DeLay’s War

Oh no! Tom DeLay says there’s a war on Christianity! To the bunkers! With the crucifix!

There is no war on Christianity, save, perhaps, the one being perpetrated by “Christians” who by their deeds show themselves to be either ignorant of or manifestly opposed to the ideals espoused by Jesus, against the Christians who are somehow under the impression that what Jesus was really about was charity, compassion, justice and love; you know, all that stuff you’ll find in that New Testament thingy you hear so much about. The idea that Tom DeLay, whose track record on the Hill is appallingly unChristly, is somehow a model spokesman for Christian values of any sort is one that is best met with a giggle and a remembrance of Matthew 7: 21-23. For Mr. DeLay in particular, remembrance of Matthew 6:19-24 is also fervently advised.

Speaking as a non-believer, I’m not for a War on Christianity, since religious tolerance is a cornerstone of our Bill of Rights, and you know how fond I am of that document; it certainly does come in handy. Even if I were, I wouldn’t advise the war, because in this country Christians have both the guns and the numbers. I certainly wouldn’t mind a war on hypocrisy, however, and Tom DeLay looks like a ripe target for the first salvo on that front. Naturally, I encourage DeLay’s co-religionists to lead that charge. It’s people like him who give Jesus (and his followers) a bad name.

36 thoughts on “DeLay’s War

  1. Part of me wants to hand out copies of Mere Christianity and Screwtape Letters to those that fit the profile you describe. I don’t know what they’d see when they read it though; I only know what I see.

    I really don’t understand the conservative christian’s embracing of C.S. Lewis. He was incredibly radical in his idea of what “living like Christ” would actually look like. The guy admitted no right to an opinion on abortion or birth control in 1955.

    Anyway, enough rambling, and pointless psuedo-contribution.

  2. I think my personal favorite is christian-underground.com (don’t go there, it’ll just depress you), whose propaganda posters show “aggressive” teens with the slogan: I will pray when I want – where I want – school – work – the street – the mall – persecute me at your own peril.

    I say, good on you! You do that. Pray your little heart out. Nobody’s trying to stop you. But here’s a small hint – when your group is between 3/4 and 4/5 of the population, it’s not technically an “underground” movement anymore. It’s called “Being in charge of the country.”

    K

  3. I’ve seen the “Christian Underground” thing and am not particularly impressed. What I like is the “persecute me at your peril” line, to which the best response would be “Or what? You’ll turn the other cheek?”

    I’d also quote them Matthew 6:5-7, which is the part where Jesus advises against praying in public. It’s odd, isn’t it, how much of the Sermon of the Mount runs flat smack in opposition to the posing of the Christian Victim Front.

    What the Christian Underground thing is saying is “I choose to exercise my 1st Amendment rights,” which I naturally applaud; one hopes these folks remember that others have 1st Amendment rights as well.

  4. There is certainly a war on Christianity in the majority of the Muslim world, fought with intimidation, laws, and the occasional execution.

    What is going on in this country is a general war against applied religion (as opposed to theoretical, feel-good, philosophical religion)

  5. There is certainly a war on Christianity in the majority of the Muslim world, fought with intimidation, laws, and the occasional execution.

    What is going on in this country is a general war against applied religion (as opposed to theoretical, feel-good, philosophical religion)

  6. “There is certainly a war on Christianity in the majority of the Muslim world”

    No, there is a war on religious freedom in the radical Muslim Theocracies. This is a pattern that is often repeated whenver government an religion get too cozy (see Church Of England). The “war against applied religion” you mention is an effort to prevent a theocracy from forming in the US, nothing more.

  7. “There is certainly a war on Christianity in the majority of the Muslim world”

    No, there is a war on religious freedom in the radical Muslim Theocracies. This is a pattern that is often repeated whenver government an religion get too cozy (see Church Of England). The “war against applied religion” you mention is an effort to prevent a theocracy from forming in the US, nothing more.

  8. Great Unknown:

    “There is certainly a war on Christianity in the majority of the Muslim world, fought with intimidation, laws, and the occasional execution.”

    And, of course, one can point to recent examples of a war on Muslims in the modern Christian world, fought with the occasional genocide, if one so chose. However, it seems deeply unlikely to me that when DeLay vomited up his thoughts on “The War on Christianity,” it had anything to do with the Muslim world, and had rather more to do with him trying to spook the Christian Victim Front here at home.

    Islam teaches that other “People of the Book” should have their religious choices respected, and indeed historically speaking, Islam has a rather better history of religious tolerance than Christianity. In the current time, that ignorant, bigoted leaders might choose to use religion as an excuse to do ignorant, bigoted things, however, is not either new nor surprising, in Islam or Christianity or any other religion one might choose to name.

    “What is going on in this country is a general war against applied religion (as opposed to theoretical, feel-good, philosophical religion)”

    First, no, not really, and second, what a horrible thing it would be for people to think about their religion, rather than blindly follow the dictates of their religious superiors. Unless you meant something other than this when you cryptically divided religion into “applied religion” and “philosophical religion.”

    If you’re saying there’s a war against doctrinare, unthinking, dogmatic religious adherence, I’d say: Excellent. Martin Luther, for one, would approve. Not to mention Jesus, by my read of the Sermon of the Mount, which certainly is coming in useful today. Alas, however, because I see no real evidence of such a war.

  9. The whole agenda of the “war on Christians” wingnuts — as well as the far right supporting them — reminds me of this rather sobering quote from history:

    “…Naturally, the common people don’t want war…that is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. ….Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

    The speaker: Hermann Goering at Nuremberg.

  10. The whole agenda of the “war on Christians” wingnuts — as well as the far right supporting them — reminds me of this rather sobering quote from history:

    “…Naturally, the common people don’t want war…that is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. ….Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

    The speaker: Hermann Goering at Nuremberg.

  11. It’s not a “war against applied religion” so much as a battle against bigotry in religious garb used to make money and manipulate voters.

  12. It’s not a “war against applied religion” so much as a battle against bigotry in religious garb used to make money and manipulate voters.

  13. Tom Paine on Christian Stuff:

    ““But by what authority do you call the Bible the ‘word of God?’ for this is the first point to be settled. It is not your calling it so that makes it so, any more than the Mahometans calling the Koran the ‘word of God’ makes the Koran to be so. The Popish Councils of Nice and Laodicea, about 350 years after the time the person called Jesus Christ is said to have lived, voted the books that now compose what is called the New Testament to be the ‘word of God.’ This was done by yeas and nays, as we now vote a law. The pharisees of the second Temple, after the Jews returned from captivity in Babylon, did the same by the books that now compose the Old Testament, and this is all the authority there is, which to me is no authority at all. I am as capable of judging for myself as they were, and I think more so, because, as they made a living by their religion, they had a self-interest in the vote they gave.”” — Thomas Paine

    “”Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize [hu]mankind.” “– Thomas Paine

  14. I miss the word “Popish”.

    There is certainly a war on Christianity in the majority of the Muslim world

    Funny, but the main beef reactionary Muslim powermongers have seems to be with Judaism, not Christianity. Darn those Jews, hogging all the persecution!

  15. I miss the word “Popish”.

    There is certainly a war on Christianity in the majority of the Muslim world

    Funny, but the main beef reactionary Muslim powermongers have seems to be with Judaism, not Christianity. Darn those Jews, hogging all the persecution!

  16. Actually, Islam – at least to those who take its dictates literally – is obligated to war on all other religions. Observe the treatment of missionaries in Saudi Arabia, the decades-old civil war in Lebanon, the wanton destruction of Bhuddist statues by the Taliban, and now the protests of the Muslim community against the erection of a statue to Mother Teresa in Albania (today.reuters.com/news/NewsArticle.aspx?type=oddlyEnoughNews&storyID=2006-03-30T142909Z_01_L29661742_RTRUKOC_0_US-ALBANIA-TERESA.xml).

    The importance Ataturk placed on ensuring that Turkey would be a secular state was based on his understanding of the institutional intolerance of traditional Islam.

    Granted, a tu quoque argument can be made against Christianity – a member of the Polish nobility was burned at the stake in the late 1700’s for having the temerity to convert to Judaism, but that does not change the reality of the situation today.

    The reason that, as mythago points out, the primary beef of Islam seems to be with Judaism is that the Jews are the only ones who have not cut and run from the Middle East.
    Where significant, powerful, Muslim and non-Muslim communities exist in close proximity, violence – including rape and murder – are regular features of the daily news, e.g., Malaysia, Thailand, etc.

    As to my distinguishing between applied religion as opposed to theoretical, feel-good, philosophical religion, my intention was that the Western world has tended to reject revealed, fundamental religion. If religion is accepted at all it is a human-created (or at least interpreted) social philosophy, and as such subject to human criticism (God could not have meant what he “said” – he must have really meant this.) If religion matches my morality, it is good; if not, it’s just a Republican conspiracy.

    There is, however, a large element that accepts religion as God-given, and as such, as little open to the judgement of man as are the laws of physics. In this world-view, filing a suit in favor of gay marriage (to use an extreme example) is tantamount to the ACLU seeking to overturn the Law of Gravity because it has negative effects on ledge-jumpers. This can have both negative and positive ramifications.

    On the one hand, a believer in a divine religion has an absolute morality, as opposed to a a relative one. On the other hand, a believer in a divine religion has an absolute morality, as opposed to a relative one. The true believer will not indulge in situational ethics (ideally). On the other hand, he will (at least as evidenced in Iran, Afghanistan, etc. – I haven’t seen it much in Christian countries yet) decapitate a non-believer, cheerfully and with the full conviction that he is doing the right thing. The condemnation of the world on non-believers in immaterial, serving only to demonstrate their ignorance. After all, who pays attention to Flat World advocates.

    This is just an exposition of my understanding, not an approval or condemnation of any point of view. After all, it may be possible that Islam is correct, and the 12th Iman will come along any day now and destroy all of us non-believers. I have no scientific evidence to the contrary. On the other hand, I also do not believe that there can be a satisfactory (in my eyes) resolution of the millenium-old conflict of relgions as long as they exist.

    Is that an argument that the ACLU and their ilk are making? Fundamental regligion is bad: get rid of it. It certainly seems so in the eye of the traditional believer, Jew, Christian, or Muslim (strictly in chronological order).

  17. Actually, Islam – at least to those who take its dictates literally – is obligated to war on all other religions. Observe the treatment of missionaries in Saudi Arabia, the decades-old civil war in Lebanon, the wanton destruction of Bhuddist statues by the Taliban, and now the protests of the Muslim community against the erection of a statue to Mother Teresa in Albania (today.reuters.com/news/NewsArticle.aspx?type=oddlyEnoughNews&storyID=2006-03-30T142909Z_01_L29661742_RTRUKOC_0_US-ALBANIA-TERESA.xml).

    The importance Ataturk placed on ensuring that Turkey would be a secular state was based on his understanding of the institutional intolerance of traditional Islam.

    Granted, a tu quoque argument can be made against Christianity – a member of the Polish nobility was burned at the stake in the late 1700’s for having the temerity to convert to Judaism, but that does not change the reality of the situation today.

    The reason that, as mythago points out, the primary beef of Islam seems to be with Judaism is that the Jews are the only ones who have not cut and run from the Middle East.
    Where significant, powerful, Muslim and non-Muslim communities exist in close proximity, violence – including rape and murder – are regular features of the daily news, e.g., Malaysia, Thailand, etc.

    As to my distinguishing between applied religion as opposed to theoretical, feel-good, philosophical religion, my intention was that the Western world has tended to reject revealed, fundamental religion. If religion is accepted at all it is a human-created (or at least interpreted) social philosophy, and as such subject to human criticism (God could not have meant what he “said” – he must have really meant this.) If religion matches my morality, it is good; if not, it’s just a Republican conspiracy.

    There is, however, a large element that accepts religion as God-given, and as such, as little open to the judgement of man as are the laws of physics. In this world-view, filing a suit in favor of gay marriage (to use an extreme example) is tantamount to the ACLU seeking to overturn the Law of Gravity because it has negative effects on ledge-jumpers. This can have both negative and positive ramifications.

    On the one hand, a believer in a divine religion has an absolute morality, as opposed to a a relative one. On the other hand, a believer in a divine religion has an absolute morality, as opposed to a relative one. The true believer will not indulge in situational ethics (ideally). On the other hand, he will (at least as evidenced in Iran, Afghanistan, etc. – I haven’t seen it much in Christian countries yet) decapitate a non-believer, cheerfully and with the full conviction that he is doing the right thing. The condemnation of the world on non-believers in immaterial, serving only to demonstrate their ignorance. After all, who pays attention to Flat World advocates.

    This is just an exposition of my understanding, not an approval or condemnation of any point of view. After all, it may be possible that Islam is correct, and the 12th Iman will come along any day now and destroy all of us non-believers. I have no scientific evidence to the contrary. On the other hand, I also do not believe that there can be a satisfactory (in my eyes) resolution of the millenium-old conflict of relgions as long as they exist.

    Is that an argument that the ACLU and their ilk are making? Fundamental regligion is bad: get rid of it. It certainly seems so in the eye of the traditional believer, Jew, Christian, or Muslim (strictly in chronological order).

  18. great unknown:

    “Actually, Islam – at least to those who take its dictates literally – is obligated to war on all other religions.”

    Actually, Islam is not obliged to do any such thing, and the Koran is pretty clear on this. I’ve discussed this here before, and oddly enough, the Koran hasn’t changed between now and then.

    “My intention was that the Western world has tended to reject revealed, fundamental religion.”

    As regards America, I’m note sure how this statement can be regarded as supportable when recent polling shows 63% of Americans believe the Bible is literally true and the Word of God, which is about as revealed and fundamental as it gets.

  19. I’m with “great unknown” on this one. 63% of Americans may believe the Bible to be true and the Word of God, but that doesn’t stop them from arguing with those who disagree with them and cite the Bible as a source.

    In this country, it seems a fundamentalist view of religion is good for only two things: 1) agreeing with others who share your fundamentalist view, and 2) convincing others that they should share your fundamentalist view. As soon as someone goes outside those bounds, and speaks or acts based on his/her religious belief, they are typically painted as radicals.

    (This, btw, was my reading of the original term, “applied religion.”)

    I’ll freely admit to being guilty of this, as are many who regularly post here (cf. the entire “Intelligent Design” discussion). I’ll also point out that I’d rather live with this attitude than it’s polar opposite, where anything done in the name of religion is viewed as justified (cf. the riots over Muhammad cartoons).

    As with most things, it’s when we get into the grey area that things get sticky. For instance, those who rail against (or rally in support of) the President purely because he admits to being a man of faith, rather than forming fact-based arguments regarding his policies…

  20. I’m with “great unknown” on this one. 63% of Americans may believe the Bible to be true and the Word of God, but that doesn’t stop them from arguing with those who disagree with them and cite the Bible as a source.

    In this country, it seems a fundamentalist view of religion is good for only two things: 1) agreeing with others who share your fundamentalist view, and 2) convincing others that they should share your fundamentalist view. As soon as someone goes outside those bounds, and speaks or acts based on his/her religious belief, they are typically painted as radicals.

    (This, btw, was my reading of the original term, “applied religion.”)

    I’ll freely admit to being guilty of this, as are many who regularly post here (cf. the entire “Intelligent Design” discussion). I’ll also point out that I’d rather live with this attitude than it’s polar opposite, where anything done in the name of religion is viewed as justified (cf. the riots over Muhammad cartoons).

    As with most things, it’s when we get into the grey area that things get sticky. For instance, those who rail against (or rally in support of) the President purely because he admits to being a man of faith, rather than forming fact-based arguments regarding his policies…

  21. Brian Greenberg:

    “63% of Americans may believe the Bible to be true and the Word of God, but that doesn’t stop them from arguing with those who disagree with them and cite the Bible as a source.”

    I blame the multiple and differing translations, myself.

  22. I like Matthew 25:31-46 myself. Though all of Matthew is pretty good. If I had to boil all of Christianity to one book of the Bible, I’d pick Matthew.

  23. I like Matthew 25:31-46 myself. Though all of Matthew is pretty good. If I had to boil all of Christianity to one book of the Bible, I’d pick Matthew.

  24. I appreciated this statement from great unknown:

    The importance [the Founding Fathers] placed on ensuring that [the United States] would be a secular state was based on [their] understanding of the institutional intolerance of traditional [Christianity].

    To which I can only add: Amen.

  25. I appreciated this statement from great unknown:

    The importance [the Founding Fathers] placed on ensuring that [the United States] would be a secular state was based on [their] understanding of the institutional intolerance of traditional [Christianity].

    To which I can only add: Amen.

  26. mds: Well said; I agree wholeheartedly. It was done for a good reason. Now, if we could just get this philosophy embedded into the conduct of other theocratic states.

    Regarding whether the Koran actually requires attacking non-believers, and what comprises the “people of the book” in the context of the Koran: What the original author(s) intended, or what “many Muslims” believe is of only passing interest. What is operationally important is that a very powerful, well-financed, governmentally-backed, and extremely large portion of Muslims do believe that the world is theirs to inherit, and that those who oppose them are to be pushed aside.

    Until my firmware is upgraded to mind-reader status, I can only look at action and results, not underlying motivations.

  27. “What is operationally important is that a very powerful, well-financed, governmentally-backed, and extremely large portion of Muslims do believe that the world is theirs to inherit, and that those who oppose them are to be pushed aside.”

    Change “Muslims” to “Christians” in this quote, and you’re describing the political dynamic of the United States. That doesn’t mean that the Christians who behave this way are actually doing anything approaching “taking their faith literally”. The same is true of Muslims. As long as there are people of faith who remain spiritually and intellectually lazy, there will be people who exploit them to do evil.

    The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was not convincing the world he didn’t exist; it was turning religion from a way to relate to God into a way to relate to other people.

  28. “What is operationally important is that a very powerful, well-financed, governmentally-backed, and extremely large portion of Muslims do believe that the world is theirs to inherit, and that those who oppose them are to be pushed aside.”

    Change “Muslims” to “Christians” in this quote, and you’re describing the political dynamic of the United States. That doesn’t mean that the Christians who behave this way are actually doing anything approaching “taking their faith literally”. The same is true of Muslims. As long as there are people of faith who remain spiritually and intellectually lazy, there will be people who exploit them to do evil.

    The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was not convincing the world he didn’t exist; it was turning religion from a way to relate to God into a way to relate to other people.

  29. Greg: I don’t see United States expansionism as pushing any particular brand of Christianity. Rather, it is promulgating a particular brand of democratic-industrial-social conquest.

    Most wars – military or diplomatic – were/are fought because of underlying economic/political forces (Heinlein pointed this out very succinctly in “Starship Troopers,” but history bears this out. Even the Crusades were motivated by the need of the Church to maintain control of European politics at the turn of millennium. [Disclaimer: I have no ironclad proof of this; it is my opinion based on years of study.])

    What is disturbing about the current conflict is that – at least on the surface – it is being driven by purely religious motives. On and off, the war of Islam v. the West (or vice versa) has been going on for a thousand years.

  30. What is so ridiculous about this is that recent polls conducted in the US show that a large percentage of number of people identify as “Christian”. Perhaps more meaningful is that a huge number of the people polled consider athiests to be more dangerous and less trustworthy than criminals and Muslims.

    It seems that, in the US anyway, people say they don’t care about your beliefs, as long as you believe in _something_.

    Given how much the average person misundertands Islam, this does not make me feel good about being an athiest.

  31. What is so ridiculous about this is that recent polls conducted in the US show that a large percentage of number of people identify as “Christian”. Perhaps more meaningful is that a huge number of the people polled consider athiests to be more dangerous and less trustworthy than criminals and Muslims.

    It seems that, in the US anyway, people say they don’t care about your beliefs, as long as you believe in _something_.

    Given how much the average person misundertands Islam, this does not make me feel good about being an athiest.

  32. This is of course why they say the Crusades have never ended people will never cease to fight over religious beliefs.

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