(Note: This article was written before the emergence of the religious right during the Trump era.)
What is somewhat shocking is that the arguments against gays put forward by the Religious Right today come almost word-for-word from Hitler’s successful and immensely disparaging propaganda program that opened the door for the killing of millions of Jews, gays, minorities, gypsies and other ‘undesirables.’ (7)
In order to facilitate its program of racial purification, the Nazis needed to eliminate the voices of dissent from within its own house. Some of these were political. Some were religious. German Christian churches were systematically Nazified. The governing boards of seminaries were taken over seat by seat. Seminary faculties were pruned of opposition, guaranteeing that the pulpits of Germany would spout preaching that supported the Nazi agenda. The prophetic voice of the church was silenced. There were surprisingly few voices of dissent and those few that were quickly silenced. But, Germany has never lacked for martyrs, so the absence of dissent is notable.
What confuses many people is that there are groups within the conservative religious movement, largely fundamentalist, who use religion as a wrapper around their real agenda, which is political domination. They are not really interested in faith, they are not really interested in religious or even spiritual values, what they want is to be able to tell you what you can and cannot do, and they have demonstrated a willingness to use almost any means to accomplish those ends. And this confuses a great many people because Christian/Jewish/Islamic values have been in existence for thousands of years, and yet, these self-avowed fundamentalists readily violate virtually every principle that they theoretically stand for.
Although the God of the Old Testament was more bombastic than the Christian God, still, even in the Old Testament, God became associated with the qualities of compassion, honesty, acceptance, not causing harm, reverence, not swearing, not committing adultery, not being greedy and so forth. Although various religious leaders have tried to twist and change those values from time-to time, God has been remarkably consistent in His teachings.
Christ came to earth two thousand years ago to clarify and secularize God’s teachings. Christ was a radical activist, speaking of peace, about caring for the sick and the poor and offering salvation to the meek. He challenged the powerful, and condemned economic injustice as sinful. He spoke repeatedly about the importance of loving each other as God’s children regardless of race, sex, ethnic association or religious belief. He preached compassion, understanding and being generous to those less fortunate. At the Last Supper He offered the commandment, “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” His concern was less about what we believed than what we did with our lives. As is so often the case with radicals who threaten the established order, the religious leaders of the day had him silenced. Silencing opposition is an ancient political tool. We know about Christians being fed to the lions in the Coliseum. Andrei Sakharov made the Soviet Gulag famous, and today China has its Laogai forced labor camps. Gandhi spent time in prison, so did Nelson Mandella. Wei Jingsheng “the father of Chinese democracy” and the 33 known Tiananmen Square student protest leaders spent may years in prison. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, has been under house arrest in Burma for years. But, I digress. . .
Given Gods’ values and the considerable energy expended to sustain them over the centuries, it has come like a whiplash to many people to see God and His teachings almost completely abrogated by today’s extremist ‘True Believers.’ When they hold AIDS victims up as being punished for their promiscuity; deny gays the right of relationship and repeatedly rescue Florida cities from hurricane after hurricane, but allow New Orleans’ African Americans to languish in filth and devastation because of their perceived ‘perversions’ like jazz and drugs, one has to wonder what has happened to God’s teachings? Many of these fundamentalists have wandered so far away from God that they have more in common with atheists than with real Christians. Truly religious people would never turn their back on the sufferings of the poor, refuse health care or in other ways deny help to those who have lost their way or who suffer.
What is happening today in the systematic right-wing takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention, board by board, professor by professor, pulpit by pulpit, is so eerily similar that it could be an echo of the muffled cry that went unheard, 70 years ago. Consider this: as regarding to the legal system in America, the editors of The Christian Century wrote on May 17th:
After listening to James Dobson and his evangelical Christian colleagues talk about controlling the federal judiciary through the Republican majority in Congress ö to the extent of punishing judges and defunding courts one can’t help recalling the events in 1930s Germany. The National Socialists removed judges who didn’t go along with the party program. Law became what they party said it would.
Dobson, speaking on his radio show it April, imagined political change proceeding this way: “The troublesome Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco could be abolished and then staffed by different judges immediately.” He complained that “Congress has not had the political gumption to take any such action.” House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has encouraged such views: “We set up the courts. We can unset the courts. We have the power of the purse.”
In her article on Nazism mentioned above, Donna Williams goes on to point out that in addition to the ‘traditional’ anti-Semitic Holocaust revisionism by extremist groups such as The Institute for Historical Review; a new and arguably, perversely twisted form of anti-gay Holocaust revisionism has emerged recently. This new thread has been endorsed by mainstream religious right organizations such as Colorado for Family Values and the Oregon Citizen’s Alliance. These groups are teaching something so off-the-wall that you laugh at it until you realize how serious they are and how seriously these teachings are taken in some quarters. In an incredible philosophical about-face, these groups teach that Hitler was actually soft on gays and that it was the homosexuals in the Nazi movement that were responsible for creating the holocaust. (8) It’s a perverse and clever tactic. This, by the way, was the same ‘soft and tolerant’ Adolph Hitler who wouldn’t let a German into the Nazi Party if he had so much as a single dental filling.
Consider these words by a prominent Religious Right group:
Those who practice homosexuality should swiftly be put to death by the government. God emphatically condemns the practice of exchanging proper gender characteristics among men and women. God justly calls for the death-penalty for anyone who practices homosexuality.
Every movement has its wackos, but what follows is a statement by Barbara Blewster, a prominent member of the Church of Later Day Saints and an elected representative in the Arizona State Legislature, who says, “The perversion that follows homosexuality is bestiality and then human sacrifice and cannibalism.”
In ‘The Christian Coalition: On The Road To VICTORY? A Special Report From Inside The Pat Robertson Political Machine,’ (9) Frederick Clarkson shared his observations, and prophetically touched on the beginnings of the religious political movement in America:
When I slipped into the national leadership meeting of Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, I thought I knew what to expect. I’d written many stories about the Religious Right. But I was unprepared for what I saw, heard and felt inside Robertson’s Virginia Beach, Va., headquarters for two days in November during the “Road to Victory” Conference and Strategy Briefing.
The historic Louisiana governor’s race was reaching its climax. Men and women crowded around televisions, awaiting the electoral fate of neo-Nazi Republican David Duke. Although Pat Robertson denounced racism and Naziism to reporters outside the conference, inside there were open expressions of support for Duke, from the ordinary membership to the leadership. (I saw only five blacks out of 800 delegates.) For many there was grim disappointment at Duke’s defeat.
I was also surprised to see a rapidly growing, technologically sophisticated religio-political organization, built largely from Robertson’s 1988 presidential campaign. Christian Coalition activists are working to take over the Republican Party from the grassroots up, while electing right-to-life conservative Christian Republicans to public office at all levels.
Christian conservatives now hold a majority of seats in over half the Republican State Committees, plus large minorities in the rest, double their representation from just a decade ago. Look how far we have come from the compassionate, inclusive teachings of Christ to the narrow-minded, exclusionary condemning views of today’s radical Christian Conservatives.
The real issue with these people is not their faith or their beliefs. They are entitled to those. The problem is their addiction to thinking they are right, which is so typical of religious zealots throughout history. It’s an addiction to believing they hold the truth, driven interestingly enough, by the fact that their positions are shaky and they fear having that exposed. That is why they must wrap themselves so tightly in extremism. And, as it has been said, “The human emotion that most imperils peace is not rage, but righteousness.”
“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God; that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship; that the legislative powers of the government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should `make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between church and State.”? Thomas Jefferson, in his historic Danbury letter, January 1, 1802.
“The United States is in no sense founded upon the Christian doctrine.” George Washington.
“As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion …” from the Treaty of Tripoli, signed by John Adams, June 10, 1797.
“If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it ought to be good enough for the children of Texas.” Texas Governor Ma Ferguson, elected 1924.
(1) This was actually the repeat of a Commandment given in Leviticus (19:18), “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
(2) Formerly at: http://www.hom.net/~angels/democracy.html. See also: http://www.tylwythteg.com/enemies/enemies.html and http://www.kyfor10.org/
(3) It Matters What Kind of Islam Prevails. Culture: Muslims can bring their strong values into U.S. life or try to dominate it. By Daniel Pipes, Los Angeles Times, Thursday, July 22, 1999.
(4) (pp. 50-51)
(5) [Washington Times –
(6) http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0502-33.htm, Monday, May 2, 2005 by CommonDreams.org.
(7) Nazi Anti-Jewish Speech?VS.?Religious Right Anti-Gay Speech, Matthew Shepard Online Resources, from Hate Crime.org, http://www.hatecrime.org/subpages/hitler/hitler.html
(8) The Pink Swastika by Scott Lively (formerly of the Oregon Citizen’s Alliance) and Kevin Abrams.
(9) The Christian Coalition: On The Road To VICTORY? A Special Report From Inside The Pat Robertson Political Machine.ä by Frederick Clarkson, Church and State, January, 1992. The Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party. http://www.theocracywatch.org/road_to_victory_1991.htm
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