Faith Based Conservatism

Confederate FlagI got a YouTube message from someone at an account named “Green Power.” From the video preview, he looks like a teenager. I don’t know, because I’m not going to give the guy even my one view. Let me explain. He sent what is doubtless a generic message, “I am a born again Republican. Please vote republican in 2014 . We need to take our country back . Here is a video about voting republican that you should watch.” So the issue isn’t so much that he is likely an idiotic conservative. It is that he is basically spamming me and I don’t want to encourage that. So in addition to not viewing the miscreant’s video, I’m not linking to it or him. But I will provide this screen capture:

Green Power

Of course, I could be wrong about this guy. Maybe this is just a clever bit of satire. Maybe even the spam message is part of it. Conservatives are so like that! But in my experience, people can be taken at their word—especially when their word is offensive.

I was going to write to the guy, but I thought better of it. Here is what I wrote before I decided to just create this brief post:

Just a tip: don’t say “born again Republican.” It makes you sound like politics is a religion. Politics is about ideas, not faith. Also, the confederate flag makes you look like a bigot. If I were a Republican, I would be ashamed that you self-identified as I did.

Who exactly do you intend to take “our” country back from? Really, I hear that phrase all the time, but I have no idea what it means. I think the US is screwed up in a whole lot of ways, but just because I don’t get the policies I want, doesn’t mean some foreign agent has taken over my country. I think what you really mean is that those who disagree with you are not “real” Americans. Sorry, but that just isn’t the case.

Finally, your message is distinctly spam like. It is clearly a message that you’ve just pasted in that has no particular relevance to me. As a result, I absolutely will not click on it.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

If this guy is who he appears to be, he is a walking-talking cliche: faith based policy combined with creepy implicit racism is pretty much the definition of the modern Republican Party. It really would be brilliant satire. But Billy Bob Neck, it ain’t.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Faith Based Conservatism

  1. Whether or not this is a real message, it illustrates my biggest problem with fundamentalism: how it indoctrinates children.

    Of course, it’s natural for parents to try and encourage their kids to share in many things the parents enjoy. If I had a kid, I’d introduce her/him to movies/music/books I liked, even share some of my political views as the child got older and asked questions which require politically opinionated answers. (You can’t be neutral when a kid asks you what the Vietnam War was about, or why we had slavery . . and I’ve been asked those questions by younger brothers and my SO’s nieces.)

    What I hope I’d never do, however, is shame and threaten my child into accepting my beliefs. Which is something many fundamentalists do. (Not all; most of their children go along willingly, and presumably some fundamentalists aren’t tyrannical parents if their children don’t agree.) They are compelled to; it’s saving their children from Hell. As the Catholic Church used to hold, error has no rights.

    The history of how fundamentalism got tied in with right-wing politics is complex. Racism has a lot to do with it (Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell made their fame as outspoken opponents of integration.) So did sexism — you’ll recall how fighting the ERA and abortion were rallying points after the segregation battle was lost. And so did computers! Right-wingers were first in using databases to tie church membership lists with mass-mailings encouraging fundamentalist churchgoers to support Republican candidates, such as Reagan.

    There’s also, I think, a kind of repetition of childhood patterns that makes fundamentalism and modern right-wing politics such a match made in, literally, Heaven.

    Fundamentalist parents don’t encourage their children to examine many faith options and choose the one that suits them best (while naturally extolling the virtues of their own.) They tell children what to believe, provide shaky, ever-fluctuating justifications for these beliefs, and constantly deride all those who believe differently. Children who resist are met with emotional/physical manipulation (if not abuse.)

    This kind of upbringing doesn’t just create adults who are willing to accept unproven assertions convenient to their worldview (even gentle parents of less radically rigid faiths can’t help but teach their children that mental habit.) It also creates adults who enthusiastically support similar political methods to force their worldview onto others.

    Jim Crow voter ID laws, abortion restrictions, labor policies that use force to cruelly invade the human rights of others are seen as necessary goods. A phantom IRS investigation into tax-exempt status right-wing politics is seen as abominable evil. When people are brought up to believe that any behavior is justifiable to create correct thought, then they see any behavior which creates correct thought as reasonable, no matter how intrusive. And any behavior which creates sinful thinking as outrageous, no matter how subdued.

    No doubt some liberal parents are like this as well — but since the essence of liberalism is about questioning ALL authority (not just the authority of those who disagree with us), it’s certainly a far less effective tactic. Small-minded atheist parents may bully their children like small-minded fundamentalist ones; the atheist parents can’t threaten their children with Hell.

    Democrats, by becoming pseudo-right-wingers, have helped exacerbate this issue. Watch any crazed fundamentalist preacher show and you’ll note that Getting Good With God is only half the message. The other half (if not a much higher fraction) is about God showering blessings on his faithful believers. Obedience = acceptance of right-wing dogma = God being pleased and accordingly giving you a better job. (Rebellion = liberalism = God reducing fourth-quarter housing starts. The Old Testament is basically a litany of how Israel prospered when God was pleased and got conquered when they pissed Him off.)

    When we make sane laws that better the livelihood of working people, we interrupt this cycle of psychological mind-warping. When we don’t, we give it more momentum.

  2. @JMF – I understand the problems. We all have to deal with it. The problem [i]is[/i] with the parents, however. Because of the way that I think about reality, I’m very careful when someone asks me about a political issue–whatever their age. I’m always very clear what my view is, but I try very hard to explain what other people think and why.

    For example: why we lost the Vietnam War. It is hardly clear, but the big issues aren’t. For example, I have no patience for either excuses: "it was the media" or "they wouldn’t let us win." But I would mention them. I would explain that after a couple of years, the public [i]always[/i] gets tired of wars and that the media in this case was [i]reflecting[/i] public opinion rather than defining it. In the second, I would point out that if we had wanted to, we could have simply nuked Vietnam and taken over the land. But the purpose of war is not to win in some abstract way ("We killed more people!") but to make political changes. Regardless, these claims about not being allowed to win are based on micro-scale observations of a macro-scale phenomenon.

    My greatest fear is that someone is going to take one of my arguments and embarrass themselves. I at least want them to understand the kind of arguments they are going to hear, even if I personally think they are weak.

    The problem with fundamentalism (in religion or politics or anything) is that proponents believe they already have the truth. I’m most interested in passing on ways of understanding rather than facts. You know the old saying: give a man a fish…

    I would hope that I would be that way to my children. I am certainly that way toward other people’s children. But in a sense, I am indoctrinating them in a much more fundamental sense because I’m teaching them how to think like me. And that might be a hell of a lot harder to unlearn than an old myth about some broad that God knocked up.

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