C Rulon: The Christian Right

By | September 20, 2011

By Charles L. Rulon
Emeritus, Life & Health Sciences
Long Beach City College (ruloncl@yahoo.com)

Introduction

The United States with its powerful Christian Right with its medievalist faith-based agenda and its allies in Congress is a disquieting anomaly in the present industrialized world. It stands in glaring contrast to the last several hundred years of solid scientific discoveries, comparative religious studies and humanistic ethical advances. Made up of evangelical and fundamentalist Protestant sects, plus conservative Catholic organizations, the Christian Right is a major theological movement whose ultimate goal is to “return” America to a biblically-based morality. [1]

Since the early 1980s, the Christian Right has been waging a massive political, propaganda and legal war against separation of church and state. They have been undermining the art of negotiation, empathy, compromise and even democracy, itself, in favor of a quasi-theocracy with inflexible religious dogmas codified into law. They have been using their biblical world-view version of both physical reality and of morality to justify aggressively blocking many important scientific, medical and social programs.

Morally rigid solutions
Christian fundamentalism is based on a literal reading of the Word of God, the Bible. It is, thus, not an elastic world-view that can be updated with advances in scientific knowledge (although most now accept that the earth goes around the sun).
Fundamentalists refer to the Bible for their beliefs regarding abortion, contraception, homosexuality, sex education, non-marital sex and the origin of species and races. They believe that morality in America is collapsing due to our having deserted the Bible, “our only true moral foundation”, in favor of “atheistic evolution”, secular humanism and “killing God’s unborn children”. [2] They believe that God made us heterosexual with definite gender roles and that sex is reserved for marriage. All other forms of sexual expression are sinful and thwart God’s purpose. So they believe that God abhors pornography, homosexual acts, adultery, abortions from the moment of conception, premarital sex, sex education (except to stress abstinence) and the teaching of evolution.
According to anthropologist Sheila Womack the “hard-core” fundamentalists even believe that there exists a cosmic war on Earth between God and Satan, battling for human souls. It’s the Christian forces of good battling the atheistic disbelievers who are controlled by Satan. These fundamentalists, according to Womack, live to fight against abortion, gay rights and anything else they perceive as coming from Satan. Satan never quits in attempting to discredit Scripture. So, it’s a battle to the end. [3]
Womack found that most fundamentalists were not of the “hard-core” type. But most did believe that dilution of biblical doctrines could only lead to hopeless moral relativism and despair. In their perception, the breakdown of the family, the perceived promiscuity of the sexes, the spread of AIDS and drug abuse, the spread of homosexuality (actually, it’s not spreading), the acceptance of abortion and pornography, etc., are symptoms of a culture that has turned away from God and the Bible.

Evolution
For the large majority of evangelical and fundamentalist Christians (including many of the current Republican candidates for President), the scientific reality of our 3.8 billion-year evolutionary history is rejected. They fervently believe that without a literal Adam and Eve there can be no fall from grace, no original sin and, thus, no need for a savior. They believe that if one can’t trust Genesis to be literally true, what can one trust in the Bible? They believe that if one takes evolution seriously instead of the Bible, the moral foundations of our society will collapse. “Christ died to save God’s creation, man, not to save some evolved monkeys!” Thus, these Christians must choose either to stay willfully ignorant of much of science, or else to believe that any science that conflicts with Scripture is either the work of atheistic scientists, or even of Satan, Himself.

Private schools
Fundamentalists believe that there is a concerted attempt by the secular society to turn young minds away from the Bible and God. So every day more and more children are being pulled out of public schools and placed in private “Christian” schools that demand obedience to the “Authority of Scripture”. There are now several million children in thousands of such schools across our country.
According to Alan Peshkin, Professor of Education at the University of Illinois, the textbooks of these Christian schools have been grounded in the institution’s religious, cultural and political convictions. They present an extremely one-sided and often verifiably false view of the natural and social sciences and of the abortion issue. No attempt is made, according to Peshkin, to develop an appreciation of this nation’s cherished democratic principles such as the freedom of speech, the freedom of inquiry and the idea of pluralism. Instead, they seem to teach contempt for critical thinking and a condemnation of those who do not share the same religious beliefs or political views. Toleration of different beliefs is undermined and dissent is seldom tolerated. Such tactics subvert the students’ ability for rational, critical thought and cripple their ability to incorporate modern astronomy, geology, anthropology and biology into their education. These tactics also undermine the arts of negotiation, empathy and compromise, also critical in a democracy for finding solutions to the complex technological and moral dilemmas of our day, concludes Peshkin. [3]

Closing Thoughts

A conflict of global importance exists today between two fundamentally different views of sexual morality and even of reality, itself. One view is supported by hundreds of years of scientific discoveries, by rational, critical thought and by humanistic ethics based on compassion and science. The other view is based on papal infallibility and on ancient religious authority. These men spread the pernicious lies that morality in America is collapsing due to our having deserted the Bible, our only true moral foundation, in favor of “atheistic evolution”, perverted homosexual practices and “murdering God’s unborn children”.
To quote Sam Harris from his 2004 book, The End of Faith. “Imagine that we could revive a well-educated Christian of the 14th century. The man would prove to be a total ignoramus regarding geography, astronomy, biology and medicine, embarrassing even a child. But his religious beliefs would still be up to date and beyond reproach. And he would have access to 21st century weapons.”

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[1] Major organizations in the Christian Right include The Christian Broadcasting Network (www.cbn.org), Focus on the Family (www.focus onthefamily.com), the American Center for Law and Justice (www. aclj.org) working with the Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism, The Alliance Defense Fund (www.alliancedefensefund.org), the American Family Association (www.afa.net), the Family Research Council (www.frc.org), Concerned Women for America (www.cwfa.org), Jerry Falwell Ministries (www.falwell.com).
Also included are the Christian Coalition, National Right to Life Committee, National Conservative Political Action Committee, Liberty Foundation, Coalition for America, Institute on Religion and Public Life, Heritage Foundation, Ava Maria Foundation, Christian Voice, Christian Action Council, American Coalition for Traditional Values, the Eagle Forum, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, Citizens for Excellence in Education, Coral Ridge Ministries, National Legal Foundation, Traditional Values Coalition and many more.
[2] See creationist web sites; Also see Free Inquiry, a magazine published by the Council for Secular Humanism. (www.secularhumanism.org)
[3] Womack, S., 1982. Confronting the Creationists. (Ed. S. Pastner and W. Haviland)
[4] Peshkin, A. 1986. God’s Choice: The Total World of a Fundamentalist Christian School. Peshkin, 1987. “The Truth and Consequences of Fundamentalist Christian Schooling,” Free Inquiry, Fall.

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