CULTIVATING LIBERALISM
FOR ALL CLIMATES
SINCE 1759
 
Google
 

Free alert to Candide's Notebooks
Your email:

JOIN ME AT MY BULLSHIT SITES

Evangelical Taliban
Jerry Falwell, Long Dead

Jerry Falwell's best friend

When Time magazine cover-storied the “25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America” in February 2005, Pat Roberston didn’t make the list. Nor did Ralph Reed. Nor did James Dobson. Nor did Jerry Falwell. Their time had, indeed, passed. But not the damage they’d wrought. The fabric of American politics is weaker because of them, the fabric of policy as faith-based ideology stronger because of them. And American discourse is dirtier, less moral, less shorn of “values” because of them. Can anyone forget the rabid poison of the Religious Right at the 1992 Repuiblican National Convention? Should anyone forget Jerry Falwell lines like these: “Modern U.S. Supreme Courts have raped the Constitution and raped the Christian faith and raped the churches,” a loud echo of that other fanatic Pat Robertson’s claim that “Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal America is now doing to the evangelical Christians”? And George W. Bush, arguably the most toxic president this country has ever known (see here) is in office, in large part, because of them. As Garry Wills wrote in the New York Review last November, “Bush promised his evangelical followers faith-based social services, which he called "compassionate conservatism." He went beyond that to give them a faith-based war, faith-based law enforcement, faith-based education, faith-based medicine, and faith-based science. He could deliver on his promises because he stocked the agencies handling all these problems, in large degree, with born-again Christians of his own variety. The evangelicals had complained for years that they were not able to affect policy because liberals left over from previous administrations were in all the health and education and social service bureaus, at the operational level. They had specific people they objected to, and they had specific people with whom to replace them, and Karl Rove helped them do just that.”

It’s true that the role evangelicals played in Bush’s reelection was overblown. The 22 percent share of the voting public that put “morals” and “values” at the top of its reasons for voting Bush in 2004 was lower than the 35 percent and 40 percent that did so in 2000 and 1996—and look at what happened in both races: Gore was elected in 2000 (until the Supreme Court’s mullahs weighed in) and Clinton got reelected in 1996. But it’s also true that 60 percent of the American population thinks God plays an important role in their lives, 39 percent describe selves as born-again Christians, a third of registered voters are evangelical protestants, and a frightening number think angels hover about their shopping choices at Wal-Mart. Is Jerry Falwell’s death any less significant? Only in the sense that he died about a decade ago when, even then, his “moral majority” was a very clever, very potent, very misleading marketing ploy that sought to channel (abuse, I would say) privately legitimate beliefs into publicly, politically potent ones. It was opportunism, plain and simple. But it worked a good deal. The result is that while evangelicals don’t necessarily control the country anywhere near as much as liberals fear, they control discourse and mindsets more than they should—and by extension, they control too many levers in the political process. How else would the bigoted likes of Glenn Beck have their own show on CNN?

The obvious Fall for those holier-than-thou brigades, of course, is always a zipper away: Also listed among Time’s 25 most influential evangelicals two years ago was none other than Ted Haggard.

Bookmark and Share

| Back to the Front Page  
 
THE DAILY JOURNAL
Read Pierre’s Latest at


 
The Latest Comments
 
GOOGLE GOOGLE NEW YORK TIMES NEWSPAPERS NETFLIX UK INDEPENDENT NETFLIX
 
  
RECENTLY IN THE DAILY JOURNAL: NOTEBOOKS ORIGINALS
RECENTLY IN THE DAILY JOURNAL: CRUMBS & CRIBS

   
 
Add to Google Reader or Homepage Subscribe in NewsGator Online Subscribe in Rojo   Add to My AOL Subscribe in FeedLounge Add to netvibes Subscribe in Bloglines Add to The Free Dictionary