“Religion is nothing more than bad concepts held in the place of good ones for all time. It is the denial – at once full of hope and full of fear – of the vastitude of human ignorance.”
Whether you agree or disagree with Sam Harris’s above quote from his book, The End of Faith, Terror and the Future of Reason, it gives us cause to re-think, with clarity of mind, the effects at least one religious movement is having on American society.
Chris Hedges, in an article titled, “The Radical Christian Right and the War on Government,” argues, “U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz—whose father is Rafael Cruz, a rabid right-wing Christian preacher and the director of the Purifying Fire International ministry—and legions of the senator’s wealthy supporters, some of whom orchestrated the shutdown, are rooted in a radical Christian ideology known as Dominionism or Christian Reconstructionism. This ideology calls on anointed “Christian” leaders to take over the state and make the goals and laws of the nation “biblical.” […] It fuses with the Christian religion the iconography and language of American imperialism and nationalism, along with the cruelest aspects of corporate capitalism.”
It should concern us all that there is a well-funded movement pressing science, intellectual discourse, and reason out of the public domain and attempting to replace them with pre-enlightenment thinking or, in Harris’s words, with “a vastitude of ignorance.”
From the climate change deniers to creationists attempting to have religion taught as science, this movement threatens us all. They insist the Bible be the basis of our legal system: A book written by ignorant tribal desert people; a book that cannot even reconcile the irreducible conflicts in its own morality.
As Hedges points out, this government shutdown and pending debt limit crisis can, without a doubt, lead to a worsening of the economic woes currently being suffered at the lower income levels of our society, the very segment who remain vulnerable to the recruitment efforts of this pernicious religious movement.
So although it would be easy to accept as fundamental, the extreme right’s hate of a black president, it is a red herring. Their accusations of his alleged Muslimism, socialism and radicalism are priming the pump of distrust and dissatisfaction that will lead more and more unthinking people into the hands of the Christian right. A movement whose tenets are based on ancient superstitions designed by blindly ignorant people 2000 years ago.
We are fortunate enough to live in a time of enormous scientific achievements. We’ve cured illnesses that were a death sentence a mere hundred years ago. We are exploring space, examining the DNA that contains the very blueprint of life on this planet, plumbing the depths of our reality to find a world of quantum phenomenon that defies human logic, and beginning to explain our origins starting with a cosmic event 13.7 billion years ago.
Yet this movement wants to take us back to a time when there was no need for critical thinking. Instead, faith was the only requirement. Faith in magical stories about Gardens with apple trees and talking snakes, global floods and arks carrying two of every species and angels with trumpets who blew down stone walls.
But to be thorough, in the same book, Harris also writes, “A kernel of truth lurks in the heart of religion, because spiritual experience, ethical behavior and strong communities are essential for human happiness. And yet our religious traditions are intellectually defunct and politically ruinous.”
So I say religion per se is not the problem. It is the “intellectually defunct and politically ruinous” thinking like that found in the ranks of the extreme religious right Dominionist movement who dominate the Republican party.
If you want to understand the distortions of reality, within which so many of the extreme right live, look no further than their religious affiliations. It is a world permeated by an echoing cacophony of confusing and irrational beliefs held in place by an impermeable membrane of fear and ignorance.
From the Huffington Post by Frank Schaefer, “Church and state are no longer separated. They have been folded into one deadly destructive, economy-threatening entity by the Republicans. It’s time to stop being any less forcefully truth-telling about religion than we are about politics. The shutdown is a slow motion religious extremist attack on America no less deadly than a suicide vest attack. It’s time to call these people out on their own terms for what they believe before they take us all down with them.”
Robert De Filippis