The FundamentaList (No. 55)

1. Daughters of the Religious Right Revolution.

Some elite Republicans are shocked, shocked, to discover the ugliness lurking in their party. Figures from Peggy Noonan to Colin Powell cannot believe it! The party of the shining city on the hill is turning vulgar!

The feigned surprise is laughable. After all, the only card left in the Republican deck is straight out of the religious right's 30 year-old battle plan, which the GOP has warmly embraced since Reagan. Since the mid-1970s, the Republican Party has validated the religious right's mythology of America's Christian nationhood, cowed to its authoritarian litmus tests, and made demagoguery not only fashionable but heroic.

Michele Bachmann's call for witch hunts and Sarah Palin's accusations of socialism may be anachronistic, but if you are familiar with the ideological underpinnings of the religious right, you recognize them as carefully calibrated to appeal to loyalists who have been schooled in the evils of "statism" -- the elevation of government over God. When Bachmann talks about Obama or other Democrats being "anti-American," it's a dog whistle to the base: It must be Satan trying to bring down America. When Palin calls Obama a socialist, she's really calling him godless, and therefore a danger to God's plan for America.

Elite Republicans' sudden hostility to that kind of slime, however, shows just how much they have turned a blind eye to the animating principle of the religious right, which is not at its core opposition to abortion or gay rights, but support for instituting an authoritarian, supposedly "biblical" law. The Council for National Policy -- the secretive brain trust of the conservative movement that meets quarterly to map out conservative movement (and GOP) strategy -- was based on this very idea. Since its founding in 1981, the CNP vets Republican candidates each election cycle, and, although the group never much cared for McCain, it very much approved of Palin.

One of CNP's founders, Conservative Caucus and Conservative Party founder Howard Phillips, is a protegé of R.J. Rushdoony, the architect of the Christian Reconstructionism that is the cornerstone of the religious right. Rushdoony summed up his view of "statism" when he said, "The historic Christian concept of government is the self-government of the Christian man under God and in terms of His law. This is set over against the top-heavy centralization of post-Enlightenment statism. The only cure for totalitarianism is the restoration of Christian government."

Before the 2000 election, another CNP founder, Tim LaHaye -- who in 2005 was named one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America by Time -- laid out the Palin-Bachmann mindset:

All thinking people in America realize an anti-Christian, anti-moral, and anti-American philosophy permeates this country and the world.  . . . This alien philosophy does not come from the Bible, but is antithetical to it. In this country it flies under the banner of "liberalism," but in reality it is atheistic socialism at best and Marxism at worst. If those who hold this philosophy were honest and admitted publicly they were hostile to God, His Son Jesus Christ, moral values and true freedom for all individuals, they would be voted out of office in three quarters of the congressional districts and states in our country. Instead, they use the title "liberal" to define themselves. . . . [and intend] to destroy the Biblical principles this country was founded on and replace them with freedom from responsibility.

Reap what you sow. Palin and Bachmann are the products of this kind of mindless demagoguery, and of the Republican Party's love affair with the religious right.

2. More Life and Death Threats.

McCain might have rejected the endorsement of televangelist Rod Parsley, but you won't hear him turning down the de facto endorsement Parsley made on his television show this week, as he quizzed McCain supporter Gary Bauer about what's at stake in the election.

The election, said Parsley, echoing the apocalyptic themes prevalent as the religious right panics in the homestretch, "could mean the difference between life and death." He was talking about abortion, but Bauer expanded that theme into far more dire terrain. Listen for the echoes of LaHaye and Rushdoony in his words:

The whole idea of America is built on this idea that liberty comes from God. But it was also built on the idea that only a virtuous people could remain free . . . I'm really worried . . . that we're throwing the idea of virtue out the window . . . But there are a whole lot of people like us who believe that America ought to be the place of ordered liberty under God. My fear is that if we don't rediscover that idea, we're going to be in deep trouble, that at some point God could take his hand of protection off of America, while we're facing a very evil enemy abroad, while we're dealing with tremendous problems here at home.

3. More Islamofascism -- and Child Sacrifice! -- Coming to a Church or Synagogue Near You.

The incendiary propaganda DVD Obsession, produced by the Clarion Fund, a non-profit organization founded by employees of the Orthodox Jewish group Aish HaTorah, made news last month when Clarion paid to have millions of copies of the DVD inserted in Sunday newspapers in swing states around the country. Now, the DVD is being sent to 325,000 clergy through a new publication called The Judeo-Christian View.

The Judeo-Christian View, in addition to advising clergy to preach on the "dangers" of "Islamofascism," offers a free model sermon for them to use to preach against gay marriage and "child sacrifice" (late-term abortion). The video contrasts the two presidential candidates' positions on both those issues, and obviously favors McCain.

The Judeo-Christian View is run by O'Neal Dozier, a Florida pastor who claimed in 2006 that God revealed to him that Charlie Crist would become that state's governor. Later that year, Jeb Bush, then Florida's governor, removed Dozier from a Judicial Nominating Commission to which he had appointed him in 2001, and Crist tossed him from serving on his campaign's "Strengthening Florida's Families" advisory group after Dozier called Islam a "cult." When Dozier served on the judicial commission, he and other members asked prospective nominees if they were God-fearing, their views on the 2003 Supreme Court decision striking down Texas' anti-sodomy law, and how they would feel about posting the Ten Commandments in their courtroom.

"Our nation faces a fork, a divergence between the high road and the low road," reads The Judeo-Christian View letter to clergy, "and you and your congregation could very well determine the direction we take. The high road upholds America's peaceful tradition of Judeo-Christian tolerance and morality. The low road marches us toward militant secular-paganism, militant Islam, or both."

4. More Scare Tactics in California Gay Marriage Fight; Is the Florida Ban Fizzling?

While advocates for Proposition 8, California's proposed gay marriage ban, are rolling in cash, they're stepping up their overheated and absurd claims about what defeat of the ban would mean. The gays and the teachers' unions, Prop 8's advocates are shouting, want gay marriage taught in elementary schools. Proponents of the ban are also heavily targeting Latino and African-American voters and the most recent Survey USA poll shows support for the ban running slightly ahead of opposition, 48-45 percent.

In Florida, opponents of gay marriage are having a little more difficulty gaining traction. A recent poll by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel showed the ban falling seven points short of the 60 percent needed to amend the state's constitution. And a recent rally hosted by Bishop Harry Jackson, which organizers expected to draw thousands, attracted only 700 people.

John Stemberger, the Florida anti-gay activist heading up the campaign for the gay marriage ban, told the Orlando Sentinel that attendance was down because Obama held a rally in the city the same night.

You'd think that would tell him something, wouldn't you?

5. For Televangelists, Financial Crisis Is Evidence of One World Order.

Internet televangelist Bill Keller -- notorious for his excoriation of Mitt Romney for belonging to the satanic religion of Mormonism -- now claims that "God is using the economy to judge this nation for its sins ... and now America is being insidiously led down the path to a twisted version of Socialism."

And in just a few weeks, we'll be treated to a book on a similar theme from John Hagee. His publisher, Strang Book Group, promises only the best in conspiracy-laden prophecy. "Drawing from detailed inside information from sources around the world and combined with his knowledge of Bible prophecy and End Times theology, Hagee gives readers a provocative view of the events taking place today, many of which were spelled out in stunning detail by prophetic writings penned more than two thousand years ago."

Wow. I didn't know default credit swaps were in the Bible.

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