Saturday, January 14, 2012

Prophesying On This Crazy, Vicious, And Stupid Election Year: What To Expect In Religion, Politics and The Country's Top 21 CR Wingnuts!


But Rick Santorum IS running as the "Jesus Candidate". 

There are approximately 295 days left of this election year and the batsh*ttery has only begun to take place. It's going to be a free-for-all of Dominionism, self-righteousness, mud-slinging, blatant bigotry, homophobia, anti-Catholicism, anti-Mormonism, with a slew of fake miracles thrown in for good measure.

The reason? The zealotry of today's "Social Conservatives" (Christian Right or CR) knows no bounds. In a time when separation of Church and State may be needed more than ever, they are furiously trying to break down the wall and establish itself as the only religious authority in America. And while the panoply of Right Wingnuts is not without its secular side,* the economy, jobs, immigration, the environment and foreign policy may end up taking back seats to social issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and All American Muslim. "To hell with immigration, what about homosexual indoctrination in schools disguised as anti-bullying programs?" "Why talk about war with Iran, when we have sharia law creeping up on us throughout the country?"

They know their power, but they also know that power must be unified: last Friday (Jan. 13 - an ominous date to be sure) some 150 leaders met in Brenham, Texas to discuss just that. The  luminaries included Tony Perkins (Family Reasearch Council), James Dobson (Focus on the Family), Don Wildmon (American Family Association) and Gary Bauer (American Values).  It was initially suspected that this gathering would decide which presidential GOP candidate they should completely support and which ones they should "request" to step down. The results: Santorum is the one. But wait! They've asked neither Gingrich nor Perry to step down! A closer look at the players in this game reveals that not all of the Christian Right are willing to back Santorum unconditionally. Big players like Jim Garlow (see below) are still backing Gingrich. Who's backing Perry? Bryan Fischer (shudder).

Onward CR Soldier

Today, when it comes to religio-political strategies it's safe to say that fortitude is the name of the game: no matter what South Carolina** brings, everyone has to forge through Super Tuesday and beyond. Schemes have to be laid and ads have to be placed so that issues are kept fresh in the minds of the voters all the way up to the election, no matter who wins the nomination. The primary war strategy is to "get Obama at all costs" while the secondary strategy is to "vote with 'Christian' values." 

Fortitude. Determination. Ruthlessness. Viciousness. Self-Righteousness. Craziness. Stupidity. They'll all build exponentially, because on top of everything else there are the statewide and local issues at stake: some states have propositions for same-sex marriage, while others have more immigration regulations, repeals of "liberal" laws, and recalls of judges and politicians.

It will be a wonder that anyone is left standing after Nov. 6. And for those of us who will be, we'll need to pinch ourselves to make sure it wasn't a a bizarre dream.

The Top Twenty-one

In the realm of the Christian Right, there are more wingnuts than there are stars in the heavens, so I've tried to whittle the count down to a few who we will be seeing throughout the rest of this ungodly season. 

David Barton. David Barton will keep steamrolling through history and twisting Thomas Jefferson into a Gordian Knot. In his book, The Jefferson Lies, Barton tries to posit an evangelical Jefferson - a fact which in itself is a lie. In a sense, Barton has been given the scepter of King Of The Dominionists. And for good reason: not only does he continue to bear false witness against the likes ot Thomas Jefferson et al, but he drones on and on about how America MUST be a Christian nation. Actually, the impetus of his thought leads to: Christian ONLY nation. Although he has neither a degree in history, nor one in theology or a masters of divinity, he now dictates which aspects of American life are biblical or non-biblical.

The unfortunate thing about Barton is that people actual eat up his hubris, making the liar that much more of a celebrity. Trust Barton to weigh in on every candidate. This year, he will analyze our political process every biblical step of the way... with any amount of (fake) authority he can muster.

Gary Bauer. Possibly the oldest and most experienced in the religio-political scene, Bauer, like Pat Robertson, ran for President. Unlike Robertson, he is not senile nor is he prone to make outrageous statements concerning Haiti. He is endorsing Rick Santorum whom he hopes will be able to unify the Christian Right.
“It’s going to be a particularly bitter, nasty general election. That’s what the White House is signaling with the class warfare rhetoric,” Mr. Bauer said in an interview Saturday. “In an election like that, you want the base of your party to be on fire for the candidate.”
"On fire" for a sweater vest? Bauer postulates that Santorum can identify with working and middle classes.
It remains to be seen as to whether or not the working and middle classes will feel comfortable with such righteousness. Warning to Bauer: Santorum's income and lifestyle is far from middle class.

Glen Beck. Yes, Beck's still around. He's cocooned in Texas, to be sure, safe and secure amongst the Rick Perrys and Robert Jeffresses and swinging without a care in a hammock made of money. Or in bed with one of his numerous injuries. From all appearances, however, he took most of his viewers/listeners with him: his GBTV venture employs over 100 people and rakes in approx. $20 million. Two new shows are scheduled for Jan. 18th (wonder why?). Beck boasts that his media empire will become larger than Oprah's. He may well be following in Oprah's footsteps, since his waistline seems to be expanding along with it.

So Beck is not to be discounted this election year: his FOX die-hards still number in the millions and his franchises ("news" website The Blaze, and a number of books) still hold sway in the political scene. His interview with Gingrich, while respectful, was searching enough to put Gingrich on the defense. With Bachmann out of the running (he endorsed her), whither will Beck fly? The endorsement may go grudgingly to Gingrich.

Ann Coulter. If Ann Coulter becomes another mascot to an organization (just as she did to GoProud), she'll start getting free hay from equine societies everywhere. In order to schedule her diatribes, just find out when her next book is coming out and she'll be on the talk show circuit telling everyone how much she loves herself.

As far as religion is concerned, the best comment so far, comes from the inimitable Betty Bowers (Landover Baptist Church - a parody) and her review of Ann Coulter's Godless, The Church of Liberalism in America:
Let's be honest: Reading a book about religion from Ann Coulter is tantamount to reading a book about dieting from Michael Moore. After all, who wants to be lectured about not being Christian enough by an almost-50 year-old boozehound in a black leather miniskirt who has never been married? Count me as having a healthy skepticism over whether Miss Coulter has saved herself for marriage.
Coulter(geist) will no doubt back Romney, but not without getting in a few digs about his Mormonism, expounding on the talk show circuit as to whether or not he wears magic underpants.

The Duggars. The classical composer Johan Sebastian Bach had thirteen children. And from all accounts, they were all very talented in music. The Duggar family has nineteen children, and they all play musical instruments. Perhaps they're trying to outdo Bach, but the only real talent they have is for promoting "purity" in the face of unbridled baby-making. Adherents of the The Quiver-Full movement (God wants you to have as many kids as possible), they are a peon to family values and to The Sound of Music.

They have used their reality show persona to endorse Rick Santorum. BFD you say? Unfortunately, to the die-hard "family values" crowd, it is. And there are plenty of those around to make trouble. Just ask Tony Perkins. Look for them at churches and shopping malls everywhere.

Lou Engle. If Lou Engle doesn't support Newt Gingrich, there may be some bad blood between them in the future. After all, Engle laid hands on and blessed Gingrich publicly and Gingrich gave whole-hearted support to Engle's The Call. And the matter may not hinge on gay rights so much as how anti-Islam Gingrich is. Engle will do anything to see that Muslims are persecuted (oops, I mean converted) as much as possible.

 From Truth Wins Out:
Although Engle may sound delusional, he has many followers and people must pay attention to what he is preaching. He believes what he says and so do his cult-like minions.”
It's a boon to Gingrich that Engle doesn't believe Deuteronomy 22:22.

Bryan Fischer. The professional hate monger who is nonetheless equitable in his radio broadcasts - he hates everyone - will keep on heaping his disdain on Obama, gays, single black women, Native Americans and people who don't pay their county fire protection assessment fee.* He will be a good monitor, however, in finding out just how far right politicians will lean: if they're on his show, they will no doubt feel free to exercise their right of free speech by appearing to be as wingnutty as possible (as Huckabee did with the "birther issue"). For Fischer's choice, however, it's Rick Perry, because Santorum has a weak "infrastrusture" and Gingrich:
Newt Gingrich is fatally flawed and bleeding from too many self-inflicted wounds, including morphing into Michael Moore in his attacks on free enterprise.
So when Perry eventually withdraws from the race, there will be a great gnashing of teeth and rending of garments in Fischer's studio.

Jim Garlow. Garlow penned an extremely long and involved letter on why he is endorsing Newt Gingrich. The upshot is, of course, that Gingrich, it seems, is the one to play the strongest hand in regaining "religious freedom." By that, of course, Garlow means religious authority. Garlow looks upon himself as a pragmatic religious politico by noting that if Romney wins the nomination, he will support Romney - with reservations. It seems that Romney's flip-flopping on major issues makes him somewhat untrustworthy. Garlow's merely playing on the suspicions of the rest of the country, which makes Garlow himself seem worthy of suspicion.

Jim Garlow has been a guiding light to all things religio-political: he walks hand-in-hand with Alliance Defense Fund and it's "Pulpit Initiative", daring pastors to endorse candidates and risk losing their tax-exempt status.

Look to Garlow to follow the campaign trails all the way to November. His steadfastness and consistency regarding social issues will certainly do more to bolster the cause of Dominionism than anything else.

Newt Gingrich.  As of Jan. 12th , Gingrich has received an endorsement from Tim LaHaye, the "Rapture Man" (Left Behind series). While the current scene has Gingrich battling Romney with attack ads, the real battle may be between Gingrich and Santorum in trying to garner support from people like LaHaye. Santorum may have the Duggars, but Gingrich is hot on his heels after all of his (Gingrich's) mea culpas regarding his personal affairs. Concerning South Carolina, Gingrich describes him self as a "Georgia Reagan conservative," but Reagan didn't pander to the CR that much simply because, at the time, it wasn't considered a voting block. 

Gingrich was a busy boy that same day because he joined a conference call with Pastor Jim Garlow (see above), Tim Wildmon (American Family Association) and George Barna (Christian Right pollster). During the call, Gingrich took up the familiar (but fictional) rallying cry of church groups losing funding because of perceived "hate crimes" (e.g. refusing to allow same-sex couple adopt).

The Gingrich camp is also exhibiting an enormous amount of chutzpah (or stupidity) since Matt Staver (co-chair of Gingrich's Faith Leader's Coalition) has announced that he will moderate a presidential candidate forum in Florida 3 days before the Florida Primary. So who besides Gingrich will show up?

Franklin Graham. The hard-core evangelist, Franklin Graham, forges into politics in a less ballsy way than most of today's CR wingnuts, but make no mistake: the neighbor of Sarah Palin and friend of Donald Trump knows that his endorsement carries weight.  

Which is why a number of evangelicals are very angry at Graham: by endorsing Romney, he has put a huge dent into the CR's attempt at unification against Romney and his Mormonism. "He's not running for Pastor-in-Chief" came as a shock to people who viewed Graham as fringe Right and excessive in his hard line stances against abortion and homosexuality, therefore against a "cult" like Mormonism. It was as if Graham patched up the wall of separation between church and state. 

It just might be that Franklin Graham is laughing his ass off. 

Linda Harvey.Every day, Linda Harvey gets to look more like Leona Helmsley and gets to sound like, well, Linda Harvey. She is so far out there as homophobes go, that the only parties she goes to are ones hosted by Bryan Fischer. He must be her only friend.

Harvey (founder of Mission America and host of a radio talk show) is so virulently homophobic that she warns parents against gay doctors and other health care workers:
"...Select your pediatrician very carefully... you may want to consider writing a letter that you file with your pediatrician that should your child ever be hospitalized, you do not want your child to be treated or cared for by one of these members of the Children’s Hospital gay employees group except in the case of an emergency situation."
Harvey has even gone so far as to say that gays do not really exist - only the "lifestyle" does. And, like Fischer, she has compared homosexuals to Naz*s. As inferred by her website, Harvey takes her political stances from Tony Perkins and The Family Research Council, so she is pro-Santorum and Perry, luke-warm on Gingrich and definitely against Paul and Romney. Look for her to be telling everyone who to vote for according to how homophobic he is.

"Bishop" Harry Jackson. "Gays and liberal Christians are enemies of God and deserve to be struck down."

Jackson seems to anticipate violence., which is natural, since he resembles a vanguard in the black separatist movement.: his concentration on African Americans as "spiritually superior" beings has garnered the attention of the Southern Poverty Law Center in a special Intelligence Report. Jackson is also an avowed anti-Catholic, who believes that the "Queen of Heaven" is a satanic force bringing about demonic perversions such as gay rights. It isn't confirmed if Jackson has agreed with evangelicals to support Rick Santorum. Then again, it isn't confirmed that Santorum would denounce the Virgin Mary.

Cindy Jacobs. What can't be said about Cindy "Japan-is-shaped-like-a dragon" Jacobs? Every time she speaks, Pentecostals shiver in mortification and when she is (almost) lucid, she spouts stories of miracles she has performed, but conveniently forgotten to document. It's amazing that the woman gets away with such flat-out fakery. She proves, however, that some people will believe anything if it is said as "prophecy."

Jacobs' fear-mongering is as ferocious as her wardrobe:
Do not be intimidated by these attacks and you will win. The church will find her voice. The liberal media will particularly come against those who are pro-life and pro-biblical defense of marriage. Hate crimes will be tolerated and called acts of justice.

Along with Lou Engle, her rhetoric is so militaristic and violent that it is hard to dismiss. The fact that no overt violence has been attributed to her public utterances merely means that while she appears stupid in almost every regard, she's very savvy about covering her ass. Some day, however...

Robert Jeffress. It doesn't matter how many good deeds you do, if you don't follow Robert Jeffress' take on grace, you'll go to hell. He's also stated that the First Amendment will invite the wrath of God:
Although our Constitution grants every citizen the right to worship or not worship any god he chooses, that right in no way changes God’s attitude toward idolatry. God does not change. Any nation that chooses to publicly renounce the true God in order to embrace and elevate other gods is going to face God’s judgment. That is what the Word of God says. 
Of course, since Jeffress called Mormonism a "cult" it is not surprising that he thinks we ought to do away with other religions in the country altogether. His is probably the most forthright stance for the "convert or die" movement spurred on by Reconstructionism.   

Rick Joyner. This man rose to prominence when he declared that he had be taken to heaven by Jesus and saw all the apostles in weird positions. He couldn't name them (or any of the positions either). Be that as it may, his MorningStar Ministries wound up purchasing part of the ailing Heritage U.S.A. Christian theme park (with a baptismal water slide!) from Jerry Falwell after the disgrace and indictment of Jim Bakker, the original builder. Problems with the park have lingered on and the latest information has Joyner's ministry struggling to develop it in the face of neighborhood opposition.

Joyner's more newsworthy pronouncements include: the prophecy that the Japan earthquake would unleash demonic naz*sm in America. Among his other achievements, Joyner was also appointed a Knight of Malta, an organization so mysterious and convoluted in its history that only he could see the advantage of it.

Tony Perkins. The head of the Family Research Council may propose that the CR consider forming a third party, and if Santorum pulls out, Perkins might just take up the gauntlet by insisting that Santorum be the one to show its power. I hear a loud collective "WTF?" Why? Disappointment and division have always been the enemies of the CR during election years. Unification - even behind a third-party-couldn't-possibly-win candidate - would show the rest of the country who's boss and reiterating to the GOP just how much it needs the CR vote. Of course, this reasoning may be weak, but the righteous arrogance of the CR is not to be underestimated.

Perkins' big push of late has been to keep the "acceptance" of homosexuality at bay in the nations' classrooms by seeing that anti-bullying bills are really pro-bullying bills (for religious reasons, of course). Perkins must absolutely adore Santorum! And I wouldn't I wouldn't put it past him to put a burning cross on Dan Savage's front lawn.

Janet Porter. Janet Porter is a "heartbeat" away from getting her own way in some states: her crusade against abortion and the theory that human life begins once a "heartbeat" is discovered has gained ground in some states. Eschewing other social issues (like gay rights), Porter has been successful in pushing her blatantly Dominionist agenda through. She has a problem with being labeled a Dominionist, though, because VCY media dropped her program, labeling it "Dominionist." She actually has called for the overthrow of the government (in front of the Lincoln Memorial no less). She has also called Obama a Soviet Agent.

Porter claims she is not a theocrat. Right. Her calls to prayer will become more frequent and frantic as the election approaches. She is a known adversary of Romney, so if Mitt wins the nomination, watch her go into a frantic mode, barreling through state houses of Congress with ultrasound equipment and pregnant women.

Ralph Reed. Mr. "body bag" Reed* has toned down his rhetoric and opted to put all of his efforts behind his organization Faith and Freedom Coalition. He all-but-endorsed Romney in his last statements about South Carolina. Reed's probably the most practical one of the Christian Right (besides giving Rick Warren a run for his money in the secret/sinister department) and all he sees is the defeat of Obama. FFC can certainly bide its time until that day comes, then...

Pat Robertson. Although Robertson's political swan song occurred many years ago, it seems he will never give up the title of chief moralizing moron. Trust him to make pronouncements (from his "talks" with God, of course) that will be tactless and totally out-of-whack with reality. Perhaps his only real power lies in the over 150 legal eagles (more like vultures - courtesy of Robertson's Regent University Law School) he planted in government during the Bush administration. He's also dangerous in that he can distract the country from the real hard core religionists trying to gain ground.

Rick Santorum. It is well known that if anything puts the kibosh on Santorum's campaign, it's his own self-righteousness. But one thing's for sure: his campaign won't be over until the Christian Right says it's over. Even  defeat in some primaries won't loosen the stranglehold they have on him. As I said above, he may consider some states too important to quit, certainly before Super Tuesday. But even if he does, you can be sure that he will remain in the news throughout the entire election process/period. His endorsement of Perry or Gingrich will certainly have some weight. Which brings to mind: will Santorum make like Bob Vander Plaats and charge "promotional fees" for the endorsement?

C. Peter Wagner. Wagner likes smashing up things - like Native American religious symbols and artifacts. Wagner's New Apostolic Reformation will prove to be a detriment to Santorum's campaign simply because of the NAR's extreme anti-Catholicism stance (the Virgin Mary is a "demonic idol"). Cindy Jacobs is an "apostle" and the whole thing smells of lunatic fringe. But make no mistake, their rhetoric can harm people and they hate Obama enough that they might just set aside their anti-Catholic feelings to push through ANYONE who is a "Jesus" candidate.

The Chaotic Hilarity Of It All.

So in the next ten months we'll be feted and excoriated by a fractious group of people who tell us that the country will go immediately to hell if Obama is re-elected. They will tout disasters as warnings. They will hold prayer rallies in front of Capitol buildings and in front of mosques. They will bombard the airwaves with attack ads littered with dubious (or totally fake) research. They will constantly vilify Obama while insisting that there is no such thing as separation of Church and state. They will fill their events with imprecatory prayers (e.g. praying for failure or outright destruction of Obama's programs and even Obama himself). They will caucus endlessly in attempts at unification. They will resort to fictional miracles. They will keep on having children to underscore pro-life advocacy. They will invoke the Creator millions of times and debate as to whom God really called him to lead

Considering the vitriol and rancor these wingnuts have against Obama, liberals, gays, Muslims, and everyone not in tune with their theologies, it a wonder we can look at them and not be extremely fearful ...through our laughter.

But laugh we must.

I am mindful of the time I served as a client intake volunteer for the AIDS Emergency Fund (during the worst years of the epidemic). One very ill client I encountered was the most jovial young man, so much so that I asked him why he was joking so much about everything. "I have a group of friends who have AIDS,"he answered" and we've all agreed that if we can't laugh at this sh*t we might as well be dead!"

Also, like Mark Twain said,

 "Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand."

*Ron Paul has some problems which border on the ludicrous, like not getting his stories straight about his newsletters. Mitt Romney's "Bain" problem promises to produce some comedy as well.
** Poor South Carolina: the pressure and mayhem in the coming weeks would make anyone want to move out of the state. Added to which Rick Perry's prayer rally, The Response, is actually playing again in SC just two days before the primary.
*** As a description of his political tactics, Reed once said "You don't know it's over until you're in the body bag. You don't know until election night." Reed has since then tried to tone down this image.