Diseased Politics

When religious extremists in the US finally wrested control of the Republican Party in 1996, the pulsating health of democracy began to decline.  As often happens, the early signs of contamination did not seem to be threatening.  The killer potential kept itself disguised long enough to establish a network of carriers, most of whom were unaware that they carried unstable spiritual impurities.  In 1997 (July 6), for example, “reverend” Jerry Falwell pontificated, “America is in imminent peril…rotting from within.”  He was correct in diagnosing the symptoms, but totally clueless that he and his political-minded faith merchants were the deadly contaminants.  And it was in 1997-98 that the religiously bedazzled Missouri Senator, John Ashcroft, tested the political waters for president of the United States, receiving most of his financial support from the religiously militant Pat Robertson and other evangelical extremists.

It was in 1998 that the fanatical religionists’ craving for temporal power received a stimulus injection in the form of a new private school to be known as Patrick Henry College.  It was the first school established primarily for evangelical Christian home-schooled children.  The event elicited considerable hoopla on every corporate-owned major network and cable news, as well as spreads in the New York Times, Time Magazine, The Economist, etc.  Michael Farris, a lawyer who was obsessed with “…the irreligious trend in America’s public schools,” founder of the college, stated, “We are not home-schooling our children just so they can read.”  He added, “…if we put enough kids in the system, some may get through the major league.”  In other words, get their narrow religious values injected into top posts of the US government.

A 1999 Pew Research Center poll reported that 44% of Americans expected Jesus Christ to return to Earth in their lifetime.  A Gallup poll that year disclosed that 47% of Americans believed that human beings had been created in their present form within the last ten thousand years!  Still another Gallup Poll revealed how senseless prejudices, generally fueled by religious misinformation, influenced voting choices of huge segments of American citizens.  Those who were taught to be distrusted for public office included blacks, Jews, Catholics, Baptists, Mormons, homosexuals and atheists even though they might be well qualified  for carrying out political duties.  In this same timeframe, Newsweek magazine had also conducted as poll, which revealed that around 40% of American Christians believed in Armageddon.  Nearly the same amount were convinced that the antichrist was already alive.

It was in the latter days of the twentieth century that the term “faith-based” became the euphemism to camouflage the aggressive purpose of the religious fanatics.  The euphemism became an extremely successful means of diversion of public attention from the proper relationship that legally existed between government and religion, having been put in place to assure genuine justice for all citizens.  And it was with this continuing burlesque of “holy purpose” that the twentieth century stumbled ignominiously to a close.

The new millennium was ushered in and planet Earth continued to trundle its course through the infinite heavens.  But the messiah had not yet appeared to the Jews, the savior had not yet arrived to redeem Christians, and the Muslims still waited for heavenly blessings from Allah.  The televangelists were still shamelessly offering spiritual exclusivity to anyone who would send money to their “ministry.”  In this period of time, around 40% of US citizens defined themselves as born-again Christians.  The United States of America, the land of freedom, was being sucked into the quicksand of religious duplicity and hypocrisy that had once decimated Europe some five hundred years before; a religious plague across most of that continent that resulted in the Dark Ages.  But the religious fanatics, ever the great pretenders of morality,  insisted that the land of freedom must look far backward for moral instruction and incorporate their prejudicial concepts into the mechanics of government.

So what did the land of freedom have thrust upon the people through the suspicious intrusion of the Supreme Court?  A born-again president and a hand-picked cabinet of religious extremists!  Here was a person installed as President who declared that his favorite “political philosopher” was Jesus Christ!  Apparently he meant the apocalyptic Jesus in Revelation, not the earlier gentle teacher who had taught “do unto others as you would have done unto you.”  The questionable manner of this nominee’s “winning” the national election was followed by years of questionable “biblical values” that allowed for giving public money to the wealthy, wage illegal wars, indulge in illegal detentions, torture of captives, opposition to process as being “unpatriotic,” and imposition of one of the most serious blockages on the constitutional checks and balances of power that skated dangerously close to dictatorial. 

The tentacles of religious propaganda that had for years been growing across the US was longing to devour its prey and regurgitate a government of “biblical values.”  With a convenient war in his pocket, the incumbent President spoke loudly of moral values (?) in a bid for a second term as he ignored the lies, deceptions, war mongering and deliberate criminality of his supporters—not exactly what Jesus is alleged to have taught.  Among his supporters, their religious morality and ethics was accentuated by many churches openly abusing the Charter Tax-exemptions during this campaign.  The badgering of unbelievers ran rampant, fueled by tax-free monies gathered by religious groups.  Even the Internal Revenue Service would later release a study of these abuses by churches, the major recipients of non-profit organization tax exclusion.  Ethics apparently was not too much of a concern to the IRS, for 99% of the known church violations were never pursued.  And so the self-serving religious deceptions are allowed to continue to this day. 

O how the majority of citizens yearned for a change, ached for a return to more democratic principles, craved the true compassion and tolerance that is the soul of those democratic principles.  And wonder of wonders, the younger voters and older voters who actually use their brains rose up to defend citizen rights, and Lo!  a black man was elected as President!  But that has only infuriated those piety-pretenders still more, and they have reassembled under the banner of Tea Party.  The disease in US politics is now pernicious and life-threatening for true democracy.

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