This simple question I have heard asked by many people about Catholic's and Christian's drive to to see their views of how people should live imposed on all Americans -- one can even say, as made clear by ex-President Bush's war in Iraq and war-like rhetoric of "evil countries," imposed on the world.
Ex-Vice President Dan Quayle put it this way to a teen interviewing him and asked the quite adult question about allowing abortion in the case of incest: "I am afraid you will have to carry that child to term."*
This, in the era of the constitutional right to a woman's privacy with regard to her own body, from a "Christian," grossly shows us their view: "You must live by our rules."
I mean, in view of the doctrines of freedom and individual rights upon which this country was founded, and the absolute condemnation of tyranny against which a revolution was fought, "in order to form a more perfect union," which includes to "establish justice," "insure domestic tranquility," "promote the general welfare," and, most importantly for this case, to "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity." It was with these ideals in mind that our country founded.
And just who can forget that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof?"
But there is a fight going on to decide just what all of those words and phrases mean.
Just where does organized religion come in? What role do they play? We shall see here several of those organization's own words.
The first key to what they do is, of course, their belief that their Bible is "the word of God," and that their particular
Bible provides us with a way to create a more perfect union, to establish justice, etc. Note that I choose my words carefully and will say this again to make sure that there is no mistake in understanding: their particular Bible
with a way to live, their Bible does not just provide them
with a way to live. The reason why I make this emphasis is to point out that almost all religious organizations differ in how to interpret their particular Bible, but they all have the view that it is not just "they" that should live their way but it is "everybody" that should live by their way. Each religious organization, although based upon similar sources of scripture, has their own interpretation of their Bible and of how we should live accordingly.
But, although these groups all have different views of they why and the how of their religion, there is a way to unite them -- as is being done. By decrying an explosive issue that they all share as being "attacked," forces, people of a political mind, can provide the wick that reaches into all their bottles of oil. We have before us today a few basic rallying points that ignite them all: gay marriage, abortion, and evolution (anti-science, actually).
Conservatives overwhelmingly talk of the constitution, marriage, abortion, and science.
All other differences between religious doctrines disappear when the few shared "values" are emphasised as being attacked, being "removed from our children." This is the morality card, which in its current form is about sex and science. In the past it was slavery (pro and con), or alcohol, or war, or education. And there were others, of course. But today, it is the "sanctity of marriage," or "sacredness of life," or "validity of science" that has become paramount as rallying calls that unites the various religious organizations.
Whereas religious organizations manipulate the public, political forces manipulate the religious organizations, with the vast array of radio, television and newspaper "pundits" as dupes, taken in by their own propaganda that they spew, taken from other's propaganda, that of their "higher ups."
Answer the question: Where do George Will, William Kristol*
, Rush Limbaugh, and the list goes on and on, get their views? To whom do they look to for their data? Certainly it is not "the liberal press." Certainly it is not science journals. Certainly it is not from history, or biology, or geology, etc. textbooks. Certainly it is not from NPR or PBS or even ABC, CBS or NBC.
What's left? Fellow conservatives who share their views? Sure, and there is a feedback loop as they share their views in support of each other. But ultimately, conservatives get their views, their morals, from religious sources, from their churches.
So, what do the churches believe? Well, let them tell us. Here is the Creation Truth Foundation
which says that they are a "Leader of Biblical world view development beginning in Genesis." A message that is typical and found repeated again and again by Christian ministries:
... this secular world view and life style provided the public platform that made it easy for the secular humanist to separate God from all public life and practice—chief of which was the so-called unconstitutionality of prayer and Bible reading in the public schools of America. This quickly produced unprecedented moral and educational decline throughout our beloved country.
America’s only hope, it was determined, was for the Bible believing public of our land to awaken to the reality of a true Biblical faith. Basic to this renewal is a return to all of realities of Biblical Creation.
That is, if the God of sacred Scripture is our Creator, then He is our owner and because He is—only He can set the rules and we, His children, must obediently follow them, asking no questions.
They tell us that "America's only hope... is the God of sacred scripture... and we must obediently follow" His rules and ask no questions.
No single human being can call him or herself a human being if they resign themselves to obediently follow their leaders without question. It is hard for me to restrain myself with regard to this.
The church leaders do not beseech people to "follow us," but "follow the rules of God." This is the ultimate con -- and I know that the use of that word will cause those who believe to now throw up their hands and declare that this is yet another attack on their beliefs and to stop reading, and that in their minds this will simply become yet another example of the liberal media, as all criticism of church doctrine. But that is the point. They leave no room for discussion. They start with: "This is real and you must believe and not ask questions." Their leaders are telling them that all other thoughts and ideas are wrong, and that to merely question what they say is wrong. They tell their follower that they simply present the truth: "Do not believe me, believe these words!" They remove the "me," the "I" from their presentation. They say that they are just men presenting "the word of God." The con is that, once you are hooked, you actually do not believe the word of their God but their interpretation of the word of their God.
Where do these religious organizations, their leaders, get the idea that their Bible is the word of God? From their Bible, of course. As they frequently reference their Bible for their views, they reference it in telling us that it is the word of their God.
This is The Christian Reformed Church in North America
The Bible is our only reliable guide to what we believe and how we conduct our lives (2 Timothy 3:14-17)
The fact that there are many versions of what is called the Bible is lost upon the believers. The fact that there are many translations of what is called the Bible is lost upon the believers. The fact that there are more original documents that are left out of what is called the Bible is lost upon the believers.
It is the ultimate con. One that politicians and bankers and auto executives and real estate agents alike love: "Do not believe me, believe these words." And those words are are their documents, their advertising. They, the men, are removed from the equation. They just represent the word of God, their advertisements.
But, and this is a huge but, what are the rules of their God and how do those rules fit in with the rules of men?
Let me now, deferring answering my own question, quote another founding document.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,--That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
There is, in my mind, no more important an aspect of the founding or our country than that "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." Yet, continually, we get the message from those who insist that their Bible is the word of God that, in essence, the rules are not instituted among Men (the populous) but are instituted among religious leaders. They will, of course use the ultimate con technique: "governments are not instituted among Men, but are instituted by the word of God."
As the famous Pastor John Hagee's Cornerstone Church
We believe in the scripture as the inspired Word of God and that it is the complete revelation of God's will for mankind. We believe in the absolute authority of the scripture to govern the affairs of men.
Those men calling themselves religious are, of course (according to themselves, of course), "Men of God." They are the anointed, they were chosen by their God to bring the words of their God to us, as John Hagee Ministries
We believe in the ministry of the Holy Spirit to the Church body through the anointing of oil by the elders of the church.
is a little extreme, to say the least:
As part of His plan, God has followed a simple pattern from the beginning of the world. He chooses a prophet (like Noah or Moses) to teach the gospel and lead the people. Sadly, most of God’s children have disregarded, disobeyed, and rejected His prophets.
In 1829, Joseph Smith received the restored priesthood authority to organize Christ’s Church. John the Baptist appeared and conferred upon Joseph Smith and his associate Oliver Cowdery the Aaronic Priesthood, which includes the authority to perform the ordinance of baptism. Later, Peter, James, and John (three of Christ’s original Apostles) appeared and conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, restoring the same authority given to Christ’s Apostles anciently. In 1830, with this priesthood authority, the same Church of Jesus Christ that existed centuries ago was organized and restored to the earth by Joseph Smith.
And so, we have an absolute, unquestionable word of their God, presented and interpreted by a vaguely supernaturally anointed priesthood, whose underlying message is "just believe." The ultimate con. ("He that believeth in Me hath everlasting life.")
And to top it all off the priesthood believes that all people everywhere must converted. This is called "witnessing" or evangelizing. It is what drives Jehovah's Witnesses to go to people's homes, and the christian ministries in general to lobby for legislation that references their God. It is the root of their attempts to control government, education and "Hollywood."
The United Methodists
tell us this directly:
As United Methodists, we have an obligation to bear a faithful Christian witness to Jesus Christ, the living reality at the center of the Church’s life and witness. To fulfill this obligation, we reflect critically on our biblical and theological inheritance, striving to express faithfully the witness we make in our own time.
Youth for Christ USA
's motto is "Every young person. One at a time." Campus Crusade for Christ, International
says "win the campus today and change the world tomorrow."
As the Cornerstone Church
tells it, their followers have an obligation to evangelise:
We believe that evangelism is the obligation of every follower of Jesus Christ. The Lord commands us to go out and make disciples in all of the Earth. We believe that each person is first responsible to evangelism in their own family as the Holy Spirit leads them and gives them the ability.
The John Hagee Ministries
also makes this quite prominent on their website:
The mission of John Hagee Ministries is to aggressively fulfill the commission that Jesus Christ gave to his followers to go into the world and make disciples of all people. Our purpose is to bring the lost to Jesus Christ and to build up and encourage those who are already believers. We pledge to our viewers & supporters to take The Gospel to all the World and to all Generations.
And the Christ in Youth organization
, specializing in connecting young people with their interpretation of Jesus Christ, sums it all up for us nicely:
We believe that the Bible is the fully inspired Word of God. Faith in Jesus and obedience to His teachings are essential for salvation. Jesus is fully God, was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died a death of atonement on a cross, was bodily resurrected, and is coming again in judgment of all men. Heaven and Hell are literal, as taught in the Bible. CIY is committed to these truths as well as to restoration of New Testament teaching, principles, and practices.
This is why Christians want to control your and your children's behaviour. Brought together by their common Bibles, church differences are lost with the hue and cry over marriage, abortion and science. The priesthood has conned their followers into a narrow belief system, usually from a young age, which makes it hard to acknowledge contrary scientific data, nor even to discuss the legitimacy of basic science principles, when the priesthood tells them that anything contrary to their absolute position constitutes an attack on their values.
They refuse to believe that there is any room for other value systems. For them, their values are absolute and all must adhere to them. For them, the ends justifies the means. And for them the means is accomplished by refusing to discuss different opinions, by the suppression of evidence and by out right lies and the promoting of misconceptions.
That is no way to live in a free society.
* As I saw this on television and have to link to a transcript.
* William Kristol even told Jon Stewart of The Daily Show that people should not read The New York Times -- a newspaper he fucking wrote for at the time.