[FoRK] Debunking the Right Schiavo spin

Kelley kelley at inkworkswell.com
Wed Mar 23 17:48:39 PST 2005

At 05:36 PM 3/23/2005, Stephen D. Williams wrote:
Hey, whatever works!

There are more than a few peer-pressure theists, especially men who file 
into Midwestern churches to keep their wives, who in turn file into 
churches to have a social life.  People, other than I, would be shocked at 
how much peer-pressure theism exists in the US.  Making a stand on the 
issue is not something that most are interested in.  A good percentage more 
are probably "fake it until you make it" theists.  The coupling of theism 
to coupling is memetic genius.  Therefore, we can blame the scarcity of 
strong, rational women for the apparent scarcity of rational men.

The insidious part is the fact that nearly everyone knows very religious 
people who have worse morals in ways that count than non-religious 
people.  "Ways that count" meaning legal, ethical, interpersonal, karma, 
big picture, pay it forward, etc.  How about a part-time preacher who 
spends a good portion of his government paid workday preparing sermons?


oh. oh. A friend of mine, Deb, and I could give you a rant. I'll briefly do 
so now and elaborate more if'n you're interested.

1. Nancy Ammerman, in Bible Believers, a study of fundamentalists in 
Connecticut in the early 80s, argues that women dragged their husbands to 
church as a way to keep their marriages together: drugs, philandering, 
booze. W! Ammerman wanted to know why upper middle class professional 
women, who otherwise took advantage of the gains feminism had made, would 
want to join churches that were clearly opposed to those changes. That's 
why. There's more, but it's not all socializing.

2. Socializing, though, is a BIG part of it. There is some literature from 
Christians to indicate that they _have_ been deploying the 'Act local, 
Think Global" strategy for Christianity. The idea here is to proudly and 
whenever possible testify about your emotional and personal relationship 
with Jesus -- especially if it pertains to business success, but also 
personal happiness such as finding a new love, saving a marriage, etc.

The Jesus fish is not only displayed on bumpers, but on business 
storefronts, advertising, and all manner of things. The idea is: "Be proud! 
Show those Liberal Humanists you aren't afraid of them. If we don't, 
they'll keep taking over the country. Keep your head down! "

Branding. It's like some modified pyramid scheme in action, only they're 
sincere. The Tupperware Party model of proselytizing.

3. Testifying is crucial to this neo-evangelism. You must do so to show how 
Jesus is a part of your daily life. It's often 'required' in these just 
Christian churches. (I picked the brains of my students when I got here, 
trying to understand what the hell "just Christian" meant.

This is why it feels so much more in your face: it's political, it's 
social, it's sincere.

4. Hypocrisy isn't a bad thing. Charging them with it means nothing. People 
are sinners. It's inevitable. Part and parcel of the valorization of 
testifying as evidence of your _faith_ is an associated antipathy to 
"works" as evidence of your faith. Remember that Calvinism was opposed to 
the Catholic emphasis on doing good (works) to achieve grace. In the 
Calvinist world, as you know, you are either saved or you're not. So, it 
ultimately doesn't matter what you do in life as to whether you'll be 
raptured into the heavens, nekkid as a jaybird, to sit by the right hand of 

The only thing that mattered, as Max Weber argued in _The Protestant Ethic 
and the Spirit of Capitalism_ was that the anxiety brought on by not really 
knowing whether you were among the saved (chosen) was that you sought to 
prove it by demonstrating success in life. Weber argued that this once 
spiritual belief had become secularized and, as such, was partly 
responsible for the rise of capitalist markets. Markets had always existed, 
but they weren't efficient and they weren't rationalized. They become 
rationalized (predictable) with this religious believe that, to at least 
show others that you were probably saved, and convince yourself, your goals 
should be life success: business, monetary, etc.

So, today, this continues. Christians themselves aren't troubled by the 
fact that someone is having 10 affairs while preaching about fidelity. He's 
a sinner. Of course. What matters is that he testifies, proudly and 
publicly, to his _personal_ and very emotional relationship with Jesus. 
It's this willingness to verbalize it and talk about it that's important. 
They want to hear _how_ you talk about your faith, not how you enact it.

Foucault argued that the Freudian talking cure created repression. Well, I 
don't know what this is, but I like that "talking cure" concept when 
applied to this phenom. It's interesting how much they focus on talking 
about it. It's also why any charges against "just Christians" for not 
acting like Christians (not taking care of the least of these) pretty much 
falls on deaf ears.

5. Getting back to this, another way they are infiltrating the population 
is to set up alternatives to government services. This isn't about "good 
works" though it is a little. After all, I don't really think they're 
hypocrites. I think they're sincere. But, what they want to do is use the 
provision of services to expand the Word.

I worked for an author on research for her new book about white collar 
anxiety. She participated in a lot of "job transition" workshops run by 
Christian churches. You get all the services of a professional service, 
only it's free. The price is putting up with the religious part. When you 
are unemployed and vulnerable, you're susceptible to that kind of 
community. It's especially great if you lack the social network, most 
people rely on to get a job. With the Christian job transition service, you 
have a built in network  of other Christians who'll help get you a job.

The same thing is going on with all manner of non-religious services: 
daycare centers, bible camps, singles groups, family counseling, divorce 
counseling, missions abroad, feeding the poor, etc. etc.

This is also important because the reduce government spending mantra works 
great for churches: they want that money instead. Lower taxes so people 
have more for Wednesday and Sunday services. Someone fobbed off an issue of 
Awake! on me last year. The cover story presented itself as an object look 
at the tax issue. Reading it, it was clear that the push was toward 
"reducing big government" because religious groups should provide those 
services. In the hands of the gov, you'll just get a bunch of atheists and 
liberal humanists and unitarians. :)

I'm not saying there's a big conspiracy or anything, but Christians have 
thought long and hard about how to get back in the saddle again. See, for 
instance, _The New Christian Right_. And, they're doing it this way. 
They're also doing it because they sincerely believe that this is The Way, 
I don't doubt that. Some are "sunshine Christians" who are taking advantage 
of it or who start out with a cynical attitude about it. But most, I think, 
believe and, more impotantly, believe in and identify with their community 
of faith.

Well, that's my typo-laden, logorheic spin on it!


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