Wednesday, December 12, 2007

We're Back! (And Ralph Reed's a Putrid Reeking Relic)

Ralph Reed, one of the co-creators of the Religious Right, has had enough. Watching the Republican Party tear itself apart over the theological leanings of its candidates, Reed recently declared:

"We have been conducting doctrinal frisks and theological GI-tract exams of our candidates and we have to remember that these candidates are not running for president of the seminary and they’re not running for pastor in chief."

Apparently, Reed is a little confused. While traditional conservatives have always argued that you can't legislate morality, the Religious Right exists precisely because Reed, along with Jerry Falwell and their other friends, spent decades creating a base of voters who believe otherwise. Whether he likes it or not, he is responsible for instilling in a significant number of American voters the notion that candidates ought to be elected because they share, and will enforce as policy, the religious convictions of religious voters. The ideas that a foetus has a soul, or that condoms (much less injections that can prevent cervical cancer) should not be made available to sexually-active teenagers, do not derive from objective scientific research. They are by nature matters of faith.

What Reed may miss is that it is a very, very small step from demanding leaders who share your faith on these issues to demanding leaders who share your faith on other matters -- such as the Incarnation, the Trinity, or the Pope's role as Antichrist. Moral theology does not exist apart from doctrinal theology.

And, curiously enough, evolution proves to be the -- ahem -- missing link between them, at least in American politics. Reed's foot-soldiers have done a remarkable job of creating a world in which a widely-accepted scientific theory, confirmed by a significant amount of observational data, must be taught alongside a rival theory, supported not by observation but by philosophical logic (and, ultimately, Scripture). In other words, they have begun with local schoolboards and worked their way up, so that even otherwise sober candidates for high office must now publicly declare their skepticism about Darwin, if they have any hope of winning the Republican nomination.

You did this, Ralph. You and yours, in a cynical bid to obtain power by playing upon the prejudices of decent but unreflective people, have created a mass movement in which theological opinions are considered pari passu with opinions on taxation, military readiness, health care and education.

Congratulations. You must be very proud.


Anonymous said...

well yes but, . . . darwin's theories have been an established facet of public science education for awhile now rather than a privately held belief. not to reduce our thinking to the ridiculous, but how would we look at a candidate who might espouse arithmetic as evil numerology harking back centuries and as such want it out of the public schools? science & math are part of public education and drastic changes in accepted practice is a political subject. so with all sympathy to mr. huckabee and other "sober candidates for high office", take care of that which you speak.

Father said...

Perhaps you mistook my point, or I have mistaken yours. "Sober" was meant with a little irony, as I think they're all two-thirds-cracked. Your comparison of evolution to arithmetic is about on target.

There is a modest technical difference, in that arithmetic can actually be proven, while evolution, by its nature, remains a theory -- albeit an extremely powerful one. And another, I suppose, in that some public schools are now pressured to treat Creationism/ID as "just another theory" as though it were of equal scientific merit. But, that said, watching potential Presidents stand on stage and disavow Darwin was one of the scariest moments of my life.

What I'm getting at is, first, that the Reeds and Falwells and those they have indoctrinated have created a world in which candidates are forced to (a) either disbelieve this powerful and widely-accepted theory or, worse yet, (b) lie about their convictions to appease the boobocracy. And second, that the cynical manipulative politicos who created this situation no right to complain when their public, having learned to expect agreement on matters of moral theology, demands agreement on other doctrinal matters.