Goodbye Religion? How Godlessness Is Increasing With Each New Generation

From Alternet, by Adam Lee

“This demographic transformation has been in progress ever since World War II, but in recent years it’s begun to seriously pick up steam.

Something strange is happening to American teenagers. If you believe popular wisdom, young people are apathetic, cynical and jaded; or, they’re supposed to be conformists whose overriding desire is to fit in and be popular. But if you’ve been paying close attention over the past decade, you might have seen any of a growing number of cases that conspicuously defy these stereotypes: stories of teenagers who have strong principles they’re unashamed to display and which they’re committed to defending, even at great personal cost, against the bullying of a hostile establishment.

For example, in 2002, an Eagle Scout named Darrell Lambert was threatened with expulsion from the Boy Scouts, despite his having earned dozens of merit badges and having held literally every leadership position in his troop. His crime? He’s an outspoken atheist. When the news of his beliefs reached scouting officials, they demanded that he change his mind. He was given a week to think it over. All he had to do was lie, but if he did that, he said, “I wouldn’t be a good Scout then, would I?” For his honesty, he was kicked out of the organization he’d devoted his life to.

In New Jersey in 2006, a public high school teacher named David Paskiewicz was openly preaching Christianity in the classroom, advocating creationism and telling a Muslim student she would burn in hell if she didn’t convert. A junior named Matt LaClair reported this illegal government preaching to the school administration. In a meeting with the principal, Paskiewicz denied everything — whereupon LaClair produced audio recordings of him saying the things he specifically denied having said.

In Indiana in 2009, the senior class at a public school was asked to vote on whether to have a prayer as part of their graduation ceremony. A senior named Eric Workman, knowing full well that school-sponsored prayer is illegal even if a majority votes for it, filed a lawsuit and won an injunction against the prayer. The school administration responded by announcing it wouldn’t review graduation speeches in advance, clearly hoping that some student would use the opportunity to say the same prayer — except that the class valedictorian was Eric Workman, and he used his graduation speech to explain why the school’s actions were unconstitutional and to explain the importance of the First Amendment.

Stories like these are multiplying all over the nation. In South Carolina just this year, a graduating senior named Harrison Hopkins put a stop to school prayer with help from the Freedom from Religion Foundation. In Louisiana, a senior named Damon Fowler fought against similar school-sponsored prayers at his graduation. In Rhode Island, an amazing sophomore named Jessica Ahlquist is leading the fight to get an illegal “School Prayer” banner removed from her school’s auditorium.

Granted, stories like these aren’t entirely a new phenomenon. There have always been brave young free thinkers who dared to stand up for their rights, and there has always been a hostile, prejudiced religious majority that’s tried to silence them with bullying, persecution and harassment.

For instance, when church-state hero Ellery Schempp prevailed in a landmark First Amendment case against school-sponsored Bible reading, his principal wrote to the colleges he had applied to and asked them not to admit him. (It didn’t work: Ellery was accepted to Tufts University, graduated with honors and became a successful scientist.) Likewise, when Jim McCollum and his mother Vashti challenged their school over a released-time program, raving bigots assaulted him, got her fired from her job, pelted their home with rotten fruit and killed their cat. (The McCollums didn’t relent, and won a precedent-setting Supreme Court decision striking down religious instruction on public school time.)

Regrettably, this hasn’t changed as much as I’d like. Most of the student activists I named earlier have faced harassment, some from peers, some from the teachers and authority figures who are supposed to be the responsible ones. Damon Fowler was demeaned by a teacher and disowned by his own parents for opposing prayer at his graduation. But what’s different now is that young people who speak out aren’t left to face the mob alone. Now more than ever before, there’s a thriving, growing secular community that’s becoming increasingly confident, assertive, and capable of looking out for its own.

When Fowler was kicked out of his house, a fundraiser on Friendly Atheist netted over $30,000 in donations to pay for his living expenses and college tuition. The Secular Student Alliance, a national organization that supports student atheist and freethought clubs, is growing by leaps and bounds in colleges and high schools. (This is especially important in the light of psychological experiments which find that it’s much easier to resist peer pressure if you have even one other person standing with you.) Student activists like the ones I’ve mentioned are no longer just scattered voices in the crowd; they’re the leading edge of a wave.

All these individual facts add up to a larger picture, which is confirmed by statistical evidence: Americans are becoming less religious, with rates of atheism and secularism increasing in each new generation. This demographic transformation has been in progress ever since World War II, but in recent years it’s begun to seriously pick up steam. In the generation born since 1982, variously referred to as Generation Y, the Millennials, or Generation Next, one in five people identify as nonreligious, atheist, or agnostic. In the youngest cohort, the trend is even more dramatic: as many as 30% of those born since 1990 are nonbelievers. Another study, this one by a Christian polling firm, found that people are leaving Christianity at four times the rate that new members are joining.

What could be causing this generational shift towards godlessness? There are multiple theories, but only one of them that I’m aware of both makes good sense and is corroborated by the facts.

Over the last few decades, society in general, and young people in particular, have become increasingly tolerant of gays and other minorities. For the most part, this is a predictable result of familiarity: people who’ve grown up in an increasingly multicultural society see less problem with interracial relationships (89% of Generation Nexters approve of interracial marriage, compared to 70% of older age groups) and same-sex marriage (47% in favor among Nexters, compared to 30% in older groups). When it comes to issues like whether gays and lesbians should be protected from job discrimination or allowed to adopt, the age gap in support is even more dramatic (71% vs. 59% and 61% vs. 44%, respectively).

But while American society is moving forward on all these fronts, many churches not only refuse to go along, they’re actively moving backward. Most large Christian sects, both Catholic and Protestant, have made fighting against gay rights and women’s rights their all-consuming crusade. And young people have gotten this message loud and clear: polls find that the most common impressions of Christianity are that it’s hostile, judgmental and hypocritical. In particular, an incredible 91% of young non-Christians say that Christianity is “anti-homosexual“, and significant majorities say that Christianity treats being gay as a bigger sin than anything else. (When right-wing politicians thunder that same-sex marriage is worse than terrorism, it’s not hard to see where people have gotten this impression.)

On other social issues as well, the gap between Gen Nexters and the church looms increasingly wide. Younger folks favor full access to the morning-after pill by a larger margin than older generations (59% vs. 46%). They reject the notion that women should return to “traditional roles” — already a minority position, but they disagree with it even more strongly than others. And they’re by far the least likely of all age groups to say that they have “old-fashioned” values about family and marriage (67% say this, as compared to 85% of other age groups).

In a society that’s increasingly tolerant and enlightened, the big churches remain stubbornly entrenched in the past, clinging to medieval dogmas about gay people and women, presuming to lecture their members about how they should vote, whom they should love, how they should live. It’s no surprise that people who’ve grown up in this tolerant age find it absurd when they’re told that their family and friends don’t deserve civil rights, and it’s even less of a surprise that, when they’re told they must believe this to be good Christians, they simply walk away. This trend is reflected in the steadily rising percentages of Americans who say that religion is “old-fashioned and out of date” and can’t speak to today’s social problems.

The Roman Catholic church in particular has been hit hard by this. According to a 2009 Pew study, “Faith in Flux,” one in ten American adults is a former Catholic, and a majority of ex-Catholics cite unhappiness with the church’s archaic stance on abortion, homosexuality, birth control or the treatment of women as a major factor in their departure. But evangelical and other Protestant denominations are feeling the same sting. According to a survey by the sociologists Robert Putnam and David Campbell, moderates and progressives are heading for the exits as the churches increasingly become the domain of conservatives:

From the early 1970s to the late 1980s the fraction of Americans age 18 to 29 who identified with evangelical Protestantism rose to 25% from 20%, but since 1990, that fraction has fallen back to about 17%….Today, 17% of Americans say they have no religion, and these new “nones” are very heavily concentrated among Americans who have come of age since 1990. Between 25% and 30% of twentysomethings today say they have no religious affiliation — roughly four times higher than in any previous generation.

Even the mainstream, relatively liberal Protestant churches are dwindling and dying at an astonishing rate: collateral damage, perhaps, in a political war that’s led young people to view them as guilty by association. As the journal First Things observes in an article titled “The Death of Protestant America,” the mainline churches have fallen from more than 50% of the American population in 1965 to less than 8% today.

What all this means is that the rise of atheism as a political force is an effect, rather than a cause, of the churches’ hard right turn towards fundamentalism. I admit that this conclusion is a little damaging to my ego. I’d love to say that we atheists did it all ourselves; I’d love to be able to say that our dazzling wit and slashing rhetorical attacks are persuading people to abandon organized religion in droves. But the truth is that the churches’ wounds are largely self-inflicted. By obstinately clinging to prejudices that the rest of society is moving beyond, they’re in the process of making themselves irrelevant. In fact, there are indications that it’s a vicious circle: as churches become less tolerant and more conservative, their younger and more progressive members depart, which makes their average membership still more conservative, which accelerates the progressive exodus still further, and so on. (A similar dynamic is at work in the Republican party, which explains their increasing levels of insanity over the past two or three decades.)

That doesn’t mean, however, that that there’s nothing we freethinkers can contribute. On the contrary, there’s a virtuous circle that we can take advantage of: the more we speak out and the more visible we are, the more familiar atheism will become, and the more it will be seen as a viable alternative, which will encourage still more people to join us and speak out. This is exactly the same strategy that’s been used successfully by trailblazers in the gay-rights movement and other social reform efforts.

At the same time, the churches aren’t entirely oblivious to what’s happening. The rising secular tide of Generation Next hasn’t gone unfelt or unnoticed, but is increasingly being reflected in dwindling donations, graying congregations, and empty churches across the land. As John Avant, a vice president for evangelization of the Southern Baptist Conference, lamented:

A study by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s Leavell Center for Evangelism and Church Health showed that only 11 percent of SBC churches are healthy and growing… And we are doing worse with young people, with 39 percent of Southern Baptist churches in 2005 reporting baptizing no teens. (source)

The Catholic church is experiencing a similar slow fade, with declining Mass attendance and a crippling shortage of priests worldwide. Land once owned by religious orders is being sold off for conservation or public use, turned into schools or nature preserves. The Pope’s response, meanwhile, is to accelerate the decline by ordering bishops not even to discuss the possibility of ordaining women or married men, even as he welcomes Holocaust deniers and ex-Angelican misogynists.

And religious giving has declined as well, leaving shrinking churches grappling with layoffs and angry creditors. The recession has worsened this trend, but didn’t create it; like all the other patterns, it’s generational, with each increasingly secular age group giving less than the last. As one conservative rabbi says, the dip in giving stems from a “growing disinterest in organized religion.”

Of course, Christianity is still by far the largest religious affiliation in America, and likely will be for some time. But the numbers don’t lie, and the trends of the last several decades show more and more evidence of the same secularizing wave that’s overtaking most countries in Europe. The major churches, clinging to the inferior morality of long-gone ages, are increasingly out of step with a world that’s more enlightened, rational and tolerant than it once was. And the more they dig in their heels, the more we can expect this process to accelerate. I, for one, can’t wait to see the young atheist activists who will emerge in the next few decades.”

Adam Lee is the author and creator of Daylight Atheism, one of the largest and most popular weblogs on the Internet whose primary focus is on atheism. His original essays written for the site explore issues in politics, science, history, philosophy, and popular culture. Lee is the author of a forthcoming book, also titled Daylight Atheism, which advances the atheist viewpoint and argues that lack of religious belief is a positive liberation and the gateway to a moral life filled with purpose and joy.
Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.alternet.org/belief/151947/goodbye_religion_how_godlessness_is_increasing_with_each_new_generation/?page=entire

Meet the Right-Wing Hatemongers Who Inspired the Norway Killer

N.B.:More than ever, we need, really need, the First Amendment…

N.B.: It was interesting to watch Fox News scramble on Breivik’s religious and political views.

From Alternet, by Max Blumenthal.

“Few political terrorists in recent history took as much care to articulate their ideological influences and political views as Anders Hans Breivik did. The right-wing Norwegian Islamophobe who murdered 76 children and adults in Oslo and at a government-run youth camp spent months, if not years, preparing his 1,500 page manifesto. Besides its length, one of the most remarkable aspects of the manifesto is the extent to which its European author quoted from the writings of figures from the American conservative movement. Though he referred heavily to his fellow Norwegian, the blogger Fjordman, it was Robert Spencer, the American Islamophobic pseudo-academic, who received the most references from Breivik — 55 in all. Then there was Daniel Pipes, the Muslim-bashing American neoconservative who earned 18 citations from the terrorist. Other American anti-Muslim characters appear prominently in the manifesto, including the extremist blogger Pam Geller, who operates an Islamophobic organization in partnership with Spencer. Breivik may have developed his destructive sensibility in the stark political environment of a European continent riveted by mass immigration from the Muslim world, but his conceptualization of the changes he was witnessing reflect the influence of a cadre of far-right bloggers and activists from across the Atlantic Ocean. He not only mimicked their terminology and emulated their language, he substantially adopted their political worldview. The profound impact of the American right’s Islamophobic subculture on Breivik’s thinking raises a question that has not been adequately explored: Where is the American version of Breivik and why has he not struck yet? Or has he? Many of the American writers who influenced Breivik spent years churning out calls for the mass murder of Muslims, Palestinians and their left-wing Western supporters. But the sort of terrorism these US-based rightists incited for was not the style the Norwegian killer would eventually adopt. Instead of Breivik’s renegade free-booting, they preferred the “shock and awe” brand of state terror perfected by Western armies against the brown hordes threatening to impose Sharia law on the people in Peoria. This kind of violence provides a righteous satisfaction so powerful it can be experienced from thousands of miles away. And so most American Islamophobes simply sit back from the comfort of their homes and cheer as American and Israeli troops — and their remote-controlled aerial drones — leave a trail of charred bodies from Waziristan to Gaza City. Only a select group of able-bodied Islamophobes are willing to suit up in a uniform and rush to the front lines of the clash of civilizations. There, they have discovered that they can mow down Muslim non-combatants without much fear of legal consequences, and that when they return, they will be celebrated as the elite Crusader-warriors of the new Islamophobic right — a few particularly violent figures have been rewarded with seats in Congress. Given the variety of culturally acceptable, officially approved outlets for venting violent anti-Muslim resentment, there is little reason for any American to follow in Breivik’s path of infamy. Before exploring the online subculture that both shaped and mirrored Breivik’s depravity, it is necessary to define state terror, especially the kind refined by its most prolific practitioners. At the dawn of the “war on terror,” the United States and Israel began cultivating a military doctrine called “asymmetrical warfare.” Pioneered by an Israeli philosophy and “practical ethics” professor named Asa Kasher and the former head of Israeli military intelligence, Lt. Gen. Amos Yadlin, and successfully marketed to the Pentagon, the asymmetrical warfare doctrine did away with traditional counterinsurgency tactics which depended on winning the “hearts and minds” of indigenous populations. Under the new rules, the application of disproportionate force against non-combatants who were supposedly intermingled with the “terrorists” was not only  justified but considered necessary. According to Kasher and Yadlin, eliminating the principle of distinction between enemy combatants and civilians was the most efficient means of deterring attacks from non-state actors like Hamas and Hezbollah while guarding the lives of Israeli soldiers. Asymmetrical warfare has been witnessed in theaters of war across the Muslim world, leaving tens of thousands of civilians dead in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gaza Strip. The strategy was formalized in the Dahiya district of southern Beirut in 2006, when the Israeli military flattened hundreds of civilian structures and homes to supposedly punish Hezbollah for its capturing of two Israeli soldiers. From the ashes of the Israeli carpet bombing campaign emerged the “Dahiya Doctrine,” a term coined by an Israeli general responsible for directing the war on Lebanon in 2006. “IDF Northern Command Chief Gadi Eisenkot uttered clear words that essentially mean the following,” wrote Israeli journalist Yaron London, who had just interviewed the general. “In the next clash with Hezbollah we won’t bother to hunt for tens of thousands of rocket launchers and we won’t spill our soldiers’ blood in attempts to overtake fortified Hizbullah positions. Rather, we shall destroy Lebanon and won’t be deterred by the protests of the ‘world.'” In a single paragraph, London neatly encapsulated the logic of state terror. While Israel has sought to insulate itself from the legal ramifications of its attacks on civilian life by deploying elaborate propaganda and intellectual sophistry (witness the country’s frantic campaign to discredit the Goldstone Report), and the United States has casually dismissed allegations of war crimes as any swaggering superpower would (after a US airstrike killed scores of Afghan civilians, former US CENTCOM Director David Petraeus baselessly claimed that Afghan parents had deliberately burned their children alive to increase the death toll), the online Islamophobes who inspired Breivik tacitly accept the reality of Israeli and American state terror. And they like it. Indeed, American Islamophobes derive frightening levels of ecstasy from the violence inflicted by the armed forces against Muslim civilians. The Facebook page of Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer’s hate group, Stop the Islamicization of America (SOIA), is Exhibit A of the phenomenon. During a visit to SOIA’s Facebook page, which is personally administered by Geller and Spencer, it is possible to read rambling calls for killing “the diaper heads” and for Israel to “rule the whole Middle East.” A cursory glance at the website will also reveal visual propaganda reveling in the prospect of a genocide against Muslims. One image posted on the site depicts American and British troops dropping a nuclear bomb in the midst of thousands of Muslim pilgrims in Mecca. “Who ya gonna call? Shitbusters,” it reads. A second image portraying a nuclear mushroom cloud declares: “DEALING WITH MUSLIMS — RULES OF ENGAGEMENT; Rule #1: Kill the Enemy. Rule #2: There is no rule #2.” Another posted on SOIA’s Facebook page shows the bullet-riddled, bloodsoaked bodies of Muslim civilians splayed out by a roadside. “ARMY MATH,” the caption reads. “4 Tangos + (3 round burst x 4 M 4’s) = 288 virgins.” However pathological these images might seem to outsiders, in the subculture of Geller and Spencer’s online fascisphere, they are understood as legitimate expressions of nationalistic, “pro-Western” pride. Indeed, none seem to celebrate violence against Muslims by anyone except uniformed representatives of Western armies. The anti-Muslim fervor of Geller, Spencer and their allies reached a fever pitch during the controversy they manufactured in 2010 over the construction of the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” in downtown New York City. Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away, in North Carolina, a right-wing Republican ex-Marine named Ilario Pantano made opposing the mosque the centerpiece of his campaign for Congress, proclaiming that New York was “forsaking Israel” by allowing the mosque’s construction. During the height of the his campaign, a report relying on documented evidence and confirmed testimonies revealed that while serving in Iraq in 2004, Pantano had executed two unarmed civilians near Fallujah, firing 60 bullets into their bodies with his M16A4 automatic rifle — he even stopped to reload — then decorated their corpses a placard inscribed with the Marine motto: “No better friend, No worse enemy.” The incident did not hinder Pantano’s campaign, however. His Democratic opponent never mentioned it, Pam Geller hailed Pantano as “a war hero,” and he cruised to a resounding victory. Pantano was sworn into Congress alongside another US military veteran closely allied with the Islamophobic right: Republican Representative Allen West. While serving in Iraq, West was discharged from the military and fined $5000 after he brutally beat an Iraqi policeman, then fired his pistol behind the immobilized man’s head. As in Pantano’s case, reports of the disturbing incident only helped propel West to victory. In fact, West boasted about the beating in his campaign speeches, citing it as evidence of how hard he would fight for his constituents if elected. Though Breivik’s hatred for Muslims clearly spurred him to violence, he wound up murdering scores of the non-Muslims. He believed they were enabling an Islamic takeover of Europe, or what he called the creation of “Eurabia,” and that the “traitors” deserved the ultimate punishment. In homing in on liberal elements in Norway, Breivik borrowed from the language of right-wing figures from the United States, labeling his targets as “Cultural Marxists.” Initially introduced by the anti-Semitic right-wing organizer William Lind of the Washington-based Free Congress Foundation, Breivik understood the term as a characterization of liberal advocates of open immigration and sympathizers with the Palestinian cause. “Let us fight together with Israel, with our Zionist brothers against all anti-Zionists, against all cultural Marxists/multiculturalists,” Breivik wrote in his manifesto. The killer also sought to differentiate between good Jews (supporters of Israel) and bad Jews (advocates for Palestinian rights), claiming that “Jews that support multi-culturalism today are as much of a threat to Israel and Zionism as they are to us.” Breivik’s characterizations of the left and of left-wing Jews echoed those familiar to right-wing bloggers and conservative activists in the US, particularly on the issue of Israel-Palestine. The only difference seems to have been that Breivik was willing to personally kill sympathizers with Palestinian rights, while American Islamophobes have prefered to sit back and cheer for the Israeli military to do the job instead. The tendency of the American right was on shocking display this June when the Free Gaza Flotilla attempted to break the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip (during the previous flotilla in 2010, nine activists were killed by what a United Nations report described as execution style shootings by Israeli commandoes). As the debate about the flotilla escalated on Twitter, Joshua Trevino, a US army veteran and who worked as a speechwriter in the administration of George W. Bush, chimed in. “Dear IDF,” Trevino tweeted. “If you end up shooting any Americans on the new Gaza flotilla — well, most Americans are cool with that. Including me.” While Trevino hectored flotilla participants, Kurt Schlicter, a former American army officer and right-wing blogger for Andrew Breitbart’s Big Peace site, joined the calls for bloodshed. “Sink the flotilla,” Schlicter wrote on Twitter. “Enough screwing around with these psychos.” Neither Schlicter or Trevino saw any reason to apologize for inciting the murder of fellow Americans, nor did Trevino appear to face any consequences at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, where he serves as Vice President. Instead, Trevino earned a rousing defense from prominent conservative personalities like Erick Erickson, a paid CNN contributor who lauded “the correctness of Josh’s opinion” that Israel should kill American leftists. Indeed, no one from inside the American right’s online media hothouse condemned Trevino, Schlicter or Erickson, or even brooked a slight disagreement. Meanwhile, the incitement against Palestine solidarity activists has continued, with pro-Israel operatives Roz Rothstein and Roberta Seid writing this July in the Jerusalem Post that “Flotilla Folk are not like other people.” When the smoke cleared from Breivik’s terrorist rampage across Norway, American Islamophobes went into  intellectual contortions, condemning his acts while carefully avoiding any criticism of his views. While making sure to call Breivik “evil,” the ultra-nationalist commentator and former Republican presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan insisted that “Breivik may be right” about the supposed clash of civilizations between the Muslim East and the Christian West. Pipes, for his part, accused Breivik of a “purposeful” campaign to discredit him by citing him so frequently in his manifesto, while a panicked Geller claimed that Breivik “is a murderer, a mass murderer. Period. He’s not anything else.” The comically revealing reactions by American Islamophobes to Brevik’s killing spree demonstrate the politically catastrophic situation they have gotten themselves into. All of a sudden, their movement was under intense scrutiny from a previously derelict mainstream media. And they were likely to be monitored to an unprecedented degree by federal law enforcement. These same figures who influenced Breivik had been printing open calls for terrorist violence against Muslims and leftists for years — while a few, like Pantano, went a step further. Before Breivik killed 76 innocent people, they had generally gotten away with it. Why were America’s Islamophobes able to avoid accountability for so long? The answer is not that their yearnings for righteous political violence had not been fulfilled until Breivik emerged. The truth is far more uncomfortable than that. America’s Islamophobic right was only able to make so much political headway because a broad sector of the American public had tolerated and even supported the kind of terror that they openly celebrated.”

Max Blumenthal is the author of Republican Gomorrah (Basic/Nation Books, 2009). Contact him at maxblumenthal3000@yahoo.com.

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.alternet.org/story/151881/meet_the_right-wing_hatemongers_who_inspired_the_norway_killer?page=entire

Christian Jihad? Why We Should Worry About Right-Wing Terror Attacks Like Norway’s in the US

N.B.: We might recall “It Can’t Happen Here” bu Sinclair Lewis, as we read why it can and probably will. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It_Can’t_Happen_Here)

From Alternet, by Frank Schaffer

“The Norwegian police on Saturday charged a 32-year-old man, whom they identified as a Christian fundamentalist with right-wing connections, over the bombing of a government center and a shooting attack on a nearby island that together left at least 91 people dead.

In my new book “Sex, Mom and God” I predicted just such an action. I predicted that right wing Christians will unleash terror here in America too. I predict that they will copy Islamic extremists, and may eventually even make common cause with them.

There is a growing movement in America that equates godliness with hatred of our government in fact hatred of our country as fallen and evil because we allow women choice, gays to marry, have a social safety net, and allow immigration from other cultures and non-white races.

According to the Guardian newspaper, the killer wrote:

“Today’s Protestant church is a joke,” he wrote in an online post in 2009. “Priests in jeans who march for Palestine and churches that look like minimalist shopping centres. I am a supporter of an indirect collective conversion of the Protestant church back to the Catholic.”

It seems Anders Behring Breivik longed for a “pure” and ultra conservative religion. He was a man of religious conviction, no liberals with their jeans need apply! Liberals beware.

Norway is just a first taste of what will happen here on a larger scale.

A HISTORY of VIOLENT ACTION

There is a history to the far right, religious right extremism on the rise today, extremism so extreme that in its congressional manifestation it is risking the good faith and credit of the US in the debt calling fiasco. The Tea Party activists also want purity of doctrine.

My family was part of the far right/violent right’s rise in the 1970s and 80s when we helped create the “pro-life” movement come into existence that in the end spawned the killers of abortion providers. These killers were literally doing what we’d called for.

The terror unleashed on Norway – and the terror now unleashed by the Tea Party through Congress as it holds our economy hostage to extremist “economic” theories that want to destroy our ability to function — is the sort of white, Christian; far right terror America can expect more of.

THE “CHRISTIAN BROTHERHOOD”

Call this the ultimate “Tea Party” type “answer” to secularism, modernity, and above all our hated government. Call this the Christian Brotherhood. From far right congress people, to far right gun-toting terror in Norway and here at home, our own Western version of the Taliban is on the rise.

Foreigners, visitors from another planet and Americans living in a bubble of reasonable or educated people might not know this but the reality is that the debt ceiling confrontation is by, for and the result of America’s evangelical Christian control of the Republican Party.

It is the ultimate expression of an alternate reality, one that has the mistrust of the US government as its bedrock “faith,” second only to faith in Jesus.

To understand why an irrational self-defeating action like destroying the credit of the USA might seem like the right thing to do you have to understand two things: that the Republican Party is now the party of religious fanatics and that these fanatics — people like Michele Bachmann — don’t want to work within our system, they want to bring it down along the lines of so-called Christian “Reconstruction.” (See my book for a full account of what this is.)

In the scorched-earth era of the “health care reform debates” of 2009 and beyond, Evangelicals seemed to believe that Jesus commanded that all hospitals (and everything else) should be run by corporations for profit, just because corporations weren’t the evil government. The right even decided that it was “normal” for the state to hand over its age-old public and patriotic duties to private companies — even for military operations (“contractors”), prisons, health care, public transport, and all the rest.

PRIVATE “FACTS”

The Religious Right/Far Right et al. favored private “facts,” too.

They claimed that global warming wasn’t real. They asserted this because scientists (those same agents of Satan who insisted that evolution was real) were the ones who said human actions were changing the climate. Worse, the government said so, too!

“Global warming is a left-wing plot to take away our freedom!”

“Amtrak must make a profit!”

There is an indirect but deadly connection between the “intellectual” fig-leaf providers/leaders like my late father and periodic upheavals like the loony American Right’s sometimes-violent reaction to the election of Barack Obama, killings in Norway and what the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party is about to do to us in forcing a default on our loans, and thus destroying the US economy in a way bin Laden could only have dreamed of doing.

No, your average member of some moronic gun toting Michigan militia is not reading books by my late father Francis Schaeffer where he called for the overthrow of the government because of Roe v Wade and the legalization of abortion. Nor have they heard of people like Robert George. And the killer in Norway may or may not have read my father’s books.

But Michele Bachmann is reading my father’s books. And she was trained in far right Reconstructionist theory at the Oral Roberts law school by one of Dad’s followers.

Bachmann says she got into politics because of reading my father’s work. And she is one of his extremist followers.

Non-Evangelicals with far right agendas like Robert George (I’ll introduce him to you in a moment) have cashed in on the Evangelicals’ like Bachmann’s willingness to lend their numbers and influence to one “moral” anti-American crusade after another, or rather I should say, to one political crusade after another masquerading as moral crusades.

“RESPECTABLE” FAR RIGHT “INTELLECTUALS”

For instance, conservative Roman Catholic Princeton University Professor of Jurisprudence Robert George is an antiabortion, anti-Obama, anti-gay-rights, and anti-stem-cell-research “profamily” activist, and he has found ways to effectively carry on the far right Reconstructionist agenda while denying any formal connection to it and taking the intellectual high road.

Take George’s brainchild: the “Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience.”

This was published in 2009 as an anti-Obama manifesto, and many far right Evangelical leaders signed on.

The “Manhattan Declaration” reads:

“We will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act . . . nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.

In case you’ve never heard of George, he’s been a one-man “brain trust” for the Religious Right, Glenn Beck, and the Far Right of the Republican Party as well as for the ultraconservative wing of the Roman Catholic Church. Here’s how theNew York Times introduced him to its readers:

“[Robert George] has parlayed a 13th-century Catholic philosophy [the natural law theory] into real political influence. Glenn Beck, the Fox News talker and a big George fan, likes to introduce him as “one of the biggest brains in America,” or, on one broadcast, “Superman of the Earth.” Karl Rove told me he considers George a rising star on the right and a leading voice in persuading President George W. Bush to restrict embryonic stem-cell research. . . . Newt Gingrich called him “an important and growing influence” on the conservative movement, especially on matters like abortion and marriage. “If there really is a vast right-wing conspiracy,” the conservative Catholic journal Crisis concluded a few years ago, “its leaders probably meet in George’s kitchen.””

GOVERNMENT IS THE ENEMY

It’s a question of legitimacy and illegitimacy.

What the Religious Right, including the Religious Right’s Roman Catholic and Protestant enablers, did was contribute to a climate in which the very legitimacy of our government–is questioned as part of religious faith itself.

The “Manhattan Declaration” called laws with which its signers disagreed “edicts,” thereby conjuring up images of dictators handing down oppressive rules, rather than legitimately elected democratic bodies passing legislation. In other words, when the Right lost in the democratic process, “other means” to undermine the law were encouraged. This is the language of revolution, not democracy.

The Far Right intellectual enablers began by questioning abortion rights, gay rights, school prayer rulings, and so forth. What they ended up doing was to help foster a climate in which–in the eyes of a dangerous and growing (mostly white lower class undereducated gun-toting) minority–the very legitimacy of the U.S. government was called into question, sometimes in paranoid generalities, but often with ridiculous specificity: for instance, in the persistent lie that President Obama was not a citizen or was a Muslim or that the Federal Reserve and/or United Nations were somehow involved in a plot to “take away our freedoms” or that sensible gun control equaled “tyranny.”

TERROR FOR CHRIST

It was in the context of delegitimizing our government that actions by domestic terrorists like Timothy McVeigh became thinkable. In 1993 McVeigh told a reporter, “The government is continually growing bigger and more powerful and the people need to prepare to defend themselves against government control.”

Change a word or two and his words could have been lifted from my father’s 1981 book A Christian Manifesto, or for that matter a few decades later, from statements by the so-called Tea Party or those by Michele Bachmann, or Robert George or his follower Glenn Beck.

In my father’s book he called for the overthrow of the US government unless non-violent ways were found to overturn Roe v Wade. He compared America to Nazi Germany.

Note the ominous rhetorical shadow Dad’s book cast over a benighted and divided American future, a future that produced the climate of hate that eventually spawned the murder of abortion providers such as Dr. George Tiller in Wichita in 2009 and the threat of destroying America’s credit in an effort to literally defund the USA.

Here’s a bit from Manifesto on how the government was “taking away” our country and turning it over to Liberals, codenamed by Dad as “this total humanistic way of thinking”:

“The law, and especially the courts, is the vehicle to force this total humanistic way of thinking upon the entire population…”

And this:

“Simply put, the Declaration of Independence states that the people, if they find that their basic rights are being systematically attacked by the state, have a duty to try and change that government, and if they cannot do so, to abolish it.”

Then this:

“There does come a time when force, even physical force, is appropriate. . . . A true Christian in Hitler’s Germany and in the occupied countries should have defied the false and counterfeit state. This brings us to a current issue that is crucial for the future of the church in the United States, the issue of abortion. . . . It is time we consciously realize that when any office commands what is contrary to God’s law it abrogates its authority. And our loyalty to the God who gave this law then requires that we make the appropriate response in that situation.”

In other words, Dad’s followers were told that (1) force is a legitimate weapon to use against an evil government; (2) America was like Hitler’s Germany–because of legal abortion and of the forcing of “Humanism” on the population–and thus intrinsically evil; and (3) whatever would have been the “appropriate response” to stop Hitler was now appropriate to do here in America to stop our government, which Dad had just branded a “counterfeit state.”

EXTREMISM IS NEXT TO GODLINESS

To understand the extremism coming from the right, the fact that there are members of Congress who seem to be genuinely mentally unhinged leading the charge on the debt ceiling, you need to understand that this hatred of all things government has theological roots that have nothing to do with facts.

Theology is — by nature — not about reason but about faith. If God’s will is to be served then so be it if America is plunged into chaos! This debt ceiling fiasco is just another chapter in the “culture” wars.

The extreme language of Evangelical/”pro-life” rebellion has now been repackaged in the debt ceiling showdown. It is the language of religion pitted against facts.

And the anti-government charge is being led by people who are either true believers, thus unable to reason, or people catering to the true believers so that they can remain in the good books of the Tea Party, which is nothing more than the Evangelical far right repackaged and renamed.

Some people took the next step. The night of December 14, 2008, Bruce Turnidge was in handcuffs and sitting next to an FBI agent in Turnidge’s farmhouse in Oregon. He was ranting about the “need” for militias and cursing the election of an African American president. Hours earlier, his son, Joshua, had been arrested for allegedly causing a fatal bomb explosion.

“Bruce started talking about the Second Amendment and citizens’ rights to carry firearms,” said George Chamberlin, the FBI agent. “Bruce talked at length that the government should fear the people and that the people should not fear the government.”

In February 2010, a little more than a year after Obama’s inauguration, Joseph Stack, a fifty-three-year-old software engineer, piloted a plane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas, and killed one man and injured several others.

Before killing himself, Stack posted an online suicide note railing against the federal government and expressing grievances similar to those Dad had enumerated.

A Facebook group celebrating Stack had thousands of members sign on almost instantly after he was “martyred for our freedoms,” as one contributor called it. The site featured the Gadsden flag (the flag with the logo “Don’t Tread On Me”) and these words: “Finally an American man took a stand against our tyrannical government that no longer follows the constitution and turned its back on its founding fathers and the beliefs this country was founded on.”

In March 2010 the so-called Hutaree Militia, a right-wing, biblically inspired fundamentalist group, was alleged to have hatched a plot to kill police officers. Members of this outfit had planned attacks on police officers as a way of acting out their hatred for the government as well as a way to launch the civil chaos “predicted” in so-called End Times biblical prophecies. The day the plotters were arrested, I checked their online homepage. Here’s what I found as their mission statement (misspellings in the original post, which has since been taken down, as has the site):

“As Christians we all are a part of the Souls of the Body of Christ, the one true church of Christ. . . . This is the belief of the Hutaree soldier, as should the belief of all followers in Christ be.”

THE BLACK MAN IN THE WHITE HOUSE DRIVES THE RIGHT TO INSANITY

Following the election of our first black president, the “politics” of the Evangelical, Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Mormon Far Right was not the politics of a loyal opposition, but rather the instigation of revolution, which was first and best expressed by Rush Limbaugh when even before President Obama took office he said, “I hope Obama fails.”

To the old-fashioned conservative mantra “Big government doesn’t work,” the newly radicalized Evangelicals (and their Roman Catholic and Mormon cobelligerents) added “The U.S. government is evil!”

And the very same community–Protestant American Evangelicals–who had once been the bedrock supporters of public education, and voted for such moderate and reasonable men as President Dwight Eisenhower, became the enemies of not only the public schools but also of anything in the (nonmilitary) public sphere “run by the government.”

As they opened new institutions (proudly outside the mainstream), the Jesus Victims doing this “reclaiming” cast themselves in the role of persecuted exiles.

What they never admitted was that they were self-banished from mainstream institutions, not only because the Evangelicals’ political views on social issues conflicted with most people’s views, but also because Evangelicals (and other conservative religionists) found themselves holding the short end of the intellectual stick.

And yet having “dropped out” (to use a 1960s phrase), the Evangelicals nevertheless kept on demanding that regarding “moral” and “family” matters the society they’d renounced nonetheless had to conform to their beliefs.

CHRISTIAN JIHAD

Another Far Right Roman Catholic ideologue (and also an academic) even wrote a book calling on Christians, Jews, and Muslims to join together in a jihad against the secular West. In Ecumenical Jihad: Ecumenism and the Culture War a former friend of mine, Peter Kreeft (a professor of philosophy at Boston College), called for “ecumenical jihad.”

I met with Kreeft several times in my home in the 1980s and early 1990s while he was developing his “jihadist” ideas.

Kreeft’s was not a plea for blowing people up, and his book was published pre-9/11.

His book was based on the fact that many believers in Roman Catholicism, Evangelical Protestantism, and Islam (at least in their fundamentalist forms) rejected the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Homosexuality is out, sex education is evil, and so on. Kreeft called on all believers to unite to overthrow “secularism” in the same anti-secular spirit that Robert George channeled a few years later when trying to undermine the Obama administration through his brainchild, the “Manhattan Declaration.”

Kreeft called for an “alliance” of fundamentalist Protestants, Catholics, Jews, and Muslims to prosecute a culture war against what he viewed as the Western cultural elite. Ecumenical Jihad was dedicated to Richard John Neuhaus, the late Roman Catholic convert priest, and to Charles Colson (who later teamed up with George to author the “Manhattan Declaration”).

The groups Kreeft, Colson, and Neuhaus had in mind to “bring together” in an ecumenical jihad were alienated Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, and conservative Roman Catholics, to which Kreeft added Muslims (not that any actually signed on to his program as far as I know). These groups did not share each other’s theology, but they had a deeper link: anger at the “victimhood” imposed on them by modernity.

Kreeft and Neuhaus were calling abortion murder. Thus, the logic of their argument was that of my father’s, too: The U.S. government was enabling murder and was thus disparaged as a “regime,” even a “counterfeit state,” that needed to be overthrown.

A WILLINGNESS TO DESTROY AMERICA IN ORDER TO “SAVE” IT

George and Colson and the others who wrote and then signed the “Manhattan Declaration” (like Kreeft before them) also called for fundamentalists to unite if need be for civil disobedience to stop the U.S. government from passing laws that did not comply with their religious “values” and/or to undermine those laws if they were enacted.

So if the U.S. government legalized gay marriage and thus “compelled” all Americans (including church groups) to recognize gay men and women’s civil rights, the government need no longer be obeyed when those laws affected religious people who disagreed with them. The “Manhattan Declaration” called believers to “not comply.” And just as Neuhaus dismissed the U.S. government as a “regime”–and my father did the same when saying the government was a “counterfeit state”–George and his co – signers also used dismissive and demeaning language about the U.S. government.

In a country awash in weapons and wallowing in the rhetoric of rebellion against an “evil” government, sporadic outbursts of murder tinged with political overtones seem as inevitable as they seem horribly “normal.”

It doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to foresee a day when a “secessionist” group and/or members of some “militia”–let alone one lone individual–will use their U.S. passports, white skins, and solid- citizen standing as a cover for importing a weapon of mass destruction to “liberate” the rest of us from our federal government’s “tyranny” and/or to “punish” some city like New York, known as the U.S. “abortion capital” or San Francisco as the place that “those gays have taken over.” And the possibility of an assassination in the same vein is a never-ending threat.

What we fear most from Islamist terrorists will be unleashed here as it was in Norway.

Terror is on the way on the way from our very own Christian and/or Libertarian “Tea Party” type activists inspired by right wing “Christian” intellectuals and political leaders like Bachmann who – after the killing starts — will then disown them and express horror at their actions, actions that are in fact the logical extension of the anti-government rhetoric spewing from Congress and the religious right.”

————————————————————————————————————————————

Frank Schaeffer is a writer. His new book is Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible’s Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics–and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway.

Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back.

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.alternet.org/teaparty/151751/christian_jihad_why_we_should_worry_about_right-wing_terror_attacks_like_norway%27s_in_the_us_/

Inside the Law School That Brought Us Michele Bachmann

Via Alternet, from Religious Dispatches, by Sarah Posner

“… IOTC founder Michael Peroutka presented the evening’s guest speaker, attorney Herb Titus, with a “Patrick Henry Award” for “his tireless and fearless telling of God’s truth to power.” Titus (best known for his representation of former Judge Roy Moore in his failed quest to install a 2.6-ton Ten Commandments monument in the Alabama Supreme Court building) is one of the few lawyers in America who, Peroutka noted, truly “believes God is sovereign and therefore God’s law is the only law.” For Peroutka, the Constitution Party’s 2004 nominee for president, this was his usual spiel on God and the law.

In the late 1970s, Titus played an instrumental role in launching the law school at Oral Roberts University (ORU), from which GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann graduated in 1986. Titus, who rejected his Harvard Law School education after reading the work of R.J. Rushdoony, the late founder of Christian Reconstructionism, was moved to exercise what he believes is a “dominion mandate” to “restore the Bible to legal education.” To teach, in other words, that Christianity is the basis of our law, that lawyers and judges should follow God’s law, and that the failure to do so is evidence of a “tyrannical,” leftist agenda. Titus’ lecture, as well as the teachings of Reconstructionists, the Constitution Party, and the IOTC, provide a window into Bachmann’s legal education, and thus how her political career and rhetoric—so incomprehensible and absurdto many observers—was unmistakably shaped by it…The stated goal of the Constitution Party “is to restore American jurisprudence to its biblical foundations and to limit the federal government to its Constitutional boundaries.” Thatincludes, for example, “affirm[ing] the rights of states and localities to proscribe offensive sexual behavior” (i.e., homosexuality) and “oppos[ing] all efforts to impose a new sexual legal order through the federal court system” (i.e., civil unions, marriage equality, or adoption by LGBT people). It is more extreme than the Republican Party platform, to be sure, but the GOP is hardly devoid of allies of the Constitution Party—including Sharron Angle, who ran for Senate in Nevada last year, and presidential candidate Ron Paul.

The lecture series at the Institute on the Constitution, which also offers in-depth classes that are popular with tea party groups, has recently included presentations on constitutional law by Moore and one of his protégés, current Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker. In a dissenting opinion in a 2005 child custody case in which the majority affirmed an award of custody to the child’s grandparents, Parker cited not legal cases or statutes, but rather Romans 13:1-2, for the proposition that “there is no authority except from God.” That, he concluded, dictated that the state should stay out of such family law matters except in the most extraordinary circumstances… Titus insists that Christians are discriminated against by these conventional interpretations of the Establishment Clause, which are at odds with his own, and which he contends have contributed to the treatment of Christians as “second-class citizens.”

“I would say to you that someone who holds a Christianview such as Michele Bachmann does would be much more accommodating of different views than any liberals,” he told me, because her views would permit the public posting of the Ten Commandments, for example, but a liberal’s would not…

That’s because, of course, under a “liberal” (i.e., accepted by the Supreme Court, at least for now) view of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, the government cannot act in a way that does, or appears to, endorse a particular religion.

Titus contends, however, that religion, as used in the Establishment Clause (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”) does not mean, well, a religion. Rather, Titus insists that this clause means that Congress cannot make you do anything that you are otherwise commanded by God to do: in other words, Congress cannot flout God…In Titus’ view, the First Amendment prohibition against Congress establishing a religion was actually intended to prevent Congress from establishing institutions that he maintains are tantamount to a religion, like public education,or National Public Radio. “I don’t believe what they teach in public schools,” Titus told his IOTC audience. “They don’t even believe in the first thing—that God is the source of knowledge.”…

Indeed, Bachmann possesses an alarming misunderstanding of the history of slavery that at once celebrates it as a heyday of African-American family life, and engages in revisionism about the founders’ view of it. She recently signed a “marriage pledge” in Iowa that included the statement (since removed): “sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American president.” She has also stated,incorrectly, that the founders “worked tirelessly” to end slavery.

Peroutka and the IOTC, for their part, express affection for the Confederacy. In bestowing the “Courage of Daniel Award” on Moore on June 3, Peroutka, who frequently ribs people for being from the “wrong sideof the Mason-Dixon line,” cheerfully noted that it also happened to be the birthday of Confederate President Jefferson Davis…

Bachmann is one of several Republicans endorsed by the Gun Owners of America, another Titus client, which contends that gun ownership is not just a right, but an “obligation to God, to protect life.” Last year, Titus cited the “totalitarian threat” posed by “Obamacare” and told me that people need to be armed, “because ultimately it may come to the point where it’s a life and death situation.”…In 2003, motivated by Moore’s Ten Commandments crusade, then-state senator Bachmann participated in a “Ten Commandments Rally” on the state capitol steps, at which speakers called for the impeachment of federal judges who rule public postings of the Ten Commandments unconstitutional, and for a return to “biblical principles.” Bachmann, according to coverage in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, “told the crowd that the founders of the United States—including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson—‘recognized the Ten Commandments as the foundation of our laws.’”(N.B.:!???!)…

“When judges don’t rule in fear of the Lord,” he(Parker) concluded, “all the foundations of the earth are shaken.”…The law school at ORU was a first effort at creating a “Christian” law school that would teach the “biblical” foundations of the law—essentially substituting Rushdoony’s totalizing worldview for mainstream legal theory. His views are evident not only in the ORU education Bachmann received, but in the perspectives of other Christian law schools forged on the ORU example, such as Liberty University Law School, where students are taught to follow “God’s law” rather than “man’s law,” and where Rushdoony’s texts are required reading. The rise of Christian schools—not just law schools, but elementary and secondary education, and homeschooling as well—has been, in Titus’ view, a “silent revolution” that has “basically escaped the scrutiny of most journalists.”…I asked Titus whether it would be a big moment for him to see Bachmann, a product of the law school he helped found, ascend to the GOP presidential nomination. He replied, “It’s the kind of thing that we believe was one of our major purposes, which was to train people in such a way so as to make an impact in the leadership of the country.”

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.alternet.org/story/151695/inside_the_right-wing_christian_law_school_that_brought_us_michele_bachmann?akid=7283.123424.qLf-Z5&rd=1&t=5

For God’s Sake: The Idiocy of “Divine Inspiration” In Politics

From Alternet:”Lately, there would seem to be a whole lot more people who have a direct channel to the Big Guy Upstairs than one could have humanly thought possible.

It is oft-said that “God works in mysterious ways”. But when Michele Bachmann hears voices telling her to run for president, am I the only who thinks the most likely explanation is a batch of bad clams or one-too-many nights role playing The Book of Eli with her equally demented husband Marcus?

Perhaps, these are the very same voices that have shared with her the important roleFounding Father John Quincy Adams” played in ending slavery as he battled the oncoming scourge of puberty? I don’t know, just a stab in the dark.

Regardless, whether it is gay marriage or spotting the Virgin Mary in your gordita, our re-embrace of culture-by-theology in the United States (not unlike much of the rest of the world) has led supposedly “serious people” to say things that not so long ago would have landed them a starring role in Girl, Interrupted.

In our current age, in fact, possessing a direct cerebral channel to Deus (or at least claiming you do) would seem to be a requirement for receiving an invitation to a GOP presidential debate.

It equally pervades the rest of right-wing political culture in the US, as twisted scripture both provides ready justification for those who hate everything about the this country post-1930, and renders more difficult the job of the media to effectively criticise any crackpot theory-lest they lose their “objectivity” for a moment and offend some True Believers.

For example, in light of the recent law passed by the New York state legislature providing full marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples, dingy-old-Hammerhead-Bat Pat Robertson offered his expert testimony that “there’s never been a civilisation ever in history that has embraced homosexuality and turned away from traditional fidelity, traditional marriage, traditional child-rearing, and has survived.”

He went on to compare the United States to Sodom and pleasantly predict we’d suffer the same fate – complete annihilation.

In case you’re keeping score, Jesus is apparently cool with Rev Robertson’s having befriended the al-Qaeda-harboring, genocidal thug Charles Taylor, in order to fatten his wallet from a steady diet of Liberian blood diamonds. When it comes to loving couples of the same sex tying the knot, however, not so much.

Thankfully, for the rest of us, Robertson’s many past predictions of our collective demise were so inane they might as well have been announced on an aircraft carrier with a “Mission Accomplished” banner in the background.

So to pick up the slack, Missouri GOP Congressman and apparent Mary-Shelley-creation Todd Akin also jumped into the God interpretation game last week – likely as a strategy to forward his US Senate campaign. Akin, in an obvious moment of clarity, puked out that “at the heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God.” Because, as we all know, nothing is closer to the teachings of the Bible than Akin’s record of lying about his address for voting purposes and cutting taxes for 8-figure earning CEOs while gutting health care for impoverished children.

Sadly, however, our God Culture isn’t limited to just the political game, but also allows some of those clever cats, professional athletes, to get in on the action.

I must admit to finding it rather amusing – as in completely ridiculous – whenever an overpaid ballplayer hits a three-point shot or bashes a fastball over the center field wall, only to respond by pointing up to the Heavens as if it were Divinely ordained. Because we all know any Higher Power has nothing better to do – like ending conflict in the Sudan or curing cancer – than taking in some sport and using his/her powers to ensure Arsenal wins the FA Cup.

Somewhere Jacob is trying to best that blood-sucker Edward and win the affections of Bella, and God is going to worry about the Stanley Cup? How arrogant.

It is this hubris that must explain why one of the heroes of the 2007 Super-Bowl-winning New York Giants, David Tyree, thought it his place to tell us what His God would think of gay marriage in New York – much like Brother Robertson. As you can imagine, according to Tyree, it just up and freaked God out.

I guess he missed the part where he’s the guy we trust to catch the ball on the field, not make public policy according to his translation of the will of his Deity off of it.

For, in the end, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Believer or not. Most of us to the north of birdbrain can agree that no matter what Bachmann, Akin, Robertson or Tyree have to say on the matter, it is in fact societies ruled by faux-pious numbskulls that, to quote the elegant and articulate Robertson, have “never, ever survived.”

Perhaps he and his Republican buddies can ponder–and share on Google+ with their circles of friends, family, and even acquaintances, for the rest of our sakes–the words of the founder of their party, Abraham Lincoln, who once counseled that it is “better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

Cliff Schecter is the president of Libertas, LLC, a progressive public relations firm.

Emphasis mine

see:http://www.alternet.org/story/151658/for_god%27s_sake%3A_the_idiocy_of_%22divine_inspiration%22_in_politics/?page=entire

6 Ways Atheists Can Band Together to Fight Religious Fundamentalism

From Alternet, By Adam Lee

“What do atheists actually have in common? What’s the agenda for an atheist political movement? Here’s a proposal for the issues we can unite around.

If atheists were as politically organized as the religious right, we could accomplish a world of good in combating theocracy and standing up for human rights and secularism. But whenever an atheist political alliance is proposed, the objection is inevitably raised that “atheists don’t all agree,” and that this would be an insurmountable obstacle to forming a unified political movement.

I believe, however, that this objection overstates the difficulty we would face. In fact, atheists have more in common than most people realize.

It’s true that we disagree, and would be expected to disagree, about issues unrelated to atheism. But just by virtue of being a minority, sharing a godless outlook on the world, we tend to see things that non-atheists often overlook — things like the harm done by faith-based zealotry, the undeserved privileges granted to religious people, and the unfounded assumption that religious belief is the only source of morality. And whether we like it or not, we have a common enemy in the theocrats and fundamentalists who want to oppress us, silence us and punish us harshly for the imaginary crime of not sharing their peculiar superstitions. Even if nothing else unites us, this gives us ample reason to band together to defend our rights against the people who are trying to take them away.

There’s much historical precedent for this. In trying to organize, we wouldn’t be trying to create something completely new or do something that’s never been done before. On the contrary, all atheists have to do is follow in the footsteps of the many other successful political movements that have organized to fight for a common cause, despite having a membership that doesn’t agree on other issues.

A telling example, as my friend and fellow blogger Greta Christina suggests, is the gay rights movement. Obviously, gay, lesbian and bisexual people don’t think alike about everything, and why should they? What do they have in common, after all, other than not being straight? In spite of this, gay rights groups have organized and fought for equality very effectively, and they’ve brought about a sea change in public opinion. They’ve won major legal victories such as ending the military’s discriminatory “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, securing the passage of a federal hate-crimes law, and establishing the right to marry under the laws of six states and the District of Columbia. Anti-gay discrimination has by no means ended, but these are tremendous political victories that would have been unthinkable just one or two decades ago, and large, supportive majorities among the younger generations promise more advances in the near future.

Atheists, who are treated as a despised minority just as gay people were and often still are, should use the success of the gay-rights movement as our template. We don’t need to be a political party with a platform specifying what we’d do about every issue — we just need to reach agreement on the issues we have in common and that affect us the most. And if there are a few oddball atheists who care nothing for equality and don’t want to join our effort, or who think that religion should have special privileges and shouldn’t be criticized, forget about them. We don’t need them. Given that atheists make up as much as 12 percent of the population of America, over 36 million people, a political movement that united even a fraction of us would be a formidable voting bloc.

So what do atheists have in common? What would the agenda of an atheist political movement look like? Here’s my modest proposal for the issues we can unite around:

1. Atheists can be good people.

This seems so obvious it’s not even worth saying, much less uniting around politically. But it is. Millions of religious people, not just in conservative red states but even in the allegedly liberal regions of the country, hold the prejudiced belief that religion is the only possible means of acquiring morality, the only possible justification for being a good person and treating others with respect and kindness. The inevitable corollary is that being an atheist necessarily means being hate-filled, selfish and untrustworthy. This prejudice is undoubtedly the reason majorities say they wouldn’t vote for an atheist candidate for president, even if that atheist was a well-qualified member of their own party.

To counter this myth, we don’t need to prove that we’re better than everyone else. We don’t need to prove that atheists are all incorruptible paragons of virtue. All we need to prove is that atheists, on the whole, are the same as everyone else: not saints, but honest, compassionate, trustworthy people like everyone else. And we can cite abundant evidence: There are atheist doctorsteachersand firefighters. There are active-duty atheist soldiers and atheist veterans. Atheists donate to charitygive bloodjoin civil rights marches, and help with disaster relief. And we can always point to the amazingly low percentage of atheists among prison inmates (although, admittedly, this may just prove that we’re better at getting away with it).

2. Greater support for separation of church and state.

This is a point that atheists from across the political spectrum should agree on, and one that’s more than sufficient to build a political movement on by itself. For obvious reasons, atheists don’t want to see religious beliefs being used as the basis for law. We don’t believe that religion should be outlawed, or that religious people should be banned from preaching their beliefs, but we want the laws and the government to be truly secular; we want that wall of separation between church and state to be reinforced, built up and topped with sandbags and barbed wire. We demand that laws affecting all of us be justified by reasons and evidence that anyone can examine, and not merely by private faith.

Since church-state separation is constantly under assault by theocrats, this issue alone ought to be enough to occupy politically motivated and energized atheists. There are the never-ending efforts to water down science teaching in schools and replace it with creationism and other pseudoscience, some of it by hostile school boards, some of it by teachers who preach in class on their own initiative. There are state, county and city legislatures bent on putting Ten Commandments monuments, crosses and Christian manger scenes on government property, or opening legislative sessions with sectarian prayer. There are government programs that pour money into the coffers of churches, especially the George W. Bush faith-based initiative, which President Obama hasn’t reined in despite his campaign promise to do so. And there’s the religious language inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance and put on money, which sends a subtle message that atheists are outsiders and second-class citizens.

3. Greater support for free speech.

One of the greatest political concerns for atheists ought to be the advance of hate-speech laws, which punish people for expressing ideas that others deem offensive. In many countries, these laws have been repeatedly used to stifle legitimate criticism of religion. In Spain, for example, an atheist group was forbidden to march during Holy Week; in the Netherlands, the right-wing parliamentarian Geert Wilders was prosecuted for expressing his political ideas; in Italy, Catholic lawyers file defamation suits based on fascist-passed laws that shield the “prestige of the pope” from criticism; in Russia, critics of the Orthodox church are persecuted by the state; in India, the law allows the censorship of any internet content deemed to be “disparaging” to religion. Ireland has gone so far as to resurrect the medieval idea of a law prohibiting blasphemy!

In the United States, the First Amendment is a bulwark against hate-speech laws, but still not a complete defense. Too many colleges and universities, for example, have “speech codes” that don’t stop at the legitimate goal of preventing bullying or harassment, but which punish students for constitutionally protected speech if their ideas are deemed offensive, disruptive, or upsetting to others.

Atheists from across the political spectrum should have no trouble understanding why these laws are a terrible idea. Even if written with the best of intentions, rules that ban “disparaging” or “offensive” speech are inevitably perverted and used by hostile majorities to silence unpopular minorities. After all, the very existence of atheists is considered highly offensive by millions of religious people who’d like nothing better than to censor us.

4. Greater support for science and reason.

Atheists should understand, and generally do understand, that irrational and dangerous faith flourishes in societies that don’t value evidence and rational thinking. Surveys show that less educated people are more likely to believe in demons, creationism, biblical literalism, and all other kinds of harmful superstitions. And as a growing population strains the bounds of what the Earth can support, as our technology makes us more and more powerful, it’s crucial to let science and reason guide us if we’re going to thread the needle and avoid disaster. If we don’t, as Carl Sagan said, then sooner or later “this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.”

The poisonous effects of irrationality are everywhere to be seen in our politics. Religious right demagogues openly say that climate change can’t be happening because God wouldn’t let the climate change too much, or that it’s futile trying to make peace in the Middle East because Jesus predicted there would be war there until he returns, or that there’s no sense conserving natural resources because the world is going to end before we run out. On the other end of the spectrum, the purveyors of fashionable New Age nonsense teach that the way to end war, cure cancer or create a fairer distribution of wealth isn’t to implement progressive taxation, march in antiwar rallies or support scientific research, but tosit at home and use our magical powers of wishing to reshape reality to suit our desires.

Atheists have good reason to oppose irrationality in whatever form it rears its head: from religious fundamentalists who try to inject creationism into schools, to anti-vaccine activists who want to get rid of our most effective defense against killer diseases. We ought to advocate a society where science is respected and valued as the most reliable arbiter of truth, where scientists have the funding and the tools needed to do their job, and where politicians take scientific consensus into account; and we ought to act in concert to slap down any purveyor of pseudoscience who tries to claim there are other ways of knowing superior to reason.

5. Support for marriage equality and LGBT rights.

More than anyone else, atheists ought to have sympathy for oppressed minorities whose oppression has historically been justified by appealing to religion, and no group fits that definition better than LGBT people. The arguments against marriage equality and gay rights are purely religious in nature, with no legitimate secular basis. And for the most part, the bigots who make these arguments don’t even try to disguise this.

For example, the Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, wrote in vain to urge legislators to defeat a marriage-equality bill because he believes that “God has settled the definition of marriage.” In Delaware, pastors screamed that a civil-unions law was “biblically incorrect” and “contrary to the will of God.”

Left unexplained by all these people is why any group’s opinions about God’s desires should influence lawmaking in a secular, democratic republic like ours. Should we ban alcohol and coffee because Mormons think they’re sinful to consume, or require all women to go veiled in public because Wahhabi Muslims think we should, or outlaw zippers because the Amish reject them? If not, why should Catholic views about marriage be any more relevant?

I grant it’s possible that some atheists are anti-gay, even if their position is based on nothing more than a gut feeling of “ick, gay people are gross” (which is more or less the only rationale for homophobia, once you can no longer rely on God’s decrees regarding the proper usage of genitalia). But in my experience, the overwhelming majority of atheists do support equal rights for LGBT people, and recognize the religious arguments against homosexuality as the rank bigotry they are.

6. Greater support for reproductive choice.

With this point, I know I’m wading into deeper waters, and I anticipate that agreement won’t be as high as with others. Nevertheless, atheists have a very good reason to support strong protection of reproductive choice through comprehensive sex ed, free access to contraception, and the availability of safe, legal abortion.

Many religions, especially the fundamentalist ones that atheists fear the most, demand their followers have as many children as they possibly can. And when religion has the power to make this the law of the land, women and children both suffer. Women are forced to endure the direct risks that pregnancy and childbirth pose to their health and life, whether they want to or not; children suffer from deprivation when their parents have larger families than they can reasonably provide for.

In cultures where women’s ability to plan their own families is taken away by theocratic laws, it perpetuates the poverty and dependency that’s fertile soil for harmful superstition to grow. If we, as atheists, want to reduce the numbers and the power of aggressive, fundamentalist religion, our course of action is clear: we ought to be  unyielding guardians of a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices.

* * *

I don’t expect that every atheist will line up behind all these goals, though I do believe the majority of atheists support them. Nor do I expect that, in every race, there will be a politician willing to take our side on all these issues. For the foreseeable future, we’ll probably have to make a lot of hard choices between a bad candidate and a marginally less-bad candidate. But this is mainly because of the excessive influence of the religious right, which has successfully convinced politicians of both parties that the way to win elections is to be as right-wing as possible. The stronger and more influential the atheist movement becomes, the more effectively we can counteract this, and the more we can expand theOverton window on the left to create space for genuinely progressive candidates to get elected.

What I find most encouraging about this list is that the goals uniting atheists aren’t supported only by atheists, but ought to be shared by every progressive who supports justice and human rights. This means that atheists should be able to make common cause with other liberal activist groups. There’s real potential for a strong, organized atheist movement to give the country a much-needed jolt of progressive energy. This isn’t an idealistic or unattainable goal, but one that, if we’re willing to work and to organize, lies entirely within our power.

Emphasis Mine

see: http://www.alternet.org/story/151607/6_ways_atheists_can_band_together_to_fight_religious_fundamentalism?page=entire

2010 Ed Likover Memorial Lecture

The 2010 Ed Likover speech to the ACLU affiliate of Ohio was presented at the College Club of Cleveland on 17 Oct 2010 by Boston University Professor of Law Jay Wexler .

Prof. Wexler’s humble CV includes: B.A., Magna Cum Laude, Harvard University; M.A., University of Chicago Divinity School; and a J.D., Stanford Law School.  He spoke on Church/State separation issues.

(For more information, see:http://www.bu.edu/law/faculty/profiles/bios/full-time/wexler_j.html)

As one would expect of a divinity school student, he was raised by Jewish parents in New York City, and attended a Roman Catholic High School, where he became an atheist.

Mr. Wexler spoke on current church/state separation issues, referencing his book “Holy Hullabaloos: A Road Trip to the
Battlegrounds of the Church/State Wars” (which he wrote during his first post tenure sabbatical year).

He spoke about  several cases around the Nation, including the Michael Newdow pledge case (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Newdow), and offered an interesting observation: it might not be a ‘good’ situation if the Court banned the ‘under that mysterious, supreme ultimate whose name we cannot mention or image we cannot make’ words from the National Loyalty Oath, as that might well cause a strong counter reaction which might become a tidal wave of false piety and overt theocracy.  N.B.: Are ‘pick your battles’, or ‘be careful for what you wish’ in the ten commandments this week?

‘Intelligent design’ was described as “creationism with graphs”, and he urged us all to visit the creationism museum near Cincy.

Local color included the Cleveland school vouchers case.

When one learned, articulate member of the audience expressed apprehension about the future of the Establishment Clause, he replied very positively in the affirmative, and observed that many things are in place today because of it.

Entertaining to all, enlightening to most, and an experience well worth the time, effort, and expense to attend.

N.B.: Ed Likover is an ACLU hero who stood up for the rights of himself and others to have political and religious views which are out of the mainstream.  The lecture is annual, and sponsored by  a family endowment.

YASFTHTAIACN

Yet another surprise for those who think America is a “Christian Nation”: ” WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court today let stand a federal appellate ruling that that a government-sponsored Ten Commandments monument placed on a county courthouse lawn is unconstitutional and must be removed. By rejecting an appeal by the commissioners of Haskell County, Oklahoma, and declining to review the case, the Supreme Court left undisturbed a unanimous June 2009 decision by the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals that the county commissioners advanced their personal religious beliefs by erecting the monument. The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Oklahoma on behalf of a local resident.

“The Tenth Circuit’s decision was an important victory for religious freedom and we are pleased that the Supreme Court left that ruling undisturbed,” said Daniel Mach, Director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. “The Ten Commandments undoubtedly have religious significance for many, and we would vigorously defend the right of individuals, churches, or businesses to display this monument publicly on their own property. But the government should not be in the business of promoting religious viewpoints.”

In its June 2009 decision, the federal court of appeals ruled that the monument violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because a “reasonable observer would view the monument as having the impermissible principal or primary effect of endorsing religion.” The monument is unconstitutional, the court held, because the proposal to erect the monument, its approval by the Haskell County Board of Commissioners and the commissioners’ expressly religious defense of the monument “strongly reflect a government endorsement of religion.”

Emphasis Mine

see: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/notes/american-civil-liberties-union/supreme-court-lets-ruling-stand-that-religious-monument-at-oklahoma-courthouse-i/340215745684

Hamburger in Wilder Hall @ Oberlin -A.K.A the KKK and Separation, or WWJD?

Not a menu item in the canteen, but rather a lecture by Professor Philip Hamburger, Columbia University School of Law: “The KKK and the First Amendment.”

Prof. Hamburger is the Maurice and Hilda Friedman Professor of Law and an expert on religious liberty, individual rights, judicial review and censorship.  He has published extensively on constitutional law and history.  His publications include SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE (Harvard, 2002) and LAW AND JUDICIAL DUTY (Harvard, 2008).”

Wilder 101 was filled to near capacity, not only by undergraduate students whose attendance was undoubtedly “encouraged”, but by a few faculty and interested post twenty-something adults as well.

What did we hear? Prof. Hamburger had a warm, open, easy to listen to approach, and the event was (for me) a pleasant experience.  After listening to  him, speaking with him afterwards, and seeing a review of his publications, I came to one conclusion: he does not support Separation of Church and State.

He began by giving a brief history of the second period of the Ku Klux Klan – from the end of the 19th century through the 1920’s – chronicling the KKK as one of the nativist organizations in the US in this period of large immigration from eastern and southern Europe, and giving specific examples of how strongly they supported Separation.    (I might note that my hypothesis is that the KKK’s emphasis on Separation was primarily motivated by animosity toward the Roman Catholic religion practised by many of these immigrants.) Moving on, he  emphasised what he felt are the differences between ‘establishment’ and ‘separation’, observing that the former is a horizontal concept, the latter vertical, and stated that in his opinion Separation was not in the Constitution.  (Full disclosure: as a member of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, I am not in agreement with this conclusion).  More interaction of government and religion would be a good idea, he asserted.  (Disagree strongly, again).  He also raised the issue of politicizing from the pulpit, and to disallow this is – in his opinion – a free speech issue.  It is the money, not the principle of the thing, I reply.  Clergy can – like any tax exempt organization – support specific issues, but not specific candidates.

I spoke to him post event, and suggested that since the phrase “established church” had a specific meaning in the 18th century which is not familiar today, we use “separation of church and state” instead: he did not agree.

Why so much on the connection of the KKK and Separation”  I propose this is an attempt to discredit the latter – shall we say poisoning the well?

He also told me he would sent me some documents which would cause me to remove my ACLU lapel pin: I expect not, but I shall remain open.

It is often of value to clarify one’s mental inventory by hearing a contrarian view, and therefore this was a valuable experience.

N.B.: I wonder if those “social conservatives” who who oppose Separation but insist that “the government” never does anything well, are concerned that “government” might negatively impact their religion(s), if the two became entangled?

In conclusion we might ask WWJD?  (What Would Jefferson Do?)

On his publications:

Separation of Church and State

Philip Hamburger

    In a powerful challenge to conventional wisdom, Philip Hamburger argues that the separation of church and state has no historical foundation in the First Amendment. The detailed evidence assembled here shows that eighteenth-century Americans almost never invoked this principle. Although Thomas Jefferson and others retrospectively claimed that the First Amendment separated church and state, separation became part of American constitutional law only much later.

    Hamburger shows that separation became a constitutional freedom largely through fear and prejudice. Jefferson supported separation out of hostility to the Federalist clergy of New England. Nativist Protestants (ranging from nineteenth-century Know Nothings to twentieth-century members of the K.K.K.) adopted the principle of separation to restrict the role of Catholics in public life. Gradually, these Protestants were joined by theologically liberal, anti-Christian secularists, who hoped that separation would limit Christianity and all other distinct religions. Eventually, a wide range of men and women called for separation. Almost all of these Americans feared ecclesiastical authority, particularly that of the Catholic Church, and, in response to their fears, they increasingly perceived religious liberty to require a separation of church from state. American religious liberty was thus redefined and even transformed. In the process, the First Amendment was often used as an instrument of intolerance and discrimination.

January 16 is Religious Freedom Day

From Americans United: http://blog.au.org/2010/01/05/religious-freedom-day-for-a-real-celebration-go-to-the-source/

” Jan. 16 is Religious Freedom Day. As American holidays go, this one tends to be overlooked. It’s not even listed on my desk calendar.

That’s a shame, because Religious Freedom Day commemorates an important event: passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. This landmark legislation, drafted by Thomas Jefferson and maneuvered through the Virginia legislature by James Madison, became law on Jan. 16, 1786. Scholars consider it a precursor to the First Amendment and a vital step along the way to securing the separation of church and state.

Here’s something else that’s a shame: Groups that don’t support the spirit of Jefferson’s law are attempting to co-opt Religious Freedom Day. Gateways to Better Education and the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) are urging churches to celebrate “Religious Freedom Sunday” this year.

It sounds nice in concept, but I know from experience that both Gateways and the ADF have an unusual interpretation of “religious freedom.” For them, it means mainly the freedom to use government institutions and tax funds to ram their narrow version of fundamentalist Christianity down everyone else’s throat.

Gateways is notorious for its unsolicited advice to public schools about how to handle religion. The group plays fast and loose with the facts, advising teachers on ways to slip fundamentalist Christianity into the lesson plans. My favorite was a Gateways pamphlet a few years ago featuring a talking Easter Bunny who comes to a public school to advise a teacher on how she can teach kids about the resurrection of Jesus.

As for the ADF, that outfit – which was founded by a bevy of far-right TV and radio preachers – has a long record of hostility toward the separation of church and state. You can read more about the group and its agenda here.

Celebrating Religious Freedom Day in houses of worship is a great idea. But rather than look to these bashers of the church-state wall, religious leaders would do better to consult more sources that respect and treasure Jefferson’s vision. For example, pastors could read from the Virginia Statute itself. It’s not too long, but its words are powerful and eloquent.

Jefferson and Madison were the architects of this important legislation, so why not find out what they said about religious liberty and church-state separation? AU has resources for both.

And if you want to know how public schools should deal with religion, there’s no need to listen to a giant, talking rabbit. Get a copy of AU’s new book Religion in the Public Schools: A Road Map for Avoiding Lawsuits and Respecting Parents’ Legal Rights. You can download it here for free.

One more thought on this: Jefferson considered the Virginia Statute one of his greatest accomplishments. His grave marker at Monticello notes that Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence, founded the University of Virginia and wrote the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom. (I hear he was also president, by the way.)

Jefferson was in France serving as U.S. ambassador when Madison guided the bill through the legislature. Madison wrote to Jefferson to report that efforts had been made to limit the statute’s protections to Christians only but that they had failed.

Jefferson rejoiced. In his autobiography, he noted that the effort to curtail the bill’s reach had failed “by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, the infidel of every denomination.”

I have to wonder what Religious Right groups, who claim the United States was founded as a “Christian nation” and frequently portray the Founders as Jerry Falwells in powdered wigs, think about that?

By Rob Boston

(Emphasis mine.)