Monday, August 29, 2005

Now THIS is too funny

Venezuela is going to ask the US government to extradite Pat Robertson, who suggested that the US assassinate Venezuelan President Chavez, but then he didn't, but then he sort of did, but then he apologized for saying what he didn't say - anyway, it's tough keeping up with Pat Robertson. But I think it does say somewhere in the Bible that it's okay to lie as long as you claim you talk to God.

I mean, isn't it because of the irresponsible rhetoric of religious zealots in the Islamic world that lots of people get themselves worked up in America? What about the zealots in our own back yard?

Unlike a fair number of people I know, I firmly believe religion should play a role - perhaps even a prominent one - in American politics and political life, and I tend to agree with Neustadt's argument in the Naked Public Square - i.e., the rise of reactionary and aggressive churches is at least in part the consequence of mainline Protestants and other more liberal church groups being viewed with suspicion by secularists. (Though I think there's something to be said for the proposition that the mainline Protestant and Jewish groups simply lost interest or passion, as well as the fact that nuts - Dobson, Falwell, Robertson, et al - make for better copy than the nice minister or rabbi who lives down the road and preaches tolerance and ecumenicalism.)

What is interesting, I think, is that a good part of the American punditry and opinion-makers, not to mention various politicians, like to talk about how bad it is in countries like Iran, where there ain't much of a line between church and state. The irony, of course, is that America has more than a small number of groups devoted to realizing a vision in America that would have made Ayatollah Khomeni's eyes moist over. Latest example: a group of "Christians" wants to establish biblical rule in South Carolina.

I don't put Christians in parentheses because I don't think Christians should take a role in politics. I do it because I never understand how Christians can think that Jesus' kingdom is of this world (which it ain't - John 18:36) and how they can utterly disregard the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5,6,7)and advocate Old Testament morality despite the fact that Jesus says his followers shouldn't do this.

I enjoy the references to Dobson, Falwell, and Robertson as mullahs and the American Taliban. Why? Because, like the actual Taliban, I think that what they say has very little to do with the scriptural basis of their religion and everything to do with lining their pocketbooks and making themselves fat. And I wish that someone in the punditocracy or in politics would call a spade a spade.

BTW, the good "Christian" Pat Robertson had a lucrative business venture with Charles Taylor, murderous dictator of Liberia. I don't think that's what Jesus would do.

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