Many Christian right-wingers must love Fred Phelps: next to him, they don't look so bad.
Why is it that so many evangelicals cannot bring themselves to REALLY censor someone who claims to be one of their own? When's the last time you saw or heard of a minister actively picketing Phelps? Oh yes, we've known how Baptist conventions everywhere have "excommunicated" him, but let's face it: BFD! Eight hundred years ago, Phelps could have been burned at the stake as a heretic. (The Dark Ages did have some enlightened moments!) And no concrete measures were taken to stop David Koresh from preaching that he was The Messiah.
I guess the Christian Right's problem is that there are so many sects, denominations, cults claiming to be Christian that to censor one would lead to censoring a lot of others. Fundamentalists have problems enough trying to shield their offspring from Catholicism and Mormonism. And not everyone can home-school their kids so as not to have contact with evil-doers.
Getting back to Koresh: since today is the 15th anniversary of the Siege of Waco, it's worth noting that secular (gasp!) scholars who studied Apocalyticism in religious groups tried to tell the FBI that their tactics were actually encouraging Koresh and the Davidians to believe that the End Times were near. But why didn't the Christian community step in before that? They could have done more than dismissing the Branch Davidians as a "cult."
Today I read about the death of a great intellect. Liberals will shoot me when I say that William F. Buckley was more liberal than most people suspected. I had the honor to interview Mr. Buckley on two occassions. They were both phone interviews, but I could envision his facial expressions during replies. At first I was frightened to death of the possibility of interviewing him: he used his vocabulary to intimidate and dominate. My first question (actually too long to describe), however, put him on the defensive. Then I realized something: in order to get Buckley to talk about the things he REALLY wanted to talk about in a friendly and casual manner, you first had to gain his respect. Respect was what William F. Buckley was all about, you see. If you weren't worthy of respect, you weren't worthy of anything else.
Buckley's conservatism was far different than our neocons: do you think Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity would have been up to the task of talking to Buckley without encuring his polite disdain? His was the conservative outlook of less government and laisse-faire business. If you want to read unadulterated hypocrisy, read Ann Coulter's eulogy. Buckley would have given it a wan smile, then excused himself to go off stage... and vomit.
Above all else, William F. Buckly was a realist. On Iraq: "anything but conservative. The reality of the situation is that missions abroad to effect regime change in countries without a bill of rights or democratic tradition are terribly arduous." And: "One cannot doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed...it's important that we acknowledge in the inner councils of state that it (the war) has failed, so that we should look for opportunities to cope with that failure."
Thank you, Mr. Buckley, for giving us a time when conservatism meant "take heed" and not "take up arms."