Sunday, March 6, 2011

De-Funding Education: It really is about theocracy versus democracy

Talk To Action
by Christine Woodman

Is the Tea Party is predominantly dominionist? Yes, argues this author, and dominionism has an all-encompassing agenda that includes crushing labor unions, abolishing reproductive rights, and driving women from the workplace. For a treatment of Christian conservative ideological roots of the current war on unions, see part 3 of Rachel Tabachnick's extended series on "Biblical Capitalism", Two Decades of Christian Nationalist Education Paved Way for Today's War on Labor. For explanations of dominionism, see Political Research Associates Head Analyst Chip Berlet's The Christian Right, Dominionism, and Theocracy - Part One and also Tabachnick's The Rise of Charismatic Dominionism.]

Last night I watched Austan Goolsbee look into the camera with a doe-eyed look of shock as he talked about the Tea Party’s plan to strip state and federal budgets for education. He called it short-sighted and surprising.

Seriously? For starters, they told us that this was what they were going to do, so how surprising can it be? And it is not short-sighted; it is part of a long-term plan to de-equalize our society. To bastardize a quote from the Clinton campaigns: it is about the equality, dummy.

I am beginning to the think that the beauty of Christine O’Donnell’s performance in the last election was that it distracted people from what the Tea Party was actually promising. No one on the left or even in the center actually listened or believed them when they said that they wanted to do away with the Department of Education, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Health and Human Services. And now some people are actually shocked when the Tea Party goes after labor, education and health services.

It is a safe bet that if you are looking at an elected official from the Tea Party, you are looking at a Dominionist. While some of the rank-and-file in the Tea Party are not hard-core members of the Christian Right, those who they elected to power are almost invariably from the school of thought which espouses dismantling the federal government and returning the power to patriarchal families and to states who will rule in accordance with Biblical law.

Dominionists are extreme free-market hawks. They believe it is sacred in the same way that they believe that the family is sacred. They believe that all programs which promote equality are immoral. Education and unions are two of the greatest instruments of equality.

The Tea Party will defund public education until it is nothing more than a lurching skeleton, and then they will point to its ineffectiveness as a reason to abolish it altogether. They don’t believe in public education; they believe in homeschooling. Not only does homeschooling keep our children from being exposed to dangerous ideas like evolution, civics, the true history of the United States and slavery, it also keeps their mothers in their place: the home.

Which brings us to women’s roles in the society of the Christian Right: they want to roll-back all gender-equality laws so that women will be forced back into the home. Dominionists do not want to take away just abortion; they want to end birth-control. I know most people think that Catholics are the only Christian group who oppose birth-control on religious grounds. But Domionists see a “population winter” looming on the horizon, a time when there will not be enough white people to push back the hordes of the Others.

So it really is theocracy versus democracy. Will we be led by those who want to create a nation ruled by Christian-sharia-law* and return to serfdom, or will we make the difficult journey through our own prejudices and fears and work towards social justice and a better future for our children?

This is not a choice between Christianity and secularism. It is a choice between a heartless, blood-sport capitalism and the heart of Christianity and every other world-religion: justice, care for oppressed, and hope for our children.

Let us not choose the slow agonizing death of those who have lost the freedom to live life on their terms, to make love when and to whom they want, to have children when the time is right, and to earn a living wage. Let us not choose a return to the Gilded Age, or to the imagined glory of the 1950′s or of Colonial times.

Let us choose to act in the best interest of all of our children, not just the children of our nuclear family.

Let us choose to inconvenience the wealthy and powerful, and let the power of the Great White Man fall into the dust.

Let us choose life, real life with all of its messiness and beauty.

Read more: Talk to Action

About Talk to Action:
There is an endless amount to know. "The Christian right" is a vast field of knowledge - it includes a teeming profusion of groups, theological beliefs, social and political organizations, marketing, media, educational, and financial empires that amount to an entire parallel reality that has been constructed apart from mainstream American culture and that now seeks to displace the mainstream and dominate our nation. An entire ecology, a parallel America has sprung up and gained strength over the past several decades while mainstream America was not paying attention.

Now people are beginning to pay attention. That is good.

Talk To Action features an unprecedented collection of writers and activists who have been paying very close attention : some for decades, some for far less time. But all are now in the front lines - as writers, thinkers and activists who are working to counter the aims of Christian nationalism, its push towards theocracy. Frederick Clarkson, author of "Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy" and numerous articles on the Christian right, has reseached and written on the emergence of the Christian nationalist movement for over twenty years, and his was one of the earliest researchers to focus on the emergent Christian right movement. Kevin Phillips new book American Theocracy" draws heavily Clarkson's groundbreaking early writing on Christian Reconstructionism. Talk To Action writers have authored many books and innumerable articles on the Christian Right. Some have founded organizations to work against Christian nationalism. Some have created communities where awareness and solidarity among those concerned about the Christian right can grow, where knowledge can be gathered and shared. All are organizers and activists. Many speak publicly on the subject on television, radio, and to live audiences. One regularly tours the country, speaking to groups, with his astonishing wall sized painting depicting major leaders and thinkers of the Christian right movement.

Our site guidelines and Introduction to Talk To Action will tell you some more about the goals of this website and community, but I'd like to hit a different note:

Talk To Action amounts to a quiet revolution, a slow earthquake of dawning consciousness. Let me explain : never before have the writers, researchers and activists who have paid closest attention to the Christian right movement had a dedicated forum of their own, a publication which showcases their deep knowledge of the subject. What is "Dominionism" or "Christian Reconstructionism" ? Some of the writers you can read on this site have done groundbreaking research that has shaped the very definition of those terms. Never have they had an interactive forum on which to share that knowledge with others. Never before has there been any ongoing public forum - anywhere - with such an unwavering focus.

And where is the action ? Well, this site is - in itself - a powerful type of action. Mainstream awareness of the Christian right's advance has largely been clouded in denial, avoidance and fear. Talk To Action dispels that haze, to shine an unwavering light on a subject which makes many acutely uncomfortable. But for those who tolerate or even celebrate diversity and who believe in religious liberty and Democratic pluralism, the way forward will be built not on avoidance or ignorance but on the knowledge and awareness which must preceed effective action.

Alright, I've said enough. But, I'll say one thing more : It is hard, very hard indeed to come to grips with the Christian right - what it is, what its goals are.

Even the most veteran of Talk To Action contributors have gone through the psychological process of accomodation that you may be going through now. It's not easy. In fact, it can be quite painful. But in the long run, avoidance is far, far more painful..... if people had starting paying attention in large numbers to some of the writers showcased here on Talk To Action we'd be living in a very different - and happier - political landscape and world now.

Well, as they say, denial is not just a river in Egypt. In the long run denial isn't viable, nor are anger, bargaining, or depression although you may go through all of those stages on the road to acceptance of what the goal of leaders of the Christian right really are: an American Christian theocracy based on a legalistic, fundamentalist, bigoted, draconian, and punitive interpretation of Christianity that - at its most extreme - holds great hostility to the entire Enlightenment and seeks to roll back not decades but actually centuries of social change. Do you think my description there is extreme ? If you read Talk To Action regularly you may come to feel my words there were mild. If you can reach that point, well, my guess would be that you will have reached acceptance.

Of course, acceptance does not mean passivity - quite the opposite. One must accept the existence of a problem, and pay close attention to it, to be able to effectively engage with the problem and work effectively towards a solution.

To work effectively on a solution, you'll need knowledge - a roadmap. So, you'll want to read Talk To Action. You'll even want to sign up for a user account here. It's free and it allows you to comment and post on the site. As I mentioned, you can also get Talk To Action stories sent to your email box or via an RSS feed ( if you don't know what that is don't worry about it ).


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