25 January 2008

Fundie Friday: Religious and Political Conservatives

I've been a bit flummoxed as to what to write about on today's entry of Fundie Friday. I was tempted to write a fairly in-depth analysis of the history of the Fundamentalist movement, but that's a fairly big project (actually, doing it properly would probably earn me a PhD) and a bit more effort than I wanted to go through today.

And then I stumbled across this article, by Brannon Howse of the Christian Worldview Network.
On my live radio program, Thursday afternoon, I asked my audience to grade the Presidency of George W. Bush as an A, B, C, D, or F. Not one caller gave him an A. In fact, he averaged the grade of a C.


The bottom line is this; true conservatives are extremely disappointed in President Bush. Without Reagan conservatives, he would not have been elected and re-elected and they feel like their worldview was not strongly and consistently represented.

Two of the greatest failures of President Bush was squandering two historic opportunities. After eight long years of putting up with the antics of Bill and Hillary Clinton, and their big government, the American people were hungry to follow a leader that was moral, convicted and conservative. After 9-11, he again was given a great opportunity to lead like no other president in modern time. On both accounts, President Bush squandered his opportunities.

Which made me think about the ways that modern political conservatism is intertwined with religious conservatism, in ways that don't have an immediate cause. If you keep reading, this becomes more apparent, as Howse gives a whole litany of reasons why Bush deserves a no greater grade than "C". (Actually, I agree that Bush is an awful president, but of course for wildly different reasons.) The list, with my commentary, below:

Under his “compassionate conservatism”, which means massive, liberal social spending programs, we have seen the government grow beyond the growth rates of Bill Clinton, even when you take out military spending.

Under the Bush Administration, the Department of Education grew. This happened with such legislation as “No Child Left Behind” that President Bush passed by partnering with Senator Ted Kennedy.

These are both "small government" conservatism, which so far as I know is not a biblical principle. Jesus never told us to help the poor, so long as we don't create a government entitlement program, after all.
Bush pushed for the amnesty of 20 million illegal aliens when he knew that it was not what the American people desired.

Yeah, Christ would've been all about kicking out the darkies, wouldn't he?
The Solicitor General of President Bush has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court against the 2nd Amendment and in favor of depriving the citizens of D.C. the right to bear arms. If the Court agrees with the Solicitor General, this could be chilling for the 2nd Amendment.

Another Jesus quote: "Always go armed."
In January 2008, President Bush traveled to Israel to urge Israel to give up their land to terrorists. President Bush turned on Israel by telling them to stop occupying the land.

This one is legitimately religious, so long as one equates "the government of Israel" with "the Israeli people and religious traditions which are important to the Christian faith." Then again, Israel has a big role to play in the fundie versions of the apocalypse (which I will not go into here!), so that plays into a large part of the reasoning here.
Bush pushed through his big government prescription drug program.

Again with the big government rhetoric. And of course our Savior would let his magic powers cure all disease, rather than try to give the old and needy medicine that would help them live longer, more productive, and happier lives. Then again, maybe Howse just endorses the Gospel of Suffering like Mother Theresa.
The Bush administration has been teeming with radical homosexuals like Mark Dybul at the State Department.

Okay, admittedly, God does hate the gays...
His administration has introduced and promoted the North American Union.

..and apparently also hates supranational organizations. This is part of that whole odious "End Times" theology thing.
An executive order by President Bush allowed for an estimated 100 Mexican trucking companies to travel over our borders. This is not only dangerous but drives down the wages of American truckers and makes the trafficking of drugs more likely.

President Bush refused to fund and build a wall to keep out illegal aliens. President Bush signed a bill to fund and build the wall before the last election and then his administration put so much red tape in the way that its construction was halted.

More with the hatred of brown people. Geez, Howse, couldn't you keep your bigotry all together so I can comment on it all at one time?
President Bush has celebrated the Muslim holiday Ramadan inside the White House.

For the leader of a secular nation to pay homage to the faith of a large minority of the residents of that country is perfectly fine. Of course, when the leader of our Christian Nation (tm) does it, hell's (literally) to pay!
President Bush has refused to pardon two border patrol agents that shot a convicted drug dealer in the side of the butt. These two men now sit in prison and one was assaulted while in prison.

Because when cops shoot people, they shouldn't have to pay for that crime. And of course President Bush is responsible for the misdeeds of the criminals in the prison where they are housed...
The administration of President Bush has built a U.S. Embassy in Bagdad that cost nearly one billion dollars.

It's okay, Brannon, just think of it as a big church....
President Bush was slow on defending traditional marriage once in office. Months of meetings and arm twisting by the Arlington Group was required to finally get the President to give a speech in defense of a Constitutional Amendment to defend marriage.

Wow, they're criticacl of him for being "slow on defending" their version of "traditional marriage." But this is, in their eyes, a legitimate "faith issue", so I'll let it pass.
There are reports from former White House insiders that major players inside the White House would regularly mock evangelical conservatives.

Because it's totally Bush's fault if some of the employees of the administration exercised their rights to free speech. Totally affects Bush's overall job performance, too.
President Bush could have quickly signed legislation to make the cross in San Diego a national memorial and shut-up the liberal ACLU that wanted the cross removed. President Bush waited months before responding.

Ooh, the first dig against the ACLU. Again, note that Bush eventually did something about their concerns, but not fast enough to suit them.
President Bush has failed to defend his policies and administration in a well crafted and executed public relations campaign. He failed to use the “bully pulpit” to sell his agenda to the American people. For instance, why did he not introduce former, top Iraqi air force general Georges Sada to the American people in a major press conference? General Sada spent months in the US speaking and promoting his book, Saddam’s Secrets. General Sada said that Saddam Hussein smuggled biological and chemical weapons into Syria, using civilian airliners acting under cover of a humanitarian mission.

Actually, failure to communicate with the American people is one of the things that I'm most upset with Bush about. But as a uniquely religious thing? And their example is just ludicrous, how about, "lied and got us into a war with no end?" A bit like blaming Charles Manson for jaywalking.
President Bush has allowed the globalist at the State Department to set his foreign policy agenda.

Again with the whole End Times-infused hatred of mulitlateral policy and the UN. God damn it, I'm going to have to talk about it one of these days....

Now, I'm not making any comments about the correctness or incorrectness of the claims above. But note how many of them are not really biblical or even religious in nature, but are based in a particular type of movement conservatism. It's possible, for instance, to be a hard-core conservative fundamentalist who belives in a literal Adam and Eve and still think that something like a prescription drug benefit is a good thing. The reasons for this kind of intertwining is complex, as I said, but largely comes from the rise of the Religious Right movements of the 1970s and 1980s.

It's this immediate connection with religion and Republican politics (right-wing Republican politics, at that!) that makes the fundies most dangerous. That a large number of people believe that evolution isn't true is one thing, that that same number of people have an organized movement to force their opinions on science educators is quite another.

I'll be dealing with these issues throughout the life of this blog, but this is just one example of this strange connection, and to my mind it's a signifier of why understanding the nature of the fundie mindset (and hence why I started this feature) is so important. By understanding what fundies believe and why they believe it, we can begin to understand how to combat the misconceptions present in their view of the world.

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