When New York artist Andres Serrano plunged a plastic crucifix into a glass of his urine what he was unknowingly doing was illustrating what Tony Perkins, The Family Research Council, Ted Cruz, the Tea Party, the Koch brothers and the Republicans would actually do to the name of Jesus some 30 years later. Serrano photographed his urine-soaked Jesus in 1987 under the title Piss Christ. He said he was making a statement on the misuse of religion. Controversy followed the work and reached a peak on Palm Sunday, 2011, when it was attacked with hammers and destroyed after an “anti-blasphemy” campaign by French Roman Catholic fundamentalists in the southern city of Avignon. Thus, ironically, the destruction of the work proved the artists’ point: Stupid Christians defending Jesus are really the ones attacking him.
As Jesus found out 2000 years ago: when “friends” come armed with hammers, you needs no enemies. Or as Shakespeare writes in Lear: “O, that way madness lies; let me shun that; No more of that.” I wrote my new book And God Said, “Billy!” to make that point. My message to evangelical SHUTDOWN GOP/Tea Party/Jesus-”followers” re-crucifying Christ on the altar of right wing delusion is that way madness lies. (On Kindle for $3.99) Yet that message can’t be overstated.
Any time I think I’ve gone too far in trying to sound an alarm, the “defenders” of Jesus find new ways to drench him in their urine. In Lear, as the storm continues on the heath King Lear ponders ingratitude from people who should have loved him. His wicked daughters Regan and Goneril, between whom he divided his kingdom, have turned Lear out into a storm, just to show him who’s really in charge. The religious right has done that to the country, the name of Jesus and to God. And then there’s the economy too… but that’s the over-reported story, so let’s stick to what’s happening to our Lear/Jesus.
The conservative Roman Catholics “defending” Jesus’ honor with hammers fits a stereotypical version of what “those stupid anti-culture know-nothing Christians are like” that no atheist hater of religion like the late great Chris Hitchens could have dreamed up.And so it is with the defenders of tradition from the right, the Tea Party and the “family values” folks that gather in Washington over this weekend. They might as well be standing at the foot of the cross pissing on the dead Jesus as he lies in Mary’s arms in some sort of perverted Pietà.
Ted Cruz is now a Religious Right icon, and is a leading speaker at the upcoming Values Voter Summit. On Washington Watch, Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins praised Cruz and his Tea Party backers for instigating the government shutdown: “I think they are acting heroic, I think they are heroes. They are along the lines of the patriots who founded this nation, they are standing up to the liberal press and to the naysayers and to the RINOs and saying, ‘No we’re not going along with it any longer, we’re going to try and use what ability we have to save this country.’”
David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network hailed Cruz as a leader in the vein of George Washington (and/or Tom Cruise), because of his fight to de-fund Obamacare: “All of this feels like Mission Impossible but didn’t George Washington and a few of his Founding Fathers colleagues face incredibly challenging odds too? This has been done before. Nobody said it would be easy. Look at it this way: At least principled constitutional conservative Ted Cruz is leading the way instead of movie star Tom Cruise. Now that would definitely be Mission Impossible.”
Bryan Fischer, a longtime fan likened the Texas Senator to the Prophet Elijah, telling listeners that “you cannot overestimate the role of Ted Cruz, it shows you how one man with courage can make a huge difference in what happens politically.”
House Speaker John Boehner has been threatening to destroy the global economy if President Obama does not give in to Tea Party demands. The shutdown of the federal government, planned and engineered by anti-government extremists in Congress and their billionaire Koch brother backers, continues. And the Supreme Court started a term in which conservatives on the Court could and might well further gut campaign finance laws—thus handing what little has not already been hijacked by the Koch brothers to them permanently.
As Peter Montgomery pointed out in the Huffington Post, in other words, it’s the perfect week for the Values Voter Summit, the annual event at which thousands of Religious Right activists have a chance to rub shoulders with the movement’s leaders and the Republican politicians who court them and depend on them for votes in the old slave-holding states and gerrymandered districts where your average white male has only one regret about Obama: that it’s illegal to lynch a black man now. As Montgomery said, “the ‘Values’ schedule says it all.” The first four speakers were senators from the Tea Party wing of the GOP: Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz. That’s after the pre-event breakfast, “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition,” a panel on gun rights. (No this is not an SNL skit.)
The Values Voter Summit makes clear how completely the Religious Right’s leaders are working to merge their activists’ anti-gay hatreds with the Tea Party anti-government extremism. Movement leaders are trying to merge the Tea Party’s Koch Brother/Ayn Rand agenda with a so-called biblical foundation.
It’s Blade Runner with Bible verses: polluted horror for us all, except a few people sitting in penthouses engineering the world for us mere mortals. The Koch brothers are the powerful Tyrell Corporation. The rest of us are Deckard and Rachael leaving the apartment at the end of the movie, to an uncertain future…
Family Research Council spokesman Ken Blackwell said that there is “nothing more Christian” than throwing millions of low-income families off food stamps. The Tea Party – Religious Right convergence is also evident on a panel called “Where do we go from here: Challenging Tyranny,” whose speakers include FRC’s Ken Blackwell and Dean Clancy of the Koch-funded infamous FreedomWorks.
Cruz appeared on Perkins’ radio show last week for a fawning interview in which Cruz blamed President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for the shutdown and accused Democratic leaders of holding veterans hostage. Perkins recently merged his agenda with that of the Roman Catholic bishops, and sent out a fundraising letter calling to his evangelical foot soldiers to force Congress to use both the government funding bill and the looming debt limit deadline to force through limits on the Obama administration’s requirement that insurance plans cover contraception.
Multiple panels at the Values/Cruz/Tea Party/Roman Catholic bishops fest are built around the notion that religious liberty is in extreme peril in the U.S., with speakers from the Heritage Foundation, the Becket Fund, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, among others.
The evangelicals and Roman Catholic bishops (led in no small part by Perkins and Robert George of Princeton, Glenn Beck’s mentor, and the man behind the harsh turn to the right by the bishops) have jumped on board the doomed Tea Party anti-Obama lemming-like suicide jump off the cliff of fiscal irresponsibility. By being the bought and paid for dupes of the Ayn Rand/Koch far loony right the evangelical leaders like Perkins and the Catholic bishops, have sold Jesus to the highest bidder, in this case the Koch brothers.
As the American Koch-financed Taliban tries to blow up our world in the name of “Christian Values” (that turn out to be Ayn Rand’s insanity linked to the “values” of the old south), there’s an entire generation of young Americans for whom the name of Jesus has been tarnished. Isn’t he something to do with the Tea Party? they’ll ask. And that’s a lot more offensive than placing a crucifix in urine.
Poll numbers are plunging for the anarchists of the Tea Party. According to the polls, as of now 63% of the American people blame the Republicans for the shutdown– the rest believe in Noah’s ark. Sane Americans know the Tea Party/Cruz/bishops and Republicans have strapped on suicide vests and are wandering through our society blowing it up.
Most Americans see the Tea Party as having hijacked the GOP who are now taking us all hostage in a final violent vomit-inducing of anti-first-black-man-in-the-White-House act of treasonous bigotry. And now the Family Research Council has made it official: they are taking Jesus’ good name down with them by hooking the Jesus wagon to the Ayn Rand anarchist Koch brother-financed clowns. One thing is certain: Christians who are not bigoted idiots will have a much harder time defending Jesus in the future.