By CJ Werleman | 8 November 2013
Excerpt from Crucifying America: The Unholy Alliance Between the Christian Right and Wall Street, by CJ Werleman (Dangerous Little Books, 2013).
Atheist groups, associations, and networks have literally sprung up in every town and city in America. Million dollar social awareness campaigns have rolled across small towns and big cities throughout America. In major cities, you see billboards with messages like, “Are you Good Without God? Millions Are!” “Don’t Believe in God? You Are Not Alone.” Others say, “In the Beginning, Man Created God.” These campaigns have helped coerce millions of Americans out of the theological closet. They have helped many in-private atheists step out of the shadows. The trend is very much that Americans raised in Christian households are shunning the religion of their parents for any number of reasons: the advancement of human understanding; greater access to information; the scandals of the Catholic Church; and the over zealousness of the Christian Right.
Political scientists Robert Putman and David Campbell, and authors of American Grace, argue that the Christian Right’s politicization of faith in the 1990s turned younger, socially liberal Christians away from churches, even as conservatives became more zealous. “While the Republican base has become ever more committed to mixing religion and politics, the rest of the country has been moving in the opposite direction.”
When you add all these things together, it leads you to a dramatic yet never mentioned dynamic: atheists are the fastest growing minority in the U.S. today. More significantly, we make for being one of the most powerful voting blocs in the country, at least potentially. We now have the required critical mass to shape elections, laws, and leaders. Safety in numbers is growing into power in numbers. In 10, 20, 50 years, the Christian Right will hold little to no sway over the nation’s identity. From these facts, among others, we can boast that ideological victory is within sight.
Now for the bad news:
We are winning the wrong game!
We are losing the right game. We are winning the cultural war, but the Christian Right is winning in the race to control the levers of power. They hold the keys to our democracy, while we have clever bumper stickers, funny t-shirts, and books that deride virgin births and angry sky gods. The soldiers of God are playing a game that can only be described as Jedi Knight-ish. Meanwhile, we are being made to look juvenile, bellicose, and down right moronic. The Christian Right is ripping our arms off at the shoulder and then slapping us in the face with the soggy bits. It’s embarrassing, and if this were a football game the scoreboard would read: Christian right –120 versus free thinkers – 3. Someone invoke the mercy rule! Also, I hate football metaphors.
You see, all around this great country, atheists are meeting in cafes, living rooms and Holiday Inn conference rooms to meet, share donuts and talk about how we can remove “In God We Trust” from the dollar bill; and how best we deal with removing “One nation under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, in an attempt to reverse the sneaky-handed 1954 bill pushed through congress in 1954 by Christian zealot President Eisenhower. We protest home school conventions; any display of the Ten Commandments; and there are even atheist groups who file lawsuits every winter in their respective cities to ensure nothing but the secular “meaning” of Christmas is promoted.
Look, all these actions are fine with me but, let’s be honest, they make us look like assholes. And frankly, if you’re filing legal action to prevent others from declaring, “Merry Christmas”, then you most definitely are an asshole!
What’s worse is that atheists are wasting far too much intellectual and emotional energy on battles that lack real political gain or consequence. In other words, we’re taking pot shots at an ideological enemy that’s out of range and forward marching in another direction, and where they’re dropping their ordinance is hurting us. Greatly!
While we are busy playing the role of the nation’s police force for political correctness, they are gerrymandering voting districts to ensure they regain and maintain control of the levers of congressional and gubernatorial power. While we chant, “Keep the Bible out of the classroom”, they are helping legislate voter ID laws that disenfranchise millions of black, Hispanic, and student voters. While we demand a removal of God from the Pledge of Allegiance, they are stacking the courts with their ideological judicial wingnuts. While we are correcting Christmas carolers with, “Happy Holidays”, they are mobilizing to ensure money buys them judges, congressmen and governors, which not only protects the interests of big corporations at the expense of the little guy, but will also protect the interests of the Christian Right – namely, putting an end to the gay, secular, liberal agenda, and, in turn, setting gender and racial equality back 50 years.
Poll after poll shows that a majority of Americans favor liberal policies, but our courts and legislatures are increasingly becoming controlled and driven by the Christian Right. Their victories are having a far more reaching impact on our lives and our secular democratic values than our small-minded wins to remove the 10 Commandments from some hic town’s courthouse.
The 2012 election was a rejection of the Ayn Rand, “Fuck you, I have mine” thinking that permeates the Republican base. Recall that moment during the 2012 GOP debates when the moderator asked the following hypothetical: “What should happen if a healthy 30-year-old man who can afford insurance chooses not to buy it and then becomes catastrophically ill and needs intensive care for six months?” In unison, the predominantly Tea Party (Christian Right) audience yelled, “Let him die!” Thankfully a majority of the American public spurned that callous thinking, as the national electorate went on to demonstrate that a majority of Americans see this country as a center-left country. Simply, we don’t want to be a country that says there’s legitimate rape and there’s illegitimate rape. There’s just rape! We don’t want to be a country that rejects science and facts. We want our kids to accept what 99.9 percent of the scientific community agrees to when it comes to evolution. We want our kids to accept climate change as fact, then fight to do something about it, so as to preserve their kids’ future. We don’t want our politicians to hold prayer sessions as the main means for fighting poverty. We don’t want our political leaders to believe poverty is caused by the individual’s lack of religious faith. We don’t want a country that demonizes the less fortunate. We want a country that judges a person by the content of their character, and not by the color of their skin. We want our laws to not only favor the interests of business but equally or more so favor our communities, our skies, our water, and our food. We want a representative democracy. We want “One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” – not all of one kind, but all. These are the ideals that a majority of Americans want in this great nation today.
Well, that’s what we wanted, and that’s kind of what we were getting, to some degree, until something really bad happened on January 21, 2010. A date of infamy! For that was the day the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the billionaire Koch brothers over the Federal Election Commission. In that ruling, the highest court in the land ruled that money equals free speech, and corporations equal people. That was the moment that whatever chance we had of righting the wrongs that have led to growing social inequalities in this country was lost. That was the moment that all but guarantees a continuation of the shrinking of the middle class. That was the moment that presented billionaires and the wealthiest corporations an opportunity to partner with the Christian Right, so that a new era of pro-business and anti-government policies could be enacted in this country.
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