Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Curious Quiet

(image courtesy wallyg at

I want you to close your eyes and imagine you are standing in the middle of Church Square of the blogosphere, at the junction of Piety Avenue and Judgement Boulevard.

Still your mind for a moment. Take a deep breath and exhale completely, and now, listen.

Did you hear it?

The sound of utter, embarrassed silence.

I think we've just witnessed the death of the Christian Coalition. There are, of course, many causes that this can be attributed to: the death of Jerry Falwell had to take a lot of the starch out of its sails, to be sure, but more, I think the marriage of Christianity to the GOP agenda created a monster that ultimately Man could not control.

So Jesus stepped in.

The signal to me that Jesus stepped in was the event of the week in politics: the self-debasement of Senator Larry Craig of Utah Idaho (frikkin' Mormons...always got their Mitts on everything...). Republicans from all across the narrow strip of right wing fascism denounced one of their own, vociferously, loudly, with few objections (curiously, most objections were voiced by liberals, who wanted no part of a rush to judgement).

The evangelical church, the backbone of the Republican-church pairing, was strangely silent. Where was Pat Robertson? Why wasn't he denouncing this "abomination" of a man the way he accused lesbians and witches of causing the terror attacks of September 11?

Where was "Dr." (psychology, not divinity...shame on you, pastor!) James Dobson, the head of "Focus On Family," the organization that just last year skewed research to "prove" that gays and lesbians make bad parents? Larry Craig has received a 100% approval rating from the Christian Coalition, an organization Dobson claims to be a major force in...why is he suddenly silent? He had no qualms about speaking out against Rudy Giuliani.

Where are all those "countless" American Catholic bishops who threatened to excommunicate John Kerry for respecting the rights of women who aren't Catholic and don't necessarily agree with the Catholic Church regarding abortion? After all, the Bible condemns homosexual behavior according the the church, right alongside abortion...and if anything, is even more specific about homosexuality than abortion.

Where they at?

I think what we're witnessing, and not a moment too soon, is the death of the Religious Right as a political force. So many things have piled up over the past two years-- Catholic priests as pedophile, Ted Haggard, Mark Foley, David Vitter, as well as Larry Craig and the death of Jerry Falwell, not to mention the absolutely tragic Bush presidency and the waning influence demonstrated during the 2006 midterm elections-- that I think the Religious Right has chosen to sit this one out.

In fact, I'd posit that the major reason Karl Rove left the White House was he realized he'd never be able to duplicate the "perfect storm" that created the Bush presidency in the first place, then managed to eke out a re-election. He knew he couldn't sell yet another load of manure about a Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani, and expect that constitutency to figure out how to put enough ketchup on it to make it palatable.

That was the most intriguing part of the Rove strategy: that he found enough suckers willing participants to sell manure as a gourmet meal, such that more than half his work was done before the talking points left the building. He'd pass the points along to select "clergy"men, who would pass them along to legitimate clergymen, who passed them along to pastors and deacons and priests and ministers, who declaimed them from the pulpit, all in the name of keeping America "normal".

Note that only the first wave of prelates got any stroke out of the deal. Your local church only saw the grateful words of those above it.

As a liberal Christian, I can begin to imagine the disllusionment many of the flock are feeling right now: to sit and defend behaviors they find even more abhorrent than the blow jobs they were violently and vehemently protesting just ten years with their "allies" in the GOP must be enormous, and their embarrassment even more so.

After all, they donated money to these men, just like they donated money to Christ. In their minds, these men were the equivalent to Christ for that reason. They must have felt it was that important.

In my heart, I feel for Senator Craig, too. Not completely. Not enough to want to see him not get punished for his comments and votes against tolerance and his hypocrisies. But I can imagine the humiliation he and his family feel, and I feel for them for that. We've all walked a mile in those shoes, most of us never had to walk them on the front pages of the tabloid news with flashbulbs popping in our faces.

And I feel for Senator Craig in another way: how much it must hurt him to hate who he is.