Faith-Based Failures

One might assume from the title of this post that we will delve into the Bush-era Born Again leadership fiasco, but that stands out only as a symptom of the radical right’s built-in tendency to self-destruct.  One of the great myths of the radical right religionism is the propaganda that they alone stand upon the highest moral ground: family values, pro-life, material profits prove god’s love, man should not love man, take the Bible literally—that sort of stuff.

So when it comes to the sanctity of marriage among the fundamentalists, there is a curious point to ponder.  With the passage of time after the exchange of “I Do’s” among the hard-nosed religionists, the ironic thing is that born-again fundamentalists can turn around and boast of having one of the highest divorce rates in the nation.  This is not made up for liberalist snickering.  In fact, some years back, around 2006, an evangelical pollster, George Barna, found a very high rate of divorce among conservative Christians.  Even more disturbing to the pollster, the trend had been in place for more years than they wished to admit.

To add to the embarrassment, an independent research outfit found that the “Bible Belt” states had higher divorce rates than did other regions of the country.  The hellish irony for the self-righteous Right was that states scorned by them as hotbeds of liberalism had the lowest divorce rates.

Most alarming for the hard-nosed evangelical ambassadors of god was the glaring proof that their much touted Bible-based counseling for couples was seriously flawed.  The alarm among the fundamentalists was not so much in regard to the many marital split-ups, but that the evidence of their counseling failure seriously threatened the (unconstitutional) channeling of tax monies into their religious programs—programs they constantly declared worked.  But their true success rate was in the toilet.  And worse, it was common practice among the Born Again “counselors” to stack statistics to conceal the ineffectiveness of their programs.

 Bible-based counseling included such fundamentalist dogma guidance as:  men should run the household and wives were meant to submit to their husbands; warning that wives are at risk of becoming jealous of their husband’s relationship with his mother; children are brought forth in sorrow; woman is commanded (by god) to be under obedience (as in 1 Corinthians 14:34); woman must learn from her husband at home (verse 35); and similar dogma inspired counseling.  They then feign bewilderment that using the Bible as a marriage manual had not brought the blessings of “practical and life-changing support for steadfast marriage” as they claimed. 

The guise of pervasively religious groups protecting marriage has brought considerable amounts of public money into the coffers such as the Northwest Marriage Institute.  Congress actually allocated over $100,000 to this group in 2006—the GWB era—for the alleged purpose of building healthy marriages and thereby hoped to lower the nation’s divorce rate.  We have seen how well that works out.

The Northwest Marriage Institute later ducked out of a court challenge of using tax money for Bible-based marriage counseling brought by Americans United, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to preserving the constitutional principle of church/state separtation.  NMI dropped use of Bible quotes in order to keep its public funding.  Apparently it had nothing at all to do with the commandment not to bear false witness.

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