Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What We're Up Against

Rev'd Dennis Terry of the Greenwell Baptist Church introducing Rick Santorum

This is what we're up against folks. Instead of complaining that the secularists don't understand us (I plead mea culpa), we should turn our attention to fighting this. Some of us are, and quite courageously (I would include Jay Bakker among the most courageous who takes our message straight to people like Rev'd Greenwell's followers and speaks their language; Gene Robinson is another one).

But I think this spectacle of a fat white guy (and sometimes a fat black guy) dressed up like a banker and shouting into a microphone on the traditional fundamentalist lucite lectern flummoxes us. We don't know what to do with it, especially us Episcopalians with our God of the College Quad.

This sort of old time evangelical revival delivery clearly works. The crowd is on its feet roaring with enthusiastic approval. This kind of speaking is frighteningly effective. What's more, in this age of all pervasive media filters, this makes much better teevee than any Episcopal priest carefully unpacking a well reasoned and thought out exegesis.

We don't have to become this to fight this. But I do think we could be bolder and more assertive, even aggressive. We Christian lefties have a big advantage over our secular comrades. We can speak these people's language. We can challenge them on their own terms. As far as these folks are concerned, atheists and agnostics are beyond the pale and not worth the bother of listening. But we can take that same Bible and turn it right back at them, and they do pay attention.

I remember marching in the Gay Day Parade in New York for many years with the Gay Lesbian Center contingent past the phobes and they wouldn't even look at us. In later years when I started marching with a contingent from my parish, those same phobes greeted us with red-faced spittle flecked rage. We can really get under their skin like chiggers.

Contrast the above video with this:

The thing I like about this is that he challenges very deeply held beliefs quite boldly and directly without insulting the people in the pews. The people in the pews are not the ones who need to be attacked. It's the people who presume to speak for them.

This is not just a religious or cultural struggle, but a political struggle of the most profound sort. It's more than just a struggle over rights and inclusion. It's about 2 fundamentally different conceptions of the United States. Rev'd Terry and his followers see the USA as a white Christian republic, a polity made up by and for people just like them and only them. Jay Bakker, and most of the rest of us, see the USA as a secular cosmopolitan democracy whose promises, protections, and enfranchisement are universal.

Our own atheist, IT, over at Friends of Jake, is constantly urging us Piskies to take our light out from under that bushel basket. I think she's right.


Margaret sends a gay "ad" for notoriously homophobic Chick-fil-A:


Bella Roma! Dutch Catholic clergy in the 1950s had 10 boys surgically castrated as treatment for homosexuality, and as punishment for complaining about abuse.
We forget that castration was a common "treatment" for gay men back in the 1940s and 1950s, and even into the 1970s in some parts of the USA (Texas for example). More evidence that the Roman Men's Club hierarchy is a pack of monsters, though they have a lot of other monstrous company among all the pious evangelical mega-church autocrats.


IT said...

Thanks for the call out Doug.

These days, I keep recalling Sinclair Lewis:
"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag & carrying a Bible."

it's margaret said...

Egads (she sez, trying to keep the barf bag open...). Talk about an old, angry white man.... What's he so afraid of?

it's margaret said...

heheheheheh --well, this little number was a choice to watch after the preacher, and so I did! heheheheh!


MadPriest said...

I have been publicly fighting back for six years now. Who do I embarrass? Who tells me to stop? Not the fundies but the nice Christians who tell me that I'm not behaving in a Christian way. I would probably listen to them and desist if it wasn't for the Christ of the gospels. Meek and mild? Bugger off! He kicked the fundie butt.

Counterlight said...

Precisely, Crazy Arse. That's why so many people over here want you to cross the pond and come over.

MarkBrunson said...

Not the fundies but the nice Christians who tell me that I'm not behaving in a Christian way.

Since when have Christians understood Christlike behavior? They're either nicey-nice or dick-tators.

That's the embarrassment.

Tristan Alexander said...

More Christianity art work (I know, these are a anomaly..right!)

Counterlight said...

Sorry, but I don't buy the idea that the only choice we have is between fundamentalism and atheism. That reminds me of the conventional wisdom of the 1930s that we only had 2 realistic choices in politics, between Hitler and Stalin. Remind me, how did that work out?

A choice between 2 impossible extremes is no choice at all. Count me out.