Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rights, rites, the right. Something's wrong.

There's been quite a flap in the presidential campaigns over pastors and religion, and how much influence they might have in the actual running of the country. I ran across this article on The Nation about why the Hillary campaign has not pounced with much ferocity on this whole Rev. Wright issue. If the public is going to examine a candidate's spiritual leader, this is about Hillary's.

[Here's the link] It's about a group known as The Fellowship or The Family. There's an expose by Jeff Sharlet that's been written about this group that will be published in May. It's a conservative and secretive Capitol Hill religious group with many cult-like features. They organize young people into same-sex group homes known as "cells," where they are indoctrinated concerning Jesus and power.

Historically, The Family has always been politically involved, esp. with right-wing world leaders. In the 1940s they reached out to Nazis (based on their fascination with power), and in the 1960s they forged relationships between the U.S. government and people such as Brazilian dictator General Costa e Silva and Indonesia's General Suharto. During Reagan's term, they bonded with Salvadoran general Carlos Eugenios Vides Casanova, "convicted by a Florida jury of the torture of thousands, and Honduran general Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, himself an evangelical minister, who was linked to both the CIA and death squads before his own demise." On the domestic end, The Family has been associated with Sam Brownback, Ed Meese, John Ashcroft, James Inhofe, Rick Santorum... and... Hillary Clinton, who is a member of the "most elite cell" of the Family.

Their doctrine and message is about power and elitism, issues close to the hearts of both the Christian Right and Neoconservatives. mass societies, it's only the elites who matter, the political leaders who can build God's "dominion" on earth. Insofar as The Family has a consistent philosophy, it's all about power--cultivating it, building it and networking it together into ever-stronger units, or "cells." "We work with power where we can," Doug Coe has said, and "build new power where we can't."

Why does this matter? It matters because it has affected her behavior as a legislator:
...The Family takes credit for some of Clinton's rightward legislative tendencies, including her support for a law guaranteeing "religious freedom" in the workplace, such as for pharmacists who refuse to fill birth control prescriptions and police officers who refuse to guard abortion clinics.

Is that what "freedom of religion" means to her? What if your co-worker insists on their right to anoint your office chair every day with the blood of a chicken as part of a religious rite? That kind of rite is not your right when it imposes a hardship on another citizen who has the right to be free from undesired religious rites of others.

Jeff Sharlet's The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.

And while we are calling for Obama to "denounce and reject" a pastor, let's look at McCain's alliance with Rev. Rod Parsley, "who has called upon Christians to wage a "war" against the "false religion" of Islam with the aim of destroying it." [LINK]

He's also been associated with and endorsed by Texas televangelist, the Rev. James C. Hagee, a staunch anti-Catholic to point of calling them the Anti-Christ. McCain's reaction was “when he endorses me, it does not mean that I embrace everything that he stands for or believes in.” [LINK] Sounds just a bit like some of the things that Obama has said regarding his pastor.

Here's an idea. Let's keep church and state separate. How refreshing and functional would it be if our candidates were not bound by loyalties to religious groups who are filled with hatred, bigotry, and lust for power and even world domination? It's an influence that a government that strives for freedom and justice could surely do without.

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Anonymous said...

Muslims Against Sharia call on Senators McCain and Obama to cut all ties with their racist, Islamophobic, and anti-Semitic supporters.


Th' Rev said...

Let's separate church and state the old fashioned way-you know,like they did William Wallace?Figuratively speaking of course...:P

enigma4ever said...

really great post- I learned alot..thank you....really helped me recognize something about Hillary that I had not been able to put my finger on..and it did bother me that she went on 700 Club- more because I did not know the motive.....thank you....

Anonymous said...

Well putz! Like an idiot I left in the middle of typing something here and of course it was gone when I got back. What a dunce!

Anyway, I was kind of excited? pleased? whatever...when I noticed two links to sites I know very well. In fact one of them I saw I hadn't even logged out. I clicked on the book cover to get there..I'm "agelessannie". Anyway, I am also quite happy to find a kindred spirit, as I have not quite "come out" yet on my blogpage and declared I am an atheist. Which I am. The nutso evangelical rightwing nuts scare the bejeepers out of me. (I also like another site, the one about Theocracy, that you have linked somewhere here. Oy, what a memory! LOL

I don't know why it's so difficult to just SAY it. I do not believe in fairy tales, and the whole fantasy of "someone" overseeing the entire planet is just too much to accept. Well, I'm going to do it. Come out of the pew in the last row of the last church I went to...whenever that was. Watch for my grand opening. Hahaha

Blueberry said...

Thanks to everyone for the comments. Hi Lorraine, and welcome. I stop by your place now and again. It is hard to "come out" especially if relatives are reading you (and mine don't, as far as I know -- some of them would get an eyeful if they did!! hee hee). My co-workers, if they were to stumble by, wouldn't care as they are mostly scientists... but in a lot of work situations it DOES matter. I've lost a job for being a non-believer before. Now THAT shouldn't happen.

Mark Prime (tpm/Confession Zero) said...

We shouldn't be debating the candidates religion in the melting pot of the world. We should be debating the issues- period.

I could care less if Hillary worships carrots, Obama worships clarinets and McCain worships George W!

Okay. Maybe that last one bothers me a bit, but lets drop the religious litmus test and get on with the business of running this country the way it ought to be run- of the people, for the people, and by the people.