I have a fundamental problem with the religiously deluded- far too many of them aren’t willing to leave me alone. It isn’t just me, you understand. There’s a minority among religious types in this country- almost exclusively some flavor of christian- which is incapable of keeping their puritan noses out of everyone else’s business.
I honestly don’t care much if you worship some god or -ess. Zeus, Yahweh, Buddha, Hubbard, Flying Spaghetti Monster- all of these are equally nonsensical in my eyes. You can worship any god or conglomeration of gods to your heart’s content until such time as that worship infringes on the rights of another person. You may deeply believe that everyone not belonging to your own special version of god-bothering is going to be devoured by the Great Green Arkelseizure at the end of time and be denied the companionship of the Winslow in the afterlife, and I will support your right to believe it- even if I think it’s a load of dingo’s kidneys. You can even feel smug and superior about the fact that you have a ticket to the forever beer party at the Pirate Volcano with the blessings of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and all us lesser mortals will miss out. Your privilege. Where I draw the line is when you try to get your mythology codified into law, or force others to act and believe as you do. I am not willing to live in a theocracy, and I refuse to stand by while a bunch of fanatics do their utmost to turn my country into one.
The fanatics in question happen to be a particularly virulent strain of evangelical christianity which has been working for decades to get fellow-believers elected or appointed to positions of authority in hundreds of school districts, county commissions, and other local offices across the country. From these seemingly-minor vantage points, the neo-puritans have been carefully trying to make their mythology the law of the land. As small-time officials in various local political organizations, these pernicious god-botherers have been making policy for schools, city and county ordinances, and local election boards. As the numbers of fellow believers has grown in these seemingly minor positions, a host of deeply un-American legislative excesses have begun appearing in the national spotlight. One need only look at Super-Puritan Rick Santorum’s baffling rise to prominence to see how far their power goes. In a rational world, Santorum would have been laughed off the stage at the first political rally. The fact that he actually made it into the primary process is a demonstration of the power of the religiously deluded over our political processes.
But wait! There’s more.:
And of course, there’s Kitzmiller v Dover
What do all of these documented examples of public idiocy have in common? The idiots pushing these agenda items are all firmly convinced that they have the moral authority and duty to force their version of their religion onto the rest of us. It’s telling that in Kitzmiller, the evangelical judge lambasted several members of the Dover school board for resorting to misrepresentations and outright lies in their crass attempt to force every student in their district to submit to their mythology.
It’s always helpful to use their own words against them. Here is the source for this image. Those quotes from Phillip Johnson, one of the founders of the so-called “intelligent design” movement, reveal the extent of the god-botherer’s willful refusal to allow anyone to have an opinion or belief contrary to his own. The unstated meaning of those quotes is that most of the US is not stupid enough to fall for their bullshit, so the fanatics have to sneak around and try to brainwash the children to perpetuate their religious delusions.
Allow me to repeat that: Fanatical christians are forced to resort to trying to subvert the children of America because the adults aren’t quite stupid enough to fall for it.
That brings me to the headline for this post. Every time the religious fanatics have tried to stand up in the public eye, they have been soundly smacked down by the courts. Even in Mississippi, where education is often more fundamental than scholarly, these pernicious fanatics failed to get a majority of voters to approve their bullshit legislation. Evangelical leaders have long been calling for increased recruiting, as the bulk of their followers are largely elderly, but traditional recruiting has not been keeping up with the number of fundamentalist loons who’ve been dying or otherwise losing their usefulness. They’re old, and getting older. The bulk of America’s youth don’t care about most of the evangelical core issues, and the leaders of the evangelical movement are starting to face the real possibility that their free ride at the expense of their gullible followers may be coming to an end.
The evangelical movement never did have a majority among American christianity. If you separated all the protestant denominations individually, the largest christian group in the US would be catholics. Even granting that most Americans self-identify as christian of some flavor or another, this means that the fundamentalist evangelical movement is- at best- a tiny minority of the US population. All of the major religious groups are shrinking, mostly due to a seemingly-endless string of scandals involving senior leaders of various denominations. There is also, of course, the fact that the core tenets of their mythology are often profoundly unpleasant to everyone except puritans. By far the fastest-growing philosophical demographic in the US are agnostics and atheists. This does not bode well for the fundie-loonies.
Realizing that they’re on the wrong side of the demographic bulge, the fanatics are growing desperate. They’ve tried and failed to get their mythology turned into public policy, their membership is dwindling and/or growing less useful due to age, and the new generation of Americans think that they’re a bunch of hypocritical fuckwits. They’re like a wounded animal, and fanatics rarely just go quietly into the night. Perhaps that is why the recent flood of extremist legislation coming from various states has a feel of desperation to it. Instead of realizing their dreams of power to punish the unbelievers, the religiously deluded fanatics are starting to realize that they’ve only managed to piss off everyone outside their particular circle of fellow believers- specifically including the more tolerant christians who make up the overwhelming majority of American christianity.
What will these imbeciles do when their already-tenuous grip on authority is finally sundered? If we are all very lucky, they’ll slink back into the shadows and dream up some new long-term conspiracy to somehow convince and persuade the rest of the country to let them have the reins of power. We can deal with that pretty easily by bringing up their own statements and previous failures whenever one of these nutballs pokes his or her nose into public. Some of these fanatics have actually complained that they’re being “persecuted” whenever their own words are used against them, which ought to show you how divorced from reality they are.
What I worry about is the possibility that they’ll decide to go down fighting. Even thought they’re only a tiny minority of Americans, and only a fraction of those might be willing to use violence against their neighbors, this has a lot of recent precedent in other countries. Our version of religious fanatics are often referred to as “American Taliban” for a reason.
They wouldn’t win any such contest, of course, but they could do a lot of damage before we put the last one in prison. The best way to help prevent this troubling possibility is for the rest of the christians in America to deal with their fellow religionists. Cut them off from their support network- the mild sympathy one naturally feels for those who have something in common with you. Unless you are a rabid christian dominionist, it is highly unlikely that most christians share any philosophical traits with their fanatical brethren. When someone tries to use their understanding of scripture to justify atrocities (like the “Good News Clubs” teaching children why unbelievers should be exterminated), feel free to tell them to fuck off. Pay attention to what the fringe worshippers of your religion are saying and doing, and make it clear to the rest of the world that those violent shitheads don’t speak for you. Staying silent only creates the impression that you are fine with what the fanatics are doing. This distresses everyone with functional logic systems and encourages the fanatics.
My religious philosophy is pretty simple:
Current status: Disgusted
Current music: Some Nights by fun