The Christian Right Is Dangerous

I posted on the religion blog about Why the Christian Right Is Dangerous after reading this by Amanda Marcotte. It does seem that the extremist wing of the Christian Right is growing bigger and crazier. The “home schooling” and “school choice” movements are particularly worrying. The number of American children being home schooled has grown from 850,000 students in 1999 to  1,770,000 students in 2013. Not all of those children are being kept out of school for religious reasons, of course. But we could easily be growing a subculture of badly educated religious fanatics who could become increasingly violent as they become more estranged from the rest of us.

Karen Armstrong defines fundamentalism in a broad sense as a reaction against and rejection of modern Western society. Fundamentalists, in different ways, all attempt to establish enclaves of pure faith that shut out any other views. Those they come in contact with who aren’t “them” must be either shunned or assimilated. And in time, if that doesn’t work, they must be eliminated.

Two chapters in Rethinking Religion are dedicated to religious mass movements and religious violence. These chapters propose that the two factors always present in violent mass movements are a holy cause — defending the faith against those they think are its enemies, in this case — combined with a fanatical grievance, or the belief they’re the ones who are the victims. You see this in violent Islam, in the violent Buddhists in Myanmar, and also in mass movements that are not expressly religious.

The Christian Right in America is obsessed with the belief that they are being persecuted. This has been true for a long time, but it’s becoming more and more obvious. And they clearly have a holy cause. I think we would be very naive to assume that widespread religious terrorism can’t happen here — except around abortion clinics,of course, which for some reason is not supposed to count.

13 thoughts on “The Christian Right Is Dangerous

  1. I’m afraid that our Christian fundamentalists will copy the Muslim fundamentalists.

    And the only reason our Christians despise Sharia Law, is that the Muslims codified it first.
    There’s no, or virtually no, difference in the goals of both groups of fundamentalists. Only which owner’s manual should be used.

    As our society keeps changing, and becoming more open and progressive, the Christians want Old Testament retribution.
    And I’m afraid that too many of them think that terrorism can be a useful tool for those who are desperate enough to change society back to some imagined past glory.

  2. It is scary, especially when you consider that this wave of conservatism has crested (I hope) and that these people will continue to see their ability to influence the culture diminish. Plus they believe that problems can be solved with guns.

  3. “The Christian Right in America is obsessed with the belief that they are being persecuted.”

    Of course what they really mean is that the “whites rule” racist attitude is not the majority opinion anymore and is not really tolerated in open society. They can’t come out and just say that (appearances you know) so they hide behind the cross, it’s an age old practice!

    “And they clearly have a holy cause”

    Really, they are clearly delusional to my eyes?

  4. The Christian Right in America is obsessed with the _need_ to persecute. They believe in liberty of oppression and the freedom to enslave.

  5. Posted these quotes from Gibbon before, but, as Paul Harvey used to say, they are quotes worth requoting.

    “The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people, as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful.”

    “Actuated by these motives, and apprehensive of disturbing the repose of an unsettled reign, Julian surprised the world by an edict which was not unworthy of a statesman or a philosopher. He extended to all the inhabitants of the Roman world the benefits of a free and equal toleration; and the only hardship which he inflicted on the Christians was to deprive them of the power of tormenting their fellow-subjects, whom they stigmatised with the odious titles of idolaters and heretics.”

  6. I can sympathize with the growth of home schooling. For years, I couldn’t understand normal school kids running around wearing gigantic backpacks, presumably full of books. I finally realized that many schools have stopped using that staple of public schooling, the locker. All because society has become much more dangerous, and they see this as a way to curb drugs and guns.

    A few years ago, I walked into a local high school to turn in a school ID that I found somewhere. When I was in high school (1970s), 1) there were no school IDs, and 2) the place wasn’t a lockdown/prison in the way that current schools are.

    I’m not that alarmed about Christian fundamentalists. They do buy into the persecution myth, but then, the way Christians talk about “The World” has always been a staple of their subculture. The trigger point for me is if and when they get violent against mainstream culture that I’d get worred about. Yes, this has happened with abortion clinics, but so far that’s the only focal point. That, and the overlarge influence right-wing Christianity has within military culture, particularly the Air Force Academy. Our God is Bigger Than Theirs.

    Most fundamentalist Christians I know are in hunker-down mode, trying to carve out a living for themselves, and trying to raise kids in a culture that’s extremely toxic to kids. I see nothing wrong with that.

    My only real concern is that these people are ripe to follow a Buzz Windrip character, someone who will “wrap themself in the flag, and carry the cross” and lead the country to ever more fascism.

  7. Indeed they are dangerous. The prospects of a civil war are not out of the question. Central Florida is a hot bed of enraged heavily armed Christian fundies who think they are under attack from “libtards”.

  8. Ed,
    The Mongol Empire was also very tolerant of the religious beliefs of the people under their control.
    Which was smart.
    People paid their taxes, and were allowed to believe whatever they wanted to believe.
    So, religion was rarely and issues in areas under their control.
    And that made the people more docile, because nothing riles people up more than people trying to push their religious agenda’s.
    Our American uber-Christians could learn a lesson from the Mongols.
    They’d love to be just as brutal as they were in victory – just without any of that religious tolerance nonsense!

    And our Founding Fathers wanted church and state to be kept separate, because many of them knew – some from first-or-second-hand experience told to them by older friends and relatives – about the countless brutal religious wars and horrors in Europe in the past few centuries.

  9. Not to mention that these homeschooled children are being deprived of their social skills. Being able to interact socially is among the most valuable skills a person can acquire. I’ve seen first hand some children that have been so sheltered from society( the world) that it bordered on being criminal. When you’re raised to believe that anybody who doesn’t accept the lord Jesus Christ as their savior is wicked and is consciously serving the devil, then chances are you’re going to have a pretty twisted kid on your hands who is going to find it difficult to take advantage of all of life’s opportunities.

  10. ” Being able to interact socially is among the most valuable skills a person can acquire.” Very true; after all, who is going to give them a wedgie, mom and dad? Are they going to learn to return a wedgie? How are they going to learn to cram for a test or ditch seventh period algebra? Are they going to get together with their friends and mock their parents’ accents and mannerisms? How are they going to win the Battle of Waterloo if they have never been on the playing fields of Eton?

  11. Ed …Yeah, when you’ve got good social skills you don’t have to worry about being the one who gets targeted for a wedgie.

  12. Where have all the “turn the other cheek” type Christians go??? or was that homeschooled out of them out back in the woodshed??

  13. The RR is a subset of the larger fundamentalist/evangelical movement. Homeschooling is a big, and growing subsection but many more kids are in Christian schools. These are the places that teach bad history and science to millions of children and increasingly, with the help of vouchers and charters, get public funding. Honestly, the homeschooled kids are seen as a bunch of weirdos by the Xian school kids because they are so weird, socially ill equipped people. They also have the Apocolypse Now version of helicopter parents, as you could imagine. The other reality is that there is very little difference between what goes on in the Xian schools and what happens in the public schools, socially. Just as much partying, sex and abortions except since they come from better off families, typically, they have better drugs. The great part of all of,that is that the parents are strictly anti-abortion……until it’s their daughter, or their, reputation at stake. I love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning.
    RR have created a subculture so airtight that most of them, the vast majority of them, don’t even know someone whose not in their Xian subculture. But as far as being violent I’m going to need more evidence, they don’t scare me as much as the pseudochristian NRA types. Those people scare the shit outta me.

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