There’s nothing like a little nostalgia to get the blood boiling. Today’s trip down memory lane will focus on The Moral Majority, the brainchild of the Reverend Jerry Falwell. It was back in 1976 when Falwell chose to go against the traditional Baptist vision of separating church from state because he was simply disgusted by the decay of the nation’s morality. That’s when he started to traverse the country hosting “I Love America” rallies. Three years later, the Moral Majority was born. It is important to understand that the Moral Majority was not a religious group. It was a political group with a right-wing Christian vision for America.
The Moral Majority had a wide-ranging and diverse platform. It opposed abortion (even to save a woman’s life) and lobbied for the overturn of Roe v. Wade, LGBT equality, sex education, pornography and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). It advocated for a strong national defense and school prayer. The Moral Majority (and Christian fundamentalists in general) were stridently pro-Israel, believing that the Jewish people are critical in the fulfillment of their vision of Armageddon. It was anti-communist, opposing the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. Although pro-Israel, the Moral Majority targeted Jews and other non-Christians for conversion to conservative Christianity. Adding to its attraction was that it defended the free enterprise system and put its focus on the ‘traditional’ family. It supported creationism, and believed the Bible was more important than the Constitution. In short, the birth of the Moral Majority marked the beginning of the assault on American Democracy and the attempt to legislate morality.
The Moral Majority played a huge role in the 1980 elections, although not on its own. Along with groups such as the Christian Voice and the National Conservative Political Action Committee, it targeted liberal incumbents for defeat. Senators George McGovern (D-SD), Birch Bayh (D-IN), Frank Church (D-ID), and John Culver (D-IA) all lost their seats. The Moral Majority overtook the Republican caucus in Alaska and took all 19 delegates for Ronald Reagan. They accomplished the same in Iowa and Alabama. Although Falwell’s Moral Majority reached its apex in the early eighties, it was difficult to ascertain how much support the organization had. Many theorize that it’s wide-ranging platform, the feature that made it attractive to begin with, was also the reason for its demise. Either way, by 1989, the Moral Majority was no more. However, it did its job, opening a Pandora’s Box of right-wing Christian extremism that has been diligently at work for the last three decades trying to make America a theocracy. (Let me just interject here that sometimes the unholy alliance of Christian fundamentalists, Catholics and Mormons is at play. When it’s politically expedient, such as the passage of Prop 8 in California, the three stooges band together.)
Extremist groups like the American Family Association (designated an official ‘hate’ group by the Southern Poverty Law Center), Focus on the Family, and Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition have infiltrated the political process and have literally taken over the GOP. Every year we’re treated to the Values Voter Summit, where anything but values are spouted.
WATCH (story continues below the video):
The reason the GOP attends this gathering of misfits is that they cannot win without the Christian right, so complete is their ownership of the party. Tossing aside the historical fact that America was born because those who colonized the ‘free world’ didn’t want religion shoved down their throats, the right-wing Christians now shove their brand of religion down our throats. They want you to believe in a higher power, it’s just that you have to be spiritual within their narrow religious context. The only problem is that the Christian right is piss poor at choosing its political representatives.
We can start with Newt Gingrich, whose third wife introduced him to Catholicism. Yes, third wife. You know what they say, third time’s a charm. Perhaps this one will stick. This is a guy who is a serial cheater (After 14 years of Catholic school, I can tell you that the Bible has something to say about adultery, and it isn’t good), yet on a conference call with leaders of the Religious Right had the cohones to call same-sex marriage a pagan lifestyle:
“It’s pretty simple: marriage is between a man and a woman. This is a historic doctrine driven deep into the Bible, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, and [the attack on it is] a perfect example of what I mean by the rise of paganism. The effort to create alternatives to marriage between a man and a woman are perfectly natural pagan behaviors, but they are a fundamental violation of our civilization.”
Am I missing something here? Perhaps for the Christians this isn’t bothersome coming from Gingrich because at least he’s sleeping with women.
On the bright side, Gingrich believes that high school girls who graduate as virgins should be rewarded. I wonder if he’s going to check them out personally to be sure of their virginal status.
Then there’s George W. Bush, who became a born-again Christian at the age of 40. He was one of the most overtly religious leaders in American history, and it contributed to his popularity. According to published reports, God instructed George W. Bush to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. This is a man who contributed to the death and displacement of millions of innocent people in the name of God. Neither Iraq nor Afghanistan are in better condition than they were before we ‘saved’ them in our modern-day version of The Crusades. In fact, we’ve left a huge mess in our wake. Bush’s Christian values didn’t end there. He made a mockery of the Geneva Conventions by authorizing indefinite detentions, coercive interrogations and torture, including water boarding. So arrogant a leader (and I use the term ‘leader’ loosely) is he that he admits it in his book. Bush gets away with his admissions because, as a nation, we don’t have the political will to punish our own war criminals, only the war criminals of other nations. If we are to believe that God loves all of His people, I wonder what He would say about that.
Sarah Palin, the champion of God, Flag and Family (oops, did I forget to mention Guns?) certainly brought a twist to her Christian beliefs. With a daughter pregnant out of wedlock, she managed to parlay the family values theme into a run for the vice presidency. For Palin, the issue wasn’t that her daughter became pregnant at the age of seventeen. Palin never spoke about ‘sin.’ She talked about Bristol’s unintended pregnancy in terms of ‘responsibility.’ The important part of that equation was that Bristol chose life. Abortion was not an option and, in spite of her colossally messed-up home life, Palin was immediately embraced as God’s answer. In 2008, James Dobson of Focus on the Family, positively gushed over Palin, saying, “A lot of people were praying, and I believe Sarah Palin is God’s answer.” That’s right, she’s God’s answer because the right-wing Christian vision of women is for them to stay at home and serve their husbands, unless God directs them to do otherwise (as Palin herself says is the case). Hell, if God’s going to open the door, she’s going to walk through.
Palin, who often complained about the media dogging her personal life, brought that mess on herself by parading her pregnant daughter and the baby-daddy, dumb as a stone neanderthal Levi Johnston, onto the political stage with her. (All for political gain, I might add.) Later, Bristol and Levi would announce their engagement, then break up, then get back, then break up again. Later, in her book, Not Afraid of Life: My Journey So Far, Bristol pretty much accuses Levi of rape because, hey, that’s the only way a good Christian girl would ever become pregnant out of wedlock. Right? Well, I don’t know. Apparently Bristol is tired of towing the Sarah Palin line. After her relationship with Levi went down the chute, she connected with an Alaskan pipeline worker. In 2011, she infuriated her mother by becoming romantically linked with someone she met on “Dancing With The Stars.” His name is Kyle Massey. Apparently, Sarah thinks that Bristol bouncing from man to man will destroy her family’s reputation (whatever that is). I saw Kyle in a picture with Bristol. I’m pretty sure the issue for Sarah is that he’s…black.
Back in 2009, Sarah Palin quit as governor of Alaska. Speculation was that she wanted to run for president, and it certainly looked that way even though she publicly remained undecided. She embarked on bus tours and gave stump speeches. Then, a remarkable thing happened. In 2010, she was found guilty of major ethics violations with her Alaska Fund Trust, and was instructed to return $386,000 in contributions. But perhaps it was the personal dirt dug up by author Joe McGinness that derailed her presidential bid. Whether true or not, there’s only so much the right-wing Christians can deny in a candidate.
But perhaps the highest level of Christian right-wing hypocrisy lies within the secretive C Street House on Capitol Hill. Behind it’s doors, a supposedly religious organization called ‘The Family’ has allowed Senator John Ensign (R-Nev), South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, and Representative Chip Pickering (R-Miss) to indulge in extramarital affairs out of the public eye. In fact, Jeff Sharlet, author of “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power,” states:
If sexual license was all the Family offered the C Street men, however, that would merely be seedy and self-serving. But Family men are more than hypocritical. They’re followers of a political religion that embraces elitism, disdains democracy, and pursues power for its members the better to “advance the Kingdom.” They say they’re working for Jesus, but their Christ is a power-hungry, inside-the-Beltway savior not many churchgoers would recognize. Sexual peccadilloes aside, the Family acts today like the most powerful lobby in America that isn’t registered as a lobby — and is thus immune from the scrutiny attending the other powerful organizations like Big Pharma and Big Insurance that exert pressure on public policy.
Herein lies the real fact: While there are some true right-wing crazies out there (I like to call them ‘true believers’), the Christian fundamentalist movement, ultimately, isn’t about embracing God or his teachings. The one thing right-wing Christians are adept at is twisting God’s teachings to suit their needs. It’s about power. It’s about the ability of some to control the lives of many, to oppress certain groups of people (like the poor, immigrants, homosexuals and women) for their own gain.