Saturday, October 11, 2008

Christianism Rears Its Ugly Head At McCain Rally In Davenport

Liveblogging for the Iowa Independent today, John Deeth reports:

The invocation is interesting, as I hear keyboards going all around me:

“There are plenty of people around the world who are praying to their god, be they Hindu, Buddah [sic], or Allah, that (McCain’s) opponent wins. I pray that you step forward and honor your own name.” Ends with “in Jesus’ name.”

Wow. McCain does not appear to have been here yet to catch that, but wow. The preacher’s name appears to be a Pastor Conrad of the Evangelical Free Church.

In case you're unfamiliar with the term "Christianism," here's an excellent essay on the subject from Andrew Sullivan:
Are you a Christian who doesn't feel represented by the religious right? I know the feeling. When the discourse about faith is dominated by political fundamentalists and social conservatives, many others begin to feel as if their religion has been taken away from them.


So let me suggest that we take back the word Christian while giving the religious right a new adjective: Christianist. Christianity, in this view, is simply a faith. Christianism is an ideology, politics, an ism. The distinction between Christian and Christianist echoes the distinction we make between Muslim and Islamist. Muslims are those who follow Islam. Islamists are those who want to wield Islam as a political force and conflate state and mosque. Not all Islamists are violent. Only a tiny few are terrorists. And I should underline that the term Christianist is in no way designed to label people on the religious right as favoring any violence at all. I mean merely by the term Christianist the view that religious faith is so important that it must also have a precise political agenda. It is the belief that religion dictates politics and that politics should dictate the laws for everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike.

In addition to its abandonment of fiscal conservatism, this embrace of politicized Christianity is exactly why the Republican Party must be shattered and reconstructed from the ground up. In order to save their souls, conservatives need to boot brutish bigots like Pastor Conrad off the party's main stages--they must be exiled to the freakish sideshow of American of politics where they belong.


Laura Meckler, reporting for the Wall Street Journal, offers a more complete transcription of Conrad's remarks as well as reaction from the McCain campaign:
“There are millions of people around this world praying to their god — whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah — that his [McCain’s] opponent wins, for a variety of reasons,” said Arnold Conrad, former pastor of Grave Evangelical Free Church. “And Lord, I pray that you would guard your own reputation because they’re going to think that their god is bigger than you if that happens. So I pray that you will step forward and honor your own name in all that happens between now and Election Day.”


“While we understand the important role that faith plays in informing the votes of Iowans, questions about the religious background of the candidates only serve to distract from the real questions in this race about Barack Obama’s judgment, policies and readiness to lead as commander in chief,” said McCain spokeswoman Wendy Riemann.

In other words, Iowa's Republican base is largely composed of a bunch of far-right fundamentalists who think religious affiliation is the most important factor in choosing political leaders. And though the McCain campaign recognizes this as being dangerously ridiculous, they're so desperate for these knuckle-dragging mouth breathers' votes that they'll continue to pander to them by giving their leaders speaking time at campaign events.

It's truly sad to see how far McCain has sunk into darkness since 2000, when he still had the courage to tell the truth about these troglodytes:
Senator John McCain, in a provocative and politically risky speech, sharply criticized leaders of the religious right on Monday as "agents of intolerance" allied to his rival, Governor George W. Bush, and denounced what he said were the tactics of "division and slander."

Specifically, Mr. McCain singled out the evangelists Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as "corrupting influences on religion and politics" and said parts of the religious right were divisive and even un-American.

But that was back when the word "maverick" was something other than a Tina Fey joke.

Update II:

Los Angeles Times reporter Maeve Reston managed to get down the cleanest, most complete version of Conrad's remarks that I've been able to find so far. How he begins his statement provides important context:
I would also pray Lord that your reputation is involved in all that happens between now and November, because there are millions of people around this world praying to their God -- whether it's Hindu, Buddha, Allah -- that his [McCain’s] opponent wins for a variety of reasons.

And Lord I pray that you would guard your own reputation, because they’re going to think that their god is bigger than you, if that happens. So I pray that you would step forward and honor your own name in all that happens between now and Election Day.

Oh Lord, we just commit this time to you, move among us, make your presence very well felt as we are gathered here today in Jesus's name I pray.

I'm no more inclined to weigh in on the subject of the relative sizes of various religious groups' imaginary friends in the sky than I am to hazard a guess as to how many angels can dance on the point of a needle, but I do have to wonder what sort of divine message Conrad will take away from McCain's resounding defeat less than a month from now.

No comments: