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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Real Christian Right

With the embarrassing advocacy of Hugo Chavez’s murder by televangelist Pat Robertson (Of course in 1988 after the Iowa Caucus, Robertson got very unhappy with Tom Brokaw’s characterization of him as televangelist), a leading voice for over two decades of the religious right, the question of how Christian the so-called Christian right really is comes up for discussion once again. Rev. Jim Wallis in his excellent recent book on faith in politics discusses the corruption of the meaning of Christianity by the right, and mentions Robertson (as well as Jerry Falwell, Gary Bauer, and James Dobson) as a driving force behind the redefining of faith in politics. These so-called Christians have become nothing more than agents of the far right in politics. Just as many fundamentalist Christians defended segregation in the 1960s (Pat Robertson was an exception, though his father, the late Democratic Senator Willis Robertson disagreed with him on the issue and consistently opposed all civil rights legislation) when they were Democrats, as Republicans converted by Ronald Reagan during the 1980s, they advocated murder in Central America, the impeachment of judges who ruled based on written law, and the sweeping out of office, any elected official who didn’t agree with them entirely.

Whether Hugo Chavez is a thorn in America’s side is not an issue here at all. The real issue here is the continued advocacy by the so-called Religious Right of what certain politicians including the President want said. For years, Ralph Reed claimed to be non-partisan as head of Robertson’s Christian Coalition. Reed, a brilliant political strategist however was far from non-partisan. Under the guise of religion and family he and his operatives worked relentlessly to rally evangelical Christians to the Republican side even though President Bill Clinton shared more in common with Southern Christians than any previous President except for Jimmy Carter. (Whom the right also uses as a punching bag to fire up its activists) Reed worked tirelessly to build the grassroots and infrastructure of the Southern Republican party in order not to promote Christianity but to promote far right politicians. The Christian Coalition for example in 1995 included a vote on tax cuts in its ratings of Congress but not a vote on parental control of television to prevent kids from watching sexual and violent programming, an issue which one would assume true Christians would be concerned about. During 1995 and 1996 the GOP moved further and further out of the mainstream as Gary Bauer, Ralph Reed and Pat Robertson became darlings of the anti-Clinton Washington elite media.

Reed and Robertson carefully built the image of the Christian Right as American movement suspicious of anything that wasn’t wholesome and apple pie. But given the opportunity to show their true colors, the Christian Right has time and time again. With today’s conflicts in the Middle East, Robertson, Falwell and others feel they can do what the Popes in the Middle Ages did: kill in the name of religion. Almost immediately after 9/11 Falwell and others spoke of killing Muslim leaders and converting citizens of the Middle East to Christianity.

It is little discussed today but true that when Pope Innocent called the first crusade in 1095 the initial victims were Jews who happened to be living around over zealous and under educated crusaders who felt due to the pope’s calls they well doing god’s work. By the time the crusade reached Constantinople, the Emperor Alexius was so suspicious of the crusaders intent and probability to rape, plunder and pillage that he tried everything to keep them from entering the gates of the city. Like the Emperor, today’s mainstream Christians have a lot to suspect from the motives of Robertson and others. They are political creatures, whose agenda is power for their cronies and political allies at any cost. Sure Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela represents a threat to American interests in Latin America. That’s not being questioned. What is being questioned is the motives and actions of those who use religion as their veil to exploit the media and American public into believing and doing what they want.


Anonymous said...

You're shots at Robertson are uncalled for. It is you who is imposing your values and political bias on this issue. Robertson was merely speaking in the interest of the United States and our liberties, since chavez is a left winger who is harbouring terrorists and aiding Castro.

CATO said...

Hugo Chavez sucks and is dangerous.

But I have to wonder will Robertson or Falwell ever have to pay the bill?

After September 11th Falwell said, ""I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"

Robertson continued, "Robertson said, "I totally concur, and the problem is we've adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government, and so we're responsible as a free society for what the top people do, and the top people, of course, is the court system."

Falwell continued, "The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked."

Robertson associated himself with these remarks. They both later appologized and all was forgiven.

More on Robertson's disembling on the Chavez issue later.

Jeb in 2008 said...

Total liberal spin. Kartik, tell us whetherv or not you believe the US should try and topple pro-Castro and pro-Bin Laden leaders like Chavez? If the answer is yes, embrace Pat Robertson's message if not the messenger and delivery, and if the answer is no, join with the Michael Moore's and the hate America crowd gravitating around Howard Dean and other lefties.

Anonymous said...

Totally irresponsible opinion on your part. Robertson has apologized. Do you like Chavez and Castro?

Anonymous said...

Pat Robertson ought to be arrested for his comments advocating murder. The distancing from these comments by Bush was to say the least very tepid. They probably wanted him to say what he did, which is yet another outrage.

CATO said...

Dissmbling 101 - follow the bouncing ball

Monday 8/22 "If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it," said Robertson Monday. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war."

Wednesday 8/23 (earlier) - "I didn't say 'assassination.' I said our special forces should 'take him out.'...I was misinterpreted by the AP, but that happens all the time," Robertson said.

Wednesday 8/23 (later) - "Is it right to call for assassination? No, and I apologize for that statement," Robertson said.

Among the outrageous things Robertson has said over the years, this is small potatoes.

More on that later.

CATO said...

Robertson (continued)

This from Florida's most pro- Christian Conservative daily newspaper.

"I think (federal judges) are destroying the fabric that holds our nation together. ... The gradual erosion of the consensus that's held our country together is probably more serious than, than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings." — Robertson earlier this year on activist judges. He later said his comments were taken out of context.

"When lawlessness is abroad in this land, the same thing will happen here that happened in Nazi Germany. Many of those people involved in Adolf Hitler were Satanists, many of them were homosexuals — the two seem to go together." — Robertson in 1993 after President Clinton announced he was ordering an end to a ban on gays in the military.

"I would warn Orlando that you're right in the way of some serious hurricanes and I don't think I'd be waving those flags in God's face." — Robertson about a gay event in Florida in 1998. He added that widespread gay activity "will bring about terrorist bombs. It'll bring earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor."

In a fundraising letter in 1992 in opposition to a proposed equal rights amendment to the Iowa Constitution, Robertson said it was part of a "feminist agenda" that "is not about equal rights for women." Instead, "it is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."

Robertson later denied writing the letter, saying an aide was the author.

These are from a man who claims to be a Christian. Moreover, a man who millions a day rely on for their spiritual advice.

It seems, this man, like Falwell, will never have to pay the bill.

Joe said...

I do not like Hugo Chavez or Fideal Castor, but I love America and thus hate Robertson and Falwell.

kate said...

Wow, the right is all up in arms over this one. Calm down, boys. No one wants to suck up to Chavez. We just don't think a man of God ought to be advocating murder in the name of cheap oil.

Mark said...

I read the comments by the right-wingers trying to pretend that they are anti-Castro and anti-Chavez, and I was laughing my ass off. The GOP has done more to help Castro and Chavez and should be ashamed of themselves.

Fidel Castro has no better friends than Congressmen Lincoln and Mario Diaz Balart and Congresswoman Ileanna Ros Lehtinen. These three talk a tough game, but they rely on Castro to get reelected every two years. That is why they, and the rest of the GOP, talk about how they hate Castro, but then do everything they can to keep him in power.

And of course, the two oil men in the White House have been great allies to Chavez's oil-producing regime. It should be no surprise that Bush scolded Robertson for his comments.

Tim L said...

Very well said, Kartik. We're not for Chavez but we're not for murder and insensitivity either.

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I am the host of the Major League Soccer Talk and EPL Talk Podcasts and am frequent guest on other (world) football shows. I am also the publisher of various other websites including this one. I work in public/government relations in addition to my soccer work and have a keen interest in history, politics, aviation, travel,and the world around us.