Sunday, May 08, 2005

Bad Behavior, Filibusters, Abortion and the Christian Right's Persecution Complex

When I was in high school I first heard the term, "persecution complex" from a teacher towards a close friend of mine who always seemed to get in trouble (and yet is a very successful businessman, father of 4 and deacon in his church today). After getting called down for talking in class, he looked at the teacher and began to make his case like Rasheed Wallace to an NBA official after yet another technical foul. The teacher paused and asked him if he had a persecution complex.

I think someone needs to take the Christian Right outside, sit them down and ask them the same thing.. Actually, George Will did last week in the Washington Post. Hopefully some of them will listen to a known conservative and advocate of evangelicals in the political arena. It is so sad that they use this tactic to drum up support from the troops. They get to have power over 2 branches of government, along with much of the media and yet still get to act as if they have no power.

As George said,

"Some Christians should practice the magnanimity of the strong rather than cultivate the grievances of the weak. But many Christians are joining today's
scramble for the status of victims. There is much lamentation about various "assaults" on "people of faith." Christians are indeed experiencing some petty
insults and indignities concerning things such as restrictions on school Christmas observances. But their persecution complex is unbecoming because it is

This week begins the beginning of the end for the filibuster. As you may know, the CR has used this fight as an opportunity to play the victim card by saying that it is tantamount to racial discrimination. People are being filibustered because of their faith, not their politics. As the Family Research Council said, "the filibuster was once used to protect racial bias, and now it is being used against people of faith." No, and even if it was, so what?

If I was a Senate Democrat I may use the filibuster also? Why? Because of the "faith" of these nominees? No, because a couple of them are radical (very smart, but radical) in their support of giant corporations at the expense of the citizenry and would like to dismantle the entire "New Deal." And how would they do this? Through Judicial Activism. But, to the right it is okay, because it is good activism.

Listen, we all know the fight is over Roe V. Wade and the potential Supreme Court nominees. But, how about finding someone who would want to overturn RvW and not destroy democracy in America. This is what burns me up about the right. Not only do we have to be against abortion, which I am. But, we have to be, anti-poor and pro-corporate "do whatever they want," anti-environment (since it will all burn), anti-working poor, anti-tax (as opposed to "render unto Caesar"), pro-gun (and every gun- the more the merrier), anti-Muslim, pro-war, anti-minimum wage, pro-10 Commandment on every street corner and pro-death penalty (kill em all).

Here are a few observations on this whole filibuster fight, which has become bad behavior begets bad behavior begets bad behavior...

1. First of all, I blame George W. Bush, not the Senate Democrats or Republicans. Why? 4 years ago he told us he wanted to be a "UNITER NOT A DIVIDER" who wanted to bring a better atmosphere to Washington. If that had been the case, he would have chosen conservative judges who were not radical in their agendas. He could have easily found 10 more judges to go along with the 200+ that the Democrats did not filibuster.

Yes, he has the right to nominate whomever he pleases, but not if he chooses to unite people. He is being divisive, which is not presidential. This could have kept everything clean. Please tell me how I am wrong about this one.

2. Yes, RvW is bad law. It should not be on the books. You cannot logically leap from "no searches and seizures" to "right to privacy" to "cannot tell me I cannot do whatever I want to my body." Try another tactic. If the US were legislating mandatory abortions that would be a logical step from "no searches and seizures."

3. RvW ruined both parties. It made the Democrats assume that they could use the courts to get what they wanted. Therefore, they lost touch with the people. They do not understand the struggle most people have with abortion or the moderate feelings of most. And, it caused the right to lose faith in the courts and move into bed with the Republicans. They now buy into everything anti-little guy, as long as Republicans give them 1 issue.

RvW destroyed moderation in both parties.

4. To stop the Liberal judicial activism, the right has turned to finding right wing judicial activists, such as Justice Moore from Alabama.

5. As some commentators have mentioned, what is needed is an independent judiciary that is not arrogant (there I go again, sounding like a moderate).

6. The Dems are probably not correct to use the filibuster in this instance, which was caused by Bush's bad behavior. So, their bad behavior elicits the worst behavior, to start the destruction of one of the most beautiful things American Politics created, The filibuster. The filibuster separates the deliberative Senate from the rancorous House. To get things done, you must find common ground. Nothing radical can get done. Pure genius. Do not destroy something that has led to the stability of the USA and its constitution for 200+ years.

7. The "Justice Sunday" crowd is wrong about the use of the filibuster. In 1968, the minority Republican Party used the filibuster to block his nominee to become Supreme Court Chief Justice, Abe Fortas. The Wall Street Journal from last Tuesday has an article showing the history of nominations and filibusters. As you would see, most of the rightwingers and leftwingers are not accurate. In the past, if one Senator from the home state of a potential judicial nominee did not approve, the person would not be brought to the floor for a vote. I know, don't let facts get in the way of good rhetoric.

To get more of the article, click here. The website is a blog and biased, but he quotes the article and to get it from The WSJ you would have to subscribe.

To get a hard right wing perspective on the gathering by someone who was there and fully supportive of the rally, click here. It is helpful to help understand how others may have perceived it.

8. Christians must get over themselves. We look through a glass darkly. Our religion flourishes when we are out of power. We need to be of benefit to the whole world, not just ourselves. We act like jerks, people get mad and write bad things about us. Then we get to play the martyr card and have our persecution complex. Thank God that Jesus, Paul and the early church fathers did not have persecution complexes. Our faith would have died with church fathers that acted like Mohler, Dobson and the head of the FRC.

We must remember our purpose on earth, which is not to gain power in the US judiciary. Too many Christians are acting outside their area of expertise. Just because Mohler is an excellent NT scholar does make him a constitutional expert. Just because Dobson has good things to say about discipline does not make him a political genius. Just because these men are smart, does not make them wise!

I ask these men to remember Jesus as they walk up to a platform or address a radio audience. How does their rhetoric differ from Jesus'. Would Jesus ally himself with a power of rich and powerful white men? IS this beneficial to the whole earth? Is this what Jesus meant when he said, "your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven?"

A good op-ed from David Brooks, conservative commentator for the New York Times regarding the filibuster and use of religion in politics, which he supports when it is humbly enacted (registration warning, but worth it).

Brooks on the use of religious conviction in political decision-making (comparing a humble Lincoln to arrogant present-day posturing). Click Here.


Alex F said...

You know that I'm a political conservative.... but I'm increasingly less interested in politics and more apt to see it as a major distraction for the Church. So....

I was not a fan of "Justice Sunday." I think those people were within their rights as citizens to hold the rally, but let me put it this way: I just wouldn't have used my pulpit and my church's worship service to do it. While the Church should be engaging the culture, I don't think the Church is a political special-interest group. And while I think that Christianity is disparaged by so many in our culture, I don't think the persecution complex is appropriate. Seems to me that Jesus said to expect persecution. Besides, taking a statue of the 10 commandments down is not exactly persecution anyway. Try complaining about that to a group of Saudi Christians. One of the problems is that so many are still convinced that this is a "Christian nation."

kidpositive said...

thanks for this post, rick. you've seemed to open up your air intake on the blog engine lately, allowing for a little more fire coming out. i like that. it's good, and something that we all need.

because you never seem to reply to comments on your blog, i hesitate to ask this, but what the heck: do you ever think about the fact that at some point, the religious right's backing and support for government (republican) causes gets so intermingled with their theological message that the two become inseparable, and thus the Gospel they preach loses its identity in Christ and becomes a "gospel of man", in a sense?

i believe that it's very difficult to be so involved in a cause (such as government politicking) and yet keep the values and methods of that cause from infiltrating the rest of your life. in this sense then, I think it's very hard for people like Mohler, Dobson, et al. to keep a "pure" message of Christ when they're so involved with the affairs of the world. not that they're not supposed to be involved, but just that it's inevitable that the two are going to get a little mixed in their mind. therefore, what happens is that the salvation message they preach eventually becomes infected with the concerns of the man & the world, just as Peter "had in mind the things of men" when he tried to rebuke Jesus...all because Jesus was saying something (I'm going to die and rise again) that didn't line up with Peter's expectation of a Messiah (i.e. an earthly, kingly ruler).

anyway, i think it's important for people to realize this, especially those under the RR leader's influence, because we all need to understand what is really the message of Christ (i.e. taking up your cross daily) and the message of man (God's kingdom enacted through earthly government). just some thoughts. would love to hear a response.

DJ Word said...

I want to respong but it will be after work.

Needless to say, I do agree with much of both of your posts.

The church is presently a special interest group, but as you say Alex, it should not be.

And, as you say Craig, the message of the gospel of Christ has become so mixed up with the political message and agenda of the CR, that they become inseparable and it has become heretical. One day, in the future, we will look back on these days as a mistake and a dark spot, just like all of the other dark spots in our history.

It is just a shame that some good people are caught up in this behavior.