The Christian Right is Brainwashing People I Love

Currently, one of my favorite blogs is the progressive Christian pastor John Pavlovitz’ blog Stuff That Needs to Be Said.     There have been so many times I’ve wanted to reblog his wonderful, very readable articles, but alas, his blog features no reblog button.   Therefore, I will just provide the link to his latest.

There is so much truth in his posts.  Every time I read them, I find myself nodding vigorously in agreement.  There is so much I can relate to in them.

The Christian Right has indeed become quite terrifying, as they have weaponized a religion that was intended by its founder to be peaceful and based on love in order to achieve an evil and heartless political agenda based on power and greed.    It has become more like a cult than a religion, but sadly, a lot of people are buying it.

The Christian Right Is Radicalizing White People I Love

Advertisements

How Evangelical Christianity’s brand is all used up.

Dinosaur-Jesus

Here is an insightful article from Raw Story that describes how Evangelical Christianity became so tied up with the Trumpian Republican Party, and how right wing political policies have damaged the reputation (“brand”) of evangelical Christianity in general.

In fact, many Christian leaders, even from conservative denominations like the Southern Baptist Convention, are divorcing themselves from the term “evangelical” because of  negative associations with the worst human traits, which have only become worse since Trump was elected and has shamelessly pandered to the Christian right in spite of his debauched lifestyle (which he has never repented for) and evil policies.

How Evangelical Christianity’s Brand is All Used Up

Christian Dominionism has taken over the GOP.

fascism

Many Christians may wonder how the heartless, draconian, dangerous, and mean policies of the current GOP can be reconciled with anything Jesus Christ actually taught.

The truth is, they can’t. Although our current president (who by all indications is not a religious man, nor has he repented for his many indiscretions both before and after he was elected) panders to the Christian Right, has surrounded himself with “Christian” politicians (mostly fundamentalists and dominionists — more on dominionism in a minute), and has taken on their anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage rhetoric (to obtain support and votes, since these are the two issues that seem to concern these so-called Christians the most), Trump’s behavior (and those of the people he has appointed) is anything but Christ-like. Yes, it’s true the Bible tells us to “judge not, lest ye be judged,” but we are also told (by Jesus) that “by their fruits you shall know them [the evildoers],” and so far, this administration has borne nothing but bad fruit. So, going by that, I feel justified in judging the regime that has taken control of our country.

The ugly truth is that they have an agenda: turning our democracy into a religious theocracy — an Old Testament-based dictatorship that is to real Christianity what the Taliban/ISIS is to real Islam. They want a Christian version of Sharia Law in which women and minorities are silenced and repressed and “know their place,” in which  political or religious dissent is made illegal, in which non-Christians can be treated as second class citizens with limited or no rights, in which the land, sea and sky is raped and pillaged for human purposes (because taking care of our planet means we “lack faith” in God’s ability to replenish the Earth), in which personal sin (abortion, homosexuality, adultery, etc.) is punished harshly and maybe even by death,  and in which material wealth is regarded as proof of God’s approval/love and in which it’s justified to let the poor and sick perish and die because they are “moral failures”who have not been so blessed with good health or wealth because they are not among God’s elect (a Calvinistic doctrine that we are all predestined for heaven or hell before we are born, which of course begs the question as to how we can also have free will).

If you are thinking about how far this is from what Jesus preached in his most famous of all sermons, the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), you are right.    Jesus instructed us us to welcome immigrants  (his own parents would have been banished from Bethlehem and Mary not allowed to give birth there because they were foreigners),  take care of the poor and the sick (one of the most famous, but far from the only, verse in the Bible addressing this is the one about it being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get to heaven), and turn the other cheek (be humble.)    He railed against pride, greed and legalism.   He counted among his friends the beggars and the homeless.   He valued women as much as he did men.   He gave us the “new Covenant” which was to replace the old Biblical laws found in books such as Leviticus.

Now, the old Testament has much to recommend it, and of course the Ten Commandments are just plain old common sense.   Personally, I have no objection to the Commandments being displayed in courthouses or “In God We Trust” being printed on the dollar bill, because these things don’t necessarily favor only Christians and they’re simply good advice for anyone.      They don’t repress, oppress, or marginalize anyone.  They don’t hurt people or the environment.  They don’t undermine the Constitution or our freedoms.   People who object to these things really ought to turn their minds to more important issues that actually affect their lives.

Yet we have a bunch of Christian heretics high up in government who actually want to set up a fascist regime based not on the Constitution drawn up by the Founding Fathers, but on Old Testament Biblical Law.    This is the desire and goal of cultists (yes, to my mind they are a cult) who embrace an ugly and dangerous doctrine called Christian Dominionism, and Donald Trump, in spite of not himself being religious, is their cult leader.

Here is a comprehensive definition of what Christian dominionism is:

https://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-dominionism.html

Christian dominionists may tell us they are saved and insist we need “more Jesus” but they practically ignore the Gospels.  Instead, they cherry-pick passages in the Old Testament that they feel support their beliefs, usually the ones that show God at his most angry, intolerant, and punishing.  There is no Jesus in what they preach and to my mind, they are Christian in name only.  They also have somehow come up with the idea that America is God’s chosen nation (after Israel) and that Jesus will return here, which justifies everything they do that represses or punishes non-believers and the “non-elect.”   But there is absolutely nothing in the Bible that supports the notion that America is somehow regarded as God’s chosen country.

They (as well as many fundamentalist Christians, whether they are dominionists or not) believe that Donald Trump, while not the second coming of Jesus himself, is nonetheless “preparing the way” for Jesus’ return.   They may acknowledge that Trump is a sexually and personally amoral narcissist, but this is okay because in the Bible, God often used sinful people to fulfill his wishes.   They compare Trump to King Cyrus of Persia, a deeply flawed and cruel man who nonetheless freed the Jews.

According to this website,

“He came in, this king, as a secular ruler and decreed for the building of the house of the Lord. He literally made it possible for the Jews to end the captivity,” Lance Wallnau, an evangelical leader and author, told the Christian Broadcasting Network. “Trump has the Cyrus anointing to navigate in chaos.”

Trump as “Cyrus,” President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as “Babylon,” the Jews as either modern-day Israelis or Americans? It’s not only evangelical Christians who buy it. Before the election, Rabbi Matityahu Glazeron predicted a Trump victory based on an analysis of Bible codes, which he said also pointed to the new president as a Cyrus-like figure.

In a pre-inauguration faith gathering, Likud Knesset member Yehuda Glick, in Washington, D.C. for the festivities, expressed a like sentiment. Calling the new president “the king of the United States of America,” Glick said that if Trump moved the United States embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, “He will be the latter-day Cyrus!”

Trump has also sometimes been compared to King David, a similarly flawed man of the Old Testament who was a hero to the Israelites and made Jerusalem its capital.

Here is a list of “Christian” justifications for the evil, un-American agenda the Trump regime and much of the GOP are trying to make reality.   I am not making this up.  I wish I were.  The source I used for this list can be found here.   There are many other sources, and a quick Google search should point you to them, but I found this source the most comprehensive and will serve for the purposes of this article.    I will warn however, that this website makes for some disturbing reading.  I don’t recommend reading it if you want to get any sleep.   You can read about their plan for taking over the Republican Party (we are seeing many indicators of their agenda being fulfilled under the Trump administration)  here.

Public education for all is to be abolished in favor of religious, private education.  If you can’t afford a private, religious education, too bad, you must not be one of God’s elect.   Ignorance is good, because it keeps the undesirables in line.   Educated people ask too many questions.  How long before our child labor laws (because that’s socialism) are repealed?    Put those indigent kids to work!

Defunding protections for the environment.  Apparently, for Christian dominionists, stewardship of the earth is irrelevant, in spite of numerous Bible passages that tell us that the Earth belongs to God, and we are only to use it sustainably.    They believe that because in Genesis, Adam and Eve were told to “fill the earth and subdue it,” and “take dominion over it,” that means it’s okay for us to vandalize God’s creation and expect Him to clean up after us like parents coming home to find trash all over the house and graffiti drawn all over the walls after their unruly teenagers threw a drunken weekend party.  They justify unsustainable environmental practices such as strip mining or fracking by saying that only a person of no faith in God’s restorative ability would want laws that protect earthly resources.

Why the mainstream media should be suppressed.

The GOP war against women.  It ain’t just about abortion. They want a patriarchy where women are treated as second class citizens with fewer rights than men and where women’s health is legislated and controlled by high ranking men.  If you want to get an idea of what life might be like for women if the current GOP gets their way, read Margaret Atwood’s eerily prophetic 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale.

Why it’s “Christian” to take “entitlements” away from the poor and middle class.  According to Christian dominionists, God has selected certain individuals to take power over America (a Christian nation!) in preparation for Christ’s return.  In order for them to have the power they need to do what God has ordained, He has blessed them with material wealth like some cosmic lottery machine.   So if you aren’t rich, then God has not chosen you, and in fact you are probably predestined for hell anyway.   This is a morally repugnant (and uniquely American) theology based on Calvinism and the Puritanism that grew from that.  It explains how some far right Christians can reconcile their faith with Ayn Rand’s (herself an atheist) philosophy of selfishness, otherwise known as “objectivism.”    Never mind all that socialist business about Jesus loving the poor and weak —  he didn’t really mean it!  Using dominionist logic, Saudi Arabian oil sheikhs must be even more favored by God, since they are richer than any American Christian.

While “the little people” need more rules and regulations (Jeff Sessions wants to bring back the War on Drugs — hey, gotta fill up all those for-profit prisons!), corporations shouldn’t have any regulations (laws that keep them from exploiting or abusing people, animals, and the environment) because regulation cuts into their profits, and we already know those profits are ordained by God and should not be interfered with.

There is much more, but I’ll leave it at that.   These are the same people that condemn radical Islam for its treatment of women and their tyrannical governments that suppress religious liberty and terrorize those who don’t believe, but they want to do the very same thing here under the rubric of Christianity.   They are hypocrites who twist real Christianity into something more closely resembling a fanatic religious cult in which “freedom of religion” means the freedom to force their religious beliefs on others by making them the law.    They whine about Christians being persecuted because of creationism not being taught in public schools or because some people say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”  (personally, I doubt Jesus cares whether we celebrate his birthday or not), but they feel perfectly free to persecute those who don’t believe exactly as they do and just want to live in a country where everyone is equal and treated fairly.

The Psychopathy of Ayn Rand

Ayn_Rand1
Ayn Rand1” by Phyllis Cerf (April 13, 1916– November 25, 2006), permission obtained from her son Christopher Cerf[…]Richard E. RalstonPublishing ManagerThe Ayn Rand Institute”. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

I am not, nor have I ever been, a fan of Ayn Rand, the author and philosopher who The Tea Party seems to worship with the same reverence they worship Jesus Christ (which is highly ironic, because Rand was an atheist and her values diametrically opposed to Christianity). Certain conservative pundits in recent years have twisted Rand’s ugly philosophy of selfishness (“objectivism”) into their “Christian” right-wing political agenda, and Bill O’Reilly even went so far to say that Jesus would not want to help the poor and homeless because it’s their own fault they don’t have enough to eat. These right wing pundits and politicians never stop to consider that it was the poor and homeless who were Jesus’ disciples and friends, not the rich and powerful. Rand believed that empathy and altruism were the greatest evils to beset mankind, and her childhood hero was a serial killer. She said “she liked the way his mind worked.”

I was going to write an article today about Rand’s obvious psychopathy, but someone has already done it for me. Everything I’d want to say is already here, so I am just going to reblog their excellent article, which uses the items on Hare’s psychopathy checklist to pulverize Ayn Rand because she fit every one of them (these are highlighted in bold).

THE PSYCHOPATHY OF AYN RAND
From Prophet 451’s Journal [link not available]
(stolen from Democractic Underground)
http://www.cwporter.com/psychorand2.htm

randkikestar1
Czar of all the “Rationalists”

You’ve probably heard of Ayn Rand. Most people have these days. She was the author of such inexplicably widely-read “novels” (really, barely-disguised political diatribes) as “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged”. Her books are currently enjoying something of a boom among those who misguidedly believe they would be in the self-righteous community of “Atlases” at Galt’s Gulch. The novels themselves are of only passing interest, being long, melodramatic and mediocrely written. Rather, it is the “philosophy” at the core of the novels which bears attention.

Hear ye, hear ye, I come to bury Rand, not to praise her. While numerous conservative thinkers (and, oddly, Neil Peart) have lauded Rand as a philosopher, few academic institutions include Rand or Objectivism as a philosophical discipline. Conservatives, such as Chris Sciabarra, tend to believe that the academic left decries Rand due to her anti-communist, pro-capitalist slant. Like much of the witterings of conservatives who presume to know what the left thinks, that presumes firstly, more power than the academic left has had in decades; secondly, assumes that the left was universally pro-communist and anti-capitalist, something which has never been true and thirdly, that Rand was saying anything worth studying. She wasn’t. Rand’s “philosophy” was the same defence of endless greed which mankind has been engaged in for eternity, the same attempt to place a moral cover on pure selfishness that has long been pursued by any number of exploiters down the centuries. Nietzche was, and is, pilloried for saying “God is dead”, Rand is lauded for effectively saying “the self is God”. There is nothing new here, save perhaps for the self-delusion that allows so many professed “Christians” to adhere to a philosophy that glorifies greed and athieism. There is also a cult-like deification of Rand by her followers and “swarming” of those who dare criticise her which reminds one very strongly of Scientology (and Glenn Beck followers but that’s another matter).

There is another name for those who hold that the only proper moral consideration is the happiness of the self; for those who view empathy and compassion as weakness; who view selfishness as the only virtue: Psychopaths.

Contrary to popular belief, the psychopath is not automatically violent. Rather, the psychopath is defined by a near-complete lack of empathy. Robert Hare (who created the widely used “Hare Psychopathy Checklist”) describes psychopaths as “intraspecies predators” who use a combination of charisma, manipulation, intimidation, sexuality and violence to satisfy their own desires. The more human qualities of conscience, empathy, remorse or guilt are either completely absent or extremely limited. It must be repeated that the psychopath is not necessarily violent. Indeed, many are not because their lives have never placed them in a position where violence was the only means to satisfy their desires. Many businessmen (and therefore, many politicians) profile as psychopaths because they exhibit the core characteristics or some section thereof. Ayn Rand should also be considered a psychopath.

Hare’s checklist lists certain personality factors as indicative of psychopathy. The average person will perhaps exhibit one or, at most, two. The psychopath will exhibit all but one or two.

In no particular order, these items are: Glibness/superficial charm.

After her writings became popular, Rand collected around herself a group of cultists who virtually worshipped her. However, Shallow affection, the psychopath’s charm is only ever superficial. As one comes to know and understand the psychopath more fully, the charm which initially attracted one to them is revealed as only skin-deep. In this, Rand was entirely textbook. She was described by most who knew her best as a bitter, friendless child who grew into an equally bitter and acidic woman.

Grandiose sense of self-worth would certainly fit Rand. A woman who names her beliefs “Objectivism” out of a belief that any reasoning person who observes the objective truths of the world would necessarily come to full agreement with her would probably qualify. The fact that her little cult were required to memorise her works and discounted as “imbecilic” and “anti-life” if they asked questions simply seals the deal. Her sincere belief was that thinking freely would automatically lead to total agreement with her views.

The ruthless policing of her cult would also qualify her under the Cunning/manipulative qualifier.

Pathological lying is one that Rand is probably innocent of. So far as we know, there is no reason to believe she was a pathological liar.

Lack of remorse or guilt and Callous/lack of empathy could be described as “Ayn Rand syndrome”. These two qualifiers are really the core of her books, philosophy and worldview. In one of her books (“The Fountainhead”), her “hero”, Howard Roark, blows up a housing project he designed when a minor alteration is made and then orders the jury to acquit him (the fact that, as an architect, Roark was presumably contracted for his work and therefore, it wasn’t “his” anymore piddles all over the supposed respect for property too). [I will add here that there is a scene in “The Fountainhead” in which Roark rapes a leading female character, and Rand defends his crime because it gets him what he wants–Lucky Otter].

In “Atlas Shrugged,” her ode to the super-rich which imagines them going on strike against progressive taxation, Rand describes the rest of the world (without whom, let us not forget, the super-rich would be unable to make anything) in such niceties as “savages”, “refuse” and “imitations of living beings”.

When one of the strikers engineers a train crash (because they don’t just strike but commit acts of terrorism too), Rand makes it clear that she believes the murdered victims deserved their fate because they supported progressive taxation. A stewing hymn of Nietzchean will-to-power, misanthropy, failure to understand economics, feudalism and sexual politics verging on the obscene, “Atlas Shrugged” is full of this stuff. Her heroes spend their time both insisting that they are the heroic producers (and without labour, what are they producing exactly?) and bemoaning that others do not worship them as such. In her spare time, Rand was an admirer of serial killer William Hickman (I’ll spare you the details of his crimes save to say that they were brutal even by serial killer standards), describing him as “a brilliant, unusual, exceptional boy”; “other people do not exist for him and he does not see why they should” was her evaluation of his crimes and Rand considered this worthy of praise.

Finally, on the personality factor, there is Failure to accept responsibility for one’s actions. Since our record of Rand’s life isn’t fully detailed, it’s difficult to say how much she satisfied this one. Certainly, when her lover Nathaniel Branden found another partner, she blamed him rather than herself or her increasingly poisonous views. We shouldn’t sympathise with Rand as injured party too much here, she was herself married to someone entirely different and cruel enough to carry on the affair without regard to discretion. Indeed, if the only duty of the superman is to please himself, Branden was acting according to Rand’s ideals and she should have applauded him. She once said the USA should be a “democracy of superiors only” with “superior” being defined as “rich”. One scarcely needs to point out that such a system wouldn’t be democracy at all but oligarchy and interestingly elitist for all her followers’ claim to despise elitism.

One doesn’t need to work very hard to diagnose Rand. Her life and writings paint a vivid picture of psychopathy so clear and obvious that it is only surprising so many miss it. She was a phenomenally damaged woman for whom one can feel an element of pity (an emotion that disgusted her) even while aware of how terrifically dangerous she and her philosophy was and are.

Rand herself died alone except for a hired nurse. Her deranged views had driven away anyone who might have been close to her. Like L. Ron Hubbard, however, her lunatic ideas have spawned a cult that would turn all of us into happy little psychopaths; a cult that includes many of the world’s foremost economists, politicians and rabble-rousers (Beck again, although “intellectual terrorist” might be more appropriate). Like George Orwell, Rand imagined a dystopian world characterised by the powerful’s exploitation of the powerless. Unlike Orwell, Rand wanted to live there.

…..

I suppose I should add here that Rand was also a hypocrite. Decrying government support systems and safety nets as “coddling the incompetent and undeserving,” she unflinchingly collected both Medicare and Social Security when she contracted lung cancer late in her life. I suppose she thought she was a “deserving” exception to her own ugly philosophy of selfish callousness?