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.

  • AnonymousSam

    Yup.

  • SisterCoyote

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

  • 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. 

  • Hilary

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

    Hilary 

  • CeeQ

    Effing *face palm*

  • 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.

  • 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 =) 

  • 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.

  • 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.”

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Matri

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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://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.

  • 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*

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • GeniusLemur

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

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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!!!”

  • 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. 

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!!!

  • 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.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X