon what Akin may have said or done in the past. Are you kidding me. Akin and Billy Long don’t stand a chance against the likes of Mitt Romney, in a private setting or a public debate!!!

    We KNOW what has happened for now four years when the Tea Party crowd goes up against the Progressive crowd and Obama tries to “mediate” or more important LEAD the two sides. We get progressive legislation with NO GOP (much less Tea Party) votes simply because the progressives had the majority. OR we get abject Stalemate and kicking the can down the road to a looming fiscal cliff!!!

    America cannot be effectively governed by single party majorities. To be effective government policies require bipartisan support to have a chance of being sustainable.

    What we NEED is a President that could take the likes of Akin and Long into a room with Pelosi and Reed and come out with a 3-1 or even 4-0 vote to support the President’s position. THAT is LEADERSHIP and we have seen NOTHING like it for now 4 years.

    THAT more than anything else reflects the FAILURE of LEADERSHIP on the part of Obama and you saw exactly that failure, up front and personal, last week in the debate.

    I wonder how Dem efforts to better “prep” Obama will be for the two follow on debates. I don’t know how you can “prep” a man to be a leader in a couple of weeks or so, or even four years while trying to act “Presidential” using sound bites and rhetorical flourishes with a telepromter!!

    Anson

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  2. Duane,

    As a former president of, but now retired from, the Humanist Association of Tulsa, I find it interesting that religion, specifically Christianity, continues to raise its ugly head time and again in politics and, more importantly, in connection with those who hold or want to hold public office. The founders, after all, designed our constitutional republic to be secular. Not only had they seen the suffering that religion wrought in Europe, but one of the main points of establishing a new government was to protect religious freedom; not to dictate what it should be.

    Of course this resurgence of religious zealotry in politics is part and parcel of the blind submission to authoritarianism. (See John Dean.) The irony, indeed the absurdity, of the Christian fundamentalist/evangelical movement is that they have aligned themselves with far right wing Conservatives. If you tried to line up the GOP platform with the Sermon on the Mount, you would see that they are totally out of sync with and even opposed to their own Savior. Jesus hated hypocrisy, not to mention the ostentatious display of wealth. (See any Catholic church and all Protestant Mega-Churches.) No ticket to heaven for these guys.

    You may have heard of “The Fellowship,” a.k.a., “The Family.” The Family’s devoted membership includes congressmen, corporate leaders, generals and foreign heads of state. In 2008, Jeff Sharlet, who had interned for the Family one summer, wrote a book exposing them: “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.” Sharlet, “criticized their theology as an ‘elite fundamentalism’ that fetishizes political power and wealth, consistently opposes labor movements in the U.S. and abroad, and teaches that laissez-faire economic policy is ‘God’s will.’” He also criticized their theology of instant forgiveness for powerful men as providing a convenient excuse for elites who commit misdeeds or crimes, allowing them to avoid accepting responsibility or accountability for their actions.

    Among the heros admired by these idiots are Hitler, Goebbels, Himmler, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao. Sharlet told NBC News that when he was an intern with the Fellowship “we were being taught the leadership lessons of Hitler, Lenin and Mao” and that Hitler’s genocide “wasn’t an issue for them, it was the strength that he emulated.”

    Like I say, authoritarianism. And it is, like you say, Dangerous Stuff!

    Herb

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    • Herb,

      Rachel Maddow did extensive interviews, many times, with Jeff Sharlet, in 2009. That’s where I first heard of The Family. She did many segments on the outfit (go here to see Sharlet’s review of one of them), exposing them for activity both here and abroad (their connection to anti-gay efforts in Uganda, for instance).

      I don’t know why Sharlet’s book didn’t create a national scandal, but it didn’t. I guess Americans are too busy to worry about “Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power,” or perhaps the mainstream press just ignored it as another wacky conspiracy theory and didn’t do any of its own reporting on it, as far as I know.

      But the authoritarian impulse behind such things is indeed dangerous. From an authoritarian God to an authoritarian synagogue and church hierarchy (which excludes women in positions of leadership) to authoritarian politics, these people crave dominance over others above all else, even though it is disguised as religion.

      Duane

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  3. ansonburlingame

     /  October 10, 2012

    I agree that many (but not all) in the evangelical Christian form of “faith” are simply nuts and will do what they can politically to impose such views on other Americans with the force of government. There is what Herb calls the “American Taliban”. I reject “them” as much as you do, period.

    But I reject the wing nuts on the left, the OWS supporters, the “peace at any price” the socialists and communists in all their glory as well.

    A pox on all of them is my call, all 25 million or so of them. Anyone really think they have a real number to quantify the nuts in our political system?

    But what this blog has tried hard to do for months, years now is to paint the entire conservative movement with that broad brush. Yes there are some on the right that have tried to paint Obama with an equally inaccurate brush as well.

    My call is to turn all those nuts loose in a big field, armed with all the brushes possible and let them paint each other. But leave Romney and Obama out of that fiasco and me as well. Considering the content and theme of this blog for months and years, I suspect Graham might well be out their slinging his own brush at “evangelicals” as well. Herb would be doing so for sure!!!

    I instead will watch the next set of debates to see if any “nuts” take THAT stage and then vote accordingly!!!

    Anson

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  4. Duane,

    There have been several states – Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia – that, a few years ago, tried to put a warning about evolution on the cover of biology textbooks. Typical is the 2005 warning proposed by the Beebe School Board in Arkansas reads in part:

    “This textbook discusses evolution, a controversial theory some scientists present as a scientific explanation for the origin of living things, such as plants, animals and humans. Many people believe that evolution alone is not adequate to explain the origins of life. For these people, the idea of an intelligent designer seems to make sense.

    “No one was present when life first appeared on earth. Therefore, any statement about life’s origins should be considered as theory, not fact.”

    I will spare you the rest of it. In any case, the Intelligent Design nonsense is merely a wedge to get the teaching of creationism into the public schools. Mercifully, this and all similar labels that promote the Abrahamic version of creation have been struck down by the courts as a violation of the “establishment clause” in the First Amendment.

    I thought about this a while and decided that there should be a warning label on all bibles as well. Mine would read:

    “WARNING:

    “The contents of this book should be considered more as myth than history, more as wishful thinking than reason, more as escapism than inspiration, more as immoral than moral, and more as fantasy than science. The reader should take note likewise that there are numerous errors, contradictions, inconsistencies, and fallacies throughout this book.

    “Due to the graphic descriptions of atrocities, violence, torture, rape, child abuse, cruelty, misogyny, barbarism, murder, infanticide, genocide, and crimes against humanity, and due to the portrayal of the God character herein as a cruel, vindictive, paranoid, narcissistic, irrational, controlling, bigoted, irresponsible, and dictatorial tyrant, parental guidance is highly recommended.”

    I mean, fair is fair isn’t it???

    Herb

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    • @ Herb,

      I applaud your bible label and fervently wish it could be applied.

      @ All,

      Duane’s post is on target, but the warning, alas, may not be sufficient to the threat. Lying sleepless and listing to radio drivel the other night I heard something startling. The guy said something about preachers intentionally defying the law concerning politicking from the pulpit. Sure enough, when I googled the subject I found that “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” was a growing movement that had 33 churches in 2008 and 539 last year. They did it again last Sunday but the IRS is said to lack funding for enforcement against this open rebellion. Clearly the Teavangelical movement has the resolve to pursue this kind of thing and they smell blood in the political waters. This crap is out of control, and our only hope, I submit, is to act as Herb has done and stand up for common sense at every opportunity.

      Like

    • Herb,

      Fortunately for me (and thanks to my mom who bought me a set of science encyclopedias when I was in elementary school), even as an evangelical Christian I still believed in evolution, albeit a form known generally described as “theistic” evolution.

      It turns my stomach in knots knowing that in countless schools across the country evolution is being discredited, either explicitly (attacking it) or implicitly (by ignoring it). When I was in high school in Fort Scott, Kansas, (in the mid-1970s)I was introduced to evolution in biology class in a weird way. We had our regular teacher present an outline of evolution and a teacher-in-training present creationism. It was bizarre, to say the least. But, more important, it was harmful in the sense that it put science and the Bible on equal footing in a science class! That sort of thing, if it were done everywhere, would threaten the country’s well-being.

      I love your WARNING. And it has the benefit of being completely true. I will, more than likely, steal it for future use.

      Duane

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    • King Beauregard

       /  October 11, 2012

      Your warning reminds me of Ken Miller, one of the guys who testified at the Dover School Board trial. He is both a Christian and a biologist, and he knows that the Bible isn’t a textbook. Here’s a fascinating talk he gave at CWRU the other year:

      It’s a two hour video, but it’s well worth your time. If you want to watch just a five minute clip, I recommend this one:

      It’s funny how the thing opens up with a prayer, but then rips apart many of the faithfuls’ most “cherished” beliefs. (I have my doubts on what it is they’re really cherisihing.)

      Like

      • King Beau,

        I watched the whole thing and I can tell you that in all the years I have spent studying the intersection between science and religion (it is a preoccupation with me), Ken Miller is one of the best in the business as an advocate for the good guys. I hadn’t seen this particular video and it was quite a show, in terms of clarity and presentation. Thanks for posting it. I have read a lot about the Kitzmiller v. Dover case and Miller is, indeed, a hero, particularly for dissecting Michael Behe’s irreducible complexity argument.

        I especially liked his mention of folks on the left who have a disdain for science. We forget sometimes that anti-science zealots have a presence on our side, too, although nothing compared to what we see on the right (at least here in America). I also liked his mention of fundamentalism killing science in Islamic culture.

        And although I understand his reluctance to call out the political right for what is happening (he is trying to use reason instead of vitriol), I believe it is past time to start a verbal frontal assault against people who would take the country back to an Iron Age appreciation of science.

        Duane

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  5. ansonburlingame

     /  October 11, 2012

    Ah, “this crap is out of control”. Boy do I agree with that view. But now we must define “whose crap”. I say BOTH sides of “crap”. Do I need to define “left crap” and “right crap” to make my point?????

    I say again, leave Romney and Obama out of the “crap calling” campaign. If you want to blog about a hypocritical right wing “nut” go ahead. But you are certainly wasting my time as I dislike right and left wing “nuts” equally and NEITHER Romney nor Obama are such men, in my view.

    And even the polemical Graham would put a picture of Romney in the above blog, I hope!!! And if he did so, he would be as “crappy” as a birther on the right!!!

    Anson

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  6. ansonburlingame

     /  October 11, 2012

    Obviously I meant Graham would NOT put a picture……. Please excuse the mistype.

    AB

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  7. Duane,

    First, thanks for your kind words re my “label.” Also, back in 2005, I wrote a 19 page letter to my Congressman, John Sullivan, addressing the issue of Intelligent Design and requesting that he introduce a bill that would withhold federal funds from any school district or state that offered intelligent design in public schools. I sent copies to various congressmen and senators who might be involved in this particular legislation. Needless to say, I got a nice form letter from Sullivan. But I also got quite a scolding letter from Senator Inhofe, who, by the way, is also a long-time member of the “Family.” I took great pride in shooting down each of his arguments in my response.

    I hope to post my little dissertation regarding Intelligent Design on my “thehumanistchallenge” blog very soon.

    But back on your point in the post above, my Humanist group struggled (well, OK, I struggled, they were pretty much united) with this issue of combining of religion and politics. The main problem here is an other First Amendment right – the freedom of speech. Unless it’s slander, or libel, or yelling fire in a crowed theater when there isn’t one, citizens in this country are free to say whatever they please, wherever they please to say it. This applies equally to individuals, churches, and for-profit corporations. (See Citizens United.)

    The other problem, which, as it turns out, is not really a problem, has to do with the restrictions pertaining to tax-exempt status. There is some confusion about whether a religion (whatever that is) should seek tax-exempt status as a 501(c)3 organization. Under the IRS rules, a 501(c)3 organization cannot try to influence public policy, to endorse any candidate for public office, or to organize opposition to anything that the government declares “legal,” even if the “church believes it to be immoral (e.g. abortion, homosexuality, same sex marriages, etc.), or it will lose its tax exemption.

    But the “Establishment” and Free Exercise” clauses of the First Amendment prohibit Congress from making any law, such as the Tax Code, that would interfere with those freedoms. Ergo, a religious organization is exempt from any rules or laws that would subject it to the control of the government, whether it has 501(c)3 status or not. And it doesn’t need to file 990’s or 1099’s or other related tax forms.

    So, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, any preacher can stand up in church and declare that she’s voting for X as president just as easily as she can in an open field, or standing on a street corner. Were this not the case, then we would enter an Orwellian world where the government tells us what we can and cannot say.

    We can complain about it, but it’s perfectly legal for the leaders of any religious organization to enter the political fray and tell their flock who God wants them to vote for. Arg!

    Herb

    Like

    • Herb,

      Kudos to you for your tenacity. Especially with the nut Inhofe.

      I don’t care if a zealot in a pulpit bashes Obama or not, so long as the bastard isn’t being subsidized by the government, in the form of tax-exemption, whether it be income tax or property tax. Churches should lose all tax-exempt status, period. Here in Joplin, for instance, at 7th and Rangeline sits one of the largest church monstrosities in Jasper County. It sits on one of the most expensive properties around here, but the church doesn’t pay a penny in property taxes. No way that should happen.

      Duane

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      • King Beauregard

         /  October 15, 2012

        The argument about churches and taxes gets a little backwards sometimes. Churches aren’t tax exempt because they’re churches, they’re tax exempt because they agree to follow certain rules: operating in a non-profit fashion and not speaking for or against any candidate are the two biggest rules. ANY organization that meets the IRS’s criteria can qualify as tax-exempt, not just churches; the one edge churches have is that they are assumed to qualify until shown otherwise.

        But that’s the deal the IRS offers the public: abide by a set of rules, and you don’t have to pay taxes. If this particular church, or any other, is violating the rules granting tax-exempt status, the IRS will want to know:

        http://www.irs.gov/uac/IRS-Complaint-Process-For-Tax-Exempt-Organizations

        Paying one’s taxes is patriotic; if a given church is patriotic enough to endorse one candidate or denounce another, it’s patriotic enough to pay taxes too.

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  8. ansonburlingame

     /  October 11, 2012

    I (almost) give up!! But no, I still will not (yet) go away.

    If you want to debate theology, philosophy, etc. I will still have an interest and we might as well really agree on some of those points. I come down hard to support evolution, as just an example. And NO, I don’t believe God has some “plan” for my entire life, regardless of what I a may choose or not choose to do. My choices dictate my life, in my view. But so what in what I THOUGHT was a political blog supporting progressive politics, which in some cases are as crazy as “creationists” in terms of how both Dems and GOPers “got here”.

    Anson

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