Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dept. of Corrections

Like I said; it's a meme

I'm really not anti-Amanda Marcotte, because I think she means well rather than ill with her articles/opinion pieces on conservative Christianity in American politics.  The problem is she really isn't all that well informed on the topic, as her latest reveals.  To take just three categories that she identifies:

Modern American conservative Protestants embrace Catholics and have even started to borrow some Catholic arguments against things like abortion and contraception. But in the early 19th and 20th centuries, there was widespread anti-Catholic sentiment, much of it tied up in hostility to Catholic immigrants. 
Anti-Roman Catholic sentiment is as old as the Reformation itself.  When the Puritans finally got here and started leaving their indelible stamp on things, one of the things they outlawed was Christmas because, in part, the word itself included the RC term for worship, "Mass."  The Puritans outlawed a lot of things because they wanted their church to be "pure," and the "things" they mostly particularly outlawed were anything that smacked of the Roman church.

Even Mark Twain in Innocents Abroad betrays an almost nativist anti-Papist streak, one he clearly acquired on the Western frontier.  Anti-Catholicism has deep roots in Europe (going back, as I say, about 500 years) and deep roots in America (where it goes back for  nearly 400 years).  The "widespread" anti-Roman sentiment was present in America long before the 19th century, and had roots even deeper in the lives of the immigrants who brought it here.

And most conservative Christians still think Rome is the Whore of Babylon; but politics makes strange bedfellows, and the CC's figure they can dust off the Roman curse before Judgment Day.  That doesn't mean they've set aside their anti-Roman sentiments, though:

"My mom was raised Catholic, and she . . . was yearning for something more,” she said. “His invitation for people to know that they could have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ — my mom understood that from the way that he could articulate it. She became a Christian, led the rest of the family to Christ, and that I believe transformed our family.”
The "she" there is Sarah Palin.  Her comments were made at Billy Graham's 95th birthday celebration.  And yes, she is saying that Catholics are not Christians.

Why is anyone surprised?

School prayer: 

Along with supporting segregation and opposing feminism, the third issue that created the modern religious right is the issue of prayer in public schools.... Even though there’s no evidence that these bullying tactics have ever converted anyone to their faith, they keep trying.
Actually, conservative Christians aren't trying to recruit to their side by making kids pray, any more than they are evangelizing by insisting on prayers at all governmental public gatherings (and most private ones, like sporting events).  If they want anything, its to remove any risk they didn't do everything they could to present God's Word to the heathen before the End Times.  The soteriology of many of these groups puts a burden on them to "save" as many souls as they can; failure to do so is a failure to follow the "Great Commandment" of Matthew and make disciples of all nations.  Where the KJV of the koine Greek may have merely meant "ethnicities," CC's tend to read it as nation-states (a concept that didn't exist when the KJV was produced), and "all" means "all;" not just some from every group.

Both sides of the American slavery debate claimed to be speaking from profound Christian conviction. The Bible clearly has a positive view of slavery, something pro-slavery Christians routinely pointed out. Abolitionists took a broader, less literal view of the Bible. Unsurprising that this divide led to the South being, to this day, home of the most people who take a literalist, fundamentalist view of Christianity.

"The Bible clearly has a positive view of slavery?"  Well, the Bible is also objectively anti-woman, unless you read it as many modern Biblical scholars do.  Not only can the Devil cite Scripture to his own purpose, but interpretation is a matter of which community you attend to.  Given the variety of interpretations the texts have been subject to over centuries, I don't think it's fair to say the Bible has a "clear" view of almost any subject.  ("Biblical theology" failed on precisely this point.  Try as those theologians might, they could not find a clear, consistent theology throughout the many books.)  And yes, I mean that as broadly as it sounds; and I still hold to the Bible as the revealed Word of God.

But insisting on a single view in it?  Good luck with that.  Let one example suffice:  "Religious leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. led the desegregation movement, but it’s also important to note that the pro-segregation movement was also conceived as a Christian one."

Yup.  'nuff said.


  1. Having read the collections of Thomas Huxley's anti-religious diatribes, Science and Hebrew tradition and Science and Christian tradition, as well as some of his less savory essays dealing with race, and Ernst Haeckel and a host of other allegedly scientific racists, atheism has as mixed a record on racism as religion does. And it is indisputable that the earliest anti-slavery agitation in North America was specifically religious in inspiration. The earliest successful abolition agitation I'm aware of was that of St. Patrick in Ireland.

    I am not as charitable as you are about Marcotte, I think this is the shtick that she has used to gain the measure of fame that she has gotten. She has had plenty of time to find out what she's talking about and she has no intention of doing so.

  2. And most conservative Christians still think Rome is the Whore of Babylon

    And many conservative Christians still think that the majority of Jews will get killed during Armaggedon. But again, politics makes strange bedfellows and many of my co-religionists are quite comfortable aligning with the religious right on Israel-related issues. In my experience, conservative Catholics, outside of a few naive opinion writers and bishops, very much realize, as they get into bed politically with the religious right, that many conservative Evangelicals are still very much anti-Catholic. OTOH, many Jewish conservatives, in my experience, are completely and willfully ("it doesn't matter what the goyim believe, we don't believe it to be true, and anyway we need all the support we can get") naive about conservative evangelical beliefs. Part of this is experience, Jewish conservatives (and Catholic conservatives) who grew up in Brooklyn, etc., generally did not know any (white) Protestants if they grew up, for example, in certain nabes in Brooklyn: they have no experience with conservative evangelicals' belief systems outside of their common political causes with conservative Catholics and Jewish conservatives.

    BTW, ironically (is that the correct word?), the first comment to the post dismissing the obvious anti-Catholic implications of Palin's remarks is, you guessed it, anti-Catholic.

    Also, I certainly agree with you about school prayer: since "proclaiming the word" is a religious obligation for some, when you restrict the ways in which one can evangelize, you are "restricting religion" ... hence the arguments made by conservative evangelicals. That being said, there is more than a whiff of Roman paganism (as we have discussed in this blog) to the way in which the "religious right" wants to inject religion into our society -- they don't care that the injection of bland religious invocations cheapens religion: somehow the very presence of the invocations is necessary to achieving a just and stable society. This is in line with the "it feels good to invoke the name of Jesus" theology of many conservative evangelicals. Oddly, one wonders how the "it feels good to say the name of Jesus" crowd, which generally also takes a position of "sola scriptura" deals with Matthew 6:6 and 7:6 as well as Exodus 20:7 and Deuteronomy 5:11.