Saturday, June 5, 2010

"Christians" to Impose Theology on American Courts

To change the way things are we need to understand why at any given moment about a third of our population doesn't care about what is true -- or even fact-based -- but instead live life informed by self-reinforcing beliefs which are proudly non fact-based and rooted in deep-seated resentment that can't be cured because what is resented never actually happened.

These people resist facts in particular and have a loathing of education in general. They act within their own reality proudly maintained within an impenetrable Right Wing Echo Chamber. Here's the latest example:

According to the AP news reports out June 4 June 4, 2010
"Christian Conservatives Target Seated Judges"

SAN DIEGO -- A group of conservative attorneys say they are on a mission from God to unseat four California judges in a rare challenge that is turning a traditionally snooze-button election into what both sides call a battle for the integrity of U.S. courts.

Vowing to be God's ambassadors on the bench, the four San Diego Superior Court candidates are backed by pastors, gun enthusiasts, and opponents of abortion and same-sex marriages."We believe our country is under assault and needs Christian values," said Craig Candelore, a family law attorney who is one of the group's candidates. "Unfortunately, God has called upon us to do this only with the judiciary."

The challenge is unheard of in California, one of 33 states to directly elect judges....Opponents fear the June 8 race is a strategy that could transform courtroom benches just like some school boards, which have seen an increasing number of Christian conservatives win seats in cities across the country and push for such issues as prayer in classrooms.

"Any organization that wants judges to subscribe to a certain political party or certain value system or certain way of ruling to me threatens the independence of the judiciary," San Diego County's District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said....

Called "Better Courts Now," the movement was the brainchild of Don Hamer, San Diego County's late Zion Christian Fellowship pastor who campaigned locally for California's ban on gay marriage, Proposition 8, and vetted the candidates before he died of a heart attack in March. His fellow Pastor Brian Hendry and other supporters have carried on his legacy, launching the mostly online campaign to replace the incumbent judges -- all Democrats -- with Christian conservatives.

Backers include El Cajon Gun Exchange, a store that encourages customers to fight for California's gun owners and visit the "Better Courts Now" website before voting. Pastors have vowed to spread the word. Hendry said the group had raised about $2,000 last month...

Candelore said a victory would mark only the beginning: "If we can take our judiciary, we can take our legislature and our executive branch."

The culture wars were (and are) really all about sex.

To understand our present we have to "get" the root cause of the sexual, political and social dysfunction created by fundamentalist religion. Those roots aren't just political--they're personal.

It's the little experiences of millions of children growing up in millions of religious homes that add up to the politics of hate and exclusion. My way of telling the story of what the Religious Right did to America is to fold it into the individual story of my own life in my books like Crazy For God.

It so happens that my father (Francis Schaeffer) and I became leaders in the Religious Right. Then I quit. Judging by the (literally) many thousands of emails I've been sent in the last couple of years in response to my examination of religion and politics (in books like Crazy For God and Patience With God and in my Huffington Post blogs) there are lots of bewildered individuals who, like me, were also raised believing that Every Single Word Of The Bible Is True.

These folks are now staggering through life in the grip of a paranoid nightmare. And many people who aren't religious ask:

1) How did the Religious Loony Tunes get to be this way?

2) How can they be stopped from taking us all with them to La La Land?

The real issue is theocracy verses democracy. Everything else is a footnote. That includes issues such as women's rights and the environment. It was (and is) dumb religion that is the root cause of the rape of the earth and the subjugation of women. Put fundamentalist religion in its place -- in other words in the dustbin of history -- and replace it with humanism, tolerant spirituality and science and we will have gone a long way to solving many other problems.

Since all religious fundamentalists share one thing in common -- intolerance of others because they are sure of being correct -- being a religious fundamentalist of any kind should automatically disqualify a person from political office in the same way that anyone who believes that "Natural Law" supersedes our constitution of Bill of Rights has no place in American law.

What today's fundamentalists share is a literal interpretation of their various scriptures. And all the major (theistic) scriptures -- when taken literally -- sanction barbarity and are fundamentally anti-democratic as well as anti-truth policies. They all demand an allegiance to a "jealous God" (in the Bible's words) to whom fundamentalists owe allegiance over and above their country's constitutions or the rule of law or even common decency.

And that is why everything that came from Dad's and my anti-abortion efforts in the 1970s eventually fed into a movement that no longer believes in the legitimacy of our government and threatens violence not to mention tries to impose awful leadership be that from "Christian" judges to someone like George Bush, elected because he passed the Evangelical's moralistic litmus tests.

This latest round of an attack on our judiciary is just another shot fired in our culture war. If we want an American version of Iran: here's the "blueprint"-- just let the folks at "Better Courts Now," impost their "values."

Those values aren't democratic. They aren't patriotic. They are revolutionary and seek to impose a theocracy.

Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism)


FrGregACCA said...

Okay, I'm confused. How is being pro-gun intrinsically or even possibly Christian?

Ben Daniel said...

@FrGreggACCA: It's in the Bible: "Behold, I stand at the door and Glock"

FrGregACCA said...

@Ben: "Glock???" "Glock??" It says "GROCK"! ;-)

Peter said...

Once again you have offered no evidence to support the claim that this type of movement is equivalent to theocracy. The founding fathers themselves recognized the dangers of the passions and how they would be detrimental to the social order. They specifically and intentionally sought to limit the expression of the passions in the sexual realm and to allow their expression in the economic realm. Those who oppose redefining marriage are therefore more consistent with the founding documents of our nation than the "humanist" notions you are describing. And, if you read the article, there is no claim that being "pro-gun" is intrinsically Christian. It simply says the gun owners are also backing the effort. After all, there is that pesky Second Amendment - and judges are called to uphold the Constitution.

FrGregACCA said...

Fine, Peter, so judges are called to uphold the Constitution, including the Second Amendment (as if anyone really knows what the Second Amendment actually MEANS), but as a Christian, I couldn't care less about those parts of the Constitution, or the rest of American law for that matter, which potentially conflict with my faith. I will obey them as long as I do not have to disobey God. However, we have people like this, including Sarah Palin, talking about being "pro-life" and "pro gun" in the same breath when the two are potentially, if not actually, in conflict.

And oh, BTW, the Founding Fathers were apparently all for the masses bridling their physical passions, but not necessarily the landed aristocracy the founders themselves. I think immediately of both Franklin and Jefferson in this regard. Further, we have long since come to the point where the main public danger with regard to expressing the passions is in the economic realm, less so the physical arena (with a couple of exceptions dealing with public health). I am all for traditional marriage (as long as it is essentially egalitiarian when it comes to the man and woman involved), but consider two points: first, how would you go about enforcing private sexual morality? Do you really want police officers invading bedrooms? Second, have you considered the damage that the expression of "economic passion" had done to the institution of marriage? When the market is all, the market is all and family life be damned!

Peter said...

Fr. Greg,
Your points are well taken and I completely agree with your comments regarding the market and the family. The issue is not about enforcing private morality but such laws historically served to establish boundaries for institutions such as marriage. There is definitely need for such boundaries in the economic realm. It is legitimate for citizens, religious or not, to debate and be advocates for these issues simply on their merits without being identified (by Mr. Schaeffer and others) as American versions of the Taliban.

FrGregACCA said...

Peter: I don't know what kind of exposure you've had to this crowd (current incarnation: Tea Partiers, Fox News junkies and talking heads, etc. Previous incarnations: Moral Majority, John Birch Society, Goldwaterites, et. al.), but I grew up with them and was raised by parents who in many ways meshed quite well with this group; Frank was certainly heavily exposed as well. Personally, given my experience, I have no problem at all characterizing them as "American Taliban".

Rick said...

Thanks for your great work Frank, and for this post on the San Diego judge election.

Some good news: All four "christian" attorneys lost in their bid to unseat the incumbent judges. Looks like San Diego voters recognized and did not buy the dangerous nonsense being peddled by Better Courts Now.


Luke Gillespie said...

Great post, Frank, and I appreciate FrGregACCA's comments, too. May I offer a couple of links? One is from E. J. Dionne, Jr., who wrote the following in the Washington Post on Mark Souder's downfall: The other is a fine op-ed "philosophical" piece from the NY Times about the anger from the Tea Party:

strefanash said...

As an evangelical who has survived what is called fundamentalism and regards it as unbiblical heresy, let me point out that I am utterly opposed to theocracy. To impose on others a Laws of God which no one keeps is a flagrant abuse of the purpose of the Law of God. in fact it makes the Religious Right antichrist.

They forget that Christ's kingdom is not of this world, and that in seeking to gain the world, or even only the US, they will lose their souls.

These people are apostate, for they are what the Bible says is working in the flesh. And so was I

as for tolerance of things i disagree with, we are commandeed to be merciful, as in the sermon on the mount. Truth, real or only perceived, was NEVER a licence for bigotry or the obscenity of the Religious Right's political action

A literal Bible, rationally read, does not lead to Religious Right legalism or revolution, which is why i now reject the Religious Right and the thought of the late Francis Schaeffer, though, Mr Schaeffer, I must admit that your book "Crazy for God" had me view your late father in a less hostile light, for which I am grateful to you