'American Theocracy,' by Kevin Phillips - The New York Times Book Review - New York Times
How interesting. I was just commenting to my mom today about how I absolutely hated the religious right's focus on the Rapture and how, in my very small and unimportant opinion, I felt that it led to the situation we now have in the world. I talked about my horror that a relative LOVED Bush a few years ago, and supported his war in Iraq. This person is irreligious, anti-religious if you will- and I could never understand how anyone like that could be sucked in by an obviously overly religious leader.
The yelling has stopped, the arguments no longer happen, because I was right. Th religious right has shown their hand. They have allowed faith based programs, their lies have been uncovered in regards to Iraq and Al-Quaeda, and peace reigns only in my home. I would not give up trying to expose this government for what it was, a bunch of Rapturists convinced they were fulfilling Gods Prophecy so that Jesus could take them away. Slowly but surely I have been proven correct in my revulsion toward this belief system.
My experience with this kind of religion in my formative years has shaped me, sometimes for the good, and sometimes for the bad. I have a hard time not hating them for the horror movies A THIEF IN THE NIGHT and A DISTANT THUNDER that were inflicted on us- the sick sick movies that they made us watch and then had a convenient altar call after- which to me seemed to show that religion was a protection for the individual, and if YOU believed then YOU would be saved. A bit selfish in my estimation. Of course being thirteen and scared I tried to believe- but I never ever felt truly protected or good enough. It didn't help that my peers questioned me at every turn to examine myself to make sure I was saved.
Well, my teenage years were a bit turbulent because of this. I had a fear of God- but it never did me much good. I left my religious school because I was tired of being judged as inferior, and having friends of "lesser" protestant and Catholic denominations leave because their faith was not as valid as Baptists or Pentecostals or Alliance Church people. I was Lutheran, and infant baptism was not seen as a good thing. Confirmation was just a social construct, and it didn't mean much to them either.
I remember going to prayer meetings at people's houses. I remember leaving one very quickly and then collapsing with laughter a block away because I could not reconcile the Holier than Thou attitudes of my friends with who they were one on one. Speaking in tongues, dancing to Jesus songs, laying on of hands and discussing burning records and hearing Satan's voice just creeped me out. Urban legends abounded about people being possessed by the Devil. Each church or organization had its very own member who attested to babysitting a child, praying with them, and having the kids mom phone them the next day, demanding to know exactly what they did to the kid. Then the kicker- the mother was a witch and her powers had been altered. Usually the woman was a -gasp- single mother- and NEVER was it a father who was a witch.
The girls in my school who had chests were persecuted for having - well chests. They were routinely sent home to change their clothes, because they were too revealing. Anyone attending the school who had irreligious parents were told that their parents were going to hell and that it was the kids responsibility to change their parents and save them. If you were in an abusive situation you were told to read Proverbs and pray. I remember a girl being beat by her dad when he found out she might be pregnant- everone knew about it but no-one would discuss it or call the authorities.
If you were of the chosen faith, it was better. You got a free pass to drink wear sexy clothes and have sex, only because of your parent's influence.
If you had no parents to influence anything, you were kicked out.
Every once in a while a person would come back after a seminar saying that an acclaimed preacher had said Jesus would return on October 14 1983. Nobody thought to argue that this couldn't be true, because according to the Bible NOBODY knows the day or the hour of his return. Well, actually I did once and was met with a kind of attitude that somehow I just didn't have faith.
Not to say that I didn't learn anything. I did, as I took debating. Unfortunately debating was my undoing as it taught me to look at more than one side of an issue- which is something we were normally discouraged from doing. This skill has served me well, and the need to ask all questions relevant to an issue has allowed me to think about many things in different ways, and sustain my curiousity.
I do not know what the future of the USA will hold for those who believe in Jesus Immanent Return. I just know that for the rest of us it is hell on earth right now, as we try to look at environmental, financial and health issues through a lens not distorted by fanciful thoughts. And since those with the influence and powere hold these thoughts as self evident, we will be screwed, until they are defeated politically.
I am not holding my breath, as I know how tenaciously they will cling to power until their KING comes to rescue them from this evil but plunderable Earth.