Archive for Christian Right
Review of Daniel K. Williams, God’s Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right (Oxford University Press, 2012), ix + 372 pgs.
According to the majority of conservative Christians, the GOP is God’s Own Party. Voting for Republicans on election day—any Republican no matter what he believes—is an article of faith in the creed of many Christians. Voting for Democrats is a great sin. Voting for a third party is wasting your vote. Voting for Libertarians is unthinkable. Voting for no one is un-American. “Vote Republican (even if you have to hold your nose to do it)” is the great conservative Christian refrain every election season.
“Republicans, in general,” says Texas governor and former GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry, “believe in low taxes, low regulation, less spending, free-market health care, constitutionalist judges, protecting innocent life, enforcing our laws and borders, peace through strength, empowering the states, and generally advocating principles closer to limited government than not.”
Just the opposite is true, of course. The Republican Party is the party of lies, hypocrisy, crony capitalism, regulation, the drug war, war, torture, empire, foreign aid, the welfare/warfare state, and police statism, as I have documented in many articles over the years. The GOP, as my friend Tom DiLorenzo describes it, is nothing but a Gang of Plunderers. Read More→
I am not a pastor. I am not a minister. I am not a preacher. I am not a priest. I am not an evangelist. I am not an elder. I am not a deacon. I am not a reverend. I am not in the ministry. I am not ordained.
I am not complaining, and am honored to be addressed as such.
I only bring this up because, since I often write about Christian themes, I sometimes get e-mails in which I am addressed as Pastor Vance, Father Vance, Rev. Vance, or Preacher Vance. I also occasionally get e-mails in which reference is made to my church or my congregation or my ministry.
I am a conservative, Bible-believing Christian, and am no stranger to preaching, teaching, and church work, and have written a number of Christian books, but I don’t want to give people the impression that I am something I am not.
So, I am not a pastor; however, if I were a pastor, and if I did have a congregation to lead, there are some things that I would never allow to take place in the church on my watch. Here are seven of them.
First of all, if I were a pastor, there would be no flags of any kind on the platform, on the walls of the church, on a flagpole, stuck in the ground, or anywhere on the property. Not even on the Sunday before Flag Day, the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day, or Veterans Day. And not even at a funeral for a veteran if held in the church. And not only would there be no American flag, there would also be no Israeli flag or “Christian” flag. But even if the church had an American flag on the platform because of years of following mindless tradition, I would not lead the congregation in the Pledge of Allegiance. I would, of course, point out that the Pledge was written by a socialist Baptist minister.
Second, if I were a pastor, there would be no hymns sung to or about the state. No “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” no “America the Beautiful,” no “We Salute You, Land of Liberty,” no “This Is My Country,” no “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” no “Star-Spangled Banner,” no “God Bless America,” no “God Bless the U.S.A.” And certainly not the blasphemous “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Not even on the Sunday before Flag Day, the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day, and Veterans Day.
Third, if I were a pastor, there would be no invoking the Jewish wars of the Old Testament against the heathen as a justification for the actions of the U.S. government and its military. Just because God sponsored these wars, and used the Jewish nation to conduct them, does not mean that God sponsors American wars or that America is God’s chosen nation. The U.S. president is not God, America is not the nation of Israel, the U.S. military is not the Lord’s army, and the Lord God never sanctioned any Christian to go on a crusade, commanded him to war on his behalf, or encouraged him to kill, make apologies for the killing of, or excuse the killing of any adherent to a false religion.
Fourth, if I were a pastor, there would be no American statolatry. Romans 13 would never be invoked to justify support for the U.S. government and its wars. There would be no special September 11th commemoration service. The sins of America would not be downplayed because of blind nationalism or American exceptionalism.
Fifth, if I were a pastor, there would be no political activity. This means no Christian Coalition or Focus on the Family voting guides on the back table, no introducing local candidates who claim to be Christians, no promoting candidates, no promoting the Republican Party, no appeals to fax members of Congress about impending legislation, no running for office or encouraging others to do so, no voter registration drives, no reminding the congregation to vote, and certainly no letting the county use the church buildings as a polling place.
Sixth, if I were a pastor, there would be no special law enforcement appreciation days. State and local law enforcement personnel are just as aggressive, militarized, and on the lookout for victimless crimes as their federal counterparts. (See here for the latest outrages.) I would no sooner have an appreciation day for them than I would for FBI, TSA, and DEA agents. Law enforcement personnel would, of course, be welcome to attend services, they would just be encouraged to fight real crime instead of victimless crime, to not set up speed traps and sting operations, and to lay off the doughnuts.
And last, but not least, if I were a pastor, there would be no special recognition given to current or former members of the military. All veterans and active duty military personnel would, of course, be welcome to attend services, just as all pimps, prostitutes, pushers, and politicians would be welcomed. There would be no special military appreciation services. No veterans would be encouraged to wear their uniforms to church on the Sunday before Veterans Day. No veterans would be recognized on the Sunday before Veterans Day. I would instead briefly explain its origin as Armistice Day, and talk about the folly of World War I and how the United States was led into it by a sorry excuse for a Christian named Woodrow Wilson. Not only would I not introduce to the church any young person in the congregation who joined the military, I would actively persuade them from joining. As a pastor, I would be disappointed and ashamed if any young person in my congregation joined the military. There would be no prayers for the troops to be kept out of harm’s way while they defend our freedoms. There would instead be prayers that the troops didn’t harm anyone in an unjust war and that they would come home from foreign military interventions and overseas bases.
I don’t get very many invitations to speak in churches. Now you know seven reasons why.
Recently seen deep in the heart of Texas…
Umm… Yeah. I guess the snipers are like little projectiles of Christ’s love and forgiveness aimed at whoever the U.S. government thinks needs it most?
Many thanks to Laurence Vance for posting this to the LRC blog as well.
Murray Rothbard wrote the following article for Liberty Magazine in 1990. It provides an interesting summary and perspective on the implications of millennialism upon the political landscape. Though this comes from a non-Christian author, I think it is instructive and insightful.
Christianity has played a central role in Western civilization and contributed an important influence on the development of classical-liberal thought. Not surprisingly, Christian beliefs about the "end times" are very important for us right now.
Christian Reconstructionism is one of the fastest growing and most influential currents in American religious and political life. Though the fascinating discussions by Jeffrey Tucker and Gary North (in the July and September issues of Liberty) have called libertarian attention to, and helped explain, this movement, to clarify Christian Reconstructionism fully we have to understand the role and problem of millennialism in Christian thought.
The problem centers around on the discipline of eschatology, or the Last Days, and on the question, How is the world destined to come to an end? The view that nearly all Christians accept is that at a certain time in the future Jesus will return to earth in a Second Advent, and preside over the Last Judgment, at which all those then alive and all the bodily resurrected dead will be assigned to their final places — and human history, and the world as we know it, will have come to an end.
So far, so good. A troublesome problem, however, comes in various passages in the Bible, in the Book of Daniel, and especially in the final book of Revelation, in which mention is made of a millennium, of a thousand-year reign of Christ on earth — the Kingdom of God on earth (KGE) — before the final Day of Judgment. Who is to establish that kingdom, and what is it supposed to look like?
I have been writing about the folly and wickedness of war – and especially Christian support for the same – since soon after George W. Bush invaded Iraq back in 2003. After eight years, scores of articles, and two editions of my book Christianity and War, I have received literally thousands of e-mails in response to articles I have written on war and on the military.
Warmongers, armchair warriors, chickenhawks, neoconservatives, Religious Right warvangelicals, Reich-wing nationalists, theocon Values Voters, Red-State fascists, God and country patriots, and other defenders of U.S. wars and military interventions – and especially those claiming to be Christians – that write me in disagreement are in the minority, and especially since it has become clear that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have turned out to be such debacles.
But there is another thing that these war and military apologists lack besides numbers: the ability to question or disagree with something I write without penning an overly emotional, mistake-ridden, profanity-laced screed. I do not indict all of my critics. Some of my detractors have raised intelligent questions and offered constructive criticisms. But these sane responses are overshadowed by the ridiculous arguments that are usually presented and the equally ridiculous criticisms that are directed toward me.
Not in any particular order, here are the most ridiculous arguments I have ever received:
My father fought in Vietnam.
Or sometimes it is my brother, uncle, or grandfather fought in World War II, Korea, or Desert Storm. What this means is that whatever I wrote about the evils of war or folly of military service doesn’t matter because someone my critic knows fought in some foreign war while "serving" in the U.S. military.
U.S. soldiers didn’t hate the people they killed.
U.S. soldiers killing Iraqis, Afghans, and other darker-skinned foreigners should not be criticized because they didn’t hate the people they killed. They were just doing their job and following orders. So when they have orders to kill your family I guess it will be okay as long as they don’t hate them?
I was in the military and I never saw a soldier do anything like you describe in some of your articles.
So, because this soldier never saw other soldiers act like "hedonists with guns" (as one Marine described it to me) or kill civilians, then these actions never happened. I guess I just made it all up.
It is okay to kill Muslims because they are trying to kill Jews.
So, I guess it is okay to kill Russians when they try to kill Chechens, Chinese when they try to kill Tibetans, and Sudanese when they try to kill each other? Oh, I see, it is just Muslims that it is okay to kill.
Muslims are commanded to kill Christians.
And this means that Christians are commanded to or have an excuse to kill Muslims? Certainly not in the New Testament.
To criticize war and the military is left-wing.
All the veterans that write me and express their agreement with my articles would take offense at that. On this fallacy, see the article by Gary Benoit of the John Birch Society (certainly not a left-wing organization) called: "Anti-war Stance Is Right, Not Left."
Soldiers are mentioned favorably in the New Testament, so there is nothing wrong with being a U.S. soldier.
Oh, you mean the soldiers that scourged Jesus, stripped him, put a purple robe on him, put a crown of thorns on his head, mocked him, smote him with their hands, spit on him, cast lots for his garments, smote him on the head, feigned worship to him, and nailed him to a cross? I didn’t think so.
Christians are called soldiers in the New Testament, so it must be okay to be a U.S. soldier.
And God is said to shout "like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine" (Psalm 78:65). Is the Lord a drunkard? There is no denying the fact that the Bible likens a Christian to a soldier (2 Timothy 2:3, Philemon 2, Philippians 2:25). But as soldiers, Christians are admonished to "put on the whole armor of God" (Ephesians 6:11) and fight against sin, the world, the flesh, and the devil. The Christian soldier wears "the breastplate of righteousness" (Ephesians 6:14) and "the helmet of salvation" (Ephesians 6:17). The weapons of the Christian soldier are not carnal (2 Corinthians 10:4); his shield is "the shield of faith" (Ephesians 6:16) and his sword is "the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17). Not exactly a description of a soldier in the U.S. military.
It is not the fault of soldiers if they are sent by politicians to fight an unjust war.
Some who don’t support U.S. foreign policy and the current U.S. wars hesitate to condemn U.S. soldiers. But they just don’t get it. It is not politicians that do the fighting. If an action is evil, immoral, or unjust, then it shouldn’t be done, no matter what the consequences and no matter who tells you to do it. Wearing a uniform is no excuse.
King David was a man of war.
Yes, and because David was a man of war, the Lord said to him: "Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood" (1 Chronicles 28:3).
The Bible says there is a time of war.
So this must mean that it was time for Bush to launch two wars? Jerry Falwell thought so.
Although this next one was not directed to me personally, I mention it because it is so ridiculously outrageous:
The United States is a client state of God.
This was the argument used by a Christian apologist for U.S. wars. The person it was directed to found it so ridiculous that he e-mailed me with the account of his exchange with said apologist. What it means is that nothing the U.S. government or its military does should be criticized. This opinion is not only ridiculous; it is dangerous.
Not in any particular order, here are the most ridiculous criticisms I have ever received:
You have a Juno e-mail account.
I am not making this up. One of my e-mail accounts, and the one I use for feedback on LRC articles, is an old Juno e-mail account. I have actually had people criticize something I wrote about war or the military and then – to really drive home their point – say something like: "No wonder you believe as you do. You have a Juno e-mail account."
You only teach at a community college.
Back when I did teach at a community college, I used to get people that would dismiss anything I wrote that they didn’t agree with because I taught at a community college instead of a university. I felt I was in good company, since the only college I knew of that the great Tom Woods ever taught at was a community college.
You are only an adjunct professor.
Back when I taught at a community college, I was sometimes mockingly told that the things I wrote weren’t credible since I was just an adjunct professor, not a regular professor.
You didn’t write back a long enough e-mail.
I sometime receive long rambling e-mails with one or two sentences criticizing something I wrote and many more that have nothing to do with anything I wrote. It seems that every time I write a brief note back to the critic, I receive another e-mail that asks: "Is that all you have to say?" They are upset that they didn’t receive an e-mail of the same length as the one they sent me.
Your book is not published by a major publishing house.
In the mind of my critics that bring this up, since my book Christianity and War is published by Vance Publications (as are all of my books), of which I am the sole proprietor, designer, writer, editor, typesetter, proofreader, distributor, and marketer, it must not be worth reading; therefore, any articles I write must not be worth reading either. But if my anti-war book were published by a major publisher, then these critics would undoubtedly dismiss it as being published by a "left-wing" publisher because they falsely equate being anti-war with being a leftist.
You never served in the military.
This is the ridiculous criticism I have received more than all of the others combined. The idea is that I have no right to criticize the military because I was never in the military. Yet, these same people will criticize the president when they have never been the president, criticize Democrats when they have never been a Democrat, and criticize pornographers when they have never been a pornographer. And what is their response when someone who has been in the military long enough to retire from the military says the same things I say? My critics don’t listen to them either.
I frequently receive other ridiculous criticisms that are just simply not true. Things like: "You are a communist," "You are a liberal," "You must be a Democrat," "You hate everyone in the military," "You hate America," "You are a Quaker," "You are a pacifist dog," You are a brain dead dope smoking moron," "You have s___ for brains."
I may have received other arguments and criticisms that I have forgotten about because they were so ridiculous. The above are just the ones I remember. The important thing to me is not that people agree with me, but that they are reading something worthy of support.
Originally posted on LewRockwell.com on November 26, 2012.