Faithless Faith

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Religion, Republican Party

The Faith and Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority” conference in Washington DC ends today. An annual event, this year’s shindig turned into a contest over which potential 2016 Republican presidential nominee could blow the loudest dog whistles.

The biggest headlines from the event so far told us that some genius put Obama bobblehead dolls in the men’s urinals. And the speeches seemed to be on about the same intellectual level. One speaker after another declared unquestioning loyalty to the Coalition’s dogmas: abortion must be criminalized, same-sex marriage must be stopped, Barack Obama is evil incarnate, and Christians must be restored to their rightful place as the dominant tribe of the U.S.

[Update: And what else is there to say but ... Ralph Reed?]

There were reports a few meek voices spoke up to suggest the attendees ought to recognize America’s religious diversity, but it seems they were mostly shouted down.

Groupthink just doesn’t look like “freedom” to me, no matter how many “don’t tread on me” T-shirts one may spot in the herd. It also seems to me that the attendees espouse a peculiarly faithless faith.

This faithless faith rests on the proposition that the reality of God depends on a literal interpretation of scripture. If evolution is true, for example, then God is not real. It’s a faith with conditions.

And for all their expressed devotion to the Bible, their “God” seems more to be based largely on their own projections. He all-too-perfectly reflects and confirms their fears, biases, resentments and various social and psychological pathologies.

I wonder what they’d do if Jesus himself materialized at the conference and said, you know, you’ve got God all wrong, and you’ve entirely missed the point of everything I taught. I bet some of them would boo their Lord and Redeemer off the stage.

Their real faith isn’t in God, or even the Bible. It’s in their fears, biases, resentments and various social and psychological pathologies, which they cling to the way someone cast into an ocean might cling to anything that floats.

It’s through those fears, etc., that they define themselves and make sense of the world. It’s the conceptual box they live in. Whatever is outside the box terrifies them, because if the box is destroyed the “me” they’ve always believed in and the world they’ve constructed in their heads would disappear.

This isn’t freedom, and it isn’t faith, either. As I wrote in my book, Rethinking Religion: Finding a Place for Religion in a Modern, Tolerant, Progressive, Peaceful and Science-affirming World,

The notion that Christianity is mostly about arranging one’s mental furniture in accord with a belief system would have been alien to most of the great Christian theologians of history. “Faith” to early Christian theologians — and many recent ones, for that matter — was not at all a synonym for belief. It was more about love of or trust in a God whose nature and opinions were beyond human understanding. To declare you know what God thinks about anything, including which politicians he supports, would have been blasphemy to them.

It’s possible to have great religious faith with no God-object at all (see, for example, Buddhism). Genuine faith does not demand the world conform to one’s belief system; just the opposite. According to many great theologians, genuine faith requires trust, compassion for others, and sometimes self-sacrifice. Not a lot of that on display at the “Faith and Freedom” conference.

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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. c u n d gulag  •  Jun 21, 2014 @11:37 am

    I’d like someone to hold a “Freedom from Faith” conference sometime.

    “I bet some of them would boo their Lord and Redeemer off the stage…”
    The original DFH?
    You bet.
    Before they crucified him on their crosses made of gold coins as an insufficiently hateful heretic.
    Hey, those coins ain’t good for much else…

    And if we’re going to have a dominant tribe in the US, I’m kind of partial to the Iroquois Indians.
    Hey, what can I say?
    I’m from New York!

  2. c u n d gulag  •  Jun 21, 2014 @11:43 am

    Btw – not that there’s anything wrong with faith.
    Unless you wear it on your sleeve, your pants, your head, your shoes, your hands, etc…, and demand that everyone else bow down before your faith and your God.

    Then, me thinks thou doth pray too much – and there’s something wrong…

  3. moonbat  •  Jun 21, 2014 @12:00 pm

    Their real faith isn’t in God, or even the Bible. It’s in their fears, biases, resentments and various social and psychological pathologies, which they cling to the way someone cast into an ocean might cling to anything that floats.

    They cling to their tribal projections, which forces them to see both God, reality, and the bible in particular ways. The amazing thing, is that the universe and God are patient enough to let these people continue on in this way. The universe has a thick enough rubber wall to prevent these people from doing any real damage. Maybe in this lifetime, or in the next hundred, they might start to grow through this.

  4. Swami  •  Jun 21, 2014 @12:11 pm

    Their real faith isn’t in God, or even the Bible. It’s in their fears, biases, resentments and various social and psychological pathologies, which they cling to the way someone cast into an ocean might cling to anything that floats.

    I love your writing, Maha. You have such a nice and succinct way of expressing things.

  5. erinyes  •  Jun 21, 2014 @12:43 pm

    I second what swami said ( again ). If there is indeed a heaven, there will be no true conservatives ” in the presence ” of the lord-a. Those that make it past saint Peter will be planing an armed insurrection. Especially when they see the lord-a is a swarthy mid eastern bloke.

  6. c u n d gulag  •  Jun 21, 2014 @12:51 pm

    I third what Swami said!
    Some people around here, they blab and blab and bla…
    Hey wait!
    I resemble that remark!

  7. c u n d gulag  •  Jun 21, 2014 @12:58 pm

    “The biggest headlines from the event so far told us that some genius put Obama bobblehead dolls in the men’s urinals.”

    Way to stay classy, Christian Conservatives.
    What?
    No veterans to mock with purple band-aids?

  8. Stephen Stralka  •  Jun 21, 2014 @1:29 pm

    The original DFH?

    Long hair, beard, sandals. Walks around telling everybody to love their neighbor. Who does he think he is, John Lennon?

  9. Stephen Stralka  •  Jun 21, 2014 @1:33 pm
  10. Swami  •  Jun 21, 2014 @6:25 pm

    http://news.msn.com/us/texas-governor-says-he-stepped-right-in-it-on-gay-comments

    I guess the Governor did step in it. The bible says: from an abundance of the heart the mouth speaks…Which might hold true in Perry’s case, but a more appropriate proverb might be: from within the vacuum between the ears the mouth speaks. I wonder if he’s an advocate of the turd in the jar therapy that leading reparative therapists are currently recommending for quelling homosexual urges.

  11. LongHairedWeirdo  •  Jun 21, 2014 @10:39 pm

    I remember when the Bush administration got Colin Powell to testify and the word is, they pushed a bunch of ideas at him – most of them were flimsy and had no evidence. The point was, get Colin F’ing Powell to say it.

    Christianity sometimes seems like that in the hand of modern Republicans. Get Christianity to say X or Y. Don’t fail to use your BIG weapon.

    Colin Powell had the disadvantage of being alive to refuse to use some of their talking points.

    Alas poor Jesus… I knew him, Maha, a prophet of infinite jest.

    I lie, of course – whether Jesus actually existed or not is questionable. But being dead, he can’t refuse to support an attack to ban a civil contract like gay marriage (clear case of render unto Caeser so long as the churches aren’t required to participate),, nor to point out that he said to *help* the poor and the hungry and those who need shelter.

    But you know what? Show me a Christian who really feeds the hungry, helps the homeless, visits the sick and imprisoned, and who wants to complain about gay marriage, and you know what? I’ll give him or her a listen (so long as they’re not trying to codify discrimination into the law). I’ll handle a bit of anti-gay talk from someone who actually does what Jesus said about doing right. (Or whatever the morals-du-jour is. Can’t be abortion, though, Jesus was a rabbi and would point out that killing a fetus didn’t merit death, but killing the pregnant woman did, God *spoke* on abortion and he may not like it, but he didn’t criminalize it.)

    Sorry – cranky and rambly today.

  12. Bob  •  Jun 22, 2014 @8:43 am

    Their real faith isn’t in God, or even the Bible. It’s in their fears, biases, resentments and various social and psychological pathologies, which they cling to the way someone cast into an ocean might cling to anything that floats.
    Wow, makes sense of what is going on…I think, tho, these folks are being USED by forces Known and Unknown…Dark Money Jesus…is their savior…

  13. csm  •  Jun 22, 2014 @11:04 am

    I can’t think of anything these people say or do that is in line with Jesus and the New Testament. The idea that Jesus would endorse them strutting around with guns as a “God-given right” is absolutely ludicrous.

    The basis of their movement is hatred and fear. They are clearly not “Christians” in any sense; instead use Christianity as a tribal talisman.

  14. csm  •  Jun 22, 2014 @11:06 am

    One other thing: “Road to Majority??” What a laugh.

    Every time the GOP talks about the need to reach out to other voters, the result is how to further alienate them.

  15. Swami  •  Jun 22, 2014 @2:00 pm

    Is Jesus losing market share?

  16. waspuppet  •  Jun 23, 2014 @12:58 pm

    “I wonder what they’d do if Jesus himself materialized at the conference and said, you know, you’ve got God all wrong, and you’ve entirely missed the point of everything I taught. I bet some of them would boo their Lord and Redeemer off the stage.”

    Pharisees. All I’m sayin’. They never seem to read the Bible far enough to get to that part.

    “…if the box is destroyed the “me” they’ve always believed in and the world they’ve constructed in their heads would disappear.”

    Yeah? So? This happens to millions of people every day. When my father died, the “me” I’d always believed in and the world I’d constructed in my heads disappeared. When my son was 12 and he and his mother were evicted from their apartment, the “me” he’d always believed in and the world he’d constructed in his head disappeared. Somehow we got through it without shouting for gay people to die.

    “Every time the GOP talks about the need to reach out to other voters, the result is how to further alienate them.”

    Their Road to a Majority involves keeping other people from voting.

  17. Bill Bush  •  Jun 23, 2014 @1:40 pm

    This bunch keeps walking closer and closer to destroying their own tax-exempt status, which will of course be someone else’s fault.

  18. c u n d gulag  •  Jun 23, 2014 @2:04 pm

    Bill,
    I can’t wait to hear them bitch about the blades on the guillotine being too dull.

  19. BJohnM  •  Jun 24, 2014 @9:43 am

    Some comedian once said, “You know you’ve created God in your own image when he hates all the same people you do.”



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