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Where is the Religious Right Wrong?

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This review was written by Jessica Hooker, my colleague and fellow admin of the Christian Libertarian Facebook Group.

When I first heard of Matthew Mills’s Where the Religious Right is Wrong, the title alone was enough to make me sympathetic to the author’s case. Popularized in the 1970s, the Religious Right has become more or less synonymous with American evangelical Christianity, conservatism, and the Republican Party, with arguably disastrous results.

Matthew Mills states his purpose early in the first chapter: “I’m going to attempt to show what God, through His Word, specifically thinks about a lot of what’s going on in modern American politics. If you disagree with my position on an issue from a Biblical standpoint, I challenge you to come up with firm, Scripture-based reasons for doing so.”

I found this approach refreshing, as so many Christians today want to begin with what they think and then try to fit the Bible into their predetermined paradigm. Read More→

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"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all."

There are three holidays that cause otherwise sound-in-the-faith evangelical, conservative, and fundamentalist Christians to lose their religion.

I am referring to Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Veterans Day.

One of these holidays doesn’t even have to fall on a Sunday for some churches to go wild with celebration.

Memorial Day, of course, is always observed on a Monday. The other two holidays only fall on a Sunday every seven or so years. But if one of them doesn’t happen to fall on a Sunday, the Sunday before the holiday will do just as well. In some years, like when the Fourth of July or Veterans Day occurs late in the week, the Sunday after the holiday is reserved by some churches for observation.

As if the blind nationalism, hymns to the state, and exaltation of the military that occurs in some churches on these Sundays isn’t bad enough, sometimes the festivities also include the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, in church, by the congregation, facing the flag on the platform. The Pledge is usually led by the pastor or a boy scout or veteran, sometimes in uniform.

This is not only unfortunate; it is an anti-biblical disgrace.

There are several reasons why no one that treasures liberty, is familiar with American history, and knows the history behind the Pledge (an ad campaign to sell magazines) would waste his time saying the Pledge. I want to focus on one of them.

There are also several reasons why Christians that treasure liberty, are familiar with American history, and know the history behind the Pledge (written by a socialist minister) would waste his time saying the Pledge. Again, I want to focus on one of them.

In 2000, an atheist sued his daughter’s school district because he said that the words "under God" in the Pledge amounted to an unconstitutional establishment of religion. He lost.

After an appeal by the atheist parent, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2002 that the phrase in question was unconstitutional.

After an appeal by the school district, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that the father of the child lacked standing to file the lawsuit because his daughter’s mother had sole legal custody of her and that she was not opposed to her daughter reciting the Pledge. The ruling of the appeals court was then reversed.

In 2010, the same federal appeals court upheld the words "under God" in the Pledge in another case, ruling that the phrase does not constitute an establishment of religion.

The idea that the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment is ludicrous. As stated by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in its 2010 ruling:

Not every mention of God or religion by our government or at the government’s direction is a violation of the Establishment Clause.

We hold that the Pledge of Allegiance does not violate the Establishment Clause because Congress’ ostensible and predominant purpose was to inspire patriotism and that the context of the Pledge – its wording as a whole, the preamble to the statute, and this nation’s history – demonstrate that it is a predominantly patriotic exercise. For these reasons, the phrase "one Nation under God" does not turn this patriotic exercise into a religious activity.

However, just because the phrase "under God" in the Pledge doesn’t violate the Constitution doesn’t mean that it belongs in the Pledge or, more importantly, that Christians should recite the Pledge.

One reason why Christians should not recite the Pledge is a simple one, and one that has nothing to do with patriotism or religion.

The United States is not a nation "under God."

The United States is in fact about as far from being "under God" as any country on the planet.

The United States leads the world in the incarceration rate, the total prison population, the divorce rate, car thefts, rapes, total crimes, illegal drug use, legal drug use, and Internet pornography production.

At least the United States is second to Russia when it comes to abortions.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, "nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended, and about four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion" and "twenty-two percent of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion." There are over 1,700 abortion providers in the United States. And even worse, 37 percent of women obtaining abortions identify as Protestant and 28 percent as Catholic.

Only a madman would say that the United States is a nation "under God."

Oh, but the Pledge is just some words, some say, the reciting of which doesn’t really mean anything.

Then why say it? If the Pledge is just some words that don’t really mean anything, then it makes more sense not to say it than to say it.

The Pledge doesn’t say that the United States used to be one nation under God. It doesn’t say that the United States should be one nation under God. It says that the United States is one nation under God.

That is a lie.

Christians are not supposed to lie:

Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds (Colossians 3:9)

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another (Ephesians 4:25)

Thou shalt not bear false witness (Romans 13:9)

Is it unpatriotic to not say the Pledge? It may be. But it is certainly right, Christian, and biblical not to.

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imageAlthough I am a theological and cultural Christian conservative, I am not a member of the Religious Right and never have been. Adherents of the Religious Right are oftentimes more wrong than they are right. And they have never been more wrong than in their lies about Ron Paul.

The lies about Ron Paul uttered by the media, the Republican Party, the political establishment, conservative talk show hosts, and rank and file Republicans and conservatives who blindly parrot their leaders, and even some libertarians are legion. However, when it comes to Christian armchair warriors, Christian Coalition moralists, evangelical warvangelicals, Catholic just war theorists, reich-wing Christian nationalists, theocon Values Voters, imperial Christians, Red-State Christian fascists, God and country Christian bumpkins, and other Religious Rightists that have no problem draping the cross of Christ with the American flag, there are basically five lies that are continually told about Congressman Paul, all recycled from the last time he ran for president.

Lie number one: Ron Paul is not pro-life. That is, he doesn’t support a federal law or constitutional amendment banning abortion since that is entirely up to the states.

The subject of abortion is one that Ron Paul is uniquely qualified to talk about. In addition to being a member of Congress, Ron Paul is a physician specializing in obstetrics and gynecology who has delivered over 4,000 babies. In forty years of medical practice, Dr. Paul says, “I never once considered performing an abortion, nor did I ever find abortion necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman.” He believes “beyond a doubt that a fetus is a human life deserving of legal protection, and that the right to life is the foundation of any moral society.” But unlike many Republicans in Congress, Representative Paul also believes in consistently and strictly following the Constitution in all matters. Therefore, as he simply states:

Under the 9th and 10th amendments, all authority over matters not specifically addressed in the Constitution remains with state legislatures. Therefore the federal government has no authority whatsoever to involve itself in the abortion issue. So while Roe v. Wade is invalid, a federal law banning abortion across all 50 states would be equally invalid.

Dr. Paul is also consistently pro-life. Many pro-life Religious Rightists are cheerleaders for the killing of innocents outside of the womb in senseless foreign wars. Ron Paul believes in the sanctity of all human life.

Lie number two: Ron Paul supports drug use. That is, he doesn’t support the unconstitutional federal war on drugs.

The $41 billion a year war on drugs is a failure in every respect. It has reduced neither the demand for nor the availability of drugs. It has failed to keep drugs away from kids and addicts. It has made criminals out otherwise law-abiding Americans – over 1.5 million Americans are arrested on drug charges every year, with almost half of those arrests being just for possession of marijuana. The war on drugs encourages violence, unnecessarily swells the prison population with non-violent offenders, destroys civil liberties, attacks personal and financial privacy, and corrupts and militarizes the police. But not only do the costs of the drug war greatly exceed its benefits, it is clearly an unconstitutional activity of the federal government. As a physician, Dr. Paul knows full well the harmful effects of illicit drug use. But he also recognizes the dangers to liberty, property, and limited government that the war on drugs poses. It is perplexing and hypocritical that Religious Rightists don’t likewise support a war on alcohol since every negative thing – and more – that could be said about drug abuse could also be said about alcohol abuse.

Lie number three: Ron Paul is not pro-Israel. That is, he doesn’t support looting the American taxpayers and giving the money to a foreign government.

Since World War II, the U.S. government has dispensed hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign aid in a variety of forms to over 150 countries. Foreign aid is further camouflaged as U.S. support for the UN, IMF, World Bank, and other globalist organizations. Foreign aid now costs the American taxpayer over $40 billion a year. Egypt received over $1.5 billion in foreign aid last year. Israel received over twice as much. Since their peace accord in 1979, Egypt and Israel have been the top two recipients of U.S. foreign aid, accounting for about one-third of all foreign aid spending. Foreign aid is really foreign government aid that enriches the leaders of corrupt regimes and their privileged contractors. Foreign aid further entrenches the U.S. government bureaucracy, increases the power of the state, fosters dependency on U.S. largesse, and lines the pockets of U.S. corporations whose products are bought with foreign aid money. Following the advice of Thomas Jefferson, who advocated “honest friendship with all nations” and “entangling alliances with none,” Representative Paul sees neutrality as the best foreign policy for the United States: “The real, pro-US solution to the problems in the Middle East is for us to end all foreign aid, stop arming foreign countries, encourage peaceful diplomatic resolutions to conflicts, and disengage militarily.”

Lie number four: Ron Paul is weak on defense. That is, he doesn’t support perpetual, senseless, and immoral foreign wars.

Most of U.S. military spending is not for defense, but for offense. Most of what the military does is outside of the country and in some cases thousands of miles away: providing disaster relief, dispensing humanitarian aid, supplying peacekeepers, enforcing UN resolutions, nation building, spreading goodwill, launching preemptive strikes, establishing democracy, changing regimes, assassinating people, training armies, advising armies, rebuilding infrastructure, reviving public services, opening markets, maintaining no-fly zones, occupying countries, and, of course, fighting foreign wars. The proper use of the military – as envisioned by Ron Paul – is in defending the United States, not defending other countries, and certainly not bombing, invading, or occupying them. Using the military for any other purpose than the actual defense of the United States – its land, its shores, its skies, its coasts, its borders – perverts the purpose of the military. The United States is not and cannot be the world’s policeman.

Lie number five: Ron Paul is an isolationist. That is, he doesn’t support a global empire with 1,000 foreign military bases and troops stationed in 150 countries.

The Department of Defense has more than 500,000 facilities on more than 5,500 sites totaling approximately 29 million acres. There are over 300,000 U.S. troops in foreign countries – plus over 100,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus tens of thousands of contractors. The word isolationist is a pejorative term of intimidation used to stifle debate over foreign policy. A noninterventionist foreign policy – like that espoused by Ron Paul – is a foreign policy is a policy of peace, diplomacy, and neutrality that includes trade, cultural exchanges, travel, immigration and emigration, and foreign investment. No invasions, threats, sanctions, embargoes, commitments, meddling, entangling alliances, or troops and bases on foreign soil.

So why the lies?

Why all the lies about a candidate who is and has always been really pro-life, pro-family, pro-religion, pro-family values, pro-religious liberty, pro-gun, pro-Constitution, pro-fiscal conservatism, pro-free market, pro-sound money, pro-defense, pro-liberty, pro-peace, pro-privacy, and pro-property. Why all the lies about a candidate who is and has always been really anti-UN, anti-tax increases, anti-taxes, anti-abortion, anti-gun control, anti-unconstitutional government spending, anti-birthright citizenship, anti-amnesty, anti-New World Order, anti-foreign aid, anti-government subsidies, anti-foreign wars, anti-welfare, anti-socialized medicine, anti congressional pay raises, anti-congressional pensions, anti-government-paid junkets, and anti-centralization of power in the federal government.

I say really because Ron Paul is and has always been for and against these things on a philosophical level. He doesn’t just say he is for or against these things to get elected. He doesn’t change his message depending on the crowd he’s addressing. He has a track record of consistency unmatched by anyone who has ever been in Congress or run for president. Why would any member of the Religious Right not embrace Ron Paul as their ideal candidate even as they run from the current crop of Republican presidential candidates?

So why the lies?

I think they are due in a great measure to ignorance: ignorance of the Constitution, ignorance of federalism, ignorance of U.S. foreign policy, ignorance of the U.S. government, ignorance of American history, ignorance of the Republican Party, ignorance of the Bible, ignorance of anything but what is heard on Fox News, ignorance of anything but what is uttered by conservative talk radio show hosts, ignorance of anything but the propaganda that comes out of many church pulpits. Unfortunately, however, much of this ignorance is willful and complacent.

But not all Religious Rightists are ignorant. Some are just deliberate apologists for the state, its leaders, its military, its wars, and its foreign policy. If they were honest, then they would have to say that they believe in the centralization of power in Washington DC, in a police state that inconsistently criminalizes peaceful behavior, in swearing allegiance to a foreign government and looting other taxpayers that don’t share their allegiance, in endless foreign wars and military interventions, and in maintaining an empire of troops and bases around the world and meddling in the affairs of other countries.

The last time Dr. Paul ran for president, I concluded that he would not be the candidate of choice of the Religious Right because they love centralization more than federalism, political power more than liberty, war more than peace, politicians more than principles, faith-based socialism more than the free market, and the state more than God Almighty. The Religious Right’s embrace of candidates like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann and non-candidates like Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee leads me now to the same conclusion.

Originally published on on October 6, 2011.

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