Monday, October 26, 2009

Religion - Not a Laughing Matter

Via AlterNet, remember the days when Al Franken used his humor to make a point. In the video below is Al Franken's animated comic strip, "Gospel of Supply-Side Jesus."

We can laugh at Franken's "Supply-Side Jesus."

But what is not a laughable matter is an article by Adele M. Stan at AlterNet entitled, Meet the Senators in the Creepy Right-Wing Cult Trying to Defeat Health Care Reform. This is an in depth look into the Republican Senators and Representatives of Congress who are members of a right-wing religious cult known as The Family.

You could chalk it up to nothing more than pure partisanship, this obstructionism on the part of these Republicans. Or you could say that the ideology-cum-theology of The Family, which has spent decades consolidating power within the GOP, has at last come to dominate the party even among those who do not belong to the cult. [...]

The people of South Carolina, Oklahoma, Iowa, Nevada, Kansas and Wyoming find themselves represented by at least one U.S. senator who belongs to The Family. If he subscribes to the theology of the cult of which he is a member, the senator believes himself to be anointed to his lofty position by Jesus himself -- a Jesus who tells him that his constituents' health care dilemmas are of no consequence to God; they are just the natural order of things as deemed by him.

The Jesus worshiped by The Family is neither Jesus the peacemaker, the champion of the poor, nor even Christ the personal savior. He is Jesus the power broker, who works his will through well-situated men committed to free enterprise of a most unregulated sort.

The Family members believe that God is all powerful and all controlling.

Things are as they are in the world because that's the way God wants them. The poor are poor because God ordained it to be so -- a condition that they may have earned through disobedience to the creator. The powerful are powerful -- be they murderous dictators or corporate polluters -- because they are God's chosen. Any regulated economic system, according to this theology, is less than godly, because regulation forestalls the exercise of free will.

Who are the Representatives and Senators in Congress who are members of The Family?

In the Senate members include: Sens. Charles Grassley [R-IA]; Sen. Jim DeMint [R-SC]; Sen. Tom Coburn [R-OK]; Sen. John Ensign [R-NV]; Sen. James Inhofe, [R-OK].

In the House of Representatives members include: Mike Enzi [R-WY]; Zach Wamp [R-TN]; Joe Pitts [R-PN]; and Frank Wolf [R-VA].

Government regulation is not acceptable!

There appear to be only two decipherable things about the God of The Family: his unyielding disdain for government regulation of any kind and his demand for obedience to that notion.

The Family's notion of free-market capitalism...any attempt to regulate a market means you're messing with God. This doctrine is known, in The Family's language, as "Biblical capitalism."

And so government services, by this doctrine, are against God's will; they interfere with God's markets, skewing values and disturbing the natural order of things, just as a public health-insurance plan would do to the current insurance industry. Having been exempt from anti-trust law since 1946, the health-insurance business must be as close to godly perfection as one can get, in the minds of The Family's key men.

And what of the poor and suffering, the health care-related defaults on mortgages that claim 60 percent of all home foreclosures? What of those who have no health insurance? They are simply not among the anointed. Or worse, according to a report commissioned by The Family, the cause of their poverty, the cause of all poverty, is "disobedience."

Is healthcare a privilege or a right?

South Carolina's DeMint told a reporter from his hometown newspaper, the Charleston Post and Courier, "I think health care is a privilege. I wouldn't call it a right. ..." On the House side, Family member Zach Wamp of Tennessee told MSNBC's Tameron Hall virtually the same thing in March: "Health care is a privilege."

One issue which has arisen in this healthcare debate is whether Senators and Representatives should read the legislation before they vote on it.

Sen James Inhofe, [R-OK] seemed untroubled by that dilemma: his religion would appear to demand that he oppose health care reform as a matter of principle.

As a government disruption of God's free markets, the very concept, by The Family's reckoning, is an abomination. At an August town-hall meeting, Inhofe told residents of Chickasha, Okla., according to the Express-Star of Grady County, that "he does not need to read the 1,000-page health care reform bill, he will simply vote against it." Inhofe explained: "I don't have to read it, or know what's in it. I'm going to oppose it anyways."

Appearing on C-SPAN's Washington Journal last month, Inhofe was asked by a caller to explain what bearing, if any, his religion had on his politics. "I'm a follower of Jesus," he said, "and I’m not embarrassed about it."

Other members of the Family have been in the news lately regarding other issues.

South Carolina Republican Gov. Mark Sanford, who disappeared for five days in August, ostensibly hiking the Appalachian Trail while actually visiting his Argentine mistress, and former Rep. Chip Pickering, R-La., whose affair led his wife to sue his alleged mistress for loss of affection. [...]

While the apparent hypocrisy of fallen, self-righteous prudes will grab the spotlight every time, The Family's other scandals -- its cozy relationships with despots around the world, its embrace of big business at the expense of the poor, its reinvention of Jesus as a figure contraindicated by his teachings -- should be of far greater concern to the rest of us. Especially when one considers the group's longevity and its extraordinary power.

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