Why the white evangelical religious right can no longer presume to claim moral superiority

The religious right is frightened and angry after Tuesday’s election.

That’s not really news, since the religious right was frightened and angry before Tuesday’s election. Frightened and angry is pretty much what the religious right is like every day.

But this quasi-religious political movement is back on its heels now. After decades of lucrative success that transformed America’s politics and deformed American evangelicalism, the religious right was confronted Tuesday with evidence that its strategy is no longer working. The problem is not just that they lost in this election — that the president they demonized was convincingly re-elected, the legislative candidates they championed were resoundingly sent packing, and the ballot initiatives they rallied behind all went against them.

That happens with elections sometimes. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. That, by itself, doesn’t necessarily mean that something fundamental is no longer operative.

The problem for the religious right is not that they lost, but how they lost and why they lost.

The religious right lost because they are no longer perceived as having the moral high ground. For decades, the religious right has been pre-occupied with two issues above all else: abortion and homosexuality. And on both of those issues, they have wielded power and influence by claiming the moral high ground — claiming to represent the godly, “biblical” truth of right and wrong. Anyone who disagreed with them on these issues was portrayed as less moral, less godly, less good.

That claim — that framing of these issues as right vs. wrong, good vs. evil, biblical vs. unbiblical, moral vs. immoral — was asserted and accepted for most of the religious right’s 30-year run.

But not any more. That claim is still being asserted, but it is no longer being accepted.

Part of what happened on Tuesday was that millions of people rejected that claim on moral grounds. This was not just a political or pragmatic disagreement that preserved their essential claim of godly morality. It was a powerful counter-claim — the claim that the religious right is advocating immoral, unjust and cruelly unfair policies on both of its hallmark issues. Knee-jerk opposition to legal abortion and to gay rights weren’t just rejected as bad policy, but as bad morals — as being on the wrong side of right vs. wrong, good vs. evil, biblical vs. unbiblical, moral vs. immoral.

When Franklin Graham took out full-page newspaper ads declaring that “there are profound moral issues at stake” in this election, voters agreed with that much of his argument. Voters thought Graham was right that this argument about “the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman” is a “profound moral issue,” but they believed that Graham himself was profoundly wrong — that his opposition to marriage equality put him on the wrong side of a moral issue.

Voters in Maryland, Maine, Minnesota and Washington all rejected Graham’s opposition to marriage equality, not because it was too lofty a moral claim, or too sectarian in its “biblical” concerns, but because it was immoral, oppressive, unfair, unjust, unethical, unkind and unrighteous.

This makes for a new and fundamentally different argument. For decades, the religious right has been arguing that their purchase on the moral high ground ought to result in their political triumph. The political opposition to that used to be a form of “yes, but …” — yes, these political preachers are correct about morality and immorality, but other factors need to be considered, or other complications have to be accounted for, etc.

Opposition to the religious right’s agenda on Tuesday did not take the form of this “yes, but …” argument. It was simply, “No.”

It was not a disagreement about the political implications of the preachers’ righteous moral claims, but a denial of those claims, of their righteousness and of their morality. No, these political preachers are incorrect about morality and immorality. No, pretending that some “biblical definition of marriage” is a pretext for denying people their rights or delegitimizing their families is not good or decent or right. No, legal coercion compelling rape victims to bear the offspring of their attackers is not good or decent or right.

And that cuts to the core of the matter. That isn’t just a single defeat in a single election, but a fundamental rejection of the entire basis for why anyone, anywhere should ever listen to the religious right.

The religious right can no longer simply assert and assume that it has the moral high ground. If it wants to make that claim, it will have to argue for it, will have to explain why its absolute opposition to legal abortion and to civil rights for LGBT people is right or true or good.

I think of the religious right, broadly speaking, as divided between two groups: True believers and hucksters. They true believers have become unaccustomed to having to explain why they believe what they believe. The hucksters — disingenuous, bad-faith actors in it for the money, the power and the perks — have never been interested in or capable of explaining that.

But that explanation is now required. It will no longer suffice for the religious right simply to assert that everybody knows that marriage equality is immoral, because everybody does not know that. Many of us claim to know the opposite, in fact — we are saying that opposition to marriage equality is immoral. If the religious right wants to convince us otherwise, it will have to do just that — convince us, providing arguments, data, reason and reasons.

It won’t do for the religious right simply to continue wielding the word “biblical” like a club. President Obama quoted the Bible in declaring his support for marriage equality. Vikings punter Chris Kluwe cites the Bible more often and more specifically than any of his religious-right opponents bother to do.

The ground has shifted. The religious right has backed losing candidates before and has occasionally lost ballot initiatives too. But this loss wasn’t due to other issues — the economy, a war — eclipsing the significance of their “values” issues. This loss wasn’t due to any evasive “yes, but …” arguments from the other side.

The other side met them toe-to-toe: You want to argue about abortion on moral grounds? Great, let’s do that. We say your opposition to legal abortion is immoral, and here’s why. You want to argue about the morality of same-sex marriage? Fine. We say your opposition to marriage equality is immoral, and here’s why.

The religious right wasn’t prepared for that response. You could see that throughout the election, as they continued to rely on attack-lines that had served them so well in the past. They repeatedly characterized President Obama as the “most pro-choice president of all time,” expecting him to cringe and deny the suggestion. Instead, he embraced it — running ads saying the same thing and insisting that it was true because defending women’s right to make their own choices is the right thing to do. They attacked Obama for his association with women like Sandra Fluke, as though they were somehow self-evidently immoral. Obama embraced them, figuratively and literally, insisting that doing so was the right thing to do. The religious right spent years accusing Obama of secretly favoring same-sex marriage and he responded by openly and forcefully supporting same-sex marriage, declaring that it was the right thing to do.

The religious right didn’t just lose an election or a ballot initiative, it lost an argument. It lost the argument because it wasn’t used to having to make an argument — wasn’t accustomed to encountering a forceful argument coming back at it from the other side.

The other side won the argument, and in so doing, it seized the moral high ground.

The full meaning of this still hasn’t sunk in for many of the leaders on the religious right. They can’t imagine that anyone may have begun to doubt the legitimacy of their long-presumed moral superiority.

What is going on with the American people?” Pat Robertson asked, utterly perplexed.

“Race and ethnicity overrode values,” said Matt Staver of Liberty Counsel (still unable to see how his bigoted assumptions about the immorality of those people taint the reception of every other moral claim he makes).

The Liar Tony Perkins is in full “Turn those machines back on!” mode, unable to do anything more than just keep repeating the same failed assertions. The marriage equality votes in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington, he said, were “a significant moment for the radical Left, which was helped to victory by the most pro-gay president in American history.”

Perkins is still operating under the assumption that calling someone “pro-gay” implies a moral deficiency on that person’s part. Most people don’t agree. We’ve been having quite a national conversation on this subject for the past several decades and most of us have come around to regarding a title like “the most pro-gay President in American history” as a badge of honor — as high praise for this president’s morality, values, principles and commitment to justice.

Robertson, Staver and Perkins are all hucksters. What about the true believers? Southern Baptist Archbishop Al Mohler is someone I think of as a true believer on the religious right, and he’s one of the few figures in the movement who seems to realize that their presumption of moral superiority is no longer widely accepted.

As election returns came in Tuesday night, Mohler tweeted: “There is no evidence in voting patterns that President Obama’s evolution’ on same-sex marriage cost him anything. Another revealing truth.”

Mohler also referred to the marriage equality votes as a sign “we are witnessing a fundamental moral realignment of the country.” Unlike Perkins and Robertson, he seems to grasp what he’s seeing and hearing — that Americans aren’t just failing to embrace his denunciation of LGBT families as immoral, but Americans are actually denouncing him as immoral for opposing such families.

David Sessions finds a few other voices from the anti-gay, anti-abortion religious right who also seem to be “Smelling the Coffee.”

“We must face the reality that we may be on the losing side of the culture war,” Southern Baptist pollster Ed Stetzer writes.

This loss did not occur in Tuesday’s election — the election was simply a powerful demonstration that the loss is occurring. Much, much more to say about this, so we’ll return to this topic in future posts.

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  • Lliira

    “We must face the reality that we may be on the losing side of the culture war,” Southern Baptist pollster Ed Stetzer writes.

    Pfffttt.

    They lost the culture war decades ago. Only now are some of them starting to realize that maybe they could lose it? What is with the far right-wing in this country being unable to realize they lost? I guess when you and your buddies still think the Confederacy has a chance to win the Civil War, this is what happens.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I dunno – they’ve had a pretty good romp trying to use the wedge issue of “I am SO much more moral than YOU!” (meaning they tell right-wing white Christian voters what they want to hear) to help tie a socially reactionary agenda to an economically adverse agenda.

    The fracturing of that coalition  may be what actually gives rise to a true third party on the right, which, as we’ve seen with Ross Perot in the past, will break the right-wing vote and in the first-past-the-post system, effectively give the Democrats first place every time just by “sneaking up the middle” (Canadian parlance – we have a similar vote-splitting pattern in British Columbia in particular and it’s what gives the NDP a chance to fight above its weight).

  • reynard61

    “What is with the far right-wing in this country being unable to realize they lost? I guess when you and your buddies still think the Confederacy has a chance to win the Civil War, this is what happens.”

    There’s no delusion like self-delusion.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

     Vikings punter Chris Kluwe cites the Bible more often and more specifically 

    Oddly, I first read that as “spectacularly”.

  • Jim Roberts

    I think that it was pretty strongly implied regardless.

  • cminus

    Possibly because “spectacularly” is a word that so often naturally comes to mind when reading Chris Kluwe.

  • Marta L.

     Well, that too… :-)

  • CeeQ

    Fact – allowing safe and affordable contraception = reduced abortion rates. Merely making abortion illegal doesn’t reduce the rate of abortion. The Religious faction backed the wrong horse when they chose to pick a protracted fight about Obamacare and contraception coverage. It exposed them as merely power hungry fools using their religion to gain ground and control over the flock.

    Fact – legally recogising the right of consenting, committed gay couples to marry stabilises communities. The Church was never forced by the State to endorse it if they disagreed. This was totally a secular issue of legal rights. Don’t want to sanctify gay marriages in your church? Then don’t. It shouldn’t make it any less legal. Gay people should not have a different set of legal rights than straight people, full stop. In any case – all churches should welcome all people, without exception. But I get that will take some time. That’s the next Everest to climb!

     Speaking as an ethnic minority – we have morals too. We have family values too. We cherish tradition too. Which is why I love my gay cousins. I will be dancing at their weddings and I will cherish seeing them and their spouses at every Thanksgiving and Christmas. I will fight back if anyone tries to hurt them. I will fiercely protect their children if and when they have them. Because that’s what families do. And for the ones who don’t believe in Jesus Christ – I will evangelise to them. Because it’s faith that saves. Not which church we go to, which pastor we listen to, not what political beliefs we have. I’m done with the pharisees in the modern church making me feel like crap because I don’t believe and do exactly as they do. I’m elated at the re-election of Barack Obama. Let the fever break in the GOP and sane conservatives return.

  • Lliira

     And for the ones who don’t believe in Jesus Christ – I will evangelise to them.

    You were doing so well until this point.

    Fred is an Evangelical. The way he evangelizes is to set up a tent and say, “anyone who wants to come, come.” He does not, to my knowledge, intrude on other people’s homes and insist they hear him. He does not shout on street corners. And I dearly hope he does not corner relations at family get-togethers and force them to listen to how he supposedly knows the One True Way and they must do as he says.

    Relatives feel obligated to listen to you. When you try to evangelize them, therefore, you are forcing something upon them that they don’t want. That is not hospitality. That is deep and abiding rudeness. It is a betrayal of social codes. It is a misuse of the familial relationship.

    We know about Jesus. Trust me. We really, really, really know about Jesus. It’s inescapable in our culture. If your relatives choose to start having faith in Jesus in the way you want them to, I am sure they will come to you.

    Evangelism is like seduction. Don’t ever try to seduce or evangelize someone who does not feel perfectly free to tell you to shove off. And, as with seduction, the best way to get what you want is to have a lot to offer, play it cool, and wait for them to come to you. And to back off if the other person isn’t showing a lot of interest. And to immediately and forever and without blame stop trying if the other person says “no”.

  • Robyrt

    The standard American story of evangelism involves some remote tribe with no concept of monotheism, a linguist on hand for a custom translation, and a heroic missionary family who convinces the natives via good deeds and stirring tales of the top 20 Bible stories. “Have you heard the good news?” and all that. The problem is when it’s held up as a model of how you should act towards your American friends, relatives and coworkers, all of whom know a lot about Christianity through cultural osmosis. You end up with a Chick tract.

  • Magic_Cracker

    That explains why every overtly evangelistic experience I’ve ever had was somehwat bewildering and largely negative.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    We know about Jesus. Trust me. We really, really, really know about Jesus. It’s inescapable in our culture.

    Wait, what?  Who is this “Jesus” of whom you speak? </ChickTractVillain>

  • Turcano

    No, the “durr wuts a jesus” response is from the potential convert.  Chick Tract villains either respond with flippancy (“HAW HAW”) or by completely losing their shit.  I swear Jack Chick thinks that most non-Christians have bipolar disorder.

  • Tricksterson

    Right, it’s the converts to be that are always completely ignorant of the existance of Jesus or anything written in the Bible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Now I’m wondering, I was thinking of what I described as “villain” in more the literary sense of antagonist; I definitely wasn’t thinking of the “HAW HAW” incorrigible atheists.  But, would the potential convert in a Chick Tract who doesn’t acceptJesusChristashispersonallordandsaviour be the antagonist or protagonist?  I’m inclined to think s/he should be considered the protagonist, which would make me wrong either way.

  • CeeQ

    It’s fascinating to me how much the evangelicals in this country has ruined the word “evangelise”. I don’t go up to people and ask them “Have you found Jesus?” And I especially don’t do that with my family – for the exact reason that you mentioned – it’s not fair on them cuz they feel like they have to listen. If the subject comes up and if it is appropriate, I voice my faith. If they ask me, I tell them what I think. When it’s in due season. I don’t push it on people who aren’t asking me about it. 

    I’m Australian – and the American way of sharing the gospel has turned me off the minute I got off the plane. 

    Thanks for the comment though – I totally get where you are coming from. In all honesty – I kinda wish people in this country would stop talking about God and Jesus like they are some sort of rock band or celebrity.

  • AnonymousSam

    I’m Australian – and the American way of sharing the gospel has turned me off the minute I got off the plane.

    Consider yourself fortunate that it took that long. It wasn’t that long ago that pilot Roger Findiesen took a minute to ask how many of his passengers were Christian and then imply that the unreligious should use their flight to get to know their fellow passengers’ faiths.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino
  • AnonymousSam

    Yup.

  • CeeQ

    Effing *face palm*

  • Ursula L

    I don’t go up to people and ask them “Have you found Jesus?”

    The only appropriate answer to that question is “Is Jesus lost again?  Someone should buy that fellow a map!

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

     As a Christian, my response is usually (with a slightly panicked expression) “I didn’t know he was lost.”

  • Lliira

    I am very glad to hear you don’t do what nearly every Evangelical in the U.S. does — to family, to co-workers, to strangers.

    I wish people in this country would START talking about God and Jesus like they were a rock band or celebrity. No one yells at me that I’m a slut-whore who’s going to hell for not following a certain band.

  • CeeQ

    “And to back off if the other person isn’t showing a lot of interest. And to immediately and forever and without blame stop trying if the other person says “no”.”

    Absolutely agree. I don’t feel offended if someone doesn’t want to talk about faith. Faith is an intensely personal conversation – I don’t expect to even get to that point in a relationship or friendship where it’s comfortable to talk about our faith or lack thereof until at least a couple of years of knowing each other. 

  • Hilary

    Dude, I think we were all jumping on you from bad experiences with American Evengelicals.  You sound . . . . really sane about this.

    Hilary 

  • CeeQ

    Not a surprise and no offence taken for my part. I should have chosen my words better. I’ve seen my share of Evangelicals Behaving Badly (which needs to be a reality show pronto) in the 10 short years I’ve lived here. Not saying Australia doesn’t have their share. 

    But hey, as my husband’s friend from West Virginia said this morning on FB – he, being a white male married to a woman and who loves Christ, is now the minority. I rolled my eyes so hard I’m still recovering from the mini stroke it caused. I mean, seriously? Yeah ok. He’s peeved because other people who don’t look and believe exactly like he does actually has a say in how this country is run now. The horror. How will the republic survive?!?!?! *eye roll* Good grief. 

    I’m waiting for the post announcing he and his family are moving to Canada/UK where this sort of uncivilised thing does not happen. To which I will be sorely tempted to respond “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1062174733 Steve Armstrong

     You make a lot of assumptions about what evangelism is that simply are not true. Evangelism is sharing your faith with those who would listen. Pure and Simple. It is NOT Forcing one’s beliefs down someone else’s throats! Never has been! People have just been doing it wrong!

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    So, two things.

    First: good on you for not endorsing forcing beliefs on people! I encourage this.

    Second: Quoting the New Testament is no more a definitive argument about the nature of evangelism than it is about the nature of marriage, or love, or sin, or morality, or political power, or right action.

  • Tricksterson

    True but you have to admit there are a lot of evangelicals, and they are very vocal about it, wh define evangelicalism in the negative fashion you’ve described.  Llira may be wrong but it’s hardly without reason.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    Let the fever break in the GOP and sane conservatives return.

    Amen.

    And for what it’s worth, I don’t believe Jesus had any particularly unique relationship to God, but I would nevertheless prefer you not evangeliae to me.

  • CeeQ

    And that’s OK =) All I meant was that if people ask me – I will share my faith.

  • Carstonio

    I’m done with the pharisees in the modern church making me feel like crap because I don’t believe and do exactly as they do.

    Yet you would make your cousins feel like crap by insisting that they should belong to your religion, not whatever religion they might have. You are rightfully refusing to decide what’s best for your cousins in martial matters but doing so in religious matters. I don’t want to be too rough on you, because you and I appear to share most of the same moral principles. Still, I’m disappointed that you don’t understand that other people’s religious beliefs are none of your business, just as your religious beliefs are no one else’s business.

  • CeeQ

    I hear what you’re saying. And in my defense – I don’t push my religious beliefs on my cousins unless they ask me what I believe in or ask my opinion on a certain issue. I don’t just run up to them and make them listen to me, in season or out of season. A lot of them are atheists and we’ve had the conversations. I’m pretty sure I didn’t make them feel like crap because they still speak to me voluntarily =) So now I pray for them – because I truly believe that Christ is the Saviour. The fact that they don’t believe is not a barrier for me to love them. Thanks for being tough on me – I’m ok to hear push back =) 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Don’t tell them you’re praying for them, however. Saying “I’ll pray for you” can carry some unwanted undertones.

  • CeeQ

    I don’t say “I’ll pray for you” – I just pray for them. I don’t feel the need to announce that’s what I’m doing. I agree with you – the way Christians have used it in this country always seems like it comes with an implied “you pagan who’s for sure bound for hell”

  • Carstonio

    I agree that simply wanting others to change their religious beliefs, even if one never speaks to others about this desire, is not the same as suggesting that they consider switching to one’s religion. And it’s far removed from actually trying to convert them. Still, as long as others aren’t using their religious beliefs to hurt others, I see no reason  why someone should even want to change those beliefs. And I see no reason to trust that someone who wants to change others’ beliefs won’t give in to the temptation to actually try to change those beliefs.

  • CeeQ

    And you know, I’ve had this exact same discussion with my cousin – to which I replied, “You’ve got a point, I get what you’re saying. I think the trouble with most Christians is that they don’t care about the person they are trying to evangelise to and care only to get what they want from them. So for me – if you prefer we don’t talk about faith, that’s totally ok.” 

    So I say the same to you =) 

  • Carstonio

    While I appreciate that, I also think the problem is bringing up one’s faith in a social situation in the first place, at least outside one’s own faith community. Far better to assume as a default that others don’t want to talk about faith. 

  • CeeQ

    Let me make it clear – I don’t bring up anything. Don’t feel the need to talk about my faith unless I am asked directly. I really wish now that I hadn’t used that word “evangelise”. Just totally has a tainted meaning in this country after all the BS from conservatives. But maybe we just made Fred’s point =) 

  • Dan Audy

    Still, as long as others aren’t using their religious beliefs to hurt others, I see no reason  why someone should even want to change those beliefs. 

    I think that it is about wanting to share something important and amazing to us with other people (particularly those who we care about).  When I discovered Indian Food it was a profound and amazing experience for me (seriously) to have all these flavour and texture profiles I’d never experienced before and completely in tune with my tastes.  For a long time (and still to a lesser extent) I tried to get as many people as I could to love it – I’d cook Indian when we had guests over, talk it up in online discourse, take anyone I could to my favourite Indian place, and so on.  For me it improved my life and I wanted to share that but ran into problems where people didn’t like spicy foods, found the cooking too heavy, or even thought it was ok but still would rather have pizza.

    While food is much less core than religion I can see the same desire to share this amazing experience with another person.  It is something that tends to be most common when someone newly discovers something that excites them which is why most religious evangelism is so execrable since the people who really want to do it lack the skills and experiences to do it well.  I see the core behaviour of seeking validation for our own choices by trying to convince others to make them to across sports, games, tv shows, websites, food, hobbies, and indeed religion.  What makes it problematic is that we view trying to convince come play racketball with us on Wednesday nights rather than going to their quilting club as a fairly morally neutral act while trying to convert a pagan to Islam as a disrespectful act.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    While food is much less core than religion….

    Umm, what?  I’ve lived over 40 years without religion.  How long do you think you can last without food?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Maybe so, but have you ever seen a group of people totally lose their shit over arguments about food?

    IME food doesn’t engender the level of srs bsns that you can get just by publishing cartoons of Mohammed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    I guess the difference between food and religion, in this regard, might be about variety versus lack or plenty?  Not so much violence over different types of food, certainly, but when people go without, things can get real ugly, real fast.  In religion, it’s much more about which flavour you have, and which the other people have.

    ETA: Let’s ask Marie Antoinette how she apocryphally feels about this.

  • banancat

    I’ve seen tons of arguments over food. I won’t even list the obvious religious dietary laws because you could lump that with religion. Here are just a few food-related topics that I have seen turn into internet wars: vegetarianism, veganism, veal, organic food, GMO food, food stamps, sustainable farming, fat acceptance, junk food shaming, food deserts, banning peanut butter in schools, breastfeeding vs formula, and forcing picky kids to eat food they don’t like.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Nice work.  I must admit, I pretty much hadn’t thought of any of that when I opened that can of worms; I was just thinking of the straightforward famine-related unrest.

    BTW, I don’t know “food deserts”.  Assuming it isn’t a typo for “desserts”, what is that?

  • EllieMurasaki

    No grocery stores easily accessible, more or less. Convenience stores are not grocery stores.

  • Jenny Islander

    Yes, it’s a description of a place where people eat fast food and ramen because the nearest store that offers fresh food is not a feasible place to shop for the residents.  

    An example that sticks in my mind is that a significant percentage of children and pregnant and nursing women who qualify for WIC don’t get the fresh milk and eggs and fruit and cheese that the program is supposed to guarantee, because getting that food requires (a) standing at the bus stop in all weathers with the kids because there is no child care available, (b) riding two buses ditto, (c) shepherding the kids through the store ditto, (d) going back the other way with the kids and the fresh food when there is no money for an insulated backpack or a wheelie cart (if the bus even allows those on board), and (e) having somewhere to store it assuming that you get it home undamaged and unspoiled.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    OK, thanks.  I thought it might be either that, or the larger-scale problem of areas where not much food is grown, and so trying to buy locally grown food is more difficult.  E.g. in the middle of a desert environment, like I am, which helped it come to mind.

  • P J Evans

     And add that WIC requires that you buy specified sizes and types, so if your kids are lactose-intolerant, you probably won’t be allowed to substitute soy milk or rice milk. Which is, IMO, an insane way to run a program.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    If I recall correctly, the WIC package that prints out here in Texas says that soy milk is allowed.  There is still a list of accepted brands, though.

    And the FDA’s WIC site says that soy beverages are included under “Milk and Milk Alternatives.”  I don’t know if some states still don’t allow soy milk or not.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I’m surprised the people who wrote the regulations for WIC didn’t just specify broad categories of acceptable dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and the like, since the money is going to be spent anyway, and presumably it would create less hassle all around.

  • EllieMurasaki

    When my family was on WIC in Mississippi (Florida did the lists of allowable supermarket food thing, and I don’t remember anything from Ohio and am not sure we had a high enough children-to-income ratio in Ohio to qualify anyway), we had to get all our WIC food from a warehouse. Which meant getting only the stuff they decided to keep at the warehouse. Including powdered milk or shelf-stable milk, both of which are useful only in cooking applications where one does not actually taste milk in the end product, and powdered or shelf-stable eggs, shelf-stable eggs being useful only for baking and scrambled eggs and powdered eggs being useful for nothing at all. We could not go to the supermarket and get fresh milk or eggs on WIC’s dime. I can’t remember, but I’m not sure we could even get produce on WIC’s dime. And I cannot imagine that it was less hassle for Mississippi WIC to warehouse all this food than to give us the lists of what we could buy at the supermarket with WIC money. I am in fact pretty sure that they were simply thinking that we, being poor enough to need WIC, did not deserve milk we could drink or eggs we could cook sunny side up.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The irony was that WIC was originally intended as a way to supplement AFDC and IIRC was brought in on Clinton’s watch. :( I’m thinking the Repubs in Congress must have changed it to a block grant system and given effective control over it to the states so that they could pull the kinds of things you found.

    If the Dems can get both Houses again in 2014 this should be one of the first things they change – yank control over WIC back up to federal level, and mandate that it supplement an EBT card already used for TANF and/or other forms of aid.

    It may not be flashy like universal health care but given your story, it sounds like it’s a program that could be improved to give poor people a break.

  • EllieMurasaki

    At least part of this was in the Clinton administration, because I turned eleven in 2000 and I went into seventh grade at eleven (I remember wishing I was at Hogwarts instead of Mercy Cross, because I was the right age to have gotten my Hogwarts letter the summer before Mercy Cross) and seventh grade was my third school year in Mississippi. And fuck if I know the composition of Congress at any point in the Clinton administration. Or the Bush administration, for that matter.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The Repubs had Congress from 1995 – 2001, lost the Senate by the barest margin in 2001 – 2003*, then retook both houses until 2007.

    * And we all know there’s almost always a Blue Dog who’ll vote the other way to screw up the majority vote.

  • Ross Thompson

     

    Maybe so, but have you ever seen a group of people totally lose their shit over arguments about food?

    A restaurant near me still has “freedom fries” on the menu…

  • Lliira

    Maybe so, but have you ever seen a group of people totally lose their shit over arguments about food?

    http://wiki.fandomwank.com/index.php/The_Evils_of_Buttercream

    It’s frosting, damn it!!!

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Woooow. Okay. I take back what I said about food and not losing shit.

    This even beats the Harry Potter fandom’s weirder factions.

  • Carstonio

     It’s more than food simply being less core than religion. The latter involves very personal issues of identity, of how the individual sees hir place in the universe. Plus, people can like both Indian food and Mexican food, but very often different religious beliefs conflict with one another. So the person who wants others to share hir religious beliefs is effectively asking others to ditch a major part of their identities, even zie simply wants to share something important or wants validation for hir own choices.

    Another reason to refrain from bringing up faith that way in social settings is that it puts the onus on the other person to say no.

  • Lliira

     Food can also entail core issues of identity. Just ask any vegetarian who’s been screamed at by meat-eaters for not eating meat. Or look at the pro-vegan, misogynistic, pro-rape culture ads of that despicable organization, PETA.

  • Lliira

     *nods* I feel the same way about many things. So, when they come up in conversation, especially on the internet where people can easily tell me to buzz off, I often share my views. And I have a website to share certain of my views too — I haven’t been able to update it in a long time, but it’s there. I know I’ve changed a few peoples’ minds, and at least that stuff is there for people to come see if they choose.

    But in the U.S., Evangelicals corner family and strangers and co-workers to speechify and insult them. I see it as absolutely no different than me standing on a street corner screaming about the wonders of certain types of sex, asking others about their sex lives, and demanding that everyone else have the same kind of sex life as me. It would be seriously disgusting on many levels. The Evangelical movement in the U.S. has become obscene.

  • Guest

     “Still, as long as others aren’t using their religious beliefs to hurt
    others, I see no reason  why someone should even want to change those
    beliefs. And I see no reason to trust that someone who wants to change
    others’ beliefs won’t give in to the temptation to actually try to
    change those beliefs.”

    It seems to me that you’re running so far to get away from evangelism that you’re verging into intolerance on the other side. I’m not even allowed to want someone who believes in Scientology to snap out of it, even if I try never to talk to them about it? How exactly am I supposed to stop wanting other people to change beliefs that I find harmful or wrong?

    I’m an atheist; I shouldn’t even want my Catholic cousin to stop supporting a church that I believe is corrupt, covering up for child molestation, and trying to interfere with everyone’s access to birth control? (“As long as others aren’t using their religious beliefs to hurt others” is very elastic, by the way; there’s almost no way to support any institution without hurting someone.)

    The more I look at that the more nonsensical it seems. You’re so worried CeeQ is going to try to change someone’s beliefs that you’re trying to tell CeeQ to change how s/he feels.

  • Carstonio

    I had in mind instances where a belief compelled the believer to take specific actions that harmed others, such as what happened to Edgardo Mortara.

    I suspect that any definitions of “wrong” or “harmful” for others’ beliefs would be very subjective. The fundamentalist Christian who predicts eternal damnation for gays can’t prove that this will happen, even if zie honestly wants to save gays instead of engaging in “You’re gonna get it!”

    Even if one has a more objective definition of harmful beliefs, that still involves the paternalistic and ethically problematic concept of deciding what’s best for another consenting adult. If, say, a Muslim who is an evangelical in the generic sense sees belief in Scientology to be harmful, it’s likely that the Muslim has a conflict of interest.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1062174733 Steve Armstrong

     See my response to Lliira about evangelism. You are making assumptions about evangelism that just aren’t what evangelicalism is about! Unfortunately Evangelicals are to blame for that assumption. What Jesus had in mind for sharing the good news was much much different than what Evangelicals have made of it!

  • Carstonio

    Even if you’re not forcing your religion on others, you’re still taking the stance that they should join your religion, no matter what their religions might be. That goes against the principle of the individual having the right to belong to the religion of his or her choice. Very arrogant to believe that one’s religion is best for everyone. As a default, an individual’s religious beliefs are no one else’s business. To inquire about someone’s beliefs is just as intrusive as to inquire about how much money the person makes.

  • JustoneK

    o/

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    “We must face the reality that we may be on the losing side of the culture war,” Southern Baptist pollster Ed Stetzer writes.

    Jeeze, I think a lot of us could have told him that years ago.  Just a shame that they backed themselves into a corner like this, a lot of them will not want to reverse course on these issues due to having sunk so much of themselves into it.  

  • GeniusLemur

     When someone sincerely asks, “Why?” and won’t accept “Because” as an answer, the conservative’s already lost.

  • histrogeek

    After years and years of hearing how Democrats or liberal Christians are just a small, stuck-up bunch destined for history’s dustbin, I can say, “Karma’s a bitch assholes!”
    On a slightly more serious note, I think part of the religious right’s problem is how very dated they’re sounding. Every fight, every word they push out is just retread of crap they have been pushing out since the 60s (earlier really but the current iteration is post 60s). Somehow they forget that people in their 40s (!) either weren’t alive in 1968 or have no memory of it.
    Hal Lindsey, Jerry Fawell, or even Jimmy Carter sounded exotic in the mid 70s. (Carter’s evango-speak about Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior sounded really weird then. Like someone saying they were talking with Jesus at Starbucks would today.) Today it’s background noise.

  • Tricksterson

    Hey, if Jesus happens to like the occasional mocha latte that’s his business.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    Every fight, every word they push out is just retread of crap they have been pushing out since the 60s

    As Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote yesterday, “It is slowly dawning on them: This isn’t 1968. The hippies are punching back.”

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

     For all the religious Right’s forty years of doomsday schtick, they seem to have truly believed that some force of nature would always protect them from becoming “strange” minorities in “their” country. 

    Nope. 

  • Lori

     

    As Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote yesterday, “It is slowly dawning on them: This isn’t 1968. The hippies are punching back.”   

    He also pointed out that the GOP does not have a Latino problem, it has a racist white people problem. I think I actually applauded when I read that.

  • histrogeek

     They aren’t just punching back. They’ve got tons of professionals, working people, and people in poverty with them. In 68 the hippies talked about workers and poverty; in 2012 they’re along side those people.
    It’s called solidarity, bitches. Bwahaha

  • Worthless Beast

    Of course, many voters could be like me…  My guy reminded me yesterday that, since Obama won, “nothing will change” becuase he’s against a lot of guys in Congress who will keep on gridlocking things.  I made a reply about our shared poverty/working class status and the Disabilty (along with its healhcare) I just won and desperately need.  I’m less concerned with grand sweeping moral ideals and more concerned with “fighting to keep the few scraps that I have.”

    I didn’t ask my significant other the way he voted, but the fact that he likes to refer to Romney has having “child-rapist eyes” gives me a clue. 

    I suspect that voters just trying to keep the few things they have and/or have gained over the years outnumber the starry-eyed-idealists. 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Robyrt said:

    The problem is when it’s held up as
    a model of how you should act towards your American friends, relatives
    and coworkers, all of whom know a lot about Christianity through
    cultural osmosis. You end up with a Chick tract.

    I may fall over. You actually said something I agree with.

  • reynard61

    “For decades, the religious right has been arguing that their purchase on the moral high ground ought to result in their political triumph. The political opposition to that used to be a form of ‘yes, but …’ — yes, these political preachers are correct about morality and immorality, but other factors need to be considered, or other complications have to be accounted for, etc.

    “Opposition to the religious right’s agenda on Tuesday did not take the form of this ‘yes, but …’ argument. It was simply, ‘No.’”

    I think that both the Republicans and their Evangelical cohorts are going to have to learn — real fast — that Politics plus Religion is, indeed, Politics. Politics *taints* Religion. Politics can eventually, if not kept in check by moderate elements, *pollute* Religion; and, by extension, the moral message that a particular religion is trying to uphold and/or convey.

    The Republicans are going to have to learn this or they’ll eventually be seen in the same light as those pedophile enablers in the Vatican or those child-killing terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    “The religious right can no longer simply assert and assume that it has the moral high ground. If it wants to make that claim, it will have to argue for it, will have to explain why its absolute opposition to legal abortion and to civil rights for LGBT people is right or true or good.”

    This. So, *SO* this.

    “I think of the religious right, broadly speaking, as divided between two groups: True believers and hucksters. They true believers have become unaccustomed to having to explain why they believe what they believe. The hucksters — disingenuous, bad-faith actors in it for the money, the power and the perks — have never been interested in or capable of explaining that.

    “But that explanation is now required. It will no longer suffice for the religious right simply to assert that everybody knows that marriage equality is immoral, because everybody does not know that. Many of us claim to know the opposite, in fact — we are saying that opposition to marriage equality is immoral. If the religious right wants to convince us otherwise, it will have to do just that — convince us, providing arguments, data, reason and reasons.”

    And it’s *ABOUT DAMN TIME!!!* This country is, contrary to their self-deluded pronouncements, *not a theocracy!!!* The religious right has been allowed to skate on these issues for *far* too long. We (as in “We, The People”) need to start making our religious so-called “leaders” as accountable to us as they (the Righteous Right) claim that the “Gummint” should be.

    “‘What is going on with the American people?’ Pat Robertson asked, utterly perplexed”

    Simple, Pat. We’re finally learning that hate is *not* a “Family Value”.

  • LMM22

    This is a brilliant post — and it may help end the culture wars as we know it.

    One of the things I’ve realized is that many liberals don’t just differ with conservatives on ethics — we differ with them in terms of our ethical *philosophy*. At least when it comes to public policy, most liberals are utilitarians. If a policy we adopt will not help their final goal, or if a policy we adopt is actually harmful, we tend to change it. Most conservatives are not — they tend to think in terms of theology (at best) or simple Biblical passages at worst.

    This is most clear for abortion. Liberals who oppose abortion (or who just want to end the culture war) tend to propose utilitarian approaches which have been shown to reduce the rate of abortions — for example, increased availability of effective forms of birth control, an increased social safety net in the form of universal government benefits, and increased access to medical care. Conservatives tend to see these (particularly birth control) as “wrong” and simply argue that women shouldn’t have sex outside of wedlock. Many conservative anti-abortion groups don’t even bother to pursue public policies that might help their cause — for example, most anti-abortion activists I’ve encountered seem unaware that an abusive father could prevent an adoption from going forward.

    So there is no compromise when it comes to public policy. There can’t be — there isn’t even the agreement that, if one wishes to pursue a certain goal, one should adopt the most effective methods for getting there. The only successful strategy is to simply subvert claims of ethical superiority — and that seems to be what we’ve managed to achieve in the past year.

  • Soylent H

    I think this is what’s going on as well.  It’s finally becoming clear (or perhaps more broadly accepted) that one can be ethical outside of a biblical framework, and highly unethical within a biblical framework.  It’s not enough anymore to simply say “this is a reading of the bible and therefore is moral.”  They need to defend the justification for their interpretation’s morality.  Anything else is insufficient.

  • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

    LMM22 says that liberals and conservatives seem to have different ethical philosophies. There’s actually some scientific evidence to back this up:

    Human beings, across cultures and
    throughout history, seem to share a few core ethical values, hard-wired
    into our brains by millions of years of evolution as a social species.
    Those values: Fairness, harm and the avoidance thereof, loyalty,
    authority, and purity. (Some think there may be one or two others,
    including liberty and honesty; but those aren’t yet as
    well-substantiated, or as well-studied.)

    Liberals prioritize very
    different values from conservatives. When asked a series of questions
    about different ethical situations, self-described liberals strongly
    tend to prioritize fairness and harm as the most important of these core
    values — while self-described conservatives are more likely to
    prioritize authority, loyalty, and purity.

    Source: “Why Liberal Values Really Are Better“, by Greta Christina.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    George Lakoff also wrote on this matter and had some interesting insights as well.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    I can’t speak to the other states, but in Maine it took a lot of work, work done my people not-me.  I met one of them, put my name on the petition, called to my mother so she could do the same, and then, just as she[not my mother, the other person] was leaving somehow managed to say what I had wanted to say since I found out why she had knocked on my door.

    I told her thank you, thanks for doing this because I can’t.  I’m not good with strangers, have problems with depression and anxiety, and I simply cannot do what she was doing, but it was vitally important that someone did, so I thanked her for doing what needed to be done.

    What she was doing was probably the easy part.  Presumably our house got marked down in the “on our side” column so I never saw anyone doing the hard part.  The hard part had been taking place since 2009 when, after becoming the first state to legalize same-sex marriage via legislator + Governor, Maine became what I assume is the first state to have the people first put the legislation on hold, then overturn it via popular vote so that not a single marriage could come of the work of the legislators and governor.

    When that happened, and I didn’t learn this until years later, they immediately started a hearts and minds campaign.  They went door to door when necessary and they simply talked to people.  For years, person after person, they talked openly and honestly about the issue.

    And in so doing they changed people’s minds.  Part of the change from victory to defeat might have been different demographics and such (hell 2009 was an off off year) but a lot of it has to be credited with all of the people who changed their vote.  People who were convinced first that marriage equality was the right thing, second to do the right thing.

    Not all of those who switched were convinced by an organized campaign  of course, some votes were changed when the voters put faces on the people whose rights they’d previously denied.

    But a lot of work went into just talking to people.  People other than me did that work, and they did it well.

    And as for why I say, “They immediately started…” it’s because by the end there was a broad coalition, but I’m not sure what group was first to go to work.  So for now they’re just they.  But the good “they”, not the bad “they”.

    I’m not really sure why I bring this up, except that a lot of people deserve a lot of credit, and while they did make ads and there were lawnsigns and buttons and whatnot, from my understanding the bulk of the success was had via conversation.  Talking to people works.  Definitely not nearly all the time, but enough to flip enough of the electorate to change the outcome of a vote.

  • Daughter

     Here in WA state, the pro-marriage equality campaign grabbed the moral ground early and held on in all their promotional efforts. To vote for Prop 74 meant you were voting for marriage and family. To vote no meant you were against those things. Evidence that liberals are finally learning the power of talking points!

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    Oh, definitely.

    The yard sign here was:
    YES on 1
    [logo]MARRIAGE MATTERS
    [ditto]TO ALL FAMILIES
    (www.MainersUnited.org)

    But with better formatting.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    disqus, your changing the formatting of my post (that was plain text, not a link, as a yardsign can’t hyperlink) without my permission has not resulted in catastrophe, for once.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    And you know, I’m not sure that I’ll ever know who “They” was because now that the measure passed the focus is so much on the official effort that the unofficial work done in the time between the 2009 vote going the wrong way and the start of the official effort (to, initially, get the 2012 initiative on the ballot and, then, to pass that initiative seems) to have been lost in the news shuffle.

    But I did learn at some point that the effort to change people’s minds on the matter was immediate, well before the official process that led to legalizing marriage equality.

  • Lunch Meat

    I told her thank you, thanks for doing this because I can’t.  I’m not good with strangers, have problems with depression and anxiety, and I simply cannot do what she was doing, but it was vitally important that someone did, so I thanked her for doing what needed to be done.

    Few things make me angrier than when one of my facebook-friends speaks sneeringly of Obama because he was “just” a community organizer. I’ve been a community organizer. It’s hard, uncertain, thankless work. You have to knock on the doors of people you’ve never met before, get them to agree with you that there is a problem and what the problem is, convince them that your solution will help, and persuade them to give you time/money to support it. It takes a very, very special kind of person to be good at that. Much harder than any office job I’ve ever had–in fact, I got fired after 4 months because I wasn’t good enough.

    And of course, I’d much, much rather have a president who’s good at getting people s/he doesn’t know to agree with him and support him in solving problems, than a president who’s good at moving numbers around to make money.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

     

    Few things make me angrier than when one of my facebook-friends speaks
    sneeringly of Obama because he was “just” a community organizer. I’ve
    been a community organizer.

    Not to mention that by some accounts, that knocking-on-doors, talking-to-people, organization-at-a-community-level mindset was one of the advantages the Obama campaign had that won Obama the election.

  • WalterC

    The rarefied atmosphere of the corporate boardroom is a valuable source of leadership experience but it can insulate you from the needs and perspectives of ordinary people. Privileged, highly-educated people absolutely can be empathetic to those who aren’t, but they have to be willing to roll up their sleeves and get down in the trenches (pardon the barrage of cliches); the boardroom pedigree doesn’t really prepare you for that. 

    It’s one thing to read a report from your market research staff saying that X% of people are worried about the unemployment rate, and Y% are stressed out about the deficit, but it’s another thing to go out and talk to people and find out exactly what they’re saying and what their real fears are (even the ones that don’t fit into the multiple-choice survey your staff handed them) and, most importantly, get that feedback from them. 

    It’s easy to sneer at being a “community organizer” because it’s one of those jobs that seems kind of vague and easy to claim. What does a community organizer do? Organize communities! That doesn’t tell me much! But behind the name and the stereotypes is a very important skill set that all kinds of leaders need to have; the ability to relate to people and respond to their needs. That’s the core of business and government, and if some conservatives sneer at that it’s because they don’t really understand it or haven’t really put the pieces together yet. 

  • Tricksterson

    “The United States is becoming more like Western Europes, or even Zaire”

    Oh Pat you never fail to combine Asshole and Moron into one neat and efficient package.

    Let’s take the last part first.  In what way does successfully having a free, fair and peaceful election make us like Zaire?  Or is it because Zaire is such a renowned bastion of LGBT and women’s rights?

    Now as to “Western Europe”  First off Western Europe is not a country!  Yes, the EU exists but there are still, and for the foreseeable future, will continue to be, more cultural, economic and political differences between any two members of that body than similarities.

    Second, Western Europe is not the Soviet Union!  The latter was a politically and economically totalitarian, as well as imperialistic nation.  Even if you automatically identify “Western Europe” with the European Union (and if you do, Switzerland would like a word with you) it is a fairly loose confederation, none of whose members have designs on world domination, all of whom are democracies and all of whom are, more or less, capitalistic, not to mention that they’re all at peace with us and most of  them are our allies.

    Okay, who wants this soapbox?

  • http://twitter.com/jclor jclor

    “The United States is becoming more like Western Europes, or even Zaire”
    Oh Pat you never fail to combine Asshole and Moron into one neat and efficient package.
    Let’s take the last part first.  In what way does successfully having a free, fair and peaceful election make us like Zaire?  Or is it because Zaire is such a renowned bastion of LGBT and women’s rights?

    It’s fascinating that, in Mr. Robertson’s eyes, we are becoming like Zaire, a nation that has not existed in 15 years.  Shows you how well informed he is, in general.

  • AnonymousSam

    From his perspective, he was actually remarking on the Zaire of the far future, ~circa 1979. You have to understand that these natural time travelers live in a retrocognitive universe where their perception reflects a world anywhere between fifty to a few hundred years ago. Mister Robertson is actually quite forward-thinking for his particular category of misinformed asshat.

  • histrogeek

     Does Pat even know that there is no Zaire, and hasn’t been for something like 16 years?!
    It’s not like the new/old name, Democratic Republic of the Congo, doesn’t push every possible button for his set (commie, check, African, check). Was Mobutu, like Charles Taylor, a good friend of Pat’s?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    It’s not like the new/old name, Democratic Republic of the Congo, doesn’t push every possible button for his set (commie, check, African, check). Was Mobutu, like Charles Taylor, a good friend of Pat’s?

    Yes. They were partners in a corrupt venture to fleece donations meant for refugees for their diamond mining business. When the US finally pulled its head out of its arse and denied Mobutu a visa to visit (i.e. when the Republicans left the White House), Robertson lobbied for the decision to be overturned.

    Because, hey, Mobutu’s a great guy. Dictator, human rights abuser, the epitome of corruption, but in Reagan’s words “a voice of good sense and goodwill”.

  • ReverendRef

    The religious right can no longer simply assert and assume that it has
    the moral high ground. If it wants to make that claim, it will have to argue for it, will have to explain why its absolute opposition to legal abortion and to civil rights for LGBT people is right or true or good.

    Oh, I don’t know about that.  I think they very well can, and will, assert and assume that they have the moral high ground.  I don’t think they will feel obligated to explain any of their positions because, let’s face it, having to explain something means that you actually have to know why you think/believe that way in comparison to alternative ways of thinking/believing.  Which means that they will continue to assert their position with the unassailable argument of, “Because the Bible says so RIGHT THERE.”

    So I’m convinced that they will simply assert their so-called moral high ground through louder and meaner tactics.

  • reynard61

    “I think that they very well can, and will, assert and assume that they have the moral high ground.”

    Then it’s up to the rest of us to disabuse them of that notion. It’s up to us to remind them that they’re humans (and, yes, I’ll admit that I was sorely tempted to sneak a “barely” in there), not God; and that, as humans, they are just as prone to the imperfections, immoralities, and vanities (including arrogance) of the flesh — even as so-called “forgiven” Christians — as the rest of us filthy heathens. They will, of course, be reluctant to listen to us at first; but as the reality of the situation intrudes on their fantasies, they will either have to wake up and face that reality or find themselves condemned to religious and political obscurity as the rest of the world — and History — passes them by.

  • ReverendRef

     Then it’s up to the rest of us to disabuse them of that notion.

    And it’s about time.  We need to stand up to the bullies and say, “You are wrong.”

    Maybe it’s the junction of two times — the time when the religious right finally went totally off the rails and the time when the rest of us said, “enough is enough.”

  • Matri

    Sadly enough, I agree. A brief look at past news does not show otherwise.

  • Jessica_R

    And speaking of changing times, our first Hindu congressperson is going to be sworn in on a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, how cool is that? 

  • EllieMurasaki

    And speaking of changing times, our first Hindu congressperson is going
    to be sworn in on a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, how cool is that?

    I was wondering how that was going to work.

    Hey, does anybody know if Kyrsten Sinema’s race got called yet? ‘Cause she’s an open atheist, and if she’s won I wanna know what she’ll be sworn in with.

  • Ursula L

    Hey, does anybody know if Kyrsten Sinema’s race got called yet? ‘Cause she’s an open atheist, and if she’s won I wanna know what she’ll be sworn in with.

    My parents sent me to a Christian school for first through eighth grades, because the local public school wanted me to repeat kindergarten because I didn’t know how to skip.

    Our teachers were quite clear, we weren’t supposed to swear on the Bible, because that was taking God’s word in vain.

    So, my classmates and I, rather than saying we swore on “a stack of Bibles” we’d say we “swore on a stack of dictionaries” when we wanted to insist that we were telling the truth.  It was a bit of a joke, in my class. 

    There is no reason for anyone to be sworn on any book.   They merely need to swear to or affirm the oath of office.  

    But I have a soft spot for an atheist to swear on a dictionary, a book dedicated to recording the truth and meaning of words.  

  • EllieMurasaki

    I like that thought. I like it a lot.

    Kyrsten Sinema did in fact win, I’ve just learned.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

     http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/08/kyrsten-sinema-arizona-democrat-atheist-in-congress_n_2091164.html

    She’s bisexual, too.

    WE EXIST :D

    *waves small “bi pride” flag*

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Hey, does anybody know if Kyrsten Sinema’s race got called yet? ‘Cause
    she’s an open atheist, and if she’s won I wanna know what she’ll be
    sworn in with.

    Is there a provision for affirming the oath of office? Some jurisdictions allow affirming in trials, for example, so instead of swearing on a Bible, you affirm that you will tell the truth.

  • histrogeek

     There can’t be a provision about how one swears. That would be a religious test for office, so super-duper unconstitutional (even earlier that the First Amendment). And the affirmation provisions were originally set up for Quakers and Anabaptists who would never swear anything and found the hand on the Bible thing to be idolatrous.

  • Tricksterson

    And yet, a couplefew years ago whne a Muslim Representative was elected someone tried to insist that he pledge his oath on the Bible instead of the Koran.  Won’t be surprised if someone brings that up for the Hindu and Buddhist who were elected this year.

  • Soylent H

    “The religious right can no longer simply assert and assume that it has the moral high ground. If it wants to make that claim, it will have to argue for it, will have to explain why its absolute opposition to legal abortion and to civil rights for LGBT people is right or true or good.”
    I liked this as well.  Thanks very much for making this post, it’s a much more coherent version of something I was trying to get at on my blog last night ( http://slacktopia.blogspot.com/2012/11/conceding-authority-part-1.html ).

    I left my church, in part,  because they could not behave ethically to me, as a gay person.  I feel they’ve lost moral authority by pursuing the course they have with regards to favoring tribalism over compassion.  What’s really sad to me, is there’s plenty of history and precedent within christianity for broader acceptance, compassion and dialogue with non-believers or at least people without the same tribal markers.  I hope they figure that out again soon, because in the meantime, they’re making a lot of people unhappy.  

    In essence, you can’t just claim moral authority, you have to justify it in a way that makes sense to people.  And as long as they’re clinging too demonizing gays and abortion, and privileging the bullies over the bullied, they don’t have much justification for their moral authority.

  • Lunch Meat

    But Fred, the marriage equality measures didn’t pass because the voters actually supported them! They passed because they were evil oppressive liberal states and the poor defenders of marriage just couldn’t raise enough money to stop them! Obviously, the Minnesotans and Maineans are good RTCs who love heterosexuality, but when they saw how much money the Gay Agenda was spending, they just got so confused and pushed the wrong button at the polling booth. (http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/11/07/1158081/national-organization-for-marriage-claims-we-are-not-defeated-ignoring-reality/ )

    Of course, the amendment against marriage equality that passed in Texas in 2005 wasn’t because Texas is a deeply, overwhelmingly conservative state and the homophobes spent more money. No, that’s because “Americans believe marriage is between a man and a woman.”

  • http://hummingwolf.livejournal.com/ Hummingwolf

    In one of the neighborhoods I regularly walk in, there’s been a handmade yard sign saying, “Support Our Family:  Vote Yes on Question 6” (six being Maryland’s same-sex marriage ballot question).  Normally I hate seeing election-related signs hanging around after the election is over.  But today I passed by that house, with the now very faded handmade sign still in the yard, and noticed that a new message had been written over the old:  “Thank You.”

    That simple message made me smile and cry, knowing that we the voters, when given the power to vote for or against somebody’s civil rights, made the right choice.  We made the right choice.  And in spite of all the background radiation of fundamentalism that I’ve absorbed from certain of my relatives and old neighbors, I can’t find within myself even the slightest trace of doubt that we made the moral choice.  We did a good thing.  And I’m hoping and praying for more good things to come.

  • SisterCoyote

    Thank you, Fred. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for this post.

  • Worthless Beast

    Hmm.  Most of my prayers these days consist of long, onesided conversations in which I try to work out philosophical issues… or something quick I’m not sure is going to work when I’m worried about someone/something, but the praying for souls thing I’ve sort of given up on.  That said, I don’t think it’s horrible to pray for people secretly like some do.  It’s no different than said people secretly thinking that you “need to grow up” or something to that effect.  I figure, if you have religious friends of any stripe, figure on them praying for you (and accept that it comforts them), and if you are a believer of any sort with athiest friends, figure on them thinking you’re just a bit loopy and accept it.

    People in families and people who are friends are never going to completely agree on everything, since humans are not a hive-mind.  On the contentious issues, you’ve gotta pick your hill to die on and all other “hills” just leave alone.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Fred — yeah, pretty much exactly this.

    Back when the preferred dogwhistle was “family values,” a friend of mine was fond of responding “Whose families? Whose values?”

    For decades, American conservatives have gotten away with claiming that theirs were the only families and theirs were the only values. The rest of us are pushing back on that claim, and voters are starting to listen.

    Now we just need to follow through.

  • AnonymousSam

    The rage and sorrow of the far right does not reassure me that we will not be fighting a second civil war within the next four years.

  • http://twitter.com/jclor jclor

    The rage and sorrow of the far right does not reassure me that we will not be fighting a second civil war within the next four years.

    The people who split from the United States before the first Civil War were agrarians, workers, people of action.  They turned their rage into a movement.

    The disgruntled conservatives calling for secession and revolution now are, for the most part, old men filled with impotent rage.  Most, I’ve found, are too hidebound and spineless to actually get off the couch.  Sure, they can fill comment threads with cut-and-paste vitriol … but how many of them would actually rise up and reclaim ‘Murica?

  • Tricksterson

    Civil war, unlikely, terrorist movement I won’t rule out.  I would not rule out a serious assassination attempt within the next six months.

  • Lliira

    The people who seceded in the U.S. Civil War were the ultra-privileged white slaveholders. They didn’t do the fighting; they sent the (poor white) agrarians and workers to die for them, and the agrarians and workers were NOT happy about it. They despised and distrusted slave owners. Unfortunately, most of them despised and distrusted black people more. And also, if you’ll be shot if you don’t shoot at the people who are shooting at you and your friends, most people’s tendency is to fall in line. The ancient myth of heroism in war — the old lie, Dulce et Decorum est pro patria mori — that the South so fetishized also helped the slave masters’ despicable cause.

    Now, black agrarian workers had been at war for over a century already, and that probably helped stir up the over-privileged rapists who thought they owned them to turn traitor, but the actual secessionists were the Donald Trumps of the country.

  • Wednesday

    I can’t speak for the campaigns in other states, but I went through the MN United “Coversation Training”, and it was interesting how we were taught to frame things, and what framings to avoid. Civil rights, equality, and discrimination  were words to avoid, because research had shown they make Jackie more likely to respond as Bad Jackie than Good Jackie. Instead we were told to use words like fairness and invoke the golden rule.  If people started citing the bible, we were told to avoid a scripture battle, and instead ask them what their favorite verse was. (My trainer was an ELCA pastor who said “No one ever says Leviticus is their favorite”.)

    And we weren’t supposed to go out and tell fence-sitters how to vote,
    we were supposed to ask them questions –eg,  if they were married, why they
    got married.  Ask them what marriage meant to them. Ask them what
    concerns they had about same-sex couples marrying. And listen. Above
    all, we were supposed to listen — and only after we’d listened and heard, share our views, stories, and reassurances that churches can’t be forced to marry anyone.

  • Carstonio

     Reminds me of this advice for reaching white Southern men. I’m on the fence about the article, because I see the real problem as their adherence to twisted values – the “culture of honor” and the machismo and authoritarianism that go along with it.  I can see the value of making appeals to them based on those values, but at what point does that perpetuate the mindset?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    It’s like my question about how to get inside the narratives of the right-wing working white poor. They feel they’ve been dealt a hard lot and nobody looks out for them. Just having the ‘right’ skin color doesn’t seem to have granted them any breaks and they ignore the “softer” aspects of the power their whiteness gives them (such as catching a break from a cop when pulled over on a borderline DUI, or not being shaken down for naked bribery when driving a big SUV and being pulled over for “speeding”, or other things they wouldn’t even experience if they don’t normally break the law anyway).

    The key, from reading that article, seems to be to re-tell the narrative of American greatness in the 1950s and 1960s not from the perspective of “everybody knew their place in the social order”, but from the perspective of “growing together when everybody pitches in”. Rich people haven’t pitched in for 30 years now, and Mitt Romney’s credit-card jackassery is just the latest example of such.

    An honor culture, as much as it may be foreign to this Canadian, seems to carry with is a certain notion of “fairness” that can be actuated if you tell the right story. Tell the story about a man who, by all measures, should be doing right by others and showing he’s a man, but acts like a craven coward who mistreats people, and it just might work.

    Because Mitt Romney is the quintessential example of a man who cannot be trusted to keep his word and who acts like a man without any honor. Does an honorable man, a stand-up guy, sneak behind other people’s backs and toss them to the winds – the people who depend on him for their livelihood?

    Maybe it’s distasteful to try to invent stories like that for the people who believe in an honor culture, but they don’t have to be made up from whole cloth. There’s truth in the stories. They just have to be told the right way.

  • Carstonio

    While overall I agree, I would caution that historically “honor” in the South has had more to do with reputation and toughness than with fairness.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Even by that standard Romney doesn’t seem like a tough guy. Tough guys meet their obligations; craven cowards do not, and he failed to meet his basic obligations when he pulled that credit-card shenanigan on the people who worked for him.

  • Tricksterson

    “Romney:  He Can’t Even Get Feudalism Right”

  • http://twitter.com/pooserville Dave Pooser

    My mom is a pro-life (but allowing an exception for rape or incest), anti-gay-marriage conservative Christian. She voted a straight Democratic ticket in Pennsylvania. As she’s fond of pointing out, Jeremiah and Isaiah don’t condemn Israel for abortion rates or gay marriage, they condemn the nation for allowing the rich to hoard wealth while their poor and needy starve. She was more likely to vote for Jill Stein than Mitt Romney, and I’m not sure she knows who Jill Stein is.

    Obviously our victories in marriage equality were huge, and I think this was a tipping point election. But if we assume everyone who voted like us agrees with us on every moral issue… well, we’re falling into the same sort of confusion the Religious Right has been wallowing in.

  • LL

    I know I’m always the voice of doom here. I don’t want to be. Maybe it’s living in Texas. The local news (Fox affiliate, though it probably could have appeared on any local station) runs a segment where viewers “talk back” (via voice mail) and this morning, some angry woman (literally, she sounded angry) yapped about “4 more years of misery.” She did not elaborate as to what “misery” she was being expected to endure, other than (obviously) Obama as president.  These people are pissed. I’m glad they’re pissed. Not sure what they have to be angry about, though. I’m not aware of anything that has personally befallen them as a result of Obama being president. In reality, as opposed to their fevered imagination, that is. 

    I’m just declining to be all “we won!” when there are still so many bitterly angry white people griping about how they’re being oppressed/put upon/whatever. I’m hoping that at Thanksgiving, my mother declines to yap about it. If she does start yapping, I may not be able to let it go, because I’ve heard so damn much of it from people who really don’t have anything to be angry about. 

    People in “blue” states are welcome to enjoy their victories, but lots of us are kind of stuck in “red” states, surrounded by angry white people bitching nearly non-stop about how awful it is that they live in one of the most affluent countries on earth and face virtually no obstacles whatsoever in their lives, other than having to accommodate people who don’t agree with every single thing they say and insist on having control over their own lives, rather than turning over their decisions to the Southern Baptist Convention. Dallas County went for Obama, by a large margin, but it is surrounded by pro-Romney counties for literally hundreds of miles in every direction. These people still run the state of Texas. Perry is still governor. I hope they’re on the way out, but … it’s hard to see that here. 

  • BetweenTwoWorlds

    I don’t understand this “culture war” thing. It’s a truth war. What is true about the statement “Gay people shouldn’t marry”?

    I speak as an evangelical, Bible-believing Christian.  And I can’t find anything in the Bible that says “Oppress your neighbor; make them behave according to your theology.”

    I do find direct commands on specific actions to “Love your neighbor.” To care for the widows and orphans and the poor. To turn the other cheek. To walk the second mile.

    I can’t emphasize this enough: There are specific COMMANDS in the Bible on how to behave, and Christians aren’t doing them. Instead, Christians are trying to stop others from acting in ways that bother Christians. Because…well, just because.

    And I don’t get this fear, at all, because I’m told every Sunday that God is King of the universe, that he holds the hearts of kings in his hands, that he is good and kind and just, and that he is a friend of sinners. The Bible says “Come unto me” and the church says “Get the hell out of here.” If I believe what the Bible says, I’m told that I, myself, was an enemy of God who is now a friend of his due to the mercy and sacrifice of Jesus. God is in the business of calling the lost. He doesn’t do it by demanding the lost drop dead.

    It would be honest if the church–well, actually, some of the church–were to simply say “We don’t like gay people.” It’s simple bigotry, and it’s wrong, but it would be honest. And it would be a place to start a discussion.

    Christians have been terribly cruel in the name of Jesus. I’m sorry to say I’ve contributed to that, and I repent of it as best as I know how. People who wonder why the message of the gospel isn’t more widely received need to consider that the Jesus most people see is the Jesus most Christians represent, and that is not a pleasant thing to look at.

  • BetweenTwoWorlds

    And as I said elsewhere, the first step to “Love your neighbor” is to see your neighbor, and then get to know him. You can’t do that with a bullhorn.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I was reminded of this after thinking about this thread and that Alternet entry on people who live in the South.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    The reaction of many Republicans to the recent election reminds me of the reaction of apocalypse cultists when their end-of-the-world date comes and goes:  they’ve pumped so many material and psychological resources into being True Believers that they can’t just accept that they were wrong, and that their leaders were either likewise wrong or intentionally duping them.  To keep their entire worldview from collapsing like the house of cards it is, they have to double down.

    How do you help someone like that?

  • Wednesday

       @Randy:twitter

    The criteria for being a food desert are different for rural and urban areas, too. Some parts of the country with incredibly fertile soil and many farms are food deserts — access is curtailed geographically because a town of 100 people can’t support a full grocery store, and just because farmers in the general area are growing something doesn’t mean you have an easy way to get it.

    A friend of mine who lives in one of these rural food deserts is working on developing a local distribution system to improve access to local products. Right now, if you want to get food from the local farmers, you need to either go to all the farms or CSA drop-offs individually or live near one of the “big” population centers (eg, a town of 5K) that can support a food co-op in addition to a traditional grocery store.


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