Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Bizarro World

This is the most purely weird analysis of the evangelical impact on the election yet. (Hat tip to Michael Spencer at the BHT.)

Just listen to leftist Barbara Ehrenreich's take in the fever-liberal magazine The Nation:
Where secular-type liberals and centrists go wrong is in categorizing religion as a form of "irrationality," akin to spirituality, sports mania and emotion generally. They fail to see that the current "Christianization" of red-state America bears no resemblance to the Great Revival of the early nineteenth century, an ecstatic movement that filled the fields of Virginia with the rolling, shrieking and jerking bodies of the revived. In contrast, today's right-leaning Christian churches represent a coldly Calvinist tradition in which even speaking in tongues, if it occurs at all, has been increasingly routinized and restricted to the pastor. What these churches have to offer, in addition to intangibles like eternal salvation, is concrete, material assistance. They have become an alternative welfare state, whose support rests not only on "faith" but also on the loyalty of the grateful recipients.

What makes the typical evangelicals' social welfare efforts sinister is their implicit--and sometimes not so implicit--linkage to a program for the destruction of public and secular services. This year the connecting code words were "abortion" and "gay marriage": To vote for the candidate who opposed these supposed moral atrocities, as the Christian Coalition and so many churches strongly advised, was to vote against public housing subsidies, childcare and expanded public forms of health insurance. While Hamas operates in a nonexistent welfare state, the Christian right advances by attacking the existing one.

Of course, Bush's faith-based social welfare strategy only accelerates the downward spiral toward theocracy. Not only do the right-leaning evangelical churches offer their own, shamelessly proselytizing social services; not only do they attack candidates who favor expanded public services--but they stand to gain public money by doing so. It is this dangerous positive feedback loop, and not any new spiritual or moral dimension of American life, that the Democrats have failed to comprehend: The evangelical church-based welfare system is being fed by the deliberate destruction of the secular welfare state.
In case you missed it, Ehrenreich (who evidently lives in some whacked-out parallel universe) is actually upset that the church is usurping the rightful role of the welfare state. It's not their crazy theology that's the danger, it's their sinister programs for clothing the poor and feeding the hungry!

I've heard it said before that leftists believe the state is God, but I've never seen the notion quite so clearly expressed by one of its advocates.

"I, the Federal Government, am the lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me."

Every orthodoxy has its defenders, and Barbara Ehrenreich is not about to let a bunch of red state Goobers commit heresy against the fundamentalist orthodoxy of Secular Humanism.

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