Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sunday, September 24, 2006 - Christian Right's Strategy on Mid-Term Elections and Preparing Children to Fight a Holy War

Below are two articles as reported in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The first article is on the Christian Right's strategy of motivating its conservative base to vote in the upcoming mid-term elections. The second article is on children's camps called "Jesus Camps" which teach children to prepare for a Holy War against all other religions, especially Islam.

Key GOP voter bloc not singing party's praises

Republicans hoping for a strong turnout of Christian conservatives have reason for concern, as these "values voters" are feeling betrayed.

To the daunting challenges facing Republicans in this fall's midterm elections, add another: angry "values voters" who say they feel used and abandoned.

"We put these people in power in 2004," said Sue Means, a home-school activist from suburban Pittsburgh. "I really expected more. I'm disappointed."
Means said she sees little but broken promises from the Republican-led Congress: the failed federal marriage amendment, waffling on stem-cell research, no new limits on abortion. And she is among many other like-minded voters who were widely credited in 2004 with helping pass same-sex marriage bans in 11 states and being crucial to President Bush's reelection.

"There are a lot of people that are somewhat disillusioned and have a feeling of betrayal for having worked so hard and have Republicans be so unresponsive," said James Dobson, chairman of the national group Focus on the Family.

As part of a campaign to rouse Christian conservative voters, Dobson is coming to the Twin Cities next week to speak. His group also is working with ministers around Minnesota to mobilize in time to influence the Nov. 7 elections.

Republicans counting on a strong turnout of Christian conservatives at the polls may have other reasons for concern. Midterm elections often do not excite the masses. A signature issue, such as a ban on same-sex marriage, is on the ballot in fewer states this year. And the federal government has promised to crack down on church-based partisan politicking after complaints about such behavior in 2004, which could suppress religious leaders' involvement and dampen turnout.

Dobson and others are working hard to counter that possibility, though they acknowledge their disappointment. "Whether Republicans deserve the power they were given, the alternatives are downright frightening," Dobson told more than 3,000 attendees at a recent "Stand for the Family" rally in Pittsburgh.

The event was the first of three designed to energize Christian conservative voters. All three are in states that have hotly contested Senate races: Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.
The Pittsburgh event was part political rally, part church revival. Held at a downtown hockey arena, it featured entertainment by the Christian pop group the Sounds of Liberty. An enormous U.S. flag hung behind the speakers, who included Dobson, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Gary Bauer of American Values. All warned of threats to religious liberty, to marriage and, as Perkins put it, of "our children being indoctrinated with homosexuality in our public schools."

All the speakers stressed that they wouldn't tell people how to vote.

But if a politician shares his principles on issues from judges to marriage "and is committed to the God of the universe, and from my perspective, Jesus Christ his only begotten son ... it would be a sin not to go to the polls and vote for him or her," Dobson said.

Similar efforts are underway across the country. In Missouri, home of another tight Senate race, a ballot initiative on stem-cell research has energized social conservative voters. There, Texas evangelist Rick Scarborough has led five church rallies, with two more scheduled, to rev up voters to oppose the initiative. In Washington last week, the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit included a training session titled "Getting Church Voters to the Polls."
And gay-marriage bans are on the ballots in eight states this year, including three that have close Senate races: Arizona, Virginia and Tennessee.

"When you have a marriage amendment on the ballot, it makes it that much easier" to motivate conservative Christian voters, said John Green, a senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. "And on balance, they'll vote for the Republican candidates in those states."

Some say such efforts go too far. Americans United for Separation of Church and State has sent 117,000 letters to pastors of churches in 11 states targeted for action by conservative Christian leaders. The letter reminded pastors that Internal Revenue Service regulations prohibit churches from endorsing or opposing specific candidates and from intervening directly in partisan campaigns.

Doing so could jeopardize a church's tax-exempt status and lead to fines, the group warned. Even voter guides can be a thinly veiled partisan effort, the letter said. Earlier this year, the IRS reported that, in the 2004 election cycle, it investigated 47 allegations of improper church politicking; 37 were given warnings or fined, and a few cases remain outstanding.

"Houses of worship must not become cogs in someone's political machine," said the Rev. Barry Lynn, Americans United's executive director. He accused Dobson and others of trying "to build a kind of religious Tammany Hall."I don't set the Senate races and I don't set the referenda," Scarborough responded. "If that has an impact on Senate races, so be it," the Texas evangelist said. "I hope and pray that pro-life senators get elected. That's no secret."

Allen Hertzke, a professor at the University of Oklahoma who studies evangelical Christians, said the IRS focus could suppress voter turnout. Given the array of obstacles, it wouldn't be surprising if Christian conservatives show less clout in 2006, Green said.

"But we shouldn't underestimate their ability to reach their constituencies," Green added. "A lot of this happens through church networks. Unless you happen to be in the network, you wouldn't notice it."

At 'Jesus Camp,' fired-up kids in
combat gear prep for holy war
Nick Coleman, Star Tribune

Holy war is coming. Thank you, Jesus.

That's the tone of a disturbing new documentary called "Jesus Camp." The film, by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, takes us to a Bible camp called "Kids On Fire," where the children of evangelical Christians are indoctrinated in a militant faith that sees nonbelievers as opponents and secular government as an enemy to overthrow.

I saw a preview of the movie last week (it opens at the Lagoon Cinema in Uptown on Oct. 6, if the Rapture hasn't come by then). And I will leave the film criticism to others. But "Jesus Camp" shows what may be in store for us when millions reject the idea of separation of church and state and want to create a Christian State ready to do battle for Christ.
We get kids in combat fatigues, their faces painted in camouflage colors, who sob, speak in tongues and pray for Jesus to re-make America in his image. Or, more accurately, to re-make it according to the plan of the adults who are turning these children into good little Evangelical mujahaddin.
Pumped up in the Lord, the kids grab hammers and smash crockery labeled "government," sending the shards flying while adult leaders urge them to "give up your lives for Jesus" and "break the power of our enemies in government."

It's not clear who the enemies are, but we know who they aren't: There's a scene showing the kids praying before a cardboard cut-out of President George W. Bush.

"They're so usable," Camp Pastor Becky Fischer says, without irony. "Today is a fulfillment of prophecy," she tells the kids. "We've got to stand up and take back the land. This is a generation of purity and righteousness and holiness, and you are going to serve the Lord all the days of your life."

The Lord and George Bush, too. It is a powerful team.

If you wonder why I am talking about a film about people in the Bible Belt, you haven't been paying attention. "Jesus Camp" (go to to learn more) is about a North Dakota camp attended by kids from throughout the country.

"They start taking control in small slices," says the only person in the film who raises warning flags, a liberal talk-radio host named Mike Papantonio. "How anybody can say, 'This doesn't affect me,' is completely absurd."Jesus Camp" is not an "attack" film. In fact, Rev. Fischer is enthusiastic about its portrayal of her efforts. But the movie will give nonevangelicals a sobering glimpse of how a potent mix of politics and religion is being used to restore America to the kind of country "it was meant to be." Or on making it into a place ruled by zealots who have no tolerance for religious diversity and who believe (in Fischer's words) that democracy doesn't work.

"If the Evangelicals vote, they determine the election," one mega-church pastor brags, smugly. "It's a fabulous life."

It's also a tone-deaf life.

When a precocious 9-year-old girl, on fire for the Lord, accosts some elderly black men and asks what will happen to them when they die, they answer they expect to go to Heaven. Rattled, and without a reason to preach, she walks away and mutters: "I think they were Muslims."
Muslims are the enemy, along with liberals and the shadowy forces of secularism and humanism who want us to believe in evolution and the Big Bang.

Holy War is coming, TV preacher Pat Robertson said last week, while Muslims protested against Pope Benedict and "Christian" lobbying groups urged Congress to permit the use of torture. All while here, on the prairie, Christian groups were urging voters to "make wise Biblical choices about how to vote in November."

Well, Christians, maybe it's time to pray for peace and to vote not just on Biblical principles, but specifically on New Testament principles, such as the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers."

But that, of course, was back in the days before he started wearing camouflage.

Nick Coleman •


At 2:26 PM, Blogger Seven Star Hand said...

Hello PWB and all,

The time is long past to stop focusing on the symptoms and myriad details and finally seek lasting solutions. Until we address the core causes of the millennia of struggle and suffering that have bedeviled humanity, these repeating cycles of evil will never end.

Why do religious leaders and followers so often participate in and support blatant evil?

History is replete with examples of religious leaders and followers advocating, supporting, and participating in blatant evil. Regardless of attempts to shift or deny blame, history clearly records the widespread crimes of Christianity. Whether we're talking about the abominations of the Inquisition, Crusades, the greed and genocide of colonizers, slavery in the Americas, or the Bush administration's recent deeds and results, Christianity has always spawned great evil. The deeds of many Muslims and the state of Israel are also prime examples.

The paradox of adherents who speak of peace and good deeds contrasted with leaders and willing cohorts knowingly using religion for evil keeps the cycle of violence spinning through time. Why does religion seem to represent good while always serving as a constant source of deception, conflict, and the chosen tool of great deceivers? The answer is simple. The combination of faith and religion is a strong delusion purposely designed to affect one's ability to reason clearly. Regardless of the current pope's duplicitous talk about reason, faith and religion are the opposite of truth, wisdom, and justice and completely incompatible with logic.

Religion, like politics and money, creates a spiritual, conceptual, and karmic endless loop. By their very nature, they always create opponents and losers which leads to a never ending cycle of losers striving to become winners again, ad infinitum. This purposeful logic trap always creates myriad sources of conflict and injustice, regardless of often-stated ideals, which are always diluted by ignorance and delusion. The only way to stop the cycle is to convert or kill off all opponents or to end the systems and concepts that drive it.

Think it through, would the Creator of all knowledge and wisdom insist that you remain ignorant by simply believing what you have been told by obviously duplicitous religious founders and leaders? Would a compassionate Creator want you to participate in a system that guarantees injustice and suffering to your fellow souls? Isn’t it far more likely that religion is a tool of greedy men seeking to profit from the ignorance of followers and the strife it constantly foments? When you mix religion with the equally destructive delusions of money and politics, injustice, chaos, and the profits they generate are guaranteed.




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